Robyn's Perch

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I was raised as a Lutheran...pretty whitebread, I know. Actually, I was a "football" Lutheran, I suppose. The children in my family were sent to the Our Savior's Lutheran Church since it was the closest to our house and it would get us away from home so my father could watch football, which started at 10am on the west coast.

Being the precocious child that I was, I did all of the reading I was supposed to do for Sunday school, but I noticed something...I would read the stories from the Sunday school book and get the point that was trying to be made, then the Sunday school teacher or the minister would talk about the story and have an entirely different spin on it. So I decided that the bible was sort of a magical book, that whoever read it saw what it meant, but that different people would read it differently, and no one could tell anyone else what it was saying, because it was different for all of us. That was good enough for me until I got older.

When I first went to college, I still considered myself a christian, for want of a better word. After all, I believed strongly in the things that Jesus preached: "Love thy neighbor as thyself," "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" [although I sometimes had the problem of *expecting* them to behave the same way, which is not part of the bargain], "Judge not, lest thee be judged," "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." These were guiding principles in my life, and still are.

At the University of Pennsylvania, I signed up for a course in eastern religions. I got my first taste of Buddhism and Taoism, as well as many other eastern religions. I liked what I read, especially the Tao te Ching, and especially the (supposed) interpretations of Liu An. [Chuang Tse was a little too militaristic and legalistic for my taste...I liked the mysticism in Liu An's writings].

When I was nearly 20, having dropped out of college, one suicide attempt survived, and gone on the road to avoid the draft, a hippie hitchhiking across the country, a friend and I stopped at a mission in Tucson so we could have a hot meal and a shower. Before one can eat, one has to listen to the preacher man, and this guy was all fire and brimstone. After he finished, I asked him a question. There had recently been a tribe of people discovered in the Philippines, I think, that had not had any previous contact with Europeans. They had no knowledge of the western god or of Jesus. I asked the preacher if they were bound for his hell. He acknowledged that they were. I couldn't handle that: they were going to hell because of the failing of the white men to find them and tell them about the "wonders" of christianity. That night, I decided I was not a christian anymore.

If not a christian, what was I? I decided that Jesus would be appalled at any of the christian churches of our day...perhaps at any of the christian religions ever. I still believed...and still the words that he said. But Jesus didn't hang out with the people who are like the people who today proclaim their christianity loudly. He hung out with the poor, the destitute, the lonely, the diseased...the dregs of the so-called society.

I studied eastern religions again when I returned to school after my travels and my time in the Army. I decided that my belief system was based partly in Taoism (which I acknowledge when asked), but also partly in Buddhism, with an underlying belief in the teachings of Jesus.

Is there a god? I don't believe that we can know. "Something, I don't know what, is doing something, I don't know what," as an early researcher in quantum physics put it [i.e. The Tao is unknowable. But if you know the Tao, it is unspeakable]. But knowledge of things greater than us is beyond our ken on this plane of existence. Maybe we will learn about what is out there after we die...maybe not. I view death as a door that we pass through. It's a one-way door and (no matter what the early disciples said), I don't believe that anyone can come back here to tell us what is on the other side. The worst possibility is that there is nothing there...that we just cease to exist. Possibly, we come back here to the start over. One of my friends suggested that my life was so messed up for so long because I was impatient and just grabbed the first available body that came along...and got the wrong sex. Possibly we go to another plane of existence. I don't know...I can't know. I'll find out when the time comes.

In the meantime, I think I am here for a purpose. I don't know entirely what it is yet, but I think that everything I have gone through has had a point...that it's leading to something. And, while I am waiting to find out what it is, I believe that I should try to do some good while I am here.

What exactly "good" means depends on the circumstances. Life presents us options. We make choices. Whatever choice we make is the right choice, because it is the one we made and we can't take it back. Life doesn't come with rehearsals. Given this set-up, "doing good" means making our choices without merely our own welfare in mind, but also considering what would benefit people other than ourselves (currently living...our "peers," as it were) as well as those who will live in the future (who will be affected by the Society they are born into. Our choices help to mold that Society). The weight we give to each of these considerations is something that each of us has to decide every time a choice has to be made (and we do it in a split second) and they are an intrinsic part of who we are. Some of us are more altruistic in nature (with weights heavier for peers and Society), while some of us are more selfish (weight heavier for personal). We can shift these somewhat...many transsexual people live the first part of their lives shifted away from personal and learn during their transition that they need to give more weight to it (sometimes forever, sometimes temporarily).

Being altruistic by nature, I became a teacher, so that my impact on my peers and Society could be greater. That's a major part of who I am...the road I chose.

My life, everyone's life, is but a path...starting from our births and leading into infinity. There is no end to the path. There are lots of obstacles along the path...some of them very hard to surmount. Some are seemingly so large that we are tempted to take a different fork in the path. But by surmounting them, we become better, stronger people. I've learned that the obstacles seem much harder to surmount before we try, than when we actually try. Having passed the hard parts, life seems smoother for is fun. The beauty in life is not "up ahead" on the path, but off to the sides, in what we can see and hear, taste and touch along the way. Waiting for something good to come along is not good...make something good now.

Life is a state of constant change. It's good to keep that in mind. If you are depressed, sad, and lonely, it will change. If you are on top of the world, that too will change. It helps to keep away from the too highs and too lows, to even out the path.

Life is wonder, life is beauty, life is learning. Embrace it with everything you have.


  • At Mon Jun 05, 05:57:00 PM, Blogger virgomusic said…

    Hi Robyn -- great post, thank you! I have followed a similar path -- raised Lutheran (LCMS, how about you?) but never could swallow the idea that folks who'd never heard of Jesus were going to hell. Now I'm studying Zen and maintaining what I feel are the good bits of Christianity. I really feel that becoming a Buddhist has made me a better Christian. :)

  • At Wed Jun 07, 09:17:00 AM, Blogger Robyn Elaine Serven said…

    I didn't know about it at the time, but that church is presently a part of the ELCA.

    Nice to have a visitor, virgomusic. :-)

  • At Tue Sep 17, 12:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Robyn, I gather from your blog that you are a transgender person. I often wondered about truth. Here's some for you and me. Jesus is God's son. Jesus died to pay for everyone's sin. Jesus was raised so that all may have life. Jesus will return again to establish his kingdom on earth. That is truth for all. Which part of the truth do you want to wait to get hit by?

    Ask yourself what place have I made for God in my life? in any decision you've made? in any area of your life? Where? When? What?

    Instead, I say what do you need God for when you have $100,000 and a fast car? You don't need God. You have everything you need. Just like you only need brakes on a car when you need to stop. There is nothing stopping you. You go baby! Get some! Get all you can because that is all you'll ever know.

    But don't the knowledgeable people say, "there is more?" Don't smart people take their complex machines to an expert to fix? Wouldn't it be sad if the expert who died to save you from your sin, you rejected? Better pay attention to that dead Chinese, Asian author that appeals to your inner voice. Be careful that that ground that you're building that house on isn't sand. I know it feels solid. Change is coming soon. I choose to believe Jesus. He paid for his message of love with his life. Then he was raised from the dead, and He set me free. I believe the promises that he made. All the preachers, ministers, and priests can take a leap. I don't care. They didn't die on a cross. You are loved Robyn just as you are. Just believe and look at what it says one more time. Pick up a bible and pray, "Ok, Jesus, if this is true and you are the Son of God, then reveal yourself to me." He won't until you ask...The next step is yours.

    What made me respond to your blog was just this...I noticed that you had hundreds of posts about so many topics, but religion was the least.

    God knows what you think, the point is do you know what he says?


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