Faith

Standing Up To The Pack

Anyone that has read my blog knows I’m a strong believer of the power of the word.  It’s great to be able to reach people and listen to their reactions through diverse channels.  This blog is about faith and how we come to cope with it in many different ways and manners.  The downfall of any given denomination is its weakness to listen to those who speak in the diverse world in which we live today.

If we had to learn out of something in my own denomination it would certainly be out of the open debate when non-celibate homosexuals and lesbians were good to go to be ordained as ministers after obviously the due process of our presbyteries and local congregations.  Many presbyteries had to overcome the debates and conversations of many of its members and ministers and then come together and share a meal and a conversation without the hatred that many could have had internalized when there are others that didn’t agree with them.

How do we overcome personal differences?   Which are the best ways to overcome these differences?  Differences sometimes are ignited when we simply don’t agree with another persons point or points of view.  But, how do we react to these differences? A simple way is to listen and see if we can get some good out of them.   For me it’s easy to relate to this as a teacher because  a teacher is in charge of a group of people during the day at specific hours and during some days of the week, (they are not 24/7 students) and some of my colleagues thought they owned their students.

Taking it a step further,  some of them would think that they were the ones calling the shots and that nobody  in that classroom better say anything about it.  I would differ because I thought that education was a process where not only students would learn, but the teacher as well.  Not all my students agreed with whatever I said and I had to give them the opportunity to express how they felt about it.  Never in my mind would I commit the stupidity of undermining their opinions or what they felt needed to be said.

Some of my colleagues would pack up like hungry wolves if they felt threatened by any student.  It’s funny like animals can teach us a few things about human nature.  Some time ago,  I read a very interesting article about wolves.  Many think that wolves are about anger, ferocity, aggressiveness, but the bottom line for their hierarchy or as we humans would put it, is order.

Wolves behave in  a certain social order and the command is shifted from various types of wolves beginning in the alpha and finishing in the omega wolf.   The worst part is that the omega wolf is the weakest and the one no one cares about in the pack.  Many times he is bullied by other members of his pack and at the end will end up receiving the full-blown aggression in the wolf world.   What is it with wolves anyway, is it that their just plain angry all the time or that it’s tough for them to show affection?  That comes to my mind as I write this post because recently I’ve had a very hard time coping with how things are being dealt with within my denomination.

Sadly,  as the teacher is in charge of the classroom,  also “any” given minister in charge of his or her flock.  What makes me ponder about the role we play as members of any given congregation, are we the omega wolves?  Bullied and mistreated by other members or the hierarchy of our denomination?  Why cant the omega wolf stand up to its pack?  Probably if they did,  they would end of battered and murdered by other members of their pack.  Not only do we kill in flesh, but we are more than capable to kill in spirit.

Some reflect on why Christianity is not the majorities religion any more and I think the answer is clear, we have drifted away from the message of  love (absolute and within no doubt kind of love)  that our Lord taught us and we have given in on our own hatred to those members of the pack that dear to state some truths, or at least their own views on things without having to whisper it through the thin walls of any building that calls itself a temple.

If any good can come out of this reflection,  it would be the understanding that God loves me and everybody else who chooses to believe in him no matter what.  He loves us with all our differences and similarities and shows no boundaries as to where He wants us to be.  God doesn’t want us to accept everything said and done as perfect or as an ABSOLUTE truth, because  Jesus didn’t do it himself when he lived upon the face of the Earth a couple of thousand years ago and there is no theology that can prove otherwise. For Pete’s sake,  why do anyone of us have to?

(Great article to check out: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/wolf-pack-mentality.htm)

Uncategorized

The Blessing of Unhappiness

I feel sorry for the people who aren’t beautiful, or skinny, or hydrated, or into exercises, or into health food, or with their hair done, wearing designer cloths or  don’t  have their kids  in private schools, or  have great houses, or have  new cars, or have great jobs, etc. etc.  I can probably go on forever because the list seems to be endless.  Those of us who have a couple of these things, but don’t have them all strive in getting the ones we’re missing because unless you have a check mark in all of them you are a complete loser.

file7531265564079
photo credit via morgueFile

Now, some of you who read my blogs are going to think what happened with the lady that crusades for those who are hungry, for immigrants, for social justice and above all for change?   Did she see one of those  aliens she talks about sometimes and some secret government officials (like those we saw in Men in Black) erase her memory?

Let me soothe  your troubled minds, it’s still me!  Now comes the twist to it…..it amazes me how obsessed we are with so many things! Do we need to be or have all of these things to be happy?  If so, what do you think  happiness is all about?

Some of us aren’t as lucky to be able to acquire all of these fancy things, so maybe we are unhappy.  So unhappy that we can appreciate the beauty of each sunrise and reflect on the wonder of sunset, so unhappy we can rejoice in the company of our children (even if we can’t afford to send them to a prep school and have to take the trouble of homeschooling them), so unhappy that we need to cook our own meals and share them together,  instead of eating out all the time, so unhappy we can’t wear the colors designer clothes are launching for the season, because we or our husbands don’t have high paying jobs (which usually come with demanding schedules and stress lead lives), so unhappy we can only afford having our same furniture that hold precious memories from our children’s first years than changing it every other year,  so unhappy we can have long conversations with our now grown up kids about life, love and the choices they make and not about what nail color is best to wear or diet to follow or any other silly (to not say stupid) thing that can cross our minds.  When you think about it,  than unhappiness is a blessing.

