Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Religion

When the Rainbow Opened My Eyes

My niece got engaged yesterday to her partner. Now my brother has two daughters instead of one. I’m joyful for both as they’ve found that love is love is love. But it took me a while to understand…

For I must have lived in a sexual vacuum. Growing up I never even knew what homosexuality was. Then in my teenage years, the epithets cat and poofter were bandied around.

I still didn’t know what they were talking about.  It sounded bad so I wanted no part of it. I didn’t even know about heterosexual sex!!

Then later, at university, I discovered what homosexuality was. And decided it wasn’t for me. And paid no attention to it. Even in the Catholic Church it wasn’t mentioned at all.

And so I slumbered happy in my ignorance.

That was until I joined a Pentacostal church.

When it happened, I was working in Sydney, away from home. I working back as there was a huge amount of work to be done. But I couldn’t work more than forty hours so I finished early on a Friday. So when we had drinks of a Thursday, of course I would hang back.

And I started talking to one of my workmates. And he freely admitted that he was gay. And I was so confronted I kept talking to him!

And then he told me what he did in his spare time. He was counselling and assisting people with AIDS. Remember this was the nineties when the prognosis was almost always pessimistic. And my immediate thought was that’s where I’d find Jesus, ministering to the modern-day lepers.

For the established church has a poor record of ministering to minorities : women, homosexuals, sexually abused, etc, etc, yet it is those people to whom the gospel is preached. Sometimes I think they’ve missed their mission by the length of heaven!

That was Sydney. Then I went back to Brisbane. And listened to the worst sermon ever (See When Will There Be Rainbows in Church?)

And since then I’ve met others, a man who was a mentor to me, a lesbian couple who were like an old married couple, a man through university who had been  in a long-term relationship.

And I couldn’t tell the difference between their love for each other and my love for another.

And then my niece (now engaged) came out. Which was a joy and blessing to everyone, for she had found out who she was.

And surprisingly, they’re not pedophiles, nor totalitarians wishing to impose their values on others.

Just people living their lives, trying to find happiness, same as you and same as me.

And dear reader, before you condemn homosexuality and same sex marriage, follow my path, meet them for themselves.

And then make up your mind.

 

All The Religion I’ll Ever Need

I’m wasting yet another Monday night Instead of doing the housework or nursing the baby, I’m in a baptism class. If I had my choice, I would be in neither place. I’m not that welcome at home.  I already know what’s being taught here.

I’m the Catholic in the family, I received the religious education.  First at infants, primary then high school. Every Sunday I listened to the sermons. I even read the relevant texts.

And it’s not me being baptised.  It’s his Lordship, my first son.  And attending class is necessary for both parents to understand the ceremony.

Now I’m currently sitting in a primary school classroom. On a plastic chair behind a flat desk. And our teacher is a nun.
I’m now back in school being taught what I have already learnt in advance. Again I’m half-slumped in a semi-listening stupor.

Until I’m woken by the teacher’s voice.

Someone has asked a question. The one never asked in baptism class.

“What happens if the baby dies beforehand?”

“A loving God wouldn’t let that happen,” she replies.

That was when I found all the religion I’ll ever need.

When Will There Be Rainbows in Church?

 

There I am, sitting in church listening to a sermon.  It is close to the worse sermon I’ve ever heard. But it’s not the poor delivery that’s annoying me. It’s the subject matter. It is about rejecting all sinners. The pastor is working his way through a list of undesirables and finally settles on homosexuals. And it’s that subject that slowly but surely starts to infuriate me beyond measure…

I’ve never been this angry in church in all my life. Perhaps it’s too black and white for me now. But I almost stand up and start shouting at the pastor. Luckily for him and me, it’s then he wraps up.

At that time, I had some questions….

  1. Which commandment does homosexuality break?
  2. Why is homosexuality overlooked in the New Testament?
  3. Why didn’t Jesus mention it?

Regenbogen_über_der_NordseeIn the light of the increasing acceptance of and objection to same-sex marriage I have just one more question:

When will there be rainbows in church?

 

You Know That Fear Thing

Having a religious upbringing didn’t give me the tools to reconcile faith and fear.

Faith and fear were considered mutually exclusive. Faith

In fact, I can recall sermons where I was told that lack of faith was sinful. I can even find the relevant scripture.

So all in all, to doubt or to be afraid was to sin.

Which creates a contradiction.

Because the opposite of fear is not faith. It’s blind faith. It’s false belief. As James Carse wrote in The Religious Case Against Belief, blind faith is actually wilful ignorance: that ability to ignore anything that might create any doubt in your own mind. Such ignorance is a basic human flaw. It is at the heart of intolerance and the failure to learn from one’s mistakes.

