I like to keep things succinct. Do you believe in god? I'm not really sure what to assume, because I feel like a few of your views don't align with "traditional" church values.
Not that that's a bad thing. I like progressive. One of my mom's friends is a veteran of the gay right's movements from the 70's. He would take us out to these fancy dinners and tell stories with his partner about how absolutely dogshit they had it. Genuinely, just miserable.
So, I'm sure things in the current are better for those a little more fey, but god is still something I think about. I'm not really sure what I like. I haven't had much experience, but I think I'm open to the idea. God just sort of peeks his head in to break up my thoughts.
I'm not very religious in general, so it's actually not too big of an issue. I was just curious your thoughts. If you are religious, how do you reconcile your personal feelings with your spiritual beliefs? Are there religions that allow such things?
I could just use some guidance. Thanks in advance.
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"Is there a God?" is the biggest philosophical question ever, isn't it? Do I personally believe in God? Depends on what you mean by "God." The idea of a guy in robes and a flowing, white beard sitting on a heavenly throne and surrounded by angels and cherubs etc. is definitely not something I subscribe to. Nor do I follow any of the Big Three religions: Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Religions are human constructs designed to keep the masses in line and a small number of priestly class people in power. That is all. Religion is a horrible thing that has caused more death and destruction in human history than just about anything else. And I find that those who feel they must have a religion to follow often do so because they lack the imagination to seek their own truth about their place in the universe. It's easier to follow blindly than to think independently. (I might lose some readers with these statements, but anyone who follows my column already knows my views, and I would never pretend otherwise to get more subscribers). Most people follow a certain religion because they were raised with it, although there are some who convert to a religion that they find suits their personal philosophy better (I have respect for that because at least it shows they are thinking).
This said, I do believe there is more to the world than is dreamt of in our philosophy. The more science learns, the more amazing our universe becomes, and I do not believe that the universe just happened at random. It is far too complex and mind-boggling to have arisen by chance (a billion monkeys typing on a billion typewriters will never produce the works of Shakespeare). No, there is something going on behind the curtain of the perceivable universe that we do not comprehend. Bits of it are starting to peek out behind the veil as we explore the quantum world. More and more it becomes apparent that the matter and energy we sense around us is not the ultimate reality. Indeed, scientific experiments prove that our observations of the universe actually affect reality. It is my fondest hope that, after we die, we might be made party to what that reality truly is.
In the meantime, we are stuck fumbling about in this world, trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle made of a trillion pieces without a photo on the box. The angst of the human condition arises because we are cognizant of our mortality yet kept in the dark about whether or not we have an ultimate reason for existing. It can make you nuts if you think on it too long, which, honestly, is why many people turned to established religions. Kind of a vacation for the brain.
The ultimate truth is beyond our reach. However, you can rely on certain guiding principles in life that will give you comfort, give you purpose, and give you guidance.
Are there religions that allow you to explore these things, you ask? Well, one path you might try is Buddhism, which is a philosophy that people mistake for religion. You can also check into a Unitarian Universalist church. These people are very open to their members searching for personal truth while also exploring your spiritual side. Finally, you might consider Wicca or various "pagan" beliefs that are more Nature-oriented. Any of these could serve you well, or a combination of two or all of them.
Whether or not the above answers your questions, continue to seek your personal truth throughout your life. Keep yourself open to new ideas and possibilities. And remember what Kurt Vonnegut said:
Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies--"God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
So a few months ago I realized I was atheist. I haven't told my mom, but I'm getting signs that coming out could be bad.
I am really worried because I have heard of cases of being thrown out, disowned, and many things. I don't really know anyone real who I can talk to about this because my entire school is Christian. One morning we were taken to this place, which no one knew where we were going, and made to pray and say Bible verses, but I just kinda stayed quiet. I've only found one person that's atheist, but their parents are atheists, so I don't know.
Mozzy (age 11)
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Exploring one's spiritual beliefs is a lifelong process for many people. Others allow themselves to be indoctrinated into their family's beliefs and never question them. It is good that you are openminded and questioning what may be out there, rather than blindly following what others tell you to do. I encourage you to continue to explore your spirit now and in the future. Do this by reading. READ READ READ READ. Read what atheists have to say, but also read Christian, Jewish, Muslim philosophers. Read about Zoroastrianism, Hindu, Buddhist beliefs. After a while, you will notice some consistent beliefs. There are some wise words said in every religion, but there is also a lot of intolerance.
I know people who are atheists. My sister is one. My mother is really an agnostic. My father was Southern Baptist. Of the philosophies I have explored, I have been most drawn to Wicca and Buddhism. In the end, I take a little bit from each philosophy and form my own conclusions as best I can.
The danger of what your mother and your school does is that they seek to control people and not allow them to be enlightened on their own. Most people do this out of fear. The Church is good at making people fearful by threatening them with Hell and Damnation unless they do as they are told (while priests and ministers often misbehave hypocritically at the same time, you might have noticed).
The problem is that you are 11, which means you have little power in how you lead your life right now. Now, about your fear of being kicked out if you tell Mom you are an atheist: the law is on your side here. It is illegal to abandon a child under 18 in this country. However, threatening your mother with a lawsuit or prison time does not make for a comfortable living situation.
Therefore, the wise thing to do is just do as you are told for now. Read in private as much as you can. Nod when your mother tells you her beliefs about God and Jesus, and just go along with it until you are able to leave the house and support yourself.
I know, that's not a pleasant prospect, but telling Mom you're an atheist will likely make life very unpleasant for you. In your own best interest, I advise you to just keep quiet about it as you are doing now.
Who knows what the future might bring? Heck, you might eventually decide to be a Christian again (not unheard of), and if you do, yours will be a much more genuine faith based upon your own thoughts and feelings rather than someone else's. And, if you decide to convert to another religion or just be an atheist, that's fine too because there is something in this world that is more important than what we believe or what religion we practice. What is important is how we behave. Being kind to others and to the world and to ourselves is the best way to honor any god, or even a world without gods.
I don't know what to say or think any longer... Not long ago, I accepted atheism as my worldview even though I desperately want to believe in more spiritualistic worldviews. The main problem is that atheists claim that their beliefs are rational and all other beliefs are not; it sounds right, but I don't agree with their militant behaviour and disrespect.
I'm so confused and don't know what to do, it's a huge dilemma :'(
Aurel (age 15)
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Religion, God, Life, Death have all been very much on my mind lately, so your letter is timely. I thoroughly enjoy discussing philosophy and spirituality with my readers. I will write more soon, but if you don't mind I want to send you a link to a PDF that you might find fascinating (a little academic, hope you don't mind): http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ConsciousRealism2.pdf
I'm not sure which atheists you are talking to. My sister is an atheist, and she's a very kind and wonderful person. Not in your face at all. That said, I do believe in more than just the physical world.
How about you ask me a few specific questions about spirituality or other "Big Questions" and I will write you back? Now, these answers are based on my personal beliefs, so take them with a grain of salt (they are worth the price you pay for them). I will tell you that I am not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew. I am also not an atheist, Satanist, or Wiccan (although I respect Wiccans).
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Thank you for your time but I'm not in the mood for ... anything, let alone philosophy, religion and spirituality. It's just.... I don't know, the whole atheist worldview isn't what I'm comfortable with in the slightest. I know that you once said that we have to stick with a view that we are comfortable with, and that's spirituality, but I'm always afraid that they might be right. Maybe the physical world is the only world? Maybe there is nothing after death? I don't agree with any of that since I do believe that there's something out there and that the universe simply cannot be a product of randomness and chance.
Sorry, I didn't mean ALL atheists, just the militant, in your face ones like professor Richard Dawkins. You know, the ones that don't respect other religious beliefs and that think religious and spiritual people, people different than themselves, are deluded and in a way crazy. I want to be kind and respect people different than myself and I don't think that spirituality and religion is just stupidity and delusion.
I'm not in the mood for anything because I don't think that the physical world is the only world but if I do think otherwise, I'm not rational and intelligent (judging by what many anti-theists say). And then there's death. Many atheists say that their decision to become atheist was the best thing that happened to them but I don't think that's true. They say that they appreciate and enjoy their lives more due to the fact that this is the only life they have. They say that they are generally more joy-filled and happier than when they were religious/spiritual. I don't agree, since the only emotions I could experience since I "decided" (unwillingly) to "become atheist" are sadness, fear and anger. I don't find my hobbies more enjoyable, my sex drive is almost gone, I don't have anything to wake up for and I have trouble getting asleep (I cried myself to sleep this night and had woken up two times unable to sleep). Without spirituality, everything loses its soul. Love doesn't make sense anymore if it's just a chemical reaction, and that sex is just a drive to reproduce. Nature isn't beautiful like it used to be, I don't feel like exercising, I don't find art interesting... Ironically, Dawkins (recently I watched a lot of his documentaries) said that this is more beautiful and interesting than "poverty-stricken religious views.”
I don't want to believe that we are just biological computers, I don't want to believe that there's no purpose to life. I refuse to believe that religious people are stupid and that religion and spirituality should just die.
I refuse to believe that this is "reality." I really, really don't.
I used to be optimistic... Now I just don't know. I would love to be spiritual again, to not worry about death every other minute...
I don't know anymore. If this is supposed to be rationality and reality, then I'll gladly chose ignorance.
I'm going on vacation tomorrow morning and I will possibly be home from said vacation in 10-11 days. Here are some specific things I wish to know, from your perspective.
3) Life after death?
4) Did you follow more than two religions in your lifetime?
5) Were you indoctrinated and or baptized into Christianity?
Feel free to write back while I'm on vacation, thank you for reading my letter. You're a great guy!
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If you’ve read my column, you probably have seen me write that I feel that anyone espousing a religion and asserting that they “know” their religion is right and is the only correct way to believe is either lying or deluding themselves.
But the same goes for atheists. To say, “We know for a fact that there is nothing beyond what the scientific world can explain and that all we are is biological beings and death is the final word” is also an exercise in hubris.
NOBODY knows what life, death, the universe, God/Not God are. NOBODY knows their true nature. In that spirit (pun intended) I will tell you here and now that Papabear doesn’t know, either. I have my theories, my conclusions, my beliefs that I have come to after 50 years of thinking about such things (even as a little child my thoughts were on this matter), but all of them could be wrong or just partially right, or right but only in a limited way.
To answer your questions, I’ll start with the less philosophical ones and work my way up.
So, I started exploring other beliefs. Some, such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, seem too tied up in mythologies. When I found out about Wicca, though, I found much to appeal to me. Wicca doesn’t judge people and believes in kindness to others and to Earth. This is all great stuff, and I did some reading about it and considered myself a Wiccan for a short time, but I just couldn’t get into the ideas they have about “magic.” I don’t think there is such a thing as magic, really (again, I could be wrong), but I do admire that Wiccans make very clear that black magic—magic to harm others—is forbidden and if you practice it you will be harmed seven times over.
Next, I got into Shamanism, especially that of the Native American people. Even consulted regularly with a friend in Oklahoma named Blackbear Bright (wonderful person). I love the interconnectedness to the natural world that Shamanism has (similar to Wicca, which is a form of shamanism, really), but I still felt it was not exactly for me. I haven’t abandoned it, but now I flavor it with my pursuit of Buddhism. Buddhism is not a religion, of course, but it is a philosophy that is very spiritual in nature. So I guess you could say I’m into Shamanism/Buddhism but I also add to this my interest in quantum physics, which has become like a third religion to me.
