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Archive for August 31st, 2009

Reflections from the Barbed Wire Monastery

By:  Prison Bob

Letter from Prison Bob

Letter from Prison Bob

I grew up “within” the Episcopal Church.  To my way of thinking, it equates to the Catholic Church, except for no Hail Marys.  It was in this environment that probably around the age of fourteen I began to drift away from their teachings.

My drift wasn’t caused by a feeling of untenable expectations or of perfections unattainable.  I recall thinking how sad it was that even then I knew the service by rote.  I needed more than a cyclic three year change.

The same reasons I did poorly in Church were exhibited in my schooling.  I was bored.  When I went with the family on Sundays, I knew it was going to be:  sing, listen, up-down, up-down, communion, sing, sing, up-down, bye-bye.  Every time.

When I began working full time, I made sure to be scheduled on Sundays, so I could justifiably miss services.  It was an early avoidance tactic.  During my time in the military, even in Saudi Arabia, I didn’t rely on theology.

I did, however, re-explore Christianity when I was imprisoned.  With even more time available to me, I still find it personally unsettling.  To see it professed by the people in here who are (all of us) in here for a reason is disconcerting.

To my mind, and please understand that these are all personal observations, religion is a placating drug.  People will do all sorts of odd things to engender a sense of community.

I would rather (and this is my practice) be at ease with two or three people out of the roughly 1,000 here, than be a member of a group, which I find dishonest.

I have recently watched the transformation of a self-proclaimed Wiccan.  Here is a man, who, two months ago, would aim his entreaties at a tree or rabbit, now wandering around carrying a King James Version Bible.

Why?  Because he sees a chance at release.  After twenty-plus years inside, a woman wrote him.  After some money mailed to him and three visits, this former Wiccan is now enrolled in marriage preparation classes in the Chapel.

He goes up for parole next year.  I wouldn’t find this nearly so curious, if he and his long-time lover didn’t already live across the building from me.

My views and beliefs may be wholly incorrect.  But they are mine, and I will continue to hold them until – well, probably the entirety of my existence.  I am an ignorant man.

I can discuss those things in which I am interested.  But there is too much knowledge and information for any one of us to know it all.  I would rather be honest in my convictions and lose out on “salvation”, rather than live what I feel is a lie.

No singular philosophy contains all the answers needed in life.  Continual compromise and adaptability are needed to continue existence.  Time-frame – whether neolithic or modern, is irrelevant.  The problems I find with religion reside in the mythical singularity.

If any of the big three had a singular approach, there wouldn’t be sects or denominations.  However, when you add humanity’s inquisitive and disagreeable nature, you automatically add disharmony.

Enough for today.

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