Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hate and other stupidities

Read this on Shanna's blog...had to borrow it!

Note: I've been meaning to post this for quite awhile. If you don't agree with it, that's fine. Bashing will get you deleted. Constructively disagreeing is fine. Before you get up on a high horse, read the link titled, "Devin" over in the right-side column.

First off, I'm a Christian. I've studied and hold to heart the doctrines of several other faiths considered "evil" by most others of my own faith (ie: wicca, asatru, taoism, gnosticism, etc. - I like to study).

One of the biggest controversies expressed is issues of "hate". It completely blows my mind how most people of my religion center their lives around hate. In the words of my best friend: "God and I get along great, it's his fanclub I have the problem with". I find this to be true more often than not.

When I was in grade school I went with the neighbors to a southern baptist church. One of those fire-and-brimstone places. I quit going after a very adamant sermon given on "children are born with the devil in them, and it's our job as parents to beat it out of them." Later, as a teenager, I got into a debate (very heated) with a lutheran pastor. He claimed that *all* children unbaptised - especially those born out of wedlock - would spend eternity in "limbo". That seriously pissed me off.

My whole life, the man who meant the most to me was my uncle Devin. My grandfather was sexually abusive, some of my other uncles as well, my mother had a habit of continuing that cycle with the men she brought home. It was a party, I was the pizza and everyone was invited. The rest of my family was either involved, oblivious or had deserted the family core long ago and were unable to help - or simply stayed out of it.

My longest-term step-father (they got married when I was 8 and she's still with him)was physically abusive and very controlling. I didn't help matters much by being obstinate and mouthy, mind you. Not that there's EVER an excuse for beating a child or demeaning anyone.

Through it all, there were two people who were my rock: my uncle Devin and my aunt Darla. Devin is explained in great detail here. he was my best friend and my big brother. he was practical and always kind. He gave everything he gained to those he thought needed it. And he was gay. I am unbelievably protective of that fact. This man was so beaten down by the idea that God would turn His back on him that he was seeing a psychiatrist to STOP being gay. That in itself is a sin, in my eyes. Why should he have to feel that way for expressing love?

One of the DUMBEST reasons I can see for an argument is what a person does (without harming another) out of love. When a large portion of the new testament was written by a man who committed crimes against Christians (Saul who became Paul), there is, to me, no sane argument for threatening another person with eternal damnation because of who they happen to be in love with.

Here's an argument: The majority of Christian symbolism and fable originated from pagan ways. Christians have committed as many or more crimes against others for their own faith. Look at Mormons (I was one until I was 7). Genocide for the furtherment of a religion. The burning times (I have an ancestor who was burned - Bessie Dunlop in 1576). And then there are all the modern icons of the Christian faith who instigate so many crimes against gays and modern pagans. It's sickening.

Why am I a Christian then? I believe in Christ and his teachings. But I also view the bible from a scholarly aspect: A day in God's time is not necessarily a human day: compare the events of genesis to the charts of evolution and you'll probably be surprised... It actually coincides quite a bit, when put into context. The people writing down these words had no concept of science as we know it. How would anyone of that time understand the concept of evolutional generation?

I believe in the Bible - as a study tool, as a reminder and as a guidebook. Realistically, it is more unchristian to judge and condemn than to love someone of the same sex. If God IS love, then there is no evil in love.

I feel the same way about the whole "Lord's prayer" thing. The bible says a) Pray in this *manner* and b) you shouldn't use ritual or repetitive prayer. The Lord's prayer was meant as an OUTLINE. For instance:

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
(Hey, you're a cool Dad, I really like you)

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
(Gee, I can't wait until your promises come true)

Give us this day our daily bread.
(Please help me keep my head above water)

And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.
(It wasn't very nice of me to take revenge on Bob for making me mad. I forgave him, and I hope you and he can forgive me)

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
(Can you please stand by me so I'm less likely to screw up again?)

