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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Call to Charity

A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. 
- Jack London

In a letter that I had once submitted to the editor of a local newspaper, I had issued a call to question. A call to question that of which is, and is not, most familiar to us. To take a critical look at what we believe as individuals, communities and a nation as a whole. A call to question our intents, desires and goals within what we each believe, how we act and what we say. While I believe that the question, and the practicing thereof, is vital, how we go about it may be the most important calling to consider. In fact, it may indeed be the most important detail required of us; so much so that it must take precedence over the very practice of questioning itself. 

What is it that supersedes the question and bears such importance?
What is the calling that we must follow?


Charity is not simply the giving of financial assistance to some charitable organization, whether it be in your community or abroad.   It is not simply the feeding of the hungry, the clothing of the naked, nor the assisting of the burdened. Rather the call of Charity beckons to the deepest parts of who we are, the parts of ourselves that we reject, put aside or try to forget. Charity calls us to love all aspects of who we are, who we have been and who we will become. Charity looks upon our seemingly failures and draws our attention away from hatred towards ourselves to the forgiveness and acceptance of ourselves. Charity understands that our failures, our short fallings are but tools toward our becoming, and that without the call to be charitable to these blunders we fail not only be charitable to ourselves but to extend the loving, compassionate hand of charity to those of whom we encounter. The call to Charity is the understanding that in order to bestow charity to others we must first bestow it upon ourselves. How can a ship reach its destination if the broken rudder has not been attended to? Does the patient heal the physician, or does the physician heal the patient? How much more one can help to heal the addiction of another when they themselves have healed their own. 

I have discovered, more often than not, that the very things that drive me to utter rage about others are the very things that I loathe about myself. What I detest in others, I detest within myself. 
It is easy enough to give money to an organization that assists the needs of the poor in some third world country. It is easy enough to give food to the local food bank in order to assist in the feeding of the hungry. It is easy enough to voice our outrage at some injustice committed upon another individual or group of human beings. Why is it then, that we continually fail to bestow the same charitable outlook upon the very vessel with which we give our charity? 

I can think of no greater call then that of the call to charity. To see the other, whether friend or foe, as intrinsically valuable. To enter all conversation with respect and esteem for those of whom you are in dialogue with. To embrace them as precious, dear and worthy of mind. Giving to them, freely, the space to hold opinion. Expressing, not only for the sake of oneself, but rather, for the whole of community. While in our charity we must never forget, not only those present, but those at large; those of whom have not yet received such charity or come by it meagrely.

While adhering to the call to charity, one must not neglect the criticalness of giving charity to one's own-self. This is often the most difficult of all; to be charitable to oneself, but as it is with all things difficult, it is most rewarding not only to oneself, but also to that of others. Charity is not solely valuing and considering the other but also ourselves. It is not a submission to that of another, but rather a joining together in conversation, that of each owns' hearts and minds. Charity is not a dumbing down of who we are and what we believe, rather, it allows for the growth thereof within community.

Charity must always lay forefront to the question, always remaining present during and after the question is put forth.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Twelve Years Married

Twelve years married and I would not change a thing.

The story begins longer than twelve years ago, indeed, it all began in May 2001 thirteen years past. I was finishing up my last year of high school at the local public school. I had applied to a near by college in order that I may attend the upcoming fall of 2001. Well, that May I received a letter of acceptance from enrolment at the college, but this was no ordinary letter of acceptance. Oh sure, the regular congratulation of approval was all there and I was happy to receive it, however as I continued to read the letter I was amazed to discover that another congratulation had been issued to me, I had been accepted to court the director of enrolments daughter. I was astonished, excited and full of wonder as I had not the slightest idea of who the director of enrolment was nor who his daughter was.  (And she had no idea her father had added that to the letter. We did not know each other. Her father knew of me though and thought we would be a fun match.)

