Tag Archive: religious


The Seventh Sense

People have long talked about the sixth sense being intuition, what some might call extrasensory perception. There’s a great movie, titled, The Sixth Sense, where a young boy can sense the intentions, wishes and desires of the dead. In many ways, belief in the sixth sense has taken the place of belief in a traditionally understood afterlife. Then, of course, there are those who dismiss the sixth sense entirely.

Never before, however, have I heard of a seventh sense. I’m reading The Once and Future King, by T.H. White right now, about the legend of King Arthur, Lancelot, Guenever, and the Knights of the Round Table, and the book mentions a seventh sense. Specifically, it defines the seventh sense in contrast to a different definition of the sixth sense. White writes, “Balance was the sixth sense, which she won when she first learned to walk, and now she has the seventh one–knowledge of the world. The slow discovery of the seventh sense, by which both men and women contrive to ride the waves of a world in which there is war, adultery, compromise, fear, stultification and hypocrisy–this discovery is not a matter for triumph.”

This seventh sense relates to our need to understand our place in the world, to understand our relationship with a God of our understanding, to make peace with the things we will accomplish and the things we will not live to do. I guess you could call it some kind of ordering principle. The interesting thing about the book The Once and Future King is that it tells the King Arthur legend from a modernist perspective. It references contemporary thought and contemporary belief systems. The author further writes, “Middle-aged people can balance between believing in God and breaking all the commandments, without difficulty.”

One reason the King Arthur legend is so powerful and continues to resonate today is that Arthur established a code of conduct, a code of chivalry. This mythical character believed that people ought to behave decently, and his strongest proponent, his most chivalrous knight Lancelot, turned out to be the one to break the code most dramatically by having an affair with Guenever.

In many ways, White establishes the seventh sense as the “grown up” sense. I have long remembered the New American biblical quote, “When I was a child I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child, but when I became a man I did away with childish things.” I did my undergraduate at a Catholic university, and my belief system then was simpler, more well ordered. I look around at the seeming chaos in the world, and realize that now, the trick is to hang on to faith in spite of doubt. There’s a good reason why doubting Thomas has become one of my heroes. That’s why, I suppose, they call it a leap of faith. To put it another way, an author named Julia Cameron wrote a book called, The Artist’s Way, and she said, “Leap and the net will appear.” She is talking more specifically about creative leaps, but isn’t the same thing required in religious terms? When bad things happen to good people, we are called to use our seventh sense, not to abandon faith, but to embrace it all the more.

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Amazing Grace at the DMV

Prejudice lurks in the most unlikely places.  I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day, waiting in line to renew my driver’s license when a black woman audibly coached her three kids to stay away from the fag in line.  I’m not sure how she figured out that I’m gay.  At the time I was talking with my friend Ryan who needed to apply to have his license reinstated after a DUI.  We had gone to the DMV together.  I can only assume she heard my voice, and decided I have a “gay accent.”  I myself tend to look around wherever I am to determine who else might be gay, but that is more an issue of wanting to fit in and not feel like the only gay person in the room.

My cousin assures me that I’m not at all obvious and don’t have a discernable accent, but I often wonder what sort of things give me away–who knows, maybe my sense of style.  We all know that gay men are fashion-forward.  It’s one of those little markers that gay men tend to err on the side of being more fashionable than the average man, even as we age.

Earlier in life, however, many gay kids go through experimental periods, pushing the boundaries of fashion.  In some ways, gay kids go through a sort of delayed adolescence since we are generally not encouraged to come out of the closet, or practice dating during high school, unlike our fellow students.  I remember when I first announced that I am gay, I went through a period where I frosted my hair blond, and had my left ear pierced (hey, it was the 90’s).  Since then I’ve grown more conservative. 

You would think that since the woman at the DMV is African-American, she would understand about prejudice and people making all sorts of racist judgments about her, based on her skin color.  I’ve discovered that right-wing conservatives and fundamentalist religious persons feel free to treat gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people as second-class citizens.  I don’t know how many fundamentalists you know, but from my experience, whether the fundamentalist is Baptist, Mormon, or a Tea Party Republican, they can be extremely prejudice against people who don’t fit the mold.  It would be nice if religious people followed Christ’s example, “Love they neighbor as thyself,” and recognized that love is the ultimate commandment.

My friend Ryan, who is straight, overheard the woman’s comments about me, grabbed my hand as we left, singing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, who saved a wretch like me.”  She scowled and turned away, but we walked right by her, swinging our arms.  In truth, all I wanted was to stand up and be counted.  Ryan made that possible.  I’m reminded of the little known adage:  as children of God, we do not grovel.  Bravo to all who take the road less travelled.