Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


My favorite quote from the Harry Potter series is spoken by Dumbledore shortly after Harry has been struck down by Voldemort.  Harry is experiencing the afterlife and he asks his former headmaster if any of this is real or if it is all just in his head.  Here is Dumbledore’s brilliant reply:

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I think the essence of this quote is what I need to successfully navigate step 3 in my 12 step recovery from compulsive overeating.

As far as I can go back in my childhood memory, I had faith in God, specifically Jesus.  I can recall with clarity talking to Jesus as an imaginary friend.  He was always looking out for me and I loved him.  I prayed to him at meals, in church and at bedtime, but only because my parents made me.  But we talked constantly.  Whenever there was no one else in the room, we would talk and talk and talk.  We sang.  I showed him my art.  We were pals.  Sadly, I continued to go to church and that simple faith got all bollixed.

I learned about the Old Testament.  I leaved about Revelations.  I learned about the Devil and I learned about hell.  At the point those seeds were planted, my faith was doomed.  As long as things went relatively well, I was able to cling to my faith.  I was a really rotten Christian, but a Christian none-the-less.

Then I doubled down by going to Bible College.  Ish!…make it stop.  I made the colossal mistake of learning theology.  I learned that the Christian Faith was cobbled together with some very outlandish claims.  I was compelled by peer pressure to tie my spirituality to my political views.  I accepted a very narrow world view and avoided anything that might lead me to a contrary point of view.

At a certain point, it all became too much and I had to moderate my views.  I changed denominations and embraced my liberal views.  But I still tried to keep my teetering world view intact.  This helped for a while.  I even began to think of going into the ministry.

But then I experienced true tragedy.  I felt real pain and I began to really empathize with the pain of others throughout the world.  My narrow world view could not explain what had happened to me; nor could it explain the suffering of others around the world.  In the span of a couple of years, my faith utterly collapsed.

I briefly tried to revive it with a program called Imagine.  But ultimately that turned out to be just another money making scheme ran by a corrupt minister.

So here is the big question:  How do I turn my will and my life over to someone or something I am not sure is real?

This is where I must turn to the great theologian Albus Dumbledore.  “Of course it is happening inside your head…but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I love the way step 3 is worded.  It does not say turn over your lives to the God of the Jews, or the Christians, or the Muslims or the Hindus or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  It says God as we understand him.  That leaves space for even me.

I cannot, nor can anyone for that matter, empirically prove the existence of a god.  They cannot prove their point of view or their system of theology is right.  No one can even prove that god does not exist.  God in any way shape or form is not open to the scientific method.  You can debunk stories, dates, and miracles of all kinds.  But as to whether or not there is or is not a god is open to debate.

Here is what I do know.  That kid, the one who talked and sang to Jesus, he felt safe, loved and protected.  It may have all been in my head.  But it was right and good.

So that is who I will ask for help.  S/he may all be in my head, but that is also where all the food goes.  So if it works, I think I will give it a shot.

Network Marketing


pyramid2

When I was about 25, my boss invited me to a breakfast with “local business leaders.”  I was kind of honored.  I thought he might be sponsoring me for the Rotary or Elks club.  Everyone was dressed in business attire.  We arrived a few minutes late, but the guy who was speaking was very inspirational.  I was trying to figure out what “club” this was.  But since I was late, I put that question aside.  I figured I missed the introduction. 

The next guy got up and was equally dynamic.  He was talking about how he had made a substantial fortune using something called “network marketing.”  That was the first time I had heard that term.  I was intrigued.  He was drawing diagrams with concentric circles.  When he got the last circle, he used the dreaded word…Amway!

But my boss assured me that Amway was an outdated concept.  This was not that pyramid scheme my parents had warned me about.  This was a new paradigm.  I bit.  I should have run.  My parents told me it was a waste of money.  But I knew better…  

…Six months later, I moved.  I did not leave any forwarding information. 

It was in fact: a pyramid scheme.

But I am nothing if not naïve.  Fast forward twenty years later.  I was burned out on religion.  I was twisting and torturing my mind to hold on to my faith, but failing miserably.  Then a friend came along and started talking to me about the “nones.”  People who were spiritual but not religious.  Really?  Go on…

And so it began.  My 2 year attempt to re-brand my Christian faith into a new paradigm.  But wait you say, “Isn’t that the same ‘Ole Time Religion’?” 

