One man’s meat, another man’s poison


I remember once, in the earlier part of our relationship, we had a relatively bad fight. I don’t remember what the fight was about (who ever does?) but it was probably one of the worst ones, because unpleasant and hurtful words were exchanged.

Later on, she called me up crying and apologizing. It must have been the devil, she said. The devil trying to drive us apart, the devil that made her say those horrible things which she didn’t mean.

Strange how now it has become the devil that brought us together in the first place, and God who gave a ‘sign’ that we should be apart.
~

In Julia Sweeney’s ‘Letting go of God’ show (which I shared two entries back), she tells of how she was upset when her mother revealed to her that her birthday was not on September 10th as she had thought all along, but on October 10th. This made her (then a young teenage girl) upset mainly because she had a huge virgo poster on her wall, and read her horoscope every week (which was so totally her!!) and now this meant she wasn’t a virgo but a libra?! So she went into town to buy the libra poster and started reading the libra horoscope… which, to her amazement, was ALSO soooo totallllyyy her!!
~

I have this group of good friends and most of us are Terry Pratchett fans. We don’t see each other that often (because half of us are always overseas and half of the other half are always uncontactably busy) and we do pretty different things in terms of study, work and how we spend our leisure time. But we’re good friends nonetheless, and enjoy each other’s company when we do get together. Somehow, we’re mostly on similar wavelengths, similar intellectual levels (alternating between talking about medical terms and rainbows, yes.) and have s similar sense of humour.

Yet we found out recently that one within our midst didn’t like Terry Pratchett! What was there not to like, we wondered? His writing is funny, witty, smart and has all kinds of references to real world events and realities… it seems exactly like something she’d like too!

Well, it’s just one of those things I suppose.

It’s like when you hear a song, or watch a movie, or see a painting and you think OMG THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER!!!!! and other people are just, ‘…meh.’ and you really for the life of you can’t understand HOW THEY CAN NOT THINK IT’S AWESOME.

Well, it’s just one of those things.
People are different. They see things differently.
And we’ve learnt to accept that, even if we still think, at the back of our head, “HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ANYONE NOT LOVE THIS?”
~

I’ve blogged about this before, the subjectivity of words, the subjectivity of perception. The thing out there in the world only holds half the meaning. The other half happens inside your own head.

There are subjective truths, and objective truths.

Subjective truths may be true for you, but not for other people. It may be true at certain times, under certain circumstances but not others. It may be true depending on your mood, on your interpretation, on your perceptions. And while we can all champion our subjective truths, we should not have problems when people disagree with them. It’s different for them, then. It’s just one of those things. The song speaks to me in one way, speaks to you in another, and doesn’t speak to someone else at all. And there’s no conflict. Neither me, you, him nor the writer of the song should be upset at these differences. There IS no ‘right’ interpretation. That’s art, your input and participation is half the process.

Objective truth on the other hand, should deal with something that is more out in the world than in your head. Objective truth should be something verifiable– anyone and everyone who goes to check should come away with the same answer. They should agree. And if you don’t agree on the objective truth, then that’s where we have a problem because it means someone is right, and sone one is wrong. The views are mutually exclusive.

Actually, the real problems come about when people mistake subjective truth for objective truth. When they insist that people who don’t agree with their subjective truths are wrong. When they think that because it feels true for them, it must be true for all and anyone who doesn’t think so is wrong.

Based on how religion is experienced, based on how there are so many kinds of religion, based on how there are so many different interpretations and understandings… don’t all arrows point to religion being more of a subjective truth than an objective one? How else can you explain the incredibly varied responses to the same journey (search for meaning and god), to the same activities (prayer, meditation, going to places of worship) to the same religion (Christianity and it’s many branches, cults and denominations), to the same books (sacred texts), to the same words, even? How can you claim your own answer as objective truth when it’s plain that so many have come away with so many different answers, over and over and over again?

Oranges are not the only fruit


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a novel by Jeanette Winterson published in 1985, which she subsequently adapted into a three-part BBC television drama. It is a bildungsroman about a lesbian girl who grows up in an English Pentecostal community.

I plan to read the book, but in the meantime, I found the TV series on youtube, so I watched that first. It’s a great show, give it a watch if you have the time. On youtube it’s uploaded as 6 parts of about 7 minutes for each of the 3 episode. There’s a part missing though, so if you can access the video via other means, maybe you could try that too. For example, I’ve just realized that the esplanade library carries the video cassettes! …not sure how I would watch video cassettes though haha, maybe the esplanade has a multimedia room you can use. Nonetheless, the missing part didn’t make the show any less enjoyable to watch.

Some thoughts:

It made me think, once again, about how flexible the human mind is.
I mean, how easily we can twist words to mean what we want them to mean. How words can mean anything.  How easily we can delude ourselves, how easily we can truly believe what is not true. How easily we can think, with all our heart, that we’re doing the right thing.

Can you blame the mother in the show, as unpleasant as she is? Can you fault her for treating the main character, Jess, in that way? It may not be your idea of love (it may be, in fact, your idea of hate) but I do think she does love Jess, and every horrible thing she did, she thought it was for the best. No, she knew it was for the best.

This is how humans are. We can operate separate from the ‘truth’. It doesn’t matter so much what is out there as what we think is out there, how we perceive what is out there.

And that’s the problem I have with ‘faith’. Knowing how susceptible we are to such thinking, to being able to have unwavering belief in your own thoughts, positions and actions, shouldn’t we be guarding against such thinking rather than encouraging it? Guarding against ‘having faith’?

Because isn’t such type of thinking the essence of faith?

To have complete trust in something. To believe in god without evidence. To… just believe. Just have faith. With all your heart.

People are capable of being blind enough as it is. Don’t tie blindfolds over your eyes and tell me that’s a GOOD thing. The more blindfolds you tie, the more you trust without EVIDENCE or PROOF, the better and more PREFERABLE that is? Seriously?
—-
The show had me crying. Because the worst thing was… knowing that this isn’t merely fiction. Knowing that this isn’t merely history. Knowing that this isn’t merely abstract ideas, or something happening far away.

This is real. This is now. This is here. This is me, and those are my friends.

Please don’t pretend that the church’s position has ‘progressed’, that your position has progressed and is better and more reasonable than historical positions. Does it really matter what words you use? Whether you call it a ‘demon in you’ or an ‘illness’ or a  ‘disorder’ or a ‘result of the fallen world’ or an ‘abomination’ or even just simply a ‘sin’?

You change the words, but the final meaning is the same. The church’s idea of ‘progress’ is ‘accepting’ new evidence but without letting it change the bottom line. So you have to change your interpretation a little. That’s not a problem. As long as you keep the bottom line the same.

I don’t remember if I’ve said it out loud on this blog yet, but… my girlfriend of three years broke up with me–yes, you guessed it– for religious reasons. You could say this blog is born from that incident.

During that break-up period, she showed me two different cases from two different Christian books she was reading– about homosexuals having had demons successfully cast out of them.

…how do you think that makes me feel? To know that the person you love thinks that the only reason why you love her and why she loves you is because of a demon?

…so when we enjoyed each others’ company, simply sitting on a bench enjoying the breeze and talking; a demon at work?
…so when we celebrated anniversaries or valentine’s days, exchanging heartfelt gifts; a demon pulling the strings?
…when we went out for dinner; a demon ordering dessert?
…when we said ‘I love you’ countless times, cheered each other on through tests, exams and school work, listened to each others’ problems and worries… all through a demon’s mouth and ears?

I understand a little more now why people can be so cruel, why the mother in the show can behave so hard-heartedly towards her daughter. That’s not her daughter, it’s a demon. The devil’s limb, as she says.

How people could have burnt women at the stake: they’re not women, they’re witches. The cries you hear aren’t the cries of a women in pain, they are the cries of evil knowing it has lost the battle. When someone cries and screams while having a demon cast out, that’s the sound of the demon, in pain.

What does ‘demon’ even mean, anyway? The idea of ‘ALL GOOD’ and ‘ALL BAD’ is really an incoherent one to me. It can’t exist in more than the abstract. If this thing you call a ‘demon’ can feel pain, shouldn’t we have compassion for it too?

I can’t wait to read the book.