I can’t accept that. I can’t accept that all we are is an organ in our skulls and that we are, in essence, just machines that happen to be self-aware. There is increasing evidence that death is not the end. Some call it a transition, some a rebirth into a real world.
Aurel, you know that little voice inside your head? That’s not Jiminy Cricket—that’s your connection to your spiritual conscience. Pay attention to it. It is saying that although you don’t believe Christianity is your path, neither do you feel that atheism is the right choice because you feel in your heart that there is something more. Instead of ignoring or pushing away that feeling, make yourself more open to it. Listen to it. It is, in my opinion, your connection to the Godself.
I believe that we are like eggs within the Womb of God. As we experience this life, we grow spiritually until we “die,” which is actually the release from the Womb when we are born into ourselves. Like eggs in a woman’s body, however, some of us do not become fertilized, so to speak, and are reabsorbed into the womb. Those eggs do not mature to the point where they are born. Those that do, become like baby gods, able to create their own reality that is based upon what they experienced in this life. Those that learned to be loving will create new, loving universes, and those that did not will create universes that are less than happy. I have a suspicion that we are in one of those less-than-perfect universes, but we have the power within us to overcome this rather ugly world and generate something much more beautiful.
Aurel, the key to finding happiness and hope again is to trust in your feelings that there is more to us than mere matter and energy. You are turned off by religions, I understand that completely; and I feel that you are also right not to trust the atheists, so certain in their denial of the spiritual.
We are each a piece of the Creator, gifted with the power to create new realities if we allow ourselves to awaken from the Womb and become born as our true selves.
And those are my conclusions … for now. Whether or not you believe them is certainly up to you, but what is more important is for you not to give up. Do not give into the hopelessness of the atheists, and do not be fooled by the dogma of the religious. In other words, while it is okay to listen to what others have to say, don’t let them dictate your beliefs but discover for yourself your own reality.
Before I get to my question I would like to give my sincere condolences for your mate, and I would like to say I know what it's like to lose someone you love. Also I am really looking forward to the furry book coming out, it is on my list of books to read, right up there with Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.
Now onto my question, while looking for my fursona because I just found the fandom a few weeks ago I found something that I was suspicious about but not certain of, I was gay. I am still in the closet with my family but I told my friends because I trust them more than my family. I had told my mother about a year ago of my suspicions and I thought I could trust her but she went and told the rest of my family, including my grandmother who is a pastor. Next time I saw my grandmother she gave me biblical reasons as to why homosexuality is wrong, as a person who thinks Christianity is a bunch of poppycock and is questioning everything I have ever been taught I almost called her out on it but did not. My whole family is homophobic and they absolutely despise furries calling them freaks who need to be committed to a psych ward, so as a homosexual furry that is the worst place to be. What do I do?
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Hello, and thanks for your patience. Thanks, too, for the good wishes.
It's fine that you respected your grandmother and her beliefs enough not to lash back at her homophobic stance.
Many people who espouse Christianity are very misled. Somehow, for many (but by no means all) Christians, it has become a testimony to their faith that they should hate certain people. Lately, that seems to mean it's okay to hate LGBT people.
I will say that I'm not a Christian (duh, right?), but I do believe in many things the Bible says and I believe that many of the things Jesus supposedly said are wonderful and should be followed by Christians and non-Christians alike (the Golden Rule being at the top of the list).
Jesus was about loving your fellow humans, even (and this cannot be stressed enough) your enemies. He was not about hatred, rejection, and prejudice. Pretty much everything about religion that goes beyond “treat other people nicely and love God” is extraneous, unimportant, and added by religions in order to give priests jobs, build elaborate churches, and start religious wars (to send hate mail, write to: Grubbs Grizzly, 555 Bear St., Getoveryourself, CA 90000).
So your grandmother the pastor gave you “biblical reasons” why being gay is against God and Christianity. You already disagree with her, but if you want some ammunition, here you go:
1. If she quotes Leviticus, you can point out that the Old Testament laws are overwritten by the New Testament (after all, that’s what Christianity is supposed to be about), and then continue by noting Leviticus if chock full of ridiculous rules (well, some might have been practical thousands of years ago, but are not now), including prohibition of eating rabbits or shrimp, prohibitions of growing crops next to each other or wearing linen and wool together, and prohibition of eating raw meat (no sushi for you!), among other things.
2. If she talks about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, saying the cities were punished for, among other things, gay sex. That’s not true. They were punished for being greedy people who treated others badly. Now, there is a scene where a bunch of Sodomites were coming to Lot’s house to have sex with the angels who were his guests. But this wasn’t sex for the purpose of fun; you see, back then, gang raping people was one form of punishing them through humiliation. Thus, the Sodomites were coming to brutalize and punish the angels, not have a fun gay orgy.
3. I defy your grandmother or anyone to find one single quote by Jesus in the Bible saying homosexuals are wrong or evil.
4. In fact, there is a story in Matthew in which a Roman centurion goes to Jesus for help. This is an important scene often cited by gay men to point out the true nature of Jesus and how the original Greek text is often mistranslated and misinterpreted. The centurion comes out of desperation to a Jewish religious leader (that he does so shows his desperation), Jesus, to cure his ailing young lover (a man he has purchased). In those days, it was quite common for older men of means to buy others as “slaves,” who were really bought for sex. Now, in many cases, these men were beloved by their purchasers. Many scholars have shown that the proper interpretation of the Greek text is that the young man whom Jesus shows no qualms in curing, is gay. Jesus would have known this, being a man of the times and familiar with Romans. Therefore, Jesus must not have had a problem with it. Why? Again, because God ain’t about hate!
I would like to suggest you visit the Gay Christians Network site at http://www.gaychristian.net/ and read up on what they have to say about talking to your family about being gay.
