I have been thinking about blogging for a long time. I have had this title, spirit and flesh, in mind for a very long time as well. To anyone who knows me, this should be no surprise. I have been a passionate student of these topics for a long time. I am absolutely fascinated by the ways human being relate to one another in relationships with themselves and each other (flesh) and the way we relate to the divine (spirit.) I am absolutely convinced that these two are locked in a dance that says everything about what it means to be a human being.
I guess have enough self esteem (and maybe a little hubris?) to believe my education and my life experience might be interesting reading in the blogosphere. I have some knowledge and experience that I hope will be interesting and useful to others. My father often work long night at a textile mills where he monitored heavy equipment and sometimes had long stretches of time alone, which I actual believe he enjoyed. He used to poetry and long essays on all kinds of topics. He was especially interested how people looked the roles of woman, historically, psychologically and sociologically. I would like to think my father would be thrilled I am doing this.
I guess before I start spouting my so-called wisdom (Some days it will wisdom, but know other days it may be random disconnected thoughts) I should say I little about me, the writer.
I am a 44 year old gay white man of Portuguese ancestry with Irish and Caribbean sprinkled around the edges. I come from a very working class background in Southeastern MA. I am a second generation American on my father's side and a first generation American on my mother's side. I am politically and proudly on the very left end of the spectrum. I love hiking, good movies (especially independents, foreign films and off the wall documentaries), novels that take you to new and interesting places and trying new foods. My friends and family mean everything to me and I don't draw a sharp line on who is family and who are friends. I am one of two children raised in family with a mother and father who were happily married 48 years until my father's death. I currently work at a very proudly left of center Christian seminary and I beginning to explore starting a private psychotherapy practice (I have many years of agency experience.)
Spiritually, I was raised Roman Catholic and now think of myself as a spiritual freelancer who has significant ties to Buddhism and Christianity. I blend Christianity and Buddhism and ways I am finding increasing common. I also find much wisdom and a deep sense of spirituality in earth-based native and pagan traditions, and would like to know more about them.
I love learning as much as possible about the multiple ways human beings explore their spiritual sides, from organized religion, to philosophy to other "freelancers." I practice yoga and meditation (not nearly as regularly as I wish I did) and I attend church services occasionally. I also welcome the chance explore new and different forms of spirituality all the time. As I get older I am more and disheartened, disappointed, angry and skeptical about all organized religion, another thing I share with my late father.
My interest in human relationships branches in three directions:
1.) Professional/Academic: This is rooted in my training as a psychotherapist and my education. I have a very long interest in psychology, especially in its psychodynamic/psychoanalytic forms. I am especially interested in newer forms of these theories that bring in critiques based on class, culture, gender and human sexuality to create something new take the best from the past and helping it evolve far beyond its roots. I think of psychotherapy as wonderful lens to help understand the human condition and the meaning of meaning, but it is only one tool and like any tool can be powerfully misused. I also found the psychological concept of boundaries one that is endlessly fascinating.
2.) Personal/Relational: As a gay man, and a member of a marginalized sexual minority in this culture, I have personally found I have had to explore and examine my sexuality in ways that the so-called majority heterosexual culture has not had too, necessarily. Yet, since I believe all human sexuality is HUMAN sexuality I think much of what I have learned (and am learning) about myself says a lot about being a sexual human being and isn't limited to being gay or being a biological male.
3.) Political/Cultural: I am fascinated by the ways we as human beings discriminate, legislate, theologize and otherwise marginalize one another based on spirituality sexuality and gender. What makes one belief a religion and another a cult? Can church and state be separated and should they always? How have different religions gone from being at the margins of society to being at the center? How did they change when they did? What spiritual belief or practices are viewed as valid and others as either strange or dangerous? Why are men and women treated so differently by religions faiths, countries and cultures? What are the punishment for backing the rules of gender or in some cases the laws around how gender can be expressed? What is male and what is female? Why are some sexual behaviors taboo and others considered "normal?" How have marriage laws and norms operated in different cultures and subcultures? How have these rules operated in the past, how do they operate now and how might they change in the future?
Well, if any of these topic interest you I hope you will follow along, to quote Bette Davis in All About Eve "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."