A Balcony View: Faith in good Thai food

First, some good news. Congratulations go to Sedthee Thai Eatery on Brand Boulevard for their phenomenal showing July 24 at the L.A. Street Food Fest at the Rose Bowl. Their baby-back ribs coated in a red garlic sauce, aptly named Prosperous Baby, took the top prize in the Best Nouveau Street Food category.

It's great to see a Glendale restaurant compete with other establishments from all over Los Angeles and come away with the win. It reaffirms my previously published opinion that they are one of the best Thai restaurants in Southern California.

Speaking of my published opinion, here's even better news, especially if you are among My Haters who regularly remind me of how inane, boring and incorrect my point of view is. Because in a couple of weeks, you are going to get one more chance every week to shake your angry fist at me. That's right, I'm going to be in this paper on Saturdays as well as Tuesdays!

"Why would the paper stoop to such larceny?" My Haters are shouting to the heavens in unison.

Because I asked to be included as a voice in the Faith section of this paper. For those who aren't familiar with it, the section asks the same hypothetical question to a group of religious authorities in search of differing viewpoints.

"And what possible religion would want a kook like you answering on its behalf?" My Haters are screaming in tongues, stones in hand, ready to smite.

Actually, I don't believe in organized religion, so I'm not going to be speaking on their behalf. And that is exactly the point of including my opinion in that section.

There are a lot of people like me. In fact, in 2009, Harvard University professor Robert Putnam discovered the percentage of Americans who said they had no religious affiliation had skyrocketed to between 30% and 40% among younger Americans.

But that doesn't mean we lack faith.

I do have a deep faith that there is a greater purpose to our existence. That purpose is the pursuit of joy, knowledge and betterment of self. I do believe that we are here to learn, grow and expand in order to reach a greater potential. And that goal is universal among all people. I believe our actions either bring us closer to finding true happiness, or push us away from it.

I believe we are eternal beings, constantly searching for joy and enlightenment. Sometimes in life we succeed, and sometimes we fail. But the possibility exists for this enlightenment always.

I believe the only real obstacles in life are the ones we put before ourselves. There is no Satan compelling us to commit sins upon one another. I believe we must accept responsibility for our actions instead of placing blame on a mystical force.

I do not believe in a judgmental god. I cannot understand why any religion would worship a divine being with a humongous human flaw. Why would a perfect God need to be worshiped, loved and obeyed as a condition for his love. Isn't that the definition of an ex-wife?

I want the higher power I believe in to be better than me and not petty like me. What would I be aspiring to if all I had to do to be better than God was love someone without judging them or expecting anything in return?

And I'm sorry, but I don't believe in Noah, arks or floods. Again, what kind of masochistic god wipes out all his hard work because he's angry? That's like a kid smashing his popsicle-stick sculpture because he's in a bad mood. No thanks.

My hope and belief is that whatever source power guides this universe has the good sense not to want it destroyed because he or she woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

From my point of view, organized religions are like the dinosaurs many of them refuse to believe in. They were based on stories and fables as a way of explaining the unknown and keeping some order in a chaotic, primitive world. But there is a higher way of thinking and questioning. There is a way to live an enlightened life without fearing the wrath of God.

We are all capable of moving toward a more divine and infinite way of being. We already have that potential within us. The only real question is whether we are willing to walk a path where it can happen or deviate down a road where we get lost and disconnected from our real selves.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, just as any of the other voices in the Faith section could be. I'm just here to represent people who believe there is a reason we are here — to explore the possible and not blindly follow.

As for My Haters, sit back and thank your god you've got another reason to dislike me.

GARY HUERTA is a Glendale resident and author. He is senior manager of communications for DIRECTV and a copywriting professor at Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Gary may be reached at garyrhuerta@gmail.com.

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