I’m slowly coming to the realization that the faith of my childhood: the Evangelical, middle-of-the-road, straight and narrow faith that was passed down to me by my parents and community, no longer fits. My faith has gone through a myriad of transformations, and I’ve always prided myself on having an adaptable faith. But this feels different: the faith itself is no longer working. It’s an old, trusty Toyota that has carried me through forests and over deserts, but it’s sputtering now, starting to break down.
One of the most common questions I get from readers is what my tools are for navigating disagreement. This is usually in the context of homosexuality, Tarot, or yoga, when talking to others who are more conservative or have differing theological beliefs.
I was traumatized by my time in church. The years of sitting in pews, Bible studies, and coffee shops with Christian leaders, listening to variation upon variation of how wrong homosexuality is, slowly eroded me. Words might not seem that powerful, but if they are a steady trickle, coursing over your young mind which is porous as fresh soil, they carve out whole canyons of self loathing.
As I struggle with the darkness of our world, the uncertainty of the future, and the gross, volatile excesses of our leaders, I come to only one solution. It’s a small solution, no doubt, and it often feels insufficient. It may change nothing in our world, but it is the only thing I know to do: to live with integrity.
I have several not-so-secret ambitions in life; one is de-stigmatize the use of Tarot as a meditative and creative practice. I’ve already written at length on Tarot: on how I can be a Christian who practices it, my personal method for reading it, and a meditation on the first Major Arcanum, the Magician. This article will explore the method of Tarot meditation I use most regularly.
Before we get into the meditation technique, however, we need to talk briefly about why Tarot is so effective as a Meditation practice.
Every morning, I haul myself out of bed, make breakfast, and then sit down at my computer to dedicate a portion of my day – 30 to 90 minutes – to writing. This is my Deep Work practice, and to me, it is sacred.
Over two years ago, I met the love of my life. Gentle, intelligent, and incredibly present, I knew from the first phone conversation that we would be together. I had only been fully out of the closet for about two or three years – not nearly long enough to reverse a lifetime of training that homosexuality is intrinsically bad, disordered, and ugly. When I met my partner, those tapes were still playing deep in my subconscious. When J and I got together, those voices exploded from the nether realms of my brain. They came out like vengeful spirits, torturing me. This is what, in part, sparked my total meltdown at the beginning of 2015.
I’ve spent years of my life sorting through what I believe about homosexuality. I’ve been all over the map in this rugged terrain of theological belief, from ex-gay, to “Side B” to accomodationist, to affirming. Now, mercifully, I’ve journeyed beyond the gay Christian debate. I’m happy with my life and I’ve dedicated myself to what are, in my view, better, nobler things than a life-devouring obsession over my sexual orientation.
However, as I struggled with what I believed about homosexuality, I started to learn about people, and why we believe what we believe. The greatest things I’ve learned from the gay debate have little to do with homosexuality, and much more to do with human nature.
For my entire life, I’ve been driven by success. I measured success by the number of eyes that were watching me, by the number of mouths who sang my praises, by the number of laurels I collected. This blind, obsessive drive for success ranks as one of the top silent torturers of my psyche. It didn’t matter how many people read my work – it was never enough. It didn’t matter how perfected my vocal technique was when I was a lyric baritone, I was always more aware of the microscopic flaw than my general improvement.