DSCN6895
photo credit: Melissa Reyes Segarra

In life everything is about balance!  We can’t always being pursuing perfection in how we look, as neither we can always be pounding our heads against the wall because sometimes life just sucks.  It’s about being happy with ourselves.  Happiness and peace aren’t things we can have because someone gives it to us, theses are things we need to look for within our own souls.  It isn’t easy to nestle them inside you and it can take some time as we seek them.  For some it will be spirituality, faith, their nirvana, or whatever you may call it. Nevertheless, the important thing is that we’re working at it.

I stumbled upon all the requirements of happiness in a gathering I hosted  on Mother’s Day weekend.  I was blasted away with the majority of the conversations that we’re going around.  Everyone there seemed to be only worried about how they and people they know looked!

The climax of the afternoon was when someone told one of my cousins who was visiting from New Jersey as she walked in was, “You’re a little fatter than the last time you were around.” Wow!  I think she looks amazing, she’s not the bare bones type, but nevertheless she’s a beauty. That’s only her outer beauty, because her inner beauty is even more breathtaking.   What a upsetting thing to point out to a person you haven’t seen for a while, and the worst part is that  people who say  these types of things get away with it.

“…find your own recipe for happiness and live up to it!”

Don’t think for a minute I’m the hero here because I’m not.  Some time ago, I would’ve been doing and talking about the same things they were.  I was as obsessed as they are about being skinny, clothes, nail polish, etc. etc.  What changed me?  I would probably say that I took a hard look at myself this past Christmas and came to the conclusion that I needed to change a couple of things, but overall my life was great.  All I needed to do was appreciate what I had!

Thank God life is dynamic, we are always changing and for those who don’t have the capacity of change is for who I really feel sorry for.  Remember we are and always will be a work in progress.  Life is more than what we have or look like, it’s all about being able to wake up in the morning and discovering what the day has to offer you through its ups and downs.  Don’t let others dictate how you’re suppose to live, that’s your job.  Last, but not least find your own recipe for happiness and live up to it because if you don’t know yourself, who does?

Uncategorized

Sunset by Melissa Reyes Segarra

Sunset by Melissa Reyes Segarra

An amazing sunset in the Caribbean Sea viewed from Puerto Rico. We can only feel awe as we rejoice in the beauty this world has to offer us every day. Feel a glimpse of the Caribbean as seen by an outstanding photographer. Thank you Melissa for such a wonderful pic!

Faith

Aliens Amoung Us

-The annual gay parade that was celebrated this year in Puerto Rico was disgusting!- Hold your horses,  before you begin insulting or praising me, this is not my statement.  Someone else said it and I had the opportunity of listening and reflecting on what was being said.  Like any blogger I grabbed the opportunity to think about it as a possible post.

But, what would I say about gay rights anyway, I’m not really in favor or against it.  In 2011  I couldn’t run away from that issue anymore  because my daughter, +Stephanie Quintana was in the midst of an open debate with me as to if we should or not ordain non celibate gays and lesbians in our denomination.

image via morgueFile

During 2011 our church gathered in  Minnesota to come together in  it’s  General Assembly and went on the approve motion 2010 (4th attempt since the late 1990’s) changing our Constitution.  These changes would need the votes of our Presbyteries, but surprisingly for many at some point,  those who were against motion 2010 became supporters of it and approved these changes.  No longer would pastors need to live within the covenant of marriage between opposing sexes, or in chastity.  The language in which our Constitution was written had changed for better or for worse.  My dear daughter participated as a YAD during that assembly and was a strong supporter of the changes that would take place.

During that time I learned to appreciate that she was different from me.  During all my life, repeatedly I had heard about the sinful ways of the homosexuals.    Still, I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that our denomination has allowed the ordination of openly  gay and lesbians. But as neither a supporter or as part of the opposition I have learned to listen to the testimonies of those who express their sexuality as part of their core identity and not a lifestyle choice.

Homosexuals and lesbians are people who have gifts and graces of God, and it seems not fair to limit what ever contribution they could make to our society.  But, again I continue to think and rethink my position with respect to this matter and not find a clear voice within my spirit as to where I stand.

Reading an article that was published via the internet by USA Today in which Peter Smith interviews Reverend  Ann Deibart (co-pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky)  she speaks about the process she went through to become a supporter of these changes, and in the meanwhile the opposition continue to stand and follow biblical prohibitions on homosexuality.  Basically this is where the line is drawn, those who became supporters felt change after much soul-searching, hence those who continue to hold their opposition based on the scripture continue to hold the historic view on homosexuality.

If we like the historical perspective, then we can’t oversee that both Greek and Roman accepted homosexuality at least in men, only Sappho and Plutarch would go on to write about lesbians.  Things remained more or less tranquil for these members of the community until Constantine changed the established order in 324 AD and Christianity became the chosen religion for the Romans.

For more than 200 years Christianity grew and  its defense of the nuclear family, would lead to a direct attack towards homosexuals and they would become the object of ridicule, contempt and judgment.  Still today they are subject to these same things and no longer Christianity is the majorities religion.  They seem to live in between us as aliens, as if they didn’t belong within us.

It’s funny though how we could become detached to the point that a read an article in which a Presbyterian minister stated he didn’t “mind” if they obtained some things like, not being discriminated, being able to get employment opportunities or fundamental human rights.  These are not things homosexuals should receive, but what they are entitled to by right.

The fact we can’t run a way from  is that families today no longer are nuclear and we should applaud efforts taken by our Department of Education that is trying to address these changes through programs that introduce our children to tolerance and respect for others not judgement.  I’m talking about a new program introduced in our school system in which they talk about when a family has two dads or two moms.

I’ve learned to discern about this issue and have understood that even though we can find direct prohibition in the Old Testament we still have to set aside a frown and replace it with a smile full of love towards our brothers and sisters just how Jesus taught us and love them no matter what, we don’t have to approve or judge their way of life because our own way of life is as much in the scope of our Lord.