Two Documents: Only One Choice

The Fallout.

By that I mean all the noise of discussions occurring in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality.

In the balance, it seemed, a contention between our Constitution and the Christian bible. One creates a framework within which our society has agreed to operate, the other creates a framework for a set of spiritual  beliefs.

In the end, only one document could triumph.

In the balance, it seemed, a contention between equal rights as mandated by our founding document, and a religious restriction mandated by a dubious text.  In the recent past, during a time when the idea of equality for all mankind was becoming the basis for instituting governments, our founding document was carefully constructed by a group of men intent on shaping a nation where equal rights as humans was celebrated and paramount – creating a democracy where not just voting was established as a right, but affirming that the very trait of being human grants us equal footing in the law and access to opportunities.  In the far far past, during a time when bleeding was thought the best thing in medicine and something called ‘the humors’ dictated a physician’s approach to sickness, a group of men gathered at the command of a clever ruler to collate ‘the bible’ into a cohesive religious document so as to unite his kingdom.  One document exists in its pure form, un-edited, un-tainted and is intended to stand objectively – regardless of one’s personal belief.  One document exists with omissions and editions, its content is wholly subjective to the point of dictating one’s personal belief.

In the end, only one document could triumph.

When the fallout noise settles down, I hope we can remember this at the end of the day:  only one document could triumph in this instance, and it does so to guarantee the right to belief in the other – or not.

May we celebrate our independence and democracy this weekend with grateful hearts.

Yours, Frankie


Two Votes for Democracy! America, You’re Doing it Right….

This week, two big, huge, major, incredibly far-reaching Supreme Court decisions provide perfect examples of the discussion I began the other day with regards to the dual meaning of Democracy:

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage Nationwide

US Top Court Backs Obamacare

This particular meaning of democracy establishes equal rights for us as human beings simply because we are all well, human, and regardless of economic circumstances or gender of partner, we all deserve access to healthcare and recognition in the institution of marriage.   The Supreme Court’s rulings uphold the democratic ideals of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ and consequently allow us to appreciate our democracy to the fullest extent of its meaning.  Way. To. Go.

Yours, Frankie


Questions, and Answers

Two inquisitive minds set out with similar questions which obliged each to begin from the same point, and on equal footing. It wasn’t a race or competition they anticipated, mind you, but a quest instead.  A search for answers to curiosities springing from a well that would not be stopped.

Their shared questions:  What this?  Why that?  How come?   When?  Why here?  gave them a momentary sense of camaraderie.  As they floated along in the same stream they traded suspicions and congratulated each other on specific observations.  For a while, then, the two could amicably and happily content themselves in their common search.

By and by, they arrived at a fork in the stream and there was great discussion about which direction to take. One stream was slightly wider and its current more brisk as a consequence, the other retained the same width and flow as the original. One inquisitor felt that answers were probably best obtained in the wider stream, the other felt more comfortable with the status quot.  Imminently, there was no reconciliation, the two parted ways and stayed the course they thought would best answer their questions.   They never saw each other again.

For a time, the streams continued on without change, answers refused to be found, but the curious contented themselves in their individual decision and pondered what it might mean, if anything, that they chose differently.

After, say, a fortnight, one of our seekers discovered a profound answer, a vigorous stream itself feeding into the original waterway, fortifying it with the new information – its banks were widened, its flow increased, its current quickened. Steadily, almost consistently, creeks and other streams, in the form of answers, found their way to the questioner.  Before long a wide river of knowledge stretched out on either side and ahead.   There was life with this river.  Green trees stood solid and sure on each side. Birds and bugs filled the air.  Fish and algae dominated the water.   Vibrant; enviable; this river would continually be fed with new streams, leading the seeker to countless, continuous, and beautiful discoveries.

