Spiritual Belief Survey

I have a really good friend of mine that sent me an email a long time ago.    He was asking people about spirituality and their opinions on it.    As an atheist, I was honored to be included in the list of people to participate.   I tripped on my response today (I saved it) and thought it would be interesting to share.  I think the questions were really insightful.   Hopefully the answers I gave were as well …

It seems relevant today.

How would you characterize your spiritual beliefs?

I do not have any spiritual beliefs.

Do you personally believe there is such a thing as truth? Please explain why you believe what you do.

I think that “truth” is subjective.    Each person has their own beliefs that they perceive as “truth”.   Just browse Facebook for evidence 🙂

Let’s say someone tells you they believe their sacred text represents truth. What do you think about such a person and their assertion?

My personal belief is that people feel better if they feel they know the “truth”.  Life is uncertain and the belief that you have the “truth” gives you something to anchor your life on.    I personally, do not believe in “sacred texts”.   There are too many of them.   Charles Manson viewed the White Album as a sacred text, and we all know how that turned out 🙂

If there’s one thing you wish Christians would understand, what would it be?

My answer to this is not specific to Christians, but to all religions really.     Every religion is a variation of the same theme.   A metaphor that at its core has the same structure with all of the others.     I would love it if people could take a step back and see the similarities in belief systems and how they are translated for different people, rather than just rejecting other religions because the details are different.

Joseph Campbell did a documentary called “A Hero’s Journey” in which he outlined the basic structure of all myths / religions.   One quote that I really liked was the following:

“God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being. Those are categories of thought. I mean it’s as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it. Whether it’s doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that’s the ground of your own being. If it isn’t, well, it’s a lie. So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts. Those are what we call theists. The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they’re lies. Those are the atheists.”

I think there needs to be an understanding that each person needs their own “metaphor” to ground themselves and that metaphor may be different for different people.    Thats the problem that I have with “truth”.   The perception of “truth” causes separation.

Shandi

This is Shandi. She’s a new addition to our family.

The story of Shandi goes back about 28 years. Shandi was what I wanted my daughter’s name to be. I was totally overruled, but we settled on Kelsi (with an ‘i’). I have no idea why I had the obsession with the name. It came from a 1980 KISS song from the Unmasked album. The name always stuck with me.

When I met my wife, she had a beautiful and smart dog named Nikita – after the Elton John song. We had to put her down years ago – it was heartbreaking for all of us.   We didn’t want to go through that again.

Years pass, and my wife wants to get a dog. I say it’s ok if I get “naming rights”. She agrees and we find this beautiful little dog at a shelter that we fell in love with immediately.

The name Shandi has been a family joke forever, because I was so stuck on it. I won this time and was able to text my daughter, after all this time, the following:

“After 28 years, I finally got my Shandi”.

Addendum:   I got “Elizabeth” too, also a KISS song.    I steered away from Christine.

Walla-Pa-Looza 2010 – A Celebration of Hope, Dreams and Cures

Wow, look at all the sponsors Walla-Pa-Looza has this year!

It was a short year ago that the idea for Walla-Pa-Looza was born out of the need of one guy to do what he does best and throw a party to make a difference.

This Saturday, July 31, 2010 the second annual Walla-Pa-Looza Music Festival is happening at the Johnsburg Community Club in Johnsburg, Illinois.

This year the organization has had a big year – starting their blog, partnering with the Sage Cancer Center, getting their 501(c)(3) non-profit designation, and a slew of new sponsors that you can see in the image above. They have a great lineup of bands, including Cover Blondz, High Life, Aeth3r, and the premier Journey tribute band of the Midwest, Infinity.

They’ve also put together a High School Battle of the Bands, which makes us all feel young again, doesn’t it?

I’d love to see all of my friends there. Let’s face it, I don’t blog much anymore – so the fact that I am actually writing anything means this has to be a special event.

If you can’t show up at the event, you can always donate to Walla-Pa-Looza by going to their web site and clicking on the donate button.

I’m sure you will feel good knowing that you made a difference for some family that needs help.

Cancer Fund Raiser for the Gruber Family at Mixteca Tequila Bar and Grill on February 21, 2010

Jonna and I eat at the same place every Friday. It’s this cute little Mexican restaurant called Mixteca Tequila Bar and Grill on Route 47 in Woodstock. Mixteca has excellent food and is owned by a couple of really cool people, Claudia and Mike.

As is usual being a chronic handwasher, at the end of dinner I went into the washroom to wash my hands after eating and out of the corner of my eye saw a flyer on the inside bathroom door. It was about a family that the restaurant was doing a fundraiser for.

