Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. Parliament Hill Ottawa. A Wordpress Production

Darfur

China revokes visa of gold medalist, Darfur activist Cheek

By Chris Chase

Olympic gold medalist and outspoken Darfur activist Joey Cheek has had his visa revoked by the Chinese embassy, hours before the speedskating champion was set to fly to China. And he wasn’t even planning on wearing a mask when he got there.

Chinese officials don’t need a reason to revoke anyone’s visa but, in their eyes, they had plenty of reasons to snatch Cheek’s. He is the founder of Team Darfur, a group of 70 athletes whose goal it is to raise global awareness of the human-rights violations taking part in the Darfur region of Sudan. China’s military, economic and diplomatic ties to Sudan have been well-publicized in the lead-up to the Games.

Said Cheek of his ban in a prepared statement:

“I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.

Cheek was going to China to support the athletes on Team Darfur — including soccer player Abby Wambach — and to promote the cause, one that he has championed for years. After winning gold in the Torino Games, Cheek announced he was donating his $25,000 USOC bonus to Darfur and implored his sponsors to do the same. It seems that Joey Cheek is truly one of the good guys.

And now he’s out of China before he even got there. With the Games getting closer (just two days away now), the world seemed ready to forget about all the Chinese issues in order to focus on the Games themselves. Unfortunately, China’s actions make that impossible. In a time when we should be wondering who will light the Olympic cauldron, whether Michael Phelps can break an all-time record and how Liu Xiang will react to the pressure of 1.3 billion of his countrymen hanging on his every step, we’re instead left to discuss the Chinese government’s reluctance to allow any dissension in their country, despite repeated promises that they’d clean up their act when the Olympics came to town.

Photo via Getty Images


DARFUR: ON OUR WATCH

CBC.CA/DOCSZONE 

CBC cameras follow actress Mia Farrow on an emotionally harrowing journey through the desolate refugee camps along the Chad/ Darfur border.

The United Nations has called Darfur “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.” The United States has called it “genocide”. The death toll estimates for this western region of Sudan range from 200,000 to 500,000, with two and a half million people forced from their homes and the sex crimes too rampant to count.

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The desolute landscape outside the refugee camps in Chad.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

“Never Again” vowed the world after the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica brought the “bloodiest of centuries” to a close. But three years into the 21st century a national government was once again aiding and abetting the brutal destruction of an ethnic group within its borders And now in the year 2007, as refugees in the camps of neighbouring Chad attest, the Sudanese government still carries out its grizzly task. The United Nations, an institution charged with making the world a safer place, looks on, virtually helpless to stop the slaughter of black Africans at the hands of Arab horseman known as Janjaweed –devils on horseback.

DARFUR: On Our Watch examines why it took the UN so long to respond to the obvious early warning signs of an horrific ethnic cleansing. It will document in chilling detail how politics, oil, guns and money trumped human rights as powerful interests on the Security Council blocked the world from acting; how the United States, weakened by wars in Somalia and Iraq could not influence the world forum to act.

But a clamorous coalition of ordinary citizens, international activists and major celebrities now offer the one real hope for Darfur. Through the relentless campaigning of a growing band of citizens in schools, universities and corporate corridors, through tens of thousands on the march, and the tireless efforts of Hollywood stars like Mia Farrow and George Clooney, the world and the Chinese government are being shamed into action.

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Finding shelter in one of the many refugee camps.
Photo Credit: Debbie Bodkin

Mukesh Kapila, a British doctor and the United Nation’s Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Sudan, is the Roméo Dallaire for Darfur. He sounded the alarm. People, who had trekked all the way from Darfur, started arriving in his office in Khartoum in early 2003 describing the atrocities that were occurring. Dr. Kapila reported back to his bosses at UN Headquarters in New York.

On December 18, 2003 he wrote to his boss Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, informing them that “the security situation in Greater Darfur continues to worsen… An estimated 670,000 people have been newly displaced, 70,000 fled to Chad, and one million others are directly affected by the war. Our Office receives daily reports of human right violations throughout the region.”

By March 22 2004 he was reporting “ethnic cleansing” to Iqbal Riza, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s chief aide, in the hopes that action would be taken. Sir Kieran Prendergast explains that the United Nations was late in responding to the crisis in Darfur because peace negotiations to end the 21-year civil war between north and south Sudan were looking promising and the political wing of the United Nations was hesitant about raising the profile of Darfur, for fear of upsetting the peace process.

While the UN was waiting for the comprehensive peace agreement to be signed, Mia Farrow, Eric Reeves and Debbie Bodkin were documenting the atrocities unfolding. In the world’s latest abomination, resolve has come from individuals filling the void left by institutions.

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Mia Farrow has visited Darfur seven times since 2004.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

Movie star, activist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and grandmother Mia Farrow has traveled to the Darfur region seven times. “My first trip into Darfur was in 2004. Simply put, it changed the way I needed to live my life.” CBC and PBS Frontline travelled with Mia Farrow to the camps in eastern Chad in June 2007 to talk to Darfur refugees and internally displaced people (see her journal of the trip on her website).

In Chad, Mia Farrow meets Fatih Younnis a former chief or Omda for the district of Mukjar in western Darfur (ground zero in the Darfur crisis), who fled into Chad in the summer of 2003 with 4,500 other refugees. And she reunites with Khadeiga Abdullah whom she had met on previous visits. Abdulla survived the attacks, but was raped and one of her children was killed on her back as she fled her village. Today she lives in a refugee camp with seven children, in desperate poverty. Abdulla Idris Zaid is 27. He tried to collect his harvest before fleeing his village and his eyes were gouged out. Today he sits in a lawless land waiting (see photo at top).

Mia Farrow struggles to comfort the afflicted and alert the world to their pain. With Eric Reeves, her celebrity voice has helped shame the Chinese Government to action on the Darfur crisis. They started a campaign called the “Genocide Olympics” to raise awareness about China’s role in the crisis in Darfur.

Activist Eric Reeves has been raising awareness about the atrocities in Sudan for eight years on his website and he doesn’t withhold his exasperation at the international community: “It’s almost impossible for me to describe the scale of the international failure and how dismaying it is and how obvious it is we’ve learned nothing. I’m given to saying that in the wake of Rwanda it’s as though the gods of history looked down on us and said your failure was so appalling… we’ll give you another chance and we’ll give you a lot of time and we’ll call it Darfur. And we failed just as badly as we failed in Rwanda.” If anyone has turned the whisper of “never again” into a relentless tapping at the world’s conscience it is Eric Reeves. Eric Reeves is also a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts and author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

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UN soldiers arrive at a refugee camp.
Photo Credit: Debbie Bodkin

Sergeant Debbie Bodkin is a 20-year-veteran of the Waterloo regional police in Ontario. She has served in the homicide, the sexual assault and the drug squads. She thought she’d seen everything until the summer of 2004 when she used her vacation time to travel to Chad as a member of the Atrocities Documentation Team for a US State Dept inquiry. She and colleagues interviewed 1,136 victims. Then in November 2004 she joined another investigation team. This one authorized by the UN. She suffered from post-traumatic stress due to her experiences, but she continues to move people to action through her lectures.

In 1994, General Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR)—he explains that states are reluctant to risk casualties if there is no self-interest. Samantha Power, author of “A Problem from Hell: American and the Age of Genocide” adds that there are few repercussions if states don’t get involved, but many if there are casualties and that is why all US administrations throughout the century have shied away from action. Alex de Waal, puts Sudanese history in context. He is the author of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War with co-author Julie Flint. Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem presents the government of Sudan’s perspective on Darfur.

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The children in Chad can only hope for a better future.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

But there is hope. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, says the Security Council referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, was a result of public pressure. And he argues that the worst perpetrators of the violence in Darfur will eventually be brought to justice, it is just a matter of time. And on July 31 2007 there is unanimous agreement to send 26,000 troops to Darfur by the end of the year with a mandate to protect civilians. Peacekeeping troops for Chad have also been agreed upon. Whether troops will arrive fast enough only time will only tell, but Mukesh Kapila, Samantha Power, Eric Reeves, Roméo Dallaire, Luis Moreno-Ocampo and Mia Farrow all agree that without the strong activist voice applying pressure on the governments of the world, Darfur would be in a much worse situation today.

This riveting one-hour documentary was filmed in high-definition and is a co-production with CBC TV and PBS Frontline. It is written, produced and directed by Neil Docherty, one of Canada’s foremost documentary filmmakers, narrated by writer and actor Ann-Marie Macdonald, with an original musical score by Andy McNeill.


Stop The Abuse…

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Stop the Abuse …BLOG CATALOG

We were asked to write for Thursday – Something that we thought needed to stop. This first post was entered on Tuesday on this blog, if you read backwards.

What would I like to write about that needs to stop… Abuse comes in many forms, and can manifest in so many ways. Abuse can be blatantly up front and in the open, and it also can be perpetrated in silence and ignorance. Ignorance in that we fail to see the truth or know to look for it, or in that we are immovable to adapt to change.

There are many issues I face on a daily basis, both in my life and in the life of my husband. Think about the abuse that I have seen in my lifetime, being Gay, HIV Positive, a Recovering Alcoholic and Addict, I’ve suffered from Depression and my husband is Bi-Polar. We have seen our fair share of abuse in our days, by people that are family, people who are friends and from perfect strangers.

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As a person living with AIDS in the year 2007, the abuse that People with Aids face daily has not abated. People are still ignorant and stupid. Times have changed, and people still see RED when they think about homosexuals who are sick, not to mention the ignorance paid to straight people with the disease. No matter where we live, the abuse of people who are sick needs to stop. We are all human and divinely created by God, and if He has time to think, create and love us, then so should you .

Africa… The Dark Continent as it is called is also the ignored continent. Genocide is happening in Darfur, all over Africa people are dying because of hunger, disease, and ignorance by their own people, and by us. If we are to change the world, we must refocus our efforts from war and killing to aid and living. The belief in Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS needs to change. The abuse of women and female circumcision needs to END. The world needs to wake up from its myopic vision of the world and we need to stop the abuse of many at the hands of a few depraved leaders, junta and guerrillas.

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Religious Strife… Religious abuses need to stop. Wars perpetrated based on religious difference needs to end. The abuse of people based on religious affiliation needs to end. The Middle East needs to come to its collective senses and realize that if wars continue and religious abuse is maintained, eventually everyone will be dead, and there won’t be any one left to carry on the traditions you are all fighting over. I believe there is enough land to go around for everyone.

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Religious Intolerance needs to Stop. The world thrives on its diversity of faith and religious tradition. Could you imagine what the world would look like if we stopped the hatred of other and we adopted a live and let live policy based on religious tolerance? Here at home in Canada, we need to adopt better ways of dealing with aboriginal rights, religious abuses by the church and by our own government. Those who were here first need to be recognized and taken care of. Reservations need accommodations that aren’t falling down. We need to have running water, clean water and safe living condition, because many are living in sub standard housing with very little – and the government abuses the aboriginal and lives high on the hog in their own homes.

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The Three Major Monotheistic religions need to come together and find a common resolution to Stop the Violence, the Wars and the Abuse of so many. Jews are fighting and killing Jews. Muslims are killing and abusing other Muslims. Christianity, well, now there’s a quagmire for you. Never in my life have I seen so much hatred, revulsion and abuse by a religion than Christianity. Christians think they are above the law, that they can dictate government policy, foreign policy and world opinion, because God speaks to them, yet they perpetrate so much abuse on so many across a field of difference.

I’ve got many strikes against me because I am Gay, Married, HIV Positive and I am a Christian, where else would you see this kind of pedigree in the same sentence. I know for a fact that many Christians find me repulsive, arrogant and ignorant because surely a gay man could not be a Christian and be homosexual. And I am getting my comeuppance because I am living with AIDS. Surely God is punishing me. Religious Abuse needs to stop. Homophobia and Ignorance and Bigotry needs to Stop…

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The year 2007 is almost over. And still today LGBTQ people are amongst the most abused people I know. Where there is a ballot box and an evangelical Christian, abuse is going to happen. Because God deems us abominable, and we need to be eradicated, killed, ignored, abused and humanly degraded. Can’t we come together and learn that abuse based on diversity and sexual orientation needs to end, today, at home and world wide.

We know that being gay is NOT a choice. There are so many young people suffering inside their souls because they could never admit their secrets because still today, admitting you are gay is still a death sentence communally. Transsexual and Transgendered people are other groups who need to be cared for, respected and assisted.

Humans have such a capacity to hate and abuse. Imagine if we could stop the abuse and hatred and adopt a life of service, charity, acceptance and Love. Imagine what the world would look like if we could stop the abuses across the board and we started taking care of each other instead of abusing, hating and marginalizing.

We are Here, We are Queer, Get used to it…

We Must be respected. We Must see LGBTQ Civil rights across the board. We Must be given the same dignified status that every straight person is granted by rights of citizenship. To live safely, to be protected militarily, to be able to be Married legally and we Must be given the same rights that straight couples get by right, by government and by citizenship.

Gays and Lesbians must be respected. We are just as good parents as anyone else. I believe that we could do it better because we have been so reviled for so long that I believe we as LGBTQ People have cultivated lives of love, respect and dignity because so many of you think that we don’t deserve those god given rights.

Marriage rights must be passed world wide. Partner benefits must be passed worldwide. The continual ABUSE of LGBTQ people by community, government and religious authority needs to end. Muslims, Jews, Christians need to stop the violence, stop the hatred and Stop the abuse.

The abuse by Holy Mother Church needs to stop. The hiding of pedophile priests need to be brought out into the open. The church needs to stop hiding abusers in plain sight and they need to become accountable, respectable and right. No other institution in my life has perpetrated so much abuse on human kind than Holy Mother Church. I have spent YEARS [ read most of my life] studying Holy Mother Church, and as of the last decade or more of my life, the papacy of John Paul II. I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary and I witnessed cleric abuse. I’m not just writing to see myself write…

You want to know about abuse, read “The Power and the Glory, Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Papacy.” It will turn your hair gray. The church could do so much more than it has and it won’t do all that it can because of the Papacy and religious division over the three major monotheistic traditions. I’ve spent years studying the Holocaust, I’ve read the books and taken the classes. So I do know what I am talking about.

The longer I study religion, I believe less and less in Holy Mother Church. The more I study religion the farther away from institutional religion I move. Because God weeps at the injustice of such wide spread abuse, ignorance, and hatred based on diversity of faith, sexual orientation and basic human dignity for those living with AIDS.

And finally – at long last, the sick and suffering addict and alcoholic, the gay and the lesbian, the sick and the dying, need to be cared for because we are all deemed acceptable to God, we need to pray for the sick and suffering. We need to care for the sick and suffering. We could stop much of the suffering of people if we turned our vision from hatred, abuse and war to that of caring for our neighbors as we do ourselves. But you cannot give what you do not have, so educate yourself, and put on your armor and come walk with us and stop the abuse.


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Edit and Late Comment Addition

I did not say the words axis of evil – I was stating a point from a religious scholar perspective because I am one. I live in Canada, not the U.S. I am fully aware that China and many other nations could stop the genocide in Darfur, and yet they do nothing, because of OIL and MONEY. I did not make an argument for oil, nor did I say that any religion was evil. I can stand outside the arguments and give you perspective because THIS is my area of study. RELIGION and GOD!!!

Reread what I wrote and start again.

I do care about the Middle East which is why most of my post concerns the tensions in that area of the world. If Christianity, Islam and Judaism could find a common ground to negotiate peace, territory, oil and security then progress can be made, but not until the three monotheistic traditions stop killing each other in the name of Allah, God or Hashem.

I can play the God card because the warring factions of the world play it daily. Tell me about Jews and Palestinians or Shia – Sunni and Kurd and the Christians, what are each trying to do to the other? Dominate, Kill and eradicate. How can you NOT play the God card?

I never mentioned oil in my post – because I cannot properly comment on certain topics because I don’t have all the facts. This post was to draw attention to something that we thought needed to stop in the way of violence. IF YOU read this blog from yesterday you would understand what this writing project was for.

I did not support the war in Iraq in fact I marched against it here in Canada. I don’t know all the oil arguments or who’s involved. I know that China could make a difference in Darfur and they do not because they get oil and supply funds to the terrorists. And the U.N. does nothing, I Know this. The U.N. Cannot do anything unless its partner countries get on board, so far we don’t know why they have not. Maybe we should investigate this issue with the Chinese government and the U.N. at large. I have heard this discussion come up before.

The WORLD could change on a dime if we refocused our efforts from war to healing the earth and helping those who live on the earth. BUT so much of the world is focused on war. Look at Afghanistan – NOT any other NATO nation wants to get involved to help Canada in their mission, which is VERY unpopular in Canada with its people, and this issue may bring down the government in the next month when Parliament comes back to session and the Prime Minister gives his Throne Speech.

If Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the other E.U. nations came together to find a diplomatic route to peace, the wars would end and the people would stop dying. Turkey wants in to the EU. So step up and do something good for the world.

The Muslim faith is on a march to conquer the world, Osama Bin Laden has called for Christians to convert to Islam, and hell will freeze over before we do that. Islam is very misunderstood religion at its core. The fundamental arms of all religions have caused the world serious injury. Read any of my God’s Warriors posts from the CNN presentation by Christianne Amanpour.

The Christians have been on a crusade in the Middle East for OIL, MONEY, OCCUPATION and WAR! The U.S. President should stand trial at the Hague for Crimes against Humanity. The war is unjust and should end. Terrorist supporter countries should stop the funding of terrorists, sectarian violence and hatred. If Iran has its way Israel would be wiped off the map, so says their president, who just the other day questioned 9-11 and the wisdom and history of the Holocaust.

There is no direct diplomatic efforts being made in the Middle East region and everyone is to blame for this lack of diplomatic direction. If the region really wanted PEACE, it would find the way there and the killing, incursions and warring would stop. We know that the Israeli settlements are the biggest road block to mid east peace between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. The most contested piece of real estate in the world is Jerusalem and everybody wants a piece on their terms, and nobody is willing to let that happen. So the fractured conflict continues.

The wars must stop, and Peace must be our goal, and UNTIL all nations in the region get to the table and start supporting one another to find peaceful resolutions then nothing will happen.

The U.S. needs to stop funneling money for war, they need to get out of Iraq and they need to regain the trust of the world at large. The U.S. needs to regain the respect it has lost over the last decade in the eyes of the world. They are no longer the big bully on the street, but so long as there is OIL in the middle east and everyone wants a stake in that oil, the U.S. will be there because the Bush cartel and the U.S. and many countries around the world STILL depend on Mid-East Oil.

Unless of course you can find another oil field as big in another region of the world that is not so hotly contested. The U.S. has earned a big Scarlett letter for arrogant domination of world policy which they surely did not earn the right way, nor do they operate on very honorable terms, we know this by the U.S. Presidents stance on many issues. Don’t blame the people, blame the government.

IF THE CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS IN THE U.S. HAD NOT VOTED FOR BUSH, “TWICE” WE WOULD NOT BE IN THE MESS THE WORLD IS IN TODAY!!! And that’s the God’s honest Truth. But they had to stop the gays because they posed a greater issue to the United States than voting for the RIGHT candidate. I KNOW THIS.

With the opening of the Northwest Passage and the melting of the North, we may find much needed oil and we can begin to draw down from the middle east. But with that comes other concerns like Arctic Sovereignty. And that is the next battle that Canada is going to fight with Russia, the U.S. and Denmark.

There are many arguments to talk about, and many points. and I am not a world diplomat scholar. But I do study religion and so I CAN play the God card any time I please. That’s what religion scholars do.

If you are going to comment on this blog, you should have a good understanding of context. So read back into my archives and understand what I know about the three Monotheistic religions, because that is my area of scholarly concentration. Which I do have a degree to hold up as proof of study. You may agree, you may not. That’s not my problem. It’s yours…. But thank you for playing.


Longing for the Divine

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I’ve changed the header again. I can’t seem to stay on one photograph. I was running through some images and I came back to this one, because I guess, I am missing that component of my life as it was lived so long ago.

I’m tired and all I really want to do right now is curl up in a pew, in the chapel, before God and his angels. The photo you see above is of the rear wall mural located inside the chapel of the Seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami. I approach the chapel from the residence hall close by. The glass doors open for me and I take that first step upon the flagstones that are paved throughout the chapel. To my right and my left are tall glass doors that shudder with the breeze blowing against them.

The lights are low, save for the sacrament candle hanging to the right of the mural. As I walk down the center aisle of the chapel, my footsteps echo off the walls and reverberate through the vast empty space. I approach the altar and genuflect to the altar and greet my God in his holy place. It is said that you can take a boy out of the church, but you can never take the church out of the boy.

As defiant I am against institution and my railings against all that is ‘christian’ It in these moments that I long to be before the almighty alone before the tabernacle of God. Listening to the Litany of the Saints as chanted by the monks, I reflect on all that is holy within me. I know His voic, He has more than once spoke my name. And funny, that I was able to hear it amid the din in my head. There was a time when I could fresh recall it at will, but now I have to look for it today.

I have visited some of the most important “Churches” in Christendom and though they are grand in scale, and pronounced for their place in the living of Catholicism, it is the sacred chapel where I consecrated myself to God that I return to in my minds eye.

We are all called, to a life of holiness, whether we choose to follow that call is up to us, save for the judgment of men who would either deem us able or disabled to follow. Which I think is my biggest resentment with “Church.” Walking on the path of God is a lonely path, because no one can walk the journey for you, you must walk it alone. Because when you hear the voice you have to choose, to walk towards or run from. I don’t think I have completely run away from it.

You can’t run from God, because He is always there. You can choose to walk off the path and do what you need to do, but eventually, you find that the path looks really good from where ever you are standing and when you take that first step back onto the path, there God is waiting for you to resume your journey. “I was waiting for you, you know, I can hear Him say to me!” “Why did you go away from me?” “You can deny me and ignore me, but you must admit that my voice draws you near to me, you long to hear me call your name.”

The chant continues…

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I must admit that the silence is beautiful, the chant fills the space with such heavenly sacred sound. All voices praising God and his heaven. The Preacher man is apt to tell us about his chapel in the Rockies where he like to nap before God and his tabernacle in Crede. There are times in the life when I muse on the thought of just walking away from all of this and finding myself in an abbey somewhere out in the hills, just me, the monks and God. It’s not like I wouldn’t have far to travel, there are plenty of Holy Places in this city of light where God’s footprint can be seen on any given street anywhere in Montreal, because “here is where it all started.”

From my front door within a few minutes walk, you can find yourself transported to a place that is otherworldly, Godly in fact. So many churches – and not a moment to spare out of my busy day to find one open where I can be alone with my God. I guess that’s my fault, that because of my stubbornness and principles, I won’t walk into a church because of politics, and I know that God is not about politics. It is at the last of the night as I sit here in the quiet before the silence and I take a few moments to contemplate the Holiness of God and His majesty.

Have you ever felt the sublime majesty of God in his holy place? Have you ever felt what it feels like to raise your voice to God and sing his praises? Do you know what it feels like to have God wrap his arms around you and hold you to his breast as you weep for the grandeur of it all? God is perfect, He is mighty, He is sublime. There is nothing that I write here, right now that I do not know. Just that I don’t take enough time during my day to remember and reflect. I guess this post shows you that I can go from the Profane to the Sacred in a matter of hours. Sometime you just gotta say “#$&%!!!”

I never said I was perfect, I said that God was perfect. I never said that I was God either. Well, it is getting late and I am exhausted and I have things to do tomorrow, it’s my day off and my home group. Maybe I will find myself a quiet corner of a chapel tomorrow before I have to chair the meeting.

Stay tuned. I may visit God with you again soon.

Isn’t this an interesting journey? I leave you with Great Expectations…

The morning finds me here at heaven’s door
A place I’ve been so many times before
Familiar thoughts and phrases start to flow
And carry me to places that I know so well
But dare I go where I don’t understand
And do I dare remember where I am
I stand before the great eternal throne
The one that God Himself is seated on
And I, I’ve been invited as a son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond my wildest imagination
Lord, I come with great expectations

So wake the hope that slumbers in my soul
Stir the fire inside and make it glow
I’m trusting in a love that has no end
The Savior of this world has called me friend
And I, I’ve been invited with the Son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

We’ve been invited with the Son
And we’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond our wildest imagination
Lord, we come with great expectations


For the Bible Tells Me So …

For The Bible Tells Me So – Trailer

For more information go to: For The Bible Tells Me So…

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Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

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The God of My Understanding…

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It seems recently that my traffic has been steady in numbers we have never seen as of late. It also seems that I have touched a few nerves with my Fuck You attitude. How can any Christian man or woman tell another Christian to “Fuck Off?” Well, I can and I often do.

I have to say that turning 40 has been a watershed for me as of late. I know myself and I know what I believe and what I understand and what I preach. There is a lot that I can talk about having lived 40 years of life, knowing full well the severity of sickness, the grace of education, the hell of addiction, and the blessing of sober time and the one thing that has saved me from utter death and destruction: My Faith.

