Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Life, Love, Sex, and Porn

Aching loneliness in my soul
Led me down paths strange
Shoveling cinder and coal
Burying me in burning shame

It seemed a simple thing at first,
Images of women’s kindness
Did amply slake my thirst
And restore in me fineness

But my thirst would not be stayed
By such innocent mintage
Twas like sipping lemonade
But wanting headier vintage

Searching out stranger strangers
Seeing things which ought not.
Watching clips of varied dangers
Finding not that which I sought.

Then, forgetting mad dreams
I flesh and blood pursued
In hope and without schemes
I let myself be used

Steamy pictures o’ erotic tangles
Had awfully prepared me
For a real relationships’ tangles,
Arguments, tears, and pleas

Porn and I then parted ways
Religion was my watchword
I fantasized not of other lays
And followed always cross-ward.

Religion didn’t heal me
From the aching at the start
In fact, it just buried the real me
And broke my aching heart

Investigation of church’s claims
Left me scratching my head
The church had nefarious aims
Obsessed with others’ beds.

So I left the sacred fold
Trading one lonely for another
Finding bits of soul I’d sold
And myself, and my lover

When porn was viewed
By more secular angle
Without religious skew
Or tempting fallen angel

I realized I was never seeking
some erotic chemical high
Twas on beauty I was tweaking
Eros when most shy

To strange pastures I went
Not for tolerance built
To creepy content I was sent
Driven by crushing guilt

Atheism, ironic blessing
Freed me from guilt’s’ bully
To be myself without missing
The parts that are not “holy”

Free from guilt and shame
I view what I find lovely
I’m not driven by pain
And skip what misogyny makes ugly

And I can see clearly
With all the women I view
Real women I loved dearly
And almost always you

My taste has improved
I’m not looking in dark places
With all the shots perused
Trying to find you in their faces

But such an awful thing to say
And even worse to do!
To shape images like clay
To dream of loving you

The dream I often visit
Is us physically together
But, somehow, not illicit
A love that time could weather

I would be scorned
I seek images in replacement
I want to love and be loved in return,
You’d gag at my abasement.

None of them are right
None of them are you
All of them are right
All of them are you

So, to what cannot be
Between us, (though we love you)
Onan and I will  see
What can I substitute

But it would misleading,
To blame only the ‘net
Your image is fleeting
For we’ve nott met yet

Morning dew gleams
Moon beams shine brighter
Life is better it seems
When love’s circle is wider.

I don’t want love to still
At some arbitrarily limit
I do seek a thrill
But only if love gives it.

I want love’s full expression
In context of friendship
Where physical affection
Is compassions apprentice.

So, I am seeking another
to have and to hold
Addition and keeping
Not substitution of old

I want to love with depth
A true equal and partner
But also with breadth
A circle out farther

July 23, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Super Atheist III

So what ties the previous two blogs together?  In the first blog, I talked about sometimes missing the comfort the church provided me.  I spoke of speaking in tongues and the joy of sharing spiritual experiences with others.

In the next, I wrote about one of the best nights at house church.  What happened that night felt wonderful, a pleasure not entirely unlike the non-sexual part of one’s wedding night.  When you get married, there is this joy that seems to exist independently of the joy of sex . It’s the joy of belonging to someone totally and them belonging to you.  There is a spiritual sharing, a knowledge that this person is really, finally, yours.

And that was the feeling I felt that night.  My life would forever be tied to those people in that room.  We had all adopted each other, so to speak.  We had committed ourselves to love them, to care for them, to help them be the best they could be, and they committed the same to us.  There were perhaps 30 of us in that room, and we conscientiously decided we were going to be the early church together, God’s little point of light in Westport, Kansas City.

The feelings I felt that night were real.  The elation, the warmth, the affection.  All of those feelings were real feelings.  It’s just the premise which was false.  None of us really loved each other, not like that.   We all thought we did; I don’t doubt anyone’s sincerity that night.  It’s just that our hearts were writing checks our lifestyles couldn’t cash.

I remember once taking an old, rotten wood and canvas canoe down a river.  My father and I began with the feeling that everything would be OK.  The boat fell apart over a little 3 day trip, patched beyond repair. The next year we began another river trip, this time in a heavy aluminum jon boat.  Again we began with the same hope, excitement, expectation and the feeling that everything would be OK.  That trip was OK because our feelings were founded on solid fact, unlike the first, when the feelings were not.