As for being furry—well, I would say it is more important to talk to them about being gay first, rather than tackling both things at once. I’ve talked about this issue many times on my website. You can also have the family watch a couple movies that are out there: Fursonas is a 90-minute documentary directed by Dominic Rodriguez, and Furry is a half-hour documentary by Eric Risher. Of the two, I rather prefer the shorter Furry because it takes less time to watch and doesn’t try too hard to convince people.
The bottom line is this: you can quote Bible verses and show people movies and give them all kinds of empirical evidence to support your case, but chances are you will not convince them because people don’t like their beliefs to be challenged or, worse, threatened, and they certainly don’t want to hear arguments from someone who is “only” 17 because parents and other elders “know better.”
My advice? Don’t try. A day will come very soon for you when you will be able to lead your own independent life the way you want to live it, and if that means that some—or even all—of your family will reject you, then so be it. Who wants family like that anyway? I want family who accepts me for who I am, don’t you? In the meantime, you are, likely, dependent on them, so lay low, don’t push your identity in their faces, and ride it out until you are free.
Good afternoon, Papabear:
I'm a new member of furry community, and from what I've seen so far everything looks amazing, However since the last few months I may have discovered the "adult" side of the furry fandom and by that I mean the furporn. I have never seen something like these and from what I have read in your answers to other people's letters, you know everything that is about the fandom and so here is my question.
Is the furporn considered in a sense bestiality and since I have seen it does that mean that I have seen and committed the sin of bestiality? And if it wasn't, could you please tell me in what capacity does this furporn begin to enter the domain of bestiality like I saw what I think people call "feral and anthro yiffing" together and it is bothering me due to my Catholic background. So if you could please give me your honest opinion of my situation that would be incredibly helpful .... so in case you need anymore details please feel free to ask any question and thank you in advance for your help
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I guess we should start with some definitions here, just to be clear. Bestiality is committed when a human has any sexual relationship with an animal, ranging from actual intercourse to masturbation, to naked rubbing (frottage). A second definition of bestiality means "cruel and depraved behavior," but that's not as relevant here. Zoophilia, which you don’t mention, is feeling aroused by the thought of sex with an animal and having sexual desires for such animals.
It doesn’t sound like you are aroused by the images you saw, nor have you committed a sexual act with an animal, so, no, you have not committed a sin of bestiality in my opinion anymore than a man who accidentally sees a nude image of a woman in, say, an advertisement is guilty of adultery. Don’t worry.
Are there images of bestiality and zoophilia in the fandom. Yes, there are, and “feral and anthro yiffing” would likely qualify since anthros are quite similar to human beings. If you don’t like seeing such images, you can easily avoid them and still be part of the fandom. You can even join Christian furry groups online. Also, if you are not familiar with this, if you go to FurAffinity there is a button at the top right side of the page that says “SFW.” SFW means “Safe for Work,” which means it will automatically filter out any explicit images on your screen and leave you with the more wholesome images without fear of stumbling on the other stuff.
I hope you will stay with the fandom and enjoy the more G-rated stuff. There’s lots of it and many good authors and artists who are clean.
So I have a question... My family is religious, we're Christians and I am religious along with them... but my problem with this is that because we follow the bible... anything except for normal human, male goes with female sex is a big no no... I am transgender and furry... though only one other person knows...
My fursona, Silvia the orca, is part of me and my personality. I roleplay but I'm worried that my parents will only see the bad side of the fandom... if I come out as furry the other problem is that I'd have to come out as trans as well and I know I would never be looked at the same again...
Please help D:
From Silvia (age 15)
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I was going to write you a long spiel about coming out to Christian parents (or else link you to earlier articles), but I found someone who did it better. Read this article http://www.gaychristian101.com/Coming-Out.html by a conservative Christian that is most excellent. Among his points are that God loves you, whether or not your are gay or trans or whatever, that parents often misunderstand the Bible, and that if you are in a bad situation you might not want to come out just yet. Read it, it will help.
As for being furry, you might conceal this in addition to not coming out (if you so choose), or you can explain to your parents that this is just a fun hobby and is no worse than watching a Disney movie such as, say, The Rescuers. You might also try joining the Christian Furs at http://christianfurs.net/. You don’t say whether or not you are still a Christian, or if you have turned to some other belief system, but do know you can certainly be both a Christian and a furry, just as you can be a transgender Christian.
Please take a look at these links and let me know if you have further questions. Good luck!
In the past two months, I've started seriously contemplating my religion, the reason for human existence and my fandom. The more I think about it, the more I understand how exactly inferior and stupid those things are (mainly applied to humanity, the other two aren't as bad). And it has a effect on me, I feel disappointed and sad...
I will try to make this letter as short as possible, sorry if it's too long.
I will start with number one of course, humanity.
Now, first I will need to share a part of my childhood with you and other dear furries... Yes... I was SUPER OBSESSED with animals and anthropomorphic animals, mainly because of the cartoons I've used to watch (Disney and other). There wasn't a single day without thinking about anthropomorphic animals and creating new worlds and scenarios. Everything that had humans in it was a no go. Later, when I turned 10, I've found furry porn and got attracted by it... To make it short, I have literally woken up one day (I was 13 then) and started to think about how humans are cool (what, how is this possible)... While I still had the same love for anthros, I don't love them as much as I love humans nowadays (yeah yeah, you guys must think that I'm the most boring person on earth now, no lying :-) ).
Okay now, I don't want to call our species "monsters", but something close to that. I don't know why I love humans, but I'm sure that this is who I am.
Here is a question for you Papa, what makes humans, well, humans. What is the only difference between us and other species? I will answer that for you: Nothing. There is literally nothing that we can do other species can't do 1000x times better than us. I used to think that we were smarter than animals but I was, sadly, proven wrong. As much as I don't like to say this, yes, animals are SMARTER than us. Shockingly enough, crows are smarter, lions are smarter, even rabbits are, come on mankind?!Why do you suck so much? The point is, everything we do, they can do, except they do it 1000x times better.