Why no!…

…No, this is completely different…

…The clergy are not the drivers…

…This is about people…

Until…

…until its not.  At the end of the day, it is still about putting butts in the seats.  It is not about building up people.  It is about drawing a crowd and getting their money.  And if you do anything that threatens the bottom line, you will be tossed aside like a bad penny.

It is my own fault.  I let the parasites in.  I believed the hype. 

It stung like hell, but I think I am getting back to some sense of normalcy. 

Next post….12 steps to free your mind.

Eleanor Rigby


praying-in-church-300x168

Last Sunday, I attend a new church for the second time. During the sermon, I found myself thinking, “Why do I do this?” 

Why indeed.

I can think of dozens of “Why nots.” But I am running short on “whys.”

The only thing I could come up with is that I am lonely. But is it worth the emotional investment?

No answers…just questions.

Sky Cake:  The Middle Weigh


skycake

Before reading this entry, watch the video that inspired it.

I love cake.  My middle can attest to this fact.  Red velvet in particular is very tasty.  But as I am sure you can already guess that this posting is not about actual cake.  Rather it is an appreciation of Patton Oswald’s routine on faith.

I love this act, not just because it is funny, but because he articulates something that I have not heard.  Christians and Atheist often behave in similar ways.  Too often the rhetoric we hear is that the world would be better off if one of these ways of thinking were annihilate.  I am not comfortable in either of these camps.  Like a growing number of people, I find myself somewhere in the middle (where the cake is stored).  I do not take the bible literally, but I see value in many of its passages.  I accept science, but I do not pretend to know all the answers.

That is why I love Sky Cake.  It recognizes the societal value of religion while poking fun at its excesses.

I don’t know if there is a creator.  But the universe as a whole does behave like a living thing.  Whether or not that thing has consciousness or not is unknowable, at least to me.

But it has become quite fashionable in the last few decades, to blame all of society’s ills on religion; while completely ignoring the good and civilizing influence religion has brought.  Blaming religion is just (to use a religious phrase) a scapegoat.  Wars, poverty, disease, hatred, etc…these things are not caused by religion, but by a scarcity of resources.  Religions and gods are often the mascot war, but the absence of religious sentiment would not make these problems disappear.  People will always find a convenient banner to march behind (brown eyed people unite!).

My problem has always been what to say to people when they displaying intolerance.  Thanks to Patton Oswald, I now have a concise response, “Oh sky cake, why are you so delicious?”  If they care enough to google the phrase, they’ll know what I mean and hopefully take the hint.

…or possibly be they’ll be horribly offended and kill me.  Guess we’ll see.

 

Resistance is Futile


Bad metaphor #43282.5

When I was a kid, I used to go camping several times a year.  We would always camp near a lake or a river.  I loved the water.  I am a confident swimmer and it was a great way to cool off in the summer.

I also loved to fish.  I was not a fly fisherman.  That is probably why my face is largely intact to this day.  I would be dangerous with a sharp object whizzing back and forth over my head.  I was purely a side caster.

If I was fishing in the river and it was a hot day, I would sometime stand in the middle of the river cast upstream and let my bait float back past me.  Oddly enough, this was a fairly decent strategy.  I caught many a fish in my day.  On a side note, I have not gone fishing since my grandfather died, but that is another story.

Now in the Rockies, streams run fast.  When you are in the current, you have to brace yourself to stand in place.  If you want to move, you kind of take deliberate plodding spaceman steps so that you don’t lose your footing.  Moving and standing still required constant muscle tension.

But if you wanted to move directly ahead, you had two choices.  You could take use the same spaceman walk strategy that required great effort.  Alternatively, you could just sit in the river and let the current take you forward.  The later was a lot more fun.

Looking at my approach to spirituality, I think I have done a lot of spacewalking over the course of my life.  In the past I have put a great deal of effort into taking small steps forward.  Then I chucked the whole thing.  I almost got out of the river all together.

Now I am just going with the flow.  Granted, I am not fully in control and I am not sure where this will lead.  But I am enjoying the ride a whole lot more.

Chuck out the fishing rods and break out the inner tubes.