By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist-
Faith takes work. Think of your soul getting spiritual exercise at the gym. It’s easier to be a nonbeliever. Sometimes I’d rather not pray. If I do pray, I don’t necessarily hear God’s voice. Hence, I’d like to know what Kool-Aid some of the evangelical pastors drink.
Why bother to pray or believe when hate, injustice and inequality don’t seem to go away? Praying that someone with AIDS is miraculously cured doesn’t cure that person. Today, there’s famine in Somalia, domestic terrorism in Norway, and the ongoing denial of civil and human rights to the LGBT and Searching Community. To be perfectly honest, faith exhausts me at times.
Why does God allow it? Did God set the world in motion with the Big Bang and walk away? Is that responsible? Did God give people free choice? What about the tsunami and the resulting nuclear disaster in Japan? Norway will always have the memory of innocent people killed by an extremist. What free choice?
Matthew Shepard didn’t have choice. Two men beat the university student unconscious for being gay. He later died. Where was God? Off creating another universe because of boredom with this one?
Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother and an Episcopalian, has shared that she doesn’t “blame God for what has happened … I love the Episcopal Church and what it stands for. I love the spirit-filled services, and Matt loved the theatrical acts of the church.”
LGBT Catholics are subjected to ongoing abuse, but are devoted people of faith working for change from within. They have strong advocates like Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry in 1977, a national Catholic social justice center to heal and bring back LGBT and Searching estranged Catholics. She is a prolific writer who also works tirelessly to further women’s ministries. In 1999, the Vatican ordered her to stop speaking on behalf of the LGBT and Searching Catholic community. Her response: “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression by restricting a basic human right [to speak]. To me this is a matter of conscience.” In 2009, the Vatican “disciplined” her, but Sister Gramick goes on.
People like Judy Shepard and Jeannine Gramick inspire me. I pray because it helps me stay humble (somewhat), focused, grounded, and because I need to be reminded that there is joy and beauty around me, despite hate, injustice or personal challenges. There are things in this world I no longer try to understand, but I still believe in an unexplainable holy goodness that is bigger than the universe.
Some questions don’t have answers. They generate more questions.
Path leads down path, which leads down road, which leads down the street then back to a path through hills and up mountains … sometimes you need to let it go and just accept.
There is an inherent need in all of us to explore spirituality. We hunger for a connection with something bigger than ourselves. God is a mystery. In fact, when Moses asked God’s name the Creator said “I am that I am.”
Here’s a small list of resources to explore on your path to awakening, spirituality and faith. No matter what you believe or the denomination you belong to, these are interesting resources that may spark something that enhances your life’s journey: GayGospels.com; GayBuddhist.org; SoulForce.org (nonviolent resistance); MCCchurch.org (Protestant focus); DarrenMain.com (Yoga Mystic); TheLivingNuhati.org (ancient Eygptian); GayTantra.org; Galva108.org (GLBTI Hindu and Vaishnavas); ChristopherPenczak.com (witchcraft); and NewWaysMinistry.org.
* Paul is an author, attorney, and a seminary-trained ordained priest in greater Albany, N.Y. He is author of Credit Card Usury and the Christian Failure to Stop It – A Call to Social Justice, available on Amazon.com. He may be reached at [email protected].