Monthly Archives: May 2013

Grace: A Human Trait…..

Grace has long been one of my favorite elements of human compassion.   I learned quite a lot about it as a child in the rooms where Jesus’ gospel was taught and I hear-tell that C.S. Lewis even touted it once as the single most significant thing that Christianity contributed to humanity.  Christianity is big on grace and it must be since it also promotes the idea of original sin.  Alas, after years of life outside of the church (and that more abundantly) I have come to the conclusion that grace is certainly not limited to religion, nor is religion the only avenue for grace to be expressed.

The idea of grace implies pardoning, giving someone clemency, demonstrating mercy, showing favor where perhaps favor is difficult to find. Within the matrix of Christianity, grace is an absolute necessity since, according to its storyline, humans are born evil and only the grace of god can save them from eternal damnation.  The redeemed cannot get into heaven without a full pardon of the sins they committed because they are inherently evil.  Really, Christianity doesn’t contribute grace to the human race so much as it defines our existence so narrowly that grace must be included or else there’s no point in living at all.

Outside the realm of religion though, grace takes on a more simplistic role: we all make mistakes, it is a human attribute.  The right thing to do then, the sensible thing to do is to be gracious to my brothers and sisters, since I myself am I need of grace from time to time (I painfully acknowledge that I am not perfect either).  Considering that what goes around comes around, or I reap what I sow, or karma is a bitch or a blessing, I am always willing to delve out grace with enormous generosity.  We can all have a bad day, for instance, so I if my husband is particularly cranky one day, I am willing to be patient with him because I certainly have my days too and I would hope he extend s the same mercy to me on those occasions. I am known to have been lenient upon receiving the dreaded ‘red alert’ note from one of my son’s teachers, they’ve been few and far between, and we’ve focused more on the lesson learned rather than the transgression itself.  If a colleague makes a mistake on some work gig, I am quick to forgive since I know I make some colossal blunders myself.  If a fellow driver cuts me off, I extend all manner of grace because I know damn well I’ve done the very same thing myself, sometimes because I’ve been pre-occupied with this or that thought.  Extending grace is a simple matter of acknowledging that at any time, we are capable of committing some unintentional infraction and a pardon by our peers is the one gift we can count on in order to move on from our mishap.

Grace enables the wheels of existence to operate without grinding and grating on each other.  When there is a lack of grace, the excruciating noise is unbearable and harmful to our soul and our civilization.  Do you recall the brilliant youngster with a stellar academic career who was expelled from school over an accidental chemistry explosion?  Like the uncomfortable screech of fingernails on a chalkboard, this injustice, this utter lack of grace, drives us to escape and scream ‘Stop!’ at the same time.  Grace would see, instead, a curious youngster whose imagination and inhibition is a gift to our future.

“Grace finds beauty in everything” sang an Irish crooner once, and I could not sum it up any better.  We always have the option of heaping it upon our brothers and sisters; indeed they are in need of it….not unlike ourselves.   We can afford to be generous with this favorite human trait of mine, especially knowing that we’ll need the generosity of others at some point ourselves.

Be Well,

Frankie

 

 


Workin’ Hard or Hardly Workin’

For me, the answer is always the former:  I work hard.  I’ve worked three jobs at one time and even now I ‘work’ two jobs since I have my hourly day job and then my moonlighting night job of writing. I take pride in my work and I make sure my employers get every cent’s worth of work out of me.   I strive obsessively to be sure that any one who reads any thing I write is challenged and entertained.  Often my husband and I will remind my children of our mantra:  “It doesn’t take much to shine.” In other words, just the smallest bit of ‘extra’ attention and effort goes a long ways, and I’ve always made sure to live up to my words.  It’s paid off.  Recently I was asked to step up as second in command at the hotel I work at.  I accepted the offer without hesitation (regular hours dude) and I am off and running into a new adventure.

Which is why you haven’t heard anything from me for a couple of weeks!  I’ve been adjusting to new hours (was working swing, now I am days, beginning at seven)  and learning to cope with the responsibility of being the buffer between co-workers/guests and management.  Consequently I’ve not been writing as per my usual habit.   I just want to take a very long nap when I get home and then zone out on NBA finals.  Yet as I sit at me keyboard now, typing away, trying to frame just the right thought with just the right words, I remember what my passion is and where my heart lies….always as a writer.

Now a new challenge awaits me as I forge ahead to reach my goal of quitting my job to write full time.  It means struggling with the challenge of sleep deprivation, a more strict schedule, and far less wasted time on the internet.    It means a helluva lot more work, but I know I am up for it.

You’ll see the efforts of rising to my new challenge in the form of a few new updates on this site.  I’ll be categorizing articles for better navigation, for instance.   You’ll even notice I’ve included my mission statement on this page, just below the ‘Quote of the Week.’  I’ll also be starting a new web page which will be wholly devoted to education and information concerning the Financialization Revolution.   As near as I can tell, the slow erosion of our once prosperous middle class (which not-so-co-incidentally also coincides with the erosion of our once touted democracy) is the single most important event to occur in my lifetime…..  yet we fail to realize it as is evident by the way many mainstream pundits deride the poor as ‘takers’ and utterly ignore the players of Wall Street and the Financial sector who have manipulated interest rates and tax loopholes to their infinite advantage.  Since I strive to maintain a balance in my writings so as not to alienate anyone, I thought a separate website for this information was a plausible solution…keep an eye out for its launch!

