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An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind

All art and words by Connla Freyjason for Iaconagraphy. Please click this image to open a new window and support us at Patreon.

In war, it is unwise to use your sword arm to pat yourself on the back.  Yet I look around at the current “war on discrimination” that is raging within the better half of the Heathen community, and over the past two days, I have seen a lot of people doing exactly that. In fact, I have even seen some people encouraging such behavior through memes suggesting that we all take credit for the Facebook ban of the AFA, even if we were not actively involved in making that happen.  On the flip side, even as this “victory” was taking place, I have sat back and watched as many of those same Heathens who espouse complete anti-discrimination policies (and I am firmly on the side of no discrimination of anyone ever) attack Christians and Christianity as a whole, and attack people for the virtues they are oathsworn to protect (even when they began their post with a caveat patently stating they didn’t expect everyone to uphold those same values).   We cannot pretend, as a group of people, to make war on discrimination while we vehemently maintain our own ways of discriminating against people.  When we do that, the only thing we’re patting ourselves on the back for at the end of the day is hypocrisy.

For those on the outside of the Heathen community, here’s a brief snapshot of what has been going on for the past year:

In September of 2016, Huginn’s Heathen Hof published Declaration 127, which is based on stanza 127 of the Havamal (literally: “Sayings of the High One”, from the Codex Regius, 13th century; believed by Heathens to be the sayings of Odin All-Father):

“When you see misdeeds, speak out against them, and give your enemies no frith.”–Translation on the HHH website

“When you see evil being done, call it out as evil, and show the evil-doer no peace.”–My Translation

This Declaration is accompanied by a sort of “petition”, which people and organizations may sign to demonstrate their complete denunciation of, and disassociation from, the AFA (the Asatru Folk Assembly).  Those who support Declaration 127 are essentially binding themselves to an oath that:

“While [we] fully recognize the AFA’s right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, we hereby exercise the same right. We will not promote, associate, or do business with the AFA as an organization so long as they maintain these discriminatory policies.”

Further, Declaration 127 states:

“The AFA’s views do not represent our communities.  We hereby declare that we do not condone hatred or discrimination carried out in the name of our religion, and will no longer associate with those who do.  We will not grant the tacit approval of silence in the name of frith, to those who would use our traditions to justify prejudice on the basis of race, nationality, orientation, or gender identity.  The AFA is free to stand for whatever principles it sees fit.  They are free to stand alone.”

I wholeheartedly supported Declaration 127. 

Why? What had the AFA done that was so wrong as to spark all of this?

The AFA has its roots in the Viking Brotherhood, which was founded by Stephen McNallen in 1972.  This, in turn, became the Asatru Free Assembly in 1974, which gave birth to two other major Heathen organizations: the Asatru Alliance and The Troth.  In 1986, the Asatru Free Assembly was disbanded because McNallen was apparently “too busy” to keep it going. Then, in 1994, he formed the Asatru Folk Assembly (the AFA of today), founded upon a Declaration of Purpose which includes, among other things:

2. The preservation of the People of the North (typified by the Scandinavian/Germanic and Celtic peoples), and the furtherance of their continued evolution;

10. Working to secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. (emphasis mine)

A brief visit to their website (yes, I went there!) sheds further light on the AFA worldview.  Their statement of ethics includes the following (and I really couldn’t begin to make this stuff up):

“Healthy families are the cornerstone of folk society and its strength and prosperity is derived from them.  We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships.  We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own.  We believe that those activities and behaviors supportive of the white family should be encouraged while those activities and behaviors destructive of the white family are to be discouraged.” (Again, emphasis mine.)

So, clearly, the AFA is not only racist, but also anti-LGBTQ.  

Which is why it became blatantly obvious to me that I should support Declaration 127.  I mean, clearly, there is zero room in my heart for frith for anyone or any organization who is discriminatory towards people of color, other cultures, other faiths, or members of the LGBTQ community.  And the AFA not only discriminates against these groups that they consider “outsiders” (utangard), but they also muddy the waters for the rest of us who patently do not.  I have experienced this “muddying of the waters” firsthand: to many people outside of the Heathen community, the AFA represents what we all believe, even when they patently do not.  Add to this a large dearth in Heathen publications that are not either advocated by, published by, or have publishing rights owned by the AFA, and you have a recipe for situations in which simply carrying a book in a shop which is remotely associated with the AFA becomes grounds for accusations of Neo-Nazism. (It happens. It has happened. I witnessed it with my own two eyes.)  Such also becomes grounds for those who support Declaration 127 to not give those shops their business, even when said shopowners are in no way, shape, or form remotely affiliated with the AFA.

It’s a slippery slope that has been built, to say the least.

That slope becomes even more slippery when one ventures into the dogmatically Reconstructionist world of many of my fellow supporters of Declaration 127.  I personally reached a point where I no longer shared my writings or my art because “daily crucifixion” is not my idea of a “good time”. I have sat back and watched, stunned, as other people were attacked (to the point of fleeing a group) for having values (to which they were oathsworn) which mirrored the Nine Noble Virtues, purely because those virtues were supposedly first espoused by McNallen and his compatriots, and supposedly not directly derived from historical sources (even though every single one of the virtues in question appear directly in the Havamal).  I have read through countless posts railing against the dreaded “Christian-grafting”, and Christianity and Christians on the whole, even while also espousing a “show it to me in the lore, or it isn’t valid” attitude: when our lore is all a product of Christian authors, written in the post-Christian period.  In short, I have observed those very same people who were so opposed to discrimination constantly discriminate: against those who are “less Reconstructionist” than they are; against Judeo-Christianity on the whole (which, when you think about it, can border on Anti-Semitism, in and of itself), and against anyone who is so “misinformed” as to accidentally promote something which has ever been “tainted” by the AFA whatsoever (in a world where, until about a decade ago, the AFA was pretty much “the only show in town”, and largely remains such when it comes to quality published source material apart from the Eddas and Sagas themselves).  

Many among the supporters of Declaration 127 see this recent Facebook ban of the AFA as a victory, and on many levels, they are not wrong to feel that way.  However, I keep coming back to those last words of Declaration 127; those last words that were still floating in my head as I signed it myself almost a year ago:

“While the undersigned organizations listed here fully recognize the AFA’s right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, we hereby exercise the same right…The AFA is free to stand for whatever principles it sees fit. They are free to stand alone.”

Actively working to get an organization banned from Facebook is neither fully recognizing their right to govern themselves as they see fit, and with full autonomy, nor allowing them to be free to stand for whatever principles they see fit.  Actively working to get an organization banned from Facebook, while supposedly upholding the above principles, is bullying at its basest.  One cannot stop bullying simply by being the better bully!  Yes, there are places within the corpus of the Havamal that suggest “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and bust their heads open while you’re at it”: a thrice-fold sort of vengeance, to make sure things really get sorted and your enemies fully know “who’s boss”.  There are also places within the corpus of the Havamal that say “never trust a woman” and “beguile women with soft words”. We tend to downplay those latter verses, with the argument that we’re living in the twenty-first century, and such sexism has no place here.  Well, there is no place in the world in which we are presently living for thrice-fold vengeance, either. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves the whole world blind and toothless, and that is all such attitudes accomplish.

Maybe we have won a battle, with Facebook actively recognizing that the AFA fosters hateful attitudes and hateful speech, but we have not won the war.  So long as we are shackled to our own hypocrisy while at the same time patting ourselves on the back with our sword arms, when the next battle comes, we will have no appendages left available with which to fight!  A zero tolerance policy for discrimination needs be exactly that: a zero tolerance policy.  So long as it is still socially acceptable to point an accusatory finger at someone based on a difference in faith (anti-Christian, anti-Judeo-Christian), or to argue the concept of ergi as anti-LGBTQ as a point of historical fact within our faith-base that still holds true, we patently are not maintaining such a zero tolerance policy.  Instead, we are merely ignoring our own transgressions and shortcomings by loudly focusing attention on the transgressions and shortcomings of others. Until we stop doing that, we will never win this war; we will only serve to perpetuate it.

