God and Religious Stereotypes

I think I’ve kept quiet long enough. Too long even. I’ve kept quiet most of my life. Maybe I was scared. Maybe out of respect for the people who took (and still takes) care of me and taught me early on all that is viable in life. Or maybe because I know my opinions would be judged and unacceptable to some (or most). Or maybe because I know I will be looked down upon because my faith is rather unconventional. I don’t know.

God and Religion are two totally different things.

God is definitely not religion. Do not confuse yourself.

I am not religious at all, I’m sorry. It’s nothing I’m proud of, just pointing out that I’m not. And I wish to not identify with any religion. But don’t get me wrong, I do believe in God and know for a fact that I have a great relationship with my Creator.

There is this stereotype that people who do not identify with a particular religion must therefore be an atheist. I have nothing against atheists. In fact, I know a lot of atheists, I have friends who are atheists and most of them are really good people. We are all entitled to our own beliefs. Religion or religious beliefs or nonbeliefs do not make a person. Religions are but human institutions that enhances your experience of God but just because you do not identify to one does not mean that you cannot experience God.

I’m not religious because I’m just not impressed with it. I feel like it limits someone’s understanding of faith as each “religion” has its own distinct ideologies and cultures and traditions EVEN IF they claim to worship the same higher being.

And although I am not religious, I know, I KNOW that my God loves me the same as everyone else because my God is omnipotent and unbiased and merciful.

There is this other stereotype that if you don’t identify to a particular religion, your soul won’t be “saved.” I think I’ve lost count of how many people would scold me or tell me off when I don’t go to church, like as if rubbing shoulders with hypocrites really make my Sundays better. They will then proceed to tell me that you are there to worship God and not the people who attend church and I’m like aren’t these worship leaders, these priests, people as well? They are actually one of the reasons why religion turned me off. I do go to church sometimes, the coffee is always good.

I am very much aware, growing up in a family with closed religious beliefs, that as a “Christian,” I am obliged to go to Sunday mass or worship service, share in charities and actively participate in small groups (and I did for so many years). That is what tradition dictates. Not sure what sort of validation they get from doing so as I feel like their idea of being good followers of Christ or how a Christian life is to be led are pegged on their church attendance or the amount they give for tithes and offerings. I don’t really need to let the whole world know of the good that I do. Publishing it on multimedia and spilling it all over social media does not secure you a spot in heaven.

I don’t go for certain reasons I’m sure most people (who also call themselves Christians) won’t or refuse to understand. I however, worship my God in my own, intimate way, I don’t really need to let everyone in on how I do it because at the end of it all, it’s going to boil down to just me and Him. I keep a devotional that I read and reflect on every morning, I converse with my God about random things as I go about my day and I’m a fervent believer of prayer. Yes, I pray a lot and I also teach my children how to pray and be thankful for the life God has graced upon us. How fortunate are we to experience this beautiful world.

You see, each of us have our own ideals and beliefs and just because we are so passionate with ours, does not give us the right to dictate or force it on someone who does not share the same.

I wish everyone would learn to respect each other’s unique principles instead of being bigots and judgmental human beings.

I love my God and I always try to do whatever it is that will be pleasing to Him. I hope, as believers, you do the same.

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xx

DMV

So What Now?

March 19, 2018 – On it’s final reading, The House of Representatives has approved the Absolute Divorce Bill.

A milestone for the Philippines, the farthest a divorce law proposal has gone in the legislative process.

Given that the PH is a largely religious country, the backlash on the bill is overwhelming.

I go on reading comments on the bill, trolls mostly citing biblical passages justifying that this is against the law of God. Others saying that if the bill gets passed into a law, divorce will be rampant in the country (WTF?).

First, why would there be a surge of divorce cases if ever the bill gets passed into a law? Does this mean that majority of the marriages in the Philippines are problematic?? Please enlighten me as I believe that if a married couple are standing on solid ground, a certain “divorce law” will not shake them.

If people only take the time to read what’s inside the bill (citing “that the proper court shall not start the trial of a petition for absolute divorce before the expiration of a mandatory six-month cooling off period, after the filing of the petition during which the court shall exercise all efforts to reunite and reconcile the parties”) instead of jumping into exaggerated conclusions, the world would be such a peaceful place.

Second, to those religious hypocrites, I fervently pray to the same GOD that you will never go through the hell I literally went through. I feel like these people who call themselves “Christians” do not care for the abused as long as their sacraments are kept “sacred.” But I wonder, why is annulment allowed when it actually weighs heavier? It was never protested even if it is unbiblical and ironically is a law accepted by the church. It’s a nullification of marriage, a total mockery of the sanctity of the said sacrament.

It is right that God hates divorce as stated in the bible but if you read in the same bible, HE ALLOWED IT because of the stubbornness of man and on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness and abandonment (see Matthew 19:8-9).

Points to ponder on:

  1. Is the government changing any of the teachings of the Church when Congress passed the bill?

  2. By legalizing divorce in the country, does it mean that all marriages will end in divorce?

  3. Is the responsibility of the Church to preserve the sanctity of marriage suspended with the passage of this bill?

Suggestion: the church in general, should be more proactive in preserving marriage rather than being so reactive. This is a challenge I believe a strong church will have to endure and in the process, it will generate more meaningful engagement with it’s congregation. The church should be adaptive to change and instead be the driving force in maintaining healthy marriages in our country. Church, do not be lazy.

Third, they say to think about the children. EXACTLY.

Would you rather that the children remain in a cold and hard environment? Would you rather that the children be witnesses to one parent’s abuse? Worse, would you rather that the children would also fall victim to abuse?

What is abuse?

