Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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Faith. Hope. And love – What is religion if not providing a shelter in a storm

Seeing a man, who runs a church, deny entry to those seeking shelter is the most sacrilegious thing I can think of. A church is a place of refuge, of shelter. It’s a place to go when no where else is open or welcoming. Any excuse is not valid. “Oh we don’t have facilities capable” – you don’t have to have the necessary things, you make it work. A church is a place of God and prayers, but it is also a home for those of his children without one. You are not a true voice of God when you deny his basic principle – love thy neighbour.

It brings up the debate that is on a continuous loop in my head – what does God truly want anyway? Who is God? What about the bible?

I’ve been around, I’ve seen some things. I would tell you that 98% of the churches today (not to point fingers but a majority of the catholic churches) are created to put forth false prophets and untrue words. You can read the bible all you like, that doesn’t make you a believer. In fact, following the bible word for word would make you as unchristian as it comes. The bible is essentially a book, just like the encyclopedia it becomes outdated as time goes on. It holds no meaning for how we are to act today aside from that that is the history from which our faith came from. It is the telling of the times back many years ago. It is not comparable to today.

Why are there more gay people? Aside from the fact that it’s not as horrible to be out in today’s society – I bet God wanted more of them. He saw that they weren’t from the devil but that they were just like anyone else. They loved with all they had. They loved better than some straight people. I don’t believe he holds the same principle as written in the bible, because just as society has – God has grown. If two people get to heaven and one is a gay man who spent his life loving and caring for his partner, and the other is a preacher from a church that shunned one of God’s children for being gay, then the gay man would get into heaven and I doubt that the preacher would.

But then what God do you listen to? – which God is yours; the Catholic, the Anglican, the Lutheran? Maybe another religions God? That’s the thing – it doesn’t matter. The God you listen to and the God that is yours is the God within your soul. The God that tells you how to love his children and how to forgive them and how to lead them to him – that’s the God you listen to. That’s the God that’s real. He would not force you to hurt another or treat them with ill hands. He is not the God you have been told he is.

Yes, God used Jesus and other people to share his message, but in today’s society these people are the Average Joe. They are the milk worker on the farm, the homeless man on the street – they are not the preacher in the church. Too often now people use God for their own agenda. They preach about this and that and say the scriptures prove it to be so. It’s just not that way. The bible was a telling of those days. The God I know would be embarrassed to know this is the world he created. He would be disgusted to see people killing their own neighbours for skin colour or sexuality.

And what about the devil? Is he this big demon with red horns? No, he just doesn’t want the best for you. He wants to see you kill your neighbours and hurt those around you. The devil wants you to be so full of hate that you cannot love anymore. The devil is that part of you that holds a grudge, the part that wants to see another person fail. But everyone has a little bit of that in them, following in God’s light is to not be overpowered by hatred.

And science? That surely holds no place in religion! But it does. Jesus was sent to earth to show the way to God, but before that no one believed in him. Even as Jesus was born, people still didn’t believe. But that didn’t mean God didn’t exist. It just meant no one had “proven” it. It’s the same with science. It still exists even if we don’t have the answers yet. The two are reliant on one another. Just as we are reliant on science today, God was when creating this world and his children. God has since provided us with people who have been beyond inquisitive and smart to give us these answers – answers God may not have even held.

Jesus was sent to save those from all they were doing wrong. Who’s to say another Jesus’s hasn’t been sent to earth to make changes? Who’s to say that the storms and global warming isn’t God’s way of telling us to sort our shit out? The destruction we are seeing today is something six-year-old-me could not have ever imagined. The hatred of white people wanting to ban black people, or jews, or anyone from existing; the hatred of anyone who thinks it’s okay to beat up someone because of who they are – none of this is God’s plan. I believe God had already created another world, before this one, and it got too horrible to exist anymore and so the big bang became. He said “stuff it” and threw his work into the trash can to start again. With us. And now he’s saying the same thing. But he’s trying to tell us. What about Noah’s ark? He told the floods were coming to wipe out everything, and now the floods are coming again. Now the screwing up of the paper is happening and eventually we too will be in the trash can if we can’t sort it out.

None of this probably makes any sense to anyone else. All I know is that the God I know, the God that speaks to me, does not want me to judge. He wants me to love, He wants me to be kind, He wants me to be as welcoming to his children – all of them – as I can be. It was and is never our job to judge. We do not get to say who gets into heaven and who doesn’t – we cannot make that call. We are not the judge of God’s decision. All we have been put on earth to do is to love one another and somehow keep this world moving forward and progressing towards peace.

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We Are All Immigrants.

On the 27th of January, american president Trump made a law that refused entry to the United States from seven countries if they were not 100% american residents. The law was created as part of his attempts to stop immigrants from coming into America. It resulted in many people that had been citizens of America being denied entry back into the states.

The law was a direct attack on the Muslim faith and those that are Muslim. All seven countries have Muslim as it’s predominant religion. The idea is that stopping immigrants, specifically Muslims, will decrease the amount of terrorist attacks within the United States. What it does not take into account is that no terrorist attacks have been made by Muslim people. All seven countries that are denied entry have never killed ANY american citizens.

The idea that he can only keep certain religions out is very dictatorial. And what makes Muslim’s the target for this ban? Who got to decide that? Why not Christians? Do you know how many Christians have killed american citizens? A lot. Dylan Roof – a mass murderer and perpetrator of the Charleston shooting – was a “devout christian”. Jim David Adkisson was a christian too, he shot at innocent children. Timothy McVeigh, the notorious Oklahoma City bomber, was a christian. And yet a Muslim has never killed any american citizens…

I am devastated by the idea that the president believes he can dictate what religion is good and what religion is bad when he is denying the fact that his own religion is “worse” in terms of killings. I am devastated by the fact that many people were held up in airports for hours on end and refused entry back to the place they call home. Where their children and husband live, where their life is. My heart breaks for those that were put into that position for no reason other than pure hatred and greed of power.

But the real message of this is not my pain and anger over a certain man. It is to remind us all that we are all immigrants. We have all come and sought refuge or home in another country that was not ours. I am an immigrant. I am a European living in a Maori country. My people (Europeans) migrated to New Zealand from Europe. That makes me an immigrant in my own homeland. Humble yourself. Realise that everyone has migrated from somewhere else. We are all immigrants. It’s what makes our countries so great. It’s what allows cultures to adapt, and people to be more diverse. It’s important. Immigrants are important.

Please, it’s so important that you show love and appreciation to these people that are targeted by the new president. It’s beyond important. They have seen enough hate and felt enough pain. Show them that the world is not all bad, that there is still some good left. Don’t let hate win. Be the light in the dark. Love one another and be kind to your neighbour. It really is that simple, but we forget. We forget how easy it is to say “hey look man, I am proud you practice your religion even when you have every reason to be discouraged.” We don’t say enough the kind thoughts we think. So do it. If you think something nice, say it. Even if you think it sounds silly, or cheesy, or boring – it matters. It may be the only good thing they hear that day. Be kind and spread love not hate.

 


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What are you living for?: A look into my spiritual journey.

Since I was little, I’ve been a part of religion. I was born to a mother that took my brother and I both to church as soon as we were old enough to be quiet, or old enough to join the “sparklers” (toddlers/babies care during the sermon). Growing up around the belief that God and Jesus are there was something that I think was hard to escape – I still haven’t. Having that idea around me as a child made it stick regardless of the fact that I haven’t stepped foot in my church actively for five years.

As I’ve grown up I’ve explored my own spiritual identity by engrossing myself in others’ ideas and beliefs. To label my beliefs as christian, or Buddhist, or anything is hard and unjust to those cultures and religions/beliefs. I do know my beliefs are parts of everything. I have parts of religions and to claim I am these religions is not something I would ever do. I am not these religions just because I believe in parts of them. I don’t claim to be a religion at all. If I had to, I would claim Anglican because that is the church I grew up in, that is what I am baptized as. But when I put the notion of Christianity upon myself I feel like I have to uphold those strict beliefs.

I do believe in Jesus, and God, and the Virgin Mary, and every story within the bible. I know that it existed before. What I don’t believe is that I must live by the teachings that relate solely to the times in which they occurred. I don’t believe that God still cares if “man shall lay with man” as He did when the bible was written. I don’t believe that God cares that I love a woman as I ‘should’ love a man. I believe that in the time that God believed that. He truly did. Maybe He encountered someone that was homosexual AND happened to be a horrible person. I don’t know and quite frankly I don’t think it matters anymore. (It would be something interesting to know, is God as petty as me?) I think as time wore on God realized that people can be gay and a good person. The two share no correlation – not like He had believed before.

I also swear…a lot. I try not to swear at people because I know that while they are just words, they do carry a harmful effect to others feelings/emotions. But I don’t think God cares if I swear to make a joke funnier. I don’t think God cares that I swear because I’m frustrated and all other words I know don’t express this frustration. God doesn’t care for these things. He cares if I swear with the intent purpose to belittle another. He doesn’t care if I swear so long as my words hold no negative affect to another life.

I don’t believe in Christianity. I don’t believe God does either. I believe He is watching these “Christians” turn up to church by the number and demean everything He worked for. He wanted the Children to follow His way because He knew they would lose sight of what it was that was important – love to another. If I could recreate the bible I would. The only verse it would contain is Matthew 7.12

“In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the prophets.”

I believe that regardless of if you smoke, drink, do drugs, have sex with the same gender, don’t have sex, have orgies (please use protection…), I believe that it doesn’t falter the love God has for us. We must be good people, and love one another and that is ultimately what will matter when we are called home.

That is my belief.

But in saying this, I also believe that to have only one God is something unfathomable. My belief is we have many God’s. Allah, Buddha, Tetragrammaton (Jewish god), and many many more. I don’t think that My God is solely here for everyone. Yes He could – and does – love all the Children (even those that do not claim Him), but my ultimate belief is there is something greater than all our God’s. It may not even be a God, but a power, a space, a feeling. I don’t know. But I believe this creator knew that the Children would not all identify with one God. That these Children would need guidance, but may not find it with the Christian God. These Children would need a home, a father, a mother, a leader, or a power to believe in. So this creator created many religions. Created many something’s that the Children can believe in.

My overall belief is that we are here to better this world for the Children already on it, and the Children that will come. I don’t care if you are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islam, Sikh, etc. I doubt the creator above that decides our eternal fate cares either. All that matters is that the world is a better place and we are good, and kind. That we love one another whether they believe in our God, in their own God, or no God. We are here to love, to create a world worth protecting. We are here to accept and not to judge. We were never put here to create havoc and pain. I don’t believe that any God/power/etc would have wanted that.