Thoughts on spirituality

Last weekend, I went with a friend for a hike in the country, partly to see the fall foliage. Although I am a die-hard city woman, it is good to go to a slower, calmer environment for a change of pace sometimes. I think it was past peak in terms of fall foliage since around a third of the trees we saw had already lost all of their leaves. The colors peak earlier in the country than in the city since it tends to be a little colder up there. However, what we were able to see was still stunning.

Also, I was fairly lazy with my hair over the weekend and decided to put it back in a bun. I usually avoid buns because my edges are thin and fragile and buns can stress them but at the time I said “eff it” and just did it. I did leave some of the front of my hair out for a bang though, so the stress on the edges would be lessened. The major pet peeve about my hair is that it doesn’t afford me the luxury of doing protective styles so that whenever the time comes that I don’t want to be bothered with it, I don’t have to be. A  lot of naturals can put a set of twists or braids in their hair for a couple of weeks and leave it alone, but I have limitations due to past abuse and the fact that my hair is very thin and fine. Not only do I have to avoid buns, I’ve stopped doing  twists and braids on my own hair as styles because they look extremely scalpy on me. My hair needs to be worn out as much as possible but it means that I have to style it often. When do a twistout or braidout set, I have to retwist or rebraid every night or the style will look fuzzy. That’s fine for the weekend, but it doesn’t look so great at the office. Pineappling (where you put your hair in one high loose ponytail before going to bed) doesn’t work on my hair. Having said all that, I have learned to accept and like my hair. I don’t wish for it to be straight. I haven’t wished for that in awhile. I don’t own a flat iron and have no plans in the future to even get one. However, this weekend was one of those times when I wished I wasn’t as limited with my natural hair. Not sure if that’s coherent or not, but that’s how I’ve been able to express what I feel.

Okay, pics. The pictures of my hair were actually taken yesterday, but I did wear it the same way over the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was in the country looking at the scenery, I felt close to God. I don’t subscribe to organized religion and I’m not religious, but I do believe that there is something out there that is beyond our ability to see, touch and hear.  I have major issues with organized religion because I feel that they stifle dissent and discourage original thought. Also, people throughout millenia have used organized religion to justify racism, sexism and homophobia (see the “mark of Cain” in Genesis 4, Sodom and Gomorrah also in Genesis and Paul’s writings on women’s roles in Ephesians). A lot of people say that the issue is not with organized religion itself, but with how people have chosen to interpret sacred texts. However, I can’t accept that rationalization in instances where a religious text clearly states actions and beliefs that are diametrically opposite of the way we live today. For example, in Leviticus 27 (I can’t remember the verse numbers offhand), it clearly states that a man was worth 50 shekels but a woman was only worth 30 shekels. For one thing, the people described in that verse were slaves and many countries have abolished that brutal form of labor at least two centuries ago. Also, women weren’t valued as much as the men were and were worth less. I can’t see how anyone can interpret that verse as saying something other than what it states in black and white. The inhumane system of slavery and the subjugation of women may have been accepted at the time the Old Testament was written but that’s not the case in the industrialized world today. Some people have a hard time taking the Bible seriously given the many contradictions in it. They are too many to put in here but a well known one is where the Old Testament states “an eye for an eye,” and Jesus in the New Testament tells his followers to “turn the other cheek.” I personally think these edicts stem from two completely different people having two different belief systems. I don’t think that the people in Jesus’ time were necessarily more “evolved,” if you will. Another issue I have with organized religion is that two of them, Islam and Christianity, are proselytizing faiths which encourage their followers to spread the gospel and entice outsiders into joining the flock. I have major issues telling people what they should or shouldn’t believe or that my faith is “better” than theirs. Every faith has their good and bad points and not one of them are better than another, but a number of religious people don’t have this mentality. Personally, I think in some ways, organized religion heightens distrust among people and encourages insularity in their rigidity and dogmatism. The more fundamentalist the sect, the more rigid and dogmatic they are.

I have heard a couple of stories on hair forums where some members gave natural women grief over their hair. Black churches in particular tend to be more conservative so it’s no surprise to me that some of them consider natural hair to be some countercultural statement that somehow threatens “traditional values.” It’s hard to see how wearing your hair the way it grows out of your scalp can threaten anything, but then, our texture was demonized for decades by the dominant society who usually determined where we lived and where we worked. Appearing “too”different could literally mean starvation. It’s no wonder the older generation found it easier to go along to get along by straightening our hair and it should be no surprise how so many of us over time have internalized these negative beliefs about our hair.  However, I find it highly hypocritical to hear that God loves you as you are in a sermon but once the service is over, some people in the congregation can tell naturals that their hair is a hot mess and needs to be fixed by slapping a relaxer. If God supposedly loves you just as you are, why wouldn’t He or She find your hair acceptable if that’s how He or She created it? That kind of cattiness speaks more about how those flapping their yaps feel about themselves and has nothing to do with the natural women themselves.

So, those are my views on organized religion. I know people who happen to be more into it than I am and I have nothing against those who are, but it’s not how I’ve chosen to conduct my life. However, I’m not an atheist, either. There are certain phenomena that Western science still can’t explain. There may be scientific explanations now as to why trees shed their leaves in the fall and for why some leaves turn yellow while others turn orange, but how did it all begin millions of years ago? What caused trees to first shed their leaves in cooler weather to begin with? What first caused some of them to turn yellow or orange? That’s not something that science has been able to explain fully. In these instances, I don’t find the typical atheist response that “we may never know,” very satisfying or comforting. The thought of a deity being responsible for that initial phenomena may sound ridiculous to some people but it’s as good an answer as any to me until Western science can explain it fully. Many religious people are taught to believe that God is only found in a house of worship at a certain hour on the same day every week. That’s so limiting to me. I also think this mentality can make people feel distant from God because He or She is only available at certain times.  I find the Spirit everywhere-in nature, in music, in writing, in art. Although the Spirit doesn’t usually have a direct hand in creating the things that people use or enjoy, I can’t help but think that He or She provided a little guidance when I see or hear something that especially moves me. I’m not sure if any of this is coherent as it’s a little hard to explain my beliefs in words. People don’t always know what to make of those who take the middle ground as I do. Either I’m a clueless idiot or a heathen. This post was way longer than I intended it to be and kudos to those who’ve managed to read the whole thing. But the last point I want to make is that I feel my beliefs are just as valid as those held by atheists or religious people and they deserve respect as much as I respect theirs.

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