mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the category “Christianity”

Superb Literature Messes With Me

I believe that the Bible contains within its page’s superb literature.  I think it’s superb because I no longer see it telling me what to think, rather it MAKES me think.  It MESSES with me.  It engages with me and I it, deeply and reflectively.  It is provocative literature.

For years now, off and on, I’ve been captivated by the story in Genesis 3, probably because I’ve always journaled this question “what’s wrong with me” ever since I was a teenager.  “Nothing is wrong with you other than that you think something is wrong with you” is the rebuttal.  Yet – that is a judgment that doesn’t completely resonate.  It sounds corrective and even enlightening, but there’s something amiss and dismissive about it.  The truth is, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt a subtle disquieted thing in my soul.  It’s hard to explain.  I wrote many pages trying to find out how it got there but the longer I seek insight and wrestle with this, the more I see that this is not a “me” phenomenon.  This is not a “Kristen” issue.  It’s not merely personal, it seems to be universal.  The ancients seemed haunted by this and wrote down a profound story to try and answer “what’s wrong with us?” – that is how I see Genesis 3 in a nutshell.  In other words, I’m not alone in this search.  The ancient ancestors echoed this.  Perhaps this is really a universal and human phenomenon.  This story beautifully illustrates something profound and relatable to me even though it’s a very ancient story.

Yesterday I asked God to help me become less and less offendable over time.  I thought about asking God to make me unoffendable and found several books on Amazon by Christians titled “Unoffendable” but I’m skeptical about the reality or implications of attaining that goal.  I rest in the opinion that only God is truly and purely unoffendable, and Jesus demonstrated this.  Yet for me, at least right now it boasts as too perfectionistic, and not very down to earth.  I see spiritual bypassing to attain that goal, at least for me.  Nonetheless, I’d like to become less easily offended.  I told God that I’m pretty hypocritical in this respect, I have a low tolerance level for people (especially those who are closest to me probably because they mirror certain aspects of my shadow) who are easily offended and take everything so damn personally and react by hiding this fact and lash out at me for their shit.  To be fair, I can admit that I do this too – but not as much as other people I can think of!  Maybe I’m wrong and I need to first look at the log in my own eye…“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  – Matthew 7:3-5, NRSV   

I digress…irregardless, I told God and myself that I’m offended by how easily offended I am!

This morning these thoughts came… (I swear, I’m a bit obsessed with Genesis 3 again)…

Eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is about feeding off the narrative or getting my sense of self or identity or value from moral judgments about others including myself.  Moralizing the Self and others leads to polarizing the Self and others.  Having or possessing judgments versus them having or possessing me is a subtle but very important distinction.  Humility grows with practicing this distinction.


Judgements about good and evil present as “desirable knowledge” that will elevate me.  I do become a bit of a “God in my own image” as I feed my Self with moral judgements.  I forget that I am ummm, NOT GOD.  That role is not well fitted for me because when I take up this role unconsciously, blurred lines cross over into identity. Without humble conscious awareness, this creates relational ruptures within myself and others, to varying degrees. What is more useful is to focus more on judging what I can know to be true or false, for me. 

I cannot know for certain what is right or wrong for others because I cannot perceive for others, objectively.  I have a human bias, specifically I have a “Kristen bias” and you have a “(your name) bias”.  This isn’t “good or bad” but I do believe it is what is, which is truth – simply what is.  

I was listening to a Jordan Peterson podcast and Jonathan Haidt said something that has both struck me and stuck with me along similar lines of Genesis 3!  Mr. Haidt said that “Moralism messes everything up” when Jordan asked him to clarify what he meant by “moralism” Mr. Haidt said “Moralism is that if you look at things in a framework not of true versus false but of right versus wrong, bad versus good, once you put on that frame…Tyler Cowen has a quote somewhere in a Ted Talk he says ‘We think in stories but as soon as you interpret things in a good versus evil story, your IQ drops by 10-15 points’….Arguments become all out war…you lose touch with truth and your goal is to win and strangely you win in ways that alienate the person you are trying to persuade…making your case with moral grandstanding…”  

This really struck me as profound in light of the Genesis 3 story and the symbolic “tree of knowledge of good and evil”.  Today I am witness that eating from this tree creates many problems; the least is of polarization and alienation between intimates and every level of society.  When we receive our sense of identity, meaning, or value from our moral judgments/positions (eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), the environment for polarization is ripe. I suppose this is what Jonathan Haidt meant when he said “moralism messes everything up”. It’s not that having moral judgments is problematic, but rather – moralism is not merely possessing moral judgments, but being possessed by them – they are your source of life and identity and defending them starts to cause you to lose touch with a conscious state of what is true and what is false. And I would add what we don’t know is true or false, admitting that is admitting a kind of truth in itself which is ultimately what I’m coming to understand is humility. Owning and making peace with the truth of our human limitations with openness and acceptance is being in harmony with the truth. In contrast being offended and resistant to our limitations (humility) can lead to hiding from the truth within, and when we defend ourselves from owning our truths that we don’t like, there’s a self-rejection/denial that must be defended with something that is not so warm and sincere. This usually leads to being easily offended! Until we lean into and learn from discomfort, it’s a wise teacher.