Here is a small note for everyone that says humans are "superior." We need animals and plants, but they don't need us. If we disappear right now, nature would rebuild in 5 years. But if those so called "pasts" disappear (aka insects or any other animal), the ecosystem falls apart. Tell me, what is a human being without technology and machinery? Just a harmless bone bag, a sack of meat ready to get executed by a rat or a cat. So much for human anatomy. You may think that we are the best ... just open your eyes and you will see that we are plainly the worst. P.S. Even with technology, we get annihilated by the most "simplest" of animals. Enough said. We are only good for wars, not even in that.
Second, we have religion. Maybe the only thing that makes us differ from other species. Not something to be proud about, I think that YOU already know a lot about this topic. Other animals can practice religion throughout telepathy for all I know. I love my religion (Christianity), but sadly, just like any other thing humans invented, it is very much flawed and abused. The crusades are a good example. Such as any other religion. Again, enough said.
And third, my fandom, the anime fandom (the most inferior of them all). I don't know if you interacted with my fandom in the past and not exactly sure if you know much about it, I assure you, there are many things flawed with my fandom. It's not the worst thing in the world, I enjoy the content and the community (even if I am not active yet, just decided to become one last year.) but oh man! The majority of my fandom is great, just typical anime fans who don't feel the urge to sleep with a anime character, marry them and "become Japanese" . The ones who don't place a shrine of an anime character inside of their house and finally, the ones who won't go around saying that they have a soul of an anime character inside them regardless of the time when the anime was created... Ahhhhhhh... Weaboos, otaku, otakukin, waifu and God only knows how more of... I can't, I can't bear to hear about weird people like these (otakus aren't that bad ,though) who happened to destroy our reputation and made other people call us weaboos...
Just as Uncle Kage said: "Anime conventions have entire booths dedicated to tentacle rape.” As much as I dislike his statement, I don't want to issue a selfish remark so I'll accept it like a man.
I don't understand anything anymore, I'm confused and don't know what to think anymore.
What is wrong with me exactly? Why didn't I find a normal hobby?! Why aren't I a furry, that is far more normal from the shit I'm into! Why are humans so bad?! Why does religion make no sense sometimes?! I don't understand anything anymore!
How come that the furry fandom is so good and my fandom sucks...how?
Sorry for the lengthy one and for the God awful grammar...
That's my part, now here is where you, Papabear, step in!
Iro (age 15)
P.S. It may sound like I don't have hope in humanity but it's quite different, I still love all the things I've mentioned, it's just that I needed to show you how exactly flawed they are.
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I’m not sure what has gotten you so upset about anime or humanity since in your letter you simply say how you are so frustrated by how sucky they are but you never explain why you feel that way (except maybe the tentacle thing).
I’m not a huge fan of anime, but that’s just me. I have no objections to it, it just isn’t my thing. Because of this, I don’t feel I can discuss anime with you with much of a sense of authority, so let’s just talk about humanity and religion.
I would have to disagree with you that humanity is inferior to all animals. Let us just say that all species have their part in the world. Humans evolved large brains because they lacked wings, fangs, claws, and other adaptations that would have helped them survive, so, instead, they evolved large brains to help them build tools to survive, and the other thing they did is develop strong social structure (strength in numbers). You might argue that a rabbit can run faster, a bird can fly, a tiger can easily kill a human, but together humans can do all these things (go fast in a car, fly in a plane, invent a spear or a gun). For many eons, we did not have sophisticated technology. We survived with spears, knives, bows and arrows, pottery, fire, the ability to adapt using shelters and clothing. It is our adaptability to different environments that also makes us successful as a species. Where many animals need a forest or certain types of food sources to survive (e.g., mow down all the bamboo and the pandas perish), we can live pretty much anywhere (the development of agriculture was a huge step, too). So, I would say, humans are not inferior to other species, we have simply learned different ways to survive. We are, really, an evolutionary experiment. Whether that experiment succeeds or not remains to be seen. We could easily go extinct, and, if we do, something else will take our place. That’s how nature works. As long as the planet is habitable, there will be life on it.
I disagree, too, that if humans suddenly disappeared it would not have an averse effect. Actually, because we have changed the environment so much, if humans suddenly disappeared there would be a period of several hundred years before Nature would be able to achieve a new balance because things like weeds, invasive animals, etc., that we are currently controlling to some extent would run rampant, devastating many ecosystems until a new equilibrium could be achieved. The main difference between humans and the rest of nature is we can adapt rather quickly, while Nature takes more time.
Another difference between humans and other species (at least, as far as we know) is religion. While it has been shown that animals can have emotions (something people in the past once denied), no one has ever seen a bear going to temple or a crocodile participating in communion. Does religion have some kind of evolutionary benefit? I believe that evolution is not merely biological but also has to do with the progress of consciousness. Biologists and psychologists know that as you move up the evolutionary scale, species’ consciousness evolves, too, kind of like this (except I added the last step):
Religion, too, undergoes evolution. Mostly, in our history, we see it going from polytheism to monotheism. The predominant trend at the moment is for monotheism that is blended with cultural constructs. It is the contamination from cultural constructs that cause misunderstandings and lead people to fight with and even kill one another. (The other reason for war, of course, having to do with money, power, and the struggle for natural resources, which are all the result of people being misguided into believing that the physical world is the only important world).
I believe that humans are not yet done with their spiritual evolution. Indeed, one sees some signs now of the next step, which is to realize that God (or whatever you wish to call it) is not a being who is separate from us (monotheism) but, rather, God is Everything (what I like to call ultratheism). We are a living piece of the Great Spirit, and God is evolving through all of us and through every living and “inanimate” thing that exists. Our consciousness is a synapse in the Mind of God. God thinks, dreams, imagines, and evolves through us and we through God. We are a part of one another and are, therefore, connected. Monotheism requires a priestly class (or a Christ figure) to serve as a liaison between God and humanity because in this system the two are not connected; ultratheism has no need of priests, religious rulers, and prophets (or a Son of God) because it recognizes we all have a direct connection to one another. Once we all realize this, wars will cease and our violent acts against the natural world will end because we will recognize that we are all a part of the Body of God and that killing and harming others is the same as killing ourselves.
