Tuesday, July 25, 2006

73. Enjoy

Thought I’d better post before taking off for the Philippines.  I don’t have any real blog relevant new thoughts to share, but I thought I’d share something anyway… a little video I made of my kids… so you can see how adorable they are!  So, without further ado, I present… My children!  Enjoy.

And here's a video of a song I taught them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

72. A Little Help, Please - UPDATE

So, I'm reaching out and asking for advice... or at least for affirmation that I'm not going crazy (or an explanation of why I'm going crazy so I can get past this).

So, here's the situation.  S. and D. were dating.  Now they're not.  Now they are just good friends, and it is all good.  They've talked it out, and are both happy with the situation (at least from what S. has told me).  What does this have to do with me?  Well, as much as it sucked, I could rationalize and thereby get past being 'ditched'.  I mean, the three of us hung out a lot together, and when they started dating that sort of stopped.  It sucks realizing that you were being used, but it's not like that hasn't happened to me before.  I realize that it isn't done on purpose.  It's just easier for a guy to ask a couple of girls to hang out than to ask just the one you're actually interested in... I'm often a sort of 'buffer' between the guy and the hot girl.  The fact that our 'three-way' activity stopped rather abruptly when they started dating was kind of a shock to my system, but I understand.  Couples want to be alone together.  That's cool.

But they aren't a couple any more, and something happened last  night that I'm struggling not to be angry over (or more accurately, not to be hurt over).  For almost 2 months, the three of us got together at D's house and watched movies on the weekend.  Well, last night, the four foreign teachers went out for dinner (which was nice).  Before we went out, S. asked if she could borrow a movie from me so that she could go to D's house alone and watch the movie. (A movie, incidentally, that I own, but haven’t seen, and that she knows I haven’t seen because we’ve both talked about how we ‘need to see it’ sometime).  I was actually confused when she asked, and it took about half of dinner for me to realize why.  I couldn’t figure out why she needed to take the copy of the movie to go over to D’s… it didn’t make sense because before they were dating (and to my way of thinking, it should be the same again now, right?) I would have just brought it with me when I went. Honestly, I was perplexed.  And then I was hurt, which quickly transitioned into angry (because angry doesn’t immobilize me).  Now I'm trying not to be angry about it, but I am.  Especially when this morning I had both of them telling me over and over again how awesome the movie was, quoting lines, etc... and all I could think was "Why wasn't I invited?!?!?  It was my movie, for crying out loud!"  Or to quote my thoughts more directly (with apologies in advance)  “What the fuck?!?!”  They're not dating.  S. has been quite clear about that, at least to me.  So why am I being left out now?  Was the level that I was being used at even beyond what I originally thought (and am able to cope with)?  I think it hurt more that it came from S, because at least D’s motivations I could understand when he stopped inviting me to join them.  But S… she has never been as into their relationship as he was, the fact that she initiated this whole thing – a movie night without me… hurts.

So, am I crazy?  Am I overreacting? I want to think I'm overreacting, but I'm just hurt (and am feeling anger instead because that's easier to deal with at work.  I don't want to start crying here).  Argh.  What do I do?  Do I do anything?  I hate confrontation.  I probably won't talk to them about it, but still... help!


So, I took a page from the Book of Grownups and talked it out with S. (Thanks Boo and TransAtlantic Girl). It went well. She had actually noticed what she was doing (ie: how I was being excluded) as that night had gone on (probably about the same time I realized what was going on), but hadn't known how to backtrack and either invite me without being patronizing, or cancel on D. without being rude to him. Which I get. That alone made me feel better, I must say... just to know I wasn't being petty and paranoid (both of those being adjectives that I think would have described me several years ago). (Of course, several years ago, I never would have mentioned it either, so either way it's a step in the right direction). She is also aware that I'm being shafted by their 'coupledom', because the three of us were sort of tight, but when they got tighter, I got squeezed out. She brought that up, not me. I didn't know what to say to that, because it happens -- all the time -- and I'm not sure anything can be done about it. You were right, by the way TransAtlantic Girl, they are still together, sort of. They weren't when she told me they weren't, but they are going up and down so much I'm getting dizzy trying to follow it. Heh, in a letter to a dear friend recently I used the phrase "heterosexual mating rituals are weird!". It was in a completely different context, and not that this is an exclusively straight thing -- but man, it really is confusing to try and follow. I could try and ignore it, but I see them everyday, and knowing the status of their relationship actually does help me in the office.

Anyway, I'm not angry anymore. I'm still a little bit hurt, but that's now on me and I just have to get past it, I think. It's funny, the day after I told S, D invited me over for a 3 day movie marathon of Lord of the Rings... so I'm assuming she told him and now he's attempting to give me a peace offering. I kind of felt bad telling him I didn't want to spend my entire weekend with them (if you know Lord of the Rings, you know how long it will take to watch all three extended version movies -- especially with a newbie like S who has never seen the movies or read the books), not to mention the fact that inviting me the next day did feel a bit forced.

