Spiral Dynamics Blues (and Yellow and Green and Orange and Red and Purple and Beige)

I don’t buy into Spiral Dynamics completely, but it has helped me see the world in a different way, a way that makes sense as to how people think, act, and interact with one another…

With that being said, here goes something.

***

I am on eHarmony, I mentioned this in my previous post, and things are going swimmingly with connecting with women, finding out about them and their interests and their passions, but then I propose my 3 questions in the dig deeper portion of the guided conversation set up by eHarmony.
I will be gracious in this, I am coming in contact with a lot of women who haven’t given much thought to my questions in an abstract way. Sure some responses I have received pertaining to the LGBTQ Community and God, Heaven, The Devil, Hell are very concrete in nature, but I have grace for them because I once was there as well.

It’s not that my life’s journey is somehow or somewhere better than theirs, I’m just coming from a looking back in hindsight perspective.

Still, I carry on. My roommate thinks I rush into these questions too quickly, that I should ease up a bit before going for the jugular heart of the matter. Maybe I do ask these questions too soon, but frankly I would rather know the answers to these questions, whether in concrete terms or even abstract ones, now then cultivate a possible relationship with someone only to ask these questions at a later time to only, well let’s be frank, cause a rift in our relationship.
I rather take my chances and put my cards face up on the table.

This hasn’t been too hard or too easy, I still feel like I’m baring my soul when I ask these questions to the women I engage with on eHarmony every single time, and I have to sit beside myself after I put myself out there because I don’t like feeling vulnerable; whether that’s something I do to myself or being put in a position of vulnerability.

But life and its wonders and its magical moments, I’m making headway! I know that when it comes to my questions I am not alone, and yet (and this is where the Spiral Dynamics part kicks in) I feel so alone sometimes / a lot of the time because of these things that are of utmost importance to me. I might seem very black and white about these issues, but I think know I want to connect with someone, someone I can evolve with and love, and having someone who’s more of the green yellow turquoise variant will make things easier for us as individuals as well as a couple.

***

Yet I realize there are issues that arise from Spiral Dynamics, it’s formulaic and life doesn’t always go by the rules, this categorizes people, creates/fosters paradigms of people…but still, there is something to how people attract similar minded and hearted people, and I realize in my life that there are people I gravitate to and people who gravitate to me simply because of our commonalities.

Which is why I still press on, why I still ask questions that make or break, still waiver a bit before hitting send but I hit it anyway. I want to believe it will pay off, whether here in eHarmonyland or offline!

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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Drawing in the sand; let go of the rocks you carry

Sand drawing

It seems to me that there are folks in various religious communities who are fascinated, and perhaps borderline obsessive, by the sexual orientation of others. While I cannot speak as a representative of faiths that aren’t my own, I’ll stick to Christianity because it’s what I know best (religion-wise) and to a certain extent I prescribe to the main tenants of the faith.

The church as a whole is not an over-the-top, black-and-white heteronormative environment (dare I say duh?). Sure it might try to maintain this image in some parts and denominations within Christianity, but that facade is being pulled back and off (thank God) albeit in some areas a little at a time.
Even in my lifetime I have been moved and prompted by God to change my mind and heart when it came what I thought about the LGBTQ+ community. I consider myself blessed for having my worldview altered with every Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender follower of Christ I know and have met.

My changed posture, both heart and mind, stem from being open to God and whomever I’m in contact with. Because I realize in my life it has come from engagement with those who make up the LGBTQ+ community. Over the years I’ve also come to realize that love requires proximity, and while God could have changed my heart and mind about what I previously thought about the LGBTQ+ community, I don’t think I’d be able to speak and live my truth had I chose not to engage intentionally in proxy. I could be wrong, bu that’s what I think in the matter.

The basis for why this post is called “drawing in the sand; let go of the rocks you carry” is because Jesus was called on by the religious leaders (as found in John 8) of his time to handle an issue they had. That “issue” they presented was a woman caught in adultery (the man isn’t mentioned, but that’s another matter altogether).
The religious leaders explain what needed to be done, on their terms, to such a woman. Stoning to death was the methodology,their perception as to how to bring about restitution. Jesus proceeds to sit down and draws in the ground, the religious leaders prompt him and egg him on, but Jesus instructs them as follows;

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (verse 8)

He draws a bit more and then…”Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

“No one, sir,” she said.

Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (verses 10 & 11)

And with that the woman is set on her way, her dignity and humanity restored by Jesus.

***

I think this story speaks to the innate desire to focus on what’s going on in the lives of others while failing to address one’s own issues. When we do this, we are like religious leaders, we clasp onto our own “stones” with the intention to throw. Stones of bias, judgment, confusion, hatred, fear, ignorance, etc. We also sometimes hold onto these stones because we’re coming from a place of projection and not being at peace with our own selves.

So when it comes down to the passage where Jesus tells the woman to “go now and leave your life of sin” it is important to realize it’s Jesus making this statement to the woman, not the religious leaders. Yet at times the rebuttal to this is something akin to “yeah, well, the Bible clearly says…” and thus the paradigm of “what the Bible says” compared to “what Jesus said” takes place. Then there are times it becomes a moral “slippery slope” pertaining to rights, that if there’s acceptance or tolerance of the LGBTQ+ community it won’t be long till it’s extended to those who are into beastiality, incest, pedophilia, etc.
That is just fear-mongering and ignorance at work in one’s mind, there’s no comparison and that form of thinking is toxic and absolutely absurd.

It is for these reasons among others I deeply encourage those in the Christian community to let go of their rocks and move in the direction of proximity with the LGBTQ+ community. They’re our friends, our family members, our coworkers, and they’re also our fellow church goers.
God is in the midst of the LGBTQ+ community, isn’t it time that we do that as well?

~Nathanael~

Words to raise the dead

When I was younger I was fascinated by the Jewish legend and lore of the Golem. A monster made of the dirt who would come to life when molded by a Rabbi, and when truth/emet was inscribed upon it it came to life, when the “e” was removed death/met terminated the Golem.
A protector of the Jewish people when there were problems; pogroms, antisemitic attacks, and the like.

Given that with what little I know about my Jewish heritage, there were matchmakers and Rabbi’s in my family, so it would have been the latter that took the dirt and inscribed the emet and when the time came met would have occurred…

With that being said, despite centuries and cultures apart, I too raise the dead with my words!

No, I don’t take the soil in my hands and inscribe emet into it, but I do speak words of encouragement, comfort, and life over and into others.

Last week one of my students was in an emotional rut. She had a difficult day, it was known by all, but given some factors in her life it didn’t sink in until much later in the day. When it did, she was moping about and frustrated with herself for the choices she made for herself. Because I don’t work with her all that often, and I’m not in her classroom so I only see her when she goes back to her unit. It was there I saw her in a very despondent state of being, it was there I spoke life into her;

“This is a temporary setback, this doesn’t define you nor does this define your future.”

The light returned to her eyes, hope set back in, and she whispered a “thank you” to me.

***

That’s all it took for my student, and so often it is the case with most people who need words to raise them from their suffering or their metaphorical death. Yet I propose that within speaking life into others, sincerity is key; yes, sometimes the outcome might very well be bleak, and literal physical death could be on the horizon, but there is still room to speak from a place of truth and not one that merely glosses over reality.

Speaking encouragement and life into someone’s life doesn’t take much, but so often we don’t take the time to do this because we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of anything that isn’t us. But we weren’t made to be solely focused on our needs, we ought to consider the welfare of others (more on this in my next post).

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Midday Meditation 5.24.16

Midday Meditation 5.24.16
“The Lord walks among the pots and pans” – Brother Lawrence
 
Since Friday I’ve been working behind the scenes at my work, that is, light duty in the form of washing dishes, getting sack lunches ready, getting snacks ready, and related. In the time I have spent doing this I realize I have been present, even hyper-present almost, to the tasks before me and to those I am helping out by helping feed them.
 
