Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
Web Edition (c) 2002, 2003 Charles Rehn All Rights Reserved




Me and My Religion
excerpt from a forthcoming book called "For the Love of the World" by Charles Rehn

I have to say first and foremost that I believe my inspiration in life  is based on a profound relationship with God.  The same kind of relationship available to everyone.    You will never find me compromising, diluting, denying or minimizing the importance of this in my life.

In many ways, I could honestly say that I am not a religious person.  Although primarily brought up in the Southern Baptist Church, and loving it, it would be more accurate to say that I have experienced to some degree or another a variety of religions and methods of worship. And I've loved every one of them.

I know that by expressing this, many people will be happy, others will be concerned.  I will state briefly that I am absolutely committed to the separation of church and state.   There will be times when my ideas and opinions will be based on those Christian values, and I will point it out when they are.

It would be inaccurate to state that everything I think or express is religion-based. However, we are all affected by our upbringings, educational and religious trainings, life experiences and choices about ourselves in regard to who we desire to be as people.  It would be accurate to state that my value system is based on a Christian discipline.

And I have to state that under normal circumstances, I would not have included a statement declaring my faith in this way.  But I believe that our religions and moral disciplines are being used to divide us as a people, to polarize us politically, and I believe that practice is wrong and harmful. Wrong and harmful to what it means to be a person of faith. Wrong and harmful in how even faith and religion are being exploited in order to garner political power.

I wanted to make a bit of a statement.  I believe that no one has the right to make a moral judgement on the religious interpretations or practices of another faith.  People, for whatever reasons, are attracted to various faiths and religions for a wide array of reasons.  Calling them right or wrong or good or bad does not empower the very values we share and are at the core of our communities and our nation. Finally, that no political party has a corner on religious faith or values.

I don't require or even ask that people have religious or moral disciplines.  I ask that we look at whatever our individual values are, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Churches and religions are great because they establish cultural rules and icons and symbols, all those great Jungian symbols and things that remind us to be the people we say we are.   They provide examples and role models and leadership of many forms.  And all of those things are essential in the fabric of society. They greatly influence our lives and beliefs.

I believe that all moral religions/.disciplines are valid, and that we all ultimately worship the same God.   I believe in original creationism and evolution. And I believe it is time for us all to re-examine our lives, and see where our ideals and actions in life are not congruent, and then take the steps to resolve the discrepancy.  I'll keep repeating myself on this point, but I think it is the single most important thing that needs to occur, and the sooner the better.

I call myself a fundamentalist, but I have a different interpretation of the meaning of the word fundamentalist. So, I think it's important that I explain what I mean by it.

I say I have a profound relationship with God.  That is not my religion, that is my belief and an expression of my faith, as well as a commitment to its values. That relationship is a private, personal one, and between God and me.

When I read my Bible or Koran or Tora or other books, I ask God to guide me to the right page, open it up, and, as the Doobie Brothers sang "Tell Me What You Want and I'll Give You What You Need".  Or the Stones "You don't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you'll get what you need."   I love artists.:}

For me, religion is the dogma, ritual, training, guidance and leadership provided by people who are committed to other people.  And it has its place.

I like to meditate.  Some people get triggered by that word.  Meditation is nothing more than an exercise that relaxes and refreshes, or is a purposeful, silent, introverted inquiry into existence  or personal principles and values. I don't sit in any particlar position... but if someone shows me a benefit of doing that, I might.

More than anything else, I have always conceptually believed that the only law there really need be is the golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

If everyone did that, we truly would be walking in the path of God.  There would be no need for additional laws.

But, that is part of my discipline. I do not require others to do the same. I believe in and honor the concept of free will.

I am every bit as human as any other person.  I do not claim perfection or righteousness at all.   I have had my times when I have done things I knew I shouldn't do.  That's just being human.  I mention that because I believe we all need to acknowledge the same thing about ourselves in order to prepare us for the conversations we need to have with each other in resolving the cultural divides of this nation.

The discipline is in the learning from the lesson. Not punishing one's self for past mistakes. Atonement is about identifying the lessons, and then making a commitment to use that information to guide you.  It should be seen as a joyous thing of learning and being a better, more loving person. Being who you really are, and who you want to be, as a person.

Unfortunately, in this world, that willingness to be open and honest is often lost because of "pressures". Pressures that cause us to do things to "survive" or fit in instead of doing what we feel in our "gut" is right, fair or just.

And so, that is part of the discipline as well.  To always get what there is to be gotten, communicate undelivered communications and resolve relationships which may have become damaged, integrate the lessons into your life, forgive yourself, acknowledge yourself for what you learned and accomplished regardless of the final outcome, reaffirm your intent to do well regardless of the outcome, and then commit yourself to that intent in the future.

I have a personal mantra that I have lived by since I was very young.. the exact wording changes a little, but it goes like this:

I am not perfect, and I will never be, but I try to be. With every breath and every step, I attempt to be more perfect in walking in the path of God.

And I fail. I laugh a little as I write that. Part of what I wanted to do in all of the writing I've been doing is setting an example, living as the kind of person that I would suggest, as a citizen, that others do. And giving people permission to forgive themselves of whatever guilt suppresses them that keeps them from being fully engaged in persuing whatever it is they feel compelled to do to make a difference in the world.  It has nothing to do with letting anyone else, or myself, off the hook.

The example I set isn't about being a perfect person.  It's an example of someone choosing to take a path in life, and then all the transformations that have to occur to be the person you need to be to accomplish the goals you've set out to do. And, in the end, only time will tell if writing this book and doing the work I see ahead of us will provide a positive result.

In addition, I wanted people to know that I acknowledge things I've done that probably won't be the most pleasant things for people to hear about me.  I wanted to be sure that my life was transparent, so that I would not be forced to say or do or avoid anything and compromise the message I believe I have to offer, and the objectivity required to truly represent all of the citizens in a non-partisan way.  Doing the right thing, no strings attached.

I've written a thing called "Corruption and Me" that discusses these things. Certainly, it focuses on the bad things that have happened in my life... not to gain sympathy but to give you an idea of the impact corruption has had on my life... all kinds of corruption... things that you've experienced and been affected by to some degree or another over the years.  I'll bet you'll be able to relate to a great deal of it, at least conceptually. More than anything else, I want to share with you the context of the lessons and experiences behind what I will be talking about throughout my campaign.

I want to point out, I look at that part of my life as over, and as I always view others, I judge them based on what they bring to the table today... and the day after that and the day after that.  I wrote none of it to garner approval, but simply to offer my experiences.  I assure you, I've been privileged to have had some incredibly great and fun experiences in my life.  Have I got some stories for you. And I'm willing to candidly answer questions about any part of my life, so long as I am speaking to people who are actually listening to understand.

Anyway, that comprises a great deal of my religion in my life... my discipline.  A discipline to live by the golden rule, regardless of but in respect of laws of the land, with a belief in dissent as a necessary part of life and government of the people... to me that is a very spiritual thing... to empower other people, to see them excel and flourish, and to do it in such a way that when it's all done and they're doing well, they walk away feeling confident and good about themselves, because they did it themselves.

So, part of the discipline in being satisfied is to be a silent partner, to be a helper that rarely receives credit but can truly get the satisfaction and honor and grace that resides in knowing that you have caused something good in the world. And because of my love of being the silent partner, part of the fun challenges I must deal with is being a public person.   I'm also a ham, so it won't really be all that difficult. :}

To me, life is alot like growing flowers, and I love growing flowers.  With so little effort, preparing the soil and planting the seeds and watering the seeds... so much beauty grows. And the beauty is worth more than any award could reward.

And that is my religion.

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved