Category Archives: Religion


Let’s stop bashing each other about our religions and spirituality. Most of us have them because they define us in an invisible way. Yes, each of us believe some things that sound crazy to other people. I say that with respect, even though at times I admit that I can’t help but laugh at some of the things we believe. I dislike religions that inspire prejudice or marginalize women from being leaders. I understand that many people find comfort in religions that seem to go against my previous comment. Most of all, I love belief that demands the golden rule and reciprocity in all things. Spirituality is personal. Most of us set aside the particulars that we don’t agree with. And in the end, that’s all that should matter. A belief that pushes us towards being a better person and a better human to those around us. Though most people disagree with me, the particular creator we hold in our heart is secondary. Because if we are mistreating ourselves and other people, we’ve already violated the main principle that I think our maker would want us to follow. And if we don’t believe in a creator, I can’t imagine any one objecting to the ideal of acting as if we’re here with purpose. We can argue and bicker like all of our ancestors have done. The bickering is a distraction. Loving people act with love. We might grit our teeth at others in the process. The goal remains the same. Love, X

Let’s Go Crazy Through Authenticity

Of all the messages out there in the world, the luminous one is that if we could permit each other be as ridiculously inconsistent and weird as we need to be, we all might benefit. I’m not fooled. I’ve seen behind enough curtains to know that most people have some outrageous behavior and ideas. Most keep them tightly closeted. The Golden Rule applies to letting people be themselves if that’s the way they choose to be. We tend to ridicule or shout them down, even with our silence. And then, POOF! We all reach the point when the realization that time is indeed limited swoops down and makes just about everything seem utterly stupid.

Love, X


I was asked to make a short TikTok to advise young people. “Don’t set yourself on fire!” seemed too obvious. Advising young people – or anyone else for that matter – flies in the face of the truth that we don’t listen until we are either ready to listen or forced to. The one I did as part of the challenge didn’t fit directly. It does, however, imply the superpower of silence in the face of argumentative accusation or criticism. The last few years seem to have made it apparent that we all must practice the fine art of allowing information to penetrate our idiotic heads. To give people the benefit of the doubt when we want to judge them. To know that despite the consequences of our actions, most of the time, our intentions didn’t lead us there. To know that idle gossip is fun (of course it is), but it also perpetuates misinformation. This happens both in our personal lives and in our society in general.

I’m as guilty as anyone else of doing it. We all recognize the dragonfire of defensiveness when we hear people repeat things that are wildly untrue. Or worse, when they are actually true!

I have no right to advise anyone, regardless of age. I’ve learned so many lessons that I obviously can’t consistently implement. I guess you could say Life Lessons are algebra. You’ll learn it but never use it again.

Love, X

The Holiday Salutation Admonition

It’s that time of year y’all!

Whether you call it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all. This season belongs to all of us.

Lovingkindness, no matter your religion (or the absence of it) shouldn’t be forgotten this time of year.

I made a different version of this, one which is music I composed myself so that the social media platforms couldn’t block it.

Love, X


Xmas Redux

Erika’s brother drew the original. I spent an inordinate amount of time meticulously creating and editing a png version of his artwork. I started with a picture I snapped of the artwork. There’s something intangible about this Santa, rendered with hundreds of deliberately layered scribbles. It seemed like I owed it to Chris, even though he’s gone and I never met him.

This Santa captures the unkempt fatigue of attempting to reward everyone with the Xmas gifts they deserve. (Much less the horror of knowing who has been naughty or nice.) I joke that Santa could make a fortune selling the naughty list to certain people!

As I do every year, especially now that it’s Black Friday… Don’t let the season distract you from enjoying it the way you want. For some, it is a religious celebration. For others, it is a social season, one punctuated by gatherings, bacchanalian feasts with friends, family, and events. Some sit quietly and simmer in melancholy of bittersweet remembrances of the people who’ve left them.

Xmas is what YOU want it to be. Not the traditions you don’t cherish, not the obligatory exchanging of gifts. You are housed in a body that is a gift in itself. Being yourself and radiating your wit, humor, and affection is more than enough for the people who appreciate you.

Of all gifts I enjoy, I like the goofy, surprising ones. And most of those are moments, not things.

Don’t get me wrong, I love someone surprising me with an ornate toilet seat, a collection of foul-tasting novelty candies, or even a ream of colored paper. It means that person likes me enough to have taken the time to surprise me. It also means that they are happy enough to want to share a sliver of that with me.

