Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Moments in Forgiveness

Remember when John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus? Well, the pope finally gets it.


"The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll," Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said.


No shit, Sherlock. That's what he meant in 1966 and if the church could get it's collective head out of its ass it could have seen that 42 years ago.

And people wonder why the Catholic leadership is becoming obsolete.

Here's the story: http://music.yahoo.com/read/news/61898954

On another front - Bob Jones University - the rabidly conservative Christian college in Greenville, SC has apologized for its racist policies that forbade interracial dating and admitting black students. They didn't admit black students until 1971.

The apology reads, in part:

"For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it. In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry."


My suggestion to BJU is keep that statement for a template when they apologize to gay and lesbian people in another 50 years. Here's a taste:

"Like any human institution, we have failures as well. For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the HOMOPHOBIC ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding SEXUAL ORIENTATION to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it. In so doing, we failed to accurately represent the Lord and to fulfill the commandment to love others as ourselves. For these failures we are profoundly sorry."


Ah, one day we'll be reading that statement from BJU - but not anytime soon. If it took them this long to repent of racism, homophobia will probably take even longer.

But, there is always hope.

Here's the BJU story:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27844969/

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Not Gays vs. God in Marriage Debate

When my partner and I got married about 6 years ago, we had a preacher preside over the ceremony and we invoked the name of God on many occasions, asking that our union be blessed by the Higher Power we both believe in.

As California moves to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriage, Karen Ocamb at Alternet notes that the argument is increasingly turning to the false dichotomy of "gays vs. God."

For the proponents of Prop. 8, however, the battle is "spiritual warfare," with religious freedom and the nation itself at stake if same-sex marriage is allowed to survive and spread beyond California's borders.

"If sexual freedom is the ultimate liberty, then you have to rewrite the Bill of Rights," Chuck Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship Ministries, says on a Yes on Proposition 8 video produced by the American Family Association for distribution to pastors and Christian activists. "This vote on whether we stop the gay marriage juggernaut in California is the Armageddon. We lose this -- we're going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion."


First, "sexual freedom" is not what anyone is asking for in the right to marry. Sex is not the basis of my relationship with my partner and I doubt it's the basis of most heterosexual relationships. If the ability to have sex were taken away from us by illness or other tragedy, I would stay with my partner. We are together because we love one another and want to pursue a life together. We simply want that commitment recognized by the state and federal government so we can enjoy the more than 1,000 rights that married couples get like inheritance, health insurance, and Social Security benefits. Those are not really sexy topics – but they are all important in the security of our union.

Secondly, what about MY freedom of religion? I practice Christianity – a liberal form of Christianity that is most often the target of persecution by Colson and his cohorts. If I had a dime for every time I've been called a "false Christian" or a "heretic" by those who practice a more conservative form of Christianity, I wouldn't need the government to financially secure my relationship. I'd be a millionaire a million times over by now. Those who crow most about "freedom of religion" merely mean freedom for "their" religion – not the forms of religion they dislike.

Unfortunately, this spiritual fervor against same-sex marriage seems to be changing the opinion of those polled who are now showing a majority favoring this odious discrimination amendment.

Those who oppose this amendment need to be hammering home the fact that these are civil rights we're seeking – not religious rights. The religious question is not the other side of this issue any more than flat earth believers are the other side of the global warming issue. Allowing these people to place a religious frame around the issue is dangerous and must be stopped.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has the right argument that needs to be made loud and clear:

"I vow to vote No on Proposition 8 because I believe our civil society demands that we uphold -- not eliminate -- these fundamental rights. I believe all Californians deserve to be treated equally. And I believe that government exists to protect individual rights, not to undermine them," Villaraigosa said in a statement released by the Courage Campaign.


To that I say, "Amen!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give me a freakin' break!

The "ex-gays" are now whining that they need their "special rights" like those nasty gays and lesbians.

The support group for so-called "ex-gays," PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays), has brought suit against Washington, D.C.’s Office of Human Rights for not including "ex-gays" as a protected group under laws that bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to a PRNewswire-USNewswire story posted at Yahoo.com.

The executive director of PFOX, Regina Griggs, was quoted in the story as claiming, "The ex-gay community is the most bullied and maligned group in America, yet they are not protected by sexual orientation non-discrimination laws."

In Washington, D.C., discrimination based on several categories is banned, including "sexual preference," "sexual orientation," "gender identity," and "gender expression," the article noted.

"Ex-gays" are not distinguished from heterosexuals by the law and are not included in the protected categories.

Of course they're not "distinguished from heterosexuals." If you "ex-gays" think you're no longer gay then you are HETEROSEXUAL! Get used to it. Now you have all the rights and privileges we gay and lesbian people are denied - and yet you still complain.

Some people are never pleased - even when they change God's gift of sexual orientation in order to get those special heterosexual rights.

Quit your bellyaching and get on with being the heterosexuals you say you are - unless, perhaps, you're not ...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Palin Pals With Her Own Home-Grown Terrorists

It's no secret that Sarah Palin has had an abusive past in her relationship with facts – but as I learned in the newsroom, it's never wise to let the facts get in the way when there's a good story to tell.

Palin's latest fact-light charge is that Barack Obama is "palling around" with terrorists because of a tenuous link to William Ayers, founder of the violent Weather Underground in the late 1960s.

News reports pointed out that Obama was eight years old at the time of Weather Underground bombings and that the two men do not know each other well although they live in the same Chicago neighborhood, have served on a charity board together and Ayers hosted a meet-the-candidate event when Obama first ran for state office in the mid-1990s.

The dictionary defines "terrorism" as "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes." A terrorist is one who employs these tactics to reach their own goals.

Given that definition, I think the charge of "palling around" with terrorists fits Mrs. Palin much better than it does Obama. The American people have been subjected, in just the past few weeks, to an endless assault by our own domestic terrorists like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and President George W. Bush. They appeared on our screens with their hair on fire warning that "" unless we grant $700 billion dollars of corporate socialism to the Wall Street fat cats who partied too hard.

"Without immediate action by Congress, America can slip into a major panic." If Congress fails to approve the rescue plan, the nation could face a "long and painful recession," Bush said.

The fear emanating from the screen was palpable. People on that fabled Main Street began to worry if their money was safe in the bank or if a spot under the mattress might be preferable. Congress, too, (including, sadly, Obama) heard the siren song of terror, acted on that fear, and rushed into a deal that no one knows whether will help or not. What we do know is that we've leveraged our country's future on a sucker's bet, and we should have known better. With the bailout our home-grown terrorists have won their final battle – cleaning out the last of the pennies in our national treasury.

No buildings fell, no planes were crashed – but a deadly bomb has exploded on Main Street – detonated by the very people elected to protect that cherished street.

Sarah Palin – these are your pals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remind me who the sexist is?

So, McCain thinks Obama is sexist with his whole "lipstick on a pig" comment.

Well, at least Obama doesn't publicly call his wife horrible names. And if he did, I'd bet money Michelle wouldn't stay with him long - yet, Cindy McCain stands by her man, flying him in her jet, housing him in several lavish homes ... hmmm, gotta wonder about these things. Just sayin' ...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Christ Quits Christianity

Well, it was really only a matter of time:

...the Christ himself has come forward to announce that he is leaving Christianity, effective immediately. The reasoning: The 2008 Republican Platform. Reached for comment at a West Hollywood coffee shop, Christ said that he couldn’t deal with a world that so misinterpreted his words and actions.


I've honestly wondered why it took Christ so long to leave Christianity. The Crusades weren't enough, but the last straw is the Repubs? Well, they do have their own crusade going on these days to strip America of every last shred of dignity and intelligence.

The piece above is worth a full read. Some of my favorite, LOL, passages:

“John McCain has made it clear that he will not speak to or about Jesus Christ until Christ shows him the respect he deserves,” said Davis. “John McCain was a POW and deserves respect. Jesus obviously can’t understand the kind of sacrifice John McCain made.”


And ...

“Seriously, let him go,” said Hannity to co-host Alan Colmes on the popular show “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox News. “If he doesn’t have the courage to face up to the Republican platform, how can he ever stand up to Osama bin Laden. This is a partisan attack, plain and simple.”

In response, Colmes vehemently disagreed with Hannity.

“But, but, but … , ” said Colmes.


Again, read the whole thing. It's brilliant.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blood on Their Hands

Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity, if they had any sense of morality - or souls - should be hanging their heads in shame today - or arrested. They are direct accomplices in the deaths of two decent people. Two people died yesterday because some man twisted by their idiotic worldview that "liberals" are responsible for the sorry state of our Republican run world got himself a gun and opened fire on a group of people who would have welcomed him with open arms.

Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

Adkisson told Still that "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office."

Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because "he expected to be killed during the assault."

Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.


It is their continued language of violence against so-called liberals that put this man over the edge. He could not find a job and he blamed that on liberals - a group of people that has been effectively out of power for the last 8 years. It's not liberals who have shipped off jobs overseas and sought to destroy the middle class. It has not been liberals who cut off this man's food stamps. Liberals came up with this excellent ideas, and the Republicans who are now in charge, cut him off.

This continued ranting about some damn liberal media irks me to no end. Believe me when I say there is NO liberal media. There is CORPORATE media - and by it's nature it's very, very, very conservative. They are in love with John McCain and will do all they can to get him elected because they know their corporate tax lives depend on it. They don't want to pay more taxes under an Obama administration, so they'll fight it tooth and nail. Liberal media my left butt cheek. It does not exist. I worked in that field for 25 years and I know what I'm talking about.

I also know the gospel truth is that Sean Hannity will sleep like a baby tonight, untroubled by this news - simply glad this poor dolt shelled out the dough to buy his book and make him a little bit richer. It's just dead liberals, after all! I worked with Sean at WGST in Atlanta right before he hit the big time. He has no heart. Don't worry about him losing sleep over this. He'll blame the liberals for their own fates. If they were smart, they'd be selfish corporate Republicans too!

::deep breath::

This makes me angry. I know it's not obvious or anything. The violence of the language these right wing bigots spout caused this act. They are directly responsible for the deaths of these two people and the wounding of five others. They should be held responsible.

Odd Moment

Sitting in church yesterday morning, I had an odd and ominous feeling come over me. Service had already begun, we were probably about ten minutes in, when I heard our front door open and close and someone came in. Another late arrival - no big deal. But, just as the sound of the door closing hit me - so did one word: "Gunman."

As I sat in service I realized how easy it would be for someone with bad intentions to just walk in and set in on us. There are two doors to the outside on either side of the sanctuary. Too far for me or the choir to reach in time - there's no place for us to go at the back of the sanctuary.

It stunned me that the thought crossed my mind. I shook it off. Of course, it wasn't a gunman at our church - just someone running late. But, within the same time frame of my thought, a gunman did enter a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two and wounding several others.

Police are now saying the liberal stance of the church is what set the gunman off. Our church, along with the UU congregation here in Columbia, are probably the most liberal congregations in town. Our church has repeatedly been the target of vandals who have broken our front door windows, broken the fountain on our property, shot out the passenger window of one of our parishoners, and threw a brick through the back window of another.

I didn't read about the attack in Tennessee until late yesterday - well after my own thought about a church gunman crossed my mind. I told a good pagan friend of mine about my experience, and she told me I should continue to pay attention to those feelings, and not shake them off. My gunman premonition (had in the same time period as this actual attack) is evidence of our universal connection to one another, she told me. Somehow, my intuition knew a gunman was going to attack, or was in the process of attacking, kindred spirits - fellow human beings simply seeking to open God's arms to everyone, regardless of human labels or prejudices.

Some days the depth of human hatred stuns me - other days it doesn't. Today it stuns me, simply because after experiencing this deeply empathic moment across a time zone and state lines, I grieve that we cannot feel those moments of universal connection all the time. I grieve that we shake them off as nothing more than odd moments - then go right back to our feelings of disconnection. Being disconnected certainly feels safer - we're not responsible for anyone else when we disconnect. But, I think if we practiced that emphatic connection with all living beings - we would experience the freedom of love. We are responsible for one another. Instead of being afraid of that - and letting that fear fester and turn in to violence - we need to embrace that, heed those feelings of connection and continue to reach out - even if we only receive scorn and violence in return.

I hope this UU congregation can feel that connection to this disaffected gunman and find it in their heart to see their own failings in him, and forgive him.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pimping My New Book

My book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians got a great review from Publisher's Weekly - not something all books get. My sales numbers at Amazon.com improved for a little while.

If you haven't gotten your copy - do so now, please. Help me become a well-fed writer.

Also, check out the official site for the book where I'll be posting all the news that is news (and even some that isn't news) about the book.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just another &*!#ing politician

I've never had warm, fuzzy feelings for Barack Obama. I never quite understood the fuss about him, but of course, given my contrarian nature, anything wildly popular is immediately suspect in my book. Aside from that, in my gut, I've always had a nagging bad feeling about him - that he's not what he appears to be.

(For full disclosure - in the primary, I had the historic chance to vote for a black man or a woman and I voted for the white guy. John Edwards has always been my first pick - since Kucinich has no chance in hell of ever being nominated.)

Too bad I've been right about Obama all along. I would have loved to have been proven wrong, but it seems Obama is just another &*!#ing politician like the rest of them. He'll say what you want him to say when you stand him up at the podium but when the rubber meets the road, he's just like any other disappointing politician these days, voting for FISA, talking about expanding Bush's idiotic faith based initiatives, backtracking on Iraq, and generally retreating to the middle where all political cowards meet.

The only thing that keeps me in his voting column is the Supreme Court. Despite all my misgivings about this man, I'd still want him picking justices over McCain - who is a complete guarantee of Bush's third term.

I simply can't understand why Obama is pandering to the 29% who still love the president-select. Poll after poll shows that the public is fed up with Bush, his economy, his war and his idiocy. We know we're headed to hell in a hand basket and we want someone who has the cajones to move us in a different direction. Apparently, the "change" Obama touts is just a code word for "more of the same."

Meet the new boss - same as the old boss.

I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised. No one of integrity can get nominated as a presidential candidate and that is a sad state of affairs for a once great nation.

Update: For more on how Obama's support of faith based initiatives hurts poor GLBT people, check out Irene Monroe's excellent column here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memory of George Carlin

Carlin was one of the greats, and one of my favorites. Here's one to remember:

"The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What's that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you're too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating...

...and you finish off as an orgasm.


Amen.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Snow in June? Oh, Yeah ...

We're currently relaxing at the condo in Big Sky, Montana. The plane ride? Hated it. Went smoothly, but still hated it. The pilot landed like it was his first landing - very rough, very scary. Hated it.

Montana? Love it! It's beautiful here. Here's the view from the condo.

We're planning horseback riding, a trip to Yellowstone and just doing a lot of nothing. Time is weird here - it seems like the days are as endless as the sky. That can be good and bad. I miss my animals terribly, especially my cat, George, who, I swear is just a little person in a fur coat.

But, I'm enjoying my first vacation in a long time - even though I had to go through the terror of a plane ride to get here. I'm anticipating the terror of the return flight, but in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy myself.

We went to a UCC church in Bozeman yesterday. Very beautiful sanctuary. The preacher was a bit ponderous for me and my vacation mates. He took about 25 minutes to tell us that no act of kindness, mercy or sympathy is ever wasted. There ya go - a sermon without all the odd, out of place illustrations.

So, now we're communing with God at the condo, amazed at some of Her best work.

It's in the 40s here this morning. Probably won't get above 60 degrees. Enjoy your heatwave East Coasters! :)

Back to relax mode ...

Monday, June 02, 2008

How Not to Use Your Faith

When I first moved to South Carolina, I was distressed and amazed at how much religious material - let me clarify, Christian material - there was displayed in places like doctor and dentist offices. After living in Atlanta for many, many years, I never saw such public displays of Christian faith in professional areas. I know that Atlanta is in the South, where proselytizing is akin to breathing, but as the "international city" it prides itself in being, such passive proselytizing in a professional atmosphere would never fly.

At a dermatologist's office several years ago in South Carolina, I saw a derogatory editorial cartoon about gays in the military posted in the waiting room. I finally snapped. When the doctor came in to the office (he was an old codger on the verge of retiring), I commented on the cartoon. I told him, "I find that cartoon in the waiting room offensive. I know many gay and lesbian people who have served this country with integrity and pride and they ought to be able to do it openly."

He grumbled something I couldn't quite understand before shoving a prescription slip in my hand and trundling out of the office. This is the same "Christian" office where I witnessed the rough treatment of an older lady. The receptionist (a sour lady if I ever met one) gave her the HIPPA forms to read and sign. The lady told the woman she couldn't read and the receptionist barked, "I haven't got time to read it for you," and slammed the glass window shut.

I sat down with the woman and read the form to her and helped her understand what she was putting her mark on. It was a stark reminder that though many say, "Lord, Lord," they have not a clue how to behave as a follower of Christ in this world.

I ran across an interesting example of this clueless and cowardly form of public proselytizing over at the Ragan.com site (a site for PR junkies like me). A blog post by Mark Ragan recounts his time in South Carolina and the endless number of, "Have you received Jesus as you personal Lord and Savior?" questions he was asked at inappropriate times.

He presents a video from a St. Louis television reporter, who is interviewing a public officials who shamelessly uses Jesus as a shield to avoid answering some tough questions. Have a look:



That wall of separation between church and state is about as thin as the walls in an old apartment building I used to live in. Sad.

Friday, May 16, 2008

At Least it's Not the Gays Fault This Time

Apparently our economy has gone to hell because of abortions. No, seriously, we're paying more than $4.00 a gallon for a tank of gas, the housing bubble has burst, people are losing their homes and jobs and consumer confidence is lower than Bush's approval rating, but our leaders and their selfish choices have nothing to do with it. Abortions. That's the cause.

This according to John McCain endorser John Hagee:

If you do not accept the blessing of children, and [you] do as America has done, is to curse the children through abortion, you will bring the judgment of God on your society.

The liberal mental midgets protesting for abortion-on-demand are too brain-dead to see that they have brought the judgment of God upon America’s economy. Why are America’s major universities right now recruiting students from abroad? Why? Because we killed ours.


How's that for some "God Damn America"???

Where's the media on this one, calling Hagee "McCain's pastor problem"? Hello? I'm waiting.

Like I've said before, everyone with half a brain understands that abortion isn't the reason the economy is in the toilet. It's the leadership wasting billions on an illegal war and allowing war profiteers to raid the national treasure that has busted the economy. Corporate greed and stagnant wages for workers ... all the choices of those in charge. Abortion has nothing to do with it. Abortion isn't even prohibited in the Bible - show me chapter and verse and prove me wrong, please.

This is why the loonies like Hagee get ignored - everyone knows he's full of shit. But, when Jeremiah Wright speaks the truth about America's ills - our selfish culture of greed and neglect of the poor - he gets trampled. You see, he's speaking the truth and people get pissed when someone speaks truth to power. We roll our eyes when idiots like Hagee make stupid statements, but take up arms when someone questions why we treat the poor and outcast horribly in the home of the free and the land of brave.

So, don't expect the mainstream media to make much of Hagee - they know he's just a nut. Wright is truly dangerous, because he's pointing out the truth of America's sins and it has nothing to do with abortion or gay people.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go West, Gay Lovers

Time to book that plane ticket to California - where the Supreme Court has opened full marriage rights to gay and lesbian people.

"It's about human dignity. It's about human rights. It's about time in California," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, pumping his fist in the air, told a roaring crowd at City Hall. "As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It's inevitable. This door's wide open now. It's going to happen, whether you like it or not."


The good news is that California doesn't have residency requirements like Massachusetts, so it's time to book that exorbitant plane ticket and get hitched!

Hopefully the judges won't stay their own order until after the elections in November like the bigots want them to. If they don't, gays and lesbians can get married within the next 30 days. As Massachusetts has proven, gay and lesbian marriage does not harm anyone else's marriage and has not yet brought the downfall of human society. Instead, it has help MA earned the distinction as the state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation. So there, right wing whiners.

This is not a question of "morality" or "sin." It is a question of whether or not in a free society adults can choose who they want to spend the rest of their lives with and share their love and property with. Marriage is a civil contract between two people and should be open to anyone, regardless of the gender mix of the couple in question. This is a matter of law, not religion - and the California court understands that - thank God.

The right wing is screaming about "judicial activism" but the court merely understood that California's constitution demands equality under the law. This is the correct ruling, creating equity for all couples, despite the gender configuration of said couple. Bravo!

The wingnuts will launch their constitutional amendment drive - and we must make sure they do not succeed. Voters defeated such an amendment in Arizona, so it can be done. Let's support California as it seeks to beat back the darkness of bigotry.

Support Equality California.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Contemplating Death

Hey everyone, I've been a bit shaken up today after my partner came home and told me that she almost died in a traffic accident last night. Construction had traffic stopped on the interstate around 10 p.m. last night when a tractor-trailer crested the hill at a high rate of speed heading right for my partner's car. She said the truck slammed on his brakes and fish-tailed down the hill before finally coming to a stop off the road right beside her car.

I held her a little tighter after she told me this - terrified that my night could have been very different with police showing up at my door instead of my love.

I've had trouble letting it go today, running the scene over and over in my head of how devastated I would be today if that trucker had been unable to avoid a collision. Surely she would have died or been seriously injured.

I've said before I'm not afraid to die and I still think that about myself - but what of those I love? I realize I'm terrified of them dying - especially my partner. Not just because my life would be devastated without her, but because of the legal fights that could possibly follow despite our wills, powers of attorney or body disposition papers.

How do you all cope? Have you lost loved ones before?

My partner watched her husband die a few years back and still misses the man she considered her best friend (even though she knew all along she was a lesbian - she still loved him a great deal). I just don't know how I would go on if my partner died suddenly.

Not to be a downer, but this has just been bugging me all day. I can't wait to get home tonight and hug her again and again and again. All we have is the present moment and I want to make all of them with her very special so I don't regret anything if the unthinkable should occur.

Love now, friends, because it's the only time we have to do it.

Hope I die before I get old ... um ...

Well, I don't think this is what Pete Townshend had it mind when he wrote My Generation, but then I remember, Pete could be one of the geezers in this video. It's a hoot. Check the old lady doing the Pete windmill and oh, the destruction at the end!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's Log!

Here's a blast from the past. I don't know why, but this song was in my head this morning, so I had to go out and find it.

It's log,
It's log,
It's big, it's heavy, it's wood!



Everyone loves a log ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Sermon

To celebrate Earth Day, I would like to reprise my sermon entitled: Becoming Hafta Farmers

An excerpt:

The Earth is alive, and like any live thing it needs care and tending for it to grow and thrive. We human beings have been falling down on the job - and mainly because we don't truly understand our job. I was taught that human beings have "dominion" over the earth - and when we say "dominion" we mean that we have ultimate power over what happens on the earth. That means we can bend nature to our will through clear cutting forests if we want to - it doesn't matter if we destroy habitats of rare species. We have dominion. That means we can pollute the air just as much as we want to. It doesn't matter that we're raising the temperature of the planet. It doesn't matter that we're polluting at such a pace that we're poisoning ourselves. We have dominion! And besides this isn't our home anyway - we have our true home in heaven. And at this pace we'll see it fairly soon!