I wish I could report that the other seeker shared a similar fate in success at finding aswers.  It seems the stream of this questioner had no other resources to keep it flowing.  Sure, seasonal creeks would donate their runoff, but the crucial steady supply of new water was absent.  The queried mind worried somewhat about this lack of new energy and it was left to contemplate only the answers it had so far acquired.  Those would be recycled continuously for want of fresh information and as a result the stream eventually dried up.   This curious seeker then, wandered a desert-land bereft of life and the dawnings of new days.

It is an easily observed case from my perspective.   I stand on the mountaintop of time and history.  I can see precisely where the two parted ways.   My eyes savor the beauty of the wide silver gleam that morphed into a behemoth river and they track stream upon stream of answers flowing into its arms.   I scan the valley to find the other seeker.  Ah, just there. Only recognizable by its origin, where it diverged from its companion.  If I trace its route I can see the gradual shrinking and final ending in a small pool of a lake whose only source is the one stream.  There is scant evidence of life and when the lake fills with sediment and dries, as all lakes with only a single feed are wont to do, that life will dissipate, allowing desert to arrive.

Observing these two is an exercise in the profound contrast of outcomes.

Science and Religion set out with similar questions which obliged each to begin from the same point, and on equal footing. Their shared questions:  What this?  Why that?  How come?   When?  Why here?  all attempted to define man’s place in the universe.  From the mountaintop of time and history, we witness the destiny of each.  This is a story about Questions, and Answers – an exercise in the profound contrast of outcomes.


In Absentia

Dark is the absence of Light

               Evil the absence of Good

Cold is the absence of Heat

                   Laziness the absence of Will

Still is the absence of Motion

                                     Selfishness the absence of Compassion

Empty is the absence of Matter

                                 Ignorance the absence of Knowledge

Black is the absence of Color

                      Timidity the absence of Living

Death is the absence of Life

                                      Nothingness the absence of Awareness


Remember

My husband made quite a solid point yesterday with regards to the Charleston shooting.   His contention with the event is that the perpetrator’s name will be remembered when we talk about the tragedy, but the victims’ names will not be. I mention them here as a means to honor their lives.

Rev. Clementa Pinckneycandle

Cynthia Hurd

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Tywanza Sanders

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lee Lance

Susie Jackson

Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Simmons

Depayne Middleton Doctor

May they sleep in peace.

May their families find comfort in the thought that MANY mourn with them.

Frankie


The “Art” of Multi – Tasking: We Can’t Even

Talk and drive, walk and chew gum, or carry on two conversations at once – we are familiar with the idea that while we can participate in two things at once, we suffer from the inability to do both of them well since our brains aren’t wired to multi-task.

These examples deal with superficial activities that we participate in every day, however, I challenge us to look at the idea of multi-tasking at a deeper level, at the level of creativity.

Take this real-life example:  as a writer, I am grateful to not be “working” at the moment and the difference in creative production compared to when I was working is tangible.   BUT there are bills to pay, student loans primarily, so my leisurely days of writing are now interrupted with tweaking resumes and scouring craigslist.  As I’ve focused on job hunting these past few weeks, I’ve definitely noticed my creative outlet is stifled. I can’t apply my emotional energy and investments into writing when I necessarily must funnel those elements into resumes and interviews.   We can only do one thing at a time.

My second son recently graduated high school.  He barely made the grades to do so, but I didn’t push him too much about tunagradmeit.   He is a highly creative individual, and although he wasn’t reading class assigned prose, he was (still is) reading Thich Nhat Hahn and Eckhart Tolle.  He didn’t participate in prom and loathed school assemblies, he sought instead a form of spirituality through the third eye and wrote rap lyrics about a higher calling in life.  His energy and time were vested in creativity, school took a secondary seat and this mother was unwilling to bridle his ventures into the mysterious for the sake of a four-point-oh.  We can only do one thing at a time.

