Authentic Movement: A Lesson in Following my Heart

This past weekend, I went to my first herbal conference, though hopefully not my last because it was a ton of fun. While I was there I decided to attend a class about working with plant allies. I’d developed an unusual bond with catnip over the last year, and I wanted to see if I could find a way to understand what made it particularly special to me.

I didn’t pay attention to the class title until I got there: “Authentic movement.”

For those who are equally unfamiliar with this type of movement, the best way I can describe it is movement meditation that involves going into a trance-like state in order to listen to your body’s urges (hence the “authentic part”…you only move when your body wants to). Since this class was focused on plant allies, it started with inviting the plant of your choice to accompany you on this mental journey.

I’m definitely not opposed to meditation or trances, and I’ve had my fair share of “visions” and revelations during meditation. But when I heard what was about to happen, my first thought was, “Oh hell no!”

I couldn’t imagine doing that in front of people, not just because it sounded potentially embarrassing but also because my experience with spiritual vulnerability has taught me to never let my guard down around others. When it came to spiritual groups, I lived by the motto: Never let anyone get you into a state of anything less than guarded.

However, I allowed myself to linger when the teacher explained that we’d all have our eyes closed during the exercise (no one would know I looked like a fool) and that her job was to create and hold safe space for us in our process.

I was still thinking I wouldn’t be comfortable doing anything, but at the very least, I figured I could learn what it was about and take it home with me if I really needed to be alone to feel safe.

To my utter surprise, I didn’t sit in the grass, hugging my knees to my chest the whole time. Not too long after she rang the meditation bells signaling the start of the exercise, I found myself releasing into my traditional meditative safe space. Part of me prowled the perimeter of my mind like a tiger, ready to pounce if I felt even the slightest hint of invasion or danger, but I slowly surrendered the rest of me to the movement.

Since visions are intensely personal, I won’t share what came to light in my soul here. However, I did want to talk about some of the secondary lessons I learned from participating in this class and stepping out of my comfort zone.

The first, and perhaps most obvious lesson, was the importance of listening to my body. As awkward as the idea of authentic movement sounded when I started, I realized later that it was nothing more than an exercise in intuition.

There will always be a cognitive, logical side to decision-making, and we hear about how to strengthen that aspect of our mind all the time. But there is also an intuitive side to decision making that we rarely talk about as a society. How do you know that you just applied for the right job? How do you know that this particular car or house is the one for you? How do you determine when it’s time to re-enter school? Or when it’s time to leave?

Sometimes, the logical side and the intuitive side coincide well, and the decision is easy. Other times, they clash, and what might seem like the best move to outsiders feels like the wrong move to you. Do you listen to your mind or your heart at those times?

Can you even tell the difference between your heart and your mind during those times?

Intuition was distrusted in the IFB. I was taught to fear and suppress it, yet I often found it to be my most accurate guide. Looking back with the awareness that comes not only with time but also with healing and distance from the brainwashing, I can see how my intuition protected me and led me, first in the small ways that informed me when people couldn’t be trusted with my truth, then in bigger ways when it led me out of the IFB even before I fully realized the magnitude of what I had left. Right now, I’m just beginning to grasp the depth of my intuition in protecting myself from my own truth until I could handle it.

However, my skill in listening and recognizing my intuition has been sketchy. I don’t always understand the subtle cues or hear the early warning signs. I can talk myself out of my feelings or deliberately ignore them in the effort to follow another’s expectations.

But the authentic movement showed me what it could be like to practice actually listening to myself. Rather than following someone else’s guided meditation or sitting still trying to empty my mind of useless thoughts, I can block out the outside world and go deep, deep into myself until my own impulse is all I can hear, see, feel, and understand.

The implications of this for my personal practice and life are exciting, to say the least, but I can’t help but also think about the implications for healing within a psychological setting. For anyone who has ever had their autonomy violated or their personhood crushed, I see tremendous possibilities for empowerment and reclamation through authentic movement.

Of course, in order for authentic movement to work, safe space is absolutely essential, but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until next week for that part of my revelation. My body is telling me it needs to repay the sleep debt it acquired over this magical weekend!

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Guest Post: What Would Jesus Do with a No True Scotsman Fallacy?

Since I’m out of town this weekend enjoying an herbal conference, being all hippie and magical, my partner has written a guest post. I’ve wanted him to post about some logical fallacies since I allude to them frequently but don’t always do a great job of explaining what they are. Last week I mentioned the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. This week, he has chosen to expound on that topic a bit more. Enjoy! I’ll be back with lots to talk about next week!

As humans, we find it easy to align ourselves with those we admire and distance ourselves from those we find repulsive. At stake are our reputations; we know that we will, inevitably, be linked in the public’s mind to those who are similar to us or hold the same label. Observably, the public scene, whether political, social or religious, feeds on poisoning as many wells as it can. If a lawyer mentions his occupation at the dinner table, his audience will likely lump him in with shyster lawyers, about whom derogatory jokes abound. If a politician uses the term “libertarian” to describe herself, she will swiftly be attacked by the news based on Ron Paul’s or Rand Paul’s list of beliefs regardless of her own personal stances. If someone takes the label “Christian,” his link to Hitler by Hitler’s avowed association with Christianity will haunt the poor bastard’s religious discourse for years to come, nullifying his claims that Christianity is a peaceful religion. And inevitably, when confronted with Hitler’s Christianity, many Christians immediately respond that Hitler was obviously not a true Christian. Upon hearing this, an astute opposition replies that the Christian has committed the No True Scotsman fallacy, which quite often sends the Christian into hysterical histrionics.

The No True Scotsman fallacy (NTS) originates with an old story about two Scottish men drinking tea. Macgregor notices that McDougal takes his tea with cream. “No true Scotsman drinks his tea with cream!” says Macgregor. “I drink my tea with cream!” McDougal answers. “As I said,” exclaims Macgregor, “no true Scotsman drinks his tea with cream!” At its logical core, No True Scotsman (NTS) takes this form:

  1. No true Scotsman (group A) takes cream in his tea (group B).
  2. MacDougal (group C) takes cream in his tea (group B).
  3. Therefore, MacDougal (group C) is not a true Scotsman (group A).

Scottish Flag

NTS contains a couple different fallacies. Macgregor equivocates as he subtly changes the definition of “Scotsman” halfway through the conversation. Whereas “Scotsman” refers to an ethnic group of people born in a certain region or possessing citizenship to that region, Macgregor implies that drinking plain tea is an essential part of being a Scotsman. Also, Macgregor proves his premise (that no true Scotsman drinks tea with cream) by concluding that no true Scotsman drinks tea with cream—a prime example of begging the question, which is a subspecies of circular reasoning.

NTS fallacy enjoys flagrant use among modern Christians. The end of the 20th century saw a tremendous Christianization of America with the Moral Majority movement. Slogans like “What Would Jesus Do?” and “Who Would Jesus abort?” become increasingly popular. In the past few years, liberal Christians have tried to answer this movement with slogans like “Who Would Jesus bomb?” and “Who Would Jesus execute?”. Each of these slogans captures NTS fallacy neatly; each implies that Jesus equals Christianity and that no true Christian would commit or even support whatever action is mentioned, whether bombing, aborting, or executing.

Christians blatantly employ NTS fallacy as a buffer against association with other Christians with whom they disagree in doctrine, dogma or actions. Many Christians argue that “the effort to justify a mother taking the life of her unborn child is the absolute contradiction of Christianity.” The Facebook group called The Christian Left routinely characterizes conservative Christians as not Christian at all and having “nothing whatsoever to do with Christ.” Rick Santorum, a 2012 presidential candidate for the Republican party, argued that anyone disagreeing with him regarding Islam is part of “the American left who hates Christendom…they hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”

Intriguingly enough, both conservative and liberal Christians employ similar defenses when caught employing NTS fallacy. Both claim Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where he says that people will be known “by their fruits.” They imply that the opposition’s lifestyle, beliefs and actions are such that no true Christian would embrace. Most of these Christians aren’t consciously trying to equivocate or beg the question (well, some are definitely trying and succeeding). The main intellectual problem is the premise.

Do true Scotsmen take cream in their tea? Indeed, some do. Do some Christians support abortion? Yes. Other Christians oppose it but support the death penalty, while still others oppose the death penalty but support socialism. The definition of “Christian” is the real question, which is where things get really slippery and Christians start equivocating.

When asked, some Christians argue that a “Christian” is a person who has faith in God, is saved, or is headed for heaven. But most Christians claim these, as do persons of multitudinous other faiths that Christians would likely exclude from Christianity. Narrowing Christianity to those who follow Jesus is no help either, for it seems many people of other religions respect and follow Jesus and his teachings better than many Christians, all of whom claim Jesus for themselves. Jesus, as a figurehead for Christianity, has also been appropriated to represent America, with both liberal and conservative Christians vying for this dubious honor. Funny thing: it turns out “Jesus” has as many definitions as “Christian” does.

Jesus

At this point, many Christians retreat to the idea that being a Christian means you believe the Bible is the word of God. However, Hitler also claimed this, as do Christians who support abortion, socialism, and other things conservative Christians find unchristian. Many Christians change their definition of “Christian” so many times during one conversation that one must wonder whether they even know what they believe or are simply regurgitating the countless contradictory definitions they’ve heard from years of numerous preachers’ ramblings.

Defending himself and Christianity against accusations of NTS fallacy, Thomas Shirk argues that “‘Christian’ is a label referring to religious and philosophical beliefs being held by the believer.  Since Hitler’s actions, words, and expressed philosophies and professed beliefs are outside of, and in many cases contrary to, the belief set of Christianity, it is…valid to say that Hitler was not a Christian.”

But Shirk has simply staved off the inevitable. He argues that no true Christian deviates from the Christian belief set; Hitler deviated; therefore Hitler is no true Christian. That’s all well and good, except that Shirk neglects to tell us what exactly the “Christian belief set” entails. We are left to assume that anyone who disagrees with Shirk is unchristian and that therefore “Christianity” equals whatever Thomas Shirk says it does. Conveniently, Shirk defines a Christian is one who believes what Christians believe, effectively equating the two ideas. Sure, Shirk avoids NTS fallacy. But in doing so, he employs ambiguous circular reasoning and fallacious ad hoc to avoid the question.

Probably the most controversial, current example claims a category unto itself: the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS. They embody all of the above definitions of “Christian,” yet both liberal and conservative Christians unite to levy NTS fallacy against them with reckless abandon. Westboro are Baptists and Calvinistic. They believe in God, Jesus’ deity and humanity, biblical salvation, biblical authority, and almost every belief which conservative Christians hold most dear.

And guess what? Westboro Baptist Church are Christians. Get over it. As long as no one is arguing that a position or belief is invalid because Westboro or Hitler believed it, Guilt by Association fallacy is not present. A religion’s history is a valid discussion topic in determining its constituents’ beliefs (past and present), its likelihood for violence, or its prominence in public society and government.

Many Christians search for a painless escape as they employ No True Scotsman fallacy to avoid uncomfortable associations with Christians they find abhorrent. However, the importance of delving deep into the definition of Christianity should not be sidestepped in favor of lazy intellectual security. As Bertrand Russell opined, “in all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Instead of employing fallacies to avoid discussion, talk about the differences in your Christianity from that of Hitler or Westboro. Honest dialogue will open you and your opponents to friendship, common ground, genuine disagreement without malice, and a healthy atmosphere that will affect everyone for the better.

Reaching Out to Christian Allies: An Apology and a Challenge

I talk a lot about my dislike for Christianity.

As a survivor of an abusive Christian cult, I think I’ve earned that right.

But I also recognize and appreciate that not all Christians are abusive sociopaths. I have some friends who identify as Christian who are wonderful people. I’m so proud of them for finding a way to turn Christianity into a positive faith experience (not that it’s my place to feel proud of them, but I have to give them credit and respect for doing what I could not).

I thought that my disdain and criticism of Christianity were clearly not something they would perceive as directed at them.

I was wrong.

Within most systems of oppression, there is a way to differentiate between individuals within the privileged group and the system that grants them privilege and oppresses others. Patriarchy and male privilege delineate a system that oppresses women and gives men power without implying that men are all horrible, misogynistic asses. The same goes for White privilege and racism and for homophobia, heterosexism, and straight privilege (or biphobia and monosexism for that matter).

I’ve never heard a differentiation made between religious oppression and religious people.

It might be clear in my mind when I rail against Christianity that I’m not railing against all individuals who identify as Christians, but someone else may only hear a word that identifies them personally.

I don’t want to make Christians feel targeted as individuals by my hatred.

Some have tried to argue that what I dislike about Christianity “isn’t really Christian.” But you can’t say that someone who identifies as Christian isn’t Christian because you dislike the way they act. It’s a logical fallacy, commonly known as “No true Scotsman.” It should be an obvious logical fallacy. No one ever tries to argue, “That’s not really a White person. They’re racist, and I’m not. Since I’m White, they can’t be.” It doesn’t make sense, and it’s not a valid differentiation method.

But I understand what these people are getting at . . . I also want to be able to differentiate between Christianity as a faith identity and Christianity as an oppression/prejudice.

What we need is a word, like sexism, to identify Christianity as a system of power. Whether Christianity was meant to be a system of power is beside the point. We have to deal with what Christianity is, not lament what it should have been. Being a Christian is not bad, but just because an individual Christian doesn’t want to participate in oppression doesn’t mean that the religion suddenly loses its oppressive elements.

I came across something on Urban Dictionary the other day that feels like a solution. “Religism” hasn’t come into wide usage yet (I’m hoping to change that), but it exists to identify prejudice against those of a different religion.

Voila! Just like that, I have a word to describe the prejudice and oppression that comes from the Christian religion as a whole that doesn’t target individuals!

I feel it’s important to say that I’m truly sorry for the allies that I’ve inadvertently hurt. I should have done my Google search far before now. I want to work with Christian allies.

But in return, Christian allies need to also do work to recognize where they have privileges because of their faith identity. Just as I have hurt Christian friends without meaning to, many Christians unintentionally contribute to the oppression of others, even with the best of intentions. This article has a great beginning list of privileges Christians often enjoy without realizing it. I’ve added some of my own additions below.

  • If a person who shares your religion commits a violent crime, your neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances aren’t likely to view you as an imminent threat.
  • If a person who shares your religion commits a violent crime, the media and law enforcement aren’t likely to see your religion as the root of that violence.
  • If being questioned by the police, you have reasonable expectation that stating your religious faith will be an asset rather than a liability.
  • If arrested, you have reasonable expectation of a speedy trial without excessive detainment.
  • If you talk about your faith on the phone, you can feel relatively secure that the NSA won’t monitor you for simply mentioning your religion.
  • Lawmakers and judges who oppose laws on religious reasons refer to your religion.
  • In cases of civil rights violations, your religion is likely to be favored.
  • The morals of your religion are so commonly accepted that they are represented even in media and entertainment that claims to be from a different religious perspective (e.g. Charmed, a supposedly Pagan show, featuring Christian-esque demons despite the fact that most Pagans do not believe in the Christian version of the Devil or good and evil.)
  • Accepted alternatives to scientific theory reference your religion’s mythology.
  • Despite a violent past, your religion is not considered violent.
  • TV shows that portray your religion favorably aren’t likely to be boycotted or recalled because of public outrage.
  • History often favors your religion’s perspective and portrays the work of those from your religion as beneficial.
  • Even non-religious people are likely to use your religious buildings for special occasions unless they have cultural ties to other religions.
  • If neighbors or acquaintances find out about your faith, they are likely to assume you are a safe person for their children to be around.

I could go on, but I hope that my point has been made. It’s hard to see all the ways that Christianity is favored above other religions in the U.S. until you step out of Christianity. It doesn’t mean that these privileges are always present for all Christians, nor does it only refer to rights acknowledged by the government. Privilege is about societal structure that favors one group above another.

And I’m not saying that having privilege automatically makes someone a bad person. Privilege, by its very definition, is something that is given to a group of people whether they want it or not. It’s not necessarily something they have a choice about, and those who are aware of their privilege are limited in their ability to decline to participate.

However, being aware of privilege and taking steps to counter it can pave the way for healing and change.

I’m taking the first step to acknowledging how I’ve hurt the conversation by failing to differentiate between people who have a Christian faith identity and the Christian religism that pervades society. I’m changing my language in order to open the door for that conversation to begin again. We can work together to address the oppression within Christianity but only when Christian allies are willing to acknowledge that it exists.

Now, the ball is in the court of the allies. Are you willing to do your part to address and raise awareness of the system? Can you meet me in this place of differentiation? It won’t be easy. It may challenge you to examine your own life and faith a bit closer. It may challenge you to change perspectives, which is going to be extremely difficult when society is designed to validate your perspective. It may require you to bite your tongue when a wounded person is writhing under the agony of what Christian religism has done to them and to practice patience, love, and space-holding for those too hurt to recognize yet that you are not the same as the system. It may require stepping back from the conversation and listening instead of talking, following instead of leading, acknowledging instead of defending.

The good news is that if you’re a Christian ally, you’ve probably already had to do these things in other areas. You’ve probably already done some work to address white privilege if you’re white, male privilege if you’re a man, and straight privilege if you’re straight. This is nothing new to those who love equality. The trick is to take what you’ve already learned to do and apply it to a new aspect of your life.

Behold the Sacrificial . . . Minnow?

A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I headed out to the river to go fishing for the first time this summer. It’s an activity that I both love and hate. Usually, to help alleviate my desire to turn all of the fish and bait into personal pets, I make my partner bait the hooks and handle any of the catches.

This trip started no differently.

The fish were hungry, and I lost my first minnow almost instantly. Ever patient, my partner put down his pole and rebaited my hook while I kept my head turned away.

I dropped my line back into the water and settled in for the wait. As usual, my thoughts turned to the uncomfortable reality that such a peaceful activity would culminate in the death of the bait and fish alike.

I’ve struggled for years with my feelings about meat. Animals are sacred to me. I see them as intelligent, emotional, and cognizant. I believe they have far more similarities to us humans than most people give them credit for and perhaps just a tad bit more connection to whatever I would call the “spiritual” energy of the world.

One would assume that I would be a strict vegetarian as a result.

Except that I also view plants as sacred, intelligent, emotional, and cognizant. Certainly not in the same way . . . but kind of in the same way. Plants play. They react to “pain” stimuli. They can move, albeit limitedly. Some are even carnivorous.

I had reached the point where I realized that fishing didn’t make me uncomfortable because I thought it was wrong to eat the fish but because it reminded me of the reality of everything I eat. The sad truth is that in order to live, I have to take life of one form or another.

Becoming a vegetarian would be an easy way to distance myself from the discomfort of taking life for food. The death of the plant may not be as visibly disturbing as the death of an animal since I am more attuned to the pain cries of the former, but deep down, I know that I’m still killing a living thing when I eat, whether it’s a carrot or a trout.

My explorations in herbalism introduced me to the concept of leaving a gift when I harvest a plant to thank the earth for her provision, and the practice had helped me find consecration and reciprocity in my eating habits—at least with plants.

Animals were harder to reconcile. I did what I could to buy products from ethically treated animals, but I still struggled with ways to give back to the animal world. Bringing the river water didn’t seem as much of a gift as bringing my tomato plant water, and fertilizer didn’t seem like a good way to give back to the fish.

