Thursday, February 26, 2009

me, me, always me

Although I'm taking my medicines, I'm so depressed that my body aches. I've got to find comfort in little things like several cups of hot coffee during the day.

Right now, I've got no interest in working or doing some of the things that I normally enjoy doing. I just want to sleep, forget and disappear. I feel so lonely that I want to talk to someone who can cheer me up. Of course, all my friends are gone or busy and I've got no one to talk to right now.

I'm so worried about money that I can't relax. I'm waiting for my income tax refund so I can pay part of the money that I owe (bills, credit card debt, loans, etc).

This seems like textbook depression. This is also where religion and going to church help me out. It's therapeutic as it brings me momentary peace (some sort of escape from my reality).

I admit that I use religion to get that personal peace and tranquility that I constantly seek. Therefore I might not the good Christian whom I try to become and my whole effort might simply be a sham after all.

So the question remains. Am I lying to myself? Am I the liar whom everyone accuses me to be?

ashes to ashes, dust to dust

So yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day church goers get a smudge of black ashes on their foreheads. I'm still trying to understand all the reasons behind this tradition, which marks the beginning of Lent.

As I understand, the ashes are from last year's palms (Palm Sunday). Being smudged with ashes is a reminder that we were created from dirt (mud) and that we'll return to the dirt when we die. It's also seen as a reminder of the sacrament of baptism, in which we were named children of God. A third meaning is penitence for our sins.

Nonetheless last night I went to FAPC to get smudged with ashes. It was a weird and new experience for me to say the least. I had no idea what to say as the pastor put the ashes on my forehead with his right thumb. I think that he smiled at my ignorance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

a God who wants to be praised all the time

I borrowed this line from my friend Sam. Sometimes we all in one way or another outgrow the faith that we were brought up with. One day you're that little Christian boy or girl doing anything to be a perfect Christian. The next day you're almost an adult who had lost that innocence, that purity and that blind trust in humanity and/or the church that you once had. You more often see eye to eye with evil than with good. You start wondering where all that was good went to. Of course, part of you feels betrayed and the other stays vigilant to avoid being hurt or deceived again. That lack of trust pushes your religious beliefs aside as you lose confidence in the church and its people.

It's taken me over two decades to open up and try to trust again. So far, the community and clergy at FAPC have helped me regain some of that trust. It's gotten to the point where one of the pastors knows me by name and is a Facebook buddy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

relationships and religion

These are two concepts don't usually go together. Two people who love one another don't necessarily need to have the same religious beliefs.

I've been relationships where she was (or still is) a die-hard Catholic or Protestant or non-religious at all (non-practicing Christian). Although at the time I wasn't a practicing Catholic or Christian in general, there was usually some level of friction due to a religious (denominational) belief or another. The biggest question that's come up has been what church (if any) to go to or what to do on Sunday morning.

These denominational differences also cause friction with the beliefs that a child would brought up with.

My first child has been raised Catholic, not as a simple social tag as I was raised, but as a deep spiritual belief. My two youngest boys (different relationship) are being raised without real (if any) religious beliefs. I'd try to teach them my beliefs or at least give them a broad background in theology and Christology.

The concept of sex and religion is a whole different mess all together. Depending on what a church (common spiritual beliefs of a social group who gather in a building in a given geographical area) teaches its congregation, sex can be good or evil to some degree within a specific group of norms (behaviors accepted and regulated by a social group). Within these social/religious/denominational differences a couple of different religious backgrounds may enjoy sex or not, experiment sexually (being kinky or simply naughty) or be subject to other limitations in their sexual behavior. From the animal point of view, one might consider cheating or simply do it to experience what his/her religious beliefs forces him/her to comply (sin).

For example, if you're told that anal sex is the biggest taboo in your church, you might get curious and want to experience it at least once. If your partner doesn't want to experience this behavior, you might consider doing so with someone else. Whether you do comply with your curiosity and urges outside your relationship, it's a completely different issue all together (cheating, fornication, sin, etc).

Do I experiment? Of course I do. I don't see any sexual behavior as a taboo.

Do I believe that sexual experimentation is a sin? I no longer know. I honestly don't care.

Have I cheated? I had indeed.

Does it bother me that I had cheated? I no longer feel this way.

In general, I'm disconnected from these feelings. Nonetheless I want to be a good Christian.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

the two of me

As of right now, I see two different personalities living together -- that of a man eager to be good Christian and that of a hard-core addict to anything related to sex.

As a good Christian, I try to be devoted to church and community, learning about the scriptures, etc. I might be an extension from being a union activist and being part of various on-line support groups, especially if related to computers or mental diseases.

As a hard-core addict to anything related to sex, I ran an adult website several years ago and I'm still a member of various on-line adult communities. In positive note (at least to my opinion), I continue to be very open to any sexual topic and situation (no taboos).

These two sides of me might merely be my bipolar condition and the constant struggle between good and evil inside me.

merely a Christian

This morning I had planned to go to St Thomas Episcopal Church (5th Ave & 53 St, two blocks south from FAPC; at 9am. I never got there on time for service. I want to explore more of the Episcopal church than just going to All Saints (60 St & 2nd Ave). I still see it as too formal and too traditional, too close (little to no differences) to the Catholic church that has always confused me.

So far, I've felt more at home at FAPC and accepted by its members since the beginning of this journey about five months ago. I don't consider myself Presbyterian although I understand and accept much of the ideology. I'm still merely a Christian.

Monday, February 9, 2009

my sunday mornings

It's weird going out every Sunday to church regardless of the weather. In the past, I wouldn't have gone anywhere on a Sunday morning, much less if snowing or raining. Now I wouldn't miss it.

Now that I don't have a mobile phone with internet access (cutting down expenses), my commute is a little different, not too mention mundane. I can only write and save texts in my new phone (a BlackBerry 8320) while riding the bus or subway. Then to access this text, I need to mount the phone as a removable disk on another system and copy over the text (as I'm doing right now). Perhaps this last piece of information was a bit too technical (a bit too geeky).

Nonetheless I'd continue taking my early morning Sunday commute as mundane, dull or simply boring as it may be. In return, I enjoy my time at church studying and listening to the word of God (currently three hours). The drawback is being part of the church community (group of strangers) as I'm still learning how to act like most of these (sane) humans.

Without a doubt, my human interaction has always been limited and awkward due to my mental condition (for example, understanding when to thank someone out of proper social accepted customs rather than feeling it). The latter explanation doesn't mean that I don't have other deep human emotional interaction with others, in other words friends. Some of them have known me since I was a child and have accepted me as strange as I've always been. Many of my newer friends are as weird as I having gone through some of the same bad experiences as I've had.

Surprisingly enough, most of my christian friends are not church goers, just like I was. Does this last argument mean that I might be better than my friends? Of course, I'm not in any way. I'm merely looking for an excuse to bring them to FAPC or any other christian church.

As I mentioned before (, I see religion as a means of therapeutic relaxation for the mind and soul (inner peace). If a person can achieve grace and eternal salvation (heaven) through that inner peace, so be it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

medications and church

I take heavy medication every morning to start my day, one pill of this and a couple of that. Being born with bipolar disorder is like being born a demon trying to be good like Hellboy ( or Spawn ( I've learned to avoid situations that my trigger me off. I've learned to avoid my inner demons and control myself, but at times I come short. At church I feel in peace, at ease. I feel good about myself, almost safe. Ten minutes after stepping out into the real world, I can get psychotic.