There is something to be said for a man doomed to face a life of pain, sickness and eventually a miserable death to come out fourteen years later alive and all the better for the faith that sustained him. I have seen enough division in my life, enough hatred and enough pain to tell me that Christianity was the most damning religion in the Western hemisphere.

When I watched, witnessed and was one of those men who were damned by the Christian right as a sinner, I began to learn what I could about religion, which led me to the halls of higher learning to find out for myself what was truth and what was fiction. The bible, written by man, transcribed centuries ago, and we know as fact that sometimes that translation was determined by the one doing to work.

Do I believe the bible, yes I do, do I follow it to the letter of the law, no I don’t. But you must understand where I came from to understand why I stand by my position of my take on Christianity. I’ve had enough of what you all believe, and at 40 I can state without equivocation what I believe because I lived this experience. Christianity must change to acceptance and love.  And that’s what I believe. I have invested enough time in study and I continue my studies to this day in Theology. There are too many divisions and I am trying to create a ministry of hope, acceptance and love.

There are so many things that separate us. Religion separates us, judgment separates us, scripture separates us, and social and religious gospel separates us. The first thought I have when I think of separation is labels. When I work with young people on their way OUT into the world, I caution them against labels, because wisdom tells us that labels not only identify us, they separate us as well.

Some may say I am morally reprehensible and that I am a sinner and that I have violated some religious or moral principle. And maybe I have, but I knew well before I “knew” that I was different. The whole notion of nature -vs- nurture idea. I was surrounded by things that informed the boy I would grow up to be and eventually, the man I would become.

I make no excuses for the life I have lived. And I believe, still to this day that if it were not for the profane men who cared for me when I most needed it, I would not be the faith filled man I am today, and of course I would be dead. If you look in the PAGES section of this blog, you will find The Sacred Path and also my writing on Man gives information but God gives Inspiration: Here is an excerpt of that writing. There are many dimensions to my Christian life, how I came to be, why I believe the way I do and how the man you read about here, came to be…

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Man gives Information but God gives Inspiration…


I’ll tell you a story about God and why I believe the way I do. Many years ago, during the “sickest” period of my HIV diseased life, I happened upon a little television show that brought me hope during some of the darkest times of my life. I tell this story every so often to illustrate why I believe God speaks to us in certain terms. My home parish back in
Miami is the most wonderfully blessed and sacred space that I have ever been in and had the privilege to grow up in as well.

The good thing about this parish is that they stuck behind me in prayer and support when the greater church at large was raging against the homosexual community. The Pastor of the parish was a sainted man – well – he IS a sainted man included with him are the men who ministered with him to more than 25,000 families and even more today.

The priests in that parish told me that as long as I showed up for mass and prayed that I would get everything that I needed. I went to mass weekly, I even started making mass daily which meant I got on the road at 6:30 to make the trek to the church via a train, 2 buses and a 45 minute walk from the through-way to the church which was across the street from the high school I graduated from.

I went to mass every Sunday night and I was an altar person and a Eucharistic minister. I had my assigned hour every week praying before the Blessed Sacrament. We had a sacrament chapel in the church that was open 24 hours a day around the clock there was always someone praying before the “Blessed Sacrament.”

Over those years I went to mass our parish was the proving ground for new priests that were ordained. This is where I met my greatest mentor and my greatest critic. One Sunday I was standing in the church during the processional and a man came in on crutches to say mass. I knew then that God had spoken to me that night. I vowed never to back down from a challenge and I also vowed that unless I was dying that I would never complain about my lot ever again.

Fr. J had MS and was crippled, yet he suited up and he showed up and he said mass and the next day on that Monday morning I showed up for a morning mass and asked Fr. J to be my spiritual director. This journey lasted a few years. We talked and we prayed, I had reading to do each week and we discussed my progress along the way. I don’t have that kind of direction these days; it is hard to nail down holy men to a scheduled meeting. Anyways, I digress…

After Sunday Mass I would rush home for a little show I like to call my saving grace in very dark times. It was a little show of little acclaim, but it meant a great deal to me. Get ready for it, here it comes, a little show called “Touched by an Angel.” I longed to hear those words spoken every week in any circumstances – I knew that God was in my house each week saying words of hope in the form of angelic messages from Tess, Monica, Raphael, and Andrew.

“I’m an angel sent by God to tell you that God loves you and that he hears you!” No matter what the problem or the sickness or the tragedy there was always hope and a lesson from the almighty about social issues and problems in society. If a little show like this could move someone like to me Hope and to rely on the Lord, then it mattered to many more people than me.

I believe that angels walk the earth and that God makes his presence known in ways we might not always see the forest for the trees. I know it may be hokey and simple, and TV is just TV, it has no value to life, I beg to differ. When I had no one to talk to or was alone for long periods of time, it gave me great comfort to know that at least God was listening to my prayers and that my prayers mattered.

I made some mistakes and I walked off the path because of my stupidity – and God, I think forgave me for that after all the faith I put in him, and I learned that lesson the hard way and that is enough of that thought.

I have a little “Touched by an Angel” calendar of quotes from the show that sit on my bedside table and I look at it every night. And thanks to the age of VCR’s and Syndication, I can get a double dose of T.B.A.A. every day here in Montreal. Everyone has an angel, because God loves us unconditionally, no matter what color our skin is, no matter who we are, or what ever life we live. God sees sin and pain and He sees just how the world is running, and it is up to us to make a difference, to bring hope to those who need it, to bring love to those who desire it, to bring comfort to the sick and to love each and every person in our lives. I have tried to uphold those tenets in my life, I believe in God because he believes in me.

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I did not need a church to teach me about God’s love, because I knew that God loved me every morning that I woke up and I was still breathing. I have left the path on numerous occasions in my life, and I’ve been on a really good streak for the last seven years and I intend on keeping on. I listen to God, and I search for him and it is rarely that I don’t get a daily reminder that HE is watching over me, in one way or another.

I have a great posse of readers whom I love dearly for their support. I try to lead by example and I hope I have done well. I take time each morning and each night to “remember my spirit.” I am good to myself. And I am good to others as well. If you want to feel good about yourself, go out and do something for someone else without any expectations.

I get that opportunity each and every week on Tuesday’s to give back to my community, at my home group of AA. Ms. Nikki and I set up the meeting each and every week, and it has been that way every Tuesday now for the last four-plus years now I’ve been sober. Each chair I set down during setup is a prayer I offer for one particular person, so I meditate on each and every member that attends our meeting each week, and for every empty chair I pray for the one who will come and maybe sit in that chair. You just have to be there to understand this ritual.

Do I hear God, yes I do.
Do I listen for God, yes I do.
Do I talk to God, of course I do.

I love walking or hiking up the mountain because I hear God’s voice in the trees as the breeze blows through. I hear God every time the church bells ring. From where I live 17 stories above the city we are surrounded by fantastical, sacred churches. And each day those church bells ring at certain hours they call me to stop – get quiet – and I say a short prayer as the bells ring. At my home group in Westmount, they have mass each evening and at 6 p.m. they ring the Angelus bells, like clockwork. We set up and finish before six so that when the bells ring I can stand outside and say my Angelus prayers.

If we don’t take time out of our busy day to remember God and to connect to God, then what are we doing with our days? Where do we find inspiration and energy? How do we maintain a level of serenity to help us through the business of the day? Starting each day on ones knees before God is the way I start my day and doing a gratitude list at the end of the day is also a great way to end ones day. Remembering gratitude keeps me grounded and mindful of all that I have and all that I learned on that given day. Then I come here and I share it with my readers.

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– Naked and Sacred –

 

As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grotto’s making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.

I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.

On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.

After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)

Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.

I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.

The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.

Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.

My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.

That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known. Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.

I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.

They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.

When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.

At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.

Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.

Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues? I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight. How much more sacred could it be?

My parent’s went to church off and on. After my brother was born in 1970, my mother found out she was RH positive and a tubiligation was ordered by her OB because she might not live through another pregnancy, and so it was done. This act of “birth control” forced an issue that divides the church and her people to this day. A woman’s right to decide proper birth control and the church’s position that if one impedes the ability of a woman to conceive then you are outside the rule of mother church.

My parents were dealt a swift blow by the parish priest where they were married. That priest, by order of Holy Mother Church, was bound to defend the party line of those times; he excommunicated them both from the church – which meant that they could no longer receive the sacraments. I have to assume my mother was crushed and my father couldn’t give a damn.

Years would pass, life would go on, God still existed in my life, and we, as a family went to church, I remember that much. It came to pass in my years as a pre-teen that we moved to the third home of transition, when I was in grade six. This afforded my parents entry into suburbia. It was a very big step up from where we had been socially and economically. We had made it into the “big time.” My father was proud of this accomplishment. I remember the day we saw the house, we all loved it, and it was sacred. It was in the right place, for the right money and had just the right charm to allow my parents to afford it.

St. Richard’s parish was less than a mile away; schools were “in the neighbourhood” and all was well. My father’s drinking began in earnest so did his abuse, not only of me, but my brother and mother. My mother sought out the parish priest whom would play a large part in my later seminary formation at a later date. They began the process of becoming redeemed in the church; this process took almost 4 years, after decades of living in sin.

My father’s parents were cursed in the years when I was in grade seven and eight. The curse first took my grandmother with a stroke; I was taken from school at age thirteen and flown 1500 miles to her bedside where my father expected that I would be the one to bring her back across the divide. Since I was his first born son, and had the connection I did with her that seeing me would ignite the fire that went out in her brain. I failed to re-ignite the flame. I don’t think my father ever forgave me for my failure to heal his mother. A year later my grandfather was hit with a stroke one year to the day of my grandmother, but he was no favourite of mine, and I did nothing to help him. He abused us all, and for that abuse, death was right punishment.

At age 15, I entered High School. This was a very important period for me. I met a circle of friends that would impact the rest of my life. St. Louis Parish was one block from the High School which I was attending. The youth minister on duty at that time used to open his office at lunch and that is where people would gather to pray, to meet and talk and to learn about God. Who knew it would lead me where it did.

It was in my grade ten year that I would make my confirmation. In order to make that confirmation, my parent’s needed to step up their game in attaining absolution from the church for their “faux pas” with the church over birth control. The Pastor of the parish spoke to them, and gave them counsel and I remember that day he told those, in his Irish Brogue, “the hell with that priest and his excommunication.” I remember my mother doing the happy dance the day that God re-entered our home. He never left, I mean he was in my room, I wasn’t quite sure of any other room in the house up until that point, but for my parents that was the biggest coup of their lives.

When I was home alone on many an occasion, I prayed and I listened to music and in my sacred space within my room I would become naked and sacred. I believed that God was with me, and he protected me, because I really needed it. My father had once again stepped up his attacks, and they were getting even more brutal. My friends all came from broken homes, parent’s divorced, splitting up or on the way there… I was a misfit like all of them. These were the years I spent more time out of my own house than in it. I just could not cope with the ritual mental, emotional and physical abuse.

Where was God when it hurt?

High school was hit and misses, God was here and he was not. I followed him and I cursed him through both sides of my mouth. I was becoming addicted to alcohol; I was starting to slip in school. My relationship with my parents was strained and the priests and ministers of the church had to do something lest they loose me to the statistics of teen tragedy.

I was given chores at church. Any free time was spent working on cleaning the church and keeping the sacristy in tip top shape. I had access to areas of “church” that not many had. In those years the rectory was on site and I spent a lot of time in that rectory doing chores and loving every moment of that time.

Those priests kept me from self destruction. My consecration to God had begun once again. I guess once you are given to God, you don’t have to ask again. Hindsight shows me that I was being groomed for greater things. What my father “beat” out of me, the church replaced in me. What my father on earth took – my heavenly father gave back ten fold. I was in the right place at the right time, when the priests of the parish began to entertain me with seminary speak, serving the church and the greater good. Was I good enough to wear a robe to preach to the masses, to herd a flock?

From the age of ten through out my later life, I was aware of my sexuality. In that I mean I knew how it worked. I knew the finer details of sex and sexual variations. My parents lived a double life, which I was privy to. Knowing the secret sex lives of my parents was an addiction. I couldn’t get enough. Why was I like this? Where did this all begin? I can’t say, and I really don’t want to know when it all began.

I had had relationships in my teen years with others, WHAT I was – was not an issue at any time during my formative years, although I heard the word queer and faggot come out of my parent’s mouths frequently. Our family had been introduced to “homosexuals” when we made that third and final move by friends my parent had and we blessed to have.

I did not identify myself in any “other” term than heterosexual well through my high school years. I dated girls, I had relationships, and I went to prom. I never questioned who I was openly, but between God and myself there was a lot of discussion and praying. Masturbation became a sacred activity, because it happened when God and I were alone. I wanted that sacred experience – to feel that divine communion with the God of my understanding, I wanted to feel sublime love in sacred terms. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I never had sexual inclinations towards the girls I dated in school. I was chaste in that way, but I was profane when left to my own devices.

After completing high school I attended one year of junior college and I failed miserably. I had no tools; I had no knowledge about the “world at large.” My parents never taught me about “transition.” This is the KEY moment in a young person’s life. I know that now, and I teach that to my boys and my fellows. That was when the priests of our parish suggested that I consider the seminary. It was a possible and real option. I got the necessary letters of recommendation and filed my application with the diocese. I was put through my paces and psychological testing, and I passed the boards with a clean sweep.

At this point of my life, my grandparents were getting old. My father’s parents did not know who they were cursed by strokes, Memere was living in a retirement home 1500 miles away, but she saw me enter seminary. When Memere consecrated me to God on that day many years ago in that church came full circle the day I moved into my room at the seminary. All her prayers and novenas were now fulfilled. I was safe for eternity.

I loved God with all my heart and all my soul and all my being. It was unlike any feeling I had every felt before. I remember moving in that day and walking with my parents around the grounds. My mother was so proud, my father had no choice, and he was hell bent on my destruction, my mother on my survival. The battle of the wills was raging on in front of my very eyes. God would win that days cavalry charge. We said goodbye and my mother cried as I walked them to their car and they drove off.

It took a few days to get used to being in the seminary. I sought quiet spaces to commune with God. I went to the chapel whenever I could. There were chapels located on the upper floors of the residence hall where we could pray and have mass said for us. It was the closest to the sacred nakedness I longed for, that I would get that year. God was all powerful and loving. I was there to do one thing, find the way to Him, to serve him to love him in the most sublime way.

The Eucharist became the ritual that would bring me closer to God. I sang my heart out; I prayed until the beads ripped through my hands, I walked in circles until there were ruts in my gardens. (I was a seminary gardener) during that years. It was in this year that things became clear to me. I started to hear God’s voice. I was just a boy in a big world. I was unprepared for the drama of living with others in such tight quarters. My every decision was scrutinized. My every prayer was spell checked. My intentions and motives were questioned. My classmates became my judges but I observed them as well.

My quest to find God was not the same quest that my fellows were on. It had seemed that “identity” was the issue on the table. Many of my peers had figured out their identity and were comfortable in their own skins to “practice their ways.” I had not come to this stage in my life yet. What did I know about identity? I was just this boy in a seminary trying to find my way in a world that was not kind to me. Sex was the first topic of discussion at each and every spiritual direction session I attended that year. It was one of the only lies I told to the man who was interested in my sexual proclivities. What did my masturbation have to do with the attainment of holiness? What I did alone with my God was my business and no one else’s.

I saw injustice in the church; I witnessed people being removed from service because of judgment. I witnessed the church move gay priests and some with illness to our grounds to live and work with us; they were taken from their parishes as a punishment for an unholy lifestyle. Homosexuality was right there in front of me. Grown gay men of the cloth living in community with me, and from my mouth to God’s ears, these men had more sacred reverence for God than any heterosexual holy man in residence with us at that time. I highly respected some of these men. They showed me real faith and real love for God. They gave me more in that year than others. They did not judge me nor force me to be anything but myself. It was the institution that forced choices of identity and allegiance. I was not ready to “identify” nor was I going to pledge “allegiance” to the rector of the seminary or to mother church.

What I do know is this, that I knew then who God was for the age that I was and I was ready to sacrifice my life for that God, but I was hell bent on denying the pressures of the institution to turn a blind eye to blatant abuses of power and human dignity and respect. I had no desire of entering or pledging for the “boys club” it was beneath me. I was better than that and I wasn’t going to compromise my walk with Christ to be like them.

After a year in seminary I was told that my invitation to return the following year had been rescinded. That maybe seminary was not “the place for me.” That maybe becoming a priest was not my “calling.” Who were they to judge with blinder on their eyes? What did they really know about my relationship to God, not that any of them really wanted to know? I walked away from the church and from God.

I moved back home for a short time. That did not last very long. I got a job and traveled the world. I met His Holiness John Paul II twice in the space of 2 years. Once in the states the second time at the Vatican. He was a sainted man; he was a star in my eyes. What I did not know then would not hurt me until decades later.

In my 19th year of life I took a trip to visit family that summer, this was the first time I gave into my sexual desires for another man. It was a one night event under the influence of alcohol, but it made its mark and stuck for good. I knew what sacred felt like when I felt penetration for the first time.

It was a moment I can still recall in vivid detail. It was then I realized what sacred penetration felt like. I buried that secret deep in my heart and never shared that intimate “detail” with anyone for almost two years. I was forced out of my house by my father once again. He was still hell bent on my total annihilation.

I was “Outed” by my best friend on a cruise when I was twenty one. We never spoke again after that. I moved away to be gay, to have my coming out experience. God was no where to be found in my lexicon. He was there; I just refused to allow him into my life, because the church had shit on my spiritual journey. That I took as a clear affront by God so I retaliated.

I got drunk. I stayed inebriated for years after that.

Until that day in 1994 when the news of my impending death made me re-evaluate my relationship with God. The rest they say is history…

I hope you enjoyed this retrospective of my Christian Life, one day I will end up in one of Butler’s books… ha ha ha ha … The rest of these stories can be found in PAGES on the sidebar.

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Don’t Mess with a Missionary Man

2008 Men On A Mission Calendar – Version 2

Originally Found at: The Ministry of Pleasure…

Get your calender and Information: Mormons Exposed

There is great ministry testimonies on the site under “Meet the Missionaries.” When I studied the Mormons in my “Death and Dying” Course many years ago, “Mission” was very important to each young person. Aside from the eye candy, I think that there is also a learning dimension to this site, if you look for it.

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“Brandon’s mission took him to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. He witnessed people dying on a daily basis from disease and saw firsthand how HIV has ravaged Africa. Brandon did his best to affect change by teaching English, rebuilding homes and giving medical care and love to orphans as well as assisting men and women to develop job skills and find work. In addition, Brandon focused on the religious aspects of his mission by helping to build chapels and baptizing 69 converts.

Brandon is appearing in the calendar because he would like to help create a more positive view of returning missionaries among non-church members. Echoing the sentiments of many of the other models, Brandon says, “We are down to earth just like everyone else. We live to do good things, but we make mistakes as well. We aren’t perfect going out there and we aren’t perfect coming back.”


Don't Mess with a Missionary Man

2008 Men On A Mission Calendar – Version 2

Originally Found at: The Ministry of Pleasure…

Get your calender and Information: Mormons Exposed

There is great ministry testimonies on the site under “Meet the Missionaries.” When I studied the Mormons in my “Death and Dying” Course many years ago, “Mission” was very important to each young person. Aside from the eye candy, I think that there is also a learning dimension to this site, if you look for it.

pabrandon2.png

“Brandon’s mission took him to Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world. He witnessed people dying on a daily basis from disease and saw firsthand how HIV has ravaged Africa. Brandon did his best to affect change by teaching English, rebuilding homes and giving medical care and love to orphans as well as assisting men and women to develop job skills and find work. In addition, Brandon focused on the religious aspects of his mission by helping to build chapels and baptizing 69 converts.

Brandon is appearing in the calendar because he would like to help create a more positive view of returning missionaries among non-church members. Echoing the sentiments of many of the other models, Brandon says, “We are down to earth just like everyone else. We live to do good things, but we make mistakes as well. We aren’t perfect going out there and we aren’t perfect coming back.”


Monday August 20

I guess I am supposed to write something coherent after posting all those articles below. A Canadian MP and his partner were wed in the Maritimes (Yay, Eh!) Mexico is getting blown’ away at this hour and the Queen of Mean is dead “ding dong the witch is dead…’

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I’ve been engrossed by my most recent read “The Power and the Glory” Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican. I have to say that if David Yallop has written one true word in his text, if all of what he writes is true, surely, to me, makes me question the life of John Paul II.

We have read through Liberation Theology, Solidarity, England and Ireland and Scotland  and even Medjugorje, in what is now Bosnia. When I was a young person, in my home parish, we were visited by the priests of the parish church where the young people were receiving messages and visions of the Blessed Mother. I even had a rosary that was said to have been touched by the Blessed Mother herself. Now a relic of that extreme to have been touched by the Blessed Mother, to me, carried sanctified power of the Blessed Mother and of God.

Last night I was lying in bed reading when I came across this paragraph:

“Karol Wojtyla’s lifelong Marian obsession may have clouded his judgment on the events of Medjugorje. Since 1981 the Vatican has defended its inaction over the alleged apparitions by saying that it awaits pronouncement from the local bishop. The opinion of Bishop Pavao Zanic of Mostar that the apparitions were ‘hysterical hallucinations’ was confirmed in 1982 when he established a diocesan commission to investigate further.”

I’ve never heard this debunking of a Marian Apparition. If one is to take at face value,  everything that David Yallop has written, as fact and certain truth, I must say that he shakes the base of a lot of my base faith beliefs. Much of the read through the latest 227 pages of the book, do not paint John Paul II in very good light. I just wonder how much of this writing is truth and fact and how much is speculation and inference?

This text is hock full of data with places, names and insinuations that John Paul I was murdered because of his move to clean up the ‘church’ and its cover up of the Vatican Bank Fiasco and the involvement of the Italian Mafia and the hierarchy of the church at its highest level.

This text is, so far in my opinion, an indictment of all things sacred and profane during the life of John Paul II. David has gone to great length to inform his readers just how many issues faced the late pontiff, how the world saw him, and what really happened behind the scenes of the “Rock Star Pope.” We know of the double speak, and the issues that John Paul II championed all over the world. David tells us in the text some very damning statistics of the Catholic Church.

“Father Andrew Greeley found in several polls, the following information:

  • In 2002 Zogby poll indicated that Father Greeley might soon need to add the United States to those who are ‘no longer Catholic’
  • 54% in favor of married priests
  • 53% thought there should be women priests
  • 61% approved of artificial birth control
  • 83% though it was morally wrong to discriminate against homosexuals and on abortion nearly a third disagreed that is was always morally wrong.

In contradiction to those figures, in the same poll no fewer than 90% thought the Pope was doing a good job worldwide in his leadership of the church.

In Australia – between 1971 and 2006, Catholic weddings in a church had declined by over 50%, from 9,784 to 4,075. In the United States the number of priests more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965. Since then the number has fallen to 45,000 and continues to slip away. By 2020, on present trends, there will be less than 31,000 and more than half of those priests will be over seventy. In 1965, one percent of US parishes were without a priest. By 2002, 15% – 3,000 parishes – lacked a priest. In that same period seminarians declined by ninety percent.

The same grim picture repeated itself in the figures for Catholic nuns and members of religious orders. Almost half of the Catholic high schools have closed in the past forty years. Weekly attendance at mass hovers between 31 to 35%. Annulment figures have soared from 338 to 501,00. Wherever one looks the story is the same yet the US Catholic Church still proclaimed that within the same period, 1965 to 2002, the number of Catholics within the country had risen by 20 million.

The MYTH of a hugely increased membership is perpetuated not only within the USA but globally. The Church’s definition of a Roman Catholic – a baptized person – flies in the face of the fact that hundreds of millions of notional Catholics subsequently reject the Church’s teachings on a huge range of issues and by doing so, notwithstanding what is written on the baptismal certificates, cease to be Roman Catholics. A non-practising Roman Catholic is an ex-Roman Catholic, or in Vatican-speak a lapsed Roman Catholic.”  (Statistic, text pages 205-207, David Yallop).

I don’t disagree with much of David’s writing about the late Pontiff. I know of many of the historical stories that he more than plentifully enlightened. In my study of Papal History, and namely of the late Pontiff, John Paul II, I reserve my scholarly right to look at this text with as David Tracy writes, hermeneutic suspicion.

“All interpreters of religion, whether believers or nonbelievers, can employ something like the theologians sixth sense that to interpret religion at all demands being willing to put at risk one’s present self understanding in order to converse with the claim to attention of the religious classic.

Hermeneutically, I am clearly not bound to either accept or reject and religious claims prior to the conversation itself. But if I would understand that claim, I am bound to struggle critically with the fact that its claim to truth is part of its meaning. To understand the religious classic at all, I cannot ultimately avoid its provocations to my present notions of what constitutes truth.” (D. Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity, pg. 98)

More to come …


Finding the Perfect Church…

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I have asked this question of some of the ministers that write for our sphere. For many years I have searched for the “Perfect Church.” Growing up in a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood gave rise to attending church with my friends. And that served me very well for most of my young adult life.

