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Archive for September, 2008

Embracing the Exile…

The Healing Journeys of Gay Christians…

Is doing the work involved in the psychological dimension — acquiring a sense of autonomy and self determination — a prerequisite for spiritual growth? I think it is. I’m convinced of the wisdom of those spiritual masters who contend that “you have to have an ego before you can give it up.” Eastern disciples have to rail against their gurus and attempt to maintain control before they can arrive at the insight that there is nothing to control.

Likewise, Christian seekers have to gain some feeling of self-worth and power before surrendering to the everythingness of God. Otherwise, there is a danger that the “surrender” may end up being nothing more than a self deprecating reinforcement of a negative self image. Reinforcement of the self image — whether positive or negative  – just yields a more powerful ego. It isn’t spiritual fruition at all.

Simply transforming a negative self image (spawned by whatever the patients history included) into a positive one is just not enough when you are going to send the patient back out into a world that is determined to slash those feelings of worth to shreds. Surviving and growing in such a world demands that gay persons develop a perspective much more profound. The process of therapy with many gay people, then, has got to involve awakening in the patient levels of consciousness far beyond those necessary for most straight people.

What does all this have to do with :loving anyway?” In order for gay people to get to a place where they can love in a world that rejects both their loving and giving, they first have to embrace a consciousness that transcends the society that rejects them as misfits, a cosmic wisdom that comprehends the oneness of the universe in which the gay person inextricably “belongs.” The psyche-spirit must be debunked and the myth abandoned. Once you know, at the core of your being, that you have a rightful place in God’s creation, that NOTHING can separate you from the Love of God, then it doesn’t much matter what people say to you.

THEN you are free to give love – ANYWAY!!!

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When Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed, Israel’s false, nationalistic faith in a God who would protect them no matter what they did crumbled. Many Jews gave up their faith entirely. They began worshiping other gods, especially the Babylonian gods who apparently had proved their superiority. Others began to worship the god of wealth, capitalizing on their new location in “captivity” to nourish their greed. Still others clung to the hope that the Davidic state, and theocracy complete with priesthood and temple, ritual and sacrifice would be restored.

Through all this confusion, the Hebrew faith, amazingly enough, did not die. But it changed dramatically. The scriptures written during the exile are marked by denial (Lamentations 5:7), rage (Ezekiel 18:2, 25), and forlornness (Psalm 137). Israel at first could not accept the idea that God would let this thing happen to them. Once it seemed inevitable, they were overcome with bitterness directed at their captors. Finally, they were immobilized by sadness and hopelessness as their fate seemed sealed. But toward the end of the exile, a new voice arose, the voice of someone we do not even know, someone who wrote what scripture scholars call Second Isaiah. And his writings begin this way:

Comfort, comfort my people;
– it is the voice of your God;
speak tenderly to Jerusalem
and tell her this,
that she has fulfilled her term of bondage,
and her penalty is paid;…

Second Isaiah was a herald, a herald of something new, a herald like Moses or so many of the prophets or John the Baptist or Jesus. He announced a broader understanding of God’s plan for the universe, and he witnessed to a spirituality whose depth had never before been realized.

Second Isaiah came to understand the universality of God. Yahweh was no longer just the God of Israel, but the Lord of All, a cosmic God.

Who has gauged the waters in the palm of his hand,
or with its span set limits to the heavens?
Who has held all the soil of earth in a bushel,
or weighed the mountains on a balance
and the hills on a pair of scales?
Who has set limits to the spirit of the Lord?
what counselor stood at his side to instruct him?
With whom did he confer to gain discernment?
Who taught him how to do justice
or gave him lessons in wisdom?
Why, to him nations are but drops from a bucket,
no more than moisture on the sales;
coasts and islands weigh as light as specks of dust.

With this broader view of reality, the Israelites could begin to see their way out of the mess their nationalistic theology had gotten them into. If God was Lord of All, then everything had a purpose, everything fit. Simplistically, Cyrus could be seen as God;s pawn set to overcome the Babylonians and effect the release of Israel from bondage. In a more sophisticated way, the exile could be seen to have a purpose too: to purge God’s people, renew their faith, and unify them so that they could become God’s servant, God’s Suffering Servant.

