© Copyright 2019. UnderstandingXYZ.com,  All rights reserved.
Old Anima
Sermon from a Non-religious Old Guy
Of all the issues and challenges that erupt when you reach your 60s, the one area of concern that seems to be extraordinarily prominent in my thoughts is whether my life has achieved any true and authentic meaning and purpose. And, of course, everyone has their own interpretation of what is meaningful and purposeful in their lives. Some find meaning and purpose by accumulating material wealth; some find meaning and purpose in how much they have sacrificed for and helped family and friends; and others can’t find any meaning and purpose in anything. They just exist. Don’t knock down those who just exist. It ain’t easy finding meaning and purpose in life. For one, growing up is frequently an exercise in setting the stage for a life full of meaninglessness. Once we are of legal age to work, our inexperience places us in jobs that are mostly lacking in any real meaning and purpose. We are basically forced into a flipping-burgers mentality, taking on jobs in which the end results are unjust monetary rewards. We are taught that life is mostly about toiling for a small buck, and that you must sacrifice your inner voice by half-heartedly accepting frequently inept and demeaning-oriented bosses. How uncreative and lacking in real substance! What if we were taught at a young age that helping others, or even watching a sunset, are both more important than flipping burgers — or that working very hard at something you truly love doing and studying will increase your odds for a professional job or the creation of your inner-voice-driven vocation in a field that you are passionate about? The old adage of “the harder I work (at doing something I enjoy), the luckier I get” applies. That parenthetic phrase after the word “work” is what is most important. Well, isn’t that what our K through 12 years are all about? Maybe. As for myself, as a youth who attended Catholic elementary and high school taught by Franciscan priests and nuns, all I mostly remember is being drilled into thinking that I had original sin and must repent for being less than a perfect Jesus. “Bless me father for I have sinned. . .” In between the guilt trips and inner-voice-busting came those moments, however, when I enjoyed reading a good novel or listening intently to some wonderful music, or I took a walk on the wild side to learn about raw human nature, or I experienced a lovely relationship with nature. The reciting of ancient prayers over and over again could not match those experiences. Essentially, I’m saying that for me, meaning and purpose were not found in religion, as many people profess. They were found in living and following my inner voice, which at times, was at odds with the dogmas that Franciscans tried to drill into me. Although I would never intentionally harm anyone. This still holds true in my early old-age years. But the inner voice has changed. It has, of course, always been changing with my experiences. That seems to be the essence of living life as authentically as humanly possible. And everyone’s striving for authenticity is different. And, very unfortunately, this is where things tend to get very ugly, because we become intolerant. In a kind of reverse-intolerance motif that defied logic, Vice President Mike Pence said in his recent commencement address at Liberty University that “some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. So, as you go about daily life, just be ready.” What he neglected to say was that “traditional” Christian beliefs are really up for grabs and difficult to define. In other words, don’t believe everything you read in whatever translation of the Old or New Testament you might be quoting. For every translation you read, there is an opposing or more complex translation someplace else that may have been historically suppressed. I’ll add that those who believe that the Bible was literally written by God may want to read up on the history of Bible productions over time. This does not mean that we should be tolerant of those who, for example, profess that homosexuality is a sin, or that abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and medical emergency, should be banned (as they are trying to do in Alabama). They are entitled to believe what they want. However, and this is a big however, they are not entitled to enact laws that are written only for marriages between a man and a woman, or create rules based only on religious beliefs. We are all equal regardless of our religions. And frankly, in my opinion, I could care less about anyone’s sexual preference as long as it’s not pedophilia, rape, incest, or sexual brutality and dominance. And it’s awfully ironic that pedophilia and many other sexual deviancy have been commonly found among religious leaders, just as they are found among the non-religious. For another train of thought related to intolerance, can it not be said that what we believed 2,000 years ago has evolved into new twenty-first century thinking that brings more people together in peace and tolerance regardless of our religious preferences? Less war, less intolerance, less pontificating about relatively meaningless things that do not harm anyone, with more freedom to pursue our inner non- violent voices, can easily be identified as a noble path — isn’t that where we find true meaning and purpose?