The comfort of the church I miss is the false comfort of kindly lies.   I do miss the comfort of naivety, but not at the price of living a lie.  To be naive because you are ignorant of the truth is a normal part of youth.  To be naive because you choose to believe lies rather than truth is the first step toward mental illness.

Above all, I guess what I missed was the friendship, but upon reflection I realize, I didn’t have real friendship, but rather real feelings about non-friends.   An acquaintance asked me the other day if I still wanted to be friends with her.  I laughed out loud.  Real friendship isn’t something you choose to do, it’s something you cannot chose not to do. And that sort of friendship takes time measured in years and decades, not months.

Let me plug my friends Jason, Paul, and Ben here.  I have known all of them for 16 years.  Any of them would lay their lives down for me, and I for them.  We aren’t friends because we know how to be, we are friends because we don’t know how not to be.  All saw me through an awkward adolescence, the turbulent nine years of teenhood, 3 failed attempts at college, a failed engagement, marriage, fatherhood, ministry, and finally atheism.  And nothing I have done has made it possible for them to stop loving me.  That’s friendship.

I am not super atheist. I do miss the comfort of the church sometimes, but it was real emotions based on false events.  I miss the feeling, not the falsehood.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Dearest

mary
I wish the me I am
could be as good as friends
with the you that you are

As the me you thought I was
Was with the you I thought you were.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An athiests friends.

It’s rare that I write so little.  I’m so ridiculously busy of late.  Full time student and full time employment.  Yesterday I was switched from 12 hour nights to 12 hour days.  I was so tired when I got home I could barely eat supper.  Then instead of playing with my daughter I let her watch a movie while I slept on the couch.  Then I got up, put her to bed, and went to bed.  I slept 11 hrs and 45 minutes.  Now, it’s breakfast and I could eat a horse raw.

I’m coming out on the other side of arguing atheism with my parents.  I mean, obviously, they think I’m wrong, but it’s not quite as painfull as it was before.  I’ve only got 2.5 more weeks of class and then I’m done with class for a month.  (I messed up signing up for the next session.)  I’m thinking about friendship.  Becoming an atheist and telling my friends has really been a tough row to hoe.  It means talking the total honesty that I give my wife and expanding it to the rest of the people I care about.  It means being really vulnerable to people.

And some friends have responded really well.  Some haven’t.  Some have responded so well, actaully, that I am closer to them then ever before, my brother and sisters for instance and my friend Jason.  Others have responded with fear and a sort of emotional hardshell.  They’re there, but they’re not.

And it makes me think about heaven.  I wish I could believe that there is this perfect place that we could go to when we die.  I wish over didn’t have to mean over, but honestly I think when your gone, your just gone.  So am gentler to my wife, and more cuddly with my kid.  I wonder though, I sat and tried to work through something with an old friend yesterday, is it worth it?

When my life on earth is a just short few years do I really want to work through stuff with people who only tolerate me, when they’re are people who really love know me and I really love knowing?  And why don’t I work harder to make new friends?  Why can’t have more friends like my wife, like Jason, like Alex?  People who love me from who I am instead of inspite of it?

February 5, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Joshua Harris hurts people.

I’m still working on my Part II post.  In the meantime, please enjoy this brilliant treatise on Joshua Harris’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye

Let’s all be friends

December 7, 2008 Posted by | atheism, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Godless Love

Acts Chapter 2 (44) All the believers were together and had everything in common. (45) Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, (47) praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It was these verses, and ones like them, which led me to question the ultraconservative version of Christianity I grew up believing.  It was these verses, and ones like them, which led me to question the very core of my faith.  So, some introspection seems appropriate here.

These verses speak of a magical time in the early history of the Church. Everyone was equally generous, and no one abused this generosity.  They met together everyday to pray and probably to sing.  They ate together, sharing good times around their tables.  They constantly told God how great He was, and everyone loved them.  Seeing all this love and affection, approval and care, few could resist and their numbers increased everyday.

I read this passage for the first time when I was around nine or ten years old.  My home life was pretty rough in those days: lots of screaming, lots of crying, and some rare violence, so I suppose it’s no surprise that my heart locked onto this concept of the divine super-family of the early church.

