I’ve been holding back (here) for a long time. I wrote back in June of this year that some of my viewpoints were in a state of flux. Actually, it’s been far more critical than that.
Am I a “flip-flopper”? You decide. If so, I’m in great company. When St. Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus, he travelled the eastern Mediterranean persecuting Christians, or as they were called then “Followers of the Way”. Before a political conversion, Ronald Reagan was a rabid, pro-union liberal. In fact, he was the president of a union himself. Here goes –
For about two years, I have been wrestling with the indisputable fact that many of the political beliefs that I promoted every day were either against foundational principles that I hold dear, or beliefs that were created by emotion rather than thought. This violated an extremely important principle to me. That principle is: Thought before emotion! I tell people “I don’t care how you ‘feel’ about something; tell me what you think about it!” I was violating my own chief tenet.
First, while all people are not actually equal, with equal abilities, physical strength, etc., they are all equal in the eyes of God. I had forgotten that, or at least ignored it. Also, I was drifting into a philosophical position that events in my own life proved was a false premise. That position was atheism. I can clearly point to five times in my life when I acted directly contradictory to my personality and psychological makeup for no apparent reason, and it saved my life, either immediately or over time. This does not even take into consideration the numerous times I have made a decision against what I would at the time have considered logic, and it lead me on a far better path than what would have resulted had I stayed the course. These occurrences were not “coincidence”. I’m not even sure that I believe in coincidence. Some force caused this to happen.
I have chosen to call this force God. Some may call it something else, or dismiss it altogether. I don’t. Due to my early love of Mediterranean archaeology, I have always been interested in religion, specifically the Judeo/Christian/Islamic world of the Eastern Mediterranean. But I was not actually “religious”. I saw these institutions as forces that ordered society. Sometimes I participated, sometimes I did not. Thirty-odd years ago, I began to study Hinduism, which lead me to Buddhism. I talked to a Zen priest where I lived at the time, and he said something to me which I thought inexplicable. “You can find your answers, but do it through your own religious tradition.” I didn’t understand that at all. I knew where the answers were, and the gatekeeper had slammed the door in my face. I’m sure that he knew this day would come.
Decades later, I found myself immersed in the world of “conservative” politics, where frankly, many fervently identify as Evangelical Christians, and yet dishonor the Sermon on the Mount daily by not only not practising what Christ taught, but by actively working against it. And yet they were doing nothing that I wasn’t doing. They were molding their religious beliefs around their politics. So was I, such that I even had religious beliefs at all. When did a conservative politico work at a community kitchen or homeless shelter except ten minutes for a photo op? When have I ever? For any reason? We conservatives love to crucify progressives every day for denying facts that “don’t fit the narrative”. We are monumental hypocrites!
I am not shouting from a mountain top that I have changed. I am whispering that I am going to attempt to live a life that will, hopefully, make other people’s lives a little easier, and try to honor He who created me. Any way I can. I cannot “make up” for what I have done in 62 years. I know enough about the teachings of Christ to know that this is both impossible and unnecessary. My family and friends may see subtle changes in me. You may notice a difference in these blogs. I hope you do. If not, I have dishonored that power who saved me so many times, so many years ago.