Monday, August 06, 2007

The Hand Writing on the Wall

According to Mr. Claiborne, "the handwriting on the wall" goes all the way back to the Bible, specifically the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel. It seems that Belshazzar, the King of Babylon, was having a major blowout, a fabulous feast for all his noble friends. Unfortunately, the King and his pals were also doing some serious blaspheming, drinking from sacred vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem and worshipping heathen idols to beat the band. Suddenly a mysterious disembodied hand appeared and began writing a curious message ("Mene, mene, tekel, parsin," to be precise) on the wall of the palace that neither the King nor his cohorts could read. But Daniel could, and he informed the sinful King that it meant that a divine reckoning was afoot and that his hours in power were numbered, which turned out to be true. So to be "able to read the handwriting on the wall" has ever since been a metaphor for being able to see what's coming, especially when those around you remain in the dark.

Word Detective, March 26, 2002. (http://www.word-detective.com/032602.html)

My sister has been saved. As in born again, praise the Lord, Jesus loves you, saved.

She called me yesterday to check on me- it’s been kind of a whiplash week/month/year. My sister and I love each other very much. We live very different lives but always stay in touch. We have a deep bond because we hold each other’s experience; at times when no one else will, we give each other the essential reality test.

Yes, that did happen- you are not crazy.

Especially around what my father did.

Now? God is her number one man. There is a number two man, too, a very real person that brought her to this place. Call me a pessimist, but as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out.

I’m not a believer. Never have been.

Being born again is not a bad thing. I’m not against religion- I simply don’t trust it. I’ve studied a lot of different religions and my feeling is they are all pretty much the same- an opiate for the masses. Hey, I’m no Marxist, either, but I think Karl was onto something.

For a religion to appeal to me it has be one where everyone is welcome. Where Jesus doesn’t have to be some supernatural spirit to be important. I mean, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, care for the sick and the poor- does that have to come from a fantastical virgin birthed son of a celestial spirit?

I also don’t buy that ‘us’ and ‘them’ crap. That feels to me more about fundraising and keeping money in the coffers than it does about a loving God only paying attention to the truly devote.

How can anyone believe in God and believe there is a waiting list or that being spiritual only comes in one size? The rant I want to go on about economics, oppression, poverty and religions role would send me into such a frenzy you might think I’m speaking tongues.

Rather than common sense.

As a lesbian, I’m unwelcome in many religions, like Evangelical, born again Christians. I don’t think my sister has reached that part yet. At least, I hope not. I’m tired of the bible quoters, what about Leviticus? What about it? Take some time to go through the whole Bible and find a bunch of contradictory statements because it’s a STORY written by MEN. What about all the books that were left out- and the conservative pushes in the church during different periods of history that caused more progressive, woman based texts to be discarded?

It’s not about God’s word. It’s about a bunch of men deciding, over and over again in history, what would be given to the people to digest. It comes from an oral tradition of telling stories to teach lessons. Stories. Did Sarah really bear a child at 90 years old or was that a story about devotion? Why is the Christian story of the seven days and God saying “let there be light” so much more important than the Inuit story of the Goddess Sedna and her chopped off fingers that created the whales, the seals, the walrus and the salmon?

My sister said she is living a true, Christian life because God can only listen to the real Christians- he can’t possibly listen to everyone so he chooses to listen to only the very best Christians.

Huh? Isn’t this the all-powerful almighty? And what about the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists? God only listens to Christians?


People ask me why I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe, if any of the wonderful stories of God’s powers are true, that God would ever let harm come to children. I just don’t.

Personally, the beauty we are surrounded by day to day fascinates me. The way a sunflower unfolds to the light and turns it head. How light is stored in plants and then how that energy is harvested, over and over again, in so many ways. And my sons, all three of them, their bodies growing, their minds learning- they were all just a clump of cells at one point. Not life, not anything more than a promise. To me, if there is a higher power or a greater force? It lives in children and in nature.

Besides, if we were a better Christians when we were children, does that mean God would have protected us from my father?

I don't believe a disembodied hand wrote on the wall warning Daniel. It is, however, a powerful metaphor that has lived on in our language and our culture. I sincerely hope there is no darkness hiding a ominous truth. I want my sister to be safe. And feel loved.

My sister has found religion. I hear in her voice it makes her happy. In the long run? Sometimes, an opiate is the right way to manage an unbearable pain.

13 Comments:

Blogger melissa said...

i couldn't agree with you more! i feel quite the same way as you, as i have studied many religions and not found one that fit me. though i did feel very welcome at the uniterian universalist... but still to believe the stories? i don't. i most identify with nature and "worshiping" earth much in the way native americans did. and to all the nay-sayers i say... i "knew" i was gay( maybe not the word for it) before i "knew" what god was. explain that.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Dis said...