Well that's it. Just thought you'd all want to know. I know this wasn't blog relevant, but I appreciate your help anyway.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

71. Personal Jesus

So, I’m reading this book right now called The Culture of Make Believe on the recommendation of one of my coworkers.  It’s a fascinating book, dealing with both historical and modern injustices and how the people who are committing the injustices deal with their role in the equation without admitting guilt.  To reference a fairly simple example, the slave owners often justified their position by insisting that they were bringing Christianity to their slaves, thereby saving them from their ‘savagery’.  

Anyway, in the author’s lengthy discussion about slavery (and I have to stop here and admit that I have not finished the book… it is huge! So perhaps he continues this discussion at some point, I don’t know), he makes some off the cuff statements about Christianity and the Church that angered me.  One of them particularly stood out, because it was only half of a thought, and he doesn’t seem to ever come back and complete it.  The statement was this (not necessarily completely accurate as I don’t have a copy of the book right here, I’ve left it at work): “To say that Christianity is opposed to slavery is to not understand Christianity at all.”

It frustrated me, because the other half of that coin was never exposed… which is “To say that Christianity supports slavery is to not understand Christianity at all.”  What I mean by this is that it is quite clear if you read Scripture that Christianity was never meant to be concerned with politics or economics.  Democracy, capitalism, etc… these are not “Christian” ideals, these are Western ideals.  Every time anyone tried to engage Jesus in a political discussion he always shut them down because that was not what He was about.  It’s not like there weren’t injustices going on all around Him that He couldn’t have spoken out about.  It’s not like there wasn’t immorality inherent in the system of the day that He couldn’t have opposed.  That just wasn’t His intention.  And Paul, as the writer of most of the New Testament, upheld this standard, he never told anyone to support or reject any particular system, even one as abhorrent as slavery (even though it is fairly obvious in his writing that he did not approve  -- “there is neither slave nor free” etc…).  Christianity was never meant to be about anything more (or less) than an individual’s personal relationship with God through Christ.  This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I get so aggravated with the Religious Right movement… this attempt to use Christianity in a way it isn’t meant to be used (at least, according to how I see it).

So, what does this have to do with what I normally write about here?  Well, again this is one of those times when you’d have to live in my brain.  (Which, yet again, you can all be thankful isn’t possible.)  I was responding to a comment when this idea of the ‘personalness’ of Christianity came up.    I found myself being perhaps too curt with this commenter because again I felt frustrated by what seemed to be a lack of understanding, or to put it more clearly, an assumption that they did understand something that, from their comment, it appeared that they did not.   What was this statement?  Well, among other things it was that I need to stop seeking the approval of others.  Because I’m in a chatty mood (it’s 1:32 in the morning here and I’m very verbose in the middle of the night), I’ll say that I believe that community is very important, and that the Western Church often puts way too much emphasis on the ‘individualistic’ aspect of Christianity, ignoring the fact that our faith was meant to be lived out in community (much like how I believe that life in general is meant to be lived in some sort of community).  That having been said, this debate I’m having really has nothing to do with seeking the approval of others.  Do I want this approval?  Of course I do.  I’d love to think that no matter what I do, or where I land in this debate, my friends will approve of my choices, but I know that that is just not possible.  Some people will be upset and disappointed should I end up choosing celibacy and others will be upset and disappointed should I end up choosing to pursue a relationship with a woman.  

If it was merely about other people’s approval, I’d be out trying to date women right now.  I know it would probably mean losing a lot of friends, and I’d almost certainly have to leave my church (not that I think I’d get kicked out, I just don’t think I’d feel comfortable fellowshipping with people who probably wouldn’t think I was a Christian).  And my mother… man, that’s just a nightmare to think about.  Perhaps I wouldn’t tell her, if I’m perfectly honest.  And I’d probably end up leaving Ottawa (a city that I love) in order to find a community of believers that I could fellowship with.  As much as all of that would suck, and I know I’d cry (a lot), I’d do it.  I’ve been uprooted enough times in my life (both forcibly as a child moving around with my mother, and voluntarily as an adult eager to explore the globe) to know that I can survive it.  I can make new friends and start again.  It doesn’t scare me.  And it would be worth it to get what I think people get from those personal and intimate relationships they have with their partners in life.  

And the debate between Side A and B (and even X, even though I tend to dismiss that side of the equation) is not even to see which side ‘wins’. (Although, I admit to wishing that one side could just ‘win me over’ and then I could be done with this.)  

No, the ‘debate’ (I even hesitate to call it that right now) is about how I live my life as God wants me to.  As self centered as this sounds (and really, how else is it going to sound on my blog?), this is about my relationship with God.  It’s not about other people’s approval, it’s about His.  And it’s not even so much about His approval as it is about our relationship.  I want to be able to relate to my Father, my Friend, my Lord… and I can’t do that if I’m engaging in behavior that I believe He has said is wrong.  (Not that our relationship is all that great right now, but that’s an issue for another post.)  And, as I am unconvinced on this issue either way, I do nothing.  

There’s a Christian cliché that is often used to bully non-Christians into listening to us talk.  I’ve heard my mother do this on more than one occasion as some poor waitress, or mechanic or whatever tried to politely get out of a religious debate by saying “I’m just not religious.”  My mother counters with this Christian cliché, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship,” and then she keeps talking while they try and figure out what on earth she just said.  As much as I’m not a fan of this phrase (it cost me a lot of money, as I often went back to our table and left extra money as a tip because I felt so bad for the poor waitresses, as my mother would bombard them, and then leave pittance as a tip!), it’s true.  What Christ was concerned about was not ‘religion’ as we tend to use the word today.  There was plenty of religion in Israel at the time.  What He came to do was to provide a way for us to have a relationship with God.  A personal, intimate, individual relationship with God.  And if that was what Christ was concerned with, then it is what I want to be concerned with.  

Anyway, it’s now 1:53 am, and I should try and go back to sleep.  

Monday, July 03, 2006

70. The Fence

So, Willie Hewes asked me a question the other day.  She asked me where I stood on the whole Side A/B thing.  I’ll clarify, for those of you who are new to the game.

Side A is the side that believes that God does bless same-sex monogamous relationships.  Side B believes that God calls all gay people to celibacy… and a new term coined by Eric from Two World Collision is Side X, which believes that God ‘heals’ gay people (turns us straight) if we try and believe hard enough.  And then there is the term that defines me.  Side C… the point directly between A and B.  No man’s land… uncharted territory.

So, to answer your question, Willie Hewes, I’m nowhere. I still have not come to a conclusion.  But thinking about it reminded me of a dream I had a few years ago.  Funnily enough, I can tell you the date, because I woke up from it and immediately emailed a friend of mine, and I’m kind of an email pack-rat so I still have a copy of that email.  I’ll just copy and paste it here – editing only for spelling and grammar (mainly punctuation and capitalization).  The dream I had on Thursday, February 26, 2004 was as follows:

In my dream I guess I'd joined a gay club or group or something. I don't know if I dreamed the meeting and I've just forgotten, or if the dream picked up after the meeting. But what I remember is the parking lot after the meeting. I'd obviously just joined and didn't know a lot of people. But I was looking around and people seemed so happy. There were a few couples, some guys holding hands, some girls kissing...it felt so nice. Easy. I had a feeling like "Why have I been fighting this. This is where I belong." I was talking with this nice Asian guy and I spotted this girl I thought was pretty. This part of the dream went on for a while, but there's not much to say about it except that it felt so nice and safe and kind of like “Finally!"   And then I heard something. The building we (the gay club)were in was either right behind a church, or the church was right behind it...we sort of shared a parking lot...sort of...the logistics aren't important. The thing is, the worship team from the church had stepped outside I guess to warm up and were singing a song -- something about Eternal Father...again, not sure if it was a real song or one my head just made up. They were very good. And it hurt so much. I stood there, among my new group of friends and my heart was literally aching. Someone from the worship team realized we were out there, and gestured to his friends and, still singing, they went inside, so as not to disturb us. I couldn't take it anymore, I tried to hide it for a while, but I actually broke down sobbing. After a few moments the Asian guy said,  "It's hard, I know", and I realized he had been singing along with the worship team...not in their group or anything, but when he heard them he  just started singing. We were starting to talk about it, or he was, because I was crying so hard, and then my alarm went off.

So, here I am, living in that parking lot.  Not in the gay world, not in a church… at least not right now in Korea.  But even back in Canada, where I am a part of (and quite involved in) a church I don’t feel like I’m fully participating because part of me is always closed off and hidden when I’m there.  Even from those who know, because as loving and accepting as they have been, I do not feel comfortable being fully me around them.  For example, I don’t feel that any of them would be comfortable with my expressing any level of attraction for another woman, unless I was ‘confessing’ it as something I was ‘guilty’ of.  And as I don’t enjoy feeling guilty all the time, I just don’t mention it.

Now, that having been said, I’m experiencing something quite new to me here in Korea.  I’m used to being judged from the church/religious side.  That, for the most part, just rolls of my back now.  I’m not used to the judgment from the other side that I’m getting from my friends here.  The absolute bafflement at the fact that I am a 30 year old voluntary virgin, that I believe that sex is something sacred, and that even if I were to firmly land in the Side A camp tomorrow, that doesn’t mean I would be having sex with a woman any time soon.  And beyond bafflement, the attitude that I need to stop believing what I believe and just jump into the deep end of sexual activity in order to be fully realized as a person is unbelievable.  I mean, I’ve actually been told that I can’t possibly understand myself fully until I’ve had sex.   And I’ve taken that statement and made it less blunt and patronizing than it was originally.  

What this is making me realize is that this middle ground I’ve been occupying for what seems like ages can’t be maintained forever.  Eventually I’ll have to choose sides… nobody likes a fence sitter.