Think about it in terms of living with an addict, of any kind.   I lived with an alcoholic for several months and I’ll never forget that my energy and creative flow were robbed in order to deal with the addiction and its fallout.   Writing came to a near stop and the ideas kept their distance, knowing they would be thrown away in the face of having to survive the consequences of walking on egg shells.  We can only do one thing at a time.

If you’re frustrated in your writing.  If you’re anxious over the slow pace of your manuscript.  Give yourself a break and examine your life at the moment:  is there something else taking up your emotional energy and drying up the creative outlet as a result?   Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Acknowledge that we aren’t able to multi-task at the emotional level where writing is grounded if our attention is called to other places. And then, be mindful.  Stay open to the creative tap so that when those creative moments do come up (they can’t help themselves, can they?  it is a curse we live with as writers) at least get them down in shorthand form on your iPhone note app so that you have the thing for later. Keep track of your progress, it will help you find the time.   My personal ‘game’ is to keep a running total of the number of words I write each day.   Some days my goal consists of a mere five hundred new words added to a working script, some days I can afford to increase the goal to two thousand.  The idea is to keep the work cooking and maintain the creativity spout on at least a drip output level.   Some is always better than none.

A writer’s life is not an easy road.  Creativity takes time, investment and an unoccupied mind, yet a thousand other details compete for our attention.   May we find a balance between the two and may we give ourselves a generous amount of grace in the process:  We can only do one thing at a time.

Write on, kids.

Frankie


Of Authors, Mothers, and Maugham

Frankie Wallace:

A friend and fellow writer share these thoughtful words about summer reading … I also appreciated the Maugham quote, it is balm to my soul: “The moral I draw is that the writer should see his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of his thought; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success” Happy reading AND writing….Frankie

Originally posted on Erin Fanning :

MoonspinnersDuring the summer of 1979, between morning and afternoon swim-team practices, I read my way through Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Daphne du Maurier.

Rocking in my hammock, under a hot Idaho sun, I traveled to windswept moors dotted with heath, swooned over brooding lords of the manor, and identified with governesses, plain yet intelligent, full of thoughtful observations. They not only won over my heart but also the love of the lord, as well as solving mysteries.

But by July 31, having come to the end of my self-directed summer-reading program, I uttered the words that all parents dread.

“I’m bored,” I said. “There’s nothing to do.”

I cringe now. Nothing to do? Impossible with endless libraries to explore and subjects to study. But I was 13, restricted by immaturity and narrow-mindedness, which, of course, I never would have admitted at the time…

View original 407 more words


Time For an Adjustment: Social Constructs, the Duggars, and a Pew Study

I’ll not forget the struggle I had reading modern philosopher Michel Foucault in graduate school, but I am thankful for the enlightenment it brought to me, especially with regard to an element he termed “social constructs.”

Social constructs are the framework within which a culture decides to build and operate a society.  They emerge from a myriad of sources, (religious texts, scientific discoveries, philosophy – to name a few) and are informally adopted by a society’s members over the course of generations. For example, the US has a unique construct with the marriage of capitalism and christianity which emphasizes an individualistic doctrine.  The Chinese are uniting their elements of communism and an emerging middle-class to produce a more cooperative environment (see John Perkins “Hoodwinked”). Overall, social constructs provide guidelines for citizens of a particular society to follow.

The thing that impresses me most about the idea of social constructs is that they can be changed. They aren’t set in stone. They are subject to new information and therefore malleable, adjustable.

I assert that Americans are learning that some of our current social constructs are in need of adjustment.

While we’re probably all up-to-here with the story of the Duggars, there is one theme that stands out from all the noise surrounding the issue:  willful ignorance and keeping something so wildly instinctual as our sex drive confined to unnaturally narrow definitions necessarily provokes problems. The abuse that’s occurred within the catholic church and the jehovah’s witness sect is a manifestation of the same premise. We can’t ignore our instinctive sexual hunger any more than we can ignore our need to drink water. Yet we’ve agreed to adopt a social construct with a rigid interpretation of sex – based almost entirely on a flawed document  As I read the comments and even a few articles reflecting on the Duggars, one thing seems certain:  the current is changing.  We are seeing the negative effects of this particular social construct and we are ready to realign it to more reasonable, and honest, interpretations.