But we aren’t there yet.
We are here, Iro, to learn and to grow. Each of us has his or her part in it. We are on a path to a higher end, but we are only partway done with the journey. You are frustrated because you see the world in its current, progressing state, but don’t be angry at humanity because it hasn’t finished its journey yet. Instead, what we should all do is try to help it along. See the good in humanity and try to help mend the things that are wrong with it. Humans are capable of some wonderful things (I always think of music and the other arts as wonderful examples—art is the expression of spirit in our hearts), and, yes, we are capable of horrendous things (but, actually, so are other animals).
Nothing is perfect. You seem to see the furry fandom as better than anime. That’s probably a skewed viewpoint: neither one is perfect, both have their good points. The same is true for all things. Life is a progression; life is evolution; life is the gradual awakening of God to a higher state of mind.
And you are a part of that greatest evolution of all. Embrace it. Live.
I have had depression for almost 8 years but was diagnosed around 4 years ago. Now, I didn't have much in my life, my parents had split when I was young, my dog died on Christmas morning, I have been bullied and have Asperger’s. I found out about furries at a relatively young age, and since then I have always hated my life and wanted to, become, a character from a furry comic. I can't really explain my case but I notice things happening to me but can't change that. I've been to too many counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentalists to feel happy about my life. I have been having extremely suicidal thoughts lately as I have delved further into the furry universe and I have almost distanced myself from what is reality in my mind. I honestly don't know what to do anymore as I can't live in this reality while my mind thinks and believes in so many others that are better. I need help or I don't think I can play this game of charades (life) anymore.
Fisker (age 17)
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I understand exactly what you are feeling; really, I do. And since you have tried psychologists, psychiatrists, and other counselors, I won’t refer you to them. You’ve come to me, and I am honored.
You and I both know that life can be cruel and unfair. I just lost my love, Yogi, a few months ago, and, believe me, especially those first few weeks after his death, I wanted to follow him. But death is the easy way out, living is the challenge.
So, why are we alive? Why are you, Fisker, subject to so much grief? Is God just a cruel torturer, watching us suffer as He laughs at us from his throne in Heaven?
No. Fisker, what you and I (all of us) are is spirit temporarily encased in a mortal coil. We are here, in the physical world, to learn, and one of those things we must learn is sadness. It’s been said that God never hands us more than we can handle, but I don’t think that’s true, either. Sometimes we can’t handle it, and some people who can’t handle it take their own lives.
I’ve questioned my existence for a long time, and even more now. When I was 18, I attempted suicide, but, of course, lived. Today, I am alive even when my dear Yogi is dead. The only answer I can come up with is that we are not yet done with what we have been sent here to do. If I had died at 18, this column would not exist and I couldn’t try and help others. If I had taken my life after Yogi’s death, I wouldn’t be here now to help you, either.
My piano teacher told me something similar. He suffered from a stroke, was in a coma, and even believes he saw the other side. He came back, though, and is now my teacher. He has been there to comfort me in my loss and has become a dear friend. He told me the other day that he thinks one reason he lived and recovered was to be my friend.
Fisker, you are still here because whatever powers that be that have given us the universe want you to be here. You are only 17. You have a great deal of living to do. Although things are tough for you right now, I can guarantee that they will change. And, since you are at a very low point right now, my prediction is that they will get better. (You can only sink so low, right?)
Your life will change. YOU will change. OMG, I am such a different person now than I was at your age. And you will be, too, when you are mine. The thing you must do now is hold on while you get through this bumpy ride because if you do you will eventually find yourself on better footing.
If I can do it, you can do it. I’ve been through my parents’ divorce; I’ve been through bullying; I’ve been through death, and more. Hold on and you will someday find your reason for being here as I have found mine: this column.
In the meantime, I am here for you. You can write me anytime.
I have not had a mate for 10 years, and ever since 2015 has begun my life took a hard drop. I’ve always had depression, but because I was turning 18 my parents had been on my case to find somebody. That on top of many other things put me in a real low place in life. After my birthday in April I started searching inside myself, I finally realized I was bi; however, the way I was raised, Southern Baptist, I just tried to act otherwise, like it was a phase. But I’ve always been interested in both guys and girls. I’ve been doing RP for sometime now, and in June, I was taking a nap and my mother got into my phone, and she read through one of them (which just so happened to be male on male) so she went the whole day acting funny and when I confronted her about how she was acting (angry) and had no reason to be that way, she said, “Yes, I do,” and went on to explain how she went through my phone and then asked if I was gay. My response to her was no (I was still unsure of my sexuality at the time), but then she went on to explain how if I was gay how God would punish me for it and how I haven’t been saved (baptized).
Since figuring myself out, I’ve come out to my three closest friends, and I have found a mate. We had been talking for some time, and developed feelings for each other, and after being completely oblivious to his attempts to make it obvious, we were talking about a dream I had (doing some things with someone I could’ve had a chance with). He started acting a little “strange” and when I asked what was wrong he told me he had a crush on someone. Needless to say, I finally caught on and I told him about my feelings for him. Some time later that night, I asked him if he would be willing to try and make a long-distance relationship with me work. I was so happy when he said yes, and he is the best thing in my life. He makes me happy, and we’re both Christian.
He is the only thing that’s really made me happy this year, and I was already planning on a trip next summer to get out the stress around here, so I’ll be visiting him. My parents know of the planned trip. When they ask where I'll be going, I just say, “I don’t know where I’ll be going yet.” I would like to tell my mom. I know she already suspects something, but she’s very religious and I’m afraid of how she’ll react. I used to think she was open-minded, but she’s not. If things stay good with my mate and I after I get back, I want to tell her. I don’t care what my father thinks; he just wanted a son to carry on a name. So how should I go about telling my extremely religious parents that I’m not only bisexual, but that I’m dating a gay Christian?