Now when we intentionally make a move towards finding out what is true or false, not what is right or wrong, good or bad/evil – this will often prove more helpful for human relationships and civilizations to make and maintain progress. 

I’m finding that approaching the bible not as a “moral rules” book is very satisfying to me. It’s a storybook. There are many ancient characters and themes that I find are still relevant and have profound implications for wisdom in daily living.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on what I believe about the Jesus story.  Some believe this is a legendary story birthed out of conspiracy, some believe that this is a historical story based in people giving honest, human (fallible), accounts.  I’m leaning more towards believing the latter, yet that’s why I trust it – its too imperfect to be conspiratorial and because of this I find it provocative and yes, even offensive at times. In some uncanny way this inspires me and touches me, in an ineffable way.

Now I suppose that any of these views on the Jesus story have their own implications. Personally, I believe he was a historical figure that died by means of Roman crucifixion and that the accounts of him being resurrected are honest (imperfect but not conspiratorial) accounts, and that the implications and meaning of this man’s life and death, and his teachings, are still being wrestled with inside myself and many others. I find this Jesus to be akin to how I find the bible; provocative, mysterious, and illuminating. I don’t see much space for retreating in the bunkers of neutrality while engaging with this stuff. So, on one hand, I guess I can understand why people are avoidant or hesitant to engage this fine piece of ancient literature called the bible. Studying the accounts of Jesus and his teachings isn’t “playing it safe”. This ancient literature is compelling to me (and others across time and culture) and forces me to think and reflect deeply about my life and the essence of life itself.

While there are many emotions I feel towards both the bible and Jesus (of which some seem to contradict each other) – indifference is not one of them. This is an area I am not complacent in, and at times I need a break because of that.

Who was Jesus?  Who do others say that he was?  Who do I say that he was?  What are the implications of how I answer these, in the here and now?  These are worth deeply and honestly contemplating for myself and with others who will not either moralize or patronize me, either way.

I am unapologetically ME.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry for being; me.

Though, I will seek to apologize for my reactions which fall below my behavioral standards as I learn to receive or perceive rejection, judgment, and criticism while being WHO I AM. 

External rejection, judgment, and criticism are all welcome, as I consciously welcome MY AUTHENTICITY’S HOMECOMING.

There’s a cost that comes with being who you truly are.  Minimally, it will cost you the loss of temporary approval.  It could cost you more though, rather than just someone’s temporary approval, it could cost you the entire relationship if the foundation is based on you being a certain “you” that is not even really you.

There is also a cost to NOT living authentically.  And this comes through managing the effectiveness of all the ways to numb the pain that is calling you to live in alignment with YOU and to stop living a life in self-betrayal, to varying degrees.

Living inauthentically can cause you to develop a dependency on whatever in life may make you temporarily APPEAR to be secure and self-confident. You will need to invest more and more resources towards appearing this way (to others or yourself) by altering your image or even your own moods in some form to fool yourself, until YOU say – “ENOUGH”. Until then, you may settle with living a deeply insecure life, where you depend entirely on numbing out from this insecure and painful place.

In short – this insecure relationship you have with yourself is built on bullshit, and builds relationships with others built on more bullshit.  For some, a bullshit relationship is the only kind of acceptable relationship. It’s the only way they can feel safe because it’s so damn familiar; showing up in various masks, with familiar scripts. I’ve done this.  I empathize with the masked life. AND, I want more out of life than what my masks can deliver, no matter how sophisticated or glamorous they may look.

One of the masks I most comfortably wore (unconsciously) was this religious mask, mine happened to be “Christian”. While I still loosely identify as a Progressive Christian, hiding behind a rigid religious identity paid off for awhile, until my heart desired more

I’m consciously deconstructing and reconstructing my way of relating to all aspects of me, which is deep spiritual work. It no longer satisfies my soul to turn to a system of religious beliefs and practices defined by others in order to feel acceptable to the Divine and therefore, myself. Because I consciously resonant with the belief that I, as a human being am innately of the Divine.

I’m seeking to be more authentic, not “Christian” or even “spiritual”. This is what I see when I contemplate the life of Jesus or other spiritual beings who lived human lives, which inspire me.

I’ve been on this journey for a little bit. I’m finding that my tolerance level for numbing out and buying into bullshit becomes lower and lower. Simultaneously my appetite for deeper and more authentic connection internally and with others, expands.

I’m practicing authenticity, one imperfect step at a time. For me, this is what it means to be a spiritual being, having my unique human experience.

De-Colonizing Christianity

At a recent local para-Christian ministry meeting, I was reminded of one of the main reasons I left “the church”. Now, once in awhile I’ll attend a church service, but I feel more like an outsider, rather than “one of the flock” and I like it like that for now, and perhaps that won’t ever change.

A home was purchased for the purpose of doing ministry in the community. I think that is a WONDERFUL thing. And the people who were meeting all seemed to have loving and caring hearts, that wanted to reach out to others and help extend the kind of healing they’ve received, to others.

Please note, this is not an attack on the people, this is an attempt to raise awareness on implicit and unconscious biases of a group of people, and there are always exceptions, but my experience didn’t lend to the notion that I was bumping up against an exception, but rather a rule, because of the silence and complicitness within a group of people.

One of the modalities of healing which was shared was of Yoga. There was one very strong and vocal opponent of using Yoga. She is active in something called “Deliverance Ministry” where you deliver people from evil or demonic spirits. She said she had delivered demonic spirits from people who were well advanced into their yoga practice and believed it was in complete opposition to her Christian faith, believing it to be a dangerous practice. This stirred up some tension as there were others in the room in support of yoga. One of the peace-making attempts was initiated by a woman who tried to identify with the woman who was opposed to yoga by saying when she got really into essential oils, this was criticized by other Christians she knew as being “Asian” and the implicit notion was that it therefore, should not be readily accepted by Christians.

Well, I am Asian. Specifically – Korean adopted. I was born in Korea, adopted and raised by White American parents where I was raised “in the church”. Perhaps that’s why I feel so brazen in addressing these heated issues of both race and religion in one post. Part of me feels as though I’m one of them too, who held the same beliefs around Christianity, without being racially self-aware due to a huge lack of race being openly discussed or addressed in my transracially adopted home. It was as if my racial difference didn’t really exist, to the point where I often even forgot I wasn’t White, but Asian. Sorry, I digress, that’s a whole different blog post.

So, I was the only Asian or non-white person in the ministry meeting, and was offended by that microaggression or bordering blatantly racist remark. I spoke up and said “Can I just say, not all Christians are white.” Nobody else commented or responded. The one person who absolutely would have spoken up was on the receiving end of her own microaggressions or scrutiny due to being a yoga instructor. But nobody else spoke up. It’s as if I wasn’t really saying anything anyone else could understand. There was acknowledgment of the offensive talk around the demonization (literally) of yoga, since several others in the group also spoke up and came to the defense of yoga because they’ve had their own positive experiences with yoga, even though from one individual there was a strong resistance and accusation of yoga being “dangerous” partly because it had its roots in India, in Hinduism, this religion that worships false gods and idols, and not the “One True God of the Bible”.

While the following is my interpretation from the not so implicit bias – this is more or less how it came across to me – as implicit racism rearing its ugly but well-disguised “Christian” head asserting its implicit White dominance:

“Yoga does NOT have its origins in the White-European culture, therefore it’s an aberration and is to be feared, thus saith the Lord!”

And it is to this implicit racism I would like to speak quite explicitly to, if you could grant me permission to possibly offend you if you are a White Christian, who is not (in the words of my 13 year old daughter) been “woke” yet.

Granted, I am no Biblical scholar, credentialed theologian, or historian. I am just an average lay person who doesn’t have white skin, who’s intrigued by Jesus, but finds some of his followers, particularly White Christians – very difficult to deal with at times.

Here we go…

Oh – Trigger alert if you have White fragility and if you don’t know what the hell heck that is, you likely have it if any mention of your “Whiteness” as a race triggers you. I’ve learned this is a very fragile space to speak directly to, but for the grace of God, there go I…

Christianity is not a White-European based religion or faith. Jesus’ race was not of European descent, he was of the Middle Eastern/Northern African region and descent.

Reminder: Jesus was NOT White.

According to forensic scientists, Jesus most likely had dark-brown skin, dark brown eyes, and dark colored hair. And his first disciples were likely not White either. Please, stop colonizing Christianity. Like Yoga, Christianity does not have its origins in White-European culture.

A “false god” or “idol” you may need deliverance from is your White privilege that believes strongly albeit unconsciously, that anything that deviates from White-European based culture, including how one practices their faith (Christian or otherwise) is aberrant, and therefore inferior and to be distrusted. This ego that is implicitly racist, just might be playing the role of a false god, which should probably be humbly examined.

You can build a wall around your White implicitly racist egos, but you cannot isolate god or Jesus to those who look and act like you. But, you can be delivered from this false idol by repenting and turning on the lights to your own fears, insecurities, pain, and defense mechanisms which often scapegoat those for doing just as you do, but don’t look or talk like you. There IS hope for your liberation from White implicit racism. The Lord can help you become “woke” but first you’ll have to stop colonizing and White-washing Christianity.

The abundant life is enjoyed better when you’re awake. But just as the Native American proverb goes – “You can’t wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.”

My words are spoken in an attempt to wake some people up who are dangerously sleepwalking in their racial ignorance combined with their Christianity. I’m willing to assume that it’s not consciously intentional. So, now you can examine it with conscious awareness, if you so choose.

Will you now hit the snooze button and go back to sleep? Or will you stretch, and arise?

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