Autumn, Apologies, Apologetics

(Because deeper meanings are always hidden behind the paragraphs about the dirt under my fingernails!)

You have to know when it’s time to harvest, time to cut back the dead growth, time to evaluate how things went in your flower beds this year, what performed well in your vegetable garden, what needs tweaking for next year, what bulbs to order, what grass to turn over for flower beds next year.

Last year I opened up two new beds, one for asparagus and flowering kale (that ended up being purple cauliflower, which is OK just totally unexpected, and another that I called my “Cuban Garden” which had all kinds of marigolds and chilis, black bachelor buttons and bright red poppies.  It was also the first year that the new raised beds were planted with vegetables.  It wasn’t nearly as productive as I had thought it would be, and I suspect that had to do with too much humidity in the soil, a healthy crop of slugs (really…I’m still scratching my head about how in the prairies we can have such a plentiful slug population!).  To top it off, only two of the forty or so gladiolas that I replanted gave me flowers.  I was going to leave them in the ground to die off but I suspect part of the reason they decided not to flower was a) I planted too early, and b) the location I put them was way too wet.  So I’ll dig them up, return them to their little box, put them back in the closet, and try again next year.

There’s a couple of cats that seem to think they can hunt here.  Every once and a while I find a dead sparrow or a song bird, pick it up, put it under a hedge to try and give it some respect…I know, it’s a bird!  It’s a crazy way of relating to nature I picked up from my great Aunt Fran, who I still miss a lot and not just for the cooking.  I’ve tried hissing at them, I’ve tried staring them down.  I think the only thing I’m left with doing is either water, a trap, or just accept that sometimes being a hospitable host means putting up with boisterous guests.

That concludes the fall portion!

I saw a cartoon on Facebook that made me react.  It depicted a screaming woman with a halo, who was shouting about how Christians… it’s just going to be easier for you to look at it yourselves.

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So my first reaction was to be offended.  Not because there aren’t valid points raised, and not because the context in which the cartoon depicts these images makes a blanket (read bigoted) slant to Christians/Christianity.  I was offended because the image was created to provoke a reaction.  I had written “offend”, but then walked away from my post and come back a day later, realizing that offend was too involved a term.

Part of creating a sacred space in a garden is knowing when a weed, say a different kind of natural grass that would be pulled out anywhere else, will insert itself into your lily beds and provide interesting contrasts in the summer (along with food for birds and insects), beautiful colours in the fall, and contrast the bleak white of the snow in winter.  Thistles are beautiful in the right situations, but if allowed to flourish will choke everything else out.  This was the case with mint in my vegetable garden.  I spent the better part of a day pulling out what felt like miles of hot pink roots that would potentially regrow even more vigorously next year as mint, choking out my veg.  So I garden knowing that I’m going to allow some kinds of weeds to exist because the trade off for not pulling them out is a kind of beauty that I’m attempting to achieve.

People are the same when it comes to how they interact with their opinions.  We pick up tools which justify and enforce our anger.  The cartoon image above is a great example of what well crafted weeding can accomplish.  It’s not about bashing Christians (although it accomplishes that goal), and it’s not about making Atheists seem more level headed and more common sense (although it seems to make us want to think that, from one point of view).  This image is created to stir emotion in anyone who reads it because the individuals who crafted it require the response to justify their own involvement.

As this image is geared towards Christians, I can think of several examples where fundamentalists have used their orthodoxy in the same way.  So from one point of view, this image is not conducive to reconciliation or acceptance or dialogue.  Rather, it’s conducive to keep the fight going because the fight, regardless of what the fight is about, is more important than the cause of the fight.

It’s hate porn.

In order for reconciliation to occur–meaningful movement beyond the continuing investment in anger, in hate–both parties have to first be willing to disengage from the capitalism of hate, the state where “I hate X about you, you hate Y about me, let’s hate each other and be unified in Z.”  To me, images like this when they appear show me that people have not yet begun to realize how attached they are to their hate, their prejudice.

Not all Christians believe abortion is a sin.  Some do.  I do.

Not all Christians believe that Queer people are an abomination.  Some do.  I don’t.  My denomination does not.  Many denominations do not.

Not all Christians believe that atheists are amoral agents of Satan.  Pope Francis doesn’t.   I don’t.  I know that I’m challenged more by my atheist/agnostic friends on my faith, but I don’t look at it as a threat;  it’s an opportunity to practice apologetics.  It’s an opportunity to share what I believe in a way that’s not proselytizing, or perhaps threatening.

Not all Christians believe that certain art is offensive.  Some do, but some don’t.  What comes to mind for me is the art of Robert Mapplethorpe who famously displayed crucifixes in clear containers filled with urine.  If you want to know my point of view about offensive imagery, go back one post and read about what I wrote about the image that caused so much ruckus on Facebook.

The war, I think, isn’t being raged so much against Christianity as it is against Christendom.  It’s not so much about rights being trampled on as it is a need by both extremes to be engaged in being engaged.

Again, hate porn.

So I find myself in a position of having just a few weeks ago posted an image in the same ilk as the one above, one which depicted Donald Trump and Mike Pense in a position which led the viewer to draw the conclusion that oral sex was being performed by Pense on Trump (ok, take a moment to wash that image out of your hair…..), and now being on the other side of the fence as the one offended (although mildly).

I must ask forgiveness of my brothers and sisters in the Queer community because I have let you down.  I’ve participated in propagating hate porn, I’ve participated in an act of rage that will only propagate rage, not reconciliation.

I must ask patience from my brothers and sisters in the Queer community because it takes a lot of practice to break from the cycle of hate porn.  On the one hand I preach out against it, preach out against taking part in a system that breaks us down by uniting us in dividing behaviours that link us in rage and anger; yet here I am, not only participating but doing so with the same sense of self righteousness that comes with the moral high ground of quicksand we fight to gain.

I will attempt to be reconciled by changing my behaviour.  I’ve participated in this way of living most of my life, and to assume I can change overnight is a tall order–but it’s the only order than can stand.  Anything else is half assed. This cartoon image actually led me down a road of seeing my own faults, my own shortcomings.  It’s shown me how I’ve actually been caught up in the system I’ve been fighting and been even more deeply entrenched in the trade of hate porn that I was aware of.

There is a moment to turn the other cheek, and a moment to face the slap head on and call it out for what it is.  The challenge is to know how, to know when, and to be in a state of awareness to know when the challenge is done because it will profit rather than be an instrument of justice.  So…of course… the practice of turning the other cheek becomes even more important because of what’s at stake.  It’s a choice between living in a state of love and grace, or living in a state of rage and anger that closes the mind to any rational thinking.

I think that’s something theists and atheists can agree upon.  In practice, however……

 

Autumn, Apologies, Apologetics

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