Rodor Wolf (age 18)
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There is an epidemic in America called the Christian Right. These are people who believe they are Christians, but they actually are not. Anyone who says God will hate you because you are gay is not a true Christian. God is about love, not hatred. Anyone who would hate their own son just because of his sexual orientation is a poor excuse for a parent.
Papabear gets letters like yours all the time, and, frankly, it’s giving me a bellyache. I am so sickened by parents who treat their own offspring like crap just because they are gay, or bi, or a lesbian, or trans, or furry.
To these parents, Papabear says, “Shame on all of you!” I’ve seen mothers and fathers treat their convicted murdering sons with more compassion and love than I see you people treating your perfectly kind and loving children who happen to be homosexual, and I am highly offended by you people. I believe in a loving, kind, and forgiving God. I’m not sure where all this hatred came from, but if I believed in Satan, I would say that you have all suckled the thick, black oils out of his venomous penis.
Strong words? You bet. I’m putting my bear paw down on this attitude right now.
It makes this bear sad, too, that the Christian Right give all Christians a bad name, because I know quite a few real Christians whom I have told I am gay and who have welcomed me with open arms. I wish they were more vocal. We need to hear their voices.
Thank you for indulging me a rant, Rodor.
Now, to answer you. Thank goodness you are 18 and are entitled to live your own life now. And I am overjoyed that you have found a loving partner and I pray that both of you can have a wonderful life together.
How do you tell your parents? There is no way to tell prejudiced, closed-minded people that you are bi or gay and have them accept you. You could point them to the Bible, even, and show them that there is not a single page in it in which Jesus says he hates homosexuals or that they should all go to hell or that His Father will hate them. This kind of invective comes only from homophobic preachers who probably need to get laid really badly, and since their sex lives stink they take it out on gay people. Another reason preachers and other right-wing activists do this is because they are actually having gay sex themselves and are trying to hide it behind a mask that portrays them as anti-gay.
Your parents, sadly, have bought into the hoax of hatred, much of which is perpetrated for political and financially selfish reasons. Why do people do this? Because they are afraid of anything that is different. They are afraid of things that challenge their preconceptions. And people react to fear by becoming hateful as a defense, even if that hate is aimed at their own kids.
It makes this bear cry.
Now you have a difficult task ahead of you, Rodor, and I’m sorry for you that you have to do this. In order to be happy, you will need to be yourself. I can tell you from experience that hiding it is going to make you absolutely miserable. You know, clearly, you have to tell your parents. The best advice I can give you is to hold off until you can make this announcement from a position of strength. That is, you will need to become independent of them so that they cannot manipulate you effectively with the threat of cutting you off financially and kicking you out of the house. A sad fact is that the number of homeless teens kicked out of their homes by families because they are gay is on the rise in America, and you don’t want to add to that number.
Wait until you are comfortable and situated so that you can live on your own, if needed, or with a roommate or perhaps your boyfriend (hope that works for you).
When you are ready, just tell them. Sounds like your mom will then tell you you are going to Hell. So be it. You are not responsible for her being so narrow-minded. Don’t be angry with her, though. Just say that you are sorry she feels that way but you disagree and believe in a loving God and there are many people like you who are gay and Christian. In fact, there are entire organizations filled with them, just like this one. Perhaps your mom needs to reread Matthew 7:1. Has she even read the Bible? Sometimes, with these right-wing people, I wonder....
I wish you well. I’m sorry I could not be more helpful, but maybe these words are a comfort.
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: "Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does He endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?" We must always consider the person.
(Warning: the following letter describes a very disturbing suicide; if you are a very sensitive person, please do not read this one)
Dear Papa Bear
I only recently learnt about you, and from what I can tell, it'd have been very helpful to know a lot sooner. But, I suppose you play the hand you're dealt, make the best of it and all that. I apologise in advance for taking up you time and there's a couple things some people could find triggering in here, so be warned.
For me, everything started about six years ago. I had just got into high school and made friends with a couple guys who were in university. You know, make friends with older, university guys who are all into the same geeky things as you, because your parent decides to send you to a sport focused high school where you get bullied for liking geeky things. Or, that's what I thought at the time anyway. They were really nice guys and we became very good friends over the next three years.
There were 2 guys in particular I grew very attached to. Like a father-son/brother kind of relationship. Riaan and Danie. We were almost always together. Either I was with them after school and in the evenings, or I sat in Skype calls and chat rooms with them. Inseparable, you could say.
Riaan always said it was like having a younger brother, and he liked that. Partially because he didn't have much of a family. His mother and father hated him, his siblings were continuously told he is the worst of the worst, he didn't really have a pleasant upbringing. Add in the fact that he was severely depressed and often suicidal, cripplingly self doubting and loathing, and had severe anxiety and you have a recipe for disaster.
Danie had an abusive father who slept with everything that he couldn't drink, smoke or snort. His mother ended up grabbing him and his brother and leaving. Socially awkward, shy, and nervous, sort of your typical nerd.
And then there's me. Father cheated on mother, ran of with his mistress to Tanzania and disappeared. Single mother left trying to raise two kids with the father only caring enough to help when convenient for him. Socially inept, awkward, nervous, permanently stressed out and mildly depressed even at the best of times.
Some of our other friends used to joke that we were pretty much just one constant self help seminar. Gave us three a nickname I can't remember. But it was ok. We were happy with the way things were, and we wanted to keep things that way.
Everything was fine up to that point...