“Why then, but not now?” I remember asking someone.

“Well,” began the voice of reason, “that was a special time, and God was pouring out special gifts as a sign, to mark the beginning of this glorious age of Christ in which we dwell.  But once the time of marking the beginning was over, God began to step back those special signs.”

And for a long time that was enough of an answer.  But the question still burned in me. “Why not now?”  Sometime later I would see the movie “The Mission“.  In part of the plot development, the Jesuits explain that the Indians live as the early Church, sharing all things in common.  After viewing the movie, my father remarked, “Well, the Indians were doomed.  Communism never works.”

But it did work in the early history of the Church; the Bible says so.  What made that time so different?  And the reasonable answer was repeated.  The question remained in the back of my mind, rolling around for years.  I suppose it was this question, in fact, which made me take the interest in cults I mentioned here.

Away at college, a new friend encouraged me to really study through the New Testament and see if I could find any evidence of this theory that those “special times” of the 2nd Chapter of Acts had ended.  I found evidence aplenty, but none of it was any good.  To prove this theory with one verse, you had to forget the one in the next sentence.  To use another, you had to ignore the verse previous.  From the evidence, no person trying to base their worldview purely from scripture, rather than from the traditions about scripture, could conclude that these fascinating things had ended.

And after much consideration, I became a “Charismatic“.  I did not make this decision lightly.  I detested the touchy, “don’t-think-just-feel” vibe that I felt the Charismatic movement represented, but I felt that if I were to call myself a Christian, then I must follow the Word of God, and the Word of God did not teach (in any textually valid way) that the Signs and Wonders of the early church should have stopped.

Yet, the evidence of the Church and the world around me showed clearly: The Signs and Wonders were gone.  There was an explanation, however.  The lack of the signs of God was caused by the lack of obedience to God.  And so I joined the church which I thought did the best at obeying God.  They believed God would use them as vessels to bring His Glory, and thus His Signs and Wonders, to Kansas City.

I still love those people. They were earnest people, desperately hoping for a better world.  But when I was truly presented with the chance to live the way I thought I had always wanted, I was repulsed.  I prayed about it.  I confessed it.  I said I wanted help.  But the idea of working my butt off, to give my tiny, hard earned wages away so that others could fritter away their time in 24 hour prayer grated on me.  Worse still, then I felt terrible for feeling that way.  Obviously, the Lord had so much more work to do in me for I was still so full of self.

It’s been three years since we left that church, broken hearted.  Sadly, hoping for a better world does not alone a better world make.  More questions, and my abiding love for reality, has lead me to atheism as a world view.  And now, surprising even to me, I want that communal life that seemed so repugnant only three years ago.  How did this change in world view make me desire this deep community?

Becky and I went to another Society for Creative Anachronisms class.  The class is held in the living room of huge, rambling country house.  It is owned by one couple, whose adult sister and her husband also live there.  They share many things in common, and “break bread” together from time to time, often with the strangers that wander through their door for the S.C.A. classes.

It’s lovely.  And it sets me to thinking how lovely it would be if Becky and I could do that.  I think of all my friends under one huge roof, laughing together, joking together, and working together.  I makes me feel warm inside just to think of it, like the memory of a hug. Why this 180 degree change?

And then I knew.  Compulsion.  I don’t have to love my friends now; I choose to.  I don’t have to force myself to love any yahoo I meet; I am allowed to be honest with myself and admit that I really love some people, and really dislike some other ones.  I don’t believe anymore that there is anything particularly moral about “loving” all 6.6 billion members of the human race (as if such a thing were even possible).  So, while the quantity of my love has gone down, the quality has gone up.

I don’t love people because I am supposed to anymore.  I love them because I chose to love them.  I can choose to share my home with the people I truly love, people with whom I share reciprocal giving of happiness.  Since there is no Holy Book which can tell me the “right way to love someone” (again, as if such a way existed), there is no expectation.  I do not perform for the people I love and they do not perform for me.  We love one another because, intrinsic to our very identities, our way of showing love is the way that makes the most sense to each other.

Imagining this house full of friends now is a house full of people who love each other by choice instead of compulsion.  What could be more wonderful than living with people who could have chosen to love anyone, but chose me and mine?

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment