Question Everything

An image of the Kunta Kinte Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis.

“The key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.” ~ Peter Abelard

“Of all the questions we leave unanswered the one that comes back to haunt us the most is: ‘What if …’ What if I’d married my college sweetheart? What if I had the good sense not to? What if I had been born in this job market? What if … What if I’d planned a little less? What if I’d lived a little more? What if I’d chucked it all and started my own company? ‘What ifs’ are never idle fantasy. These are our hopes, dreams and desires.” ~ Rashmi Bansal, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish

Have you ever, well, I’m sure you have because you’re human, but has your life ever been shattered in some devastating way? It’s happened to me more than once. I’m sure it has to you too. You’ve lost a loved one, or a job, or a relationship broke apart, and your life is turned upside down. You know the feeling, everything you thought was true comes into question and you don’t know what you believe anymore, you don’t know how to get out of your current dreadful situation.

The first big time it happened to me was when I began to study religion in college. Many of the things I thought were true about The Bible, and Christianity, and world religions, and history challenged my tiny little belief system. In a way I welcomed this. After all I went to college to expand myself. But it was nerve wracking too because I had to do a lot of internal work examining the old and new information. That process was emotionally and physically draining. I was lucky though, because I’d been taught by my father to question everything. That’s what I did. I asked lots of questions in my classes, and I began to ask myself, “What if this or that thing I was taught wasn’t true?”

Even though this process was unsettling, it was also familiar and I embraced the challenge of taking all my beliefs out and seeing if they fit the new information I was learning. Anything that didn’t fit, I threw out.

So, even though I was going through this tremendous internal upheaval, it was exhilarating too. I did, however, have problems with people looking at my struggles from the outside. They wanted to fix me. And that more than anything traumatized me.

I think we get into comfortable ruts and don’t want to change and if someone we know is struggling with some existential upheaval, we don’t know what to do to help. In a way, their struggles challenge our own. Sometimes we do more damage by trying to get them to go back to the way they were, which makes us feel better but might not be the right thing for them.

I’m grateful to my father for asking lots of questions and teaching me to do the same. He taught me how to pay attention, to read between the lines, to look at people’s motivations. Those skills have served me well when I’ve been confronted with life shattering events. But he taught me something else, that he learned from his father. Sometimes the best way to help someone going through a life altering event is to just be with them. Don’t try to change them. Just stay by their side so they know that if they need you, you’re there to help.

I’m coming out of the doldrums that began at the beginning of the year. I’ve let myself take time to look at my situation and figure out where I want to go from here. And this time, since I have lots of alone time at home, I don’t have any annoying people trying to interfere with my process.

Part of my doldrums also had to do with the upheaval going on in the world. It seems to me we are collectively challenging everything we thought was true. People are speaking up and challenging not only our belief systems, but the way we’ve been doing business, governing, and the doctrines of our religious communities. I think this is a good thing, but it’s also draining. The only way I see that we can get through these troubled times is to just be with each other. It will also help if we listen, question our old beliefs, and try to see things from a different point of view.

Having been through this process many times, I can say the end results are worth the effort.

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks so much for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it. Have a fabulous weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

What If … Mary Wasn’t A Virgin?

Working Mom
Working Mom

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.” ~ Victor Hugo

“So curiosity, I think, is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful.” ~ Goldie Hawn

Do you ever wonder what if thus and so were true about situations, belief systems, or circumstances? I do all the time. I wonder about all kinds of things from what we’re taught about history to religion to politics. Some of the things I wonder about are rather trivial, others can be controversial or upsetting. They are just my musings but my goal for asking such questions is to make myself, and hopefully you, take a fresh look at our belief systems.

One of my earliest what ifs I had as a child, was why was it so important for Mary to have been a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus? I was raised in the church that Joseph Smith Jr. founded in 1830. A side note, in the late 1800’s the Supreme Court ruled that the church I grew up in was the original church and the Mormon church was an off-shoot.

Anyway, having written that, the doctrine of the church I grew up in was very much like Protestant Christian doctrine. The virgin birth was one of the tenants in our belief system. I have no idea why I questioned the whole virgin birth idea. It just didn’t make sense to me, even though as a child I didn’t have a full understanding about sex. I didn’t understand why Mary had to be a virgin to be the mother of Jesus. Why did that make a difference in who Jesus was? I didn’t come to a conclusion about that until many years later.

When I was a religious studies student, I learned that the word that was translated as “virgin” in the Bible, really should have been translated as “maiden”, which meant an unmarried woman. As far as I remember from my Old Testament class, the custom of the Jewish culture was for a couple to become betrothed, and have a kind of trial marriage. Sex in that culture was looked at very differently than in ours. It was possible for a betrothed couple to have sexual relations and not have any stigma attached to them. So, it could have been entirely possible that Mary and Joseph had made love and Jesus was the result. For some reason, I liked that idea.

If God is all powerful couldn’t he have brought the two people together who would produce the amazing miracle of Jesus? In my way of thinking, that’s just as much a miracle as if Mary were a “pure” virgin and God was Jesus only father. From there my thinking goes to my belief that each new life is a miracle and we are all created in the image of God. It’s just that we each have different “contracts”, as Caroline Myss calls them, for our time here on this earth. Just like puzzle pieces, we each have our part to play in the great pattern that is this life we’re living. And as humans we can’t possibly fathom what the big picture will be when the puzzle is finished, if it ever is.

From those ideas, my thoughts branch off to a theme that irritated the heck out of me while studying various religious doctrines, and still does to this day. Most doctrines were created by religious leaders to control their congregants. The male leaders wanted to keep their thumb on women in particular for reasons we could speculate about from now until dooms day. In any case, that was most likely the true origin of the story of the virgin birth. Sex makes women impure, or diminishes their spirituality in some way, even within the sanctity of marriage. (I’d like to slap the person who came up with that idea.) While within most religions, men, aren’t diminished in any way by sex, even if they participate in it before marriage, or any other act that would condemn a woman. How unfair is that!?

I could write volumes more, but I like to keep my posts short. My purpose for this essay was to express my belief that Jesus was a miracle no matter whether Mary was impregnated by God, or by Joseph. And I could go on to argue that he is a much more interesting figure to me as an historical person who became enlightened rather than a divine being that is too far above me to be able to emulate. I like the idea that he showed us how to become enlightened ourselves if we so choose to do so. But that’s a post for another time.

I had fun expressing ideas that have been rattling around in my head for many years. I don’t get to have many deep discussions on religious topics anymore. Sometimes I miss the flurry of ideas expressed passionately and the new patterns of thinking I develop as a result. So, from time to time I’ll be writing more “What If” posts and hoping that you will participate in the discussion.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share any of my posts with friends. I’m going back to revisions of my novel The Space Between Time now. Until next week …

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016