Altur’Rang Upgrades to Nesram

Took a walk in Kinnickinnick FP during what others might call a dreary autumn morning. That’s a little one-sided: this time of year past the great tree transition is known for being overcast and heavy rain drops and muted colors. Regardless, it’s no secret that I love nature, and every part. The night sky is breathtaking beyond anything conceived in a mortal mind, I need all four seasons in my life, and I could never call weather ‘bad.’ It’s just weather, beautiful for reasons disguised as random or chaotic. On this particular journey, I went without music, and let the rise and sway of the wind dictate a melody for my first instrumental piece. I came away happy and content, that my muse had once again been heard.

The day after, I took an extra long ride, on a tight calf, in clothes that I felt initially would be too light, against a wind that forced me to pedal downhill. I did it anyway, squeezed in a moderate loop in Rock Cut too. Maybe it was all the factors nibbling away at my inhibitions and expectations that I finally found this realization. Usually I depend on music to drown out the wind’s static–who can hear birds or crickets in the twilight symphony when that racket is whipping past you?–and no  different this time, though for safety I only keep one earbud in. Right about the time I lent my attention to a car engine hum, Ron Pope’s Make It Home sang to me about a New York dream and blinding Broadway lights, and my preexisting hate for city life threatened to kidnap my good mood. Which isn’t far fetched. Growing up in rural Roscoe and on a green campus at Lawrence, the alleys and littered streets of downtown and west Rockford strangled the country girl in me. Not to mention, of course, apathy and an underlying narcissism as accomplices. The previous day’s songwriting from nothing but autumn’s exhausted breath was case and point why Nature is better.

My mind focused on the fact that I noticed the car, and another purring along Perryville, and then another, which showed me that there is a rhythm to the city, if you keep looking. And when it comes down to it, Nature didn’t give us the yearn of the violin, or a guitar’s excitement and versatility. The conclusion became that if I could get tunes from both the primitive and the ‘developed,’ Nature the city aren’t that different after all. Pope’s lyrics further coaxed me out of my pinpointed focus: I could enjoy the city if I figured out what light to cast it in. The scum-ridden city I had equated with Altur’Rang of the Sword of Truth novels now becomes a slightly more likeable Nesram, in all its wonder from Pahmoten.

Fate wasn’t finished with my lesson quite yet. Moments later, glee’s version of One Love (People Get Ready) tiptoed into my brain. Normally I’d just bob my head in the quirky way encouraged by the reggae beat. On my current mind path, though, my displeasure with urbanization transferred to the citizens and my coworkers. I tend to judge them straight up how they appear and act at work. They’re human just like me, imperfect just like me, probably judging me unfairly just like I do them. They are full of stories and scars that I tend to ignore. So I’ve got to back off and accept that there’s one true heart between every individual on Earth, the truth I so vehemently in my deism rant in The Idea of a God. I sink among those who hurt their fellow man by thought, when ultimately that hurts me too.

Rereading my relating of these self-evident truths, I acknowledge that when you step back for the grand view, they’re simple things that would evoke a, “No duh, Becca. I could’ve told you that five years ago.” Lessons mean absolutely nothing until you accept them yourself. No matter what preachers or conartists, parents or peers beat into you, through kindness or kicks or years of shoving literature in your face. They are extremely humbling moments, ones we hope come at times when others are understanding enough to forgive our stubbornness and shortsightedness.

And I understand this musing isn’t breaking ground. They’re age-old reiterations that’ve worked their way into this existence. My only hope for my writing them, as it has always been for all my works, is that simple act will give people not the correct answers, but the right questions. To show them a path, to change one’s mind or will. And maybe, with all the determination that I and all my inspiration and muses can muster, that these people change this world for the better.

Right Now, Thestrals Seem as Cute as Otters

from February 18, 2013

Warning: stark details about death contained within. Read at your own risk.

I’ve felt out of my head all day today. I guess out of my heart and body too. I was speaking quieter and looked more tired and had a change in my voice that two different coworkers commented on. Gave in to a blueberry scone and hazelnut latte for comfort, and soon it’ll be the 361 hoodie and threadbare, 11-year old basketball sweatpants.