Declaration 127 is a great ideal, but like most “high ideals”, once you throw actual humans into the mix, things have a way of going terribly, terribly wrong.  I commend its author for what he was trying to do, when he created it, and put it out there to gain the support which it has gained.  I admire him for having the cajones to do something like that, because it took some serious cajones.  Anytime one voice rises up against the Darkness and tries to get others to join them in that fight, it takes courage.  I hope that you will all keep that in mind after having read this post….

 

 

 

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Everything You Need To Start Your Own Magick: Only 6.99!

Yes, that really sounds like I’m trying to sell you something, but I’m not.  That 6.99 isn’t a dollar amount, it’s the Six Celtic Values, the Nine Welsh Virtues, and the Aesirian Code of Nine (which is Heathen/Asatru, aka Norse/Germanic/Teutonic).  I’m talking about ethics, y’all, because to start your own magick, you are going to have to have a serious ethical code firmly in place, or you’re going to pay, and pay bigtime!

Truth is, we need an ethical code in our lives if we want to succeed at anything, not just magick.  The current “Christian climate” of rules-as-subjugation (at best) and rules-as-an-excuse-to-peddle-hatred (at worst, and, unfortunately, most often) has many, many people taking one look at the word ethics, and running the other way.  I can’t say that I really blame them.  I’ve personally dealt with that crap my whole life (grew up in The South, remember), and rule-breaking, or, at the very least, rule-overturning does sound far more appealing, when put into that particular context.   The rules I’m talking about aren’t aimed at doing either of those two things, though.  In fact, these are designed to give you a foundation to strengthen your whole life!

The Six Celtic Values are Honor, Justice, Hospitality, Honesty, Loyalty, and Courage.  These are very, very old: we’re talking pre-Christian and handed down for ages orally before they were ever committed to writing.  These are the Values practiced by modern Druids, and you’ll also find them explored in-depth in my book Dragonfly Theology.   I’ll break them down further in a moment, but first let’s take a look at the .99 I mentioned previously, because I think you’ll find it as interesting as I did how those Six Celtic Values are echoed in the Nine Welsh Virtues and the Aesirian Code of Nine.

The Nine Welsh Virtues are also sourced from Celtic pre-Christian Tradition: in this case, the traditions of the Celtic Peoples of Wales.  They are regarded as the nine keepers of the Cauldron of Awen, which I’ll grant you, sounds like something out of a really awesome Fantasy film or novel, but in the Welsh Druidic Faith is a very, very real thing.  They are Integrity, Friendship, Generosity, Wisdom, Self-Knowledge, Trust, Humility, Courage, and Innocence.

Finally, there is the Aesirian Code of Nine, which was first discovered as a carving in Denmark, dating to 825 A.D. That date may sound post-Christian, but in reality the people of Denmark came into contact with Christians only sporadically, via Viking raids (i.e., they weren’t exactly sitting down to a friendly dinner with their Christian brethren), until the 11th Century. So, in 825 A.D., whoever carved the Code was still an “Odin-worshipping Heathen”.  It is believed that it is largely based on the Nine Virtues spoken by Odin in the Havamal, from the Poetic or Elder Edda (the earliest confirmed date for which is around the latter half of the 10th century A.D., but it is believed that this is likewise based on a much older oral tradition).   Briefly, the virtues of this code are: To Honor, To Protect, To Flourish, To Have Knowledge, To Accept Change, Fairness, Balance, Control, and To Understand Conflict.

Last night, after being awakened by coyotes at midnight (which I initially thought were children screaming outside my window), I had an epiphany: if you stick all of these into a comparative table, you wind up with what you see below. (Yes, given the “coyote-of-it-all”, one could legit say “Loki Made Me Do It“!)

