Most peoples’ lives aren’t static, but for some reason the “about” pages on their websites are. I’m no less guilty than anyone else when it comes to letting my biographical information get out of date. So, I’m going to try an experiment. Once a month, on the 13th (because my birthday is November 13th) I’m going to review and revise the “My Story” page. I’ll archive the old entries, so we can all see what’s changed over time. What is front and center, however, will be current.
May 13, 2013
For many years I’ve walked along the path where Buddhism and Christianity converge. It’s a long stretch, created from the shared concepts of loving kindness, compassion, and empathy. It’s the path where the values of aiding the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick are lived out.
Last night I had a dream that I was leaving a Buddhist retreat and had to hurry to get to a church function. For some reason my street clothes, my dress clothes, had gone missing, and all I had to wear was what was on my back, the simple robes and slippers that I had worn at the retreat. As I went out in public, I was very comfortable, and my feet especially were very happy. No one noticed that I was dressed unusually, and I was not at all self-conscious about my outfit. I was aware that when I got to church there were people who were going to be shocked, but this also didn’t bother me. I was completely at home in my own skin, and in those clothes, and if anyone had an issie it was their issue, not mine.
When I have spoken to Buddhists from other sects, who follow other Buddhist paths, they have always said “Oh, you practice differently than I do! Let’s discuss that and compare note, because it is very interesting! So long as the end result is helping you to become more loving, compassionate, and understanding, it is a good thing!” Whenever I speak to other Buddhists about things I have read, they have said “Oh, you in interpret things differently than I do; let’s discuss it and compare notes! It’s okay to have different understandings of things, so long as it is leading you in the right direction”. Whenever I have spoken to other Buddhists about Christianity, they have been very accepting, and willing to discuss the teachings of Jesus Christ and see the parallels withe the teachings of Gautama Buddha and those who have come afterward.
When I speak to Christians from other denominations, I am always met with mixed results. Sometimes I get the level of acceptance extended by my Buddhist friends, a willingness to meet on the grounds of our common beliefs and practices, and discuss our differences in curious and constructive ways. Too often, though, I find I am shut down. “You call yourself a Christian, but you believe and practice differently than I do, and you are wrong, so you are not really a Christian”. Because I am more about the teachings of Jesus that extoll love, compassion, and aiding the least among us, I am often reminded that there are other parts of the Bible, too, and those state that I must condemn people, exclude people, and mistreat people or else I’m not really following God’s commandments — even though those things aren’t among the teachings of Jesus, or the actual Ten Commandments themselves. If I mention Buddhism, I am often told that I can’t walk both paths, that I am deceived and listening to false teachings.
When I speak to my non-believer friends, especially atheists, about Buddhism, they are generally willing to listen. they say ‘I do not believe what you believe, but I understand why you chose this path to follow, and it sounds pretty cool”. I get acceptance. When I speak to my non-believer friends about Christianity, I often get shut down, am met with opposition and arguments, or get yelled at. Like many Christians, they tell me that I’m doing it wrong, and although they do not follow a Christian path, presume to tell me what real Christianity is. They take their information from the people who pick out the bits of scripture that justify hate and intolerance, and tell me that I’m likewise cherry-picking the bits about peace and love.
A while ago I can to a fork in the path I’ve been walking, and I can only go one way or the others. I continue to believe exactly as I’ve always believed. I recall Christ’s warning that to follow him will not be easy, and will be fraught with persecution. I look at the options, though. Do I continue to get yelled at by other Christians, not listened to by atheists, and face obstacles to actually accomplishing anything constructive? Or do I walk a path where people may tell me I’m doing it wrong and dismiss me out of hand, but don’t yell at me, where people are willing to see what I’m doing, listen to what I’m saying, and support my efforts?
I think, at this point, you already know which fork in the road I’ve decided to venture down. I’m going to follow Jesus… down the Buddhist path. Where I stop calling myself a Christian, but continue to hold in my heart the admonition that however I have treated the least among us is how I have treated Him, to continue along the not-at-all-easy road of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and aiding the poor. To follow the path started by Jesus himself, to follow him, rather than merely worship him. I will go where I feel I have been led, where my heart and my mind and my conscience all tell me is the right path to follow, no matter who may think of say otherwise. The path where I can just be and just do, without spending so much of my time tied up in debates over doctrine and dogma. Because in the end, what’s more important, the label applied to me, or the way I live out my beliefs>
And that’s My Story for this month. Six months to go until my 50th birthday.
April 13, 2013
My name is Berin Kinsman, and this month I’m a husband, writer, blogger, poet, student, and all-around nervous wreck.
The official job title I hold at Asparagus Jumpsuit is Marketing Director, but I’m actually the co-owner of the creative media company, along with my wife, Katie Kinsman. I wear many hats, including writer, editor, publisher, and office manager. AJ is the business entity behind my writing and Katie’s artwork. Right now I’m working on a book about tabletop roleplaying game setting creation, which will be the cornerstone of our future publishing efforts.
Katie has had her final interview for a graduate program at the University of Jÿvaskÿla in Finland. We won’t find out if she’s in until April 19th, but classes start September 1st. Because of the short turn-around time, we have to proceed as if it’s a done deal if we’re going to get there on time. We’ve been planning this and preparing since last summer; if she somehow doesn’t get in this session, she’ll reapply for the next one.
While it’s not my first degree, I’m currently pursuing a BA in Business Administration, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. I want to be able to better run Asparagus Jumpsuit, and manage Katie’s art career. I’ve been on the Dean’s List every semester since I started, and as of this writing have a 3.89 GPA. I’ve recently had to cut back to being a part-time student in order to prepare for the move to Finland.
March 13, 2013
In my day job I work for Asparagus Jumpsuit, a creative media company. That includes developing content for third parties, publishing tabletop roleplaying game material, and marketing Katie’s artwork. Better living through creativity!
My wife Katie and I have been married for two years this month. It’s been the blink of an eye. In many ways it feels as if we’ve been together a lot longer; in other ways it still feels brand new. I love her with all my heart. We “get” each other, and compliment each other incredibly well.
I am currently less than a year away from getting a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I’ve made the Dean’s List. The knowledge I’m gaining is being poured right into running Asparagus Jumpsuit, with the hopes that I can expand into some other entrepreneurial endeavors as well.
In 2009, my life experienced a massive upheaval. I had ulcers from one end of my digestive system to the other. I hated my job, which was complicated by the fact that I was damned good at it and it paid well. The stress sent me out on medical leave, which the company had to grant me by law; I was only back to work one day when they laid me off. While I was looking for new work, my then-wife told me she didn’t want to be married any more. She told me this during the commercials as we were watching TV. It wasn’t even worth turning off the TV to discuss. I had taken my marriage vows seriously and never would have left her, but once she opened that door, I took it. When she told me I had to be out in two weeks, I was gone in four days.
With no job and no money, I sold off almost everything I owned, crammed what I thought was important to me into my compact car. I drove 500 miles from where I was living in Tucson, Arizona to surf friends’ couches in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I reconnected with old friends, and through them I met Katie. We were friends for a year, then dated for two weeks before we decided to get married. We eloped, to the chagrin of family and friends, because we didn’t think they’d get it. They didn’t. but we did, and that’s all that mattered.
Katie is my partner in every sense. We have the same circle of friends, but we also have the same hobbies, the same interests, and the same tastes. We’re alike enough to be best friends; we’re different enough to keep it interesting. She’s creative, an artist, so she fully understands my creative drives. I love her with all my heart. She has given me the support and encouragement to pursue my dream, and I have been having a blast with helping her to achieve hers.
I’m no longer rebuilding my life so much as continuing to build it into what I want it to be. My health is far better because I’m happy, and my issues are under control thanks to better eating habits and moderate exercise. I’m pursuing a degree in business so I can take the talent I discovered while working in the corporate world and try to use those powers for good instead of evil. I’m getting closer to accomplishing my goal of making a living as a writer. I have many great and faithful friends, a wonderful church home, and again, the best partner in the world in my wife Katie.
I thank you for following us on this grand adventure. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to continue following along by subscribing to this blog.
For the rest of the story, read these other essential posts: