An opinion

So, I know I haven’t been blogging lately and I apologize. When you work more than 40 hours a week, you get lax on a few things. Sorry! 

Anyway, after a few days away from the land of Facebook, I decided to get on and check my feed. On it was a post from my favorite radio station as a child: 106.9 The Light. In case you don’t know, 106.9 is a Contemporary Christian radio station. Yes, I’m Christian, Catholic in fact, and growing up I loved listening to this station. Naturally, I am friends with the station on Facebook. Why not? So, when I opened my feed this morning there was a post from them describing how all Christian should stand together with Chick-fil-a against gay marriage. My heart sunk. 

I guess I should have saw it coming. I mean, they are a Christian radio station, but it still bothers me. We should be about love, not hate, not discrimination. 

Here’s what I left on their wall:”I’m sorry, but I completely disagree with 106.9 stance on this, and I apologize in advance for everyone who gets angry over this comment. 

Jesus was a proponent of love, not hatred. By denying rights to all citizens in the US, we are actively going against what Jesus wanted. He never said, “love thy neighbor, unless they are gay.” He said: “love they neighbor as thyself”. It doesn’t matter who your neighbor is or what they believe. By denying the simple right to marry for love we are hurting and discriminating against other humans. Our persecution of the gay community is just as bad as the persecution of the African American community. The gay community isn’t asking for something outlandish, just to be treated with respect, which is something every human deserves. You wouldn’t like it if America decided that you weren’t allowed to marry because you are, let’s say for example, below the poverty line. How is that fair? I know that it says in the Old Testament to “not lie with another man” because “it is against God’s will” but the Old Testament was a set of rules and stories to help govern a people in a different time over a millennium ago. America is so hard headed that it won’t listen when it’s own people are crying. How does that make us any better than the Pharaoh oppressing the Jews so many years ago? The difference is, now, there is no Moses to help lead them out of persecution. After Jesus died and was raised, God left the world for us to love, and we can’t even do that right. When you turn on the news, what do you see? Hatred, anger, violence. All people want is love and to be accepted for who they are. 

Also, you can be Christian and a liberal. I am. Jesus also said in the New Testament, to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s”. God has no care for our earthly problems. Money doesn’t mean anything to Him. Granting rights to people to be who they are doesn’t really have anything to do with politics either if you think about it. Not everyone believes in God and so for us to force our beliefs on another through laws is called persecution. Politics and religion should always be kept separate. Jesus even said that. The right way to rule a country doesn’t come by forcing religion on the people who inhabit it, especially such a melting pot like America. What if America was an atheist country and Christians weren’t allowed to celebrate Christmas? What if we were banned from going to church? By denying the right to marry to the gay community, we are in effect doing the same thing. I am a teacher, and so I see students who are afraid to go to school because they are gay or lesbian. They are afraid to ask questions and seek safe solutions because they are questioning their sexuality. And so, they kill themselves, or others, or sink into depression, or drop out of school. Another teacher told me in a conference (we were addressing the issue of bullying) about a student (no names were given) who was so harassed because of his sexuality that he took razors to the bottom of his feet everyday to punish himself for his sexuality. Mind you, this bullying took place at a Christian school. Tell me how that’s Christian? Tell me how denying others simple rights is wrong? How does that go against God’s love? He loves us so much. Why can’t we love like He did? God doesn’t selectively choose who He is going to love. He created all of us, gay, straight, man, woman, you name it. I don’t think God is going to deny a gay man who loves Him and follows His word. 

Also, “One Nation Under God” was put into the Constitution so that the Constitution would be voted on and get approved. None of the Founding Fathers were Christian. They were Deists, but they wanted people to vote for the Constitution, so they put that in there. America, from the very beginning, has always been a country that has been founded on the will of the people. Politicians will say and do anything to get the vote. It’s been that way since the beginning, and is still that way today. The Founding Fathers were afraid of Christianity because of their experiences in England. Christianity is a powerful force and because of that, millions of people had to move to a new land because England’s “Christianity” didn’t accept their version of “Christianity”.

We, as Christians, as Americans, need to catch up with the world and start looking at love, not hatred.

By the way, if this is what it means to be Christian: to only love those who follow The Bible to a tee, to hurt those who want the same rights as us, to turn our back on our fellow humans, then what does it mean to be a Pharisee? Aren’t Christians today becoming like the Pharisee’s from Jesus’s time? “I will accept you, but only if you follow my rules. Go ahead, denounce who you are, ignore your feelings for the rest of your life, but hey, at least you’ll be accepted.” Jesus accepted everyone who was willing to come to Him. Even those who the Pharisee’s rejected because they did not follow Jewish law. Let’s be real Christians, not Pharisees.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I have no right to be upset about this, but I can’t stand those who hate. 

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Musings: On Connections

This is a short non-fiction essay on connections in today’s world. Enjoy! 

     Today, everyone is connected, whether you want to be or not. It takes less than a day to travel to the other side of the world. Commerce ties us together, being something that most everyone has access to. If you don’t have a car, hop on a bus or catch the subway. And, if you don’t like to travel, you can always discover the world through the internet, which is the less costly but also less fun version of connecting with others. Yet, are we really connected or pretending to be? More and more I hear cries for love, comfort, peace, connection. More and more I hear cries for that touch of humanity that we all crave. Some of us are lucky to have this glimpse of humanity, this gentle touch and breath from those that we cherish and pray cherish us in return. Some of us are not so lucky. Some of us walk the streets begging for nourishment of any kind, holding out our hands, hoping that someone will reach out and grab them saying that they are there for us, that they understand, that they will be our connection with life. 

    Most of our problems today started with connections, but of the wrong sort. A long time ago, in a history class that you may remember, there were people who sought to find others on this planet. This was when it took a day to get to your neighbors house, when travel was done of the back of an animal if you were lucky, or foot if you weren’t. These people didn’t set out to explore the world to find friends. They set out on these long journeys to find profit; to sell their merchandise to others, to capture land and steal crops, to rape and pillage, to make money from what others had that they didn’t. These were the connections that our world started out with. Even those fleeing from their homes to find a new land, a safe place to live, only sought for themselves, never for another. We humans are selfish creatures and our connections are only for profit, at least this is what history tells us. 

     Yet isn’t it so today? What do you see when you watch the news and go to work? Do you see people attempting to make connections today for the benefit of another? Is that why there is so much killing and pain? Is that why there are eating disorders, suicide, bombings? No. It is the parasitic connections and/or lack of fulfilling connections that causes the world such misery. People fight to live. Corporations fight for the biggest profit. Countries fight for land and resources. And all the while, the land is dying underneath our greedy hands, crying for mercy, begging for water and not blood to cover the ground, and we ignore it. We are too wrapped up in our own little game of War to care about another human being. You know what they say, “All is fair in love and war”. I see the war, now, where is the love? 

     I honestly believe that that is the problem of today’s world. It isn’t so much that we are connected. It is that we are connected for the wrong reasons. We are connected for our own selfish gain. Why can we not be connected for love? Would it be so hard to help one person in need? Even if all you do is hug a crying mother losing her child to cancer, you have done something. You have made a connection that will stand up against all of the war and pain that is in this world. One hug, one heart, one hope, one love.

One love. 

Do you hear me? One love. 

Think what would happen if all of those poisoned connections around the world turned in to connections of love, all of the profit and selfishness changed in to joining hearts and spreading compassion. What if a company expanded to offer its services and products to a place in need instead of to make a profit? What if every church accepted every person for who they were instead of what they’ve done? What if we saw people for people instead of cattle to make money? We would save lives. If everyone knew they were loved, they wouldn’t be so afraid. Maybe we could seek help for our problems that we face, not be terrified to ask because we can’t afford to pay the price that help has so often cost. Maybe you wouldn’t want to kill yourself. Maybe you wouldn’t think you were ugly. Maybe you wouldn’t have to worry about having anything to eat or drink. Maybe you wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to afford medicine. Maybe you could love too. Maybe we could all love. And I’m not talking about spiritual love. It doesn’t matter what religion you are or even if you have one, the deity(ies) of your religion can only do so much for you. Every religion preaches of loving one another and accepting people for who they are. It is up to us. We are here, on this earth, right now. It is our task to love one another. It is our task to make those connections of love, to grab the hands of those who reach out to us and say, “I understand. I will be your connection to love”.

Little Red Sacrifice

The lazy sun stroked my back. It felt good to relax on such a beautiful day. The air was calm and cool and yet the sun made me feel warm. I stood up and stretched my legs on the forest floor, allowing the warmth of my blood to return to all of my limbs. I started off with no real destination in mind.

                The sun peeked through the cracks in the leaves and the wind spread whispers through the trees touches. If I listened carefully, I could almost make out the secrets the wind possessed. Birds flew on its gentle breath and landed in their homes high above me. On the floor of the forest, creatures scampered about, finding food and enjoying the calm of the day, much like I was.

                My wanderings took me to the edge of the forest. I stopped just short of the final line of trees and looked down in the valley and fields. A small village lay cradled in the arms of the valley, hidden by mountains on either side. That didn’t make it safe though. I watched as a flock of birds flew over the rolling green grass. I envied them. They were free to go and live their lives, free to leave the prison that I was forever bound to.

                I heard the whistle, a high shriek that soared over the trees and pierced my ears. They immediately flattened to the unwelcome noise. I knew what it meant, and, like the bound slave I was, I was forced to answer the call. I bounded through the forest, eager to reach my destination, knowing what punishment awaited me if I was late.

                The house appeared quickly, and I skirted to stop in front of the stone pathway that led to the red front door. The house was small in size, with a little garden of herbs and flowers right below the two windows. Butterflies landed on the open blooms, seemingly unaware of whose plants they drained nectar from. A thatched wooden roof sat atop the log cabin house and it held up a chimney that on cold winter nights could be seen putting out puffs of smoke. I pushed open the white picket fence and crept down the stone path to the bottom of the stairs and waited.

                “On time today are we?” She stepped out from the door and into the sun. She was wearing a white cotton nightgown adorned with faded flowers from years of wear. Grey wisps of hair peeked out from underneath her granny cap. Wrinkles covered every part of her body, making her small frame and age seem even weaker. Yet underneath the bags of skin, there were sharp blue eyes that saw everything.

                “I have another job for you, and don’t worry, you’ll like this one,” she laughed, a high shrill noise that cut deep into my soul. She walked around me and scratched my head, digging her claw like fingers into my matted gray fur. “My dear, my dear, it’s that time of the year again. Bring me back my sacrifice or,” she lifted my chin with her finger so our eyes would meet, “the consequences will be severe. Do we have an understanding?”

                I closed my eyes and nodded my head in agreement.

                “Good. Now go and bring it to me. The ritual must be done tonight.” She scratched my head once more and went back into the house, no doubt to prepare for the upcoming night.

                I sprinted off in to the forest, detesting myself for the job I had to commit, knowing that I had no choice. My job was to make sure that the sacrifice went to the house, to keep him/her safe until the witch could do away with him/her. That was how it was. Once a year, the witch needed blood to rejuvenate herself. She swore it kept her in good condition. “Blood is the elixir of life,” she once told me.

                Every year, the small nameless village that dwelled in the valley would send a victim carrying cakes to the old hag. And, every year, the witch ate the cake and the poor soul who brought it. It was a terrible thing to see and hear, yet no matter how far I drove myself away from that little house, I could always hear the victim’s terrified screams as she murdered them and ate their flesh.

As I was running, I caught sight of the red hood and cloak that marked all of the sacrifices. I slowed down and knelt behind some bushes to see who the village had chosen.

She was a small girl, no more than eight, with a tiny frame and curly brown hair that was pushed back in the red hood of the cloak. She had dazzling blue eyes and a gentle smile that reeked of youth and innocence. The young girl was carrying the straw basket, and I knew that I had not made a mistake. She was the one.

I stayed hunched to the ground and followed her down the path, watching as she stopped to smell the flowers or wave at the birds. My heart panged with pity. She was a beautiful child and reminded me of the daughter I once had, long ago, before the witch came to village and destroyed my life. The memories flooded back when I looked at the young girl. I closed my eyes and remembered my wife in the village far below, singing as she made bread, teaching our young daughter how to knead. It was that day that the witch came, demanding blood for her ritual, taking my daughter and wife for her own insatiable appetite. I begged for her not to take them, to take my life instead, but she only laughed and devoured them, tearing them apart in small pieces, making them suffer. I tried to kill her that night, but she caught me and turned me into this creature, loyal only to her. My punishment for my revenge was to serve her for eternity.

Anger swelled inside of me as I watched the small child. She didn’t deserve to die, and it was at that moment that I realized what I had to do.

I walked out in front of her and she stopped short, trying to decide whether or not I was going to eat her. She must have decided that I wasn’t going to kill her because she said, “Good afternoon Mr. Wolf.”

“Good afternoon child. Where are you going today?”    

“To grandmother’s house. She is very sick, so I am bringing her cakes to make her feel better.”

“That is very kind of you, but you know, if you stay on this path it will take you all day to get to your grandmother’s. Why don’t you try this one?” I pointed with my muzzle to another path next to me.

“Ok,” she said and started down the path.

I sprinted down the one that the girl had strayed from. I had purposely told the child to go down the longer path so I could beat her to the house.

When I arrived at the house I knocked softly on the door, like a child.

“Who is it?” I heard the witch answer kindly.

“It is I, your granddaughter,” I said, mocking the child’s high pitched voice as best as I could. “I have brought you some cakes to make you feel better.”

“Come in dear.”

I knew the scene well, and pushed the door open with my muzzle. She was lying on her bed in the back, covers drawn tightly around her, her cap resting on the bedpost. She saw me and gasped.

“Where is the child?” she hissed.

I didn’t answer. Instead, I lunged at her. My claws pinned her to the bed and I devoured her whole. I felt no remorse for what I had done. I was about to leave when I heard the young girl’s singing. I scrambled under the covers, hoping not to be seen.

“Grandmother,” I heard her say at the open door. “I have brought you cake to make you feel better.” She walked in. “Grandmother?”

The covers couldn’t hide my bulk, and I felt her put a small hand on my body. I snaked my head out from under the covers and the granny cap slipped over my head.

“Grandmother I have brought you the cakes to make you feel better,” she smiled sweetly at me, obviously proud of her accomplishment. “Grandmother,” there was curiosity in her voice, “what big ears you have!”

I racked my brain for a response, trying to play off as the sweet grandmother she thought I was. “The better to hear you with my dear,” I croaked.

“Grandmother what big eyes you have!”

“The better to see you with my dear.”

“Grandmother what big teeth you have!”

I was at a loss. I wanted to get her away from this house and back to the safety of the village. I made a snap decision.

“The better to eat you with my dear!” I screamed and jumped out from under the covers. I thought this would scare her away, make her run back to where she came from, but instead she stood there screaming, terror flashing across her face. I sighed and scooped her up in my mouth. She was resting in the pocket of my cheek.  I knew I could take her far away from here, where she would never have to worry about witches or woods. I headed for the front door when a man showed up.

I had seen him before. He lived on the outskirts of forest, and was a kind enough man. He was a huntsman, with broad, strong shoulders and a bulky, muscular build. The man had black curly hair and a bushy black mustache. He was carrying an axe.

I could only guess that it was the girl’s screams that brought him here. He must have been passing through the woods and heard her. There was anger in his eyes, and I knew what he was thinking. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t want the girl to die.

I tried to charge past him, in some hopes of escaping the inevitable. The man was fast for his size and I found myself being wrestled to the ground by his strong arms. I saw him lift his heavy axe and I felt it pierce my flesh. Please let her be okay…

 

By Riza 

A book review: The Windup Girl

So, for the past few days I’ve been sick which is why I’m missing two days from my blogging life. I apologize to all of my readers out there. Sorry!!! But, because I’ve been sick, I have gotten to read some, and I just finished Paolo Bacigalupi’s book The Windup Girl. 

Let me start by saying that this is a wonderful novel. If you don’t know anything about it, it’s a sci-fi novel set in the future of our planet (which I believe may not be so distant after all). The book takes place in Thai country. The world is riddled with man-made diseases and calories become a type of currency and commodity. Yes, I’m talking food calories. The world is run on calories and labor instead of gasoline and coal. It is in this setting that Bacigalupi introduces the main characters, who end up fighting for their life in a place where food companies run the world and the city threatens to collapse in on them everyday. I would definitely recommend this novel to everyone, whether you like sci-fi or not. Bacigalupi uses this brilliant book to illustrate some keys points about humanity and the threats that our current society is placing on our own world. 

My rating: 5/5 

~~Riza~~

Secrets

Hey Bloggers! Here is a piece that I wrote. Enjoy!

~~Riza~~

The piece of paper lay on the floor, alone and abandoned. It was distorted, crumbled, and shaped in a multitude of odd angles. The outside was no longer a brilliant white, but starting to stain brown. The paper had been kicked into a corner and looked pathetic in its isolation, almost as if it were cowering. What secrets did it posses? What had made it so that it was pertinent to scorn? What did this wrinkled mess contain? Secrets of the unknown were buried in its distortion. Yet, someone felt that it needed isolation, and so it was taken from the world in which it thrived. Was its secret so dangerous that it had to be tortured and trashed? With one quick movement I picked up the maimed secret. I gently unfolded it, taking away the odd angles. The creases remained; it would never be the same. My eyes fell on its hidden knowledge. I was the new secret keeper, but I will not be kicked in a corner.

Hello Bloggers! Today I present to you a link to a wonderful song.

http://soundcloud.com/faze-exile/light

This is a song by Naked City Cinema which is an experimental band and is primarily run by one man named Faze Exile (who is a wonderful musician by the way). This song is the last track on his new album called They Like To Watch which is coming out very shortly, so if you like this track then look for the full album (when it comes out I’ll post a link).

This track features me as the guest artist. I play the flute and do some vocals. Faze provides the synthesizer part and does vocals as well. As the name implies, this track is supposed to bring light and joy at the end of an otherwise dark album. I hope that you enjoy it!

 

~~Riza~~ 

Light

Time and Love

So today’s post is a poem that I am currently working on. It’s not so great and I wasn’t going to post it, but I felt that I needed to post something today. Please feel free to leave feedback and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!!! 

~~Riza~~

Time and Love

My heart beats 
in time with yours, 
a steady rhythm, 
my metronome in life, 
beat–
beat–
beat–

A waltz 
with simple steps,
whirling colors as 
our feet meet the air,
step–
step–
step–

Heat and a raging fire
skin touching silk, 
my heart and yours, 
my waltz and yours, 
love–
love–
love–

By Riza