In the meantime, you’ll be getting from me an article addressing  the impact of ‘Grace’ on humanity, a story of ‘Two Stevens’ whose separate paths illuminate the struggles of many of our brothers and sisters in modern times, and a fun short story meant for purely entertainment purposes.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE writing?

I am patiently (well, not-so-patiently really) waiting for my book cover and then my first work (Maslow’s Triangle:  Short Tales of a Homeless Chick)  will be available on Kindle, Nook, and other i-readers…should be able to launch that gig in a couple weeks, according to my graphic artist. I am also waiting to hear back from The Atlantic on the two articles I’ve sent to them.

Working hard?  Why yes I am!  Here’s to reaching goals, new adventures, and making the necessary adjustments to change.

Be well! dear readers, and please enjoy your journey!

Frankie


I have a heavy heart……

There were a few postings yesterday on my facebook feed concerning the show “Duck Dynasty” (never watched myself).  Apparently there were complaints about the whole ‘god and guns’ theme that runs through the show and many were celebrating the fact that the gig was renewed, happily keeping it’s ‘god and guns’ component.

God and guns….

Allah and jihad……

Israel and Palestine…..

Someone one said ‘imagine no religion’.

Just imagine………

Be Well,

Frankie


A Choosing: The Struggles and Difficulties of Forgoing Religion and Leaving Church

It’s not easy, ya know.  It’s not easy at all to stand at the edge of the proverbial cliff and cast off everything- you’ve- believed- in- with- your-whole-heart-so-much-you-would-die-for-it.  And yet, I did it, like many others before me.   I decided to leave religion behind and live my life based on the evidence that there is no god.

It’s not easy for a number of reasons.  First, we must admit that what we’ve been taught to believe as infallible truth is, in reality, a falsity.  It’s not easy to come to terms with the years of life I spent devoting myself to a ‘truth’ that I came to understand as antiquated and, well……made up.  Jesus’ story is no more or less the same as the thousands of other heroes that we humans have invented.  So what platitude can I offer to placate myself for squandering years of my life?  The answer is somewhat inconsequential.  First of all, just like any other life experience, I am able to find value even in negative circumstances.  I would not be able to write this note if I hadn’t had the experience of ‘growing up’ in a church, for instance.  On a deeper level though, what I came to understand is that I have the opportunity to live my life in the present, knowing I only have this one shot, so whatever else it was I did before, I am not doing it now and that’s really what matters.  Besides,  whatever it is I am doing now I am doing with a freedom and consciousness I’ve never known which makes me that much more effective to my world and present reality.  So even if it seems like I wasted years of my life believing a myth, what matters is now and the choices I make.    It isn’t easy though, and I suspect that many stop right here at this juncture because of the difficulty in admitting that what was taught as truth, is really a lie.  It is painful to tear one’s self apart from the matrix of religion, proclaim it a fabrication and declare independence.   It does not prevent many of us from doing so however and we come to learn that the pain is temporary, the scar – minimal.

Making the choice to leave religion behind for evidence and reality also means that we leave behind a fellowship of friends and family.  For many teenagers it means being kicked out of the house by parents, or having college funds cut off, or being disowned completely.  Yet, we flee.   Makes ya wonder, doesn’t it?  Why would we ‘give up’ the fellowship and love and security of these social groups?  This is an especially critical point because love and security are the second most needed elements according to Abraham Maslow.  In other words, we have a strong inherent need to feel that we belong and are valued by others and without it we cannot achieve our full potential.  Shrugging off religion means giving up the social status of belonging to a group and any value gained from it.   How do we manage to separate ourselves from the grips of acceptance and familiarity?  Some may already have other social groups they can plug into. Some, like me, adjust to having a few close friends and cherishing family gatherings.  Ultimately, the struggle to break free of dogma and the peace that comes with embracing reason overcomes any instinct to remain with the religious social group.  It isn’t easy, but we leave religion anyway, and we discover that the pain is temporary, the scar minimal.

I recently came across a very informal poll/question in an online forum that asked “What one word would you use to describe being an atheist?” Before I read any of the answers, my first thought for my own answer to the question was ‘freedom!’ – it was automatic, I didn’t even have to think about it.  As I scrolled down to read the comments of others, I was not surprised to see how often that sentiment appeared in some form or another.

It’s not easy to throw off years of belief and teaching.  It’s not easy to leave behind friends and the sense of belonging that religions have to offer.  It’s not easy to endure accusations of being ‘deceived’ or ‘led astray’.  Yet the freedom that comes with recognizing reality and accepting the truth is far more enriching and fulfilling than anything we might have left behind.  An atheist’s life is one where freedom is sweet, and the effort is worth it.

Be Well,

Frankie