Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some things don't change

Many years ago, decades that is, I began to question some of the extraneous teachings of christianity. It seemed to me that the different denominations did not agree on all the more superfluous items. My questioning was even more firmly cemented when I took "religions of the world" and "comparative religion" classes.

My belief in God never wavered, even at my most scientific moments. God is. Nothing I have seen, felt, thought or experienced can dissuade me from such a fundamental statement. That said, I could easily agree with the message of Jesus when he taught us to love God with all our heart and with all our soul. I even felt in sync with his second golden rule to love one another. I don't know if Jesus ever said that in such a clear and succinct manner ascribed to him in the bible. It doesn't matter to me. Those thoughts ring true with me and I recognize them as fundamental truths.

It the rest of the stuff I find everyone making up as they go along. For instance, some believe "salvation" is through faith alone. Others believe it is based on good works. The role of saints and angels seem to have a mixed reaction as well. Even the role of women in the clergy is as varied as icons and sacraments.

About five years ago, I ran across a website that charted out how a number of christian denominations views many of these ideas. I took the time to review all of them and make a spreadsheet of it. To that, I added a column for myself and filled it in. Not too amazingly, I did not match up with any of the listed denominations.

I ran across the spreadsheet about a year ago. At that time, I added a second column. Without looking at my original column, I responded to the items in the chart. While my words changed, the underlying message was unchanged. I found my belief to have solidified.

I was grateful. My constant questioning of my faith lead me to believe that I may not have had a solid foundation. Seeing the commonality of responses over the course of years, pointed out to me that I did have a stable platform.

I found the file again today and repeated the exercise. My responses were even more clear and consistent. I can finally state with clarity that I have, despite my constant questioning and searching, a solid religious belief. I definitely do not fall within any of the traditional denominations, and I am fine with that.

What, then, did I write down? What is the dogma of my faith? Stay tuned to this spot, and I will expound on it further. In the meantime, I suggest reading the Epistles Of Doug.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Resorting to inefficiency

Sigh. I have been playing with Google Webmaster tools to improve my site's visibility. Since I did not want to use server side includes on my web server, I had to make my pages/coding less efficient in order to improve my google ranking.

I had originally created a javascript to manage my web site's menu. Using javascript, I could edit all my pages' menu by simply editing one document. Unfortunately, google does not read javascript. Consequently, google did not see any links on my pages.

sigh . . .

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fear of Failure

I tried to make sourdough bread today from a starter I have been nursing for the last couple days. Yeast bread has been tackled and overcome. Bread from a starter... not yet.

Lessons learned:
  1. Needs more flour. The dough needed a bit more flour to tighten it up a bit more. Its a feel thing, and this attempt was not dry/firm enough.
  2. Needs more warmth. In an effort to save on the heating bill, I neglected to provide the yeast with sufficient warmth to get a good rise from it. Saved money from making one's own bread is lost in the heating bill.
  3. Failures are not insurmountable. Nor are successes. There is no need to blame anyone or anything for the bread not turning out as I had hoped.
Herein lies the item worthy of ponder. The bread did not turn out as I had hoped. What am I to do when faced with "failure"? Do I question God as to why he did not answer my needs (give us this day, our daily bread)? Is not getting what I want/need sufficient cause to reject God?

You may ask, why bring God into this? It was bread making and I should take responsibility for my overly wet, under risen dough. Yet, how often have I heard others ask me why God did this or God did that, when the situation is equally mundane. Why did God allow innocent victims to be hurt or why did God have to let my (fill in the blank) die?

God didn't let these things happen any more than God let me make a loaf of bread that didn't meet my expectations. Perhaps, God did let it happen without divine intervention. What's so bad/wrong about that? God is not our step-and-fetch servant. The last time I saw a painting of God, he wasn't wearing a short black french maid's outfit with a lacy white apron.

I suppose paintings can be somewhat deceptive. Nonetheless, I could see my work today as a smashing success, if only I change my point of view as to what I wanted for an outcome. If I wanted to get a workout kneading dough, while having a good time, then what comes out of the oven is not the determination of success/failure, but rather the experience of making bread.

I made sourdough bread today.