We put our family dog Shadow down on Friday. It was the first pet I’ve ever been present for that. I actually held him when they put in the needle, saw his eyes glaze over, and heard his lungs take their last breath. I didn’t cry too much at the time, but I remember the shock going through me. The vet was talking all the time, outlining the specifics of what would happen, and he made it sound gradual. Maybe that’s why I panicked, as if I didn’t expect the effects to be so quick. I cried a bit on the way back to mom’s house, and some more going to practice that night. Nothing like when grampa passed.

We made the decision earlier in the week. I came up to mom’s to dig his grave on Tuesday. It all felt so crass, talking about when we could work it into our schedules. I mean hell, we were planning how we were going to kill him. And he probably knew all along, ‘cause I think animals can sense that, just like humans. While we were at the vet waiting in the front room, I sat with him on the floor. He laid on the carpet for a while, got antsy like usual, and started scooting around on the linoleum, still laying down. I got up once for my phone to check the time—the vet didn’t see us ‘til a ½ hour after our arranged time—and resumed sitting next to Shadow when I returned.

At first he started crawling for the long rug that led from the front door to an office, then he sat up and plopped right into my lap. He wasn’t using me to get to the other side, ‘cause he didn’t attempt pushing off and onto the other rug. All he did was lay down in my lap, right up until the nurse came to get us. Why? Why did he have to do that? Was he trying to tell me he wanted to be with me at the end? Was he scared and trying to say, “Don’t do this—I’ll get better!” ? Was it just because I was closer than the rug? We’re supposed to be the ones taking care of him, and he’s scared shitless. I can’t help thinking our mantra that it was all for his own good, to ease his suffering, was just a way to make us feel better. Now it’s doing anything but.

Between Tuesday and Friday, I sometimes wondered what it’d be like to carry his body after he died. Whether it’d be stiff and unnatural. Turns out it wasn’t. Just felt like he was in a deep sleep, completely limp, heavier than any other time. After we buried him, I went to practice and was pretty subdued for the rest of the day. I told a joke or two, and ran through some new vaulting drills. I was incredibly proud of the newest ones and all the progress they’re making. On the way up to Winter Amidships, I actually slept, probably the first time in years. I either drive or talk with the girls, try to get them off their phones and coaxing some details out of them about their lives, so they don’t stay in THEIR heads. I may have even gone back to sleep after a pit stop too.

I napped a lot on Friday night too, as certain Facebook pictures will outline (hilarious, though 🙂 ). I must have caught up on sleep because I actually remembered a blip of a dream. All my sleep deprivation, I’m convinced, has chased them away for at least 6 months. And yes, the one pathetic part I remember was that I was busy on the computer and was giving annoyed responses to my mom who was asking me to take Shadow out. Thank you, Subconscious, for illustrating that beautifully. My mom and the girls kept trying to wake me up so I could change into PJs, and it was 2:37 am when I finally did. My body interrupted my plans for an early workout, so I only got in about 15 minutes. The rest of the day felt fairly normal—jokes, ERS, the dance, judging code flags, haggling girls about their table manners. I even got out on the dance floor for more than the bare minimum—and the DJ played It’s Time!!! It has become an anthem for me lately. I was thrilled for that.

I barely got a longer workout in Sunday morning, over knee and hamstring pains that thankfully went away. I think I might’ve cried if it persisted, ‘cause there’s nothing worse than wanting to get in shape and having legitimate physical reasons not to resume your favorites. The rest of Sunday was kind of a daze, skyping with a friend, watching a couple Lost Girl episodes, being kinda disappointed that Kenzi is fictional. Today started well, great coffee and smooth drive into the burbs. I even showered, left on time, and had most of my food prepared for the day. I couldn’t even blame my mood on a bad start.

Best word that’s coming to mind is hollow. I had two crying bouts during this entry, and remembering how I mourned for my grampa, I’m sure it’ll just take a good cry to get past all this. Seems like my emotions are pretty screwed up still, that I can’t explain why I do or don’t cry when it’s appropriate. Writing has always been how I sort sh!t out, and this time my best guess is that it’s all guilt, at how I could’ve been better with him. The same guilt I had for grampa. What’s it gonna take to kick my a$$ in to gear? Therapy? Trail running again? I can’t even see how talking would help, ‘cause there’s nothing someone else can say except talk about how he lived, or that they’re sorry, or talking about their own loved ones. I’m not saying those points don’t matter, only that I’ve had those all over the past couple days and I think my mind’s own walls are laughing at whatever attempts they make thus far.

So hurray for me. I have to find a way past the guilt and letting go the fact I can’t do anything for Shadow now. My beliefs don’t include a heaven where ‘I get to see him’ again. I can hope but I know deep down it’s not true. If I could feel the part of him that says I did what I was supposed to do, and that he’s not mad, and that he loved me, and accepted my idiotic tendencies and times when I shamefully misunderstood him, that’d feel better. Until then, I’m waiting for my emotions to catch up.

I have a sterling silver ring with wind currents on it, and I wear practically all the time, sometimes even in the shower, during Dag and running and vaulting and everything. You can’t cage the wind, and I want to remember and emulate that as often as I can. It goes on my right middle finger, and that’s been spasming all day today. Not sure what that’s about either.

Becca out.

Criticism & Self-Definition

from March 25, 2013

Today’s musing brought to you by Takaki’s A Different Mirror, Mary’s Market coffee, and a day that landed firmly within the spectrum of laughably crappy.

I’m not a religious woman, most people know. I’m a deist whose morals and beliefs are hopefully intelligent, non-static, and independent. I do my best to observe and investigate before giving an evaluation to diversity and change in people, places, concepts. When I hear others use “Hate the sin, not the sinner” as a blanket excuse without thinking on their own, or offering listeners no further explanation, I become sad that my people have resorted to such. They are helping to reinforce an ignorant stereotype of religious enthusiasts that I have prided in watching others fight so hard to refute.

My oldest brother explained to me that his religion teaches that homosexuality is wrong, for example, but he doesn’t pass judgment on homosexuals. That view started to come into focus. Roomie used an example—separate from my brother and I’s discussion—of a poor decision made between the personal and professional realms, but that didn’t make her think the decision maker was a bad seed. That in particular came across to me as being human. We are imperfect, and it’s not the individual errors that make us bad. As long as we do it with a conscience and learn from the results, there’s nothing about what transpired for which we should hold guilt.

Truly, this whole process is how we learn, and the motives behind each phase are projections of who we are. Call someone compassionate, spiteful, humorous, or bitter, but those won’t stick without evidence to back them. For me, that requires the actions and reasoning outlined above, and instinctual impressions in rare circumstances. Many people kill other for their jobs, but my verdict on their character has to rest on the full situation and background. Groups that adopt an opinion justified solely through popularity solidly set themselves apart from those that base opinions on patterns or research. Another layer on top of that is correctly determining the motive. A teen wins legal rights to abort her baby. Is she using it as a sick form of birth control or has she determined that she’s not ready? This series of apparent mistakes that somehow still produces happiness and meaning is what I call life. There’s no way for us to truly determine motive—only incredibly well-placed guesses—and we have to hope our decisions, even when we seem to falter, put us down the ‘right path.’

Defining ourselves by adjectives to me needs hard evidence in action, as I’ve outlined—so too by nouns. I say I’m a pole vaulter, and that encompasses being described as critical, technical, athletic, strong, and fearless. All of those a pole vaulter must be, but this definition like all others holds yet another meaning other than just implying a set of adjectives. There is the spirit to consider. That thrill of doing something devastatingly obscure, keeping at it, and always wanting to improve. The notion of a wholly individual sport that needs a welcoming community in order to salvage the deepest sense of joy. That strand of craziness manifested in bad jokes, or quirks like striped socks, or naming your pole (my first pole was named Bellatrix for the Amazon Star in Orion’s left shoulder). The spirit of the thing you’ll find in every role, from mother to accountant to guardian to coward, and onward.

The lit teacher at the end of the most recent Spiderman subjects that every story ultimately boils down to “who am I?” Appropriately, so do our lives. We seek this self-definition in whatever form to know we have some sort of [insert size or medium] legacy. Personally there is little in my past that hasn’t happened for a reason. My longest, most tiresome struggles, despite the resulting missed opportunities, bore in me a character of which I feel this craphole of a world could use more. And because of that evidence from the past, whatever feels incomplete or missing at the moment I know is pointing me toward some unrealized lesson. Remembering that—which is excruciatingly difficult at times—helps me carry the day and let go of things that would hang on most consciences for months. All I’m going to do is shrug it off. I know who I am, and how I’m working to show that in my everyday, and no one can be myself better than me.