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
(You're really cool and you've come though for me before, so I have faith you'll do it again.)

(the actual meaning of this word is "let it be so".)

People from one religion have a habit of mocking those of another because of their own faith's ritual behavior. Like Wiccan circles (pagans say "blessed be" - same thing as amen) or Hari Krishnas. One reason is that it's easier to mock something you don't understand than to find out more about it. But the fact is, every religion has it's own rituals.

Then why is so much of the Christian faith centered on ritual if the bible says not to be? Repetitive behavior creates a comfort zone. The bible also says not to be religious, but spiritual.

I also believe in a lot of other doctrines. I believe that there can't really be a hell if we have a merciful, loving God who loves us as his own children. If your child committed a crime, you might accept that they have to be punished, but it would be really hard to stop loving them and hope they'd change. Therefore, I believe in Karma. I believe that the core of almost every religion is basically the same, when broken down to it's bare bones. I believe that an omnipotent creator has no sex - the he/she term is used in a descriptive sense only because we have no other means to describe it easily. Which is where I think other religions got polytheism. There are many facets to god. And there are plenty of other beings in that realm: angels, helpers (whatever you need to call them; labels don't matter). I believe all Gods are one.

Most importantly, I believe that your brand of religion is less important than simply having faith in something. Simple faith. Faith of a child.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Civil ceremony doesn't threaten church

Brad Read
Special to The Spokesman-Review
July 3, 2005

I was raised as a Christian. From my earliest memory, the church my mother immersed our family in was my extended family. It was there where I was taught the principle of community, of the unconditional welcome that the life of Jesus represented. As a result, I have felt a renewed sense of anger and sadness as, especially in recent weeks, people claiming Christian values have used fear and misinformation in an effort to fight against equality, on the issues of domestic partner benefits and same-sex marriage. The fear and narrow thinking they represent is completely foreign to what I know of what it means to be Christian.

Sometime in the next few months, the state Supreme Court will rule whether or not same-sex marriage is constitutional in Washington, and whether as a result, the Defense of Marriage Act (defining marriage to be between strictly a man and a woman) is unconstitutional. Many on the Christian Right would have us believe that if the court rules in favor of equal marriage, then the bedrock principles of our Christian civilization will be eroded, ushering in an age of lawless chaos in which Christians will be persecuted and prohibited from practicing their faith.

A little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an experience that could represent the future for gay and lesbian couples in Washington, and no great crisis ensued.

When my good friends Ann and Melanie were married in March of 2004 in Portland, during the period when their marriage was legal in Multnomah County, my wife and children and I were proud to be witnesses, because we were participating in a moment of real and full equality, the kind promised by the United States Constitution. Even though it was later nullified by Oregon voters, it was a moment when the promises I grew up learning about in school came true.

It was also exactly what I was taught about the inclusiveness of the love of Jesus. But, and here is the important point, while my own religious, spiritual and moral values brought me to that moment in Portland, it had nothing to do with the church. It was about the state recognizing the full rights and equality of all of its citizens. That is what those on the Christian Right would scare us into forgetting.

Equal marriage is about what the state can and should provide, not about restricting the religious rights of individuals or churches. It is precisely the judges and the law that the Christian Right seems to fear that would protect their rights to protest and dissent. If the
Washington state Supreme Court rules against the Defense of Marriage Act, Christians' right to free speech will not be abridged. Their right to worship however they see fit, to preach whatever they like, to speak publicly about their values, none of those will be threatened. They are all protected by the Constitution, which is what this entire debate is about, not the Bible.

Conservative Christians continue to use fear and misdirection to confuse the issues. We must be clear and not let them. If DOMA is ruled unconstitutional, and the way is paved for Washington state to follow in the footsteps of Massachusetts (where people still worship and speak freely), there will be plenty of people in the church that raised me who vehemently disagree with, and who would never agree to, same-sex marriage in the church.

That is fine. That is beside the point. The church is not the state. This issue is about civil marriage, about whether the state will grant the rights and benefits of marriage to everyone. It is about the state protecting all of its citizens from discrimination. Those are Christian values all people in Washington should be proud to uphold.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

First comes the shock.....

The following essay was written by Innocent Bystander. It is his reaction to today's bombings in London.

Smoke Dissolves Into Cloud

Many things are memorable; smell, sight, a touch, a feeling, something you can't quite place... something that fits within a vacuum, something that falls between the cracks and you're only aware of its impact by the void that it leaves.

Silence can deafen more than any explosion, than any scream, shout and plea. London was silent this morning.

I don't know what ducks would say if they could talk; "Sell gold, buy oil,", "is brown the new black?", "why are you crying?"... or maybe it's the fact that ducks can't talk, they just sit there... paddle... eat bread... in storms and in the rippling calm. Why do 50 people sit in complete silence staring at ducks for an answer to a question they can't mould into words? That's what I was doing this morning. Staring at ducks. Staring at birds. Staring at anything that can't hurt us or doesn't know what's going on amidst the dust, sirens and people just walking to wherever seems best, wherever they stumble and fall.

When all you see are people with blackened faces, a bus ripped like a coke can mangled by a truant teenager and ambulances buzzing like morbid bees... ducks, the serenity of a park, light rain and peace and quiet becomes a shelter not from bombs, suicide bombers, camera lenses but from what is going on in your own mind. When all around is in agony, all people search for is an anesthetic... however and wherever they find it; paddling ducks, a quiet room to cry in, a guilty laugh with friends or just speaking to someone you haven't spoken to in months.

People in London are not allowed to go to the one place they feel safe; home. Myself like many others are staying wherever they got to, before it all changed, before the buttons were pressed. Sitting in drenched clothes in an office block with no way of getting home. Surreal streets speckled with people not really knowing where to look or how to act, muffling their voice and looking tired as if the moment the alarm clock shrills and the eyes grudgingly open has been recorded and permanently displayed on everyone's face.

I don't really know what to say, if there is anything I can say... I don't feel like crying, I don't feel like revenge, I don't feel any kind of hatred; towards individuals, towards faith, towards a nation. I don't really feel anything. I have no cuts, bruises or smoke inhalation but feel like something has been abrased and the body's gone numb. Nothing has sunk in; like that moment when the trap slams shut and the anticipation of something like pain drowns out the feeling and knowing of something like pain.

Terrorism and London unfortunately has had a lengthy marriage; with dissident Irish factions loading dustbins with semtex, a new age of paranoia and fear will only hold London in its grip for decades to come. How can you ride the bus when anybody can be your tormentor? Will that overloaded ruck-sack just be an irritant or your silver bullet?

Today, a London bus was the worst possible method of transport; for some a last breath, for many an ambulance, for everyone else the last time when taking a bus was just that, taking a bus and not a place where you are sub-consciously checking your fellow passengers for danger like a customs official desperate for one last bust.

People are scared, people will be scared for a long time, it's why terrorism is a weapon and not a political movement or an act of change. This was no 9/11, this was no Madrid, this was very different in the levels of casualties and the way it was done. What makes terrorism an effective weapon is that it has an unerring ability to attack the things the victims hold dear and what already worries them. A bomb is not nearly as powerful in inducing fear than the threat of a bomb.

This afternoon is very different. The smoke has gone, people are on the streets, the tourists are buying trinkets, workers buying newspapers and crisp packets still drifting from hand to gutter to street. The city is looking pretty and the sounds of London are back... turned down though, as if some neighbour has complained about the raucous noise and the city is trying to behave.

People are just as they were, as if nothing has changed, but something has changed... subtly. On every street. with every white van, with every black cab comes an empty red bus. A red bus makes everyone think something, just for a micro-second, something new and something that terrorism has successfully seeded in the scared minds of these new-born children; buses aren't safe.

Tomorrow is another day and we should not be afraid of a bus, we should not be afraid of strangers, we should not be afraid of every Muslim and we should not be afraid of carrying on. Being afraid is natural, stopping what you do, what you feel and what you believe in because you're afraid is not and that is the goal that every terrorist craves. Whether it was Hitler, the IRA, Al-Qaeda or whoever, London has had its enemies, but just like ducks...we'll carry on; paddling in calm waters, eating bread and not knowing an answer to a question asked with tape, wires, a detonator and a hatred.

Nothing has changed, after all; I am still an atheist, I am still a capitalist, I am still pro-Palestinian and I still despise violence and blood-shed in the name of a nation and in the name of religion and certainly not in the name of terrorism.

I'm going home. Walking, not because I'm scared... but because I like walking in London and the sun has just come out like a spotlight on an actor just about to deliver his lines.

(Thanks for your concern, but I'm OK!)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Blue Moments

A friend of mine is feeling depressed today. It's not an every day occurrence, today is just one of those days. This got me thinking about feeling blue.

Blue is my favorite color, but it's not my favorite mood. Yet, if we never have blue moments the yellow moments wouldn't be so yellow. We aren't designed to live in the yellow 24/7. For everything there is a season, or so Ecclesiastes and the song say. If we never knew sorrow, could we truly know joy? Without the "other side of the coin" can we genuinely appreciate the whole coin?

Complicated is an adjective many people claim....I don't think they're really all that complicated. They are simply: contrasting. A light side wouldn't exist without a dark side, right? How would we know which is which? We wouldn't.

Emotions are not black & white, if they were we could never laugh through our tears. Laughter through tears is one of my favorite moments.

I'm encouraging my friend to embrace their blue moment. From blue to yellow requires some green, that's where growth occurs.

It's not even my Inner Hours....I guess "profoundness" can sneak up on a person when they least expect it!

Inner Hours

What is it about the hours following Midnight, but before 6 AM? When those in my time zone are deep in slumber I am awake. My mind turning to philosophical and Biblical matters. These are my Inner Hours. It's during these hours that I am at my most profound. If I am spending these hours with a close friend, I will speak words of wisdom that stay with me for the rest of my life. It's during these hours that I solve the world's problems, invent practical items that could make me rich....if I did anything with them, discover new uses for old was during these hours I thought of using our egg slicer to slice mushrooms & works great! All my thoughts are not profound, but they do feel profound in that moment.

I'm comtemplative, analytical, serene & open to new thoughts and ideas. Issues that have nothing to do with me are made clear during these Inner Hours. For example, NBC's Today Show has dropped in the ratings. I don't ever watch this show, but the other night I came to a conclusion that makes sense. The Today Show is still as great as it has ever been, I've heard from people who watch the show....the problem is NBC's Primetime lineup. If folks are watching NBC before they go to bed, then when they get up in the morning and turn on their tv's they will still be watching NBC. The core of this issue is that folks are watching CBS, ABC or cable at night before bed, when they get up in the morning their tv's are still tuned to CBS, ABC or cable......they just watch their morning news on those stations and don't bother changing the channel. If NBC would improve their Primetime lineup, The Today Show's ratings would improve. See, it makes perfect sense, right? These are the types of thoughts that flow through my mind during those Inner Hours.

Tonight I am still up because I'm afraid to go to bed. I'm dealing with a tummy virus and it has awoken me many times with intense pain. So, here I sit ruminating; Donkey from Shrek grinning at me from my cpu, fuzzy babies making sleepy noises as they chase bunnies and mice in their sleep, a lone bird singing outside the window calling for the sun to rise, Butchy snoring softly - only the top of her head sticking out of the comforter, our injured sparrow softly answering the other sparrows that are now singing for the coming sun.

Inner Hours.....coming to a close.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Comforting the Grieving...Do's and Don'ts

I came across this while surfing...It's definitely a keeper. Makes a difficult situation a little less awkward.

Do's and Don'ts

If you are reading in an effort to better understand and support someone you care about who has lost a child, it is hopeful that the following will aid you to become better informed about their needs:

DO: accept the simple fact that it is not possible for you to say things that will make the bereaved parent feel better. This acceptance will enable you to stop when you become tempted to utter cliches that you have heard all of your life that are intended to comfort, but in reality they don't accomplish this. Do know that when you make the initial call, the bereaved parent does not expect you to be able to take their hurt away, or to fully understand the depth of their despair and pain.

DON'T: say "I know how you feel" unless you, yourself, have experienced the loss of a child. Though it is possible for you to empathize with them, the death of their child cannot be compared to the loss of your parents, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother or dog. This is not to say you haven't experienced pain with these losses, but they are different losses. Bereaved parents have trouble accepting "I know how you feel" from anyone other than another bereaved parent.

DO: feel free to touch them, to hug and cry with them if these expressions are appropriate to your relationship with the parent. Tell them that you care about their pain and that you are sorry their child died. A simple hug can say more than a thousand words.

DON'T: impose your personal religious beliefs, nor offer as solace "this was God's will". You should be careful how you represent God, His wishes and plans when dealing with the bereaved. Some parents accept the loss of their child as being the will of God. This belief is right for them. It comforts and enables them to better cope with their loss. Other bereaved parents, even though they have had faith over the years that has been a source of strength, may now have trouble with their relationship with God. They might be in the process of reevaluation how they feel about some aspects of their religious beliefs. They might be troubled now because they did have such a strong faith and relied on God to keep their loved ones safe. They might be deeply angry with God for having failed them, for allowing this death to happen. It might take a long time to work through this anger to sort out their emotions. Parents need to be able to admit and express their anger at God if it is there, without being judged. They need the time and freedom to decide what they now believe. What you believe is not important. How they feel and their right to feel that way is important.

DO: tell them that you don't understand the WHY of it either. Those "Why's" especially the unanswerable ones, are difficult for many parents to deal with. They need to be able to ask WHY, and to have time to accept there might never be an answer.

DON'T: think you are complimenting them by telling them "how well" they're doing a few months down the road. They're not doing well. Their child has died and inside they feel they are dying too. You would feel the same if it were your child. You may feel more comfortable dealing with them if they're "doing well", but trying to rush them through the grief process doesn't work and it angers them to sense that you don't understand their pain, the length and depth of it, and are expecting more from them then they're capable of early in their grief.

DO: allow the grieving parent to express their feelings, if they have that need. The pain involved in letting go, the anger, frustration and guilt are all a part of the normal grieving process, leaving them empty and without purpose for a long time. Allow them to tell you how they feel. Don't tell them how you think they should feel. They just need you to listen. You aren't expected to be able to take away the hurt or to have all the answers. Talking and crying about the loss are the first steps toward recovery for some. After they have cried and talked about their loss enough, they are then free to go on to the next step in the recovery process. Your willingness to listen helps them, and isn't that your ultimate goal? Encourage them to be patient with themselves when they grow discouraged with their slow progress.

DON'T: impose "shoulds" or "should nots". There are no rules and regulations, nor are there right and wrong ways to grieve. There is your way and my way, and though they may be totally different, neither is wrong. Society, over the years has tried to impose its own rules, rules often drawn to make it easier for society to cope with the threat of someone else's loss. You may think you know exactly how you would react if your child should die, but you would be amazed to find that the rules that once seemed so appropriate no longer apply. There are as many ways of expressing grief as there are people expressing it.

