Monday, July 9, 2007

If Britney's Going to Church...

There are only three things that Britney Spears going to church could mean:

1.) Publicity--she has had publicist problems in the past, trusting the Big Man is a good move;

2.) Armageddon is here and she's pregnant with Satan's spawn, so she's going to church to recruit all the church-goers who are nice in church but give you the middle finger as they cut you off and speed like hell out of the parking lot; or

3.) Desperate times call for desperate measures--maybe it was God who chose Britney...

Really, this is a toss up.

1.) Seems logical; 2.) Seems even more logical; and 3.) Is just so crazy it might be the most logical.


One of my favorite sayings is that "everything happens for a reason." But really, if you believe in some kind of creator, isn't that creator the one who makes everything happen for a reason?

I don't mean it to sound like the creator is the puppet-master.

I just think maybe we should credit the person who makes "everything happen for a reason."

I'd definitely want credit for that.


One of my other favorite sayings is that "God only gives us what we can handle."

Here's where things between some Christians and I get a little tense.

I hear a lot of Christians say that God's love is amazing and that people should come to God because of his grace, all-loving nature, and goodness, which I believe all is true. Unfortunately, that's the bait and hook for the sad bastards who are lonely and looking for love--of any kind.

God is good and great, loving and all-forgiving. But let's not forget about the dark side of God. The God who "only gives us what we can handle." That's the Man I feel some Christians neglect to mention during the selling pitch.

Yes, God will love you. He will forgive you.

And sometimes you'll have to forgive Him. That's the hardest part of this deal, in my opinion.

Following the 10 Commandments isn't necessarily a cake walk, but dealing with the fact that God has a plan that includes war, murder, miscarriages, "accidents," etc. isn't easy at all to understand. Mix the two and it's as if God is saying, "Do what I say, not what I do." That's a true mind-f***.

In other words, I better understand Britney shaving her head, attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella, and going to church with her new "manny" and children than I understand God.

Granted both of them make no sense, but I'll take my chances on Britney. I mean, she did write an apology note to X17, which clarified why she attacked them with an umbrella.

I realize some would argue the Bible is God's explanation.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. As a English/lit/book person and creative writer, I just can't take the Bible literally. At least all of the time. Think of all the translations it's gone through, all the different interpretations. Also, consider the state of mind of some its readers--no offense.

Fables were a popular form of story-telling back in the day.

Even Jesus liked to tell stories. That in itself is a very helpful clue for me.


God's plan: Britney goes to church; the war in Iraq continues; season 8 of Big Brother starts; a couple miscarriages; a tulip opens; a eighteen year-old hits a guard rail going down a hill, is throw through his windshield, and decapitated; two lovers snuggle; a couple breaks up; the glass stillness of a pool shimmers; a baby is born mentally disabled with no medical explanation.

All of this is just one millisecond.


Story: Once upon a time there was a girl. Her name is Question Mark or ?. Her parents named her ? because when she was born her face was furled like someone thinking in questions. As ? grew up, she began to notice her sister wasn't like the other kids she knew. The other kids were punctuations marks--some round, some straight, some a little curvy--like her. Her sister was hard angles and a line, a tepee with a little window. A. Other kids stared at her, which made ? defensive of her sister and a bit of a hard question mark, one of anger than a soft one like a joke.

One day ? decided to ask questions about her sister, to find out why she was different. While asking questions about her sister, she came across other questions about family, friendships, humanity, God. ? furrowed her brow like when she was born. She was learning there are no easy answers to most questions.

But she believed asking questions showed faith, showed hope, created closure, proved she was living her life to its fullest extinct.


The same story translated: Once upon a time there was a girl named Amanda. Her parents named her Amanda because it meant "Beloved" and because it was a popular name in the 70s.
As Amanda grew up, she began to notice her sister wasn't like the other kids she knew. The other kids could talk, had straight teeth, didn't drool, went to "normal" school. Her sister couldn't talk, didn't have straight teeth, drooled, and went to a school for the "retarded." Other kids (and adults) stared at her sister, which made Amanda defensive and angry for a very long time.

One day Amanda decided to ask questions about her sister, to find out why she was different. While asking questions about her sister, she came across other questions about family, friendships, humanity, God. Amanda was afraid people would view her questions as hurtful when really she was just trying to live her life to the fullest. She really wasn't trying to hurt people's feelings by asking questions. She was trying to learn that there was no easy way to ask questions and that there are no easy answers to most questions.

But she believed asking questions that couldn't be answered easily was essential to being human.


What's lost between these two stories, their different translations?

What's gained?


This morning during yoga class, I felt the closest I have to God in a long while.

I'm in Warrior 2, for the first time on my right side, and I'm trying to sit down with my sit bones, keep my front knee over my front ankle, sit back into the back leg on the outside of the foot, breathe, lift up my sacrum, sit down into my sit bones, breathe. My whole body is shaking. My yoga instructor, God bless her, is shaking her head. The left side is the same struggle.

During the second time, I feel things starting to click. I know I'm not doing the pose perfectly, but I feel myself opening up in all the tight places and I'm breathing freely, not holding my breathe. I'm aware of my body in that moment and only that moment. My breath, my opening, my awareness--I feel God in me, even in my shaking thighs and hamstrings.

For me to see the blessing of his presence in my body, I have to be aware of the struggle in my body at the exact same time.

I don't know how else to explain it. A literal translation would ruin the whole mystery, the core meaning.


Oh, Britney, I think to myself in the car on the way home from yoga class.

We're not too different, are we? We're both just trying to find answers.

Maybe it seems easier or more justified for me because I don't have cameras following my every step. I don't have shitloads of money to further complicate things.


When I first started taking yoga, I looked around the room at all the participants instead of watching the instructor. I wanted to compare myself to everyone else. I wanted to know I was more flexible, a better listener, etc. By doing this I was cheating myself.

Now I only watch the instructor or I keep my eyes closed. I can't compare myself with others. I can only do my best. It's the instructor's job to help everyone else do their best, and comparing myself to them only proved I was insecure about my own practice.

It took me years to learn this. If I'm right about ten.


God only judges us individually, right? He doesn't compare us, right? And He gave me my life for a reason, right?

So then my life is the exact one He wants me to live, right? If he's judging me as me, based only on me as person, why do I think I'm living a less Christian life than others? Or why would others think that way?

If we use this comparison (or lack-thereof) model, then Britney stands a chance at getting into the pearly gates, right? And she should try, right? Without judgment. Why not?

But isn't faith usually comparable? Isn't it possible a priest ask parishioners to compare themselves with John the Baptist? Then what?

What of God's plan, his design, his intentions we sometimes can't see, the answers we sometimes never get? How do we know we are living in His image, if we're all being compared to people we aren't?


Why would it worry me if anyone compared me to my sister? Wouldn't that be a blessing?

This post was inspired by Britney Spears, Rock This Life, and many, many other things that fascinate me and that I appreciate whole-heartedly.


Katherine said...

I love this post. I have a lot of opinions about God, many of which tend to surprise a lot of people, that I hope I can share with you sometime. I don't want to just hijack your comments.

I will say that I don't think the Bible is intended to be read literally - or more specifically, the vast majority of the Bible is not intended to be read literally. Most of the genres represented in the Bible- parables, poetry, mythology, apocalpytic - are not compatible with literal interpretations.

See, I already hijacked your comments, and that's just one little piece of my response to your words.

Take care. :-)

Amanda said...

You're not hijacking, doll. I'm so happy that we see the bible the same way! I keep telling FD how much I would LOVE to talk with you and how much I would LOVE to go to your church!

We'll talk soon enough! Much love!

Kristin said...

Love it! Great writing!!!