The Gruber family consists of Joe, Laura and their 2 kids, Joey (6) and Courtney (3). In November of 2009 Joe was diagnosed with testicular cancer and has been receiving treatment. At the time he was working two jobs, neither of which provided benefits.

The restaurant is hosting a fund-raiser for the family to help offset their medical costs as Joe goes through treatment, as well as help them with their mounting bills. The fund-raiser is happening on February 21, 2010 at the restaurant (see link). You can find more information on the family and the fundraiser by from the flyer I scanned when we got home, or at the web site for the event, hosted by the Friends Helping Friends Foundation.

All food proceeds at this event will go to the family.

Jonna and I will definitely be attending and hope that our friends in the area will come and try to help out. If nothing else, you get great food and a good atmosphere to enjoy the afternoon in. The plan is to also have raffles – and the folks throwing the event are looking for donations of items such as gift baskets, sporting event tickets, etc for these activities.

If your not in the area and want to help, you can make donations via PayPal on the Friends Helping Friends web site.

The Myth of Helter Skelter by Susan Atkins

I found this site, late one night (I’m not totally sure how I even landed there) and was riveted by it for way too long. This site used to contain a rough draft of a book started by Susan Atkins (of Manson Family fame) and her husband, attempting to explain what really happened leading up to the Tate-LaBianca murders – that while Helter Skelter was used as a motive to finally convict Manson and his family members, it was really just one in a long line of manipulation techniques that he used to get people to do what he wanted.

Historically, Manson has been looked at as this mind controlling genius that somehow got a bunch of kids to attempt to enact his ‘end of the world’ scenario – one that he truly believed. This extremely well written article shows Manson for what he really was: a paranoid, self-centered, sociopathic, master manipulator, who after shooting a man who he thought was a Black Panther manipulated those around him to enact murders that he thought would throw the Black Panthers off his trail and keep them from coming after him – in other words, he was trying to save himself by sacrificing those around him.

Most interestingly, this write up explained many things that have confused people for years – including why the Tate-LaBianca murders seemed so “random”. This article was the first explanation of the reasoning behind the randomness of the acts that actually makes sense, as well as explaining some of the things Manson did in order to gain control over his followers.

This is the most rational, thought out explanation of the Manson crimes that I have ever read, coming from someone who had an intimate role in some of the most horrific and publicized murders of all time.   Interestingly, her role wasn’t what we all thought it was.

Hopefully, it helps take away some of the mystique and fascination that some young people still have for him today.

I’m disappointed that she had to turn to christianity to prove her point.   Most of her later years were spent writing letters to Christians.    I think that was probably because of how society looked at her – it could have been the most extreme way to get acceptance in her eyes. The world may never know.

What was apparent to me was the logic in the explanation offered in this text.   Well worth the read.

Notes:

Susan Atkins is suffering from terminal brain cancer and was recently denied parole after submitting a request for “compassionate release” due to her illness.

Related Links:

Update September 25, 2009

Susan Atkins has died at the age of 61.

Update May, 2014:

Here is the updated link to the book, which you now have to pay for. Totally worth the price. Finally a book that lays out the “randomness” of the end of the summer of love. These murders killed a generation.   The Myth of Helter Skelter, by Susan Atkins.

Walla-Pa-Looza Benefit In McHenry County for American Cancer Society

A friend of mine, Craig Wallace, has assembled a bunch of great volunteers and friends to put on a charity benefit called Walla-Pa-Looza. The event is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and will be held on August 1, 2009 from 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm at the Johnsburg Community Club in Johnsburg, Illinois. $5 gets you in the door and children under 12 are free. There will be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, ticket raffle and other activities throughout the day.

You can find a host of information at their web site, walla-pa-looza.org, including an opportunity to become a sponsor of the event if you are a local business.

The event will feature four bands that have contributed their time and talents:

The thing that blows me away about this is it started out with Craig just wanting to have a party on his one acre lot. He, his wife, and a friend started talking about the economy and how it would effect charities – and that got the ball rolling. They decided to do something about it.

It’s definitely a worthy cause. I know I’ve lost people to cancer, as I’m sure many of you have as well. Jonna and I will definitely be donating and attending – and I would encourage anyone local in McHenry County to do so as well. I would also encourage local business to visit the sponsor page to find out how you can help and get some advertising out of it to boot!

Make sure to visit their web site to get more information and, if you are so inclined, donate (by the way, they support Paypal donations – so if you’re not local you can still donate to the cause!). Their goal is to raise $20,000 for the American Cancer Society. Let’s help them blow this goal out of the water.

Hopefully, we’ll see you there!

By the way, Walla-Pa-Looza also has a fan page on Facebook. Become a fan today!