How to Smoke Weed

Weed is fun.  If more people smoked it, there’d be less hate and violence in the world.  I started smoking as an adult, which I’m happy about.  Here’s some things I’ve learned in my years as an intelligent and intentional pothead.
  • If it’s your first time, only smoke weed.  Stay away from the booze.  I made the mistake of taking my first tokes while drunk and while the experience was awesome and interesting, I had almost no control over my body and passed out after half an hour.
  • Be mindful.  Marijuana shows you a different perspective of existence.  Most people just toke up and veg out.  I think that’s a waste of good weed.  Especially if it’s your first time.  The first time is a unique experience.  No matter how much you smoke, you’ll never get the first time again.  So pay attention.  Notice the things you look at.  Notice the sounds, the smells and the feelings.  What kinds of thoughts are you having?  Write them down.  This is a chance to look at the universe from a different point of view.  Don’t waste it.
  • Stay positive.  Stay relaxed.
  • Beware of green outs.  A green out is when you’ve had too much weed and things go from fun to fucked.  You might feel like puking or you might start having paranoid thoughts.  It’s always better to have a little too little than too much.  You can always smoke more later.
  • If you do have a green out or start having negative thoughts, grab on to something positive.  Remember that you’re safe.  That no one’s ever died of weed.  Like, ever.  The bad feelings will pass and you’ll feel good in about an hour.
  • Do something.  Don’t smoke just for the sake of smoking.  Smoke in order to make the movie better.  Or the food.  Or the sex.  Or the discussions.  Or the fellowship.  Or the book.  Or the game.  Or the comedy show.  Or the sex.  Or the music.  Or the sex.  Or the writing.  Or the sex.
  • Learn how to roll a joint.  There’s something awesome about slowly preparing for a smoke session.
  • Remember there are no levels.  People talk as if weed is a low-level drug that prepares you for the hard stuff like heroin.  That’s bull.  Weed is something.  Heroin is something else.  Weed is fun, useful and can give you awesome insights.  Heroin will fuck you over.
  • Smoke with friends.  And then talk to each other.  Or play a game.  But don’t just veg out.  Waste of good weed.

What advice and insights do you have about smoking week?

Coming out of the Closet

One day I’m going to have to let everyone know I’m not a Christian anymore.  it’s not healthy to go through life lying to people who care.  So I drafted a letter than might show up on my real blog someday.  I’ll post it here first, maybe some of you have some feedback or will at least find it interesting:

Journey

For most of my life I have been keenly interested in matters of the spirit.  I’ve often told people that I can understand someone not believing in God, but I can’t understand someone who doesn’t care.  I was raised evangelical, strayed from it for a brief time, then returned with a passion.  I went to an evangelical Bible College—which I still consider one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I was a preacher.  I was a street evangelist.  I was a missionary to Pakistan.  I made a bit of a name for myself in my own little circles.

Today, I am not a Christian.

I do not believe in heaven or hell.  I do not believe in a cosmic lawgiver who sends people to either one.  I do not believe the Bible is a revelation from God any more than any other book is.

I do not believe in a personal God.

I don’t know if this will come as a shock or not.  A year or two ago many of my friends started emailing me with concerns about some of the things I had been saying online.  I had been encouraging Christians to social action and quoting Christian leaders who, I didn’t realize at first, were the wrong kind of Christian leaders.  I was still an evangelical back then.

The online push back was so strong that I decided it was best to keep my journey to myself.  So while I stopped trying to stir things up on Facebook, I still searched and grew, and eventually I found myself in a place where I had to admit there was nothing left to allow to keep the name Christian.  So while this all may seem sudden, it’s really not.  I haven’t been a Christian for a long time.

Most of my friends will be concerned about this.  Five years ago I would have been more than concerned if any of my friends posted something like this.  And I’m not going to try to talk you out of your concern.  Of course you would be concerned.  From an evangelical point of view, I am straying from the right path.  From that point of view I am denying the Lord who bought be and am now either a backsliding Christian or someone who was never truly part of the faith to begin with, depending on how you view the Gospel.

But I do want to give out something as a reassurance.  And this is not an attack.  It’s just my story.

I’m happy.  All the time.  Oh God, I’m so incredibly happy.  I would describe it as having rivers of living water flowing from within me.  Ever since I started stepping away.