Giving people are rarely joyous. Have you noticed that?

Many people loathe that Xmas starts early, especially the music that often accompanies it. They complain about trees showing up in houses “too early.” The stores loaded with commercial offerings. I don’t understand that. To each his own.

The Xmas season is when people can surprise others without the pretext of a reason. Even a hug and a “Merry Xmas,” or whatever salutation you prefer.

I’ll put a picture below, one I made a long time ago – and one that surfaces on the internet with frequency.

Love, X

Voting In The Trees

Yesterday, I thought I was in line for free pizza. Much to my surprise, I turned out to be in the voting line. I’m not sure I trust a world in which I’m able to vote. This time, despite dropping my license behind the table and next to the window (where it was almost unreachable), I relentlessly repeated my name and address as if I were being interrogated. I’ve voted early for so many cycles that I forgot how different it is to vote on the actual day.

I voted at Sequoyah UM Church. It was fast and efficient. Remarkably so. Whoever is in charge there did an outstanding job. Other than letting a couple of loons on the ballot. Whenever I see obviously unqualified candidates, much less fringe ones, I remind myself that maybe I, too, could get elected without much sense or qualifications.

Don’t worry about my vote counting. I am still so liberal that I might as well be voting in Finland as in Arkansas.

After voting, I wandered the back half of the property. It was not well-maintained, but I had some moments of beauty walking back there. The weather was uncharacteristically warm and calm for November. It was odd to sit on the benches in front of the rudimentary cross, feeling the sun filter through the trees and listening to the birds sing. Not too far away, the hectic comings and goings of voters might as well have been a mile away. It was a contemplative place, one that I alone owned for several minutes. I admit that it was a bit strange thinking that the ballot contained an initiative for religious freedom; it’s obvious that the intent is anything but motivated by freedom. Had I been in that mindset, I’m sure I could have felt the presence of a creator in those trees and on those benches. Please don’t fault me for not feeling such a presence. It was sufficient to be there, seeing the beautiful world around me.

When I walked across the dilapidated bridge walkway and emerged from the trees, a man exiting the voting place asked me what was back there.

“Five minutes of peace if you search for it.” I smiled.

“I’m in a hurry, but I’d really like to see.”

“You only live once. Just tell them a crazy guy at the church where you voted told you to take a moment.”

He laughed. “Deal! They will believe that.”

As I walked toward my car on the opposite end and side of the building, I turned to see him traverse the wooden bridge and disappear behind the treeline.

I’m certain he found something worthwhile back there.
I rendered myself transparent in the picture because I felt a little other-worldly in the retreat behind the trees.

Love, X

Black Eyed Peas Preach

Though I’m not dogmatically religious, I’d like to write an incongruous post that merges the Black Eyed Peas with the Christian Bible.

The aforementioned group has a current hit called “Don’t You Worry.” It’s vibrant, energetic and a call put away your worries and concerns. It’s one of those throwaway songs, full of pop momentum and repetitious lyrics. It’s also delightful in a way that belies its formulaic lyrics. I’m certain they weren’t inspired by a call to remember that control and worry are the provinces of people unfocused on what’s essential to happiness, especially from a spiritual viewpoint.

I have a lot of issues with religious texts. Sometimes though, truth is where you find it.

Whether it is Matthew 6+, or a verse from my favorite book of Ecclesiastes, among several others, one of the essential truths of most religions is that we are forces living inside bodies. And we’re not supposed to be mental prisoners to the outcome of our worries.

Not to ignore them or blindfold yourself; rather, to rejoice at this moment and to dance with joy. It’s something that older people forget to do as if such a thing is only an option for the young.

The Black Eyed Peas song evokes a reaction in me. Something about it strikes a call to action to remember that for everything, there is a time and place. Maybe it’s because I love the book of Ecclesiastes.

And if your head is cluttered with worry and concern, no matter how justified, you might be distracting yourself from the opportunity to remember to live. To give up control and surrender. To dance, sing, and feel the physical world. But not to such a point that you forget that everything that makes your heart sing can’t be quantified.

You can find truth and reminders anywhere.

If you’re tuned to it.


A Eulogy And a Joke For Jim

Erika told me that I MUST have more hair. She gave me some dubious “vitamins” with skull-and-crossbones on the bottle. The back label had testimonials from probable probationary or parolee people. I’ve been taking them for a week. I look like an aging English rockstar now that my hair is growing faster than the mustache of my neighbor Susan. Let me know what you think of my new locks – and the color streaks. It will probably grow past my hips in another week.

If you look closely at my goofy picture, you’ll see that my eyes are a little teary. A really good man died this morning. He has so many friends that I wouldn’t want to count the number of memories that will be retold in the near future. Jim’s sense of humor was different from mine in some ways, but the spirit of his humor was massive. We used to joke and speculate about what he might want to be told at his service. I’d write some of it here, but it would shock, amuse, and horrify, and probably some people simultaneously. When a force of nature like him dies, it is a sure sign that all of us will line up soon enough for our turn. No one can look at his life as a friend, pastor, chaplain, counselor, or husband and father and think he had anything other than an outstanding life. He was a rare mix of education, faith, music, and humor. He never once made me feel less than for my skepticism.

I decided to go ahead and post these words despite the fact that most people think they are so dissimilar and disparate.

Jim would appreciate and see the connection.

Life is both stupidity and solemnity, hunger and satiation.

If I had donned this wig and entered the church he founded, the one that held its last service last Sunday and the one I wrote about last Sunday afternoon, he would look up from the piano, smile, and then say: “X is a much better-looking woman than he ever was as a man.”

Love, X


As a church, its doors are now closed forever.

The building soon will be repurposed as a real estate school.

The people who called it their church home had open hearts to me. Especially the pastor. He thought nothing of the fact that my heart was skeptical and doubtful. Humor was our language. It is difficult indeed to find a pastor who can relate to people as different and fascinating versions of the same imperfect template.

I didn’t attend the last service this morning, for reasons of my own.

The building will remain idle and empty only for a short interval.

The church members will carry on as friends. They plan on continuing as a virtual body.

I was lucky that I was welcomed there.

Everyone was, no matter their hue, hyphenation, language, denomination, or orientation.

That’s rare too. It reflects the attitude and character of Jim. He’s not doing well. But if there is anyone who walks the line between spiritual and the mundane, it is him. He’s one of those people who deserves another 50 years. Heaven can wait for him. He doesn’t care that my idea of the afterlife deviates from his; he carries his certainty openly and with a ridiculous laugh to accompany it.

Goodbye, church.

All things must end.

And if we are lucky, we won’t forget the spaces or moments shared.

Love, X

Behavior Prevails

Online therapy isn’t as satisfying as in-person therapy.

But cognitive therapy from a practical focus is amazingly effective for me.

One of the things I loved about in-person therapy was having the things I’d said or written repeated back to me.

It’s a stunning thing to SEE my own rationalizations exposed and repeated. It’s part of the reason I softened toward my dad. To recognize a small part of him inside of me was not a welcome realization. This kind of insight takes a while to accept, much less deal with.

There’s a huge difference when you’re talking or writing to someone who has dealt with hundreds of people and has heard every rationalization under the sun. Unlike friends and family, they experience your version of truth for what it is.

Mostly bullsh!t.

I can recap and summarize the difference quickly: I know an awful lot about human psychology and have learned a book of insights and lessons, yet, my biggest failing is not applying them to my life.

If you focus on behavior and set aside your thoughts and words, everything gets distilled to its essence.

It reminds me of one of my favorite examples. If a person never tells anyone that he or she is Christian yet lives a love-and-compassion-filled life, observers can see that your worldview is in action through your behavior. Because lovingkindness is the essence of what Jesus taught. One of my biggest problems with evangelicals is their certainty and rigidity – and focus on dogma and judgment. Live the example. That applies to me, too, in case you think my hypocrisy is something I don’t see in myself.

Likewise, if you are a loving and insightful human being, people over time should easily find that behavior consistently and clearly evidenced in your life. The things you do will be reflected in your daily life and mirror what’s in your head and heart.

When these things are not reflected? That disparity signals a problem with either your self-perception or a significant failure of behavior. If you know your motivations and what you value, the best practical approach is to examine your behavior critically.

If you are what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.

If you want to be satisfied or happy, you must work to remove behaviors that interfere. Happiness isn’t a realization; it’s a constant process of doing the hard work of choosing to spend your time and life finding a way to live the way that you know you want to be.

When you are closer to the sunset than the sunrise as you age, everything just looks different.

Otherwise, it is all talk, smoke without fire, and pretense.


But also, yeah!

Love, X