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” -  Oliver Goldsmith
Old Anima
© Copyright 2019. UnderstandingXYZ.com. All rights reserved.
“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” -  Oliver Goldsmith
Of all the issues and challenges that erupt when you reach your 60s, the one area of concern that seems to be extraordinarily prominent in my thoughts is whether my life has achieved any true and authentic meaning and purpose. And, of course, everyone has their own interpretation of what is meaningful and purposeful in their lives. Some find meaning and purpose by accumulating material wealth; some find meaning and purpose in how much they have sacrificed for and helped family and friends; and others can’t find any meaning and purpose in anything. They just exist. Don’t knock down those who just exist. It ain’t easy finding meaning and purpose in life. For one, growing up is frequently an exercise in setting the stage for a life full of meaninglessness. Once we are of legal age to work, our inexperience places us in jobs that are mostly lacking in any real meaning and purpose. We are basically forced into a flipping-burgers mentality, taking on jobs in which the end results are unjust monetary rewards. We are taught that life is mostly about toiling for a small buck, and that you must sacrifice your inner voice by half-heartedly accepting frequently inept and demeaning-oriented bosses. How uncreative and lacking in real substance! What if we were taught at a young age that helping others, or even watching a sunset, are both more important than flipping burgers — or that working very hard at something you truly love doing and studying will increase your odds for a professional job or the creation of your inner-voice-driven vocation in a field that you are passionate about? The old adage of “the harder I work (at doing something I enjoy), the luckier I get” applies. That parenthetic phrase after the word “work” is what is most important. Well, isn’t that what our K through 12 years are all about? Maybe. As for myself, as a youth who attended Catholic elementary and high school taught by Franciscan priests and nuns, all I mostly remember is being drilled into thinking that I had original sin and must repent for being less than a perfect Jesus. “Bless me father for I have sinned. . .” In between the guilt trips and inner-voice-busting came those moments, however, when I enjoyed reading a good novel or listening intently to some wonderful music, or I took a walk on the wild side to learn about raw human nature, or I experienced a lovely relationship with nature. The reciting of ancient prayers over and over again could not match those experiences. Essentially, I’m saying that for me, meaning and purpose were not found in religion, as many people profess. They were found in living and following my inner voice, which at times, was at odds with the dogmas that Franciscans tried to drill into me. Although I would never intentionally harm anyone. This still holds true in my early old-age years. But the inner voice has changed. It has, of course, always been changing with my experiences. That seems to be the essence of living life as authentically as humanly possible. And everyone’s striving for authenticity is different. And, very unfortunately, this is where things tend to get very ugly, because we become intolerant. In a kind of reverse-intolerance motif that defied logic, Vice President Mike Pence said in his recent commencement address at Liberty University that “some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. So, as you go about daily life, just be ready.” What he neglected to say was that “traditional” Christian beliefs are really up for grabs and difficult to define. In other words, don’t believe everything you read in whatever translation of the Old or New Testament you might be quoting. For every translation you read, there is an opposing or more complex translation someplace else that may have been historically suppressed. I’ll add that those who believe that the Bible was literally written by God may want to read up on the history of Bible productions over time. This does not mean that we should be tolerant of those who, for example, profess that homosexuality is a sin, or that abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and medical emergency, should be banned (as they are trying to do in Alabama). They are entitled to believe what they want. However, and this is a big however, they are not entitled to enact laws that are written only for marriages between a man and a woman, or create rules based only on religious beliefs. We are all equal regardless of our religions. And frankly, in my opinion, I could care less about anyone’s sexual preference as long as it’s not pedophilia, rape, incest, or sexual brutality and dominance. And it’s awfully ironic that pedophilia and many other sexual deviancy have been commonly found among religious leaders, just as they are found among the non- religious. For another train of thought related to intolerance, can it not be said that what we believed 2,000 years ago has evolved into new twenty-first century thinking that brings more people together in peace and tolerance regardless of our religious preferences? Less war, less intolerance, less pontificating about relatively meaningless things that do not harm anyone, with more freedom to pursue our inner non-violent voices, can easily be identified as a noble path — isn’t that where we find true meaning and purpose?
Sermon from a Non-religious Old Guy