DON'T: impose time limits on their grief. "Isn't it time you were getting over this and going on with your life" can be one of the most painful questions a grieving person can hear. Depending upon the relationship, it takes not weeks and months to adjust, but sometimes years. You need to know and understand this. "It may threaten you to learn that the hurt goes on for such a long time, but you offend the bereaved even more when you insinuate they have a choice. The truth of the matter is, no one "gets over" the loss of a child. They try to adjust and live with the loss. Parents who go through the trauma of having a child die do not come through the experience without having changed in many ways. A part of them died when their child died, and it might take years for them to recognize some of these changes. Their new reactions to old situations take them totally by surprise. Each person has his own time frame for recovery. Allow them that freedom.

DO: mention their child by name. It is comforting for bereaved parents to know that others remember their child, too. Some people avoid mentioning the child's name for fear it will remind the parent of their loss. For a long time the parents can think of nothing but their loss, so that shouldn't be a worry for you. If tears come, then they needed to cry, and the tears may be tears of gratitude that you have given them the opportunity to share their child with you. If you have a good memory of their child, share it. It will make their day. A parent's greatest fear is that no one will remember their child, and if the child's name is never mentioned, or the subject avoided, it is a natural conclusion. Why should you , whose children are alive, have the right to reminisce about the past, while those, whose child is dead, are denied that right? Memories are all that parents have left and those memories did not die with their child.

DON'T: turn away if you unexpectedly come upon the parents. Most parents are aware you have chosen not to "see" them. Can you imagine going to the grocery store, as painful as that already is, and having several people pretend they don't see you? Can you imagine how distressing this would be? Why not, instead, approach them openly, tell them that you have been thinking of them and ask them how they are doing. Acknowledge their loss, don't pretend it didn't happen.

DON'T: try to find something positive about their child's death. If there is anything positive about the death, the parents will have to find it in their own time. If you are tempted to point out such things as "closer family ties," or their child is "in a better place", or "it will make the marriage stronger", don't do it. Parents hear this time and time again. It doesn't help, and instead may cause bitterness. Many marriages do not make it through the loss of a child and closer family ties are not always the outcome.

DON'T: remind them that they should be grateful they have other children. Children are not interchangeable. Each has his own special place, and no one child can fill the void left by another's death. You need to be aware that for a while, the parents sometimes lose their ability to nurture their surviving children. You can help by giving these children a little extra attention until life at home is on a more even keel. Siblings often feel very much alone and bewildered when the structure of their family has fallen apart.

DO: know that it is difficult for the newly bereaved to reach out to you for help. Grieving is emotionally and physically draining. Just getting through the day might take more energy then they have. Let the family know you are available to be with them if it would be comforting. Conversely, when you invite the parents over, be sure to give a specific date, instead of leaving the initiative up to them. Being at ease in large crowds may take time, so plan only small gatherings, leaving them free to leave whenever the moment is right for them. If the first invitation is refused, offer another at a specific date later on. Being at parties and with other people is not going to take their mind off their loss and make them have a good time. The thought of it may make them feel guilty and be an affront to them.

DON'T: suggest to younger parents "but you can have other children". They may or may not be ale to have another child, but it is not appropriate for you offer comfort with the thought of another child. You see, they wanted this child.

DO: know that there will be certain days that are more painful for parents, such as birth and death dates, as well as holidays. Anticipation of these special days causes periods of depression and anxiety a long time before and the actual date. These special family oriented times are an opportunity for you to be in touch to give some support and attention. Let them know you are aware and that you care.

DO: know that it is not abnormal for some parents to spend a good deal of time at the cemetery. How often they visit the cemetery or whether they go at all, has no bearing on the intensity of their grief or the length of it. Each person handles this in their own distinct way. Don't make it a problem for them.

DO: know that for some parents having many pictures of their child around the home is comfort. For others, photographs on display are to painful. You may find it makes you feel uncomfortable having the photographs around, but for you to suggest they should be put away pains the parent deeply. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground on this subject. Each individual's need is valid and should be recognized.

