My post about gay marriage went viral (sort of) on Tumblr yesterday, which is interesting since it was originally posted back in 2006. Traffic to this site was just shy of the record set on January 5th, 2010, when I had 11,539 views.
Today marks a year since I have been to church. We started attending services in 2006, joined in 2009, and attended regularly until the first week of February of last year. Honey has visited once since then.
When people find out we are no longer going, they instantly assume something happened to offend one of us. That is absolutely not the case. I can’t recall ever having anything but kindness shown to my partner and myself as we attended church over a span of almost seven years. The issue, my issue, always boils down to a combination of lack of faith and problems with organized religion.
Regular readers of this blog will know some of my history with Christianity. I grew up in a very small Pentecostal Holiness church. Although there were many restrictions on dress and behavior, I believe most of the people I grew up worshiping with were good people who were sincere in their beliefs. My problems with that denomination arose when I became a young man and realized there simply wasn’t a place in the pews for people like me.
Last night, on YouTube, I stumbled across a video of a Holiness woman preaching (female preachers were common in the denomination of my youth). This was the same woman who met with me a few days after coming out to my family to inform me that gays occupy the lowest level of hell. I realized something while watching her last night; she might be charismatic and eloquent, but she likes to use fear and her loud voice as weapons of intimidation. I actually felt sorry for her.
The church we are both members of now is a far cry from the Holiness church. Aware of the UCC’s beliefs on homosexuality, I knew before we even entered the building on our first visit that we should have no problems in that regard. We never did. We were embraced as a couple and as whole people who didn’t need “fixing.”
So, why did I stop going? Again, it all came back to my issues with faith and religion. I felt like a hypocrite sitting in the pews on Sunday morning, tossing prayers toward heaven without any conviction they were reaching further than the rafters. Sure, there were times when I felt more connected to God, but overall my faith in religion has been in decline for several years.
I don’t know what I believe in any more. I want to believe there is a God who loves me and has the answers to all the universal questions we have, but maybe that is just a selfish part of being human and wanting to feel significant. Maybe all we have is what we see, and perhaps we will never know the answers to why we are here and how in the heck space can be infinite. It could very well be that we get this amazing life to live for a few decades and then we die and that’s it. And, really, isn’t that enough?
On this anniversary of sorts, I feel reflective but contented. I love spending Sundays at home with my partner and our spoiled kitties. We sleep in, watch movies, visit with friends, and cook dinner. When it’s warm enough, I often find myself working in the yard. When it’s cold, I often catch myself daydreaming and planning about what I am going to do when it’s warm enough to work in the yard. There are few things I enjoy more.
So, my Sundays are still sacred – just in a different way. And that’s perfectly fine with me.
I took the plunge and bought the ‘Feelin’ Blue’ cedar I mentioned a few posts ago. A coworker suggested I name it “Eeyore,” because of the weeping foliage that is characteristic of this species.
Since it is far too cold to plant right now, it has a temporary home against the back of the house. I placed the root ball in a large metal tub, surrounded it with mulch, and placed unopened bags of mulch around the tub to block the wind. Hopefully, it will hang on until spring.
Perhaps it is because they stand in stark contrast to their gray-barked and bare-limbed cousins during the winter months, but evergreens have recently captured my attention. I purchased a book that details which conifers are best for landscapes in my part of the country, and I know it is only a matter of time before I begin purchasing a variety of them for my own lawn. I figure anything that can stay green and luscious throughout the frigid temperatures of winter deserves a prime spot in the view out my windows.
Saturday, on a whim, I stopped by a small garden center. Since this is their off season, none of the colorful flowers and plants that normally grace the area were anywhere to be seen. The place looked downright dilapidated. That didn’t stop me from squealing in delight when I noticed the beautiful cedars that had been moved front-and-center from their usual spot in the back corner.
A lanky-looking tree grabbed my attention first. I quickly discovered it to be a Golden Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Aurea’). It was beautiful, but the $100 price tag gave me a bit of sticker shock.
A small, shrubby conifer nearby was the next thing that caught my eye. While the unusual, rubbery needles were anything but painful, the same couldn’t be said of the price tag. This midget-sized mound of green was also marked $100.
I returned this afternoon for another look around and spotted a small tree around 3-4 feet tall. Its cascading branches made it look a little droopy, and I discovered it is appropriately named ‘Feelin’ Blue.’
After much research online and with my new book, I am considering adopting ‘Feelin’ Blue.’ Apparently it is unusual for this plant to form a main leader, so the fact that this one has grown into the shape of a small tree makes it more desirable to me. What worries me is this is a terrible time to plant things (it’s freaking cold out there), and this plant has probably been neglected. I might give it a shot if I can get a hefty discount.
‘Berry Nice’ and ‘Jim Dandy’ (pollinator)
Horstmann Blue Atlas Cedar
Cedrus a ‘Horstmann’
Little Henry Sweetspire
Golden Deodar Cedar
Cedrus deodara ‘Aurea’
Luscious Citrus Blend Lantana
Cha-Ching Cherry Petunia
Orange Tiger Lily
I have a few different numbers I am partial to, but my absolute favorite is the number seven. It has a beautiful shape (especially when drawn with a slash through it like they do in European countries), and I like its significance in biblical texts.
I also like to add numbers in my head, and it gives me a dab of mental pleasure when they add up to seven. For example, if I’m driving on our local highway, I like to set the cruise so that my digital speedometer reads 61. It’s a little OCD, but who cares, right?
Anyway, you can imagine why I am excited about 2014. ;)
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
- Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
- The Jew Store by Stella Suberman
- Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
- The Other Guy by Cary Attwell
- A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
- Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson by William B. Van Valin II MD
- My Drowning by Jim Grimsley
- The Watch by Moonbeam McQueen
- Jesus Is Sending You This Message by Jim Grimsley
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
- Joe by Larry Brown
- Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
- The Key Is Love by Marie Osmond
- Scrap Metal by Harper Fox
- Life After Joe by Harper Fox
- Clear Water by Amy Lane
- The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B. G. Thomas
- Caught Running by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban
- Denial: My 25 Years Without A Soul by Jonathan Rauch
- Driftwood by Harper Fox
- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
- When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox
- A Midwinter Prince by Harper Fox
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
- I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis
- The Catcher In The Rye by Jeff Marsden
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Fire Birds by Shane Gregory
- When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde