Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Other Family

It wasn’t that long ago that I became a Vodou priest. Not so many years before that I joined a [Vodou] House in New Orleans. I have always been a spiritual person, but I haven’t always been a religious one.

Your own personal relationship to your mystical side is spirituality, whether that includes God, Spirit, the spirits, just plain nature or something else. You don’t need religion to be spiritual. Anyone can do it. For years I had spirituality without religion. Then I initiated into a Himalayan Vedic tradition, some might call it Hindu, others would object to that (great theological and philosophical debates have come out of those traditions trying to define religion). Still I wouldn’t say I was religious. To be religious is to have two things: common belief (you could call this dogma) and community.

When I joined my House I took these on: we had common belief in Vodou and our community was a family. Becoming a priest strengthened that bond; I felt closer to my family. I had taken another initiation, passed another cross-road.

The House is there to make it happen, experience it with you and bear witness. You are all much closer on the other side: transformed. It’s powerful, difficult, lonely and touching. The Lwa is at work providing a spiritually powerful transformation.

This I knew; this I had done. Then suddenly it was different.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Americans, Religion, My Brother, and Me

By Jen Foley. This is a guest post from a good friend of mine. It originally appeared on Facebook and is reprinted here with permission.

I guess I need to put a little background down as full disclosure: my baby brother is gay (I never suspected it growing up because I never thought about who my brother would love or find attractive.  Eww.  Gross. That's my BROTHER.) . My first experience in religion and spirituality was at our Episcopalian church (I've had the opportunity to explore both in many different places since then. I believe.).  And I despise confrontation (except with family - sorry, family).

There is a lot of painful dialogue going on in this country, and on Facebook, right now.  And name calling. I cannot understand how friends can be so hurtful to one another.  Perhaps my words forward will hurt some of my friends, but that is not my intent.  I only hope to explain why I get so emotional about this. Remember, I HATE confrontation, but sitting silently just makes me a coward.  I admire too many people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to remain so. Anyway.  I'm breaking my rule.  I'm saying something political before this November's election is done.  If you want to discuss this with me - that's fantastic.  But if you become cruel, abusive, and will not civilly listen to another person's point of view, I will have to stop the discussion.