Celtic and Norse Ethics

So, what does any of that have to do with you? Or with magick? Or with strengthening your whole life?  Comparing and coalescing these different systems of ethics left me with a “breakdown” that I’m calling The 6.9.9 (you know, sort of like the slang “411” that the kids today use):

6.9.9. Druid Ethics

 

If we start from a place where we are behaving with Honor, our lives will necessarily flow more smoothly, and we can guarantee that if we do magick, we’re doing it for all the right reasons, instead of for our own selfish gain.  To behave with Honor means to treat everyone with respect; to treat everyone we meet with a certain measure of reverence, realizing that the same Sacred Force that drives us is also (hopefully) driving them.  (Granted, that might not always prove to be the actual case–some people are driven by things that definitely wouldn’t be classified as Sacred–but we should always start from this place, until proven otherwise. More on what to do about those people in a moment….)  Behaving with Honor also means realizing and recognizing that there are forces larger than us at work in the Universe in the first place, and showing those forces the same respect and reverence that we would to the people we love. (In other words: when you’re doing magick, you are not in it alone! Taking full credit for your magickal workings is a no-no; not to mention, it’s rude!)

Treating people with Honor will naturally lead to building Friendship, which is a way bigger concept than most people today realize.  This isn’t about how many people “like” you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or have subscribed to your email newsletter.  True Friendship entails protection, and protection requires justice-seeking.  Once you know what is Ultimately Right (which hopefully you’ll fully understand after exploring the 6.9.9.), you can’t just sit idly by and watch the world run rough-shod over that.  You’ve got to protect the ones around you that you call your friends and loved ones, and that should include every single person on this planet (except where people’s actions have proven their motives to be less than Honor-driven, as mentioned previously), because all of humanity is your friend, until proven otherwise.  Your Circle of Friends also includes the forces that are bigger than you that are at work in the Universe, whether you choose to call these gods and goddesses, totems, guides, or whatever.  They’re there, and the sooner you realize that, the happier you’ll be in life.  They are there to protect you; you are Honor-bound to protect them back!

When we think of Friendship in our modern world, the next thing that usually comes to mind is Hospitality: most of us like to “part-ay” with our friends, right?  My semi-adopted-son, for example, has made himself semi-(in)famous among his friends for hosting Saturday night parties at “Matt’s  Bar and Grill” (translation: our basement).  Those things can get a little rowdy, and drive his Mother and I to complete distraction, but the bottom line is: our kid is like the poster child for Hospitality, and you can readily see the effects of that when you talk to his friends.  He can ask almost any of them to do something for him in return (or for his Mother or I), and they scarcely blink before asking “what do you need done?”  When we are welcoming to others, they tend to welcome us back.  You get what you give. It’s the simple Law of Reciprocity.  Not surprisingly, this doesn’t only apply to people, either: it also applies to the Universal Powers, and, believe it or not, to Inspiration (known in the Welsh Tradition as Awen).  The more you give to the Powers-That-Be (gods, goddesses, guides, totems), the more they will give to you.  Daily prayer, blessings, and sacrifices (no, I’m not talking puppies here; I’m talking things like burning incense while making promises to do good that you intend to keep) should be our way of showing Hospitality to those powers.  But how does one show Hospitality to Inspiration/Awen? Well, if you’re already a creative person, it probably won’t come as a great shock to you that the more you create, the more ideas you get, so that you can create some more!  Again: you get what you give.

Learning and practicing these first three concepts is the beginning of Wisdom.  These first three bring you more deeply into contact with the fact that there is, in fact, something way bigger than you in the Universe.  What you choose to call it is completely up to you, of course, but exploring these first three concepts should make it pretty plain that it is there in the first place.  As you interact more and more with it, you will come to know it more and more deeply as a simple fact of existence, the same way we can no longer imagine our lives without someone once we’ve deepened a relationship with a physical friend or loved one.  This deep knowing is Wisdom.

And that Wisdom should develop in us a great thirst for deeper Self-Knowledge as well.  To truly and deeply know anyone else (including the Sacred Forces of the Universe), you have to first truly and deeply know yourself.  Getting to know one should strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the other, and vice versa. For example, how do you fit into this framework so far?  How do these things I’m talking about speak to you and inform you on the deepest levels of your being?  What is your place in the Universe? What drives you? What pisses you off? What brings you the greatest joy?

Once you truly know yourself, you’ll be in a much better position to practice real Honesty.  You can be more deeply truthful (and gently truthful, too, I might add, because sometimes the truth can hurt), and you can be more faithful in relationships because you will no longer need to hold anything back.  You’ll develop a more fair worldview, which no longer includes perpetual us vs. them scenarios, but instead leading to Loyalty: partnerships where you view the other person as on equal footing with yourself, and deserving equal and vehement protection where and when necessary.  Together, Wisdom, Self-Knowledge, Honesty, and Loyalty will keep your magick on the right track as well, as you develop the realization that you are working alongside larger forces, instead of it being “all you”.  This will make sure you aren’t going off on “magickal power trips”, and that you’re being completely honest, not only with yourself, but also with the Universe, about what your intentions truly are.

All of these finally lead us to Courage and back once again to the ideal of Justice.  Through all of these, you will find that you develop great measures of self-control.  It’s a little hard to go off “half-cocked” all the time when you’re operating from these Values, and viewing others as on equal footing with you, until proven otherwise.  But what about when you have been proven otherwise? First off, how to you prove the otherwise in the first place?  Well, what is Ultimately Right will fit into the 6.9.9.; what is Ultimately Wrong will not.  Fairly simple, right?  When you encounter something or someone that is Ultimately Wrong (and believe me, in this world, you will eventually encounter something or someone that fits under that heading), that’s where Justice comes in.  I’m not talking “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” here; enough people have tried to promote that over the centuries without Druids joining in the devastation that line of thinking brings.  I’m talking about hopeful correction through education.  When you encounter a situation or a someone who is “otherwise“, you should first attempt to educate them on what is Ultimately Right.  Show them through your actions even more than through your words.  If that doesn’t seem to have any effect, leave it to the Universe: it may take Someone or Something to get clear to that particular person/situation.  That does not mean passively walking away; instead, it means let them know you’re handing it to a Higher Power and then actively do so through spellwork and prayer. No, I’m not saying use magick for revenge, ever!  What I’m saying here is ask the Universe to teach them to be a better human being; to make them a nicer person; to take away the things in their life that make them such an asshole in the first place. Remember that great measure of self-control I just talked about? These are the times to actually put it to work!

Every single situation that you encounter in life can be placed into the framework of the 6.9.9., measured against it, and dealt with accordingly.  That’s what I’m talking about, when I say these ethics can strengthen your life.  They’ll also provide a framework for your Spiritual Path, whatever it may be, even if you aren’t “Druidically-inclined”.  And whether you’re a magickian/spellworker, or a prayer-warrior of another kind, they can provide a step-by-step guide as to whether or not you should proceed with what you’re doing, and precisely how to go about it: what you should be asking for, and what your intentions should be. So, get with the 6.9.9., and let it give you strength, as it has given me!

To get more on the 6.9.9. and a whole host of other magickal goodness, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, Inspirations, today!

 

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Bless The JWL….

So a few months back, the Jehovah’s Witness Ladies (henceforth known as the JWL) began visiting our house, and being me, I took the time to talk to them.  I mean, they were consciously trying to bring the “Good News” to me, so as an ordained minister, I figured it was my job to give them some “Good News” back, right?  Well, they came again today (I’m writing this on Tuesday, even though it publishes on Wednesday), and for the first time, I invited them in, and we had a chat around the table that I’ll admit got a bit heated. Still, at the end, they wanted to come back next week! (I told them to come back next month; I have to get my message out to people, too, after all!)

The JWL are very nice ladies, and while I don’t agree 100% with what they teach, I commend them for getting out there, no matter the weather, and getting people to actually read the Bible, instead of just take for granted what they’re being taught in Church, Sunday School, or the media.  It’s very apparent that when I get “too Churchy” (i.e., I quote the Bible “a bit too much”, or, at least, a bit more than makes my readers feel comfortable), y’all walk away.  You move on to something else, and dismiss those blog posts out of hand, and, honestly, given what I’ve encountered myself with evangelists from various Christian walks of life, I can’t say as I really blame y’all.  (I can tell that through my analytics–isn’t that handy?) But the Bible is like any other book of spiritual Truth, whether you’re talking about the Bhagavad Gita or the Koran: it’s not the book that’s bad, it’s some of the people who are pushing it on you, and the way they choose to interpret and teach it.  I told the JWL all of that today, too.

The number one thing I learned from our little tableside chat today is that I need to get way better at quoting chapter and verse if I want to hold my own with folks who argue every single point that way, and I really need a copy of The Message that has numbers throughout, instead of just at the tops of the pages.  If you can actually show people “no, it actually says this“, that goes miles towards making your point.  I also learned not to attempt to have a comparative religious argument when running a fever. For example, these ladies had never heard the word sovereignty in a religious context, and when I’m running a fever of one hundred degrees, I’m not quite as good at explaining things as I normally would be.  I actually encouraged them to Google it!

Of course, it didn’t help that once I explained I was multi-denominationally ordained, they sort of looked at me like cows at a passing train.  It was almost as if that somehow made my ordination void in their eyes.  Who knows? Maybe it did. Only God and they can know their own hearts. And it really doesn’t matter: I’m just as ordained now as I was when they sat down at the table. Nobody can take that away from me.

Nobody can take Jesus away from me, either.  When they started talking about Jehovah-God, I was tempted for half a second to tell them that me and the Father aren’t on the world’s greatest terms right now, but I decided to let that one pass.  That wasn’t going to teach anyone anything, so better to bear that thorn on the inside.  Since the night before Christmas Eve, me and Daddy-Dearest have sort of been on non-speaking terms, but that’s okay: that’s why Jesus came in the first place.  I mean, when He got here two-thousand-some-odd-years ago, the whole point was because most folks weren’t on speaking terms with Daddy-Dearest anymore, because they were sick and tired of the way He hardlined everything, right?

Which I think is a big part of where the Church is going wrong right now: there’s too much God, and not enough Jesus. And even when there is Jesus, it’s not the real Jesus, it’s some overly sanitized white dude who’s great with kids and sheep, fun at parties (that whole water into wine thing), and a really fabulous life guard (I mean, He walked on water, c’mon, y’all!).  He’s gentle-hearted, and gentle-tongued, and He encourages us to keep turning our cheek until our whole face is a bloody pulp.  Sorry, but that’s not the Jesus I know, because that’s not the dude who is actually in the Bible!  The Jesus the Church tends to teach is the one that serves their purposes best, and generally their purpose is getting you to listen to the hardline of God, which is precisely what Jesus said He came to stop.  And yet they call themselves Christians?  I told them that, too: that all these wrong-wing Christians go on and on about “put the Christ back in Christmas” (yes, I’m fully aware I was talking to Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I may have slightly over-explained this point), when what we should be going on and on about is “put the Christ back in Christian“!  Which isn’t an attempt to take anything away from our brothers and sisters out there who don’t have Christ as a “resident entity” in their religion, like the Jews, and the Hindus, and the Muslims, and the Buddhists, and the Pagans.  But if you’re going to call yourself Christians, for Pete’s sake, let the actual Christ be in there somewhere, and not just some construct that suits your purposes!

Which, I’m afraid, is precisely the same situation with Jehovah’s Witnesses as with other Christian branches, I’m sorry to say. Even though they work hard to go  around and get folks to actually read the Bible, they’re still actively trying to get folks to read the Bible their way.  And they can come back as often as they like–I actually do rather enjoy trying to help them broaden their perspectives, and it’s good practice for me, in the realm of apologetics–but I’m only going to ever read my Bible one way, and that  is Christ’s way.

I’m sorry if my opinions on this are offensive or off-putting to anyone, but they are precisely that: my opinions.  I’m also sorry if I’ve worn out Christ’s welcome by talking so much about Him in this post today, but He’s kind of necessary to the discussion at hand.  I can only hope I wear out His welcome a lot less than the folks who actively try to teach a version of Him that isn’t the real Him.  The real Him didn’t sit in judgment of people–He hung out with tax collectors and hairdressers, y’all, both of whom were considered untouchable outcasts in that society, and sinners at face-value alone–and He didn’t try to shove Daddy-Dearest down folks’ throats (which is not to imply that this is what the JWL did to me today, or do at all; they simply have their emphasis, as does every world religion, everywhere).  In fact, He did exactly the opposite: He said “you’ve heard it said this way, but now I tell you this instead“.  And the real Him didn’t tell people with diseases that they were spiritually unclean (which was highly implied in our conversation today, and I’ve already been down that road twice in my life, and it’s a topic that is guaranteed to get anyone on the wrong side of me); instead, He said “come to me, and I will make you better”.  He nurtured, rather than judging.  And note that He only healed the folks who wanted to be healed: if disease was actually an expression of the sinful nature, I’m pretty sure He would’ve set up a little booth somewhere in Jerusalem, ala Lucy from Peanuts, and called everyone to come on by….

Did He act according to the Father’s Will? You bet your bippy! But it is made clear, over and over again in the New Testament, that the Father’s Will had changed from the version of Him folks had come to know in the Old Testament.  No longer was He vengeful; no longer was He pissed off.  He was sorry He had been such a hard-ass on His followers to the point that He had turned them into a mass of hypocrites and faithless bastards (and I use that term here precisely according to its original intent: a fatherless person, without an inheritance, because that’s precisely what those folks had become, and it is likewise precisely what people are steadily becoming in our modern age, because all they’re learning is pissed off, vengeful God).  The Father’s Will is not Original Sin, it is Original Blessing, and if more emphasis were placed on the latter than the former, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be as many atheists and agnostics as there are right now in the world! I told those nice ladies that, too: that we could sit here and discuss this topic all day, but there is absolutely nothing they could ever say to me that would make me buy into the concept of Original Sin because it is, quite simply, both Scripturally and factually inaccurate.  Pardon my French, but it’s bullshit, and I’m a Southern gal, so if it quacks, I tend to call it a duck.

I hope they didn’t think I was making fun of their methods when I handed them my Dragonfly Theology one-sheet and my business card. When I told them they had inspired me, I actually meant it.  These folks have been doing this for years, and obviously, it’s working on some level, or they wouldn’t still be getting out there in the cold going door to door, right?  I mean, whether we agree with all of their beliefs or not, these folks should be an inspiration to all of us: they believe in things “outside the norm” and “off the beaten path” of Christianity, and whether we agree or disagree with the specifics of those things, I think we all can agree that it takes an enormous amount of faith and courage to get out there and keep attempting to be triumphant for those beliefs in the way that they do. I’m “outside the norm” and “off the beaten path”, too, and I only pray that my faith and courage remain as strong as theirs.  They definitely believe that what they’re bringing door to door to folks is “Good News” of a better life–a promise that things don’t have to be as crap as they might be right now in people’s lives.  They’re trying to provide a safety net to all those folks who don’t have one yet.  I may teach very different things from them in my ministry, but ultimately, we have the same goal: I also want to show folks a better way; to give them that promise that life doesn’t have to stay crap, and that there really is a safety net out there.  The JWL may never become dragonflies themselves, but they’ve certainly helped to strengthen my wings, and for that, I thank God for them. Bless them and their tenacity, because they’ve taught me a thing or two about faith and courage, even if we have to agree to disagree on disease and Original Sin, and I’m pretty darn positive that makes Jesus smile.