Giving the current a significant boost in velocity is the discovery that many in the US are turning away from religion and the flawed document it is based upon as noted in the recent Pew Research publishing.   By leaving behind an outdated document, by eliminating it from the foundations of our social constructs, I contend that we should expect adjustments to include instead more science, academics, and probably humanistic tendencies.

Change is painful, it is messy, and it is oftentimes violent.  As we move forward together, we must be conscious of the struggle incurred by adjusting and redefining the social construct of sexuality.  It will help us to be patient with one another.  As we move forward together, we must acknowledge that work is involved, awareness is required, and stubbornness is appropriate so that ignorance no longer has a place within the new frameworks.  It will keep us focused.  As we move forward together, those of us who aren’t a part of the millennial generation need to provide them with exemplary discussions and elevate the standard for hashing out new precepts.   It will give them tools to manage their own adjustments.  As we move forward together it behooves us to keep in mind that social constructs are not permanent, they are pliable and influenced by new concepts.  It will enable us to embrace change.

Here’s to healthy adjustments,

Frankie


Okay

I cannot sit in a cubicle

Is that Okay?

Four walls confine my body

Four walls constrict my creativity


I don’t fit into the corporate world

Is that Okay?

Competition instead of cooperation

Competition for only money


I don’t buy into the vanity

Is that Okay?

Fake nails and hair

Fake pleasantries and friendships


I am different than most

Is that Okay?

My work is of the soul

My work is to capture what cannot be seen


I’m unable to work a 9 to 5

Is that Okay?

Nature sets my schedule

Nature alone defines my days


I am an artist

Is that Okay?

favedahliaAnd if I don’t fit in

It is because

Freedom is required

In order to create

And that is

Most certainly

Okay.


Leap: A Conversation Between Two Friends About Leaving Religion

“Oh look at you!  You look great!” Grace said as she gave Sophie one of her best hugs, Sophie noticed that her friend was still using the same lemony scent as always.

“Thanks, I’ve been working out again and it makes a difference, doesn’t it?” Sophie sat down across from her long lost friend and wondered if she’d have the nerve after all to ask the question she wanted to ask.

“Yes, for sure.  It’s tough to get back in the habit if you fall off the wagon, way to go.”  Grace said and sipped on her usual triple-shot-latte.  They caught up with kids and work and husbands – or exes, as it was with Grace, and in a bit of a lull she asked Sophie how so-and-so from the church was.   Last she heard, their mutual friend was diagnosed with a treatable form of breast cancer.

“I’m not exactly sure, to be honest.  I’ve sort of not been to church for a few weeks now and I don’t have any more information about it than you do probably.” Sophie relaxed, an open door for her question!

Grace took a moment to process Sophie’s words. Not going to church?  She wasn’t sure she heard right.

“Well, then, so much for that bit of news.  But what’s up with skipping church?” Grace asked.

It took a few seconds and she plunged right in. “I don’t know how you did it Grace.  How did you manage to leave?  Are you glad you did?”

Grace was surprised by Sophie’s questions and thought for a moment before she answered. There was a tone of desperation in her friend’s voice as if she were fishing for something specific.

“Well, it wasn’t an easy thing to do, first off, and anybody else I’ve spoken with says the same thing.  It’s a process, but, yes it’s worth it.” Grace said

“But I mean, did you miss everyone?  How did you survive without your friends?” Sophie blurted out the questions.

“Um, yeah, I did miss people.  I still miss some.  Some, like you I’ve managed to be able to keep in touch with.  It all depended on how people reacted to my change of heart.  I knew I would lose some friends in the process, but I went on to make new friends too.”  she answered, and then added, “What’s going on with you, what’s with the questions?”