In perfect irony, it was while I was in the mire of my confusion that my line went taut. I began reeling in and could tell immediately that I had something fairly large on the other side. Adrenaline kicked in; excitement drove out my ambivalence.

Suddenly, the fish jumped out of the water, twisting its body magnificently. I squealed and kept reeling, only noticing a moment later that there was no longer any weight on the line. My squeal turned to a disappointed cry as I brought the line all the way up with the empty hook dangling at the end.

The fish was gone.

My bait was gone.

I wavered between tears and laughter as my partner explained how bass sometimes throw themselves free, but it was the laughter that won out. Only a moment after I lost my biggest catch, I was inexplicably happy that the fish had gotten a free meal.

It suddenly seemed so clear. Whether I liked it or not, fish were not vegetarians. I had to meet them where they were with a gift they could appreciate. Minnows, worms, frogs—these were their foods. By bringing them what they could eat, I gave as I took.

This time, I baited my own hook, acknowledging my discomfort as well as honoring the harsh reality that life is a deadly affair. I felt a flicker of understanding of the purpose behind animal sacrifices, the sacred symbolization of this cycle of life that was so apparent to ancient peoples but so obscured in our current society.

We left that day with enough fish to make a chowder that fed us for several days. In return, we had fed both big and little fish and given a handful of minnows their freedom.

I still mourned the deaths of what we caught, but it was with the humility of realizing how unsuperior I was to the rest of nature. Out in my yard, along the riverbank, down in the middle of the forest—everywhere I go I will find animals and plants taking and giving life.  I finally realized that could not remove myself from that cycle, but I could accept my place within it and handle it responsibly.

Guest Post: Sometimes Fuckin’ Magical: An Enlightened-ish Post about “The Freedom to Cuss”

Today’s Guest Post is from Gail Dickert, author of Coming Out of the Closet Without Coming Apart at the Seams and Enlightened-ish.

It’s time we put the ‘F’ word back in fundamentalism. For those of us who have survived “Christian” Fundamentalism specifically, the inability to embrace our inner sailor has been detrimental to our spiritual and psychological well-being. However, as I discuss in Enlightened-ish, fundamentalism is an equal opportunity oppressor. There are New Age fundamentalists, Buddhist fundamentalists and probably Muslim fundamentalists. These fundies of our faith experience have a way of taking something quite natural and turning it into a process of self-suppression that divorces us from valuable parts of our human condition. Consider this excerpt from a chapter called “The Freedom to Cuss,” which is the very first freedom in Enlightened-ish.

~~

“… organized religion is far from being the only possible obstacle to enlightenment. Industrialized societies have been isolating themselves from the spirit-body connection for decades. Our behavior reveals that the body can be separated from the soul. We can take our bodies to the spa and treat it with essential oils and gentle touches and yet continue to harbor old feelings from being ill-treated by a co-worker or spoken harshly to by a parent. Conversely, we can take our souls to the church pews and saturate them with creative, understanding and compassionate communities only to return to our homes where we barely know how to function and our souls become neglected in mindless attempts at intimacy.

We try to do everything and accomplish next to nothing every single hour of those precious 24 that we are given each day.

We cannot blame our governments. We cannot blame religion. We cannot blame family.

                        Damnit, who can we blame?

                        Politics may tell you to blame a party or leader. Religious leaders may tell you to blame a devil or karma. Society may tell you to blame a parent or the economy.

Politicians may say you can find salvation in their new campaign perspective. Religious leaders may say you can find respite in eternal life. Society may say you can beat the odds by applying yourself and working harder to get what you want, can what you get and then sit on your can but no!

The sacred journey to enlightenment is about personal responsibility.

                        Go ahead.

                        Cuss about it.

            If you are looking outside of yourself for any answers, you are going to get increasingly frustrated by the lack of answers that I will offer you.

                        I am not you.

