Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Would Jesus Do?

For many years I have felt that our religious institutions have lost their path.  In particular many Christian churches have focused less on teaching values than teaching and trying to create Christian laws - those black and white dividing lines of right and wrong.  That's not what Jesus taught.  That's not how Jesus taught.
Jesus taught values not law.  In fact, his specific message on earth was to tell us the volume of religious laws established before him were not the path to God.  He summed it up with just two laws - Love your neighbor as yourself and love God above all else.
It seems sometimes people have focused on the love God part with an extra - and God thinks like I do.  In fact, it seems they love God because God justifies them.  But the love your neighbor part - well - God does not love sin and you might be wearing a sin sign God can't see past so I don't either.
Jesus did not teach us to be outwardly focused in condemnation.  He taught us to heal, to serve and to lift one another up.  He taught us that we are all part of one tree and we all have a part to play.  He taught us to be based in love as the core value.  He taught us not to judge or condemn and divide but rather to reach out and to walk in the other person's shoes.
Our religious institutions should be helping us learn how to walk that path - the path Jesus taught.  It requires discipline and growing our spirit to connect with our neighbor and with God.  It means we have to learn to listen and to walk with our neighbor like Jesus did.  We cannot understand if we refuse to hear.  We cannot see if we refuse to look.  And the truth is not black and white.
I have hope that we are emerging from this dark age of spiritual growth.  This weekend I picked up a book called Religion Gone Astray written by a Pastor, a Rabbi and an Imam who travel the country together talking about interfaith issues.  As it says in the book summary:  "They identify four common problems areas of the Abrahamic faiths:  EXCLUSIVITY:  Staking Claim to a One and Only Truth  VIOLENCE:  Justifying Brutality in the Name of Faith   INEQUALITY OF MEN AND WOMEN:  The Partriarchal Stranglehold on Power and HOMOPHOBIA:  A Denial of Legitimacy."
I believe these are truly the core issues to overcome and perhaps in that order of importance.
If we can overcome those key problem areas, we really would be doing what Jesus would do.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Intrinsic Spritual Disorder

People do not say they are gay so that you will envision sexual behavior any more than people saying they are married is intended to create images of romantic trysts. GLBT people are growing more open and vocal in hopes that you will understand the bias we face and how that impacts our private lives.
The reason things are changing for GLBT people is that we are no longer nameless and faceless.  We no longer accept religious judgement as acceptable justification for imposition on our private lives.  It's much easier to subjugate and marginalize nameless, faceless people.
The world is blatantly heterosexually biased granting special privileges to protect heterosexual relationships.  These privileges are based on sexuality and blanketed by marriage.  Meanwhile, GLBT private lives are legislated in many states and countries to ensure that we don't enjoy those same privileges.  It creates unnecessary hardship.
Inheritance, pensions, health care, taxes, social security, shared property, decision making during illness and in death are all impacted by this bias.  If we remain nameless, faceless people, you will not hear these stories.  You will hear only myths and stereotypes.  Because you know us, it's growing more difficult to be convinced that we should be rounded up and placed in a concentration camp as one US religious zealot has proposed.  It is more difficult for US legislators to consider jail sentences for homosexuals as has now passed in Uganda.  It is more difficult in the US to make even the discussion of social equality illegal as just recently passed in Russia.
Once people begin to realize that we are not so different and that these bias' affect our private lives unjustly, attitudes change.  If you ask me what I do in bed, I will tell you 'I sleep' and nothing else is your business.  It should not be your business to deny me equality.  Invoking the name of God to justify your bias is a sign of intrinsic spiritual disorder.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who are your heroes?

Who are your heroes?   What qualities do you admire?  Who would you like to be more like?  Who inspires you to be better?
Our chosen heroes tell a lot about us.
I think of the young mother of two who despite illness was a Brownie leader, community volunteer and delivered library books to shut ins.  And the 5th grade teacher who saw and encouraged creativity that lead to the right career.
I think of well known heroes who worked tirelessly for healing, justice and equality - 2000 years ago, 200 years ago, 100 years ago and 50 years ago.
They were all clear in their purpose, their vision and their core values.
When my spirit is shaken, I am reminded to refocus on purpose, vision and values.  I think of the people I have most admired.  What would they be telling me?  What ARE they telling me?
Refocus on purpose, vision and values.
I'm very protective and determined about purpose.  I've learned we need to be very careful what we drink with our eyes, our ears and our spirit.  I won't watch movies that are violent for violence sake.  I won't watch movies focused on cruelty.   I seek reliable sources for news and information and avoid sensationalized stories whether told by the left or the right.  Healing, justice and equality are my favorite subjects and in that order of importance.
I can't imagine any one's mission statement or statement of purpose being "To be as sarcastic, condescending, judgmental and divisive as I can be on a daily basis."  Oddly that seems to gain talk show hosts an audience and that is how they succeed.  But then, what is the vision?  What is the expected outcome in being successful in their mission?  I guess for a talk show host, the answer is that they can make a lot of money.
Would anyone choose this as a personal mission?  "To be as sarcastic, condescending, judgmental and divisive as I can be on a daily basis."  What is the expected outcome - the vision of success?  What core values do you need to have to drive such a mission and vision.  Who are your heroes?  Do they poison or do they heal?