Immediately my curiosity took the best of me. I could not allow a moment to pass without searching out who the director of enrollment was and if his daughter was attractive enough for myself to desire any form of pursuit. So I inquired the best that I could from the people I knew (I am no Sherlock Holmes), but eventually I discovered that the daughter worked as a cashier at the local grocery store. The same day I discovered where she worked, I knew a visit to the grocery store was in order. So, dressed in my best baggy pants, my cleanest, and slightly too tight, muscle shirt (I was in much better shape back then) and branding my skateboard I rode down to the store, bought something entirely useless and made my way to the cash register where she was working. She was absolutely stunning, the most beautiful women that I had ever seen. She had become aware of what her father had done at that point, with the letter, much to her embarrassment, and knew who I was, so when I arrived at her cash register there was a bit of embarrassment on both our parts but I tried to play it as cool as possible. As I was leaving the store I turned around for one more look at her radiant beauty and as I did she smiled a smile that put the glory of all angels to shame. I will never forget that trip to the grocery store nor that majestic smile on that beautiful woman.

That letter and that grocery store meeting were the beginnings of a wonderful relationship. Just a little over a year later from that meeting we were married and beginning a new journey together. When we got married I was a month nineteen and my wife eighteen. We were a year out of high school with no real direction but we knew we loved each other and that was all that mattered. And so here we are twelve years later still married, with three wonderful children, and a home to call our own. My wife is even more beautiful today as she was when I first met her. I have discovered not only her outward beauty but her inner beauty as well. She is one of a kind. Life really could not get much better.

Now those twelve years have not always been peachy, rather there have been many struggles and hardships for the both of us. My poor wife has had to deal with my A.D.D. and intensive depression, but she has lovingly stuck with me. Many said we would not see it past five years but we proved them wrong.

Thank you my dear wife for being married to me for these last twelve years, you're the best. Happy twelfth anniversary.

(This picture taken yesterday on our pre Anniversary Date.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Letter to the Editor

Recently I have had some inquiry about the letter that I had written to the editor of our local newspaper back in January 2013, and I would like to share it once more on this blog. This letter resulted in the gathering of a variety of people looking for something outside of the religious norms of the community. It brought people together, but at the same time drew people apart. as you can imagine the letter was not well RECEIVED by some and led to...lets just say, Im going to hell. If you have not read this before, give it a read and Let me know what you think. I would love to hear your opinion, Im sure it can't get any worse than being CONDEMNED to eternal damnation. :)                                                                                                                                            



To the Editor;

There is no doubt that we live in a community that has a large religious populace. Of this, I have no problem, however, a problem arises (At least for myself, and I am sure that there are others), when members of this populace feel the need to forcefully convert everyone to his or her own personal beliefs and/or dogmas. You may have encountered the ever-popular questions of "Where do you go to church?" or "Are you saved?" This often occurs through door-to-door visits, tracks left on windshields to face-to-face encounters on our streets, homes and work places. These well meaning peoples, at times, stop at nothing, for this is their "calling". Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that everyone is guilty of this, in one way or another, religious or not.

Most of us, if not all, have grown up in a culture of answers. The modern era was one of exactly that, answers, and with it came rules. Rules and answers are not to be questioned and if questioned, only allowed to go so far. Obedience was, and is, of the upmost importance. To question is a sign of disobedience, defiance and weak faith. 'Keep the rule and the rule will keep you', it has been said. Authority figures such as parents, police, clergy and political leaders with everything they represent, are the last word. However, societies, religious establishments, institutes and families that have all the answers and are void of questions, are, often, void of possibility.

Within the last century, modernity, with all its answers, has had to face some very difficult questions that have arisen along side of and with post-modernism. The answers we were once given have lost their merit. The unquestionable is now questioned more then ever.
The loudest voice is most often heard, and we have indeed heard our fair share. The loud voice of one will mute that of another and I am left wondering, what of the muted voices? Where might they be heard? Where are the perspectives of the others?

It is for this reason that "Called To Question" has been given its birth. Called To Question, multiple evening events, invites a variety of guest speakers to share their own perspectives, philosophies and views on differing topics from atheism-theism, evolution-creation, faith-reason, war-peace, chauvinism-feminism, love-hate and the list goes on. The evenings are an opportunity for members of the community to share in on and take part of authentic dialogue, a chance to question ones own beliefs, regardless of what they are. To understand that there are more ways to think, believe and have faith, then what may, most popularly, be presented to us.

Possibility is a freeing concept. Instead of giving answers, Called To Question provides an opportunity to ask questions and broaden the mind's horizon.

If you are interested in having a topic presented or attending an event, please contact me Look for ads of upcoming events around town at local retail stores or in your local newspaper.
Philip A.
Founder and Director of Called To Question