            I will only suggest that you go inward and you find out what the Sacred has to say to you individually, to your body, in your mind, for your heart, about your soul.” (Freedom to Cuss, Enlightened-ish: A Grief Memoir about Spiritual Awakening)

~~

Well, fuck, Gail,” you exclaim. “Part of doing a guest post is delivering some easy-to-follow Five Step program so I can heal myself, awaken, forgive my oppressors or let go of my past. You suck.”

Hey, be nice to the guest blogger. There’s a good chance that we can be sometimes fuckin’ magical here.

How about I create for us The 3 Tenants of the Freedom to Cuss, so we can really stay in touch with our fundamentalist roots here? I mean, what’s freedom without a few rules, right? (See how I did that? I made a point and then I prepare to contradict my own point and proceed anyway… that’s the Freedom to Guest Blog However You Want, bitches).

Tenant One: Thou shalt cuss because it frees your mind.

With a little En Vogue attitude, let your hair down and let the words flow from the foul-mouthed freedom-fighter within your brain. Our minds, while sometimes our greatest ally, often censor us and play tapes in our heads about what is “right” or “proper.” Free your mind and I have no doubt that the rest will follow! This has certainly been the case for our “Bi-feminist Apostate” who hosts this blog. Just look at her writings and how she continues to bloom in the pile of spiritual manure that her family of origin chose for her. I mean, it’s about as badass as you get – when you let your mind wander into leslooms and yoni rituals. The shit is made good, when we choose to outshine the stink, ya know?

Tenant Two: Thou shalt cuss because it saves your heart.

I’m not a medical doctor, but as an intuitive healer, I’ve seen more than once, how people who block their “uncomfortable” emotions end up choosing unhealthy behaviors that prevent the flow of love to and from their hearts. Not cussing is like a big, cholesterol-packed McDonald’s cheeseburger for your energetic health. Ironically, with every cuss word that you utter, you pump authenticity and pure, raw blood through your arteries… and when it comes back to your heart through your veins, the vulgarity is full of life-giving oxygen.

Tenant Three: Thou shalt cuss because it’s fucking hysterical.

Let’s be honest. In the proper setting (and with the right amount of dessert wine), dropping a few inappropriate F bombs is incredibly entertaining. The first time I heard someone say “un-be-fucking-lievable,” I think my inner grade school kid punched a bully in the face. I thought, “Yes! I wanna cuss like that!” One of my favorite memes on Facebook is the one where the Buddhist children are meditating and one shouts, “First to Enlightenment… eat my dust, bitches!”

enlightenment bitches

Now, as the Executive Director of an Early Learning Center, I’m not suggesting that this is quite so entertaining in all settings, but honestly, people of faith take themselves way too seriously sometimes. Nothing breaks the ice better than knowing that I can laugh with someone about how the sacred and the silly converge… and a hearty, “Hells Yeah” in response to finding a good parking space is really appreciated sometimes. Why not act like you won the World Series when you manage to get through the day without (ironically) screaming profanities at your boss? “Way to fuckin’ go, yo! You did it!”

Honestly, in the end, The Freedom to Cuss has less do with actual cussing, or even fundamentalism and more to do with the grief that I felt when my father died. On that day and every day since, I don’t kindly dress up my grief with happy words about pious platitudes related to life after death or everything happening for a reason.

Nope, every time I consider that he will not be at my wedding…

When I consider that he will never hold a grandchild…

When I consider that he doesn’t call on Saturdays anymore to annoy me with his crossword puzzle answers…

When I consider that the leaders at the church I was attending right before he died responded poorly to my need to grieve freely…

When I consider that my ex made my grief all about her and I was too heartbroken to get out of that relationship…

When I consider that I was only 33 years old when the man who brought me into the world died…

I get fucking sad.

I even get fucking mad.

And in that way… I learn to be free.

Damnit! So this is awakening?

fuck you

Well then…

Namaste, my friends.

Let your badassery begin today!

P.S. Fundamentalism: The Equal Opportunity Oppressor – stay tuned this week for my full discussion of the topic at For Gail So Loved the World.