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March 2011 archive

Beware the eternal deep-fryer!

Christians are fond of little bumper stickers that state “God is Love” and I believe this to be true, God actually is Love, it’s not an abstract idea, it’s literal.

But, having decided that I believe this (belief is a choice remember?), I cannot then stray off into beliefs that contradict this.

Therefore I do not believe that all the Christians (or Jews, or Muslims) will get to go to Heaven (if one even exists) at the expense of the other two and also of the Buddhists, Hindus and all the rest. If He is Love, then why would he send perfectly decent humans off to the eternal deep-fryer just because they were born over here instead of over there?

What I do believe is that legitimate spiritual growth and connection to God is available via all the great religions and many of the lesser known and, yes, downright kooky, ideas and practices that exist. Basically, to me, if it’s all about love, compassion, forgiveness, joy, peace and unity then it’s all about God. Different names and practices are just the logical extension of the human race’s former inability to travel with any great efficiency. The race as a whole is still struggling to play catch up with the rapid advance of technology, which has rendered previous limited worldviews obsolete.

So that’s what I mean by Rebel Zen – “Rebel” as in “Choose Your Own Path”, “Zen” as general stand-in for “Spirituality” with a particular emphasis on being chilled – as opposed to being all hung-up about a bunch of labels, rules and arbitrary stuff that God probably doesn’t give two hoots about…

P.S. Love is All You Need.

God Is Not Petty

I’m sorry, but you have to draw the line somewhere and frankly I just do not believe that He is going to condemn those who don’t join the Blue Team or the Red Team because He only digs the Green Team. I just don’t think He is that small minded and silly.

I don’t think he wants you to wear a particular kind of hat or go to church on a particular day of the week or call him by a certain name or even call Him a He at all – you can call Him a Her and that’s ok too.

I believe He gives us choice and I don’t think he will condemn you for making the “wrong” arbitrary choice. In fact I am unconvinced that there is any condemnation at all; fire and brimstone just reeks too badly of manipulative medieval, fundamentalist clap-trap to me.

Maybe there’s bad Karma – but who’s to say God’s dishing that out? Maybe it’s actually beyond His control?

Certainly misery, pain, fear, hate, despair and terror exist –but I suspect God – who embodies the opposite of these things – has nothing to do with this and perhaps has little or no power to stop it from happening. The Yin Yang model suggests that joy and despair, hate and love, evil and compassion are simply the opposite halves that together form the whole we’ve been lumped with.

The Spiritual Pick-N-Mix

In the old days, before our time, before mass communication and ever-increasing ubiquity of access to information, people were mostly presented with a single form of spirituality – it was the same form as everyone else in the village and we were informed that this was the only way. People could either choose to ignore it or go with it, but were told often told emphatically that they ignored or defied it at their own mortal peril.

These days we can choose. Well, we always could, and everyone has always been called to make a spiritual choice, but these days we are presented with a spiritual supermarket – a pick n’ mix of religions, philosophies and belief options. Traditional religionists probably don’t like this, but I do. I think it’s a very, very good thing.

And I believe God agrees with me.

It’s Always Been A Matter Of Choice

While my Pick n Mix idea might sound like some cutting-edge shit to say, in fact it’s nothing new. People have always been faced with spiritual choices:

  • should I go with what my village’s local church says is gospel or shall I run off and join the slightly different Church down the road?
  • Should I pay lip service to belief in order to be a functioning member of society while secretly doubting either parts of the deal or indeed, the whole job lot?
  • Shall I stand up for change and be called a dangerous heretic and/or become an agent for change?
  • Shall I just defy the crowd and state that I think it’s all a load of bollocks?

We were always faced with choices and always will be.

The thing that’s changed is that the range of options we have to pick and choose from is much larger. We can now access as much information as we could possibly ever use on all the big religions, plus all the little ones, plus all manner of non-traditional options like all the varying ideas that get lumped together under the banner of New Age beliefs.

For example I have chosen these days to incorporate the Christian teachings and models that I grew up with and Zen and Taoist flavoured New Age ideas. I did it to resolve internal conflict between my Inner Child, still in the thrall of the Church I grew up with, and my much more liberal adult leanings. I mixed the two, added mental images of Jesus and some old fashioned prayers to my meditation and general open-mindedness towards all things New Age and voila! Inner child is cool with it; inner turmoil resolved.

And yes, I believe that God is ok with that.

Meanwhile, in the Distance, Screams

I have been absorbed in my work and in my personal missions of late, so much so that I have paid only minimal attention to the news of the world, strange, tragic summer that it’s been.

Today while eating my lunch, I was reading a book, by Seth Godin, his newest one called “Poke the Box
“.

I finished it quickly, feeling quite aware that the problem the book addressed, wasn’t a problem for me. The book addresses the need for people to stand up, take a chance and start things.

I start things all the time, and if I have a problem, it’s how to finish them successfully. I am actually under a self-imposed ban from starting any new projects, to give the existing ones a fighting chance.

So, feeling a bit bored*, I flicked over on my iPhone to read the news and read something about how Libya is in a  time of revolution and hundreds if not thousands of people have died in the violence, thousands more injured.

And it struck me how we all have problems that need solving, but they’re not all the same. Some people obviously do need a book to help them gather up the nerve to start something worthwhile. Some people need to find ways to take existing career projects to the next levels.

Meanwhile some people need a chance to live in peace, free from tyranny and fear.

Some challenges are ours to solve, and are not as important as we tend to think they are. Others should not exist, because their very presence is a violation of basic human rights.

*Not Seth’s fault, it’s a fine book and he’s a brilliant author.

Bringing It All Together

Sometime ago now, I posted a free e-book to the web called Curly’s Law. Thousands of people have downloaded it, and still do, but I haven’t read it for a while.

I probably should; I suspect it’s pretty crap. I was on a bit of an “online marketing” trip in a style that I’ve since moved well away from, but that’s not the point. The point is the idea in the book, which is simply:

Do One Thing.

This is something I believe in. It’s been my mission for some time to discover exactly what that one thing is (career-wise).

I actually discovered it ages ago, but I confused myself by thinking about it too much. However, I eventually worked through it and some time ago came around to being cool with my decision. Yet I’ve never really told anyone … so here it is…

It’s not JUST music.

It’s not JUST writing.

It’s not JUST my freelance business.

It’s not just any one thing that I do.

My one thing is my personal brand: Seamus Anthony.

My mission is to build brand awareness and momentum and in the process make a sweet living doing stuff I love.

And, although there’s a LOT of work to do yet,  I’m well on the way. I don’t have a job, I am making OK money just being me doing things I like and am good at. But there’s one thing I have been trying to do which is pretty hard in a connected, Googlified world: I have been trying to keep the brand “Seamus Anthony” separate from the freelance business, mainly because to start with I just didn’t actually appreciate how cool the business is, and that I keep getting to do it instead of having to schlep off to a job I hate.

The business itself is becoming increasingly sophisticated in scope and much more in line with my actual talents, which just makes the whole idea of trying to keep the two identities separate even sillier.

So I am 99.99% certain that I am going to file the freelance business as a sub-brand under the mother-brand and bring it all together. I feel confident it’s going to work. It’s really going to add cohesion to the Story – and that’s what it’s all about in the end, Story.

Do What Scares You

Actually for some reason doing this, bringing it all under the one brand umbrella, scares me silly.

I’m going to do it anyway because, I’ve often found that if I feel frightened about an idea before starting, it ends up being a most exciting and dynamic thing to do.

P.S. that’s why I have started blogging here again too. Not the fear thing, the branding thing.