DON'T: rush in and remove their child's belongings, or change their room unless the parent specifically asks you to. It takes some parents many months before they are ready to change anything. It is their right to decide what they want to keep and what they would like to share with others. You may feel they will recover faster if they face this sad task immediately, but that is not necessarily the case. Leave them alone until the time is right for them, and then help them only if they ask you to. Don't make it an issue. They have enough problems.

DO: reassure the parents they did everything they could for their child, both emotionally and medically. Many feel failure and guilt because they weren't able to keep their child from harm. Small omissions or commissions loom large. It is important that you not add to these feelings of guilt by suggesting that the care given the child either at home, at the hospital or wherever, was inadequate. This only adds to their burden.

DO: show your concern, do be there over the months to come on a regular basis. Allow them to tell you how they feel, and listen when they tell you. Don't tell them what you think they should be feeling. Leave them free to express anger and guilt. If you know a certain time of day is particularly difficult, do try to plan your visits to coincide with that time. Do be patient. Allow them to grieve in their own way and at their own pace. Avoid judgments and try to be accepting of the different ways in which grief can be manifested. Remember, it is better to touch and cry than to stand back and offer cliches. When all is said and done, you will be remembered not only for having been there when the need was great, but also for having known the right thing to say and do.

By Mary Cleckley, Atlanta, Ga Copyright 1981

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Guest Blogger: Gay Marriage - For the Umpteenth Time, People!

The following was not written by me....I only wish it had been! It's originator is the Loquacious Curmudgeon. His blog is a definitely worth visiting!

And now...our Guest Blogger:
The proceeding comment was in response to some brain trust posting at in an article entitled "This Ain't Montgomery and YOU Ain't Rosa Parks!", in which he divorces gay rights from civil rights. One comment, in specific, let loose with the whole "parading your sexuality in my face" argument that is so tiresome. I bet he has Playboy calendars all over his apartment, too. The basic theme of the comment threat seemed to be this: gay rights is not civil rights, and "faggots" don't have the right to marry, to which I simply had to reply. The line of argument seemed to be that gay marriage advocates only care about their own interests, not about anyone else's.

(edited for spelling...)

Parading it in your face? You live in an interesting neighborhood. Or perhaps you mean parading in the sense of wearing wedding rings, having naked women mud flaps, and putting pictures of your spouse and children up everywhere.

Let's attack the straw man of the gay rights activist who doesn't care about anyone else's rights. I'm a gay activist and I definitely care. I also feel that any relationship that is contractually standardized by the government should follow a policy of extending that freedom to any adult, regardless of race, financial status, creed, gender and any other social class status. So not all activists or gay marriage supporters are the same. I also fully support any church's right to NOT recognize same sex marriage within the church.

Most gay people don't choose to be gay. There is hoards of evidence supporting this claim, and you all can whine about it as much as you want, but it doesn't change the facts. While we don't know specfically that there is a "gay gene", most agree that the propensity toward homosexuality isn't a conscious choice; the decision (if decision it is) is made in the depths of the psyche, not while browsing a menu of lifestyle options. Yes, the gay community owes a great deal of debt to human rights pioneers such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and the myriad of others who came before us. That doesn't mean the push for gay rights isn't civil rights, simply because someone else was there first.

Civil rights is a movement among any group to resolve disenfranchisement from constitutionally guaranteed rights. This can occur among a racial minority, a gender majority, a religious group, and even those of an alternate sexual orientation.

Let's look at a brief history of the gay rights movement, shall we? The modern gay rights movement started when a bunch of police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village: a gay bar. This was the straw the broke the camel's back. After years of enforced hatred and stupidity being put into law (Eisenhower making it illegal for any homosexual to hold down a federal job in the 50's, for example), people - gay people - had had enough. Gays fought back, there was a riot, and the aftermath lead to the modern movement for gay rights. It was heterosexuals who started it. At that point, there were no pride parades, no Queer as Folk on televison. Homosexuals did what you would still like them to do: they skulked along in the background, hiding themselves from the rest of the world. But the rest of the world wouldn't let us be.

