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May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
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I belong to a religion whose adherents almost exclusively claim is monotheistic. This doesn't make any sense to me (I know religion often doesn't make sense from the outside but the internal coherence of my spiritual beliefs is kind of important to me.) If we believe in the trinity (which I do) then god is either three individual beings, or god is multiple, it isn't possible for three personalities to be a coherent individual entity. To me, the idea of god being multiple makes the most sense so I guess I come to and engage with god from a standpoint of soft polytheism (which is basically that all gods are the same god from different angles and with different aspects/personalities.)

I grew up in a branch of Christianity that argued that god was always and only male, to think of god as female was disrespectful, sacrilegious, sinful and for a long long time i could not come to god at all, if god was always and only male I wanted no part of him, no interaction or connection with him. And there is so much emphasis on the idea of god the father that that left me languageless, I know what fathers do, before I learnt there were other types of father, ones who were not abusive or abandoning god as a father was a dangerous contrary idea.

But I have learned over the past two years to come to god in many of his/her aspects not just the usual sanctioned three,the father image of god is important to me now that I am fatherless, but also as in her female aspects and I take inspiration from the Celtic goddesses because of the land i stand in but one of the things that really bothers me about the neo-pagan approach to goddesses is the idea that they are all somehow mothering, nurturing, protective, which makes me go, hmm really? Especially since Celtic women were often fighters, making a goddess all about fertility, about birth is no more rounded than having no goddess at all I think.

And to be honest I'm not particularly interested in some fluffy mother/earth goddess figure, I tend to see the earth herself as a spiritual being and leave it there. I am interested in goddesses but much more as warriors, as fighters, as women of steel who take no prisoners

And I am very drawn to god in her Morrigan aspect who is a fertility goddess but who is much more a warrior goddess, who will kill so blood can fertilise the land. Who is wild and ragefull, who takes no prisoners, but who also expects her followers to step up, to be the best they can be. And right now as well as the nurturing, loving, friendly aspects of god, right now I need a warrior goddess to remind me how strong we are, to remind me that I know how to take the destruction that was done to me and the destuction I had to cause and turn it into something positive and fruitful.
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The rise of industrialisation and the fact that the state religion is a specif brand of christianity, means that we are really disconnected from the land, unless we work it for a living or we actively choose a spiritual path that is land conscious and land honouring (and even then i think it often pans out as something more metaphorical than a practical. physical relationship with the land.)We don't wake with the dawn, we don't eat seasonally, we don't think about how what we use and what we waste effects the land.

Land has always been important to me. the house I grew up in backed on to farmland and nature reserves, so I grew up being intimately equated with life cycles and year cycles: when the fields were fertilized, when the lambs were born, when the sheep were shorn, when the crops were harvested, when the fruit fell from the trees, when the nests were built and the eggs were laid, when the caterpillars became butter flies,when the leaves turned to flame, the long stretch of cold dormant wintertime

I am made from the land I have lived in, the land I Have loved. My feet are made from chalk and flint. The waters from the Test, the Itchen, the Avon, the Towy and Swansea bay run through my bloodstream. I'm really sensitive to weather patterns, I can tell when its going to rain, snow or thunder, if its foggy in the mornings I know weather it will stay foggy all day or if it will burn off.

I think that whatever religion we are we all need to carry around with us an acute awareness that,regardless of our thoughts on the afterlife, that we come from the land and we go back to the land, and if we do not honour the land then we are not honouring our selves or those that come after us.

Christianity has been notoriously bad at land honouring, partly because I think any religion that becomes a state religion is always used as a way to gain power and money and partly because of various interpretations of christianity as god being outside/away from the world and the rejection of the material world. I do think god is outside the world, but not in an off to the side looking on way. I believe god contains the universe inside herself

so that god not only made the system but is part of the system and everything we have, own, are is part of god.

somehow the phrase "of the world" came to mean sinful, unspiritual but from where I'm standing in this lifetime/incarnation/part of the circle our physicality is the most important part of who we are. Everything about us is mediated through our physicality so being physical beings is part of our spiritual experience.

I really think we as humans really need to connect back to the land, back to the year cycles. Even if we can only do that in small ways, even if we live in city sprawl we can grow window boxes, watch the sunrises and sunsets, maybe eat seasonally, take photographs of trees at intervals through the year so we become aware of how they change with the circle.

But we need to not romanticise the land either, surviving on the land and tending the land is hard work and the land doesn't care what happens to us. it is not our friend. it is not a benevolent entity. Viewing it as a benevolent mother goddess figure is far too simplistic. (As far as I know all cultures that have/had the idea of a mother/fertility goddess embeded in them, also had the same goddess as a war/chaos/destruction goddess.) But this is the land, it is the only thing we have and if we don't tend it, look after it listen to it, our spirituality, and with it, our humanity will be irevocably damaged.
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so much of the discussions we have as left wing Christians are about what the religious right are doing. It's as if we define our selves in opposition to them. I think critiquing them is important as is just blowing of steam about the things they say and do that really bother us. And I think defending ourselves, those of other religions, and secular culture from them is really important but it shouldn't be central to our christianity. Our theological and political praxis should not be defined and set by the religious right. it should be defined by our interpretation of the gospels

But also maybe we could stand to interrogate and critique ourselves occasionally. the left wing christian movement is far from perfect and I kind of feel that a lot of the time instead of criticising the religious right we could be doing more productive things, we could find out what we are called to do, we could find out how we could work better amongst ourselves and with other left wing groups.

For myself I know I have a long way to go before I will be where god wants me to be, but I'm working on that. i really feel that community building is a really important part of left wing Christianity, not just christian community building but general community building. especially in these days people need people. i really feel the the commandment to love others as ourselves has practical applications that involves, within the best of our ability making sure people are, clothed, fed, housed and educated, and that we support them in whatever oppressions they are fighting against.

xposted places
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I was told it was the finest thing to die for a god,’ he mumbled.
‘Vorbis said that. And he was… stupid. You can die for your country or your people or your family, but for a god you should live fully and busily, every day for a long life.’

Terry Pratchett, ‘Small Gods’, pp.350-351


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October 2010

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