Since leaving Christianity my heart has exploded with free, unconditional love to everyone I met.  I rejoice during good times and bad.  I have the thing that I used to tell others they would get if they became Christian.  That thing I had preached about, but never experienced myself.  That thing I had worked so hard and prayed so long and abided in Christ so much for.  So please don’t think I’m in a difficult crisis or I’m trying to ‘figure things out.’  I love the road I’m on.

I know I’ll get lots of responses from this.  And I won’t try to convince anyone not to question me.  I’d love dialogue, in fact.  I just ask that you all remember where I have come from.  I have watched others slip away from the faith and I remember what I used to say about them.  The Bible verse I used to quote about them.  Lean not on your own understanding.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’  And I know how horrible it sounds to hear me say that I have chosen to rely on myself rather than God.  I understand that point of view completely because it was my point of view.  And I held more passionately than most.

I hope that you can understand me, too.  And if you cannot, please drop me a line.  I still hold to what I used to say: I can understand a person who believes or doesn’t believe in a God.  But I can’t understand someone who doesn’t care.  I still care about spiritual things more than I care about anything else.  That part of me will probably never change.  I look forward to a lot of great conversations about this.

To everyone who is working through doubt, I have a few things to say, too.

First, don’t worry.  Truth is more important than whatever social pressures you have.  Be free to trust your reason and your spirit.  Be wary of anyone who tells you not to trust your reason.  Remember, if the things you were taught are true, there will be good reasons to believe them.  If there are no good reasons to believe in a thing, you can either use some arbitrary faith to believe it anyway, or you can let it go and search.

Second, don’t judge people who push back against you.  It’s not persecution to face opposition.  Hopefully anyone who is trying to keep you on the orthodox path is doing it because they care about you.  Don’t fight them.  Don’t hate them.  But don’t submit to them if your conscience and reason won’t let you.

Third, remember the world is huge.  The things you grew up with are not the only ideas out there.  The universe is so huge and complex that there are countless metaphor to describe it.  Yours isn’t that special, really.  Oh, they’re all special.  They all have wonderful ideas.  The self-giving sacrifice and undeserved grace in Christianity.  The complex and infinite godhead of Hinduism.  The subtle mind-science of Buddhism.  They are all unique.  They all have value. Staying in the one you were raised is not a bad thing.  Neither is leaving it.  Whatever serves your mind and soul best.

Fourth, remember it’s all a journey.  I’m in a certain place right now—a place I can’t even define because by the time I get the guts to post this, I may be somewhere else.  Your mind will change as you grow.  If it doesn’t, you should worry.  Because there is something terrifyingly and blindly arrogant about being young and already understanding the cosmos.

Fifth, you are not a coward.  I was reading a book by a famous evangelical pastor about issues of hell and the emergent church.  He suggested that Christians who believe there is no hell are cowards and spineless (his words).  Frankly, that’s a dishonest attempt to scare people into orthodoxy.  There is nothing cowardly about leaving the system you were raised in.  It’s terrifying.  I should now.  It took me six months to post this stupid letter.

Well, that’s it.  That’s what I wanted to say—what I’ve wanted to say for a long time.  I desperately hope I don’t lose friends over it, and deep down I’m confident that the true friendships I’ve made with so many awesome evangelicals will hold without being shaken.  Because real love and friendship is stronger than confessions.

I look forward to hearing from you.

The Bible and I

I have a long and very complex relationship with the Bible.  I was raised on it.  I’ve read it through more than once.  It was the code I had once promised to live by.

The problem is, the Bible never presents itself as a code.  It never presents itself as a sacred infallible text.  It’s just a book, like the Qur’an, Pride and Prejudice and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Some of the stuff in the Bible is awesome.  Like, mind-blowingly awesome.  The Sermon on the Mount.  Many parts of the Prophets.  The Gospels.  But it’s not perfect.  There are factual and ethical errors strewn about it.  It claims the earth is 6,000 years old.  And that’s just stupid.  It commands parents to stone disobedient children.  And that’s just fucked up.  It records God’s command to commit genocide, rape and infanticide right alongside his commands to love and forgive.

When we suggest that the Bible is infallible, we force ourselves into a dangerous corner and end up submitting even to its darkest and most hateful sides.  Sides that suggest there is blessing for murdering babies of a certain ethnicity (Psalm 137:8-9)

Useful book.  But not something to build your life on.

How to Preach When you Don’t Believe

I was behind a pulpit last Sunday.  I’ll be behind it again this Sunday coming. I’m a preacher in fundamentalist evangelical churches. And I don’t believe.

