Friday, May 24, 2013

Terrorism

New York City Fire Chief addresses firefighters, 9/11 (1)
Terrorism is not something I ever expected to have to deal with at home. I grew up in a world where we played outside until the street lights came on, and the only caveat was that we had to be close enough to hear when the parents started calling for us. We tumbled out the door at dawn and came back in time for lunch, then we were out again until supper. Our parents never knew our whereabouts, and we were happy with it that way.

I wish we could give that same freedom to our children, but we can't. Children left outside for hours at a time like that often go missing. The world we live in today is not child friendly. It is not a good world.

Boston bombings 2013 (2)
Two days ago, a British soldier was walking on a London street and was beheaded by two radical Islamic men. Only a few weeks ago, hundreds of people were injured and killed during the bombing of the finish line of the Boston Marathon, something also linked to radical Islamic beliefs. These two geographically disparate events don't seem to be much connected, except by the radicals who performed them, and even there, the men weren't connected in any known way. They were "lone wolves" who worked on their own with only a bit of urging from terrorists in the Middle East.

Terrorism has always been something that "happened over there." You just don't see bombings and shootings in the streets of North America. Except that now you do. We have mass shootings in our schools, radical Christians spouting hatred on the internet, and riots across the continent.

At one time, I would have donned my priestess robes, picked up a flower, and declared, "Give peace a chance." That flower child is long gone, my friends. I still believe that we can largely live in peace on this rather small globe, even with all our differences. It isn't going to be easy, though, and it's going to mean doing some pretty drastic things, things that the general public is not going to like.

Women in burkas, 2003 (3)
The current concern about Muslim terrorists and extremists is that they hide in plain sight. Just as you can't look at a Christian and tell if she's Lutheran, Unitarian, Catholic or UCC, you can't tell by looking whether a Muslim is an extremist or not. Most Muslim men wear head coverings, and have a beard, regardless of their type of belief. Muslim women dress very modestly, often covering their hair and sometimes other parts of their bodies, and this is true of extremists and moderates. So how do we know who to be afraid of?

The problem is that we don't know. There is no easy way to point and say, "That's the bad guy." The knee jerk reaction lately has been to label all Muslims as suspect, and to avoid them and persecute them. I don't see that as an acceptable answer, especially in this country. America is the great melting pot, and if we begin to persecute people because of their religious beliefs, then we become like the beast we're trying to conquer. We cannot in good faith descend into that pit.

Osama bin Laden, 2011 (4)
On the other side of that, we can't just stand around twiddling our thumbs and saying it's an isolated incident. That's simply no longer true. There are radical Muslims in this country and others, and they are hell bent on destroying western culture and life.

It's my opinion that we need to treat these radicals (and by that, I mean ALL radicals, be they from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other background) as the criminals they are. We don't have laws prohibiting the practice of Islam, nor should we. But we certainly have laws prohibiting murder, rape, torture, and terrorism. Let's exercise these laws to the fullest extent. The problem is not the religion itself, but the thought patterns amongst the radicalized men and women in their various religions.

What we need to avoid is the "us or them" thought pattern. That is inherently what leads to radicalism. We need to internalize that there is no "all Muslims" anymore than there is "all Christians" or "all Democrats" or "all women." These defined and labelled groups do not exist. Those Muslims, Christians, Democrats, women, and others who choose to flout the laws of this land or who espouse a viewpoint that is damaging on a cellular level to the American way of life, should be carefully monitored.

Is it profiling? It may be. Profiling was created for a reason, and it isn't a bad thing on its own. Profiles let us know what sort of people to look for based upon the crimes committed. It's useful. The good profile becomes useless, though, when it is ignored or distorted. New methods of profiling should be examined and tried.

Five years ago, extremist Muslim behavior brought almost no sound out of the greater Muslim community in North America. All you could hear were crickets. Today, though, that is changing. Throughout the world, Muslim leaders outside of the Middle East are standing up and speaking vehemently against the violence of their extremist brethren. This is such a huge step forward. It can't be praised enough.

When Westboro Baptist pickets a soldier's funeral because of some perceived fault, thousands of counter-protesters arrive to block WB's ability to cause a ruckus. Other Christians readily denounce them as radicals, extremists, and as people with very little understanding of their holy book. When Muslims can do the same, the world will be a little better, a little safer place to live.

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
 
You may also be interested in:

Why have/be a minister?
Spring has sprung!
Kumaré
How to teach your sons about consent
Twelve Steps to Freedom

1) Image by Andrea Booher, FEMA photo library (Wikimedia Commons)
2) Image by Aaron Tang (Wikimedia Commons)
3) Image by Nitin Madhav, USAID (Wikimedia Commons)
4) Image by U. S. Federal Government (Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Hekatean Prayer and Ritual Book: Call for Submissions | The Crossroads Companion

The Hekatean Prayer and Ritual Book: Call for Submissions | The Crossroads Companion

For those who follow the call of Hecate, this may be of interest to you. I am thinking of submitting one of my prayer calls to this endeavor. :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why have (or be) a minister? Glad you asked!

morgueFree images
The history of spirituality and religion is a rocky one, fraught with half-truths and misleading information. While we can grasp the big picture about religion's history, it's almost impossible to get a good, solid grasp on where it started or why.

One thing we do know is that, at one time, people connected with the gods on their own. They would call on whatever tribal or local god or goddess they needed, or the spirit of the element they were concerned with, and they would interact with that being themselves. At some point, though, leaders came along who began telling other people what the gods wanted. And things changed...

Fast forward to modern times, and there's a minister, priest, rabbi or pastor on every corner. Some are self-supporting, and others are not. They all follow different rules in regards to food, clothing, shelter, sexual conduct, and worship. What ties us all together is the fact that, on some level, every single spiritual leader acts as an intermediary between a person and the Divine.

Ordination
This is not to say that people can't interact with the All on their own. I'm a firm proponent of the idea that most of a person's interactions with the All should be on their own. Still, there are some times when having a guide, someone to hold your hand as you experience life's twists and turns, is both comforting and necessary.

Funerals are one of the best examples I can think of when having that intermediary is important. When you are experiencing the grief associated with the loss of a friend or family member, it's difficult to be doing all the necessary paperwork, comforting others, and writing a eulogy all at the same time as crying into your pillow at night. This can be doubly complicated if feelings for or about the deceased are less than friendly, as it can evoke guilt and anger, both which can seem inappropriate during funeral rites. A minister (or other spiritual leader) can gently guide you in your decisions and help you navigate the family and paperwork involved.

Those ministers who feel that they are some kind of gateway to God tend to really bother me. It often feels as if they think they're as important as God, or maybe MORE important! It seems to me that they're more interested in controlling than in helping and comforting. After all, if you've learned that the only way to God is through a single person, that person holds power over you. They hold the power to separate you from your Higher Power.

Cathedral of the Pines
So why have a minister at all? Why not just be a free-lance person being spiritual? Well, that is always an option. Some people do just fine that way. Humans, though, are a social group. We like to associate with others. If you have a group of people who are all priests, trying to lead at the same time, you end up with chaos and no one gets to commune with Goddess.

On the other hand, if you can choose one person to lead, things can improve. Leadership need not be by someone who graduated from seminary or divinity school. It does help to have some training, though, especially if the group is larger than a handful. There's a lot of work to organizing a large group of disparate people into a cohesive unit.

In ancient Rome and Greece, many people took a turn being the priest in the temple. It was considered a public service, something done to show piety, honor to the gods, and good will to the community as a whole. In more recent times, spiritual leadership has taken a more permanent role, with people taking training either one-on-one (as in Wicca and some shamanistic systems) or in groups (such as Harvard Divinity or Andover-Newton).

Worshiping alone
Even people who do the majority of their worship alone, tend to enjoy getting together with like-minded individuals to share major holy days or to grieve in groups. It's a natural human rhythm to seek out others during times of extreme joy or pain. It is not unusual for people to work together for certain celebrations.

No matter how you look at it, though, the spiritual leader is really only a guide. His or her job is simply to walk beside you as you travel the path you've chosen. There will be times when a solitary journey suits you better, and times when you clasp the proffered hand with relief. Needing or wanting that spiritual leader to be nearby is not a bad thing, so long as you don't lose your own connection to the Divine.

Looked at another way, if you had a physical emergency you would not want to be performing surgery on yourself. Spiritual emergencies can be just as life threatening, and having a qualified professional present can make all the difference in the world.

Do you have a spiritual authority or leader in your life who helps you out when times are rough? Are you a spiritual leader for others?

Check back often for prayers, spiritual musings and all manner of religious discussion and talk. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! If you purchase items I have linked through ads or Amazon, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
 
You may also be interested in:

Spring has sprung!
Kumaré
How to teach your sons about consent
Twelve Steps to Freedom
Being the better person