Read the whole thing!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pre-order your copy of Bulletproof Faith today!

Hey everyone, my new book Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians is now available for pre-order. It comes out in mid-September, but it's never too soon to get those orders in.

As GLBT people of faith, we are constantly under assault. Whether we hear "Love the sinner, hate the sin" or it's equivalent, "God Hates Fags!" we are told both in church and society that we are somehow inferior. How can we defend the hope that is within us without losing our cool?

My book helps our community reclaim the spiritual self that criticism from society and religion has led many of us to surrender. Instead of focusing on apologetics or giving advice on how to better debate our opponents, this book is a guide on being Christian and gay - not by having the best apologetic or proof-text but by shoring up the inner life and one's self-esteem as one who is loved by God regardless of what others have to say on the subject. Bulletproof Faith empowers readers to withstand even the most aggressive assaults without fear, doubt, or anger.

Here's what Archbishop Desmond Tutu had to say about the book:

"Gay and lesbian Christians are constantly demoralized and told they are not children of God. In Bulletproof Faith, Chellew-Hodge reassures gays and lesbians that God loves them just as they were created and teaches them how to stand strong, with compassion and gentleness, against those who condemn them."

Amazon is running a discount for those who pre-order the book. It's due out in September from Jossey-Bass. Use this link to order and Whosoever will get a little kickback from Amazon.

http://tinyurl.com/6dt4ln

It's not too early to start planning for a tour to support the release of the book.

I've already set up a reading and book signing in Knoxville, Tennessee for the weekend of October 18-19, thanks to Rev. Ray Neal at MCC Knoxville. I'll be doing a workshop, book signing and preaching that Sunday. I hope you'll join us there.

If you're not close to Knoxville and want me to come to your area, please contact me at editor-at-whosoever.org so we can begin making arrangements now. The cost is simply travel expenses and lodging (I'm always willing to stay with host families to save costs) and a love offering for Whosoever taken up during the workshop or during Sunday service.

Let's spread the word that God's unconditional love covers us all, regardless of sexual orientation. This is Good News that our community is still very hungry to hear.

I look forward to hearing from you and visiting your area soon!

Now, go - pre-order!

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Language, Same Message

It was pointed out to me that Desmond Tutu may be behind the curve in apologizing to gay and lesbian people. (The suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, but let's explore it anyway.) A couple of weeks ago the pastor of a Baptist church in a town where I spent a few years as a child, Sugar Hill, Georgia (about 40 miles north of Atlanta), used his sermon to apologize to everyone from gays and lesbians to pro-choicers.



You can hear the full sermon here, after fast forwarding through some garish praise music:

http://www.fbsh.org/archives.htm


While I applaud the change in tone at the Sugar Hill church, it's clear that their message is the same - gay and lesbian people are sinners who need to repent. This kind of talk from churches is a direct result of the Barna Group research I posted yesterday in the Tutu post. Younger people see the church as homophobic and judgmental. This pastor is doing his best to change the face of evangelical Christians. Good for him.

However, don't be drawn by the sweet words - the underlying message remains the same: God hates fags. I suspect (and please, I'd love to be wrong) that an openly gay couple would still not be welcome in this church and not accepted as a couple. They would love the sinners, but still encourage them to turn from their "sin."

Desmond Tutu, on the other hand, has made a bold and courageous move, not just to change the tone used against GLBT people, but the message as well. Tutu has said before that if God is homophobic, he would not worship that God. For Tutu, God's acceptance of gay and lesbian people *just as they are* is a given. For the church in Sugar Hill? Not so much.

It's nice to hear a softer tone from the evangelicals, but don't be fooled. They haven't changed their stripes. Meet the new evangelicals, same as the old evangelicals.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tutu to Church: Focus on Real Problems

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an amazing man. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him while I attended seminary and he was a guest lecturer at Emory's Candler School of Theology. What a gracious and gentle soul.

It comes as no shock to me that he is a staunch support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. In San Francisco, CA, last night, Tutu apologized to GLBT people on behalf of the church:

In his 30-minute address, Archbishop Tutu said that for his part it was impossible to keep quiet “when people were frequently hounded...vilified, molested and even killed as targets of homophobia...for something they did not choose—their sexual orientation.” In the face of this ongoing persecution, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient praised LGBTI people for being “compassionate, caring, self-sacrificing and refusing to be embittered.” He spoke critically of his Church, apologizing for the way it has ostracized LGBTI people, and for making them feel as if God had made a mistake by creating them to be who they are. “How sad it is,” he said, “That the Church should be so obsessed with this particular issue of human sexuality when God's children are facing massive problems--poverty, disease, corruption, conflict...”


That's the true message to the church - stop obsessing about the sex lives of some human beings on the planet and start worrying about the things that affect all of us. The church is so like society - always ready to pounce on the seemingly salacious and treat it like a dog treats a bone. Sex sells and sadly, the church believes it can only get people's attention by focusing on someone else's sexuality. The church, thanks to Augustine, has never really had a good, honest, cleansing talk about sexuality, so it remains something whispered about, speculated about and demeaned as "dirty" somehow. But, with humans, if it's dirty, then we're extremely interested in hearing about it, dreaming about it, and as Tutu rightly points out, obsessing about it.

It's a shame that the church believes it can only be relevant in the lives of people by titillating them with tales of sex or creating an "us" v. "them" mentality when it comes to GLBT people. The reason the church is falling into irrelevance is just this obsession with sex and condemnation. If the church truly cared about the predicament of humankind and really sought to bring about God's realm in this world it would be hard a work like Tutu, focusing on poverty, disease, corruption, conflict and more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Christian: Born that Way?

Gay scientists discover the "Christianity gene." Another mystery solved.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Perspective on Rev. Wright

Jeremiah Wright preaches in the prophetic tradition - a tradition that isn't all that popular anymore and is widely understood. Over at AlterNet, there's a great piece that puts Wright and all who dare to pursue prophetic preaching (like Martin Luther King Jr., for example) into proper context. Too bad this piece can't be more widely read:

Now along comes the Wright "controversy" and Barack was forced to confront the issue of race. In doing so, he spoke to us like adults.

Unfortunately, some adults just don't want to have grown up conversation. They want to talk about Wright's "controversial" (prophetic) preaching.

Funny how nobody wants to talk about McCain's relationship with the controversial white preacher John Hagee.

I guess it's asking too much of "Christian" America to notice the huge difference between a preacher steeped in the biblical prophetic tradition and "Christians" like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph. You don't see members of Wright's church going out and putting "hatred and anti-Americanism" into practice by becoming domestic terrorists. Nope. Members of Wright's church just go out and do things like run for president and energize an entire generation of new voters.

You know the world's crazy when hope is confused with hate.


Amen ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Support in Unexpected Places

Mike Huckabee, of all people, actually gives great context to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons:

HUCKABEE: I don’t think we know. If this were October, I think it would have a dramatic impact. But it’s not October. It’s March. And I don’t believe that by the time we get to October, this is gonna be the defining issue of the campaign, and the reason that people vote.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.


Wow. Go Mike.

Now, if he would just understand the resentment in the gay community when we're continually told (by him and others) that we're sick and sinful and not deserving of equal rights under the law.

But, progress takes time ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Finally, some great news!

Check out this link at Amazon.com - and put in your order today!

http://tinyurl.com/3yv59u

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

God Damn America

I've believed that America was the land of the damned way before Jeremiah Wright's much publicized declaration from the pulpit. I'm frankly disappointed in Barak Obama's tepid speech today, declaring his strident disagreement with Wright. I'm truly left with no one to vote for. Clinton has proved to be politics as usual. McCain is just f-ing crazy predicting 100 more years of endless war and more wars. Now, Obama loses his damn nerve.