I won’t be doing it forever.  Now that I view myself as officially gone, I’ll probably just fulfill my bookings and not accept any more.  I’ll miss it, kinda.  Public speaking is just about the funnest thing in the universe, next to sex.

Hmm, I wonder if there’s a place I can have sex while speaking in public…

So how do I open up the Bible, much of which I don’t think is true or good, and preach about it without hurting my conscience?

Stick to the good stuff, that’s how.

I preach from the gospels when I can.  Even an atheist can find wonderful things to talk about with texts like “Turn the other cheek” and “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.”  The difficulty comes when the church you’re booked at asks you to preach on something else, like end times prophecies, or the book of Hebrews or some inane bit of the Mosaic law that only twelve people on the planet care about.

As screwed up as much of the Bible is, there is still awesome stuff in there.  Some people get confused when I only preach on the awesome parts.  “What about homosexuality?” they ask me.  “What about abortion or the liberal movement or creationism or the rapture?”

And as they ask me this, all I hear is “What about farknoggles?  What about boogeymen and invisible unicorns and important things like that?”

Friends, if you are religious, I don’t think you’re stupid.  Really, I don’t.  I know some very intelligent evangelicals.  And the intelligent ones don’t give a flying fuck about the rapture or creationism.  They follow Jesus’s real fundamentals: love, compassion, peace and understanding.

And since I believe in those things, I don’t feel guilty about preaching in fundamentalist churches.

The World is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon — William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

1806.

Top Ten Reasons Why my Wife is More Worthy of Worship than Mark Driscoll’s God

So, I might have called Mark Driscoll an asshat in my last post.

My wife pulled me aside this morning to ask about that.  You see, I’ve always been irate when people throw around derogatory words for folks who disagree with them.  I didn’t like hearing it at the time, but I think she was right when she suggested I was out of line.

This blog is a place for me to be honest, yes.  But not careless.  I don’t really think Mark Driscoll is an asshat.  I’m sure any hats he owns are very nice and not ass-like at all.  But I do think the picture of God he worships is fucked-up.

When I was a Christian, I had this idea that humans had a deep, primal urge to worship.  Sometimes, I still think we do.  I used to worship Mark Driscoll’s hip, calvinist God.  Now, I think I’d much rather worship my wife.

Top Ten Reasons why my wife is more worthy of worship than Mark Driscoll’s God:

  1.  Mark Driscoll’s God (let’s call him Theos) brings most people into existence for the sole purpose of inflicting never-ending misery on them in hell.  And then he has the gall to turn around and say it’s their own fault for being in the wrong religion.  My wife, on the other hand, brings her children into existence for the sole purpose of lavishing every good thing on them that she can muster.
  2. Theos demands that his people serve him fully and sacrificially, threatening punishment for failure.  My wife would rather serve people, sharing whatever blessings she has with everyone freely.
  3. Theos rejects you when your opinions about him are out of line with how he’d like you to think about him.  My wife doesn’t care what you think of her, she loves anyway.
  4. Theos is a big, fear-mongering authoritarian father-figure.  My wife is a soft, gentle mother.  A sustainer and a creator, rather than a punisher or authority.
  5. Theos demands obedience before he offers life.  My wife gives life and nurturing aid regardless of how her children act.
  6. Theos demands that you worship and admire him.  My wife just wants to love, and whatever happens after that is alright with her.
  7. Theos gazes deep into my every action, calling all my struggles and good attempts filthy rags and useless works.  My wife accepts every weak and fumbling offering of love I give her and even transforms them into greater things through her own love.
  8. Theos promised that if I served him, he’d grant me ravishing joy.  He lied.  My wife made no promises.  But she ravishes me daily, without asking for a thing in return.
  9. Theos encourages me to fight against the reprobates he created, using every bit of religious malice I can muster.  My wife gently asks me if I was right to call a cruel man an asshat.
  10. Theos claims I cannot see his face and live (Ex. 33:20).  My wife’s face and body and words and spirit give life.

If Theos were a real person, we’d hate him.  Hell, we’d probably throw him in prison.  My new religion is love.  And my wife is love’s Devi.  The mother-wife goddess, restored from mankind’s oldest religions, called back from a time when we recognized the miracle of birth and nourishment.

All praise to the Devi.  May her love cover the earth as the waters fill the sea.