“I the Lord, have called you with righteous purpose
and taken you by the hand;
I have formed you, and appointed you
to be a light to all peoples,
a beacon for the nations,
to open eyes that are blind,
to bring captives out of prison,
out of dungeons where they lie in darkness”

2 Isaiah

It was no accident that both Jesus and his followers reached back to Second Isaiah to understand what they were being called to do. Jesus became the Suffering Servant personified. And he is there for Gay Christians to claim as exemplar. When Gay Christians can transcend society’s too small concept of God and embrace, as Jesus did, the awesome and liberating reality that ALL of creation is redeemed, then it becomes possible for them to give love anyway, as Jesus the Christ gave and loved in the face of a society that utterly rejected him.

Spiritual Growth as Grieving:

Chogyam Trungpa quotes these ominous words: “Better not to begin. Once you begin, better to finish it.” He goes on to say, “Once we commit ourselves to the spiritual path, it is very painful and we are in for it…
It will be terrible, excruciating, but that is the way it is…”

Spiritual growth like psychotherapy, then, is a process of grieving. You begin by practicing how to do it and then spend the rest of your life doing it. Those who attain enlightenment or union with God have done it, given up attachment to everything. They’ve even given up attachment to getting attached. Don’t expect to meet many people like this in a lifetime.

People seek spiritual direction because they are starving for more meaning in their lives. They have a sense that there must be something more but have no idea what it is. They come to a teacher or spiritual director at their wit’s end of trying to GET IT, wanting to know what TO DO next.

All of this wanting and trying, of course, is the ego at work. Since the only way to achieve enlightenment is by giving up the ego, exercising it this way only makes it more impossible. What they don’t know is that what they want may not be acquired by striving.

The paradox is that exercising the ego — in fact, pushing it to its limits — is seen as absolutely essential for spiritual growth, but only so you get to figure out how dumb it is. Spiritual formation, then, is a process of learning how to SURRENDER and begin giving up attachments to all of the things, ideas, feelings, and ways of being-in-the-world that keep us from just simply being, doing what is accurate and appropriate at the moment.

Being here and now means being in the flow of the universe. Being here and now means participating in being, allowing ourselves to be fully a part of God’s plan of salvation. To the extent that we are distracted from the moment by our attachment to whatever, we are out of the flow, out of sync with the unfolding universe.

TRUE spiritual enlightenment means learning a whole new way of living for most of us. It means embracing a life of openness to what is as it occurs, a commitment to giving up attachment to things as they present themselves and that we inevitably become tied to. The ultimate hope is that the initial impulse to get attached in the first place will diminish as we spiritually mature.

This teaching comes by way of the text: Embracing the Exile
Healing journeys of Gay Christians by John E. Fortunato

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Biblical Scholarship of 2 Isaiah: From the Hebrew Scriptures

“LT” refers to the interpretation of most secularists and religious liberals. They analyze the Bible as a historical document to determine the identity of the author(s) “and/or redactor of the final text.” 2 This analysis method is called “biblical criticism,” “literary criticism” or, less commonly, “higher criticism.” For example, they generally agree that the book of Isaiah was written by multiple authors over many centuries. Another example is the Pentateuch — the first five books of the Bible. Most accept the “Documentary Hypothesis“, that the Pentateuch was written by four anonymous authors or groups of authors who were commonly called J, E. P, and D. It was edited by one or more Redactors (R).

Prophets were regarded as direct spokesmen for God. They were seen to speak the words of God to the people of Israel. Their main role was to predict future events, and to call upon the public to repent and return to the true faith. The term “major” in this context means that the prophet’s message was preserved in a lengthy book and covered a wider variety of subjects than did the minor prophets. There were of course dozens or perhaps hundreds of prophets whose stories were never recorded.

Isaiah:

Isaiah was a prophet and a court preacher in Jerusalem. He predicted a future disaster for the Southern Kingdom of Judah because of their many sins. The writer(s) of this book cover many themes: fate of foreign nations, Israel’s reliance on God instead of alliances with other nations, the special significance of Jerusalem, the establishment of the rule of justice and righteousness, the eventual restoration of Israel, the expansion of God’s justice to other nations, a new age of prosperity, etc. Finally, he discussed the future coming of the “servant of the Lord”, who would bring an era of great peace and happiness to the people of Israel.

CT: The book was written by Isaiah about 740 BCE. The servant of the Lord refers primarily to Jesus Christ. Isaiah contains many prophecies that will not be fulfilled until the second coming of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom.

LT Writing of the book extends over a period of 200 or more years. Chapters 1 to 39 were written about 700 to 750 BCE, at the time of Isaiah. They relate to the Syro-Ephraimitic War (circa 733 BCE) and the invasion of Judah by the Assyrian army in 701 BCE. Chapters 40 to 55 were composed in the 6th century BCE, probably by an unknown Jewish exile in Babalonia, often referred to as 2nd Isaiah or Deutero Isaiah. They were perhaps written during the reign of the last Babylonian ruler, Nabonidus (about 555 to 539 BCE). Chapters 56 to 66 are identified by some theologians as the product of a third author 3rd Isaiah who might have composed them circa 540 to 500 BCE. The final editing of the book might have been as late as 200 BCE.

The Christian churches have traditionally taken isolated verses from the book of Isaiah and interpreted them as predicting events associated with Jesus’ lifetime, execution and second coming. In reality, they relate to the future of Israel’s seen from the 6th through 2nd century BCE. Many events described in Jesus’ life appear to match prophecies in Isaiah; however, this is simply the result of the authors of the New Testament creating events in Jesus’ life that match their interpretation of Isaiah — events that never happened in reality.


Sitting in the field…

Monday nights are very special. We get to go to class and study scripture from a totally different perspective. Our trusted professor teaches us in ways I had never thought about before. The scriptures are lifted off the pages as we over lay them with new parameters and categories.

The gospel of Mark is not just a collection of stories, but behind the writing is the real story about the community behind the Markan gospel. You have the traditions as Mark has gathered them, you also have his redactions (what was added to them), things that are peculiar to Mark. The “distance” that exists between tradition and redaction is the story of the Markan community. Mark is also known as a cryptologist. His writing is cryptic in nature and as readers we are to read scripture with a cryptic eye for detail.

What is spirit? In the Hebrew – it is called [Ruah] in the Greek it is called [Pneuma] quite literally we have “the wind.” The breath…

It is not enough to read scripture literally. One must move towards — Metaphorical stories, written lessons mean more than what they say. How do we read the gospels? We can’t read them in a historical aspect because we cannot place certain [Places] historically on a historical map.

Mark 5:1-20:

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

NOTE: Gerasene is not by the sea – too many cities in biblical literature are not located where the texts say they are. If we read this passage word for word: and we parse this reading we find this: what is the meaning behind this story? And to whom is the story addressed? The Markan community. What is going on in this time period? The demon calls themselves “Legion” quite literally what do we think of when we speak the word legion? [Roman soldiers]. Jesus is in a boat crossing the sea – correllation to – the Red Sea – we can correspond this to Judaic stories of Egypt – and coming back to [The Legions] the Romans were enemies of God. Which speaks to the Markan Community that God will destroy the enemy.

We have now categories to read the gospels:

Characters are the “Who” of the narrative
Mark 2:2 (The many) (collective characters)
We have round characters: constructed by several traits (Jesus is a round character) John the Baptist is a round character. Round characters are usually protagonists.
We have flat characters: Characters with a single trait (Judas Iscariot) Mk 3:19 he is always the betrayer.
We have block characters who’s role in invariable. They never change within the narrative.

Mark 3:1-6

Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

In the characterization: we have Jesus, the withered man, the Pharisees and the Herodians. What is the implied author trying to do to us here in this passage? Who do you identify with? How do you feel towards the characters? The writer is trying to orient us in this passage.

When we move to Mark chapter 4, what do we have in this chapter? Parables. There is special lessons to be learned here in this chapter and the writer wants to include us in the inner group, those people who get the meaning of the parables [the sower] those who are outside the inner circle will not “get” these parables. But we are given a glimpse into the inner circle by way of teaching.

Let us move now into my favorite scripture passage in Mark. Chapter 5:21-34

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

We have Focalization:

Internal focalization: where information is given
External focalization: Just what the story says
Zero focalization: we have no information

The woman in this story has has hemorrage for 12 years. That information is outside time and place in the narration. In this [Setting] we have the where and the when of the narrative. We find oppositions. geopolitical, topographic and architectural. We also have theological settings, Jewish lands and Pagan lands. We have [Temporal] settings which mark mortal time, the time of the narrative, and we have [Monumental] time which is time that transcends the narrative (as in the end of days – Apocryphal writing).

There is much more going on in this passage than one knows, unless you read into the story. The sick woman is outside the community as such the sick and lame are. She is unclean, and therefore unacceptible. She approaches Jesus and she shares her internal focalization (that if she touches the hem of his garment, that should would be healed) then in the conversation with Jesus afterwards, Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” He restores her not only physically, but spiritually. He restores her to the community as well. This is external focalization. It is just what the story tells us.

Moving on, we have the Plot. Which is the what and they why of the narrative.
Mark 12:13-17

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.

In this scripture we have a model of the five stages of plot.
1. The initial situation
2. The complication
3. The transforming action
4. The denoument
5. The final situation

We find in this passage how the situation begins, what transpires, the transforming action the denoument and the final situation. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

In biblical scripture we have what is called an ellipsis: an event in the narrative written outside the time frame of the narrative…a flashback, we also have prolepsis a flash forwards, a prediction or foreshadow. We shall look at another scripture passage:

Mark 1:4-11

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

This translation is a little different from my own but here is the notation.

John is called – the baptizer – not John the Baptist
John is inferior to Jesus
John is portrayed as a prophet (Elijah some say) the 2nd Elijah.
Prolepsis: John’s proclamation of Jesus, at the Jordan river (in Judea) which harkens of Jesus’ Jewish background, and is baptized by Jesus.

The baptism has a meaning in the narrative. What does baptism mean in 1st century Palestine? What does John the Baptist explicitly say about Jesus? We cannot avoid certain historical questions. The Passion predictions that Jesus makes in the gospels are further examples of prolepsis, a foreshadowing of things to come.

So you can see just how scripture is lifted off the page and takes on a life of its own. Scripture is not just words on a page that we take literally or historically. There are layers upon layers of information for us to glean, if only we took the time to properly study the scriptures.

The Bible is not a science book, nor a history book or biography.

Every little bit and piece of scripture has a meaning. Places for example: Judea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome. People, the communities that are addressed in the gospels, in Paul’s letters and epistles. The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, nothing is left to chance, everything has a meaning as we peel back the layers of scripture.

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A few final observations of John the Baptist:

Was John the Baptist inferior to Jesus at the time of their first meeting? I read a lot of books. I’ve studied a lot of side literature and in adding other source material to the (Scholarly) study of scripture one begins to get a wider picture of biblical history. If you’ve ever read “Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt” by Anne Rice, it is a fictional account of the early life of Jesus. But there is biblical citation and study when you read the end notes of the book.

John the baptist, Jesus’ cousin was born to Martha at a late age. And after the birth of Jesus, the angel appears to Joseph and tells them that it is time to go to Egypt. Where they journey after the Magi visit the baby Jesus. The next time we hear about Jesus in scripture, he is 12 years old and he is found sitting with the teachers in the temple. Anne explores this 12 year period of Jesus’ life. Jesus does miraculous things. And his mother Mary is aware of what is going on and she chides Jesus and warns him not to ask questions about his “state” she tells him that at the appropriate time she will tell him why he is what he is, and she further admonishes him not to say anything to Joseph about his miraculous deeds and misdeeds.

Jesus and John, Salome and the other children grow up together in a large family group. It is posed that Martha intends at one point that John the Baptist, as he will come to be known, will be sent to Essenes. A Monastic order who live ascetic lives in the desert, where John the Baptist will be raised and educated.

If we suppose [hypothesize] that John goes to the Essene and is educated in the ascetic Christian practices prior to his earthly ministry as prophet and man, he comes to (Mark 1:4-11) noted above, John the Baptist is not just a man who lives on locusts and wild honey – who just appears in the scriptures out of nowhere proclaiming the coming of someone far greater than himself [Jesus].

So with that side story… a hypothesis… Is John the Baptist inferior? If John was educated by the Essene, then he comes to the introduction of Jesus with a theology and teaching from the Essene. John would have read the scriptures that the Essene had. He would have had access to all the writing prior to the introduction of Jesus.

Pauline literature is the earliest Christian writing that exists in the bible. The Gospels come after those letters and epistles. The gospels traveled far and wide. And we can safely assume that communities of Christians all over Judea, Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor had access to certain writings at certain times. And adding to that the copies of copies of copies, there were thousands of pages of writing circulating around early 1st century times.

The more we study scripture layer by layer, and the more we read side literature and extra canonical texts, the wider a picture we get of early Christianity. Let us add the Qum’ Ran finds, the Gnostic texts and other writings over the years, we start to see the mosaic that Christianity is. This is the gift of scholarly study. We can sit in a classroom and ask our questions and maybe we get an answer, and sometimes we are left to hypothesize on our own. The study of scripture is as far and as deep as the sea. The further we delve into the scholarly study of scripture the more I learn along with my fellow students.

And when the class was done, some of us went out for coffee to share about where we are on our own faith journey. It is just amazing to listen to people talk about the wondrous transformations that are taking place before me. We are able, here at Concordia, to ask our questions and to expand our brains where it comes to faith and doctrine. Many of my friends are on this wonderful journey of transformation and enlightenment. It is just amazing. We have stepped outside the box of faith. We are out here in the field living our faith in active ways. Living, Christ in action. Faith is such a wonderful thing when you begin to peel back the layers of the onion.

There is more to come, so stay tuned…


Matthew …

Originally found on: Walking with Integrity

UW dedicates bench in honor of Matthew Shepard

By Peter Baumann Boomerang Staff Writer – Hyperlink Here

On a sunny fall day in Laramie, it’s too easy to forget that nearly 10 years ago the life of Matthew Shepard ended brutally, tied to a desolate fence outside of town. No one who had never met him will get the chance. No one who never heard his voice will know what it sounded like. And for those who knew, it’s important that the community of Laramie never forget what tragic consequences bubble forth out of ignorance and intolerance.

These are the things that people will hopefully think about when they take a seat on the bench with his name on it at Quealy Plaza that was dedicated in his memory Saturday morning.

Under the close eye of the media with police officers idling near the outer circle of the crowd that gathered that day, University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan and Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mom, spoke about the past and the future of that fatal event that shocked not only this small town on the plains, but the state and nation as well.

“Prejudice exits in America, but it need not define who we are,” Buchanan said. “Prejudice is the exception, not the rule.”

Moods and emotions were subdued at the dedication. Governor Dave Freudenthal and wife, Nancy, stood close by, listening to Buchanan and Shepard’s parents speak.

Buchanan said that while progress has been made in the fight against intolerance — citing the creation of the Shepard Symposium and the Rainbow Resource Center that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students — it is a battle that must be waged diligently.

“Through our actions, we continue to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are core values at UW,” Buchanan said. “Just as we live with the loss of Matt, we live every day at UW committed to the idea that we treat all with dignity and respect. A memorial bench can serve as a reminder of that commitment, but we must continue to work hard to make it a reality.”

Despite the progress that has been made, Judy Shepard expressed disappointment that the state of Wyoming has yet to pass any hate crime laws.

“But I’m confident that as the Equality State, we can move forward, set an example and really make a statement about what it means to be equal to everybody else,” Shepard said.


NO on Prop 8.Org

Don’t undo

Say NO to Prop 8!!!


The Turning…

Fall is marching on in Montreal. Just a couple shots of the trees in our neighborhood.


Thought…

Overheard on late night radio:

“I miss the old days, when bankers jumped out of windows…”


Feeling “Studius”

Sometimes I sit in class and I am in awe of the fact that “this is really happening!” Sometimes I sit in class and my mind wanders as I contemplate all the information flowing through my head ay any given moment. And Monsignor Hardy asked me the other night if I was ok. I gave him a thumbs up and said all was well.

I am just blown away sometimes that I have made it this far, and that I set out a very ambitious schedule this term, not as ambitious as some, but for me it is. Good professors teaching scholarly courses just makes my blood pump a little faster than just taking a course because I have to.

Henri Nouwen writes:

One of the most obvious characteristics of our daily lies is that we are too busy. We experience our days as filled with things to do, people to meet, projects to finish, letters to write, calls to make, and appointments to keep. Our lives often seem like over packed suitcases bursting at the seams, In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealized proposals. There is always something else that we should have remembered, done or said. There are always people we did not speak to, write to, or visit. Thus, although we are very busy, we have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligations…..

Beneath our worrying lives, however, something else is going on. While our minds and hearts are filled with many things, and we wonder how we can live up to the expectations imposed upon us by ourselves and others, we have a deep sense of unfulfillment. While busy with and worried about many things, we seldom feel truly satisfied, at peace, at home. A gnawing sense of being unfulfilled underlies our filled lives…

The great paradox of our time is that many of us are busy and bored at the same time. While running from one event to the next, we wonder in our innermost selves if anything is really happening. While we can hardly keep up with our many tasks and obligations, we are not so sure that it would make any difference if we did nothing at all. While people keep pushing us in all directions, we doubt if anyone really cares. In short, while our lives are full, we are unfulfilled.

Ron Rolheiser, The Shattered Lamp, Chapter 3 pgs. 49-50


Feeling "Studius"

Sometimes I sit in class and I am in awe of the fact that “this is really happening!” Sometimes I sit in class and my mind wanders as I contemplate all the information flowing through my head ay any given moment. And Monsignor Hardy asked me the other night if I was ok. I gave him a thumbs up and said all was well.

I am just blown away sometimes that I have made it this far, and that I set out a very ambitious schedule this term, not as ambitious as some, but for me it is. Good professors teaching scholarly courses just makes my blood pump a little faster than just taking a course because I have to.

Henri Nouwen writes:

One of the most obvious characteristics of our daily lies is that we are too busy. We experience our days as filled with things to do, people to meet, projects to finish, letters to write, calls to make, and appointments to keep. Our lives often seem like over packed suitcases bursting at the seams, In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealized proposals. There is always something else that we should have remembered, done or said. There are always people we did not speak to, write to, or visit. Thus, although we are very busy, we have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligations…..

Beneath our worrying lives, however, something else is going on. While our minds and hearts are filled with many things, and we wonder how we can live up to the expectations imposed upon us by ourselves and others, we have a deep sense of unfulfillment. While busy with and worried about many things, we seldom feel truly satisfied, at peace, at home. A gnawing sense of being unfulfilled underlies our filled lives…

The great paradox of our time is that many of us are busy and bored at the same time. While running from one event to the next, we wonder in our innermost selves if anything is really happening. While we can hardly keep up with our many tasks and obligations, we are not so sure that it would make any difference if we did nothing at all. While people keep pushing us in all directions, we doubt if anyone really cares. In short, while our lives are full, we are unfulfilled.

Ron Rolheiser, The Shattered Lamp, Chapter 3 pgs. 49-50


Work done…

Sorry for my lack of posting. I haven’t felt very creative as of late. I am under the gun when it comes to homework. I have a lot of reading still to do for next week and tonight I finally completed my bibliography for my term paper which will be on The Unity of Luke – Acts. I’ve got a few good texts to read up on and I have to go print out my journal articles from the library itself because I can’t do that from home. The system will allow you to see the source – but you can’t print from electronic sources from outside the system.

I finished reading Brisinger the other night. All 760 pages of it. I did not read the whole book, because I found the reading to be a bit verbose and boring, so I skipped many parts of the story where it did not concern Eragon and Sapphira. I did find that after all that reading that one sentence really got my attention three quarters through the book. You will have to find that sentence yourself because I won’t give it away.

It was a good read. But the Inheritance series is not like Harry Potter, where I would go back and reread the book once again. I have my favorite chapters in Harry Potter that I reread over and over again. Eragon is a good character but he doesn’t command attention like Harry does.

I’m reading The Shattered Lantern by Ronald Rolheiser for my Pastoral Ministry class, and that is a huge reading, we don’t have the book and we are reading from a xerox copies of the text. I think I will try to find the book, to put into my collection. I’d rather read from a book, rather than a stack of copies.

Oh well, It’s not in the university library nor is it available at Chapters or Indigo stores here in the city.

Well, its raining here, and Oh I almost forgot, You should see the trees, they are really starting to turn in our neighborhood, so I will be uploading some pics over the weekend.

Stay tuned…


Jay Scholl – a Poem

Oh Okay – A Poem


Meditations on Mark…

Mark 5:24b-34

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

As a gay Christian man with AIDS, for many years I was an outsider, someone ostracized and regarded as being punished by God for my deviant sexual behavior. For us, God was someone who was punishing us, far from the all powerful loving God that helped those who loved and obeyed Him. My faith is the one thing that saved my life, and also the fact that a few chosen men took it upon themselves to help me survive. They fed me in spiritual ways that would never compare to the ways normal humans seek spirituality.

It has taken me fifteen years of pilgrimage to find the God of my understanding. To understand that faith is an action. To understand that God may not cure my disease, but He has healed me in ways that normal people have no concept of, because for many still, I stand on the outside of God’s grace, those who still condemn people like myself.

It was just after my diagnosis that the priests of my parish insisted that I come to church, to pray, to be part of community, and to receive the sacraments. And with their help, my journey or pilgrimage to God continued. I have been on a pilgrimage to find God for the whole of my life. (But that story is for another paper!)

Jesus is walking through the crowds with his disciples. And a woman who had been suffering with hemorrhage drew near to him. And she had the ultimate faith in her belief that if she just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, that she would be healed. She knew, in her heart of hearts that this would come to pass. And when she had done this, and the power went out of Jesus, He stopped because He noticed the transfer of healing energy. He asked “who touched me?” Finding the woman coming forth in fear, why did she fear Jesus? When she had the ultimate faith in believing that he could heal her? She spoke to Jesus and admitted what she had done. And he replied “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I love this passage, because I have faith like that woman. I have spent the better half of my life seeking the hem of his garment. Can you imagine if we could teach this kind of faith to our congregations? They would not understand what this depth of faith is unless they suffered like we have suffered. Christians preach their version of the Good News to only those who are acceptable to Him. Who is acceptable? Everyone is acceptable. But how many of those on the fringe or those who are marginalized know this? It is our calling to go out into the field and preach the “Good News” of Jesus’ teaching.

It is my belief that words heal, faith heals, and there are practical implications of this kind of faith if we can attest to the healing power of the Grace of God. I don’t think people expect to see Jesus walk among them today. But he does. I believe that we are created in the image of God; therefore we act as God on earth. We are to Love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and, with our entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘We should love our neighbor as ourselves.” (Mt: 22:37-39). If we truly did this, truly did this, I believe that we would have the power to heal many.

When you parse this scripture passage we see that Jesus not only healed her physically, he healed her spiritually as well, because the sick and the lame were outsiders, unacceptable in society. People with AIDS are still seen as unacceptable and ignored and that is a shame. Like that woman in the gospel of Mark, I have been healed spiritually and it is my belief that I have been healed physically, because my blood work is as normal as normal gets for me, and the doctors cannot explain my physical condition. And you can’t explain acts of faith to men who work by the numbers.

I don’t think many Christians take seriously the pilgrimage of faith, because it is so arduous. We read our bibles and we speak the words, but do we really walk the walk and talk the talk? This woman of scripture may not have read one line of scripture, but she had faith. So much faith, that she knew healing was possible even if she only touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.

So many read the scriptures, and have such little faith. It is my contentions that only those afflicted with severe disease and suffering know what it is like to yearn every day to just touch the hem of his garment. You cannot explain this concept to armchair Christians. That is why my own Pastoral Ministry work today is an action of faith.

We move through the crowds every day, and you never know when someone will reach up and touch the hem of our garment and be healed of some kind of affliction, if we live the Gospel, then we are the Christ that someone may need to see in their day.

And on my last day of life I want to hear Jesus say to me “Well done good and faithful servant.”


Hawaii leprosy settlement faces sainthood dilemma

By AUDREY McAVOY – Associated Press

KALAUPAPA, Hawaii – In a state known for bustling, exciting tourist destinations such as Waikiki and the Kilauea volcano, Kalaupapa is sacred ground, with a history of disease, suffering and isolation.

Some 8,000 people have died on this remote peninsula since the Hawaiian Kingdom started exiling leprosy patients here in 1866. Many were torn from their families and left to scrounge for shelter, clothes and food. The vast majority were buried in unmarked graves.

Today, visitor interest in Kalaupapa, on the northern edge of Molokai island, is growing. And it will likely increase when the Vatican proclaims Father Damien — the 19th century priest who cared for the leprosy patients — a saint, most likely late next year.

The two dozen patients still living here are eager to celebrate Kalaupapa’s most famous resident, a selfless man who cared for leprosy patients when many others shunned them. They would welcome pilgrims at Damien’s church and grave.

But therein lies a dilemma. The patients and their supporters also don’t want throngs of tourists disturbing the community’s privacy and desecrating the land.

“The priority is the patients. That’s why we have to approach this very delicately,” said state Sen. J. Kalani English. “Their privacy is paramount, their security is paramount, their dignity is paramount.”

Kalaupapa’s attraction for tourists and pilgrims is heightened by the dramatic story behind the Vatican’s recognition of a miracle attributed to Damien, who died in 1889 after contracting leprosy himself. It’s this miracle that cleared the way for sainthood.

Audrey Toguchi, an 80-year-old Catholic from the Honolulu suburb of Aiea, came to Kalaupapa 10 years ago to pray for help at Damien’s grave after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Less than a year later, Toguchi’s cancer disappeared.

In July, Pope Benedict XVI ruled Damien had intervened because there was no scientific explanation for her recovery.

Kalaupapa is dramatically isolated, a peninsula cut off by 2,000-foot cliffs and surrounded by ocean. It can only be reached by small plane, mule ride or a 1- to 2-hour hike. Only 100 people live here, including the patients and care workers.

The state Department of Health limits visitors to Kalaupapa at 100 per day, and each visitor must obtain a permit. On average, only about 25 make the trip.

Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, which promotes Molokai tourism, expects more people will want to visit but isn’t sure how many. The bureau has no plans to market tours after Damien is canonized but will give travel agents information about Kalaupapa.

Lawmakers, state officials, and the National Park Service, which operates a historical park at Kalaupapa, all promise they won’t allow the visitor cap to be raised without approval by from the remaining patients.

Anwei Law, a historian who has been coming to Kalaupapa for almost 40 years, said visitors need to remember that Kalaupapa is not just another tourist attraction.

“It’s a sacred place because you’ve had so many people live there and die there,” said Law. “It’s a place where people had everything taken from them, but their response was not one of hatred.”

Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is spread by direct person-to-person contact, although it’s not easily transmitted. It can cause skin lesions, mangle fingers and toes, and lead to blindness.

But it’s been curable since the development of sulfone drugs in the 1940s and people treated with drugs aren’t contagious. Hawaii did away with the exile policy in 1969.

Patients sent here before 1969 are free to leave, but many have chosen to stay because it’s become their home.

The state has promised to keep the settlement open and care for patients until the last one dies. The youngest is now 67.

After that, the National Park Service will take over management of the peninsula.

The kingdom began strictly enforcing its isolation policy in 1873 — the year Damien arrived — sending hundreds of people to Kalaupapa even though there was no housing for them and no doctor to care for their sores. They were expected to build their own homes, grow their own food, and make their own clothes even though many of them were profoundly sick.

When a resident doctor finally arrived in 1879, he wouldn’t touch anybody and left medicine on a fence post.

Damien, born in Belgium as Joseph de Veuster, stood out because he stayed and put no barriers between himself and the patients. He built homes, constructed a water system, and imported cattle. He had no medical training, but he did have a medical book and a bag, and he made rounds washing and bandaging patient’s sores.

He shared his pipe with patients and ate from the same bowl. Even before he contracted Hansen’s disease, Damien began his sermons saying “We lepers.”

Damien was diagnosed with leprosy 12 years after he arrived at Kalaupapa and died four years later, at age 49. He’s the only health care worker in Hawaii who ever contracted Hansen’s.

Henry Nalaielua, 83, a patient who moved to Kalaupapa in 1941, said it would be “a glorious day” when Damien is canonized and would welcome pilgrims.

“I know all of us hope that he does become a saint,” said Nalaielua, a Catholic. “And that his church here will maybe become a shrine, instead of just Father Damien‘s church.”

Even so, patients and their supporters are firm in wanting to retain the 100-person-per-day limit, even if more people want to come seeking another Damien miracle.

“You have to realize that the patients are still here,” said patient Gloria Marks, 70.

Law, the historian, said the limit on visitors should be maintained even after the last patient dies.

“You really need to be able to feel the isolation of the place. If you’re there with 500 people, you’re no way going to feel the isolation that people had to go through,” said Law. “You lose a lot of the lessons of history and the meaning.”


Screwed that one up…

“What the brain tells the body, the body eventually believes…”

This is what it is supposed to say, like I said, Old Timers is setting in…

I am finding my brain a little addled. That’s two mistakes I made this week, reading and writing. Very strange, but it is something that I noticed… I guess I need to pay more attention to what I am doing and reread everything a second time before I open my mouth. UGH!!!

I did not sign up for this.


Damon Condemns Palin

Damon Condemns Palin


Brisinger…

By Christopher Paolini

For those of you who are fans of the Inheritance series, the latest book, this would be book three of the Inheritance quartet (Quadrilogy). We got up bright and early and got ready for our excursion to the downtown core. We stopped off at Indigo to pick up the new book, then it was on to lunch at the Eaton Centre food court. Fun was had by all…

This latest read is 743 pages long…