Thursday, February 17, 2011

Secular Sacred Places

NPR did a story on Secular Sacred Spaces way back in August and I've thought about that piece quite often since then. Mostly they refer to places like Ground Zero, Gettysburg, or Anne Frank's house that feel special, sacrosanct, and somehow different from other spaces.

The story made me think about personal "sacred" spaces. For instance, when I was a kid, my family was the first one to build in a wooded cul-de-sac. It was just our home and one or two others for many years and I loved roaming the woods and climbing trees and getting muddy in the streams. And I was crushed when a new home was finally built on my favorite spot. The one with the best climbing tree and a rock covered in moss and a tiny patch of sunflowers. That was my childhood sacred space.

Today, there are little corners of the Los Angeles Zoo that are special to me. When the partner and I were broke and unemployed, we still kept our membership to the zoo and went about once a week. It made us feel like we had something when we financially had very little at all. Now, this year, we're getting married there... because the Zoo feels more sacred to us than any house of worship.

Libraries and buildings with beautiful architecture have this feeling for me, too. Libraries are one of my favorite spots to be contemplative and lose myself in rows of books. A friend and I recently visited the L.A. Central Library downtown and it is fabulously beautiful. Just check out this rotunda and chandelier.

You can keep your god... I worship knowledge and literature and art. I could hang out here all day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GD IS LV... A powerful message for us all.

I saw this lovely license plate as GOP's other half and I were driving around town. Forgive the bad image-- you try taking a photo in a moving car at night!

I don't get this kind of proclamation via license plate. God is Love. Wow. Original and clever. Good for you. I hope this driver is some kind of minister, otherwise, is this really the focus of their life? Is this the total summation of their philosophy? 

"God is Love" doesn't make any sense, either. I doubt they're some kind of "spiritual" type person who thinks that Love is God... meaning that love triumphs all evil and that the presence of love and the capacity to love is the closest to godliness that any of us can get. That sort of philosophy I can get on board with. When someone is shocked by my atheism, gasps, and asks, "But what do you BELIEVE in??" I can usually at least placate them by saying that I believe in love.

But I don't think that was the message this SUV driving do-gooder was going after. I'm sure they were trying to tell us that God is all-loving. That he loves unconditionally. Well, no. 

LOVE ME OR I SEND YOU TO HELL! WORSHIP ME ON THE SABBATH OR I SEND YOU TO HELL! In most religions, you have to at least repent at the last second or be "saved" to get into Heaven. That's not really unconditional love.

Even if you belong to a religion like Judaism that doesn't believe in Heaven or Hell... you still have to admit that isn't a very loving god. The Old Testament god is certainly not a loving god, but a vengeful, spiteful, wrath and fury sort of god. Let's not forget my favorite Hollywood temple...

So.... I'm still confused. Who is this god that's all love? Because I have yet to see evidence for it.

WAIT! Unless I'm interpreting this all wrong. Could that license plate actually mean:

God Damn IS L'Heart

Of course! This person isn't religious! They're just emo and have been tortured by love! I totally get it now! Are there some interpretations that I'm missing here?