Thursday, December 8, 2011

I believe in God ... sorta kinda ...

Religion is a big deal. At some point the conservatives and Christians and Republicans in our country all got mixed up with one another and (though there are certainly exceptions) it seems like a lot of the Republican values and beliefs are very tied up with Christianity.  They really want to push the boundaries of the separation of church and state thing.  I mean go ahead and be Christian. I'm glad you love God and Jesus but not everyone in the country believes the same thing you do.

I LOVE religion. Personally. I don't think that means you need to love religion, too.  Do your own thing, man. Believe what you want to believe. If you want to believe that everything the Bible said is absolute truth and the inerrant word of God, then please do. If you think that there is no such thing as God and that science explains everything, then by all means, go ahead and believe that. But don't tell me that I'm wrong or that my beliefs are wrong. In either direction. Let me come to my own conclusions and I'll let you come to yours.  Seriously. Can't we just all get along?

Granted, it's taken me a little while to get to this point.  I was raised Catholic but once I got past the stage where I just accepted what I heard. I think I was 6 when I couldn't get my mind around the concept of God.

"So God and Mary were Jesus's mom and dad."

"Yes, honey."

"So who were God's mom and dad?"

"He doesn't have any."

"So where did he come from?"

"He just always was."

That didn't make any sense to me.  I went through the motions but in middle school started reading a lot of books about Wicca and Witchcraft.  Which my mom was okay with.  I think she didn't like my brief atheist phase ("I swear to the non-existant God!") but was okay when I at least believed in something.  I think she was okay when I called myself agnostic.

I did go through my reject religion and you're wrong and I'm right phase.  But then I got over it.

In college I came up with what I thought was the really unique notion that all religions had merit and that God was just the name for all manner of different concepts that people got to in different ways (well, okay, except for atheists I guess). :) When I found out there was a whole religion (Unitarian Universalism) that basically believed what I believed, I was thrilled.

And decided I wanted to be a UU minister.  As I talked about briefly in this post, I ended up getting the (2-year) Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree instead of the (3-year plus internship) MDiv (Master of Divinity) and sometimes regret it.  Becoming a minister has now become my retirement or win the lottery plan.  Or maybe eventually when I have more time (HA!) I can take one class per semester to finish up the requirements I'd need to get the MDiv (essentially 2-3 full-time semesters of classes).

So until then I chair the music and worship committee at my church and lead services (yup, including writing sermons) a few times per church year.

I also really like to pray.

So who am I praying to?  Well, I'm not exactly praying to God. When I pray I center myself and then think about the things that I want to pray about.  But I do believe in God. Kinda. My own definition of God changes frequently depending on what's going on in my life.  For awhile recently I flirted with Jesus, but then decided that I wasn't sure he really was the same person people say he is (after reading way too many books by Bart Ehrman) so I'm kinda in the "eh, God is in everyone and everything and probably isn't a separate being" phase.

But ask me again in 6 months, I might give you a different answer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A successful photo shoot :)

I have a post in the works about religion but I'm too tired to finish it right now, so instead I will give you a taste of our successful photo shoot for our Christmas card.  Jen got the photo. :) It was EXACTLY what I was going for. YAY! So nice when a plan comes together.

View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Staying Connected

On sort of the other hand from my Communication post of a few weeks ago, (which itself was related to my Disconnecting post from a few days before that), today's ease of electronic communication really does help to stay connected with people, even if it's not via voice-to-voice communication.  Being able to shoot an email to someone and know you're likely to get a quick response to something when they're available to get to it is better than trying to call them on the phone and leaving a message and playing phone tag for 3 days.  And video chat/hangouts/Skype is pretty awesome.  My brother is a big fan and it gives Nate a chance to talk to his Uncle "in person" more frequently than he would otherwise.  It also makes business trips less sad because I can still see my family and talk to them in a more personal way.

Jen and I text and IM frequently throughout the day while I'm at work or while she's at work. We even video chat on occasion. Without that option, we wouldn't be able to speak on the phone with any frequency. Since we only see each other for more than an hour at a stretch 4 days a week, digital communication is the way we stay connected.  We even make big decisions that way such as deciding that we someday want to be foster parents. We did make sure to talk about it in person later that day, but the main part of the discussion happened via instant messages.

I wonder, with all this written communication, if people are forgetting how to speak on the phone.  People who aren't comfortable making phone calls have little need to ever speak to anyone. You can make changes to flights, arrange for gutter or carpet cleaning, troubleshoot problems with your cable box and even order take-out or delivery (all things Jen or I have done recently) without ever having to speak to a person on the phone.  But then on those occasions when you DO need to make a phone call, do you hesitate or just not do it because you're uncomfortable with it?  

I don't have a problem on the phone; I have to make phone calls for my job and have, in fact, become even more comfortable with making the less enjoyable calls for personal stuff because of that.  I wasn't always as comfortable with it but when I lived by myself in grad school, there was no one else to do it.  I tend to make most of the calls in our house because it doesn't bother me.

When we first started using our current babysitter, I used to try to call her to see if she was available. That's how I got my babysitting jobs when I was a kid. I didn't have a cell phone, heck, we probably didn't even have a cordless phone. If I wasn't home, my mom or dad took a message for me or the parents left a message on our answering machine.  But our babysitter was a little slow to get back to us by calling.  So one day, I texted her. I had her cellphone after all.  IMMEDIATE response.  So now I text to arrange babysitting.  And it works VERY well.  I can't complain.  But how comfortable is she on the phone in general?

Will Nate know any phone etiquette by the time he's a teenager?  I was always very polite when I called my friends. I usually got their parents. "Hi, this is Lauren, may I please speak to so-and-so?" Nate won't even have to interact with his friends' parents on the phone because he'll be calling (or texting) his friends directly with their cellphones.  

Or maybe they'll just use the chips in their heads that we'll probably all have by then.