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04 November 2009 @ 03:32 am
On God and Love.  
It's 4am here and I can't sleep. I have a knot in my stomach and a sick feeling in my heart over the news that voters in Maine passed Question 1 on the ballot, which repealed a law to allow same-sex couples to marry, albeit narrowly.

I want to scream my frustration and sadness over this. I want to rage against this latest (narrow) victory for intolerance, hate and ignorance.

Instead, all I feel inspired to do right now is share a personal story with anyone who cares to read it.

It's about the day I found God.

I was seventeen and had the opportunity to go on a short tour of Europe with a music group to play in various countries. We stopped in Paris where I had the pleasure to go to one of the largest, most majestic Catholic cathedrals I've ever seen. The name of the church eludes me after all these years, but I was eager to attend a mass because I was feeling spiritually confused. I was born and raised a Catholic but I was beginning to doubt the teachings of the church. "Rebellious" alternatives, like declaring myself agnostic or atheist, didn't seem to fit either. I even took a glance at the Church of Satan, but that's a story for another day.

In the end I attended this mass in France, but truth be told I wasn't really there. I was in my own head, knelt in prayer as I took in the pious majesty of my surroundings. I found myself doing something very cliche... looking up with my hands folded and asking for answers, albeit in my own head.

I said to myself, "I want to pray, but I don't know who to pray to any more. I want to believe in something, but I don't know what to believe in. The only thing I believe in is love."

And just like that, the answer came to me.
"God is love."

My heart swelled with joy. To this day I can't describe the happiness and relief I felt with this revelation. This was something I could grasp. This was something I could believe in. This was something I had been taught in my childhood and could easily take it with me all through the years. God, my God, is Love. Screw all the other teachings from all the other sources. God is Love is my religion, and I live that to this day.

I earnestly believe in God, though I don't refer to God as Him or Her. I can get behind a being who is full of unconditional love and compassion. I can easily worship a deity who loves all its creations equally. I can stand firmly behind the feeling in my heart that I received that day in the church because I feel it still in the presence of my family, my dearest friends, my beloved girlfriend and even from the readers of my webcomic who come and say such wonderful things to me, a total stranger, when I'm out at conventions. That is Love... unconditional and all-encompassing Love, and that is my God.

It saddens me greatly that not everyone sees God that way. It breaks my heart to see people standing up for hate and intolerance in God's name, claiming that God's love is not unconditional and all-encompassing. To deny others the right to express their love for one another in all its glory and uplifting wonder is, to me, a sin against the joy that God gave us.

I guess I'll just have to pray that some of that glorious Love will spread sooner than later, and all this needless hate will be nothing more than a regrettable memory one day.
Current Mood: sadsad
Aegis J. Hyena: Kobokoaj_hyena on November 4th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
"I even took a glance at the Church of Satan, but that's a story for another day." --- I'm curious.

Oddly enough, I prayed in my head as a teen myself, but I got no answers or anything like you did. Although a few things in my life I simply -cannot- explain except through some kind of higher power...

A friend of mine recently said "We all need a little evil to function properly... it's when we let that evil take control over us that bad things happen." Don't know why I put that here, but it felt right.

*wonders if you read the Jack webcomic*
beyondweird on November 4th, 2009 09:31 am (UTC)
So I'm one of those random webcomic readers...but I love this :) It's my exact view of God too, and I hate it when people use God as something evil.

I like seeing that there's other people out there like you though :)
jevorjevor on November 4th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
It's sad that sometimes those that believe in a God that is love don't feel the need to spread that message to everyone they meet. Often times people fear and hate that which makes them feel uncomfortable and that results in a lot more hate and loathing. It's a nasty cycle.

The Bible tells us that love is not a sin, but lust is. Many of the verses that speak of homosexuality are referring to married men having young boys as sex slaves or situations in the Roman Empire where orgies and debauchery were common place. The verses say nothing of two people who are in love or anything of the sort and many believe that if the book doesn't say it specifically it must not exist or that it is treated the same. People are very often sheep, listening to one person screaming from a megaphone who just happens to be older or in a position of power. Breaks my heart sometimes.

But it is nice to see someone very worked up over this. Shows that you care and have strong feelings to the subject and to what you believe in. Keep up the good work.
Experiments if Lifeweatherman2111 on November 4th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
True all this be.

In the end, though, we have only our generation to blame because we didn't get off our asses and vote. From record shattering turnout last year to damn near record lows this year. And we let the biggots win. We just let it happen. I don't even live in Maine and this breaks my heart. I know there will come a day when no gives a shit about people being gay, but it isn't this day, and this day we lost to hatred and mindless fear.

niveditavidula on November 5th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that that's true. Of course we should vote, but do you really know for sure if the demographics that voted in the Maine election truly did have fewer younger people? I go to school in New York and my friends went home to make sure their votes got counted, and I don't think that's very untypical.

