Father Tony

Don't Talk To The Birds

Filed By Father Tony | April 29, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
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Message: Dear Father Tony,

I have a question, there's this video game forum that I sometimes go to, but on that forum other people talk about religion and politics. One topic made me confused. It had to do with religion changing with the times. In that forum someone said this,

"A basic error in your question "allowed too "evolve" or adapt". We (devout religious) have been told that, we should only change our beliefs if 'strong evidence that they are wrong' comes out. For example, I believe that God created the universe using the Big Bang, and evolved the human race to the point where he gave the our species souls (ie. the image of God). I once believed the 6000 year concept and understand why some still do. But I also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and this verse...

Lev 20:13 If a man has sexual relations with another man, they have done a disgusting thing, and both shall be put to death. They are responsible for their own death.

I have always had a live and let live policy, but at the same time I will not change what the Lord said to me for no man. This is not said in anger or hate, but in love. Jesus loves all people, even those who sin.

So yes, religion can evolve if there is a non-social reason. But if it is just so that the world accepts us, I am not changing."

Now it may be just me, but how can someone speak about love, when they bring up Lev 20:13? Reading what that person said made me furious. What do you think? Can someone bring up a part from the bible that involves death and say that he doesn't mean to speak in hate but in love?

Michael

Dear Michael,
You've encountered a rare bird in, of all places, a video game forum. (Aside: it's bad manners to "sell" your viewpoint on religion, politics and sex and off-topic stuff in such forums.) That rara avis buys the theory of evolution, banks on God's love, but insists that God condemns to death gay people.

I'm concerned more about your brain and less about the bird's brain. I've got some simple rules for ya.

We are forever surround by people whose logic defies gravity. This bird is one of them. Such people are also our neighbors, the people who prepare the food we eat, the policemen we count on in an emergency, our senators and the nurse who draws our blood. We are intimately intersected many times a day with people whose sense of logic and justice and godliness are inexplicably weird and unsound. They don't think well.

I've begun to see that for folks like us who are not afraid to construct a personal belief system based on love and not based on fear, there are only two ways of behaving in common congress: the corrective or the accepting. You don't have to choose. You can be both, at different times, but there are right and wrong ways to be effectively either.

In a world overfilled with voices and opinions unsolicited, I find myself becoming more and more quiet when I am not writing. Here are the rules I try to follow and that I suggest for you and others who are subjected to the nonsense of the birdbrain:

A) Compose yourself. All around you, people ramble and rant without taking the time to assemble their thoughts and organize their opinions. Step out of that crowd and carefully craft your message. This will force you to say about 99% less than you ordinarily do, but what you say will be of higher quality.
B) Choose the right time to express yourself. For instance, 99% of comments left on blogs are garbage. Worse than fast food. Eliminate them from your diet. Devoting time to that format is like setting up your beach chair at a sewage treatment plant, occasionally a diamond ring pops to the surface, but not often enough to justify swimming in the debris.
C) Resist the compulsion to react when hatred is suddenly spewed. Little is accomplished in the heat of any moment.
D) Say less, not more. 99% of what we say is worthless and soon forgotten. In this life, I have said or written only one or two things that have come back to me as valuable to others. I have had a zillion things I've said or written come back to me with the message that they were defective. Your voice is not a General Motors production line.
E) Listen more to your body and less to the world. Turn off noise. You get one body. It is not silent, but most people don't understand its language and its requirements. Learn your body and everything else falls into place.
F) Boil down your thoughts and feelings until there is almost nothing left and cling to what remains. For example, at this time in my life, I am holding fast to the basic concepts of friendship and forgiveness. I want to become a master practitioner of just those two things. Many are the lesser skills that distract me.
G) Savor the fact that you are alive. It's no secret that I am in my 50s. I don't know how I got here so fast. I didn't mean to board the express bus! Everything passes by in the wink of an eye. We waste so much of the little time we are given.
H) Anger, disease, addiction, pain and hysteria fill the sidewalks and howl endlessly. There is no point in engaging with them unless you are in the social working business of freeing their victims from their grasp. Find the person within the problem. Talk to the person, not the problem.
I) Slow down everything in your life. Now slow it down even more. And more again.


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Thank you Father Tony. Sometimes it is hard to resist saying something when it concerns someone bringing up parts from the bible as a way to say that gay people are going to hell. But at the same time, having a fight with them won't help. From time to time, listening to yourself and feeling what is right in the world is what matters most. Everything you said makes complete sense, along with it being helpful in future encounters with people. Again, thank you. :)

Michael

Excellent advice Tony, IMHO. I also find it very helpful to agree with people who want to pledge absolute faithfulness to the Old Testament. Clearly it is not acceptable to God to fulfill only part of the law. Since any woman who is not a virgin upon marriage is to be stoned to death by men there is a lot of work to do (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). And forget fighting about making abortions illegal because we have plenty of stonings to get under way, especially any unmarried pregnant woman. And my heavens the list of unmade offerings Christians need to make for both known and unknown sins should keep everybody busy for years. But perhaps my all time favorite is Roman 2:1 where Paul tells the listeners they are worse than the abominations he cites in Romans chapter 1 for they are inexcusable who judge others.

Yes I don't mind discussing the Word of God as long as we discuss all of it and not just the parts some woodpecker wants to pick at because they look tasty to his eye.

Ah but I've just validated your rule D, haven't I?

Dear Deena, LOL. Now it's you and me both!

Juston Thouron Juston Thouron | April 29, 2010 4:18 PM

Filtering our inputs is also essential for our mental health these days. It's difficult because we need each other to stay informed and involved, socially and politically, to work for equality and tolerance. But that involvement comes at a cost.

LGBT persons already struggle with all of the same stressors straights do, but have many additional ones to contend with. Educating, updating and activating ourselves, will include encountering news, people and situations that not only upset, but outrage. Everything feels personal and therefore emotional, because the stakes are so high and personal for all of us.

I am slowly becoming a more savvy editor of my own info stream. Touching the world effectively but in a way that mitigates harm to myself is helping me balance my need for activism with my need for peace.

Of course, laughing at oneself is never optional: http://xkcd.com/386/

Thanks Fr. Tony. Yet another wonderful post.

The over-zealous Theology student wants to spout out all kinds of stuff, but wise old queen in me remembers that there are a lot of church-goers out there who parrot whatever they hear and haven't even read the Bible in its entirety.
The thing about this kind of exchange that makes me sad is that there are many people who hear what this person says and believes them.