My problem is that blind faith or wilful ignorance has never worked for me. I’m too doubtful. I’m too curious. I struggle to be intolerant and ignorant. I make too many mistakes and need to learn from them.

It’s true that doubt for me can lead to fear. But once fear and doubt is accepted, a different path emerges. It isn’t a path of ignorance and/or intolerance. It isn’t an easy path. Yet on that path is surprise and joy. And that path is lit by an incurable curiosity. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, curiosity is the cure for boredom, but it is a graceful antidote to doubt and ignorance. And that non-easy path includes mistakes. Much like my favourite bad fortune cookie: “You always learn from your mistakes: You will learn a lot today”. Every single moment of every single day. Learn from it and resume the path.

Yet to continue that walk, I need self-acceptance, ongoing self-knowledge and true self-love. Or perhaps better put, self-faith, self-hope and true self-love (none of which is new-fangled anyway).

So how do I reconcile the contradiction of faith versus fear?Ready for the Path?

It’s true that fear and doubt can certainly overwhelm and overcome faith. I’ve learnt that.

Yet for faith to be successful, it must encompass and then accept doubt. As above.

Yet that acceptance of doubt doesn’t guarantee ultimate success. Otherwise, I would live my life relying on fortune cookies.

Many times faith doesn’t grant you what you want: it removes what you thought you wanted and replaces that with something better. And almost always at a different time and place than you expected.

You know that doubt thing: it’s not going away! It’s no easy walk. But it beats standing still.

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

The Reverse Golden Rule

Somewhere in Australia, someone is gloating over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was fuming over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

Somewhere in Australia, someone is fuming over images of a burning mosque. Before that he or she was gloating over the latest executions from the Middle East. They’re probably thinking this is how much they hate us and this is how we should hate them back.

If it sounds like the reverse Golden Rule, it is. Hate others before they hate you.

These haters will never convince us not to attempt to live in harmony.

And we who attempt to live in harmony regardless of race, sex, creed, etc, etc, are the majority.

An opportunity to do unto others.

An opportunity to do unto others.

For we who attempt to live in harmony have bent ourselves towards the whispered breeze of love that calls us toward the Golden Rule.

Love others as they love you: before, during and after.

Continue reading

Ban the Burqa Keep The Veil (Now That’s Ironic)

It’s time. Time to call out some ironies.

Jacqui Lambie is proposing a law to ban the Burqa.

So many ironies to choose from…

By now the Senator should be aware that the Burqa isn’t worn in this country but the Niqab is. Ironic.

Her proposed law may have to be amended anyway. Even more ironic.

The law as it stands may be unconstitutional. Most ironic.

But there’s more much more…

It’s ironic that Christian women take the veil when they become a nun. Yet its unlikely any law will be passed banning nuns wearing veils.

It’s ironic that some Christian sects also mandate that women wear a veil as well and use the Bible as justification. Yet its highly unlikely their members will be banned or fined.

It’s ironic that politicians quite openly criticise other religions and cultures that enforce women wearing headwear including penalties or punishments.

And the biggest irony of all. This is not a debate about religion.

Telling women what they should or shouldn’t wear isn’t religious.

It’s sexist. Now that’s ironic.

 

Why I’m UnAustralian

Being unAustralian is an epithet often levelled at people who don’t tow the line or aren’t politically correct.

English: Orthographic map of Australia centere...

English: Orthographic map of Australia centered at 26.75° S, 133.25° E. Official territory. Claimed territories. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In that case I better explain myself.

  • I believe in that Australia is a welcoming country where people of all races, colours and creeds put aside their differences to live as harmoniously as they can. Despite the stories we hear, harmony happens more often than not.
  • I believe that Australia’s strengths lie in the diversity of its people. Only in Australia can a diverse company supply interpreters at short notice!
  • I believe that Australia should help people from other countries as well as our own including the Aboriginals. As an immigrant country it is obvious to support those who emigrate here however they got here as well as those who were here first.
  • I believe too that the fortunate should help the less fortunate. Australia has enough riches and resources (even now when we have a AAA+ Credit Rating) to assist the disabled, children with learning difficulties, etc, etc. We’ve done it in the past!
  • I believe too that we should manage our resources from a long-term view (and sustainably so). After all as colonists and original owners of the land we had to!

Apologies in advance to those who believe that being Australian means being:

  • monocultural.
  • racist.
  • discriminating by religion, race or sexual orientation.
  • favouring the rich over the poor.
  • depleting our resources in the short term unsustainably.
  • being uncharitable to the unfortunate, original land owners and immigrants.

Such things make a small country smaller!

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