Additionally, I think it's worth mentioning that the margins have been getting closer and closer through all the votes. Part of that is due to education, and part of that is due to conservative older voters dying. It's only a matter of time before too few of them are left to outvote us. That may be slightly morbid and creepifying, but it's also a factor in why we lost.
Kittenthebabelsburgfx on November 4th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
I, too, am one of your random loving readers.

I, too, was raised Catholic, but refused Confirmation because of my sexuality. I looked into a lot of interesting alternatives, but slowly realized that replacing my religion was pointless as I couldn't recall ever actually feeling the presence of god(s). Your experience is quite beautiful and moving, and I don't hesitate to call you lucky.

While I'm pleased Szark is being honest with himself, I was sad to see another bisexual role model "turn" gay. Obviously, we're up to our armpits in orcs at the moment, but I can't wait to check back in on him.
ryu29 on November 4th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
"I even took a glance at the Church of Satan, but that's a story for another day." --- I'm curious as well.

All be it i admit I'm still a teenager and probably haven't experienced as much as some.But I have experienced enough to know who I am and what I am. About last year I was hmm how do I put this a very dark and hateful child I hated all the hate and bigots and assholes in the world,and I hated God for creating all this.

But last summer things just suddenly became clear and in turn better.My best friend hes well bisexual as well as I am and his parents well hate him they are very strong christians he turned to drugs as well as many other things.He asked me to save him and so I did and so he lives in my home.

But when discussing things over with my parents I finally got up the nerve to ask "What of our religion?" And my parents simply replied"We don't have religion we believe in god,you see we don't go to church because why should one other man who is a supposed vessel of god.We believe in a god who loves in every person no matter what they have done.We believe tolerance will be the savior this world desperately needs."

Then everything came down on me like a load of bricks that should have fell long ago.In everything I did before that time just made me a hypocrite.I now do believe in god not that he's not just love but all good feelings.A very very wise man once said "True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness."

You may not read this and if you do you may find it garbage.Either way this is what I believe in and actually now I know true happiness.I just thought I would voice my thoughts.

..........Wait I think I just wrote a damn essay.
Luciaxashxnightx on November 5th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
That's very similar to something my dad said to me once. We were discussing Christianity, and my parents believe in things very different from that. Reincarnation, and the flows of energy, some things that are rather hard to describe, but easy to feel. In this conversation, I eventually told my dad that he wasn't a Christian, and his response was, "How do you know?"

That threw me for a loop for a minute, but he explained. He wasn't a dogmatic Christian, he didn't go to Church or follow their rules. He was simply a follower of Christ, he believed in the love and toleration, the teachings that were given by the man, not necessarily that he was literally divine, nor that there should've been a Church to be built around him. But yes, he was Christian in the sense of being a follower of Christ. While I don't know if that's what I am, too, I do completely understand what he means, and respect my dad all the more for it.
turtle: Happily Ever Afterturtliewings on November 4th, 2009 10:34 am (UTC)
Here's my thought: one of these days, America will remember that segregation was upheld by popular vote even though it wasn't constitutional. Until then... I'm sad. And I wish more nice people in Maine and California and any of the other 29 states that have had this vote had turned up to vote instead of complaining.


I too find that whatever religion-shaped thing I believe can be defined by love. I'm still a little hesitant to call the love "God", but I think that's a stigma against what so many people do in the name of God - the name isn't holy anymore. I think I'm still trying to decide if anything can be holy without being shaped by the abhorrent actions people take in its name.

I'm also a little rebellious. That might have something to do with it.

All in all, I'm impressed that you took this moment to share a message of love, because I'll admit my first response was to slam everyone who voted against.

(Anonymous) on November 4th, 2009 12:11 pm (UTC)
Just a bit of information
There are quite a few Catholic churches in Paris, but the two most well-known are quite recognizable. If it was a large Gothic cathedral with hordes of tourists, it was Notre Dame, but if it was a large white basilica-style church, on top of a large hill, it was Sacre Coeur.
(Anonymous) on November 4th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Notre Dame, maybe? I felt that in there, too.
elainecorvidae on November 4th, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
I wish more people felt the way you do, instead of ascribing their own fears and small-mindedness to their god.
Aleksei Ivanovitchviragostonewall on November 4th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
I think this is about the best way of explaining God I've read in a long time. I like it, and I think you've hit on some pretty profound things there.
bloodsong1: Sadnessbloodsong1 on November 4th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
I heard the result on the radio this morning. The opposition speaker said "This isn't about hating gays or anything like that, it's about the sanctity of marraige," to which I glared at the radio and retorted "Yes it is! You're denying a fundamental right to a minority! How can you NOT hate a group when you say 'You can't have equal protection under the law'?!"