It was while cleaning I was reminded of a 17th century Carmelite brother by the taken name of Lawrence Of The Resurrection, and how his experience in the order was as dishwasher and later on sandal repairer. From his teachings the book The Practice of the Presence of God came forth, and from within it a sense of peace and presence with God and others in what might be perceived mundane everyday life.
 
Working in the kitchen is not always an easy task, but the kitchen staff has been helpful through and through, plus one of my students has helped me in the morning hours leading up to school. He made known to me that he felt privileged to be working alongside of me, how humbling! There in the kitchen, in the midst of dirty pots and pans, I too felt the same thing.
Isn’t that a beautiful example of what life can look like? That it’s not always those mountaintop experiences, but in the small and quiet and humbling ways, ways that point to simply BEing in communion with others.
 
I have been given the green light to go back to working with my students come tomorrow, which I am really thankful to be able to do that. But I am also thankful for my time spent working in the kitchen, my level of presence and BEing has been raised.

Morning musing 4.24.16

Early morning musing 4.24.16

I’m thinking of writing for my eyes only an ongoing narrative called “What Bothers The F*** Out Of Me” or WBTFOUM for short.

Now while it might appear to be over the top, after all I’m using a variant of the “F Word” in the title, it’s a strong word because I have strong reactions to some things; such as social injustice, food deserts, racism, grace and forgiveness being withheld on my part, responding out of fear and not love, mental health stigma internal and external, et al.

All of the things that bother me in this life mainly pertain to human behavior, and not the human in and of himself/herself. Which I think is good, because I can work through reaction and respond with action.

I don’t see human beings as issues, their own or imposed, we all have faults and cracks. Yet this is how the light gets in (as so elegantly sung by Leonard Cohen in Anthem), and so I want to expose my cracks and be illuminated.

I have cracks, I have faults, I have an inner darkness, I have fear of true intimacy. But I have a desire for the light to expose all of me, I want to be seen for who I am and not some cheap imitation that’s “socially accepted” and that’s it.

I was made for more than that,
You were made more than that ☺

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Church Incognito; An intergenerational, literal and KJV only church; my experience at an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church

A few Sundays ago my friend Rameel and I attended the church of a woman we met at the Open Mosque. We both arrived a little late, but we were greeted warmly nonetheless, and we found our way to our mutual friend’s pew.

During the time we stood and sang hymns, I took time to get a feed on who made up Valley Baptist Church; a somewhat diverse group ethnically speaking, but there were multi-generational families gathered as well. Most of the hymns I recognized, so I followed along while those gathered sang.

During the meet-and-greet portion of the service, I ran into a guy I have known for a very long time. I talked to him about how long he had been going to that church (as I know him from a church we once attended together). He told me he had been attending there for close to 3 years, and he liked it better than the church we used to attend together because he much preferred reading the KJV only and he liked hymn books over Powerpoint slides.

The message Pastor Hemphill gave that Sunday was on contrition, that is repentance. It was a good message in and of itself, but at times the language found in the KJV threw me off; not that it was off-putting, it’s just not my lingua franca and consequently I got lost in a sea of thee’s and thou’s.

After the service, my friend Rameel met with the pastor because he had some questions. While I don’t know the full nature of their discussion, I was greatly encouraged by pastor Hemphill taking time out to talk to my friend. During this time I talked to Rameel and my mutual friend, and she filled me in on some addition in’s-and-outs of the church, I was encouraged to find out more from her.

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While my views differ from what’s presented at Valley Baptist Church, I was greatly pleased by the hospitality of those my friend and I met, especially by pastor Hemphill. It’s one thing to have doctrines, theological perspectives, and beliefs, but it’s entirely a different thing to put them into practice. What I observed and experienced firsthand was practice over doctrine, and that has made all the difference to me.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael