Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Labels

Matthew Vines … The Gay Debate – The Bible and Homosexuality

Look ^^^ up there …

A new PAGE has been added to the blog. It is a presentation by Matthew Vines on the Bible and Homosexuality. I wish I could post video on this blog, but I can’t, so you are in for a good LONG read !!!

If you click on the page and scroll down to the bottom, you can directly go to his You Tube account and watch the video, which last a little more than an hour.

It is very sad – if you go to the video and read some of the vitriolic comments that have been left on this video, the theology is sound and has been proven by researchers in the field of scripture and theology. Some people are purely ignorant and stupid. You’s think that in today’s world – people could be so vitriolic.

It is all about acceptance…

For many years I contended with one writing that was written by a Pastor who I have known for many years. But Matthew, on the other hand, has spent the better part of 2 years researching this topic and his presentation is rock solid.

But it is well worth the hour you should take to listen to a young man who Loves God and Loves Jesus and speaks from his heart about the six passages from the Bible that many Christians use to demonize and perpetuate hatred and condemnation.

He has studied Hebrew, Greek and Latin and in depth covers all the scriptures and explains the history, context and meaning of biblical history.

Take some time to participate. Show him some love,

Because in the end :

Being different is no crime. Being gay is not a sin. And for a gay person to desire and pursue love and marriage and family is no more selfish or sinful than when a straight person desires and pursues the very same things. The Song of Songs tells us that King Solomon’s wedding day was “the day his heart rejoiced.”

To deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance.

The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them. And if you are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women in love, if you are dead-set against that idea, then I am asking you to try to see things differently for my sake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

I’m asking you to ask yourself this: How deeply do you care about your family? How deeply do you love your spouse? And how tenaciously would you fight for them if they were ever in danger or in harm’s way? That is how deeply you should care, and that is how tenaciously you should fight, for the very same things for my life, because they matter just as much to me.

Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love. Thank you, and thank you to everyone for coming tonight.

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/VinesMatthew
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/matthew.vines
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/VinesMatthew


Ups, Downs, The year that was 2010…

Courtesy: Fysnoopy

I have been pondering this post for a number of days. Thinking about what I want to write about as it happens, live and in color. Firstly, this blog…has seen better days. It has been reincarnated twice and is still going, because I am stubborn.

So many blogs have ceased to be in the last five years. Some have changed their focus and I still have a good read list that I go through every day. The blogsphere has lost some really great talent, because I guess the chic of blogging had weaned for many writers that I used to read. But writing is therapeutic …

I have had my issues with people in the recent past, which is why this blog was moved, renamed, reincarnated and re-domained. You can never escape lewd and sick people on the internet. Because once you commit it to the internet, it is there to stay. I survived the last attack and kept the blog intact.

I have kept the focus on this blog as it always was. My topics have stayed true to heart, writing about life, love, troubles and miracles in recovery. My numbers are not what they were, but the internet changes so quickly with the times, that it is hard to keep readers when you post everyday goings on. I’m not political, although I have political opinions. I have stayed away from religious topics because I’ve heard all the arguments, and been attacked by the religious right and left. I have been attacked by those who question the very real facet of my life which is recovery.

My life begins and ends with recovery. Because without it I am nothing. If I wasn’t sober right now, I would be in a sad state. When I got sober this last time, I meant it. Nothing in life happens but by chance. There are no coincidences. And miracles do happen when you aren’t looking for them. That’s what makes recovery so beautiful.

The latticework of my life is meetings and sobriety. I have kept a select few of people in my inner circle that I can go to for advice at any time of day or night. I have my sponsor and fellows in the program that I call my friends. Over the last year I have seen a major upheaval in sobriety in that long time friends were stricken with diseases that took away their lives, literally. I still keep in touch with these people, yet they are mere shells of who they once were.

That’s what happens when you allow sobriety to get relegated to the back burner. People loose their focus and their lives unravel, and I have been powerless to this day, to stop it or change the outcomes.

Some major things happened in my life over the last year. Some good, some bad. I failed at the greatest work of my life, that being graduate school. I knew going in the I was the outsider from the first day of classes. People who were my friends, no longer felt it necessary to keep my confidences and be “friends.” Once I crossed that line into graduate studies everything changed, and I saw it happen before my very eyes. But I went with it, playing the part, trying to look good under pressure, to seem confident. but it was all a ruse.

I knew sooner or later that I would face the gauntlet and it happened second semester. I was tired of the game. I could not produce work that was deemed acceptable as a graduate student, however hard I tried, getting extensions and working my ass off, in the end I failed to make the marks. And there was no love lost at the end. I was ready to go as they were readily prepared to boot me from the graduate program. It was one of the great failures in my recovery. But through it all I remained sober.

After that there was nowhere to go but up. I thought about quitting my education because once you leave the system, there is no more money, and money is the one thing we need to keep flowing until hubby makes his mark on the world, that story for another time.

I was sitting in the financial aide office and my friend said to me that I should go down to Dawson and arrange for classes there, because I had never attended Cgep, that that was free money. That very day I went down, applied and within days, I was a Dawson student, in continuing education. It was a step down, but otherwise it was a good move for me. Easy work, not a lot of pressure to perform like a grad student. Thanks the gods.

For the last year, I have been keeping my cards close to my chest. I have been living in the moment for so long, that it has become second nature.

Practicing the tools of sobriety, some people would say, is too difficult. But faced with no other choice, it’s what you have to do to stay sane and in control. I have succeeded in my first semester in Cegep. It was an easier run than I had expected.

What else did I do in the last year? I haven’t gone back through the umpteen pages of posts that I have written over the last year, they are too numerous and would take me in forever to go through. So this is just going to be a highlight and lowlight post for years end.

The greatest joy this year has been to be able to share in my hubby’s journey on into his furthering graduate studies. He is the finest of educational models. Even with his help, I could not do what he does with one arm tied behind his back. His mind is as sharp as a tack. His skills are outstanding, his abilities are limitless. He took on the new work with zeal and enthusiasm. Along with his classes, he got a TA position in his department and that made all the difference. He met new friends and he has a social life that is rewarding.

Let us talk about marriage. 2010 has been a year of rewards. Married life is a joy. Just being in the same room together is enough. We don’t need trappings or riches. We live a very frugal lifestyle. We have lived in the same apartment since the day we met in 2002. We celebrated six years of marriage this past November. A simple card with three words was all I needed on our anniversary. And that is what I got, and that was enough.

For the first time in our relationship, we have more money in the bank than we used to have because of his dual student/employment role in graduate studies. The promises about financial insecurities will leave you, took long enough to come around for us. We still have bills and they still take up most of our money every month because bills go up, they don’t go down. And I would not give up the view we have from home for any other property in the city, save a view from the mountainside up above us on the mountain.

Cgep does not pay what university pays in student financial aide. And when I left graduate studies we took a huge hit, until hubby got established. But we have some financial success today, a goal that we have sought after for years, and we could never really find the mark, in the last year it came to us. So that was a good point to talk about.

It’s really not a good thing for me to sit before a blank canvas this late at night, because my mind tends to wander around topics I don’t like to ponder during the day. Hence the photo above.

Let’s talk about medicine. I survived another year. And that is something we don’t like to talk about lest we jinx the good run I have had medically over the last year. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and have been on medication ever since. We had to shift a few habits and get rid of some that were necessary to end. My HIV numbers have remained over the 1000 mark for more than a year. With T-cells over the 1000 mark, my doctor is pleased with my progress. That’s why at my last doctor check in he gave me a 4 month break until the next lab draw. Dr. George, my diabetes doctor is pleased with my sugar numbers and I won’t see him till March of next year.

I have been sober now 9 years and a few days. Last Thursday was my anniversary, and the people who were there from the beginning are still in my life today. I got to talk to all of them, scattered all over the world as they are today, they all called me to congratulate me on my achievement.

The holidays are upon us. I hate them, and I love them just the same. I hate them because I am constantly reminded of what I don’t have. And really am I missing it really? No. The topic of family is something we don’t discuss ever. I have had to accept that I will never get back what I lost in decisions I made early on in my life. And my move to Canada was the final nail in my proverbial casket. I would never be forgiven and the curse that exists is one of silence. A punishment that my parents do to those who cross them. They shut off the switch and turn you into darkness, never to see the light of day.

Although today I wonder what they say to friend about my real absence from their lives? I wonder what kind of stories they tell about me. With the dawn of Facebook, I had a tantalizing brush with my brother for a short amount of time. Here I though I would get to make an amends and have contact after so many years, but that never materialized.  It was a stab at my heart to be sure.

With marriage I get family. I don’t see them, but at Christmas we supply them with presents like good family does. Hubby goes home for a few days to exchange gifts and visit, and I stay at home where my mouth won’t get me into trouble. There are confidences that we have in our marriage, that no one knows about. There are things that we trust to each other that remain foreign to my inlaws.

Nobody knows what we know and what we have been through over the last seven years. Our relationship has only grown over the last few years. We have been together going on nine years and we have been married for a little more than six years now. Hubby has stood beside me and he encourages me when I need it and he is there at the end of the day to lie next to at night.

I have done a lot of thinking about the past. I miss my friends. I miss the life I had when it was all flying by the seat of my pants. I was 26 when I was diagnosed with AIDS. I am going to be 44 years old next summer. 16 years have passed since that fateful day – July 8th 1994.

I am moving towards an invisible line. Long term survivors of AIDS from the 80’s and 90’s are being studied now by doctors and writers, because we are charting new territory, living beyond the initial life markers. Many of us have survived and I really don’t know what to expect as I march towards 45 and blessedly hopeful of 50.

That’s why there are books being written about men with AIDS who are reaching that milestone in their lives. The surge of life that has been afforded us because of medical technology has been a blessing. I would never have reached this point had I stayed in the U.S.

I am living a dream. That’s all I can say. The last nine years has been a gift. I have achieved so much and lived a life, that if you told me this back then, I would have laughed you out of the room. Who knew I’d survive this long? One day at a time…

What do we expect in this next decade of life? I don’t know. But there are some who are going to offer us their best shot at predicting what comes next. That book, by the way, is on its way from Amazon as we speak.

Keeping it simple as I did in the beginning, I return to the past. i was diagnosed in July of 1994. And my rationale behind survival was based on six month increments. I learned to trust my doctors over time and in sobriety back then I was reasonably sure that if I lived to see Christmas, I could basically accept that I would make it to my next birthday. I never forget that rationale, keeping it simple.

If you do it, by the numbers, I have nothing to worry about medically. I have healed my body and my soul. And the grant I received from being taken was that I would live. And so I have. I have accepted the fact that my pear shaped body is what it is. And I have the tell tale signs of protease paunch, from protease inhibitors that I took so many years ago. Really, I am not as vain a man as some that I know who are my age and living with AIDS. I mean really, beyond a bottle of Miss Clairol, I haven’t done anything drastic to my body to enhance or to recapture something from my youth. What you see is what you get. Some of my friends have had major surgeries, gotten massive tattoos, had ass enhancements, and facial reconstruction injections. Save that none of that really bad shit happened to me when I was younger living with the disease. I escaped with a tummy. I didn’t get strapped with body dismorphia.

The last thing I want to talk about it mortality. It has been on my mind as of late. Maybe because I have fixated on the past for a good amount of time in the last year. By the numbers, I should not worry about dying. But death is ever present. I was once told by a doctor that it wouldn’t be HIV that killed me, that it would be something else. What that something else is still a mystery.

I think about dying. I dream about dying. Every day is a gift when you live with long term illness, that once was a silent a merciless killer. A leopard cannot change its spots no matter now medical science changes the terms of the game. The animal remains the same. It is we who cheat death by living, many of us have lived beyond any doctors predictions. Death, can’t be far away, when you consider how many people died from this over the last twenty years.

I lived a good life, to this point. Well beyond my dreams of success. I got the chance to do things that many of my friends did not. And I am grateful for every day that I lived. I don’t have any regrets. They would be a waste of time.

There are things still on my to do list. And hopefully in the next calendar year I may get to experience some of them. My so called “bucket list.”

I want to thank all of you who have remained with me here, reading and sharing in the journey. I try to help others, because in order to keep it you have to give it away, and i do that here freely and without complaint.

Here is to 2011. May it be joyous and life changing. Let us all pray.

So it’s 2:30 in the morning and I am tired of typing. So that is it for my end of year review. Thanks for reading, and may God bless you and keep you. Blessings on your heads.


Williams: Anglicans in ‘severe’ crisis

If he did not want this to come to pass, he would have included those who are celebrating and meeting just across the field from where they are meeting. There is trouble because the Archbishop feels better to include some and not all, and he fears the “Other” more than he fears faith. Had the Archbishop of Canterbury had some BALLS he would walk across the field, and ask the others to join the meeting.

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

CANTERBURY, England – The head of the Anglican Communion said Sunday that the global fellowship faces “one of the most severe challenges” in its history, and he urged bishops at their once-a-decade Lambeth Conference to do the hard work of finding solutions.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the Anglican family’s most immediate need is for “transformed relationships” so they don’t break apart over homosexuality and the Bible.

“We all know that we stand in the middle of one of the most severe challenges to have faced the Anglican family in its history,” he said in an address to the 650 bishops at the assembly.

But he said the world fellowship has survived other crises in its centuries-long history, and he has faith that church leaders can overcome the most recent troubles.

“Whatever the popular perception, the options before us are not irreparable schism or forced assimilation,” Williams said. “It is not an option to hope that we can somehow just carry on as we always have.”

Williams made the comments as church leaders in Canterbury emerged from days of prayer and turned to the business of their meeting. In Bible study and small group discussion, they will try to rebuild the ties among Anglican national churches that shattered after the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The work of the meeting, which runs through Aug. 3, is complicated by a boycott. About one-quarter of the invited bishops — theological conservatives mostly from Africa — stayed away because Williams invited bishops from the U.S. and elsewhere who accept gay relationships.

Williams called their absence a “wound” and asked participants to pray for the boycotters. He barred Robinson and a few other problematic bishops from the conference.

Still, Robinson is in Canterbury, staying on the outskirts of the meeting, working with advocates for Anglican gays and lesbians and hoping to meet as many overseas Anglican bishops as possible.

The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the missionary work of the Church of England. It is the second-largest group of churches in the world, behind Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

Anglicans have long held together divergent views of Scripture and ritual. But those divisions have been widening as Anglican churches in the developing world, where strict Bible interpretation is the norm, have become the biggest and fastest-growing in the communion.

Last month, a group of Anglican conservatives from Africa, Australia and elsewhere formed a new network within the fellowship that challenges Williams’ authority, but stops short of schism. Some of the network organizers are attending Lambeth, but most are staying away.

Other religious groups are facing similar divisions over how they should interpret Scripture, and they are closely watching the outcome of the assembly. Several Vatican officials are among the ecumenical participants at Lambeth.

The meeting was designed without any votes or legislation, and no one expects the Anglicans to resolve their problems by the assembly’s end. Organizers instead hope their discussions will help clarify what direction they should take to stay together.

“A Lambeth Conference is not a political meeting about organization or structure alone, but it is a spiritual meeting,” said Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, head of the Anglican Church of Australia. “We must go into this confident that a way has been found to the Father … . We must be confident that that way is there.”


Williams: Anglicans in 'severe' crisis

If he did not want this to come to pass, he would have included those who are celebrating and meeting just across the field from where they are meeting. There is trouble because the Archbishop feels better to include some and not all, and he fears the “Other” more than he fears faith. Had the Archbishop of Canterbury had some BALLS he would walk across the field, and ask the others to join the meeting.

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

CANTERBURY, England – The head of the Anglican Communion said Sunday that the global fellowship faces “one of the most severe challenges” in its history, and he urged bishops at their once-a-decade Lambeth Conference to do the hard work of finding solutions.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the Anglican family’s most immediate need is for “transformed relationships” so they don’t break apart over homosexuality and the Bible.

“We all know that we stand in the middle of one of the most severe challenges to have faced the Anglican family in its history,” he said in an address to the 650 bishops at the assembly.

But he said the world fellowship has survived other crises in its centuries-long history, and he has faith that church leaders can overcome the most recent troubles.

“Whatever the popular perception, the options before us are not irreparable schism or forced assimilation,” Williams said. “It is not an option to hope that we can somehow just carry on as we always have.”

Williams made the comments as church leaders in Canterbury emerged from days of prayer and turned to the business of their meeting. In Bible study and small group discussion, they will try to rebuild the ties among Anglican national churches that shattered after the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The work of the meeting, which runs through Aug. 3, is complicated by a boycott. About one-quarter of the invited bishops — theological conservatives mostly from Africa — stayed away because Williams invited bishops from the U.S. and elsewhere who accept gay relationships.

Williams called their absence a “wound” and asked participants to pray for the boycotters. He barred Robinson and a few other problematic bishops from the conference.

Still, Robinson is in Canterbury, staying on the outskirts of the meeting, working with advocates for Anglican gays and lesbians and hoping to meet as many overseas Anglican bishops as possible.

The 77-million-member Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the missionary work of the Church of England. It is the second-largest group of churches in the world, behind Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

Anglicans have long held together divergent views of Scripture and ritual. But those divisions have been widening as Anglican churches in the developing world, where strict Bible interpretation is the norm, have become the biggest and fastest-growing in the communion.

Last month, a group of Anglican conservatives from Africa, Australia and elsewhere formed a new network within the fellowship that challenges Williams’ authority, but stops short of schism. Some of the network organizers are attending Lambeth, but most are staying away.

Other religious groups are facing similar divisions over how they should interpret Scripture, and they are closely watching the outcome of the assembly. Several Vatican officials are among the ecumenical participants at Lambeth.

The meeting was designed without any votes or legislation, and no one expects the Anglicans to resolve their problems by the assembly’s end. Organizers instead hope their discussions will help clarify what direction they should take to stay together.

“A Lambeth Conference is not a political meeting about organization or structure alone, but it is a spiritual meeting,” said Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, head of the Anglican Church of Australia. “We must go into this confident that a way has been found to the Father … . We must be confident that that way is there.”


Anglican head says bishop boycott `wounds’ summit

Had the Archbishop of Canterbury invited ALL bishops to attend, there would not have been a boycott of said Lambeth conference. But because of homophobia and bigotry of some of the clergy who are attending and some NOT attending Lambeth, we have this issue to contend with.

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

CANTERBURY, England – The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans said he feels “great grief” that more than 200 bishops are boycotting the Lambeth Conference, calling it a wound to the once-a-decade meeting of the Anglican fellowship.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressed respect for the decision of church leaders who stayed away, but he said their absence should not stop participants from trying to repair fractured relations, according to a paper released Thursday containing highlights of his private talk the previous day.

“I don’t imagine that simply building relationships solves our problems,” he told bishops at a closed-door prayer retreat Wednesday. “But the nature of our calling as Christians is such that we dare not, and I say very strongly, dare not pretend that we can meet and discuss without attention to this quality of relation with each other even if we disagree.”

The Anglican Communion is a 77 million-member family of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, including the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The centuries-old fellowship has long held together with different views of ritual and Scripture. But the communion began splintering in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Around one-quarter of the world’s Anglican bishops — theological conservatives mainly from Africa — are not attending the Lambeth Conference because Williams invited U.S. church leaders who consecrated Robinson and other church leaders who accept gay relationships.

Robinson and a few other clergy have been barred from the assembly, which runs through Aug. 3. The 650 or so church leaders who are participating are a mix of traditionalists, liberals and others with conflicting ideas on what Anglicans should believe.

Williams has designed a conference program with no votes or resolutions. Instead, the bishops will engage in Bible study and small group discussions on issues ranging from evangelism to the structure of the communion. Williams said the gathering has been set up so “every voice can be heard.” The first public event, opening worship, is set for Sunday.

“It’s a great grief that many of our brothers and sisters in the communion have not felt able to be with us for these weeks, a grief because we need their voice and they need ours in learning Christ together,” Williams said at the prayer meeting.

On Thursday, bishops gathered privately in Canterbury Cathedral, where Williams gave sermons on the role of bishops as viewed through the Gospel.

Details of those talks were not released. But Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island said the archbishop of Canterbury spoke about how bishops must “call everyone together.”

“Many people want us as bishops to align ourselves to one group or another,” she said, summarizing his remarks. “But as bishops we must say there is more than just being on one man’s side. You have to make decisions for the good of the whole. There’s not just one way.”

Last month, a group of Anglican traditionalists from Africa, Australia and other regions who are frustrated with Williams’ leadership formed a new network within the communion that challenges his authority, while stopping short of schism.

Of Williams’ sermon Thursday, Wolf said, “For those who like absolute answers and who wish for him to address the issues in the communion, this was probably a disappointment,” but she said most people seemed to find his address inspirational.

Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky., who participated in the retreat Thursday, said he has sensed no animosity from bishops who have condemned the decision to consecrate Robinson. One strong critic, a West African bishop, even hugged him, Sauls said.

But Sauls said, “We’re also too soon to get into many issues. The focus right now is on prayer.”


Anglican head says bishop boycott `wounds' summit

Had the Archbishop of Canterbury invited ALL bishops to attend, there would not have been a boycott of said Lambeth conference. But because of homophobia and bigotry of some of the clergy who are attending and some NOT attending Lambeth, we have this issue to contend with.

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

CANTERBURY, England – The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans said he feels “great grief” that more than 200 bishops are boycotting the Lambeth Conference, calling it a wound to the once-a-decade meeting of the Anglican fellowship.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressed respect for the decision of church leaders who stayed away, but he said their absence should not stop participants from trying to repair fractured relations, according to a paper released Thursday containing highlights of his private talk the previous day.

“I don’t imagine that simply building relationships solves our problems,” he told bishops at a closed-door prayer retreat Wednesday. “But the nature of our calling as Christians is such that we dare not, and I say very strongly, dare not pretend that we can meet and discuss without attention to this quality of relation with each other even if we disagree.”

The Anglican Communion is a 77 million-member family of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, including the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The centuries-old fellowship has long held together with different views of ritual and Scripture. But the communion began splintering in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Around one-quarter of the world’s Anglican bishops — theological conservatives mainly from Africa — are not attending the Lambeth Conference because Williams invited U.S. church leaders who consecrated Robinson and other church leaders who accept gay relationships.

Robinson and a few other clergy have been barred from the assembly, which runs through Aug. 3. The 650 or so church leaders who are participating are a mix of traditionalists, liberals and others with conflicting ideas on what Anglicans should believe.

Williams has designed a conference program with no votes or resolutions. Instead, the bishops will engage in Bible study and small group discussions on issues ranging from evangelism to the structure of the communion. Williams said the gathering has been set up so “every voice can be heard.” The first public event, opening worship, is set for Sunday.

“It’s a great grief that many of our brothers and sisters in the communion have not felt able to be with us for these weeks, a grief because we need their voice and they need ours in learning Christ together,” Williams said at the prayer meeting.

On Thursday, bishops gathered privately in Canterbury Cathedral, where Williams gave sermons on the role of bishops as viewed through the Gospel.

Details of those talks were not released. But Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island said the archbishop of Canterbury spoke about how bishops must “call everyone together.”

“Many people want us as bishops to align ourselves to one group or another,” she said, summarizing his remarks. “But as bishops we must say there is more than just being on one man’s side. You have to make decisions for the good of the whole. There’s not just one way.”

Last month, a group of Anglican traditionalists from Africa, Australia and other regions who are frustrated with Williams’ leadership formed a new network within the communion that challenges his authority, while stopping short of schism.

Of Williams’ sermon Thursday, Wolf said, “For those who like absolute answers and who wish for him to address the issues in the communion, this was probably a disappointment,” but she said most people seemed to find his address inspirational.

Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky., who participated in the retreat Thursday, said he has sensed no animosity from bishops who have condemned the decision to consecrate Robinson. One strong critic, a West African bishop, even hugged him, Sauls said.

But Sauls said, “We’re also too soon to get into many issues. The focus right now is on prayer.”


I have no title for this…

Sit down Christian. You cannot wave your unread Bible and scare me because I know the larger story that runs through it from beginning to end. I’m trying to resist the temptation to snatch it from your hands and beat you with it. I am your worst nightmare, a Texas Preacher who knows the good book better than you do. Show me your scriptures. Show me how you justify condemning homosexual people.

Show me what you got, Christian. The Sodom story? That story is about people who wanted to commit a brutal rape. Let’s all say it together, “God doesn’t like rape.” You could have listened to your heart and learned that, Christian. Move on. What else you got?

A passage from Leviticus? Are you kidding me? Are you prepared to adhere to the whole Levitical code of behavior? No? Then why would you expect others to? Move on. What else?

Two passages — two verses from Romans and one from 1 Corinthians. There you stand, your justification for a worldwide campaign of hatred written on two limp pieces of paper. Have you looked closely at these passages? Do you understand their context and original language? I could show you why you don’t have much, but there is something more important you need to see.

Come with me to the church cellar. Come now and don’t delay. I am shaking with anger and fighting the urge to grab you by the collar and drag you down these steps.

You didn’t know the church had a cellar? Oh yes, every church does. Down, down, we go into the darkness. Don’t slip on the flagstone and never mind the heat.

There, do you see the iron furnace door, gaping open? Do you see the roaring flames? Do you see the huge man with glistening muscles, covered with soot? Do you see him feeding the fire with his massive scooped shovel?

He feeds these flames with the Bible, with every book, chapter and verse that American Christians must ignore to support our bloated lifestyles, our selfishness, our materialism, our love of power, our neglect of the poor, our support of injustice, our nationalism, and our pride.

See how frantically he works? Time is short, and he has much to burn. The prophets, the Shema, whole sections of Matthew, most of Luke, the entire book of James. Your blessed ten commandments? Why would you want to post them on courtroom walls when you’ve burned them in your own cellar?

Do you see? DO YOU SEE? Do you see how we rip, tear, and burn scriptures to justify our lives?

The heat from the cursed furnace rises up and warms the complacent worshipers in the pews above. The soot from the fire blackens our stained glass so that we may not see out and no one wants to see in.

Do you smell the reek of this injustice? It is a stink in the nostrils of the very living God. We are dressed in beautiful clothes and we wear pretty smiles, but we stink of blasphemous hypocrisy.

Every church in America – mine not excepted – has a cellar like this. We must shovel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, because every chapter and verse we ignore must be burned to warm our comfy pews.

Our souls are stained from the biblical holocaust, but somehow these two scraps of scripture mean all the world to you. You swallow whole camels, and now you’re gagging on a gnat? When did you ever give a shit about what the bible has to say?

Sit down, Christian. Sit down and be you silent.

How long has it been since you forgot that we were called to walk the earth as pilgrims? Do you not remember when he told us to give our coats to those in need and sell our possessions to help the poor? Did you forget how the first church had all things in common so that none would lack?

Did you forget the day he told us that whatever we did for the oppressed we did for him, and whatever we withheld from them was kept from him as well?

Sit down, Christian. You have not earned the right to speak to this generation. The right to speak is earned with love.

Take back your Bible. Take it back and start reading it. Fall in love again with Jesus. Sell what you must and walk the earth. Let your love be astonishing and people may one day listen to your words.

Even now you might be saved. Our God is merciful and forgiveness awaits.

The Preacher

RLP.com pgs. 107-109


How an Underwear Malfunction Helped me Understand Christian Fundamentalists

Originally found on: Lay Scientist via Stumble…

Walking along Cambridge’s famous Mill Road after work yesterday, something happened that caused me to have a revelation over religious righteousness, and begin to truly understand the mind of the fundamentalist. Let me share my parable with you.

I don’t know how it happened. Maybe I had been careless after my last trip to the loo; maybe it was, as Jeremy Paxman recently observed, the lack of support in modern underwear; or maybe I had been a little too enthusiastic bounding off the bus at the Drummer Street bus station. Whatever it was, I rapidly realized that something was not in its proper place. One of my secondary sexual organs had slipped from its safety harness and was now uncomfortably trapped in the middle of a sawing motion between denim and cotton, the skin rubbing raw in its lethal fabric embrace.

This was unbelievably painful, something like I’d imagine giving birth to be, except that unlike a woman in labour I couldn’t scream, or ask for an epidural. I desperately wanted to slip a hand down there, rummage around and free my tortured testicle, but I was in the middle of a crowded street, and had nearly a mile to walk until I would be in the privacy required to achieve release without ending up on Cambridgeshire’s Register of Sex Offenders. And so I was forced to walk on, in agony, looking like John Wayne with a broken ankle.

My first thought was one of anger at society. Why shouldn’t I be able to just reach down, do what I need to do, and walk on? No, instead, I had to suffer for another fifteen minutes, fearing every step that I would feel a small, bloody mass slide down my right trouser leg. I had to conform to society’s expectations of good behaviour – “don’t touch your genitals in public” as my Nan always used to say – but this was completely irrational, why should I have to suffer just to do what someone else has arbitrarily decided is the “Right Thing”? Why would it be so bad to ease the pain? Who would it offend?

I began to think about my plight. What if I saw another man coming towards me, releasing his own trapped testicle? How would I feel? I’d be furious. My venom towards him would know no bounds. I would howl in protest, demand that society exact appropriate retribution on him. In short, I would be a total hypocrite.

And then it hit me. This might be exactly how religious zealots think.

I wouldn’t be pissed off because he was breaking the rules, I would be pissed off because he was breaking the rules and I wasn’t, and there are only a few ways to rationalize that, if you think about it: either (a) I’m stupid or cowardly for following rules that are wrong; or (b) the rules are right, and he is an ignorant pervert deviant who should be punished by society.

Following on from that, I have three choices:
1) Accept that we’re different, life isn’t fair and I’ve chosen to live in pain for some intangible sense of righteousness.
2) Accept I’ve been stupid, thank him, and switch sides.
3) Decide that he is a Bad Man and be angry.

We’d all like to pretend we’d go with 1 or 2, but that’s just not true. In reality, loads of us would go with 3, but there’s a hidden trap – this behaviour is self-reinforcing. The longer I continue to get angry, the more I’m investing in these rules, and the harder it will be to ever accept that I was wrong. Worse, if I’m going to make sacrifices by following these rules, then I want to see a pay-off – I want to see that I’m winning out in life over people who don’t follow them. I want these people to be punished so that I know that my suffering will be for a reason.

Fast forward 30 years, and I’ll be putting up posters, running RummageWatch.com, and holding angry meetings in City Hall. I may even be reading the Daily Mail. It’s a slippery slope of irrationality.

And so I think that’s why some of these fundamentalists are so angry. That’s why they’re so upset with anyone else breaking their irrational rules on homosexuality and internet porn, even though logically it has precisely zero effect on them. Every atheist out there is flying in the face of their system, and it kills them that they make sacrifices to follow their rules, while there are no apparent consequences in the lives of those who break them.

Or maybe I’m just projecting.

Anyway, thank you for reading. I hope my parable in some small way helps bring atheists and Christians together…


Diagnosis…

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I’ve spent the last few nights reading from an old book by Paul Monette called Borrowed Time. This is one of the first books I read after I was diagnosed because I thought it had wisdom that I needed to know about going into the rest of my life.

In this latest reading, I was struck by the insanity of it all and the crazy manic attitude Paul had towards his partner who had been diagnosed, gotten sick and eventually died. Surrounding them was a circle of men who were sick, in the time when AIDS was a death sentence and that words were not spoken, taboos were kept and superstitions obeyed. I have to tell you that it was really painful to read this text once again, living in the time that I live today, having survived.

I know that my generation came years after the first waves of AIDS in the early eighties. I was a 90’s kind of boy. Although we had our problems, they were not as bad as the former age. I don’t know if I am feeling a bit of survivors remorse or that I understand the past in certain terms. By the time I came along, AZT was the first drug of choice. Living under the careful watch of my keepers and always having that timer in my pocket that went off every few hours reminding me to take my AZT. What a horrible drug that was. But everyone I knew was on it when I got it. We all carried our little timers in our pockets, slipping pills out now and then as required.

I can remember thinking over the past few nights, that I don’t remember being that manic. I guess that Todd kept me on a very short leash and I did not have the time or the opportunity to get manic. Although I remember many of my friends had KS and were really sick. I was sober during this time of my life and I remember how demoralizing it was for some of my friends not being able to go out in public without their diapers or being fully covered up from head to toe because they had so many lesions on their bodies and it was a terrible sight for those who would see us. My memory of that time is limited to the community that I belonged to. So many men were sick, so many of my friends did die. The Quilt is my connection to those men, I have shown you all pictures of that quilt over the last few months.

Is it guilt that I feel that I survived and so many did not?

It is remarked that I should start with a little gratitude. And I do have an incredible amount of gratitude because When I came into my illness there were people there who gave me medical assistance. In those days you either had PCP or you had KS. In the beginning it was PCP that took me down after a long bought with hepatitis. I believe that it was within my experience of hepatitis that my body sero-converted. I was so terribly sick for a long period of time. I was given the “List” of warning signs that, if you started having these issues going on that you might have HIV.This is the list of issues that I was watching like a hawk:

Most people who contract HIV remain symptom-free for the first few years. A few suffer a brief period (3 to 14 days) of fever, joint pain, rash, and swollen lymph nodes—the small bean-shaped organs in your neck, jaw, armpits, and groin—within a month of being infected. Later, as the immune system grows weaker, a common group of warning signs may appear, including fevers, night sweats, tiredness, weight loss, coughing, and diarrhea…

I remember over a six month period of time ticking one symptom after another. That would have been between January and July of 1994, the month and year that I was diagnosed. I knew at some point that I was sick, and as the list began to grow, the more I feared knowing the truth. I guess by the time that July of 1994 rolled around, I was ready to go get tested. I had enough knowledge about me that if I was sick that there would be infrastructure set out to help me – like they had helped others. No one thought that they were invincible. Men and boys were dropping like flies. Denial was not something that many of us entertained. Although I did watch some of my friends suffer, those who did not want to say the words to themselves or to their partners and lovers. All of those men died. By some fluke of God, I survived.

**********

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

AIDS is the deadly disease caused by HIV—an insidious virus that attacks the immune system, weakening the body’s ability to fight off germs and hold back cancer. HIV (short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can lurk unnoticed in the body for years, slowly wearing down the immune system until a series of rare and exotic illnesses finally gives its presence away. HIV works by infecting and destroying the white blood cells that serve as the body’s first line of defense against germs. Called T cells (or Helper cells), they mark invading germs for attack and call other immune cells in for the kill. In a healthy person, the T-cell count is normally more than 1,000. A few months after HIV takes hold, it drops to 800 or less. A long, gentle decline follows for a period of years. Finally, with a sudden drop to 200 or less, the full ravages of AIDS begin. In the early stages of infection, the only way to be certain you have HIV (or don’t!) is to take a test. If evidence of the virus is found, you’re said to be “HIV-positive.” The doctor can then prescribe drugs to fight the virus and delay the development of AIDS.

**********

These were the terms of reference back then as they are now. This is the real deal. I have told you the stories about the day I was diagnosed, what the doctors told me at that point. I have shared with you the hysteria that I felt knowing that I had more or less 18 months to get my life in order and that I was going to die. Because that’s the way AIDS was even in the nineties.

After reading Borrowed Time once again, I can see the disconnect that I had between the generation before us and them. We had come into a time when AIDS medications were starting to make their mark on the scientific front. By the time I hit Miami a year after I was diagnosed, there were enough drugs on the market that we started radical and heavy drug treatment. I had found a doctor who was going to save me and he would die trying to save every patient that walked through his office doors.

We were testing drugs in any way possible. Things were happening very quickly and time was of the essence. There was no time to waste. During those first few years we did not have genotype and phenotype, that came much later, but it did come. These are the tests that are done to figure out how one will either react or not react to available medications on the market. Unlike the men of the past, who did not even have these kids of assistance available to them, we eventually did.

What could we do? There was no choice but to take what doctors had at their disposal, and hope for the best, which is how we began. I remember that the drugs were hard, and that I was very sick all the time. Those first few years of AIDS were terrible. But my doctor warned me of everything that I could possibly experience, and I was encouraged highly to push through the side effects and to help myself by staying as far ahead of the wave as I could stand.

PUSH THROUGH…

If there was any hope of survival, you took the pills that were given to you and you “Pushed Through” whatever side effects came at you. Because if you can push through and get to the other side, then the life of that drug in your system would hopefully make a difference. Dr. Juan knew that he was going to save some lives, he believed that if we took a multi-pronged approach to treatment that he could save lives. Aside from the medications that we would take over the years, they would add Vitamin C drips, Immunoglobulin and B12 drips. During those years of trial and error, there were no half measures. You either went whole hog, or you did not go at all. If you wanted to live, you submitted to whatever treatment plan your doctor had available. I chose to Push Through.

I would take my pills every day like clockwork. But I also remember how hard it was in the beginning. Thank God I had a group of friends who were always there for me to help me, to drive me to appointments, to come and clean my house, to cook for me and to make sure that I was not alone during the low points.

I think that I survived because the medical team that took care of me stopped at nothing to make sure that all of us in this treatment circle had all the latest medical information, drugs and treatment options available to us. Unlike not having any answers to the what and the why, and the not knowing, we at least, had options to consider.

Moving from Ft. Lauderdale and the insanity of death to Miami, was the best decision that I could have made for myself. Because in Miami I fell into this treatment circle through the Mercy Hospital Immunodeficiency clinic. There was comprehensive assistance across the board. This is something that earlier generations did not have. We at least, by then, knew what we were dealing with. There were names for opportunistic infections, we learned what they were, how they were caused, and what treatments were used to counteract them and in the end even prevent them from occurring.

There was an ordered and methodical approach to treatment. In Paul’s day, one was grasping at straws trying to figure out what was going on, nobody knew then, what we knew so few years later. All the medical information collected in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia was put to good use. We studied every case history. We sorted through pages and pages of medical information. We studied every drug that was on the market and if those drugs showed promise then we would get them.

I don’t know, maybe I have taken for granted the fact that I did not live through that harried existence of “not knowing” although we had our own “not knowing” too. Drugs were being rolled off the production lines and as they became available, we took them, lock, stock and barrel. There was nobody before us testing them amongst themselves. WE, were the test patients and if it happened that those drugs failed, we were going to die.

It was good for me to be where I was because I did not watch men die right and left as I had witnessed while I was living in Ft. Lauderdale. There was a difference in our treatment circle. Because we were going to live, we were going to defy the odds, we would not be the ones dying any more. Ft. Lauderdale was a scene of terrible sickness and death, terrible suffering and pain. I am really grateful that I did live through that. Because I must tell you that having lived through the depth of suffering and pain that I had, only made my desire to live stronger. I had good teachers. I had good men and women who helped me live.

The doctors today tell me that my virus is unique. That it [the viral strain] is one of the most resistant strains of HIV to conventional medication, yet the meds that I am taking do work, I am still alive. Like my former counterparts, when they said that you either get PCP or KS, when my friends all had the KS strain, I was the one to suffer PCP pneumonia. I had it more than once. And each time I almost died.

There was so much uncertainty to AIDS in the eighties that I cannot imagine how I would have survived had I been one of the first few generations of people with AIDS. I just don’t know how I would have survived such insanity and sickness. I can tell you that I did have my share of sickness. It is all like a blur to me now, those first few years, I fought for many years just to survive. There was not a whole lot of time to ponder the thought of death. I was always busy, my mind was kept occupied engaged in “Survival Mode.”

The problem we had at that time was the government. When I was first diagnosed I had applied for government disability assistance, and even back then it was often impossible to convince the government to help you, when all the government wanted was for you to die, to ease up on excess sick population. It took me three attempts to get disability assistance. I cannot imagine what the process is like today, AIDS was a totally different beast than it is today.

Imagine for a moment that You have just found out you are sick and that you are going to die and that there are not many drug options for you at this point, and you have to figure out how you are going to pay for the medications that you need and how are you going to pay your rent when your employers were firing people left and right and landlords were throwing sick people onto the streets. The government is sitting there denying claims left and right because if they decide that you were going to get disability, that you better be on deaths doorstep to get it. Many of my friends died waiting for assistance. For many years the governement gave people the “fuck you heave ho!”

I had to practically commit suicide for the government to finally agree to grant me disability. I had to make sure that I was terribly sick to death, I had PCP, I had to stop taking my medication and not bathe for a week, stop eating and waste away to something that I cannot imagine that I did in the end. But I did it, I remember walking into the disability office hacking and coughing on some woman’s desk practically wreaking of AIDS before she would sign my form and push through my application. It was really sick the lengths one had to go through to get formal government assistance.

RATHER YOU DIE, THEN US INSURING SOMEONE WHO WOULD EVENTUALLY DIE AND RID THE WORLD OF EXCESS POPULATION.

How very Ebenezer Scrooge…

Have I moved from the boy I was to the man I am? Has that much time passed that I have forgotten what it was truly like, what happened and what it is like now. I think it has. More than a decade has passed and times have changed. We are not dying like they were, we are not suffering like they were. There are many more treatment options on the table than there were just a mere ten years ago. Death is not as imminent as it was just a few short years ago.

The thought of death became less and less, the more years/distance one puts between you and it. Life has certainly changed in the last eight years. I have changed over the last eight years. The face of AIDS has changed over the last ten years. I don’t really think about dying – like those men who were suffering in the beginning of the scourge of AIDS did.

The longer I live, the less I stress over dying. I stay out of my head, I don’t entertain the manic waiting to die mentality. I’ve grown into the man I am because of what I lived through and am able to tell the tale. I just found reading Borrowed Time this time to be so distant from how I live my life today. I found myself getting ancy reading the pages, I also found that life back then was so different than it is today. We still don’t know things. We still test medication, but we are living longer more productive lives. if you told me then that I would end up being here today, I would have laughed you off the boat.

There is so much wealth in lived experience. I have survived hell. And I lived to tell the tale. All of the history you need to read is here in the PAGES. I have left you every piece of information that is in my head, that I can remember. This is just another one of those story posts that can be added to the collection of historical stories that have collected on my blog.

I am grateful for life, for air and for all good things.


Came to Believe…

It is really hard to try and explain to some readers that unless you have walked a day or a week or a month and quite possibly a year in my shoes, NO ONE has the right to judge me or leave nasty comments on this blog, thinking that I would even entertain posting those comments here.

The other night I wrote on the seven deadly sins, as I did a nightly inventory of my sobriety and I prayed for some wisdom in posting that post and I even PAGED it as well so that it can be readily accessed from the front page.

Illness forces one who is ill to grow up, faster than usual. It asks of us to persevere through the illness and to hope and pray that one will live through adversity and come victoriously to the other side. 162 of my friends went into that dark night with me. They are all dead, I am still alive. I must be doing something right.

People who think they know God, come here and tell me about their God and they share with me their warped views of Christianity. They leave nasty comments with vile judgments and accusations. How could I possibly know God, be a Christian and be Gay? My God does not care that I am gay and he doesn’t care that you are straight. My God tells me that I must walk this path, and I must pray and I must respect the station of God, and I do that. I am sure that every Christian who reads this blog has a different conception of God, and you may not agree with me and that’s ok. What a bore it would be if we all agreed on every note of Christianity.

When I got sick, and doctors told me that I had, at best, 18 months to live, that I better make good use of that time, I took that diagnosis home with me and I was alone. Because I would be Coming Out again, and AIDS was the great leveler. It surely separated the boys from the men, and the girls from the women. I tell this story again because it is who I am – what I am – and where I came from.

I had to come to believe that I was going to live, when all of my friends were dying. Against all odds, a group of men rallied round me and forced me to think, they begged me to believe in them, if I could not believe in myself or in God at that present moment. I cried for days. I worked my ass off and I listened to every word that was spoken to me in that first 18 months. I listened to the men who made sense of living. I listened to men encourage me through the toughest time of my life. Were THEY wrong???

The path lies ahead of you. What you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you. I had a choice, I could stay on the path and follow the leader, or I could go it alone. I chose to follow the leader. When Christianity turned its back on the sick and the dying, WE were still there. When the Christians were condemning us, and labeling us, WE were still there, we walked through that hell. I accuse many for what they did to me and my friends. I accuse you for turning your back on so many, families, friends, lovers, churches, congregations, funeral parlors, office workers, hospital workers and doctors and nurses.

You have not a shred of experience on what we lived through. You have not a leg to stand on when you speak your vile accusations and judgments. God as my witness, You have no idea who I am, you did not see with thine own eyes the horror I witnessed. You did not weep at the bodies laid wasted by those who abandoned them. I reckon, you did not shed one guilty tear of remorse for your actions.

And God Wept…

I counted the days, one by one, on paper, in my house, in my heart and in my mind. I sewed my own memorial quilt with the others and when they died I wept for my friends and those who loved them to the end. I worked night and day to care for the sick and the dying. I worked night and day to keep myself alive. And I was sober as well. I experienced rehab and I read my Big Book, I worked my steps and I let go of my resentments and my ego. Because let me tell you, there is no EGO when it comes to mortality. You beg God for one more day, one more week, one more month. You tell me if you’ve ever knelt before God, knowing that your life is in his hands, and you don’t let go of your EGO pretty damned fast.

God does not deal is egos and attitudes, although you wouldn’t know that by the actions of some Christians I run across on this blog. You’d think that God stepped out of his heaven to tell some Christians that it is their duty and responsibility to speak for the almighty!

I beg to differ…

I do not know of any Christian, priest, minister, pastor or the like who has ever heard from the Almighty and has access to the 1-800 number to the heavenly host. Not one day goes by as of late that I don’t think about my mortality. Because we are quickly approaching my diagnosis anniversary. It has been 14 years and counting, and I am still here, 162 of my friends are DEAD!!!

The longer I lived the more I believed that I would make it – the more I walked the path, I learned about me, about others, I learned what true compassion was, because I watched people like you, HUMAN BEINGS become ANIMALS, un-compassionate and uncaring. I witnessed the worst that humanity threw at us, don’t think for one moment that I have forgotten after so many years. I have not…

I know very few noble men and women in my life. I know that the men and women who worked tirelessly to help me and others stay alive, did that because they had to. The believed in us when nobody else did. They hoped that we would survive the medications, the drugs, and or the lack there of. Those men and women stood at the gates of death and protected us to the best of their ability to see that no one would go alone and those who lived would not forget the kindness shown to them in their darkest hours.

YOU who think you know God. YOU who think God has anything to say about me. YOU who think that you can prance around your little churches proclaiming “Jesus Saves” on Holy Sunday and at prayer meetings and revivals, out of one side of your mouth, and from the other you spout such vitriol and hatred!!! How could you possibly be in communion with the same God who created heaven and earth and all that you see before you!

May God have mercy on your souls.

In 40 years of life, I know who I am today. I survived. I lived. I persevered. I broke all the records and markers that my doctors gave me. I survived a family that turned their backs on me. I survived loosing my friends, my fellows, my boyfriend at the time. I survived finding my lovers corpse 5 days after he killed himself, rather than telling me that he was sick. I survived the curse that his mother said to me as I signed his body out of the coroners office to send his rotted corpse home to his family when she spoke those words:

“I Hope that every night when you close your eyes, that you see my dead sons body before you until the day that you die…”

Not a night goes by that I don’t pray for his soul and for mine. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded that this body is but a shell that I happen to inhabit for this lifetime. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded that I could die at any moment because my constitution is not that of a 26 year old boy any more. Not a day goes by that I don’t start my day with prayer and pray during the day and before I go to sleep at night that i don’t thank God for that day and pray that there is air in my lungs when I get up the next morning. It seems that God listens to my prayers, because there is still air in my lungs tonight.

You must concede that I know of what I speak of. You must concede that somewhere in God’s heaven are millions of souls who have gone before me, who speak to God on my behalf. You must concede that Sister Georgette, my sainted Grey Nun aunt, isn’t up there speaking to Mere D’Youville on my behalf. You must concede that after all these years, that I know how to pray. You must concede that probably I have prayed prayers for myself and my friends that YOU have never thought about praying for yourself or your families.

Death and Dying is not just a spectator sport for those who live and die with illness. You look at a child who is sick, and you feel pity for them, yet you spurn the lot of us who are sick and dying. There was no pity on your face, only recriminations and condemnation. Until you face your appointed hour could you ever utter one single word against me, my friends or our family.

We learn a great deal about life in the pursuit of death. We learn a great deal about prayer when the chips are down and we have to utter those “Hail Mary” prayers. I don’t think that YOU could shine a light on my prayer life with the certainty that you think you have. I don’t believe that YOU could even imagine what it is that I pray for on a nightly basis. I don’t believe that YOU could ever know the relationship that I have with God, because of the way you treat others. Humans are imperfect beings.

Religious men and women across the board for centuries have prayed to God, studied the finer points of God and they speak about theologies and religions, and nobody has the definitive word on God, what He thinks and what He believes of anyone on earth. Scripture, Talmud, the Qu’ran, the Bible, the Upanishads and the Vedas all speak of spiritual nature and spiritual truth. Words written by man, inspired by God are open to interpretation by the best scholars and religious leaders. Centuries of collected works are borne into a system of belief for the masses because YOU need to believe in something, and far be it from me to tell you what to believe, and As God as my witness, YOU have no right to tell me what to believe, how to live my life, or who I can love.

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.”

On top of 40 years of lived experience on this earth, and 14 years balancing the fine art of the living and the dead, I have spiritual truth on my side. I have years of sober time under my belt. I have worked to become selfless and ego-less. We have a reading called the Promises in AA that we believe will come to pass if one works the program of recovery to the best of their ability.

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.They will always materialize if we work for them.”

Every week at my home group meeting we read this passage from the Big Book. And I can tell you that I have come to believe because I have watched God walk into our meeting and rest and I have seen his grace fall on the souls of those who come to that meeting week in and week out. I have seen God move in ways that probably YOU will never see in your lifetime. I have been blessed and my friends have been blessed by God because we come together to learn, to change, to work and to share our message with those who might need to hear it.

Over the last five years I have worked on my religious truth. I have studied God INTIMATELY. I know who God is and I know who God is not. I have prayed simple prayers in some of the most beautiful churches on the earth. I have walked the staircase to the roof the Pinnacle of the Holy Catholic Church. I have stood in awe of the expanse of Rome and I have looked down into Papal Gardens where I am sure, centuries of Popes have communed with God in their time.

I have spoken to Pontiffs, I have worshiped in the greatest Church that exists on the planet. I have communed with the bones of saints and prophets. I have stood in the place of honor where the disciple Peter’s bones rest beneath the cuppola of the Vatican. I have walked the hallowed halls of the catacombs beneath the Vatican and I have seen the early Christian catacombs on Rome where the first Christians worshiped God.

There is not one egotistical bone in my body. I have worked tirelessly for years to share a message of hope and love with my readers. I have worked with the sick and the dying. I have spent a lifetime learning how to die. I have spent a lifetime studying the path to righteousness. I don’t care one bit for righteousness, I DO care about Holiness. I care that I live a holy and blessed life. I care that those I listen to live holy and blessed lives. I care that the religious authority that I follow RESPECTS me for WHO I am and are not bothered by WHAT I may be.

The world is so caught up in labels. What good have labels done to people in the past? The Nazi’s believed that labeling people and putting them in extermination camps was useful. To route the world of Jews, Gypsies, Christians, (oh yes they exterminated Christians too), homosexuals, the Polish and the sick and dying. MILLIONS of people WERE MURDERED because they were labeled as useless and dirty.

I once believed, as a young person that I wanted to carry a label, but 40 years of experience has taught me that once you label someone, they are as good as dead. Once you label someone, they loose something of themselves. The uniqueness of the soul is tarnished by those who would see them labeled. In centuries of time gone by, we have seen what labels do to human beings. Because if YOU can label us, then You believe that you can separate us from the whole, and section us off from the normal human population. You do not own that power any longer.

My Husband, my friends, and my fellows love me for the man I am today. One who gives freely of his soul every day that I live. One who writes with such passion and strength. One who lives with determination that I can safely say that probably YOU will never see in your lifetime. Because faced with imminent death, I am sure you would not rise to the level of enlightenment that I have seen in my lifetime.

Ah, you might get sick, get cancer, or some other disease, you will say a prayer here or there, and maybe you just might see the face of God before he takes you, but you will still be as judgmental and vile as you are today. Nothing will change.

Because a sick heterosexual is far better in Gods eyes than a sick homosexual.

Because you believe that God will hear and harken your prayer before he does mine. Well, I wonder about that. What do you think? YOU who sputter unchristian words now need God’s grace, because like me, now you are sick and you need God to heal you and make you better. Do you think that you are going to walk a different path than I have? Do you think that your illness might be better than mine? Do you believe that a heterosexual should be pushed up the line of healing before God, before someone like me?

You have no idea what it feels like to face your own death, several times over in my case. And lived to tell the tale. And you think that I am prideful or have one ounce of hubris in my soul? You think that I am arrogant and that I come from a place of ego rather than a place of selflessness???

I have come to believe…

One day YOU will stand before God, and on that day YOU will reckon for all that you have done on this earth, and for me it is this last thought that keeps me going in my pursuit of Christian faith, that at the end of my life when I stand before God I will hear him say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Will God say the same words to you???


The Seven Deadly Sins…

A reading from the Gospel of Mark: 10:17-27
The Rich Young Man

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

*********************

What is it that man can judge another man? There is a lot to be said about Pride. For Pride cometh before the fall. I am very careful in writing here because I know that every word that is written here is scrutinized by a chosen few men and women who seem to think that it is their job to judge me.

I’ve never been one to sit on pride. I’ve never been one to be prideful to the extent that I have committed a sin or sinned against anyone that I know. A person in recovery knows that pride is one of those sins that can take someone down faster than most. So let us review the seven deadly sins and let us explore together how we avoid them and why we talk about them today.

Proverbs 6:16-21

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

The Seven Deadly Sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride.

*****************

It was brought to my attention today by a commenter that I was Prideful and that I should read my own posts to see that truth. I beg to differ. I take pride in the fact that I hold a B.A. in Religious Studies and a second Certificate in Pastoral Ministry. And if I am not reminded daily that I am a sinner and that I have fallen short of the Glory of God, that would be a sin.

I have no need to be

(1) Lustful because I own the love I have for another and he for me. So I think I have cleared lust off my list of sins. I am not a

(2) Glutton, in fact I believe that I am just the opposite. I’ve never been a big fan of

(3) Greed
because what does greed get you but pain? It does not get you further in the game nor does it bode well to be a greedy human being.

(4)
Sloth,
I have not been in the pit of misery for many years. This sin has been called the sin of sadness and despair. It had been in the early years of Christianity characterized by what modern writers would now describe as melancholy: apathy, depression, and joylessness — the last being viewed as being a refusal to enjoy the goodness of God and the world he created.

I do enjoy every day that God gives me because lets face it living with AIDS you never know when your card is going to pop up on the dashboard of God’s choosing.


(5) Wrath
, Wrath (or anger)
may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self -denial, impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in vigilantism and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others.

Well I think I have my own truth. And I know God’s truth. And I do work every day to live in that truth. My truth may not be your truth and what a bore it would be if I owned your truth. I don’t believe that my brand of Christianity is any better than the next and I do preach my truth with precision and here I am covering all the bases just to make sure that no one can say I have spoken wrongly.Envy, for sure, I don’t envy anyone in my social circle. Like greed,

(6)
Envy
is characterized by an insatiable desire; they differ, however, for two main reasons. First, greed is largely associated with material goods, whereas envy may apply more generally. Second, those who commit the sin of envy desire something that someone else has which they perceive themselves as lacking.

I really don’t desire anything that anyone I know owns or has. And i don’t think I am lacking in any of the creature comforts of house and home, my spiritual life is in tact and is very well thank you. So let us talk about the last deadly sin, PRIDE.

(7) Pride In almost every list Pride ( or hubris or vanity) is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others though they may be deserving of them, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God).

Dante’s definition was “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbor.” Pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. Vanity and narcissism are prime examples of this sin. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.

Hubris, that was the word that my commenter used this morning… If you think that I am as vain as some seem to think, I believe you are sadly mistaken. I do not and never have desired to be better than anyone else, I don’t believe that I set myself above anyone, lest I really sin against God.

I wish that some people who come to read this blog were stricken with a terrible disease that is fatal and that they try to live within that space for a period of time to see just what it feels like. As a person living with AIDS I can tell you that vanity and hubris went out the window years ago.

A fatal disease removes all these sins from you in ways that you the normal well reader could never imagine. I don’t know what you believe if you think that disease has not taken its toll on my physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and I find it incredible that someone would have the desire to point out that I have sinned in the way I live my life, what I do with this life and what I chose to print on this blog. Because I am damn well sure that You do not know me and I have no earthly desire to know you or believe like you.

I will say this again… I don’t have to prove myself or justify myself to anyone and you don’t have to agree with me or my spiritual practice. You may not agree with my brand of Christian belief, and that is your problem, not mine.

They say in recovery that IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANYONE THEN YOU NEED TO LOOK INTO YOUR OWN SELF AND FIND THAT WHICH IS THE PROBLEM WITHIN YOURSELF. Then you must change that which is within yourself.

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.


Group Conscience …

“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as he may express himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern.”

Sorry, I haven’t been posting daily, as of late, I just haven’t had anything expressive to say. I was waiting to see what kind of response I would get from recent posting. Thank you for all your comments.

It is Saturday the 3rd of May. Today we had a historical group conscience meeting of my home group. Which is something that is recommended to do every year. it has been over seven for our group. There were six people for today’s group meeting. Our number of members has fallen over the last few months.

With a moderators assistance we set out our agenda – as per those things we wanted to discuss, each of us were given a sheet of paper to jot down the things each of us had on our minds. A lot of the members did a lot of writing. I on the other hand had very little to write down. So the meeting began.

I found that I was judgmental, and that I had a lot of conflict with a certain member of the group in particular. My good friend Ms. Nikki, has been in a bad spot for a long time, and when it came time to start voting on certain issues, I found her to be self centered and self serving. And the issue became for me, are you here to serve yourself or are you here to serve the group?

Ms. Nikki only comes to the meeting because it breaks up the monotony of her life. And of late, she has been increasingly ill tempered and bitter. She has more than once and including today, spoken about the fact that she will be leaving the group. She does not work a program of recovery, yet she is quick to offer her opinion about other people where it comes down to sobriety and sober issues, yet she does nothing to work her own program. She does not mix well with others, and she makes no bones about it. It was difficult for me to accept that she has a vote and a voice, even if she is combatant and bitter.

It is one thing to come to the meeting and make coffee each week, it is totally another issue to get involved with the sobriety of others and to actually put yourself out there and be accountable. It is a known fact that she has issues with anonymity and the fact that she lives her life in fear of meeting another “member” on a bus or in a public place. She came into the meeting this morning saying that if she knew who the moderator was that she would just up and leave the meeting right then and there, which was not the thing to say to me at the outset of this meeting. She is so fucking worried about who knows shes in the program that is clouds her own vision to a terrible degree.

She continues to participate in our group, yet she does not apply herself to her sobriety, where the rest of us bust our asses day in and day out to stay sober. I put a motion up on the table for a 30 day chip to be given to newbies if they wanted one, and she voted against it, that burned my ass because what does she care whether of not we give a 30 day chip when she does not give a damn about anyone else who comes to our meeting. She told me that she wasn’t going to maintain her membership at the meeting, so why should she have a vote as to what we decide as a group?

The motion did not pass… fuck me…

We covered all the other issues that were brought up, we made a few clarifications as to group members and time requirements for service and chairing of meetings. Every one participated in lively discussion, and I, more than once, needed to take someone else’s inventory, which is my own personal issue. I don’t mind going to a business meeting every month and being the group treasurer, but some members refuse to come to business meetings because it does not serve them to show up, yet they assume that they have a voice when it comes to decisions and actions.

Are you serving the meeting at large or are you serving yourself?

Ms. Nikki wants to push back the start times of the meetings to serve her better, and she wants to close the speaker meeting because it does not serve her to stay for the second meeting. She does not want to spend money for intergroup or general service, she wants to give all the money away locally, she does not see the importance of the global picture at large. Her life schedule does not jive with the times of the meetings any more because she wants a reason to leave the meeting and she has been making excuses to leave the meeting for more than six months.

You know what it is like when you watch someone fight the tide at every turn just looking for an excuse to give up and say fuck it… And recently I’ve become bored with listening to the sob stories and the bitching and moaning about time and the fact that she has no life and that she finds the meetings meaningless, and she never EVER says a word during any discussion meeting. She would rather die than to open herself up to recovery, and that pains me because I know she is hurting and however hard I try to minister to her needs, the message is just not making it through her thick skull.

One of our other female members tries to talk to her and she gets the same song and dance from her. I watched Louise throw her hands up even before the meeting started listening to Ms. Nikki make excuses as to why she would not be participating in the group further. What can you do?

How can one get sober and stay sober and become happy, joyous, and free, if you are always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop on you? I’ll give you my opinion and cast my vote in your group, but I will not apply myself to the program or to sobriety. Why the fuck Bother???

And I know that I am partially to blame for this happening because I allow it to happen around me. I sit and listen to her piss and moan week after week, and try as I might to affect change – it is like trying to force the horse to drink at the well, after leading the horse there. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

So I am at SOBER odds with my best friend when it comes to my Home Group.

I work on my sobriety. I work my steps, and i work with others, I sponsor newbies and I actively participate in the daily runnings on of my home group. I have participated in my sobriety for the last seven years, and I share at meetings and I speak when asked to speak. Whereas some people come to meetings, they mark time, they show up and warm a chair, but they do nothing, they want nothing, they expect nothing and they contribute nothing. And it comes to pass that we sat in this meeting today and listened to Ms. Nikki talk about sobriety like she knew what she was talking about with some authority. She spoke about working with new comers and pledging to do more, when over the last seven years, she wouldn’t be caught dead speaking to another alcoholic in a public setting. God forbid someone see her in the capacity as a member in public.

She would rather walk away, than identify herself as an alcoholic. She has her good points, she is always the first person to step up and be counted where it came to caring for other people. She has, more than once, over the last seven years helped hubby and I when necessary and she would not think twice about stepping up and being accountable if called upon. But we are a special case, she is my best friend. And I stared questioning my friendship when it came to the group conscience today.

There are some things that I, (we) as a group overlook in everyday life. We make allowances for bad days and bad months and bad attitudes. I put up with this bullshit, because I know that if she was to leave the group, that she would have no one else to fixate on, or to talk to, and is that healthy?

When it came to voting on motions at the group conscience, I could not overlook my own issues with people when it came to the conscious application of sober principles and traditions. I did not come to terms with those issues and I spoke to the members of the group, because they watched me get upset and twist in my chair through the entire meeting and they all said the same thing to me.

“You can’t help or save everyone.”


What is Wisdom???

This was the question our fearless professor asked us in class today.

Dictionary.com defines wisdom as: the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

He also asked what is intelligence and does that differ from wisdom?

What is wisdom to me? Wisdom is something that comes with time, investment in life and knowledge collected over a lifetime. Wisdom is the practical application or pragmatic application of truth and goodness. For something to be wise, it has to follow that it is true. And that it comes from a place of goodness, and that wisdom can be applied to everyday life.

Intelligence, is over rated. The collection of information from study, life and experience, but all that knowledge is useless, if it goes no where. You can be smart and you can be intelligent, but you don’t necessarily become wise because of a degree or age. Intelligence is not the same as wisdom.

Who is wise? and Why? Who do you think is wise? and why?

I was asked if I felt that I was wise, on paper I indicated that I might be because I have 40 years of life experience and a few years of HIV under my belt. What I offer my readers is a lot of wisdom. Years of tried and true practice of action, faith and experience. Ask any sick person, young or old, and you will find that they are wise beyond their years. For those of us who faced the barrel of a gun and certain death and lived to tell the story, are wise.

I believe that men and women who survived atrocities are wise people. People like Elie Wiesel and every other man – woman and child who survived the Holocaust. I don’t know very many really wise men, as in Wise Men, but I believe that every one of us who shares their experience, strength and hope with one another is wise. Alcoholics come a dime a dozen, I know very few wise and sober men and women, I can count them on one hand.

Someone who has survived a life and is willing to give freely of that life is wise. Someone who is content to being who they are, living outside the ego, those who really know who they are and can help us move forward in our own lives is wise. This discussion will continue over the next few weeks as class moves forward.

In other Blog News:

I was very angry to learn that a fellow Blogger has taken down his Blog because of assholes who had to go and muddy the water on a young vibrant and loving father of two young boys. Copper was one of the most important young wise men I knew because of who he is and what he brought to my readers and the Blog Sphere as a whole. I am saddened that he has gone from us and I condemn all those who had to go and fuck it up for the rest of us.

This from Joe My God:

In Tuesday’s post about gay parenting, many of you weighed in on this growing phenomenon and what it means in the larger picture of our rapidly changing gay culture. Overwhelmingly, you expressed support for gay parents, with small minority expressing strong distaste for gay people who desire to have children. A few commenters directed readers to a blog called Cooper’s Corridor (a site unknown to me) for insight into the life of good gay dad.

Late in the day, Cooper’s Corridor disappeared.

With his permission, here is Cooper’s explanation:

I have deleted my blog. I’m very sad that I have felt the necessity to do this, because I loved the Corridor and feel it had a unique voice of its own. I started getting many hundreds of hits on my blog and multiple e-mails, some very nice, but others full of vitriol and judgement. Yet others poked fun at me. I feel threatened. I won’t expose my sons to that kind of scrutiny, so I ended it right then and there. I’ll continue writing privately, but never again will I expose my heart and soul and those of my children to public consumption. It may seem like an over-reaction, and although it hurts terribly, I feel I had no choice. It’s a sad world we live in when gay men denigrate and deliberately choose to hurt others.

I feel awful. I have pleaded time and time again for a civil tone in the comments of JMG. With a weekly comment volume in the thousands, I don’t have the time to moderate or even read many of the comments and I depend on our (mostly) thoughtful and smart community of JMG participants to keep the peace. And it works, mostly. Reviewing the comment thread of the post in question, with a handful of exceptions, there’s really not too much there that is very offensive.

But the idea that an apparently great blogger and fantastic gay father could be silenced by nasty JMG readers, even if they were directed to his blog by commenters and not me….well, that really fucking bothers me.

I offer my embarrassed apologies to Cooper.


The Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian: "Kissing the Leper"

captsgebzq29210907222408photo01photodefault-367x512.jpg

Read over on: Father Jake Stops the World

The Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at California
State University, Bakersfield and has authored a number of books on monasticism
and the early Church Fathers. He is also an Episcopal priest, canonically resident
in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He was recently appointed to serve a growing
congregation in Bakersfield, which is within the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Here is part of the story of that appointment, as reported in the local paper,
The Bakersfield Californian
:

…At a Thursday night gathering of 60 to 70 believers and clergy at First Congregational Church and hosted by Remain Episcopal in the Diocese of San Joaquin, a faith community opposed to the split, Moore received hearty applause when he announced he had appointed the Rev. Tim Vivian, a Bakersfield resident, to a “temporary pastoral position as missionary priest under my direct supervision, which puts him within the jurisdiction of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church”…

Dr. Vivian has a long history with the Diocese of San Joaquin. Many years ago,
he became quite frustrated with Bp. Schofield’s refusal to allow Integrity to meet
in any parish in the diocese. This led him to write an editorial which appeared in
TheBakersfield Californian
. In response, Bp. Schofield pulled Tim’s license to serve
as a priest in San Joaquin.The following is the text of that editorial, reprinted here
with Dr. Vivian’s permission:____________________

Kissing the Leper
Last Friday I sat with the lepers and outcasts. Inside St. Paul’s Episcopal parish,
delegates for diocesan convention were meeting, but we were outside because
Bishop Schofield refused to allow us inside. Who were we? Members of Integrity,
the national organization supporting gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Schofield not only refused us entrance to St. Paul’s, he has refused to allow Integrity to meet in any parish in the diocese; he has forbidden the clergy of the
diocese to celebrate Communion for the people of Integrity.

I wish this fear and hatred of gays by many Christians were an isolated event,
a simple example of theological racism, but it isn’t. Among some Christians,
homophobia is just one symptom; others are fear of women, fear of sexuality,
fear of the poor, fear of those not like us, and fear of change.

The reasons for these fears–and the hatred that often accompanies them–
are complex, but they are bound together by, and find their common
expression in, a profound misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible.

With regard to homosexuality, the extreme conservative argument is
simple: Homosexuality is evil, a sin, because the Bible says so. Such an
argument reduces a complicated human subject to absolutes of good and
evil, right or wrong. Those who make this argument conveniently–or
blindly–ignore the fact that “the Bible” variously endorses polygymy,
slavery, massacre, and the sequestration of women during their periods.

Put more positively, the Bible is a human document (or collection of documents),
a human witness to God’s being, activity, and presence. As a human witness, it
is a fallible one. Since the Bible is a human witness, those who wrote it–however
inspired they were–were subject to social, political, ethnic, temporal and religious
biases and prejudices, just as we are today.

In ignoring all this, conservative biblicists make a serious mistake; unfortunately,
in their use of the Bible they commit a worse one: false use is worse than false understanding. Biblicists mistakenly believe that the Bible is a book of dictates
and rules, revealed by God. Once they have this infallible rule book in hand,
like a boy scout with his handbook, they selectively decide which issues are most important. Usually for biblicists it is homosexuality or sexuality in general,
abortion, and women’s subordination. Biblicists are so obsessed with these
issues that they usually ignore questions of social justice, poverty, homelessness,
or war and peace.

It is a question of priorities, and biblicists have their priorities wrong. While
more and more of our people go hungry and homeless, die from drugs and
violence, and live lives without meaning, biblicists care more about who is
sleeping with whom and what parts of the body are being used to do what.

Those who condemn homosexuality say they are speaking of “biblical” ethics
or as a “biblical” Church . But what is this “biblical” belief as it seems to be
practiced in this country?

Is it “biblical” to condemn homosexuality while at the same time keeping
a patriotic and blasphemous silence (as virtually all of the churches of
Kern County did) when the United States slaughtered over 100,000 Iraqis?

Is it “biblical” to oppose abortion while supporting or keeping silent about
the death penalty (legalized State murder)?

Is it “biblical” to deny, in the name of scripture and tradition, the full ministry
of women in the Church–as the local Episcopal Church does?

No. None of these is biblical. Some who espouse certain “biblical beliefs”
are misguided: they naively and simplistically use the Bible to support
non-Biblical agendas.

Others, though, who make “biblical” statements–such as certain bishops,
priests, and ministers–should by their training know better. Their use of
“the Bible” is at best a form of fundamentalism; at worst, it is knowingly
mendacious. Such biblicism is not Christian.

Those of us who are not biblicists or fundamentalists, as we listen to their
increasingly strident voices, need to remember that–despite their loud shouts
–they do not represent the truth of Christianity. Their misuse of the Bible in
no way damages its real message: that God is a God of love and compassion,
mercy and tenderness; that God became human in order to fully know our
humanity; that God loves each of us equally and completely.

The Bible–the true Bible–not only calls us to kiss, like St. Francis,
the mouth of the leper. It calls us to claim the leper’s mouth as our own.

The Rev. Tim Vivian
____________________

J.


The Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian: “Kissing the Leper”

captsgebzq29210907222408photo01photodefault-367x512.jpg

Read over on: Father Jake Stops the World

The Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at California
State University, Bakersfield and has authored a number of books on monasticism
and the early Church Fathers. He is also an Episcopal priest, canonically resident
in the Diocese of Los Angeles. He was recently appointed to serve a growing
congregation in Bakersfield, which is within the Diocese of San Joaquin.
Here is part of the story of that appointment, as reported in the local paper,
The Bakersfield Californian
:

…At a Thursday night gathering of 60 to 70 believers and clergy at First Congregational Church and hosted by Remain Episcopal in the Diocese of San Joaquin, a faith community opposed to the split, Moore received hearty applause when he announced he had appointed the Rev. Tim Vivian, a Bakersfield resident, to a “temporary pastoral position as missionary priest under my direct supervision, which puts him within the jurisdiction of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church”…

Dr. Vivian has a long history with the Diocese of San Joaquin. Many years ago,
he became quite frustrated with Bp. Schofield’s refusal to allow Integrity to meet
in any parish in the diocese. This led him to write an editorial which appeared in
TheBakersfield Californian
. In response, Bp. Schofield pulled Tim’s license to serve
as a priest in San Joaquin.The following is the text of that editorial, reprinted here
with Dr. Vivian’s permission:____________________

Kissing the Leper
Last Friday I sat with the lepers and outcasts. Inside St. Paul’s Episcopal parish,
delegates for diocesan convention were meeting, but we were outside because
Bishop Schofield refused to allow us inside. Who were we? Members of Integrity,
the national organization supporting gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Schofield not only refused us entrance to St. Paul’s, he has refused to allow Integrity to meet in any parish in the diocese; he has forbidden the clergy of the
diocese to celebrate Communion for the people of Integrity.

I wish this fear and hatred of gays by many Christians were an isolated event,
a simple example of theological racism, but it isn’t. Among some Christians,
homophobia is just one symptom; others are fear of women, fear of sexuality,
fear of the poor, fear of those not like us, and fear of change.

The reasons for these fears–and the hatred that often accompanies them–
are complex, but they are bound together by, and find their common
expression in, a profound misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible.

With regard to homosexuality, the extreme conservative argument is
simple: Homosexuality is evil, a sin, because the Bible says so. Such an
argument reduces a complicated human subject to absolutes of good and
evil, right or wrong. Those who make this argument conveniently–or
blindly–ignore the fact that “the Bible” variously endorses polygymy,
slavery, massacre, and the sequestration of women during their periods.

Put more positively, the Bible is a human document (or collection of documents),
a human witness to God’s being, activity, and presence. As a human witness, it
is a fallible one. Since the Bible is a human witness, those who wrote it–however
inspired they were–were subject to social, political, ethnic, temporal and religious
biases and prejudices, just as we are today.

In ignoring all this, conservative biblicists make a serious mistake; unfortunately,
in their use of the Bible they commit a worse one: false use is worse than false understanding. Biblicists mistakenly believe that the Bible is a book of dictates
and rules, revealed by God. Once they have this infallible rule book in hand,
like a boy scout with his handbook, they selectively decide which issues are most important. Usually for biblicists it is homosexuality or sexuality in general,
abortion, and women’s subordination. Biblicists are so obsessed with these
issues that they usually ignore questions of social justice, poverty, homelessness,
or war and peace.

It is a question of priorities, and biblicists have their priorities wrong. While
more and more of our people go hungry and homeless, die from drugs and
violence, and live lives without meaning, biblicists care more about who is
sleeping with whom and what parts of the body are being used to do what.

Those who condemn homosexuality say they are speaking of “biblical” ethics
or as a “biblical” Church . But what is this “biblical” belief as it seems to be
practiced in this country?

Is it “biblical” to condemn homosexuality while at the same time keeping
a patriotic and blasphemous silence (as virtually all of the churches of
Kern County did) when the United States slaughtered over 100,000 Iraqis?

Is it “biblical” to oppose abortion while supporting or keeping silent about
the death penalty (legalized State murder)?

Is it “biblical” to deny, in the name of scripture and tradition, the full ministry
of women in the Church–as the local Episcopal Church does?

No. None of these is biblical. Some who espouse certain “biblical beliefs”
are misguided: they naively and simplistically use the Bible to support
non-Biblical agendas.

Others, though, who make “biblical” statements–such as certain bishops,
priests, and ministers–should by their training know better. Their use of
“the Bible” is at best a form of fundamentalism; at worst, it is knowingly
mendacious. Such biblicism is not Christian.

Those of us who are not biblicists or fundamentalists, as we listen to their
increasingly strident voices, need to remember that–despite their loud shouts
–they do not represent the truth of Christianity. Their misuse of the Bible in
no way damages its real message: that God is a God of love and compassion,
mercy and tenderness; that God became human in order to fully know our
humanity; that God loves each of us equally and completely.

The Bible–the true Bible–not only calls us to kiss, like St. Francis,
the mouth of the leper. It calls us to claim the leper’s mouth as our own.

The Rev. Tim Vivian
____________________

J.