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about Love. Love Is. I stand with you, Mookie in the hope, prayer and wish that this injustice will find its end during my lifetime.
Nicholasdoni_dyke01 on November 4th, 2009 01:06 pm (UTC)
Yep, another of your comic readers.

It amazes me, really, what people do in the name of their God. The bigotry and the overwhelming amounts of hate. Not just Christians, but Jewish, Muslim, and even Pagans. People doing and saying is what turned my stomach and turned me away from Christianity in the first place. Being told that God had no place for me because of my sexuality, because of my gender identity. I was not welcome amongst the crowd because I loved people who weren't opposite my sex and I felt that I was supposed to be something that God didn't make me. It amazes me, though, that people can turn one little quote in a book into something so big, but miss the bigger message. Jesus taught of love and acceptance, not hatred. I'm ashamed.

Sorry if that didn't make much sense. I just woke up.
Baphnediabaphnedia on November 4th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
Sounds like I need to hurry up and found my own religion...! *gasp*

There are a couple of short answers I can give before coffee...

- Not everything that happens is good, just or right. If it was, there'd hardly be reasons left to go to war, and in going to war, the plethora of issues that affect the survivors (mentally, physically, spiritually) is evidence to the contrary.

- Love is a great and wonderful thing. In cases like this, it may be a matter of placating ourselves and understanding that as a group, the voters aren't ready for this kind of change (or that the folks voting for same-sex marriage were overconfident, and didn't engage in max participation when voting).

I had a third point, about the rational ignorance of voters... but sadly, my brain needs coffee.. :( Glad to see you and many others have a similar (I dare say progressive) view of God.
Baphnediabaphnedia on November 4th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Ahh, my third point:

Please don't let your stomach knot itself over anything, whenever something (however good, bad or otherwise), doesn't work out for a group of people. There's a distinction between being good at providing empathy, and being good at choosing who to give empathy to.

It may be seen as incredibly selfish of me to say this on the one hand, but were everyone to tie their stomachs into knots and suffer the same sleepless state you're describing, instead of doing something about it, we'd be grumpy, tired and unable to sleep every time it rains on those who don't deserve it.

Being a very empathetic musician, I did possibly the worst thing I could do as a musician. I invaded Iraq back in 2003. In doing that, I've slowly realized that I am less and less willing to connect with my audience through my music (anything from new age to 'organic jazz' to heavy metal), because I remember how well I connected with my audience in Iraq. (at least, I HOPE this is the source of my detachment... if its not I'm at a total loss)

In any case, as things went downhill in Iraq, I was able to relate with them on the losses of food, water, shelter, power and sympathize the mounting losses of family and friends (equating that with losses of comrades in arms). Having this rotten feeling led me down the path to commit suicide, and it was up to someone else to interrupt my attempt.

I learned that if I am at all careless in choosing with whom and about what I allow myself to feel for, I'll easily be back trotting down the major depressive path. For you (and anyone who reads this), even if your case isn't as severe, without giving yourself limits, and ensuring that you are the one that chooses what and who to feel bad about when experiencing the tragedy of empathy, that's a dark road ahead.

For me, I set my limits with family and friends, and veterans who seek me out. The qualifiers aren't all that black and white (I make exceptions when it feels right). By and large though, it keeps things I can empathize to a scale that I can make a difference passively or actively.

Don't let it get to you, allow yourself enough distance that you can aptly put the issue together for others (do something like The Keith). But, at the same time, don't let misery overtake; for misery loves company, and if you ever go looking for it, there is tons and tons of misery waiting to be found.

Whee, that was wordy... I'm sure someone will be kind enough out there to sum up what I said into a sentence, right?

Niro Rose: ...shit.nirorose on November 4th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)
Urgh, what a boatload of failure. Another state divides the country a little more, and the bigoted intolerance grows slightly stronger.

Love is a powerful force, my friend. Love has started wars, love has ended them as well. Love can drive a man to travel for miles on end, just to be with the person he loves.

Every time people forget that the world needs love, that it's not about color, race, sexual preference, religious preference, age, but only about love...

Well, we slip a bit more toward the inevitable outcome of hate. And that's just sad. We need another revolution, like the one in the '60s. Free love. Because in the end, love is all we have.

Do take care, Mookie.