Domestic abuse is not limited to just physical abuse. This is not just about the time when he grabbed his wife by the throat and slammed her on the kitchen door and banged her head on the window grills. This is not just about the time he yanked her hair and dragged her from the shower, naked, and threw her on the living room floor and kicked her leg. This is not just about the time he hit her face so hard that she had to miss her job interview because her concealer can’t even do what it was made to do. This is not just about the time that he spat on her eye because she found out he was cheating, again.

This is also about the time he made her feel ugly and worthless and stupid. This is also about the time he called her nasty names. This is also about the countless times he threatened to leave after every argument and she would desperately plead for him to stay to make things work. This is also about the time when he’d rather be lazy than help out with the household finances, even with the money he made illegally. She had to work two jobs. This is also about the emotional blackmail, him playing the victim card and putting the blame on her for whatever shit he was going through, using the sacrament of marriage as a foreground for guilt and manipulation. Hell, this is even also about the time he ripped her ragged cat doll to pieces and she had to pick up the parts and sew it back together because she can’t sleep without it.

Domestic abuse is not only physical abuse but also emotional abuse, psychological abuse and economic abuse.

The bill, in its declaration of policy, states it is intended to “save the children from pain, stress, and agony consequent to their parents’ constant marital clashes” and “grant the divorced spouses the right to marry again for another chance at marital bliss.”

It is heartless to make someone remain in an abusive situation.

Finally, how do you fix an irreparable relationship without spending for an arm and a leg? When you file for legal separation or annulment, it costs an average of P250,000 (and I’d rather spend that hefty amount of money on my kids) and is a lengthy, embarrassing and painful process. Again if people only read through the bill, the court exempts poor people (indigent is defined in the bill) from legal fees and listing domestic violence, attempts to engage a spouse in prostitution and irreconcilable differences as among the grounds other than feigning psychological incapacity.

Divorce is optional. It is not a replacement of annulment. It is merely an option and not an imposition. But because I am for divorce, I’ve been called lame, egotistic and somehow demonic. People need to recognize that everyone has a fundamental right to choose what is best for them. No one is stopping you to go ahead and live by your life principles but that does not give you the right to force your beliefs onto someone who does not share the same and start calling them out if they do not adhere to your views. Leave them to choose for themselves and stop being insensitive, self-righteous pricks.

I am for divorce not because I want to remarry, (I don’t think I will ever get married again) but because I want my freedom. I certainly did not wish for my marriage to end and fail but for more than 10 years, I’ve selflessly and endlessly gave “second” chances and I’m totally drained. I want mine too.

Please Universe, don’t jinx this.

 

xx

DMV

What are you willing to Give up?

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
— Genesis 3:19

For the Catholic Community, today, Ash Wednesday, marks the first day of the Lenten season. The season is for repentance, meditation, and abstinence which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are all flawed and journeying to the grave. All year round, we dodge the reality of mortality. Life is our path, Death is our destiny. As the 14th Century writer Thomas a’Kempis counsels: “Presume not to promise yourself the next morning, and in the morning, consider you may not live till nightfall. Many die when they least think of it. A man is here today, and tomorrow he is gone. And when he is taken out of sight, he is also quickly out of mind.”

Some Facts about Ash Wednesday:

1. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross.

2. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday, it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.”

3. The Bible never mentions Ash Wednesday—for that matter, it never mentions Lent.

4. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, they start Lent on “Clean Monday.”

5. The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.

6. In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions.

7. In the Republic of Ireland, Ash Wednesday is National No Smoking Day. The date was chosen because quitting smoking ties in with giving up luxury for Lent.

So LENT is about sacrifice, giving up luxury, spiritual discipline, self-denial, abstinence, fasting, repentance, reflection…and this goes for forty days. That’s technically a month and a half(?).

I do remember not eating meat during lent when I was younger. Even the food at the cafeteria at my school was limited to tuna sandwiches and orange juice. But as I grew up, I kind of just stopped practicing “lent“. The last time I remembered fasting was fourteen years ago and the last time I remembered going to confession was ten years ago (before I got married).

I don’t have perfect attendance in Church but I do make it a point to go every Sunday if I can. My faith in God is strong and firm and we often talk.

As I was coming into the office this morning, I noticed a couple of co-employees with ashes on their foreheads and I said to myself maybe I should start practicing Lent. It might be good for me and my spiritual relationship with myself and my God. After all, I’ve been so blessed and the blessings just keep coming.

What am I willing to give up this Lenten season? Okay, I do realize forty days is quite long so I’m gonna list down what is achievable.

1. Online shopping. This will be forty days worth of savings.
2. Alcohol. Forty days of sobriety (FYI: I don’t drink everyday and no, I don’t have a drinking problem).
3. Meat, chicken and rice. Goodbye US Roast Beef Carving on Valentines day. On the brighter side, this will be good for my diet. I’ve been trying to lose weight since forever.
4. Junk food. Will just have to find another way to deal with stress.
5. PROCRASTINATION. I don’t think I need to explain why. I NEED to give this up not only during Lent.

I also think that Lent is not just for sacrifice but also for giving. I’ve given up grudges, animosity and revenge earlier this year so I’ve decided that this Lent would be a good time to start paying it forward, doing even just one good deed or act of kindness everyday.

Ashes are traced in the form of a cross on foreheads today. “What is the meaning of our strange behavior?” asks Anglican archbishop of Canterbur in his 2011 book: Writing in the Dust. “Three things, I believe. With these Lenten ashes, we confess. We promise. We hope — in a journey towards renewal.”

Crossing my fingers…I can do this…I can do this…I CAN DO THIS!

To God be the glory.

xx

DMV

Wow, I actually researched about Lent and Fasting. I will do my penance this Lent. Good luck to me for forty days.

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