Archive for June 19, 2012

I finished reading a quick CNN article, Recovering Catholics Reveal Spiritual Journeys. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religious Life and Public Life, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% now describe themselves as Catholic.

In truth, I was never actually raised Catholic. While I was in Catholic school for a short period of my life, my parents never regularly participated in Catholic. And up until the time I was 18, I pretty much felt I was the only one who thought of God day-in-and-day-out.  There are probably four key measures of religious commitment: belief in God, frequency of prayer and frequency of worship service attendance. Yet looking back at my life, I always had some belief and a little bit of prayer. That was it, nothing more.

Still, a large majority of Americans who are affiliated with a religion, including majorities of most faith groups, say there is more than one religion that can lead to eternal life and more than one way to interpret the teachings of their faith. And if one has read my blog, I pretty much concur. But if America is a religious country, then why do so many former Catholics, like me, leave? For me, I left simply because my needs were not met and I remain unwelcome.

They may be tough words, but this is not a rant against Rome. There are many wonderful Catholics. They are good people, are not ignorant, not evil and not stupid.  There simply has been no way for the church to find a place for me and the solace in Buddhism been welcoming time and time again.

Also, there is considerable variance in adopting sacred texts. Roughly two-thirds of Americans view the sacred text of their religion as the word of God. More than eight-in-ten members of evangelical churches, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible is the word of God, while a majority of Muslims say the Koran is the word of God. By contrast, only 18% of Buddhists and 37% of Jews and Hindus say their sacred texts are the word of God. In fact, a majority of groups say their faith’s sacred texts are written by men and do not constitute the word of God. Personally, as a Buddhist, I tend to believe texts, while inspired, are not verbatiumly factual. But that’s my opinion and I mean no disrespect to your faith.

What’s incredible to me is that regardless of religion, almost half have stated they experience a sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week. Think about it, that is awesome almost half experience the full sense of God at least once a week.  That is truly beautiful. And lastly, almost three-quarter of us feel that many religions can lead to eternal life and more than one-way to interpret religious teachings.

The omnipotence of Christ, Buddha, the Koran, Judaism, etc. lay not in the text but rather it’s the people that surround and envelope each other in love.   This very act of love conquers all barriers and welcomes all weary travelers. As a Buddhist, all are welcome into my Sangha and my home.

So in a world where every issue is now a bonafide problem, the medical world has finally tagged my musical ability: amusic. Accordingly, being amusic means I lack musical ability; I cannot distinguish pitch or create different sounds.  God … that sounds so much better than simply saying I suck.

Fortunately, I have never claimed Triskaidekaphobia, having (a fear of Friday the 13th), but I do believe a Capgras’ syndrome because there are a few close family members that have been replaced by an identical looking imposter. Ironically, some say that President Obama, based upon his electoral run and subsequent presidency has been replaced. (Sadly, there are people who actually believe that.)

But over the years, I have experienced on and off symptoms. For instance, instead of drinking too much and waking up numb, I now can classify myself as having Saturday Night Palsy. Unfortunately, when that wears off, my uncontrollable craving for alcohol (Dipsomania) leapt to the forefront only to cause Witzelsucht, making me make bad puns and jokes at inappropriate moments. Lastly, to stave my off Basophobia, an extreme fear of falling down, I simply laid on the floor. But I was never drunk mind-you.

Over the years, some would have said my ex-wife suffered from Proctalgia Fugax, a pain in the arse. But then again, she claimed to be seasonably affected. Too bad it was by every season.

In the end. to deal with my issues, I decided to join a support group. My first meeting went like this:

Doctor: “What is three times three?”
Person 1: 274
The Doctor rolls his eyes and looks up at the ceiling, and asks the second man, “It’s your turn. What is three times three?”
Person 2: “Tuesday,”
The doctor shakes his head sadly, then asks the third man, “Okay, your turn. What’s three times three?”
Person 3: “Nine”
Doctor: “That’s great! How did you get that?”
Person 3: “Simple just subtract 274 from Tuesday.”

Sigh …

According to New Dehli news, Mr. Oghad Singh arrived at a police outpost holding a bloody human head in one hand and a sword in another. The head was that of Mr. Singh’s daughter, chopped off because of her “indecent behavior.”  Prior to arriving at the police station, Mr. Singh paraded the head through the village on his way to the police station.

I find honor killing repugnant. And I find honor killing based upon religious belief reprehensible. Personally, no words can accurately reflect my distaste.

Honor killings are not rooted in just one religion. Honor killings have been reported in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen, and other Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries, and that they had also taken place in western countries such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States. Ms. Aasiya Zubair was murdered near Buffalo, NY.

More than half the victims were tortured and died in prolonged agony. In North America, over one-third of the victims were tortured; in Europe, two-thirds were tortured; in the Muslim world, half were tortured. Torturous deaths include: rape or gang-rape before being killed; being strangled or bludgeoned to death; being stabbed many times (10 to 40 times); being stoned or burned to death; being beheaded, or having one’s throat slashed.

Still, many may claim these are predominantly Muslim issues and not typical Christian values. And that alone is reason to temper our thoughts. Let’s take a look at some Christian Bible thoughts:

Read Leviticus 21:9If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she also defiles her father’s holiness, and she must be burned to death.

Deuteronomy 13:6-11You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

Exodus 35:1-2 … but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the Sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death.

Deuteronomy 13:6“… if no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house.

Leviticus 20:9If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.

Exodus 21:20If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

Ancient Roman Law condoned killing women who had committed adultery. In Greece, laws gave husbands power over their wives, as women were believed to be socially below man. In many ancient cultures including Babylonian, Egypt, Native American and Persian cultures, women convicted of infidelity were given harsh sentences. Chinese husbands often cut off the hair of wives accused of illicit relationships and crush them to death by elephants.

In the U.S., a Tahirih Justice Center survey of more than 500 social service, religious, legal, educational and medical agencies last year, revealed 67 percent of the respondents believed there were cases of forced marriage occurring among the populations they serve, but only 16 percent felt their agency was equipped to deal with the situation.

Kim Gandy, former president of NOW asked a hard question:

“Is a Muslim man in Buffalo more likely to kill his wife than a Catholic man in Buffalo? A Jewish man in Buffalo? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that there is plenty of violence to go around—and that the long and sordid history of oppressing women in the name of religion surely includes Islam, but is not limited to Islam.”

Personally, I am not a front man for Ms. Gandy or NOW. But I believe in the cause against violence.

From a Buddhist perspective, the Golden Rule is do no harm. As the Buddha once stated, “If at some point in your life you adopt an idea or a perception as the absolute truth, you close the door of your mind.”  And when you close that door, the opportunity of God’s Love can be lost forever. Thus, the real miracle of God’s Love lies within our heart and the willingness to accept and give grace. Live for Grace and Peace; for grace, peace and love is the true nature of God, Christ and the Buddha.

——- Postscript ——-

It is estimated that approximately 5000 women and children are killed yearly in the name of honor; though most of the human rights groups over the world believe this number is much higher.

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