Labels had not been applied to us in this period of our lives so we were free to worship wherever we chose to. And in most cases our parents followed along, because the church was not only a religious landmark, but also housed Youth Ministry that everyone was part of for several years through high school and junior college and even for myself, Seminary.

After leaving seminary with a bad taste in my mouth for Catholicism, and Church, I walked away from God and his church. I thought that I had been slighted by clergy and I was pushed against the “choose us or get out” wall. It took me many years dealing with the truth to walk back into church.

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This was always my childhood home, the Church I called home. It was the place that God and I communed. And after my leaving seminary – this was the church that I returned to many years later, as a weary, AIDS suffering sinner. I was sick, and I had been away, and I met a man who changed my life when I saw him say mass in this space with his crutches and MS. I vowed never again to complain about things in my life. And I have kept that word so many years later.

Being Gay, had its issues with Church. But not to the men who led this church forward. I was a part of this church and this is where I would find prayer, support and salvation.

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As I grew into my 30’s I hit several questions in my life about faith, recovery and living with AIDS. I’d like to say that I found all my answers in “church” but that would be false. I was living in an area of town that did not afford me the ability to get to church any more. So I was not attending “church” where I had been for so many years. It was just logistically impossible to get there in time for mass.

During my second recovery, I was seeing a therapist and I had friends who were talking care of me at the time. I was having my visions and spiritual experiences outside the church I may have left the church “physically” but not emotionally and spiritually.

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Faith is like a garden. Each one of us inhabits the garden of our own making. We tend that garden daily. In the morning we walk through misty, dew covered flowers and plants, and as the day wares on the sun tracks across the sky as we sit in that garden. I believe that everyone is born into some kind of spiritual tradition, more than most may speak of but nonetheless, someone puts the seed of faith within us at some point.

If you were like me, you were baptized, first communion ed and confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some were baptized in the baptist faith and others were raised in the faith of their parents or extended families. But we all carry that seed within us.

For many, being Gay and Christian or Being Gay and Catholic was something we battled with because of the politics of the church. Now in my 40’s I can tell you that I will not walk into, better yet worship in a space that does not welcome me fully into communion. I used to compromise my ethics and my politics because I was attached to the Catholic faith by an unbreakable umbilical cord that still exists today.

When I got sick, the priests told me to come to church and I did because they were 21st century men in an archaic world of Catholicism. That lasted as long as it had to to keep my in line with my faith and connected TO my faith. God was in the church, praying with others took place in the church. Mass took place within the church. And I was ok with that way of life.

When I got sober in 2001 I was filled with questions. My faith was strong because I KNEW who God Was and who god Is still. I did not need the physical building to give me what I had created and cultivated internally over many many years of spiritual exploration. You see, faith is not something you feed once a week in a worship service. Faith is not something you partake on any given Sunday.

I was sober a four months when I came to visit Montreal in the Spring of 2002. It was Ash Wednesday when I arrived. I celebrated Easter here and I loved it. This is such a rich religious city. Later I would meet a Jesuit priest who would give me the same puzzle piece he gave all the other boys I later met on the path later on.

This is where it all starts…

I had a reason to come here and I knew after two weeks of being here, that I needed to stay here. I went back to Florida, packed all that I could and I left, never to return. Lies my mother told facilitated my move out of the United States.

I started my journey of faith in the Church Basilica of Notre Dame. It took me weeks to start putting the faith puzzle together. and now six years later, I can tell you that there are still pieces of the puzzle missing.

I had to get used to living in Montreal, Pre-Iraq War. I had to find my place in the greater scheme of things. And that took a long time. I had my citizenship on February 17th 2003, and I was sober 14 months. I decided that I would go back to school. My chosen major in the beginning was Psychology, that quickly changed to Religion.

These were the years that demonstrations were taking place in the streets and Americans were being warned to sew Canadian flags on our backpacks, so as not to acquire the ire of Canadians in Montreal, because protests against the war were daily occurrences. I did that and I participated in those demonstrations. But eventually I would hit several crises points in my life, ONE would be “where do I fit in?” I had to find my place in the community and that took two years upon beginning University. I remember sitting in Donald’s office asking the all important question: “I don’t know where I fit in and I have one foot in the South and one foot in the North – I don’t know where I should be?”

He was always apt to tell me these key words:

“If you find yourself in between and you can’t decide where to go or move, then sit where you are and survey all that you see before you. FEEL your feelings and get in touch with your dis-ease with where you are. Consult your map and ask your questions of the people on the path, then when you are ready, plot your next step, but not before you are sure of your footing.”

I met a man of faith in the Chaplaincy office. I was a man of faith and I was sure in my faith as any other man or woman was. The one difference? I was a sure gay man living with AIDS. I made no excuses and expected no special treatment, just love and acceptance, which I found in Fr. Ray Lafontaine. Still to this day, as a fellow Christian and Catholic priest in my life, he challenges me in my faith to find the answers for myself.
I attended his church at Loyola on Sunday evenings. And that worked for me because there were others like me in the church and we were all accepted.

****

That haze of Summer lasted for two years. In that time I started working on my religious beliefs. And I maintained my sobriety by attending meetings in the basements of many of Montreal’s most beautiful churches. When Father Ray was moved to St. Monica’s church and new priestly blood was flushed into the chapel, I met my faith match…

Having been singled out over my marriage to my husband and the vile words shared with me by the existing chaplain of the University, I walked away from Church once and for all. Although when Fr. Ray and Fr. Paul said mass, I would always attend.

Having studied religion for so many years of my life, and having lived with AIDS for so many years, I knew several things. 1. I knew who God was. 2. I knew who God is not. and 3. I knew who I trusted to support me in my faith journey.

I have been separated from Church for a long time now. It took the invitation of friends to attend a mass said by the Very Reverend Gene Robinson in the Summer of 2006 at Christ Church Cathedral to seriously contemplate a return to Church. In 2003 I was married in the very Catholic Space at Loyal, much to the consternation of Georges Pelletier. We did it just to make a statement of faith, because the entire Loyola community was there to stand with us and profess our faith and love before our families, friends and God himself.

The only time I ever walked into a church, during my time in the field, was with my Great Aunt Georgette, may she rest in peace… I would pray in the mother house chapel with her and I would attend mass there as well. The last time I attended mass in the Mother House Chapel was the day we buried her in August of 2006.

I would never walk into another Catholic Church after her funeral. Although I still maintain a working relationship with men of Catholic faith, I don’t go to mass in the Catholic Church. The other day that marked a change in my Catholic belief system was the day that the Late Pontiff John Paul II died, and I attended mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

You see, while I was studying Religion in university, I was studying my past, making peace with it and learning why things happened the way they did for me, and I was afforded this historical review because of the professors that I studied with for the last four years. I polished my religious skills and I mastered my Christian faith.

I was getting sober in church basements and I was ministering to people in the field. I never walked away from God again. I knew better, and he would always wait for me to find Him. Some of you know about the last five years. Some of you sought me out from the field for spiritual guidance. And I was there for you without question.

I always knew where God resided within me. I knew where to find God, outside myself. I can walk into any church in the city and talk to God. And I can talk to God at any given moment of my day or night, because I have built a temple of God within me.

We are all temples of the spirit of God. Most of us do not know this truth. So I share it with you now. We are all created in the image of God, and therefore we carry the image of God within us. We are walking talking miracles of God’s love and grace. My garden of faith is Eden within me. And I share that garden with anyone who wants to come and walk amongst the flowers. I do not need a building or the perfect church to settle my restless heart.

I’ve spent the last five years searching for God in the sacred churches of Montreal. He was always there where ever I looked for Him. As for the perfect church? You will never find it, because of the true nature of men and women. Humans are imperfect sinners who need to be taught what is right from wrong. And those who come to church already have their preconceived notions of who their God is, and what they will be willing to accept, in the way of Christian teachings, dogma and practice.

So take a church full of imperfect humans and ask them to build for you the perfect church! With all the heads buzzing in the church, each with their notions of church and God, and what do you have? A room full of buzzing heads, who could not agree on what they would call church, and I am sure that their conception will not be what you had in mind either. The perfect church does not and will never exist…

Where did Jesus do his best work? In the field, over dinner in sinners houses. Working with the homeless and the poor and sick. How many times does Jesus step into a church in biblical writing? And what does he say about the ‘church?’ What would he say about all of the terrible incarnations of Church we have today – in the world?

I do believe that God and Jesus weep at the way Christianity is lived out in the millions of lives of people around the globe. We know the scripture, we know the reason yet we can’t see past the noses on our faces and we cannot take the plank out of our own eyes before we try to help another, so what does that say about active Christianity???

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I’ve been in the process of Spiritual direction for some time now, ever since coming to Montreal many years ago. I have sought the advice of many people over the years. And I work with others “in the field” every day…

Where is my “Church?” If I had to give you an address, that would be the Christ Church Cathedral because the bishop has said to the LGBT community that we are just as important to the church as any one else. That he supports us and wants us to participate in community and be active participants in our own faith. I am 40 now, and I have my morals, beliefs and values, and if I choose to leave the Catholic faith based on principle I can do that today, because of the certainty of WHO I am and What my faith means to me, because I am ‘out of communion’ with Benedict’s Church, and I can live with that today.

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But I don’t need a building to worship God. I don’t need the perfect church to teach me God’s word. I don’t need the perfect minister to keep me on the path of Godly living. Why, you ask? Because I can do all these things on my own. I celebrate my Christianity every day through prayer, word and action. I live my faith – therefore it is in front of me every day for all to see. I practice my faith. I talk the talk and I walk the walk, daily…

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This is not a task I ask you to ponder on your own and it is not for the feint of heart either. But in order to build your inner church, you must start with a foundation, a garden. Mark out the space in your heart. Till the soil and plant your seeds. Give them plenty of water and sunlight and then pray over them…

We each have the capability to till our own gardens of faith within us. Because until you have a strong garden of faith within you, will you be able to find a church that will serve you, because without the understanding and cultivation of your own garden, do you remove the judgments within your heart of men and ministry.

If you are looking for the perfect minister of Christ, he will not appear, save Christ himself. We are flawed human beings, and therefore we must understand that and with that knowledge we can better serve the community at large, and if we able to serve the community at large, we can then see God for ourselves where ever we go, and in whatever church we visit.

The best work of the field is done in the most imperfect churches, because most people know that perfection is unattainable. Your Heavenly Father is perfect, so we have every ability to be as perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. But that will take a lifetime to achieve.

In order to find church outside of you, you must first build church within yourself. You must find your definition of God, you must let your faith garden grow. You must be strong in your faith because without strong inner faith, you will not have strong outer faith for community. Without using the gardening tools that God has given you, how can you practice your faith? You must find Sacred Space within yourself, and you must build sacred space for yourself, while you are in the field.

Because, what good would looking for the perfect Church do for you, if you do not have a handle on your own inner faith to begin with??? Build your inner church and invite God to inhabit your sacred space. Get to know this God of your own understanding. There are certain things a Christian must do every day…

 

  • Read Scripture every day
  • You must Pray every day
  • You must Meditate every day
  • You must Actively Practice your Faith every day

Because the simple act of prayer – asking God for those things that weigh heavily on our hearts, must be followed up with a period of silent “Listening” for God’s voice to speak to you. Because sometimes we get the answer… ‘keep praying, not today, NO!’ Cookie cutter Christianity is too easy. You must live your faith actively in community, that is one sure way to find Jesus in the field.

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Start with your garden
Plant it, Till it, and let it grow
Listen to your heart song
and share it with the world
Take off the blinders on your eyes
and see the world in its imperfect state
Find Christ in the field and walk with Him
talk the talk and walk the walk
practice your faith in ACTION
in time your heart will soften
and you will see God
and you will find that

‘Perfect Church’

is but
‘Perfect Union with Christ’

AND

One day
A church will find its way to you

Because you will be ready to serve…


Quiet time …

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“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:5-7

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The Pontiff in Winter, John Paul II. And the candle lit tonight to bring my prayers to heaven above us. There is much to be grateful for and much to pray for this night. May the Lord hear us and grant us our petitions. We ask these and all things through Christ our Lord who gives all that is good.

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O God, my heart is the altar
and my love for you is the flame:
I’ll keep the fire burning for you, Lord,
And I will rejoice in your name

Hess – Our Daily Bread Sunday August 12th


To Boycott or Not ???

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Tonight CBC News started a series of reports on the 1 year celebration in Beijing beginning today – the 8th of August. What will the world say to Beijing over the next year? We know that China’s record on Human Rights violations is something that can not be ignored.

Secondly, China’s support of the Sudanese government and the fact that China could make serious progress in helping the Darfur region conflicts. That China could save lives and chooses not to, just speaks volumes of how it sees the world not only in Darfur, but in their own back yards, and in Tibet. I think a release of Tibet and the acknowledgment of this sacred land would be monumental on China’s attitude towards the world. The widget will remain on my blog for the next year as we discuss this question in greater depth.

Our question today
and for the next year will be simple
Should we go to Beijing
Or should we Boycott
The Summer Olympic Games in Beijing China???
08-08-08

One World One Dream
From the Beijing Olympic site


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The Official Beijing Olympic Website

“One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit — Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream. It expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind. In spite of the differences in colors, languages and races, we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games, and together we seek for the ideal of Mankind for peace. We belong to the same world and we share the same aspirations and dreams.

“One World One Dream” is a profound manifestation of the core concepts of the Beijing Olympic Games. It reflects the values of harmony connoted in the concept of “People’s Olympics”, the core and soul of the three concepts — “Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and People’s Olympics”. While “Harmony of Man with Nature” and “Peace Enjoys Priority” are the philosophies and ideals of the Chinese people since ancient times in their pursuit of the harmony between Man and Nature and the harmony among people, building up a harmonious society and achieving harmonious development are the dream and aspirations of ours. It is our belief that peace and progress, harmonious development, living in amity, cooperation and mutual benefit, and enjoying a happy life are the common ideals of the people throughout the world.

“One World, One Dream” is simple in expressions, but profound in meaning. It is of China, and also of the world. It conveys the lofty ideal of the people in Beijing as well as in China to share the global community and civilization and to create a bright future hand in hand with the people from the rest of the world. It expresses the firm belief of a great nation, with a long history of 5,000 years and on its way towards modernization, that is committed to peaceful development, harmonious society and people’s happiness. It voices the aspirations of 1.3 billion Chinese people to contribute to the establishment of a peaceful and bright world.

The English translation of the slogan is distinctive in sentence structure. The two “One”s are perfectly used in parallel, and the words “World” and “Dream” form a good match. The slogan is simple, meaningful, inspiring, and easy to remember, read and spread.

In Chinese, the word “tongyi”, which means “the same”, is used for the English word “One”. It highlights the theme of “the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal”.


What's on my Bedside Table

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 The Power and the Glory,
Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican by David Yallop.

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This Huge Text is what I am reading. John Paul II ranks a lot higher on my read list than a Monk who sold his Ferrari. I wanted to get this read done before classes commence. So we shall break with Discovering your Destiny for now…

Prayers for John Paul II —

“You brought to many comfort
True shepherd of your flock.
Hallmarks of your wisdom shone
With kindness entwined –
A loving knot.

So many on our planet loved
Your charity of ways.
Your path through life
Showed us well –
How not to fall astray.

Let’s take the teachings from your reign
Let’s not forget the lessons.
Let’s ever remember your inspirations
Came directly from –
Our Father in Heaven.”

Prayer by Susan Kramer


What’s on my Bedside Table

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 **********************************

 The Power and the Glory,
Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican by David Yallop.

kpcrosier07-copy.jpg

This Huge Text is what I am reading. John Paul II ranks a lot higher on my read list than a Monk who sold his Ferrari. I wanted to get this read done before classes commence. So we shall break with Discovering your Destiny for now…

Prayers for John Paul II —

“You brought to many comfort
True shepherd of your flock.
Hallmarks of your wisdom shone
With kindness entwined –
A loving knot.

So many on our planet loved
Your charity of ways.
Your path through life
Showed us well –
How not to fall astray.

Let’s take the teachings from your reign
Let’s not forget the lessons.
Let’s ever remember your inspirations
Came directly from –
Our Father in Heaven.”

Prayer by Susan Kramer


NIVB – #1

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August 2, 2007

Jesus Said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

John 15:4

The believer has no fruitfulness apart from union and fellowship with Christ. A branch out of contact with the vine is lifeless. A living union with Christ is absolutely necessary; without it there is nothing.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:22-23