A Pair of Revelations

from June 30th, 2012

One hundred and four days ago, I came to one hell of an insight, something that may be obvious to everyone else–however, like many things in life, it was something that was much more powerful and lasting to me since I had discovered it on my own, and not at the insistence or direct guidance of anyone else. It was the end of Pathways where one of my goals had been (and is still) to listen to my instinct more, speak out when I felt something should be said, and word it how I wanted it to come across (ie not shy back if I felt someone would think my wording was weird or dramatically archaic). It was then I thought back to my religious views, in that I am a deist, meaning I believe there’s something out there, though it hasn’t been defined by any organized religion that I’ve investigated thus far.

I also believe that there is something that connects everything–every thought, action, car, color, placement, touch, sunrise, concept, inaction, absolutely everything. It’s that intuition that helps us predict what’s happening next in a book, or by the look in someone’s eye, we are able to understand their deepest truths, or how we can comprehend what an animal wants to tell us. My grand realization was what if listening to my instinct is tapping into that common connecting thread? Obeying Fate? We have the freedom of choice, of course, but those choices were preordained by something we can’t even begin to understand. Figuring whether this choice or that choice is the one we’re supposed to take…well, that’s all part of life’s adventure 🙂

 

Now, that discovery of Fate within me is just a lead up to the first revelation I wanted to write about. I’ve adopted a new regimen for daily exercise that goes along with MovNat, which is basically getting humans back into nature, following natural movement in work and play. The most basic way I do this is through using tree climbing as my workout  One of the articles I read on a guy from AZ touches on separation anxiety of humans from the Earth. We have become to accustomed to creature comforts and ‘living it up’ in cities that we’ve lost the ability to communicate with nature. And even after concrete crumbles and electricity burns out the last bulb, nature will be here, so why we’re ignoring Her is beyond me.

 

But I digress. I was reviewing my philosophy about returning to our origins and how to better embody the spirit of nature. If we’ve become detached, then how is it that humans no longer emulate our natural condition? I thought about storms, in how one minuscule event three weeks earlier could be ultimately the starting point of a tsunami or devastating earthquake. And no matter where you look, there’s always something happening. Nature grows every single part of itself 24 hours a day, without fail. Even if some parts are slower, it’s always changing, and humans therefore should thrive in diversity as well. Every moment of our day, hour, minute affects what will happen to us years down the road. That’s not a belief. It’s a fact. Just because we can’t understand the full affect doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. If Stacy Dragila hadn’t won gold at Sydney, I would’ve never been there to coach Revels to win first in conference pole vault this year. If I hadn’t torn my left ACL in grand display of foolishness, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Dag archery until last year. My first revelation to share: everything counts, all the time.

 

The second came from my bike ride this morning. I listened to Julie Fowlis’ Touch the Sky for the first half of it, which could only be more epic on a trail ride, trail run, or on horseback. But that brought me back to Dagorhir. Waaaaaaaay too many people take themselves too seriously, and even more let their opinion of an event be swayed by drama, or weather, or a failed weapon, or something tiny on the grand scale of the event. I haven’t had a bad event to date, and with all the crap that goes on around me, people wonder why I’m still a part of it. It’s really just choice. I want to have a good time, so I always find something to enjoy, and let that memory carry the event. If something ‘bad’ happens, I learn from it and let it go. Dagorhir has been too much of a home to me to let anyone else ruin it.

 

It’s well known by some that I’m part of a unit whose main purpose is to mesh Dagorhir and the mundane. The main concept behind is that if Dagorhirrim go to all sorts of lengths for anyone in the Great Game out of love, why can’t we make that a part of our everyday life? We can improve Dag all we want, because that’s our haven to where we escape, but why don’t we improve the world around us so we don’t have that need to escape? Enter Rangers of the Ilanese. What came to mind this morning was difficulty I’m having at work, with dealing with aggressive coworkers who don’t see how their actions portray their lack of respect for policies I have to enforce for everyone’s job security. The words, “Why can’t that be more like Dag?” had hardly left my lips when the bigger picture hit me. I love Dag because I don’t let anyone else ruin my enjoyment, so my second revelation is that I need to love life and don’t let anyone else ruin my enjoyment.

 

Sadly the two don’t have a good tie in. I just wanted to share them before I forgot (again).

What’s in a Word?

from November 21, 2012

Words are invaluable. I don’t care if you pay a monthly newspaper subscription, or hire someone to write a speech, or sue someone for not following through on a contract. Far into the future, just before we hammer out communicating via thought, words will still be here, as implacable as mountains. They are so precious, fragile, and powerful that many times, I am astounded by how nonchalantly people bastardize their meaning, or adopt the notion that word choice isn’t a big deal. I am here with my diction to set the record straight.

For a little bit of background, let’s just say I didn’t have a white picket fence, American dream childhood. Verbal abuse, plus getting made fun of day in and day out at school turned me toward our Girl Scout Ship with overwhelming appreciation. It gave me a haven in high school in which I found friends who helped teach me to stand on my own, and that if my older sister could get past this ridicule, so could I. That thought made everything we had in common so much more inspiring than I think your average sophomore can absorb. One of those was log rolling, trying to stay standing on a slick log floating in Lake Michigan. At my second Bay Jammer (for the unaware, that’s the longest running coed scout competition in its 65th year in 2013) back in ’99, they announced winners for the Log Rolling event by unit, instead of now where they name the individual competitor. When they listed off 361 for First Place, they let me go get it and run it back to the group. I was ecstatic, saying to my sister, “Yeah! We did it!” and she just shook her head and said, “Nope, that was all you.” That is still one of my most memorable accomplishments to this day. Somehow, I knew a phrase like, “All right! Props, sis!” just wouldn’t cut it. So, does word choice matter?

As time went on, I grew up in the ship, yet I had never really adopted a little sister–in our tradition of taking a younger girl under your wing to mentor and guide and advise where needed. There really wasn’t one in particular I clicked with, and I really wanted to, in order to be an example like mine was to me. Right after I graduated, I went to the GS National Jamboree with a couple of girls from Byron that I had only met that year. I got to tell them all about 361 adventures during our three harrowing weeks of heat, teenage drama, cousin squabbles, and I was the most senior. Mom pushed that on me since their troop was in danger of disbanding. And that inevitable meeting did come after we parted ways. They were asked one by one what they felt would be the best for them all. When it got around to the first of the girls from Idaho, she responded that she didn’t want to continue unless she could join 361. She went on to be our boatswain (aka president), the first of several generations of Byron members, and of course, my first little sister. A year or two down the road, she would give me a copy of a paper she wrote for school over the impact I had on her, how she learned never to stereotype people “because you’ll never know how they can change a person’s life.” And word choice doesn’t matter?

Fast forward to a few years ago, and I adopted a second little sister just as she was graduating. I had seen her mature more in her first two years in the ship than I had seen dozens do in their entire scouting career. And that wasn’t even considering the second half of high school, either. Our friendship easily fell into sharing everything from stupid jokes to memorable quotes to three hour long conversations at 2 am. Thoughts and concepts that seemed so obscure were things that ended up connecting us. For my birthday, I got an envelope that held a picture of the two of us in a ridiculously staged scene of a mock snowball fight with the caption “Sisters in every sense of the word” and three simple 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages that were home to a journal entry of her first Bay Jammer. Between evidence of a typical freshman vocabulary was a very real commentary on our first interactions. One part in particular covered our rededication ceremony, during which I told my story about the Log Rolling ribbon, and how she “cried because [she] would never have a sister to do and say things like that.” It was a little sad, sure, but touching and inspiring as well. And word choice doesn’t matter?

Words are incredible reflections of us as people. The amount of metaphors for time and money in English is comparable to the amount of translations of “honor” in Japanese. Be it with loved ones, at work, for yourself, playing sports, or even writing, time is too precious to be cheapened down to the level of money. As often as I can, I avoid using spent, invested, worth, etc. in relation to time. I’m removing it from the Pahmoten books–in fact, when a world traveler in my second book slips up and uses “spent an hour,” the others with him make a big deal of it and use a large part of the conversation explaining ‘that culture’ where time equals money. I refuse to put “my” in front of titles like lord, lady, king, queen. To me, that implies ownership, and I can never think of people being objects to be possessed.

I’ve also taken up arms using “I don’t know.” Nine times out of ten, people end an answer or explanation with it, as if trailing off in uncertainty or embarrassment. And it kills me when my friends, family, athletes, scouts give in to it. What they have forgotten is that they have NO reason to be ashamed. YOU know yourself and your feelings better than anyone alive. Why put yourself or your judgment down by implying that your words are inferior because they may not make sense to someone else? Or because you don’t want to offend someone by making too strong of a stand or criticism? Over the past couple months, I’ve pointed it out to a few people, encouraging them to honor themselves and say what they want to around me. Personally, that phrase is no longer an acceptable response that I can offer.

But the most important distinction in my life is the use of ‘home.’ Growing up on 7 1/2 acres of woods, I was in paradise. My siblings and I played in the woods all the time. We had a soccer field out front where my brothers and sister practiced their tails off in the grueling summer heat. It was where we made snow forts in the winter, and built ones from boxes in the basement. I had a treehouse and millions of adventures that will no doubt someday spring up in my books. All of that centered around our two story, stone fireplace home, so when my parents’ divorced and mom was forced to sell the house, I was devastated. I couldn’t even finish out my high school ears in the home that was as much a part of our family as we humans were. It wasn’t until later on in my writing career that I nailed down my definition of ‘home,’ in that it’s never a place, but the people and memories, a sense of safety, a haven. When my loved ones are within arm’s reach, and I can laugh whole-heartedly at a funny story, or feel like everything’s going exactly as Fate intended. That is home.

I would hope that’s enough evidence at this point, so now to the reasons why. Words connect everyone, everywhere. As mentioned, they’ve been around since the beginning of man, even though they’ve changed enormously since. In a world of internet, Facebook, Twitter, and texting, it’s no wonder that a more ‘connected’ human race now faces a rapidly diminishing ability to connect physically with others. Body language or tone is too often lost in translation, and these misinterpretations lead to stress and drama, especially in our younger generations. The weight of diction and accuracy is more now than ever crucial to our survival. Why bother wasting time driving across town to visit a friend and laugh at a joke when we can send a quick ‘lol’ to their phone? The more we give up and refuse to preserve of our oral history, the more we submit to the idea that relating to each other doesn’t matter, and the more we lose of the range of ideas and concepts our languages can express. Look at humanity’s track record–but carefully, or the slippery slope we’re on will claim another victim.

Now, the value of how we use words cheapens the phenomenal works of Shakespeare, Tolkien, Wolfe. More and more, their masterpieces are regarded as lengthy, flowery, complex. Well, my good mortals, do you think and dream in black and white? Can you understand all of the symbolism behind a triumphant athlete raising her fist in victory? Do you know her story that has made that moment strong enough to shatter decades-old oppression? Or is she just celebrating a single point in the match? You describe a white flower in literature today, and people think a flower with white petals. A hundred years ago, one wondered how the purity of the white relates to the circumstances, or whether the life of a flower represents the growth of [insert character name]. The pressure and fast pace of the present has bled this appreciation out of us. I can’t dig on parodies and internet memes–because the only way to truly show your love for something is to admit its imperfections, revel in its ridicule, and still cherich every instance in your life. However, there’s a difference between loving the good with the bad, and blatant neglect and ignorance. We have become blind to the depth of words, so our literary legends and our own potential is becoming endangered.

I give the utmost importance to words because they are the first steps taken by dreams and hopes and fears as they go from within our hearts and out into the harsh light of day. If I discipline my speech and graphite trails to reflect exactly what I believe, then I hear and see my convictions in an external source, and my identity becomes stronger in a beautiful, supportive cycle. My loved ones comprehend more clearly what I stand for, how much confidence they can place in me, and my enemies see my full capability, learn to fear me as they see the flaws that I’ve examined and extinguished. If life is short, then I need to put as much meaning and emotion behind each syllable I get, in order to live to my fullest. Even if I’m alone, I will fight tooth and nail, as the Great Bard says, for that weight of this sad time we must obey, and speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The Idea of a God

Greetings! As Xanga (my previous blog of choice) went to a paid design, I now have transferred to WordPress, and shall remain here until a similar situation happens. Thus begins posting much of the content from my former site, so some of this should look familiar. Feel free to reread and critique or comment as wanted/necessary.

from February 13, 2011

I took all of yesterday off from a normally hectic schedule to start catching up my scrapbook, and it accompanied the 5th season of Supernatural. Ok, the entire season minus the first disk which I actually watched on Friday evening. Regardless, for those who haven’t watched it, this season takes the characters through the apocalypse, retouching themes of faith, family, historical vs. ‘mystical’ bible, and takes on human culture. I also finished up Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol on Thursday, and the first article I noticed on CNN this morning was about a pastor’s journey through viral meningitis. All of this coupled with rare scattered comments here and there on the subject have led me to writing up a piece on religion.

For starters, I identify Lutheran, ’cause that’s how I was raised, and I haven’t done enough research to confidently say there’s another whose teachings and traditions I more often agree with. In truth, the Bible is highly metaphorical and should be treated wholly as such if you believe even one part to be a metaphor. Honestly? You’re accepting the fact that something can turn water to wine, yet the Lamb imagery is simply imagery? No go for me. It’s a great guide for living. Per Boondock Saints, no raping, murdering, or stealing are basic principles every person of any background can follow. My church announced a while back that ELCA is allowing homosexual pastors. We don’t take a stand one way or another on abortion. I can jive with these things.

But what I cannot do is assign human characteristics to God. Not gender, sex, emotion, thought, the whole kit and kaboodle. If you have the ability to monitor everything that happens on our planet, past present and future, not to mention all the sunsets and rivers and ecosystems, tacking on anger or jealousy or mercy won’t hold any truth–it’s just a way for people to conceptualize you. In my religion/psychology course on the Holocaust, we learned a lot of Jews lost faith in God because they thought it abandoned its people. In Supernatural, God just ‘sat by’ and watched the apocalypse happen. How could God allow this to happen?

Because God doesn’t care. It can’t, or at least not in the mortal version of ‘care.’ It just assigns souls to flesh and watches how we live our lives. There is a natural order to things and they will happen as they mean to. That doesn’t make tragedies any less tragic, and I’m in no way belittling the suffering of any victim. I’m not bitter at all. I’ve had a great life compared to others, chock-full of blessings and trials. None of this was born out of reaction from a single event, or multiple similar events. I’m just stating my beliefs.

I am much more prone to looking for answers down here among humans than I am from any supreme being, and it is sad the amount of people who do the opposite. My favorite quote about religion comes from–yes, that’s right–a comic book series called Starkweather. “This is God’s gift, the gift of choice. The will and the freedom to shape this world, and hopefully guidance to choose rightly…citing the work of misguided men as proof of God’s indifference and taking it as permission to shirk your responsibility is cowardly at best. We stand or fall on our own choices. No one…not even God can take that responsibility for us.” We are all flesh and blood, and I don’t care if we were born a thousand miles apart, or with different medical care, or introduced to a different set of holy books. We. Are. All. HUMAN. And we deserve a pledge of respect and service to each other to help each other through this existence when are in need. We were all born with brains and minds and souls. We would be a lot better off if we use them instead of ignoring them.

Yes, I am a believer of free will, and also of destiny. I believe the creator knows each end and result of where our choices will take us. “Wait, Becca, so if God knew when all these world travesties would happen, why couldn’t it just prevent those path choices?” No, that’s not the question you need to be asking. It’s not why God allowed these things to happen.

It’s why did HUMANS allow these things to happen.

My grand scheme of God is that we all have pieces of it in us–what I understand as a soul. And not different souls, but all part of the same, all part of one. Those who are responsible for great tragedy and suffering are unaware of this fact: that when they hurt another mortal, another living object, they’re in fact hurting themselves. Pursuing our own version of peace and fulfillment without impeding on that of others–if you can agree to this, then you and I will get along just fine.

Trust me, I’m much more mild mannered and accepting than I seem. The one thing I can’t stand is ignorance, and if I ever get riled up, it’s probably because of that. I’m always one for intelligent conversation if I don’t have to rush off somewhere. Sit me down and talk sometime. If there’s food or a fireplace, I’d be even more willing to do so 🙂