Sophie fiddled with the lid to her coffee while she spoke, “I just don’t think I have the faith anymore.  You know Bill has always been passive and he finally quit church over a year ago.  I didn’t bother him over it, I figured he’d come back around at some point. I asked him about it a few times and he said he got tired of the politics. He said there was enough of it at the office, he didn’t need at church either.  And, well, we both started reading other news sources, Bill wanted something with another perspective, and I was shocked at the differences. In some instances the stuff I was reading from the church was quite at odds with the real world.   I started to just watch and listen and I came to see Bill’s point about the politics.  People vying for places of position and keeping things secret. I read some of the books Bill was reading and I came to realize just how outdated religion really is, and well, science does a better job explaining the presence of things than religion does. But it seems difficult to make a final break, like I’m abandoning my friends and who will take their place?”

Grace thought about her friend’s questions for a long moment before she responded.  She recalled being in a similar place when she declared her own atheism.  It was scary and unsettling and god how she wished she had someone to speak with.  She was glad she could be that someone for Sophie, in this moment.

“Well, like I said, you just have to figure that some people will write you off.  It’s hurtful and you’ll be angry over it but you can’t resent them for it.  Honestly, I think some of the people that react the strongest are the ones who would leave as well if they had the strength.  It’s one of the toughest things to do, to leave such a tight knit social group. We all have a deep desire to belong somewhere and often times we think ‘the church’ is the only option.  There is a bit of a grieving period, a kind of loss that goes with the process. But it doesn’t last forever.   There are alternatives too, ya know.  I’ve joined a couple of local community projects that provide the same sense of belonging, and I feel like I’m contributing more than I was sitting in church three hours a week.  At least that’s been my experience.  Does that answer your question?” Grace took a sip from her quickly disappearing latte and sat back, allowing her friend time to think about what she just said.

“It does.”  Sophie began slowly, “I was afraid you’d say exactly what you said.  That I might lose some friends forever.  It makes sense what you said about belonging and come to think of it, I am already finding my own alternatives, I just didn’t know why or what it was about.  I’ve started to form closer friends at work the past few weeks I’ve been out of church.   You know, in church we spend all our energy focusing inward and excluding anyone who doesn’t believe exactly the same way.  I am finding out as I get to know some of the girls I’ve excluded that they are genuinely nice and care about issues and one another.  All in all, it seems that the world is a much less frightening place than the church makes it out to be.”

Grace chose not to respond to the last comment and she let her friend keep control of the conversation.

“I suppose I just have to make the leap and admit that religion and I are no longer compatible. It’s a big leap after a lifetime of thinking just one way. But then I see you and a couple of others who have made the same choice and they haven’t been struck down by lightening and they really do seem happier.  I want that.”  Sophie said.

“Then it seems you will have it, you are well on your way already.”  Grace said.

“I think I just needed to hear some things out loud.  You really helped to affirm what I was already thinking.  And now I have to go pick up kids from a birthday party.  Thanks for meeting me Grace, it was good to catch up and good to know my feelings are normal.”  Sophie said.

“Anytime.  We should get together again soon.  I know I would’ve loved to have someone to talk to when I left religion.” Grace said.

“I would like that very much, I’ll send ya a text early next week.”  Sophie said.   The friends gave each other a couple of parting hugs and left to do their errands.   Sophie had more peace about her decision than ever.   It is a leap, but it just might be worth it.

Frankie

*I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about the need for us as atheists to understand the innate desire to belong and feel loved. I surmised that many who might leave religion do not simply for the sense of belonging that the church provides. This short fiction story is a twist on that idea. As a writer I wanted to explore what a conversation might be like between two friends: one who had already admitted to atheism and one who was considering the idea.   I thought it would be helpful to have some sort of visualization about these kinds of conversations – they are important in the scheme of things and we must allow compassion and empathy to guide us.

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your own knowledge.”  Kahlil Gibran


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 121 other followers