The recent striking down of sodomy laws across the nation was based on a landmark case where a gay couple was having sex in the privacy of their own home, when police burst in and then arrested them for sodomy. It was the police who started it.

As soon as policy makers in this country began creating laws that treated homosexuals differently than other citizens, they created a social minority defined by sexual orientation. So bleat and blather about it all you want. Every time you claim that gays are this way or gays are that way, you strengthen the boundary lines and the perceptions that lead to minority status.

Personally, I'm for marriage being defined in two ways: as a social contract and as a religious contract. The Constitution is set up so that the government shouldn't interefere in the latter, but has no right to pick and choose to whom they may extend the former. Like it or don't like it, I don't much care. If you're arguing against gay marriage because your undies are all in a twist that gay people have the audacity to think they're a minority status, stop treating them that way and the division will go away and you'll be right. If you're arguing from a moral perspective, read some Jefferson, read the Constitution and then get over yourself. If you're arguing from a perspective of religious belief, get to a church and lock the doors, then practice whatever beliefs you see fit. If you're one of those nut jobs who thinks that the sanctity of one's own marriage will be defined by what legal rights I may or may not have, see a therapist. Seriously.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Big Chunks of Deep Thunks

Integrity has been on my mind a lot lately. More than any other attributes a person can have, I respect integrity the most. Integrity is one of those adjectives that you know what it means, but it's hard to define once you get down to it.

Honesty, trustworthy, consistent, wisdom, these are only a few of the words we would use to begin defining integrity. To me integrity consists of all of them....and more. All of these attributes are great....combined they become integrity, which is greatness. It's possible to have one or more of these attributes, yet not have integrity. On the flip side though, without all of these attributes you can't have integrity. In baking you need the combination of many ingredients to have a successful final product. Bread requires flour, without flour there's no bread. Without honesty there's no integrity. It's possible to be an honest person and not have integrity.

An honest person can lack trustworthiness, consistency & wisdom. Therefore, they are an honest person, not a person of integrity. Can someone become a person of integrity? Only if they commit themselves to the process. There isn't a set-in-stone-foolproof-plan towards gaining integrity. Each individual begins the process carrying with them their personalized luggage. In one bag there may be the need to gossip....telling everyone one else's story because they are so insecure about their own. In another bag there may be the unwillingness to learn from our mistakes & listen to the wisdom of others. The first step towards wisdom is the willingness to listen to the wisdom of others. Keeping those golden kernals that enhance our lives and tossing the chaff that doesn't apply to our lives, at this time. It's in that discernment that we begin our journey towards wisdom.

After honestly identifying our luggage for what it is, we can begin taking 1/2 steps towards change. Small adjustments result in big changes. For this moment, the gossiper may choose not to share the juicy tidbit that is right there on the tip of their tongue. The person lacking wisdom may choose, for this moment, to not discard words of advice. To mull them over in their mind....discerning what may apply to their life and what doesn't. Small adjustments towards big changes.

Before any small adjustments can be made we must will ourselves to unpack our bags. Taking a brutally honest look at what we are lugging around on our backs. Without identifying each and every item, we cannot achieve integrity. Those small insignificant items are hindering our journey. They are chains holding us back from becoming a person of integrity. Before we can take even a 1/2 step, we must identify our chains and commit ourselves to the process of becoming free.

I've got a lot to learn on this journey towards integrity.....I'll share my insights as I travel onward.
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I'm older than Rolling Stone magazine, younger than color television, bigger than a Xbox, smaller than a Winnebago, taller than a goat, shorter than a horse, wider than a parking meter, "narrower" than The Space Needle, serious as a heart attack, sillier than the tickles, smarter than the average bear, dumber than my Mom, prettier than dirt, "uglier" than a sunset, anal as an accountant, laid-back as a slug, darker than white chocolate, lighter than butterscotch pudding, louder than a whisper, "quieter" than a fog horn
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