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's about empathy

My last blog post is one of the most viewed blogs I've written so far, even though I added no labels that would typically bring more viewers.  Not quite sure why, but because it was, I feel I need to follow up with some thoughts that may be informative.
When I see a bumper sticker that says "Marriage = one man, one woman", it might as have a subtitle that says "And you gay people cannot have what I have."  I can actually picture the person in my face saying, "Don't you even think for one minute you are equal to me."
I see that because of years of attitude directed at me.  Even someone I have known all my life, as I expressed empathy at her painful divorce, said I could not possibly understand her pain because hers was a marriage.
What if the bumper sticker said "Marriage = one white man and one white woman"  or "Marriage = one black man and one black woman".  Or "Marriage = one protestant man and one protestant woman".  The underlying message of those words would infuriate some people.
It is the underlying message that hurts.
As my friend Janet kindly commented on the last post, it's about common sense.  It's about empathy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Snap out of it!

Sometimes people have heard and repeated something so long, they don't think about what they are saying.  It's one of those derived beliefs that is so ingrained in their DNA that it escapes reason.
A few weeks ago on one of the morning shows a right wing politician suddenly burst into a defensive
"I am not a bigot" statement when questioned about his anti-gay positions.  Oddly, no one had called him a bigot on the show but it must have been a word following him around.
As they explain it, it's not that they are anti-gay, it's simply that gay relationships are not equal to straight relationships and should not be treated as such.  But that is not anti gay, it's just the way things are supposed to be.  "We love you.  Just don't expect the same things we straight people have."
It boils down to to a desire to regulate sex.  It's ok to be be gay if you remain celibate and do not expect the same rights and privileges in selecting a life partner as straight people have.  In other words, it's ok to be gay as long as you accept a self imposed solitary confinement as a life sentence.  Or, better yet, just marry someone of the opposite sex.  It's just about sex right?
It's not personal.  It's just what gay people need to do - apparently for their own good.  On top of that, it's God dictating this so it is unquestionable.
I DO question that God has dictated such a thing.  Don't try to tell me the Bible has specified this.   The Bible is full of conflicting information.  If the only place you are looking for answers from God is the Bible, your God is awfully tiny to contain all in one little book.  You have to read more than that to be considered an expert in Physics.  If you believe you are an expert on God because you read the Bible, don't bother me with your dictum.  God gave you a brain.  Use it.
Yes, I take this issue quite personally.  Telling me that my relationships are not equal to yours insults me.  Telling me that God does not see me as a wholly functioning person deserving of the same rights and privileges afforded straight couples insults me. 
If you and the organizations you support work to deny me equality in the United States, in Pennsylvania and in Venango County - you are ANTI.  You are against me.  You are working to deny my happiness.  You are working to deny my freedom NOT to practice your religious beliefs.
The crazy part to me is that my having equal rights has NO impact on straight people.  They will continue to have all the rights and privileges they have always had.  This anti-gay position HAS had an impact on me for far too many years.
Don't tell me you love me and then tell me I cannot expect happiness with the person I choose.  That is outrageous.  I am increasingly outraged each time I hear it.  It is cruel and insulting.
I feel so sorry for young people, who like me many years ago, internalize and accept this cruelty for their lives.  Everyone deserves a chance at happiness.  It's time for our churches and government to wake up.  Snap out of it.  It's not healthy to subjugate people and impose odd standards that create hardship.  Snap out of it!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A message to the better you!

On a number of occasions I have felt the call to write to one reader.  To say - if you are seeking an answer to your question here - you already know the answer.  Your instincts are correct.  Trust yourself.
Long ago a friend told me 'If someone asks you a personal question, they probably already know the answer.'  I believe she was right.
Next I would tell you as I did a few young people recently 'We always have choices.  We may not like them.  But we always have choices'.
Often we feel trapped.  Sometimes ashamed that we believed in something that we should not have believed in.  That is the course of life.  Good people - optimistic people - are deceived.  It has happened to many good people. 
I can testify that even better people stand on the other side.  Be true to yourself.  Be true to your values.  If you hang onto to those, there will be sweet answers to your challenges.  A year from now you will be amazed.  Don't stay in a swamp.  You deserve better!