About 3 years ago, I was in my second last year of school, I ran over to go visit Riaan at his little student flatlet. Thought we could finally marathon the resident evil movies, like we'd been saying we should. Funny that I have a really bad memory because of a head injury I got when I was 3, but I can still clearly remember everything about that night, right down to what magazines and games he had laying on his desk. Anyway, walked in, everything was dark, thought a bulb blew or something. I walked in on him sitting in his shower, hunched over. He had gone and taken his father's shotgun, the same one his father took on hunting trips to the Karoo to hunt springbok.
I yelled, but nothing, just a loud, sharp ringing in my ears followed by a shower of red. You'd be surprised how loud it actually is.... I can't really remember what he looked like, but I can still clearly remember the grotesque rose on the wall, where every chunk of brain, bone and blood landed. How he sat before, where he fell after. It's this permanent horror still burnt into my eyelids, always there the minute I close them.
No notes, no reasons, nothing. His parents arranged a “private funeral” and dumped what was left in an unmarked grave so it could be forgotten.
That's when things fell apart. I stopped caring. Danie stopped caring. We gave up. Eventually we forced ourselves and each other to move on. We bottled everything up, pretending we were ok. It worked, for the most part.
They all finished their courses, got jobs, I finished school and went off to college. Life went on.
Couple of months ago we found out Danie pretty much destroyed his liver. He was down and out for a while, barely alive and dropped off the waiting list unless he stays sober for at least one year.
Now I've got this constant feeling of dread hanging over me. I can't focus on anything or get myself to care enough, either. I think I've already given up without even thinking of trying to put up a fight and that's what scares me most. I just don't know what to do anymore.
I'm sorry about babbling on and taking up your time. I feel like a complete asshole dumping all of this on someone else and asking them to help, but at this point I've written this about a dozen times and chickened out at the last minute. So, I thought, what the hell, if you sit quietly in a corner, nothing will change. But I thank you for your time, and I'm sorry for taking up so much of it.
Jean (age 20, South Africa)
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That took real courage to write your story to me. I can’t imagine anything as horrible as what you went through when you witnessed your friend’s violent suicide. Please do not apologize or in any way think you are taking up my time. This is what I’m here for, although I have to admit this one may be out of my league. As you know, I am not a licensed psychotherapist. It might be clichéd, but have you sought one out?
In part of your letter, you say that you and Danie moved on, but I don’t believe you have. Danie is killing himself with alcohol and you are deeply, deeply scarred. What Riaan’s parents did to the body is an insult to his memory. I understand what they did, but I won’t condone it.
All three of you are victims of a society that doesn’t accept those who are different. For a while, you found a solution by creating your own support group, but Riaan, sadly, fell apart and shattered that circle. Normally, when someone goes through a tragic loss such as this, I tell them to seek out support, perhaps go to grief counseling or a local support group of people who have lived through the same thing. In your case, however, I worry that this would just remind you of the trio you already once had, and that would just bring back sad memories. Nevertheless, educating yourself about the grieving process, which is unique when it comes to suicide, may help. Here is a website that has useful information. If you are religious, you might also seek out help from your local church or temple.
But there are several other things I would like to suggest you do, too.
First, make sure you are not blaming yourself for any of this. Riaan’s suicide is not not not not your fault. I’m not sure you’re feeling that way, but if you are you have to get that notion out of your mind.
Second, if you are feeling powerless, empower yourself by being there for Danie. This will help both of you.
Danie internalized his grief, and the result is that his grief manifested itself in alcoholism. You’re also internalizing your grief and damaging yourself in a different way. Have you allowed yourself to cry? Grieving is a catharsis that you must go through before you can continue with your life. You might also be angry at Riaan for what he did. That’s okay, too. Let it out. Yell, scream, shout out your anger. It doesn’t make you a bad person to be angry, and, once you let out that anger, you will feel much better and, actually, not feel so angry anymore. It is very unhealthy to keep grief and anger inside you. I cannot emphasize that enough.
The next thing you need to do is recognize that in life we often go through major transitions. I have gone through two of them: my attempted suicide at age 18, and the discovery, at 40, that I was gay. Both times, it was like I died and was reborn. Both times were extremely difficult for me, but I managed to emerge on the other side. Riaan’s suicide is like that. The breakup of your circle is like that. A phase of your life has died, but that doesn’t mean you are at the end of life.
You are in transition.
Recognize that you are in a transitional phase of life, not at the end of it. This feeling of dread hanging over you is the image of Riaan’s suicide repeating in your soul like a broken LP.
The Buddhists have something called a 49th Day Ceremony. They believe that when someone dies, there is a 49-day period called the bardo that is a time between one life and the next. After the bardo the soul is reincarnated into the next life.
Although Riaan died three years ago, you can still perform a ceremony not so much for him but for you (and Danie). My suggestion to you is that you create a ceremony that is significant and specific to you. It should include two parts: in the first part, you commemorate the old life, and in the second part you celebrate the new. For example, you could take something that was Riaan’s or that signifies Riaan’s life in some way, tie it to a helium balloon, and let it soar far far away. Then, in celebration of the new life, you could, say, plant a tree in his name and let that tree’s new life represent his. After performing this ceremony for Riaan, guess what? Do the same for yourself. You need a rebirth, as well. Again, if you can convince him, get Danie in on this, as well.
Ceremonies are not an empty gesture. There is a reason that we have them in all religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions. They are a way of giving form to concepts and beliefs that would otherwise seem too abstract to us. They help us to cope with—and celebrate—the changes that are inevitable in life.
In essence, Jean, the reason you are feeling the way you are is because, despite what you think, you haven’t actually moved on and you haven’t grasped the idea of life and death as a transition, not an ending. With transitions, there is hope, while the idea of death as an ending offers no hope.
Embrace that life is in flux. Nothing really dies, sweetie. It just changes. It’s okay to grieve over the loss of what once was and to miss your friend, but please see that this is not the end of hope. There is always hope, love, and rebirth; they are as much a part of life as death is.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.