Well said. I'm the baby of a large family and one of my sisters is mega ultra super religious. When I told her that I planned to foster/adopt medically fragile infants one day I recieved an email from her saying that in her church they believe a family is made up of a mother and a FATHER.
I was quite sad to think that she and my brother-in-law (as well as their four children) would rather see a child have no HOME at all than have them live with my partner and I. Crazy, no?

10:41 PM  
Blogger Vikki said...

I am incredibly close to my sister and yet we are so very different in many fundamental ways. I am a lefty, agnostic lesbian and she is a strait conservative Christian. That said...my sister has always been the most supportive person in my life. We have always found ways to navigate our differences.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not about religion, it's about Jesus Christ and what He did for me. I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who loves me so much (loves the world so much) that He died on the cross (and rose again) for all mankind. No other "religious leader" on earth ever has done this.Jesus preached love for all people, no matter what people claim to be. He only hates the sin that destroys people. The sin that brings death and distruction. It's not about rules and regulations, it's about love. It's about Jesus.

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Molly said...

Actually, anon, the idea of a god dying and being resurrected and bringing back a great benefit to mankind dates back at least as far as Egyptian and Norse mythology (Osiris and Odin, respectively), so that's not original to Christianity. I'm sure those aren't the only two other resurrection stories; they're just the ones I could think of off the top of my brain.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

honestly? I just want my sister to be happy. If this makes her happy? then I'm all for it.

it's only when it because about power and control do I worry.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mollie
Jesus Christ is not a myth. Sin is real - the results of which are evident. Christ's death and resurrection is documented as an historical fact. The results of the cross is forgiveness for our sin and eternal life.I put my faith on that story and not on Egyptian Mythology. If I'm wrong I've lost nothing. If I'm right I've gained everything. God bless.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

all I can say is... oy vey.

this is why my mother told me to never discuss religion or politics in public.

which... I guess... is why I do both.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Molly-with-a-y said...

Anon,

I didn't say Christ was a myth; I said his story isn't an original one.
Also, you misspelled my (very short and simple) name.

But this is Sara's blog, and it would be impolite to get in serious conflict here.

Shalom.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Oh my Seester who I love SO very much.....I am always so thrilled when I make it onto your blog! And this time it is not about a bad thing I taught the boys, although I have taught them some REALLY cool bad things!

Religion does stir up so many different feelings in so many differnt people and most will never agree. The nature of the beast I guess.

Just know that I am happy, and I thank you for caring so much about me. I care so deeply for you too and want the same for you too, and would never try to push or force my beliefs on you.

And also know that, no matter how much of a Christian life I intend to "try" to lead, I'm still teaching the boys bad things! It's my job as Auntie Bolderdash!!

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly,
I apologize for spelling your name incorrectly. No conflict intended. I wish you well. However, the idea of Jesus dying on the cross is an original one in the sense that He is the only One who sacrificed Himself so others may live in forgiveness on earth and ultimately have eternal life in heaven.He is the only One who died and lives as we too will live with Him and the Father in heaven eternally.That's a promise that is for all who believe in the Son of God. Who whould reject such a promise?

10:00 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Uh, actually? I do.

No offense but to assume your belief- as beautiful as it is for you- is universal? well, you know the old saying about assuming...

I find such deep and sincere belief such as yours, a testiment to how wonderful people can be.

it is not, however, my belief. I don't believe in heaven, or eternal life or God. It's not about rejecting a promise, it's about having a different sense of spirituality and belief system.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara,
Thank you for the polite and loving way you responded to my expression of beliefs. I realize that there are many belief systems in the world, and as we each stand on our beliefs we also stand on the position that what we believe is true (truth). I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend their whole life believing a lie. What good would life be then? I was once where you are now, and I respect your beliefs and your sincerety of heart, however, all belief systems; athiestic beliefs, as well as those who profess their god to be the one true god, can't all be right, just as there can only be one correct answer to a mathematical problem. I personaly have stopped searching because I have found joy, peace, love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Something that eluded me up to the point of my acceptance of Jesus as my Savior. For me, I don't need to go any further.
As far as there not being a heaven or eternal life - give this a thought - When you contemplate the complexity of nature and the grandure of the universe, is it not too difficult to imagine a Creator God also creating a place called heaven. This Creator God, is eternal - is it not too difficult to imagine that we who are created in His image and likeness also being created eternal as well?
You expressed that you don't believe in a God. My prayer is that God will make Himself known to you in a very special way because I know that you are special to Him. God bless.

2:53 PM  

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