America is damned all right - damned with idiotic politicians who only know how to pander, pander, pander.

Instead of contextualizing Rev. Wright's excellent and spot on sermons, Obama repudiates him. Instead of saying, "You're damn right, America is damned for how it wastes its money on war and pisses all over the least of these," he talks about how badly he deplores anyone dissing the Fatherland.

Way to go, Obama. Thanks for betraying the incredible prophetic words of your mentor and going all wishy washy so you won't offend someone.

Here's the truth: prophets are offensive. Prophets speak truth to power. You, Obama, are so hungry for power you'll swallow your passion and deliver a tepid, timid speech in which you callously dispose of a man who dares to speak truth to power so you can placate the wingnuts of the world.

Shame on you.

You had a chance to frame the debate - to call America back to a state where she can be blessed by God and you blew it. You waved the flag, defended America right or wrong, and basically proved you're simply a politician like the rest of them - more eloquent, speaking of hope, but ultimately speaking with a forked tongue like the other two.

Oh, yes, America is damned - damned with a stupid press ready to pounce on a left-leaning preacher who damns America but gives passes to others who have done the same thing. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee - each professing America's damnation for accepting gays, giving women equality and freeing slaves. No one makes a peep about them - but let a black preacher damn America for how it treats poor people and people of color and look out! It's both barrels and no mercy.

God damn America.

I'm sick of it. Sick of all the politicians and their media enablers. Unless we wake up to the damnation of our own doing, we deserve the politicians and the media we get.

America is damned and and until we end this pointless war and work to end poverty, ignorance and fear in our land, we'll remain damned for eternity - and fittingly so.

Chew on that Obama when Justice Roberts swears in President McCain. You helped it happen.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Quiz

This one isn't as stark in its contrasts as the BeliefNet Quiz and had some interesting results. It's called "What's your theological worldview?"

Here's my result:

You scored as a Emergent/Postmodern

You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern: 89%
Modern Liberal: 79%
Classical Liberal: 71%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan: 50%
Neo orthodox: 46%
Roman Catholic: 29%
Charismatic/Pentecostal: 25%
Reformed Evangelical: 21%
Fundamentalist: 0%

Yep, that about covers it, and I'm jazzed about that 0% on fundamentalism. :)

For those who want to know more about the emergent/postmodern movement may I suggest Tony Jones' new book The New Christians. I'm reading it now and it's fabulous. I have cheered more than once while reading this book. If you're tired of the stale dogma and doctrine of the mainline church, emergent theology is a breath of fresh air.

Apparently, I'm a Liberal Quaker

According to BeliefNet's Belief-O-Matic quiz. No wonder I've always felt good at the Quaker meetings or at the UU church. Ironic that I'm a mainline pastor, eh?

Here are my results:

1. Liberal Quakers (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (98%)
3. Neo-Pagan (96%)
4. New Age (94%)
5. Reform Judaism (89%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (85%)
7. Mahayana Buddhism (78%)
8. Bahá'í Faith (72%)
9. New Thought (69%)
10. Secular Humanism (68%)
11. Jainism (65%)
12. Scientology (65%)
13. Taoism (63%)
14. Sikhism (62%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (62%)
16. Orthodox Quaker (59%)
17. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (54%)
18. Orthodox Judaism (51%)
19. Hinduism (51%)
20. Islam (46%)
21. Nontheist (35%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (27%)
23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (27%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (27%)
25. Jehovah's Witness (17%)
26. Eastern Orthodox (14%)
27. Roman Catholic (14%)

What are you?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Election Spoiler!

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Result of 2008 Election. But, vote anyway ...


Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Pharisees Attack UCC

Fundamentalist churches, for years, has been endorsing candidates from their pulpits, producing voter guides that make it obvious who they support and even have candidates speak from their pulpits. The IRS never seems to notice.

Let a liberal or progressive church or denomination just breathe about politics and the iron fist of the IRS comes down hard.

The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's address at the UCC's 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in "political activities."

In the IRS letter dated Feb. 20, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry "because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status."

The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, called the investigation "disturbing" but said the investigation would reveal that the church did nothing improper or illegal.


Of course the UCC did nothing illegal and the IRS knows it. This is harassment, plain and simple. The IRS is investigating because it can. It will cost the UCC a lot of money that it could be using to do ministry, but now they'll have to defend themselves because they had a member of their denomination, who happens to be a politician, speak at their Synod.

This follows the investigation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California after an anti-war sermon was given there. The IRS cleared All Saints, after much snooping and money wasted.

Jesus spent his ministry rubbing shoulders with tax collectors and other sinners. Perhaps the UCC can, in this encounter with the IRS, help to redeem the system. I pray they show God's grace and love to the tax collectors here.

But, the hypocrisy is maddening. As long as a church is preaching for the war and supporting the right-wing candidates they are safe. Breathe one word against Dear Leader or criticize his illegal war of choice and you'll find the black helicopters circling and men with dark suits at your door.

Progressives beware. The freedom of speech does not apply to you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm a Social Justice Crusader

According to a "What Breed of Liberal Are You?" quiz over on Daniel Kurtzman's Web site promoting his new book "How to Win a Fight with a Conservative. Here are my results

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.



Check it out ...

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Spies Who Love You

If you don't support spying, you don't love Uh-mur-i-kuh

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Goin' the courthouse and we're - denied, again!

For the fifth time in as many years, couples here in South Carolina made the trek to the courthouse here in Columbia to try to apply for marriage licenses. Wanda and I have participated four of those years, including this year. The result is always the same. They let us fill out the paperwork so the cameras can get their shots and then they politely tell us to get lost.


Back in the early years, we had three or four couples show up (this year it was just Ed Madden and his partner Bert Easter on the left along with Wanda and me on the right) out of the thousands of gay and lesbian couples living in our state. According to the 2000 Census some 15,000 gay and lesbian partners lived in South Carolina - that's certainly an undercount. The Census also reveals that Sumter County in South Carolina has the third largest number of African-American lesbians raising children. And none of us - even those of us who are willing to be the public face of our civil rights movement, can get the government to recognize our commitment to one another.

Those who can get married take for granted the more than 1,000 rights and privileges granted to couples. Those include the ability to collect your spouse's social security, inheritance rights, the right to make financial and health care decisions in case of hospitalization or incapacitation.

Gay and lesbian couples can spend 50, 60, 70 years together and when one dies, we are strangers under the law. Sure, we can get some papers drawn up giving each other our property upon death or granting power of attorney in matters of finance or health, but don't think those pieces of paper will protect you when a greedy, homophobic family member gets dollar signs in their eyes and revenge in their hearts.

Some people bring up the idiotic religion argument, like God invented marriage, or some other cockamamie idea. Sorry, didn't happen that way. Man created marriage for the sole purpose of passing property to heirs. The church didn't make it a sacrament until the 12th century - preferring to let the state handle the civil matter of marriage. It wasn't until the 1500s that the church required witnesses and a priest to be part of the ceremony, so don't tell me that the church invented marriage. It's just not true.

Besides, I could give a priest's butt if the church ever recognizes same-gender marriage. It's the government that marries people, not the church. The government, under what's left of our Constitution, is required to treat everyone equal under the law - there are no exception and no second-class citizens. Everyone should have the right to protect their committed relationships. Everyone should have the right to collect those more than 1,000 rights and privileges of marriage, because the government isn't a religious entity and it has no right to discriminate under the law.

Of course, the next idiotic argument is, "Well, if two guys or two girls can get married then people will want to marry their dog, or their cat or their houseplant." That's exactly what was said when the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. People said that if different races could marry, then next people are going to be marrying their horse. It's a slippery slope argument based in fear and idiocy.

We're advocating marriage rights for two non-related consenting adults who are eligible for marriage (not married before or properly divorced). There should be no reason why gender would matter. Not one good reason in the world.

So, until people understand that same-gender marriage is simply another way that marriage has evolved over the years and come to understand that all discrimination is wrong, we'll keep going to the courthouse and applying for marriage licenses.

The clerk always tells us: "We cannot accept marriage applications from same-gender couples."

I say to her and the rest of America: "One day you will."

Friday, February 08, 2008

First Clue: His Name is "Hayseed"

Okay, if there are any clues about someone trying to swindle you out of your money, it would be that their name is "Hayseed."

It seems, a few years ago, a man named Harold "Hayseed" Stephens, proposed drilling for oil in Israel - and not just to get rich, but to:

drain the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, prompt Arab countries to attack Israel, and at last touch off the great battle that would usher in the end of days.


I'm not kidding. I so wish that I was. But, the wingnut section of Christianity truly believes that their oil exploration efforts in Israel will bring on the apocalypse. Old people with more depth in their pockets than in their brains, are backing these people. Poor James Cojanis (well, he's poor now!) gave $120,000 to old Hayseed - who, at the time, didn't even have any drilling rights secured in Israel. Now, his investment is worth about $3,000, but he still hasn't soured on the deal:

"I'm glad the stock price is in the tank," he says. "When they hit oil and the stock goes sky-high, that means Armageddon is around the corner." At that point, he plans to use his gains to spread the word that the end times are here, preparing as many souls for heaven as possible.


Holy Crap!

Hayseed? He's dead, so he doesn't really care anymore - but his son "Sha" is continuing the tradition.

The Mother Jones article really sheds some light on why oil is so important to wingnuttery branch that George W. Bush represents. Sure, Bush wants to line his pockets and the pockets of his friends with oil money and war profiteering. But, at the core of his agenda is bringing the four horsemen over the horizon so Jesus can come in all his glory.

I wish the anti-Revelation crowd had won the battle way back in the day and that piece had never made it into scripture. A book that so obviously talks about the Roman empire of the day is repeatedly misread and used to scare the hell out of people and bilk old people out of their money on some misguided mission to induce Jesus' return to Earth. If I were Jesus, I'd stay put just out of spite because people are just too dumb.

For an eye-opening and sobering look at why the wingnuts are well, nutty, read this incredible piece from Karen Armstrong:

This nihilistic religiosity is based on a perversion of the texts. The first chapter of Genesis was never intended as a literal account of the origins of life; it is a myth, a timeless story about the sanctity of the world and everything in it. Revelation was not a detailed programme for the End time; it is written in an apocalyptic genre that has quite a different dynamic. When they described the Jews' return to their homeland, the Hebrew prophets were predicting the end of the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC - not the second coming of Christ. The prophets did preach a stern message of social justice, however, and like all the major world faiths, Christianity sees charity and loving-kindness as the cardinal virtues. Fundamentalism nearly always distorts the tradition it is trying to defend.

No Heaven, but Hell is Just 20 Miles Away

Wow, the Holy Crap has been cascading today. First, I read an interview with conservative Bishop N.T. Wright who tells us that whole heaven thing is just a fig newton of our imaginations:

There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, "Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven." It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation.


John Lennon was right - above us is only sky. No heaven to ascend to when we die. Wright, instead, believes the traditionally conservative idea that we are simply dead until we are raised again (literally and bodily) when Jesus returns.

Want to bet that the good bishop is not an organ donor?

But, wait, there's more.

It seems Lennon is only batting .500. He was wrong about there being "no hell below us." According to Pastor James Melton, hell is real and is only about 20 miles below us.

the sphere of Hell is a round, hollowed-out place in the Earth's core...Scientists say that the Earth's outer crust is less than twenty miles thick, and that beyond that point, there [is] ... a lake of fire. [At] this very moment your eternal soul may be less than twenty miles from the burning fires of Hell!


The link is worth following because the MishMash blog has lots of other silly beliefs of religious zealots including the warning that if you speed you're going to hell. (Hell will be a very crowded place - sort of like Atlanta at rush hour, I'm thinking.)

So, we can still be justified in telling someone to go to hell but all we have to look forward to after death is a long dirt nap until we get resurrected. I sure hope God can do something about my love handles in the resurrection. I'd hate to spend eternity all pudgy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Holy Crap

My heart and my prayers are with all of those who lost their homes and loved ones in the devastating tornadoes that went through the southern region this week. How horrible that these disasters strike. It always seems so random. One house gone, the one next door standing without a scratch.

How do we explain it?

Well, those who survive have this odd tendency to credit God with their survival.

The house was gone, but Kruger says he believes there's reason why he survived.

"I think God was holding my leg, beating my ass, teaching me that I hadn't been doing everything he wanted me to do," he said.


Yep, God held his leg and got him through the tornado to knock some sense into the poor boy.

I heard two students from Union University in Tennessee talk about how God saved them from the storms.

Holy crap!

No one thinks through what they're saying when they thank God for their survival. Yes, they're alive and they're thankful and that's good. But, they don't stop to think what kind of God they're praising. Why did God spare them and not the others? Why were they special? So, God likes Mr. Kruger better than the other 50 or so folks who died during the storm?

The problem is we can't accept the utter randomness of life. We must have been spared by some benevolent sky God instead of simply being lucky. God had nothing to do with it. Just as God had nothing to do with the storm. The storm was the result of specific weather conditions converging to form tornadoes. God didn't will it. It happened because that's what happens when these conditions converge.

God didn't "save" anyone. God didn't take anyone's life. God didn't "protect" anyone and "forsake" anyone else.

A storm came. Some died. Some didn't. Some lost their homes. Some didn't.

Luck of the draw. Nothing more.

Those who remain alive are glad to be alive and they should be. If it makes them rethink how they're spending their lives and they decide they ought to live better lives, then God is in that. God is always there, grieving with us, giving us hope and bringing redemption out of shitty situations.

God is in the comfort. God is in the growth after the tragedy. God is not in the storm - God is in the still small voice that comforts and encourages us after the bad shit happens.

Reflect, Repent, Reboot: An Ash Wednesday Homily

Here is my homily from Ash Wednesday service last night. You can hear the audio here.

Reflect, Repent, Reboot
Ash Wednesday - Feb. 6, 2008
Joel 2:12-18, Matthew 6:1-15

Let me begin with a couple of silly questions: How many of you use a computer?

How many of you have had your computer crash?

I imagine many of us have experienced this throughout the years. If you use a Mac you dread hearing what's known as the "Chimes of Death" - because it's quickly followed by an icon of a "Sad Mac" - a frowning Mac with X's for eyes. You know it's time to say goodbye to whatever precious material you had stored on your little Mac.

For the PC user, it's the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death" that announces that all your files are now nothing but precious memories. No matter which one you see, you knew you and your data are doomed.

Both of these harbingers of data death are so harsh. Instead of Chimes of Death or a Blue Screen of Death, why can't computers give you the bad news in a more pleasant way? I found a Web site that had error messages in the ancient Japanese poetry of Haiku. Here are a few:

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

The file you need
might be very useful.
But now it is gone

Windows XP crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
File not found.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, reboot.
Order shall return.

So often, however, it's not a computer crash that happens - it's our whole lives that crash. We hear the Chimes of Death and experience the Blue Screen of Death almost on a daily basis when things seem to go out of control. We may feel lost, alone, helpless - unable to find our way back home.

Life doesn't have to be that way. The prophet Joel tells us how to change our lives - we simply must come back to God. Chaos reigns within when we wander away from God - when we try to take control of our own lives and live apart from God. For order to return, the steps are simple: reflect, repent, reboot.

Take the time now to reflect on your life - what areas of your life have you taken control over? What areas of your life have you taken away from God? Are there areas where you're in the driver's seat and God is your co-pilot instead of the one guiding your life?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a season of reflection and self-examination. We take this time to pray - and often to fast - as a reminder of the 40 days Christ spent in the desert enduring temptation. We all know temptation well. We face it everyday as the chaos reigns within.

Take this season to reflect on where you have forsaken God in your life. Reflect on the chaos within. Then we move to the next step: repent.

We have this idea that repentance means we have to grovel before God and confess all of the terrible, horrible things we've done. We feel like the prodigal son, who comes home in shame, and tearfully tells his parent, "I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your child ever again." If you look closely at that story in Luke 15, you find the father calling his servants to get his child new clothes and fix a feast. The father isn't even listening to his son's confession.

We don't have to throw ourselves upon the mercy of an angry, vengeful God. That's not what repentance means. Repentance means to stop going in the direction we're going and turn around. Just the act of turning around and coming home, the act of changing our mind and setting our sights once again on God is enough. God isn't interested in hearing about how sorry we are or how we'll do better next time. We're already forgiven in the moment that we turn toward home. Even before we get there – God is already running toward us, bringing us new clothes and setting up a banquet.

That's the good news of repentance. There's no need to beat ourselves up or be mad at ourselves for yet again messing up. God is simply elated that we've realized our mistake and turned around.

To tame the reigning chaos, we must reflect, repent, and then reboot. We must start over. God forgives us, gives us a fresh slate from which to start anew.

Tonight, as we receive the ashes, we are reminded of our mortality - from dust we came and to dust we shall return. But, in the meantime, God has given us radical grace - the ability to end the chaos within - to have order restored. The ashes remind us that life is precious - and even when we crash - God is ready to pick up the pieces, forgive us and give us a fresh start.

When chaos reigns within, don't despair. Jesus has given us a prayer designed to help us reflect, repent and reboot.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.

This is our reflection.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

This is our repentance.

Next we reboot.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, reboot.
Order shall return.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bush's Budget: Screw the Poor

The Good Christian President(TM) George W. Bush has put out his latest budget and not surprisingly, the winners are, well, not anyone reading this blog.

The more than $3 trillion budget includes lots and lots of spending for the military industrial complex - all in the name of our "national security." It also calls for making the Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy permanent - entrenching the haves and the have mores as the real winners from here on out.

Where will all the money come from to pay for more guns and real butter on the fat cats dinner table? Wait for it ...

The poor! Of course.

It's really no shock that Bush will slash funds for health care for the elderly (he won't fund it for children, so the old people can suffer too), education (keep 'em stupid enough to keep voting Republican), energy assistance (let those sick elderly freeze to death. It's what Jesus would do!) and drug free school programs (the kids won't notice they're sick if they're high!).

This Good Christian President(TM) has proven time and time again that the perverse popular religion that blasphemes Christ at every turn will turn his back on the least of these with impunity, smirking the entire time. He knows that no one will call him on it. Democrats will not bang the obvious talking point that this man who professes to be a Christian consistently sells out the poor in favor of the rich (I remember Jesus doing that all the time, don't you?). Democrats will sit on their hands and vote for this abomination and the press will continue to simply report the facts and not call the president on his callous disregard for those in need. (Now, if a Democrat tried it, the headline would scream, "President Sacrifices Poor at the Altar of War and Tax Cuts!!")

Perhaps the hypocrisy of this "compassionate conservative" claptrap is just so obvious that people don't believe it needs any further comment. Perhaps we've all grown callous to the needs of the least of these. We're not in that group, we don't know anyone in that group, so who cares? Pass those buttery tax cuts this way please.

Jesus knew that when our hearts grew cold to the cries of those on the margins that God's kingdom could not break through. It's only when we understand that true love of self results not in "I've got mine," but "Does everyone else have theirs," will we ever be able to truly love the God that made us. As long as we are selfish - getting ours and forsaking the needs of others - we can never truly love God. When we truly love God, we understand that the only proper self love is a love that gives itself away.

Good Christian People(TM) are too busy airing their piety in the streets for others to see and admire to see those whose needs remain unmet.

May God forgive us all for being Good Christian People(TM).

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Holy Crap

Getting my hair cut is always a lesson in Bible belt piety. My stylist, afraid of the very real gang activity in her son's school, has put him in a Christian school. He's learning some strange things about what it means to be a Christian. He told his mom recently, after a very innocent touch with a relative that, "Men shouldn't touch a woman until they're married." Wow, his high school days are going to be very awkward.

My stylist also told me that she came home tired and angry one day and used some adult language in front of her child. "You need Jesus," was his reply.

Hmmm. So, Jesus keeps us from swearing and teaches us that men can't touch women until they marry them. This is what I call "Holy crap." I'd say it's "shit" but then someone might tell me that I need Jesus (to wash out my filthy mouth, I suppose).

Is it just me who gets irritated with Jesus being used as behavior control for children? Why can't we simply teach children that, in polite society, it's best not to swear and when a woman wants you to touch her, she'll let you know, whether you're married to her or not, and it's called sexual assault if you touch her when she doesn't want you to. Why must we drag Jesus into this? He never said any of this stuff (except maybe that if you lust in your heart, you've already committed a sin).

Why aren't we teaching children the real meaning of Jesus - that we are to love everyone and judge no one as below us or unworthy of God's love? Why can't we teach our children that the greatest thing they can do is help another person and put the needs of others above our own? If we truly taught the kind of love Jesus came to teach us we'd all be able to understand that swearing is unnecessary and touching anyone without their permission is bad. Our behavior would improve greatly - no matter what our age.

But, the pap that passes for Christianity today is prevalent. Scott Bateman has animated comedian Eugene Mirman routine about "Revolve" - a copy of the New Testament made to look like a teen magazine. The tips offered are just as banal as what my stylist's son is learning in Christian school.

Holy crap, indeed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Transforming Our Anger

No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure and good without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
- Phillips Brooks


I haven't been making the world a better place recently. I've been cranky, frustrated and downright angry with folks. The media keeps lambasting John Edwards for being "angry" in his message. Perhaps that's why he appeals to me. If you're not angry in this nation right now, you haven't been paying attention. We all have every right to be angry - an illegal war we were lied into, falling wages, rising inflation, rising poverty. The only ones who aren't angry are those still making a fortune on the backs of others. Of course, the only reason anyone is talking about an economic "stimulus" package is because some of the fat cats are now seeing their own empires affected by the Bush economic scorched earth policies. That's why the businesses are getting big tax cuts and again the little people get crumbs or outright ignored.

Angry? You bet.

But, unfortunately for us - and John Edwards - you can't make the world better by simply getting angry. The challenges around us may make us angry, but we must transform our anger into compassion - into compassionate action. Not the "compassionate conservative" lip service, but true action that helps people. Bug the heck out of your Senator so unemployment and food stamp benefits get into this "stimulus" package. Don't do it with anger, but with gentleness and compassion. Find someone near you with needs and help them. Put feet and arms on your anger and use your energy to help and comfort those around you. That's what makes the world better.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Greatest Enemy

Whosoever's latest Godcast in now online. It features interviews with Rick Brentlinger about his new book Gay Christian 101 and filmmaker Lisa Darden, whose new movie For Such a Time as This comes out later this year and features an interview with the editor of a humble Internet magazine for GLBT Christians. :)

Below is the text of my Godcast commentary:

In his book Freedom, Glorious Freedom John J. McNeill wrote:

Gays and lesbians need to develop a conscious awareness of the destructive role of fear in their community. Our greatest enemy is not some outside opponent -- it is the fear within us.


I once had a friend who was very active in the MCC I attended in Atlanta many years ago. He was a member of the board, he helped coordinate worship, he was everywhere at once within the church. However, outside the church he was closeted. I remember the first time I visited his house and discovered all his gay related books locked away in the hall closet. Even his books were closeted!

Growing up in the South I can understand the deep fear this man had. He was basically a good ole boy. His family had deep Southern roots and certainly would not take kindly to one of their own being "that way." So, he hid. But the fear that drove this man was palpable. You could feel his paranoia and fear even if you just spent a little time with him. This deep fear played itself out in several ways in his life, making his personal and professional lives a misery.

I know that fear well because, as a good Southerner, I hid my own sexuality for a time. The fear of being revealed, of showing the world my true nature, was real and terrifying. I knew I would lose friends, jobs, church status and maybe family members if the truth were known. It's this fear that kept my friend and his books locked in a closet.

It will finally be this fear that defeats the gay and lesbian community. It won't be attack ad from the religious right. It won't be an organized assault by mainstream churches on the "sin" of homosexuality. In the end, our own fear will be our downfall.

Jesus tells us to have no fear of those who can kill the body. We are assured by God that when we live a life of honesty and integrity, free from the fear of retaliation, we will be blessed with an abundant life. We are God's children and "if God be for us, who can be against us?"

I can't adequately explain what a freeing experience coming out is. The English language is not equipped with words to describe that absolute joy and relief I felt. Yes, there were losses. I lost a few friends and I can't worship in truth and in spirit at my old hometown church anymore. But my losses have been minimized by the abundance with which God has blessed me.

Now, as an open lesbian Christian, I have a wonderful partner, a job where I can be open and accepted, great loving and caring friends, a church community that values my gifts, and a family that, though they may not understand, has embraced both me and my partner.

Coming out is the best thing that you can do, not only for the community at large, but for yourself. You'll experience loss, and pain, and probably make some enemies. But in the end you defeat the biggest enemy you face: the fear inside that one day would have consumed you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Evangelicals put their heads in the sand - again

Amazing. There is an endless war going on that is sucking our economy dry. Homeless veterans, millions without health care insurance, millions more falling into poverty every single day and what are the most important issues in this election to evangelicals?

Abortion and homosexuality, of course!

The Barna Group's research found that in this important group of voters, whose strong support propelled George W Bush into the White House, abortion was the most pressing problem their country faces for 94%.

For 75% of evangelicals "homosexual lifestyles" or the "political efforts of homosexual activists" were a concern. Among the general population only 35% agreed.


Did I mention that this is amazing. Why focus on real problems in this world when you can continue to bang the twin drums of "real evil" - women who can control their own bodies and sexual outlaws like gays and lesbians?

And they say gays and lesbians the ones obsessed with sex? Methinks the evangelicals doth protest waaaaaaaaay to much here.

Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Evangelical - take a page from that Jesus fellow in Matthew 25:

31-33 "When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'

37-40 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

41-43 "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

44 "Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

45 "He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

46 "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."


I don't see anything there about abortion and homosexuality, but I see a lot about serving the poor and needy. With so many poor and needy amongst us, can you stop thinking about sex for just a few minutes and help us help the "least of these" in the world?

Please?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Normal After All

According to a new study committed gay and lesbian relationships aren't all that different from heterosexual relationships.

The current study adds to this literature by demonstrating that, controlling for demographic differences, gay males and lesbians in our studies were generally not distinguishable from their committed heterosexual counterparts on measures of self- and partner reported relationship quality, as well as in how they interacted with one another—and responded physiologically—while attempting to resolve conflict in their relationships.

Translation: Far as these researchers can tell, gay and lesbian committed relationships look to be as psychologically healthy as committed heterosexual relationships.


And here I thought gay and lesbian relationships were all special. Turns out we're just as screwed up as straights.

Damn.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Do I Need To Believe This Morning?

I don't have to wake up everyday wondering what I need to believe. - Mike Huckabee


GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee makes this ridiculous statement in one of his recent campaign ads. In the opening line, Huckabee reassures the voters that faith is something that "defines" him. It so defines him he doesn't have to wonder about what to believe.

Here's the interpretation: If you're not a Christian, you're gullible - you don't have the conviction of your beliefs.

Here's the truth: Huckabee is an idiot. But wait, calling a GOP candidate an idiot is an insult to idiots, because even idiots have the conviction of their beliefs. Even the most wrong-headed person in the world does not wake up wondering what they need to believe. We all have beliefs, for good or ill, and we are all stubborn human beings who cling to beliefs even in the face of the most solid facts. Nobody likes to be proven wrong and if we do admit that beliefs we hold are erroneous it's usually with great reluctance - or by shifting the blame for our beliefs to someone else ("I only believed that because someone in power told me it was true! It's not my fault!").

But, in Huckabee's world, it's really those without faith who are the ones constantly groping for what they "need to believe." The charge is ridiculous, of course. Even the staunchest atheist has the conviction of their beliefs. They know what they "need to believe" every single day.

Over Thanksgiving, I had a maddening conversation with my sisters who proudly proclaimed that FOX News is "the truth" and all other media is "liberal" and not to be trusted. They, like too many people in this country, get their beliefs and opinions from the propaganda machine that is FOX News.

Perhaps these are the people Huckabee meant by those who wake up every morning wondering what they need to believe. These are, after all, his core supporters.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolve to Love

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
- Rumi

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous New Year celebration. Wanda and I spent time with some friends, enjoying adult beverages and games, including football.

Note: Shameless self-promotion ahead ...

This coming year holds some exciting things for me including the release in September of my first book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians. This book is the culmination of nearly 15 years of experience working for the full inclusion of GLBT people in the church and society. GLBT people are constantly under attack by religious people for who they are. We are constantly told that we are "sinners" hated and rejected by God unless we change who we are. My book will give GLBT people the tools they need to reconcile their spirituality and sexuality once and for all so no attack can ever weaken their faith again.

I'm looking forward to touring with the book and speaking at churches, conference, colleges and other organizations. If anyone is planning a conference and needs a qualified and dynamic speaker, please contact me. You can check out my workshops and topics at this page.

**end shameless self promotion**

As we enter the New Year, Rumi's words struck me this morning. These past few months, I've been seeking ways break down the barriers to love that I have built within myself. We are all afraid to truly love. When we love we become vulnerable. We open ourselves to others in the world in ways we normally wouldn't. Being open means that we can be hurt. Being vulnerable means that our feelings can be trampled upon by others. We can be taken advantage of by others. We can be deeply hurt by others.

So we close off our hearts. It's easier to not love than it is to love. It's easier to not care than it is to care. Loving - being genuinely caring for everyone - regardless of who they are or how they may have hurt us in the past - may set us up for fresh hurts and injuries.

But, to find love - real, true, lasting love - we must tear down the barriers we have erected in ourselves. Until we do, the love we find around us will never be that real, true, lasting love. It will only be a fleeting facsimile of real love.

The big sensation this year was "The Secret." Everyone wanted to know the secret of creating wealth, health and love. Apparently, it's all in your head - what you think on grows. We all know the secret now - but we're not all fabulously wealthy, healthy, and in love. Why?

Because we misunderstand the power of the secret. It's not just another way to build wealth, health and our love life. If we see the secret as simply a way to get more, be more and attract more into our lives, then we've missed the point. The true secret is to remove all barriers to love that we have built up. The true secret is to stop being afraid of being hurt by the world or those around us. We will be hurt. It is inevitable. The question we must ask ourselves is, do we truly seek to be happy? If so, then we must love without reservation and without fear. We must plant seeds of true love and happiness in the world. Instead of seeking selfish gain, we must seek the gain of all people. Only then will our love and our happiness be complete.

If you make resolutions, resolve now to begin removing the barriers to love you have built within yourself. Stop thinking of how you can gain something in this world just for you and think instead how your thoughts, your actions, your very life can benefit everyone. Then and only then will you find true happiness and suddenly your life will be filled with wealth, health and love. You may still be poor, sickly and alone, but your definitions of wealth, health and love will surely have been transformed - and the world along with it.