Thought I would share something that got lost in the shuffle a while back:
Posted by Kelli Jae Baeli on September 12, 2009 at 8:00pm
*from comment thread with Lee…..in attempting a succinct response, I found myself falling into my nature as a writer, and this comment became lengthy. That was a warning for the faint of heart. I cross-posted here, so that someone might be able to read it later, here, if they become overwhelmed with it, there. Smelling salts available.**
Lee, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I admire philosophers and philosophy majors…it’s fascinating, necessary, but complicated stuff. I am only beginning to study the materials, though I have developed my own philosophies over the years, and have discovered they share elements with several other official ones. Interesting. Well, someone came up with those, too, at some point. So I would love to pick your brain about those things.
And I don’t for an instant think that having books published qualifies me to discuss and explore and understand difficult subjects any more than anyone else who applies the mind in an earnest way. (Maybe it would if my publisher was RANDOM HOUSE, but alas.) My earnest application of learning just manifests in writing, as that’s my comfort zone for communicating difficult ideas. But clearly, you sport your own eloquence.
First, your question about sexual orientation–it is my considered opinion (and I believe science bears this out) that you don’t CHOOSE to be gay. (Why would I choose to be a hated minority without the same rights as anyone else, and a one in a thousand chance of meeting someone to share my life with? Absurd, when you think about it). The only choice to be had, here, is whether or not you choose to accept who you are, or not. So while nurture might play a role in some very rare circumstances, I believe it is almost ALL nature. For, if someone is the victim of abuse by someone of the same gender, when they are still young, and this is started early enough, it can cause confusion and stunted, unhealthy development. But this in no way “makes” a person gay. Again, the question remains whether or not they understand and embrace who they are naturally, regardless of their experiences or traumas. A good example are those gay people who are reportedly “cured” of their gayness by the power of GOD and religion and some Christian activist group.
I contend that you cannot be cured of homosexuality any more than you can be cured of being of Nordic descent (though some Vikings, Geats and Heathobards might disagree with me). I also contend that if you weren’t homosexual to begin with, then of course having gay sex would be “unnatural” for you. And these “cures” might be more about finally reaching your natural sexual orientation. I don’t think it has a damn thing to do with religion or God. It’s biology, pure and simple. We are hardwired to respond to certain types and certainly one of two genders (except for the bisexuals among us–I think they are kind of lucky). Imagine how confusing it would be for all those confused people if there were 3 or 4 genders (Not sure how that would be so–maybe that’s an idea we can knock around, just for fun on another thread). But I–as they say–digress. I have recently realized that I wish I were bisexual. It would certainly improve my chances of finding dates and/or a partner. Especially with the specter of that “atheist-thing” hanging over me like the Sword of Damocles.
I actually covered this gay vs. religion issue extensively in a paper, which is published in one of my anthology books. It was so long ago, I was still a “Gay Christian.” LOL.
I can say that everything you pointed out, Lee, is exactly as I feel. We are of like mind on all of that. The only difference in us are the obvious things, like, I spent most of my life in the Bible belt, and was a Christian, and of course, that I am Gay. (I’m risking the assumption that you are straight). But those differences can serve to strengthen relationships with other open minded people, as they make us think, perhaps, a new thought. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I appreciate variety, as I agree it is the spice of life.
My cosmology path would have been ever so much easier, had I been raised in a secular manner, as you were. It took me far too long to finally do the work necessary to completely own my nonbelief. It was a process from naiveté to wisdom, that took quite a long while, as I was a late bloomer, and extremely gullible and even jejune. But not vapid. Let no one ever utter that I was vapid. (I have to cling to something). I went through the motions of being Christian, while noticing the flaws in the logic, and resisting its demands for subservience; so I then tempered my beliefs with other name tags, like “Spiritual, but not religious”, to include a year-long stint with the Law of Attraction (AKA, the Secret) bandwagon, which I summarily jumped off of in derision, (and yes, sprained my ankle) saying, “What a sales-job.” That pitch, I believe, was based on, first, the need for people to feel they have control over themselves and their world, without taking responsibility for it, AND the truth of the benefits in positive thinking and motivational application. But this LOA/Secret cult usurped and twisted those truths into something else entirely, which has done a fine job of becoming another zealot religion.
I have not begun to examine the degree to which I can embrace some of those other spiritual ideas; I’ve been dealing with the big stuff and want to get that squared away before I begin another journey (and another book) about the spiritual-but-not-religious aspects. Like whether I believe in a soul, and reincarnation, or that there is something other than randomness…(don’t get me started, I don’t have the energy to even address that, until I finish the current project).
So when I had discarded all of this, I was left with these empty hands of “belief” and I had to figure out what I did believe in, and whether I was courageous enough to embrace it and live it. It’s still in its infancy, (consciously, anyway. I’m sure I was an atheist most of my life) but I can say one thing I DO believe: I believe, with a high degree of certainty, that I will never be able to go back. Something happens once you know a thing–if you’re honest and strong enough, that is–you know what you know, and only brain injury will change that fact.
Here’s the metaphor I use, a common one to make the point: I’m in a room with some other people, and there is this huge pink elephant standing in the middle of that room. Everyone is ignoring it. I’m the one saying “Um, hey, don’t you notice the elephant?”
“What elephant?” they say.
Then the beast takes a huge crap on the floor, and they just continue to mingle in the room, squeezing their eyes shut, dragging their feet through excrement, and appearing unaware.
Not my kind of room.
I am constantly floored by those who choose blindness over sight. They are, in a very real way, Intellectually Blind-sighted. (*blind-sight is a fascinating subject that merits investigating, if you haven’t already…)
Now, I said all that, to say this: Once you see the elephant; once you acknowledge not only its existence, but it’s effect on your environment, and its effect on others, you are then on a different track. You then have to apply that knowledge to everything else in your life: shake out the cobwebs, scoop up and dispose of the CRAP, open the windows to air out the room, rearrange the furniture, and take out the trash. And soon after this, is where the reality of your position in society hits you. You are now, officially, a pariah. But as I say in my book, I was a pariah before, several times over, what’s one more example?
One more example, I didn’t need. But the truth is the truth, and I cannot and will not pretend otherwise. My integrity won’t let me. So I have to face those fears of isolation and ostracization all over again in the milieu of social interaction of any kind. I’m an atheist now. And there will be many who will dismiss me immediately when they know that, because they don’t know anything about me, or atheism.
I will stop here, before this becomes another book.
Thank you for engaging me.
Comment by Nate on September 12, 2009 at 8:47pm
Is it ok that I read that, even though I’m not Lee? I hope so. I found this fascinating. I describe myself as a spiritual atheist, even though labels are confusing and easily misunderstood. I guess all that matters is that I know what it means. I never dabbled in LOA but I know some very intelligent people that have done so on their way out of more conventional religious belief. I appreciated that you saw through it and yet are able to see that the “hook” does have basis in “the truth of the benefits in positive thinking and motivational application”.“Something happens once you know a thing–if you’re honest and strong enough, that is–you know what you know, and only brain injury will change that fact.” Exactly. This is why I feel it’s not entirely accurate to refer to atheism as a choice. Once our previous religious delusions are deconstructed, there’s no turning back. This is why high-control groups are so adamant about “protecting” their members from information that’s critical of their dogma. A sinner can repent, but a thinker will never again be content to simply believe.Thanks.