LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Comments On A Comment August 29, 2010

[A friend posted a comment on my “Tribbles” article to which I started responding.  I saw my writing becoming rather lengthy, and decided to just make it another post.  You should read her comments and insights before reading the following post.  Her comments are at:
https://lifewalkblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/tribbles-arent-the-trouble-labels-are/#comment-322
There are a number of other comments on that post as well.]


I too, am hesitant to attribute events to the direct hand of God.  McLaren spoke of  how “in the ancient world, there is little consciousness of intermediate causality. If lightning strikes, God (or the gods) did it – because there’s little understanding of intermediate causes like atmospheric convection, heat transfer, cold fronts, static electricity, and the like.”

Sometimes, we still seem to have that mindset.  Yet I believe there is some kind of strange mix of destiny and free will.  I don’t know where or how they intersect, but I believe in both.  Christians, especially evangelicals, are all about having, as you said, to know exactly what they believe on every subject.  I, like you, hold to some personal “basics.”  But outside of that, I’m all for a lot of leeway.


We may not actually say it this way, but evangelical Christianity really is a “knowing all the ‘right’ facts about God,” more than knowing God.  It doesn’t take much to prove that.  Just tell an evangelical that you may believe in evolution; or that you not sure the creation story is a literal one-week period.  You may wish to stand back.
I’ve known it to be said that “If you don’t believe the creation story exactly as written, then you don’t believe in the Cross of Christ.”
What?!?!?
Of course, as I’ve said before, that’s why there are hundreds, if not thousands of denominations who disagree and fight, but yet somehow feel justified in saying “Well, we just believe the Bible.”  But that’s been covered in previous posts.

There’s a great follow-up to “The Shack,” called “The Beauty of Ambiguity.”
It talks, as you said, of finding peace in not having to know what you believe about every little thing.  I’m convinced that if we could get God all figured out, He wouldn’t be God.


You talked of people who “feel they have to hide their brokenness, or their doubts, or the fact that they smoke or vote Democrat or whatever, out of fear of being misunderstood or rejected by the body of Christ. And that’s a terrible shame.”

A terrible shame it is.  And it’s due in large part the self-righteous religion that now calls itself Christianity.  Some seem to think that how you vote might determine your final destination.  No wonder people feel the need to hide their true selves.  But legalism always breeds hypocrisy.


I like your reference to us as “characters in this beautiful story of redemption.”
I can’t say exactly when or how my story took the dramatic turn that it did..  Naysayers would say I started going down that “slippery slope.”  Really, I just started to think, as they say, “outside the box” of Westernized, fundamental, evangelical Christianity.

It’s like a thought, or seed, would be planted in my spirit.  Then I would read something and find it spoke to that very thing.  This happened again and again.  It was truly a growth process.  It’s still happening.  Sometimes I  get frustrated with the lack of understanding I get from many friends who still believe as I used to, but I have to remember that my reaction then to someone who was where I am now would have been much the same.


One of the early books on my journey was Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace.”  A dangerous book indeed!  He said that after interviewing the Clintons (Bill and Hillary), he found that they could not be understood apart from their Christian faith.  The realization that someone could be pro-choice because of their Christianity was like, can I say this, being born again.
It was this sudden revelation that evangelicals represent only a portion of Christianity.  That right-wing Republicans don’t own God.  That if you are pro-war, pro-torture, pro-death penalty, calling yourself pro-life is a sick joke.  That the left, may actually have the higher moral ground on some issues.
The thing is, as Boyd points out in “The Myth Of A Christian Nation,” we should not label (here we are, back to labels) either side as “Christian.”  Our choices will, and should be influenced by our faith, but to call either side or stance “Christian” is a grave mistake.
Here’s another related McLaren quote:
“This sensitivity to vested interests in the Bible helps us, I think, when looking at political issues today. There are upsides and downsides to this or that immigration bill, tax bill, energy bill, whatever. People usually simply take sides – fer it or agin it. But the Biblical library teaches us that there’s a higher perspective, where we can learn to see both the upsides and downsides of all sides … That way, even if we are for something, we won’t be naive about its downsides, and vice versa.”

Soon after Yancey came Frank Viola with “Pagan Christianity.”  Then Wayne Jacobsen with “So, You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.”  William P. Young’s “The Shack.”  The  a-m-a-z-i-n-g  Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis.”  The memoirs of  Donald Miller and Anne Lamott.  And yes, even Al Franken.
Books are a wonderful thing.  Someone should have invented them years ago.


So brick by brick…I’m sorry, I mean “spring by spring,” I’ve become less and less sure of what I know.  Which, contrary to the evangelical mindset has actually made me more and more sure of Who I know.
I’ve become much more willing to “agree to disagree,” which I’ve found actually angers and alienates those who feel they have to know everything.  I’ve been called names and “un-friended” because of choosing to opt-out of discussions that were going nowhere.  I love conversation.  I’m not at all fond of debate.


As I think back now, I can actually see seeds of this journey taking place during my separation and subsequent divorce.  It’s strange where and how God can get through to us.

You said you’re not sure where you’re at with the “gay thing,”  but that you are OK with that.  Being OK with uncertainty is, I think, one of the greatest forms of maturity in the life of a believer.
From what I can tell from your comments, you are in a wonderful, scary, beautiful place right now.  I’m actually excited to see where the river takes you.  Just be aware, many who are not where you are, even some friends and loved-ones, will see you and your beliefs as a threat to everything they hold dear.  Sometimes, that can hurt.  Sometimes, it hurts a lot.  But as a wise man once said, “Love Hurts.”  That is so true.  The love of Jesus got Him nailed to a cross.


Well, maybe this post addresses some of your comments.  Hopefully, it will create some new ones.
I truly looked forward to continued conversation.  Sure, I look forward to the later part of eternity.  But truly, there is joy in the journey.


May your journey be filled with wonder, awe, revelation, and all the blessings you can hold.
— df


[Note:  I’m reading a book right now I think you would love, since you’re such a fan of Lamott.  It’s “Evolving In Monkeytown:  How a Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned to ask the questions,” by Rachel Held Evans.]

 

Tribbles Aren’t The Trouble. Labels Are. August 23, 2010


This article has made it’s way around the web. It’s been included in whole or in part, on many other sites & blogs like “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented,” and “The Gay Christian Network” sub-site “Syncroblog For Sanity.” Since first posting it it 2010 (Really? Has it been that long?!?), it has went through various edits and updates. SO, if you’ve read it somewhere else, or if you haven’t read it for a long time, you may wish to re-read it.
– df
———————————–

Personality tests. You know the ones. Those like the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Some people I know fall neatly into one category or the other. Me, not so much. In all those kinds of tests I took, I was usually all over the map. They’ve never really been able to classify me. These tests seem to be designed to “pigeon-hole” people, and try to put them in neat little boxes. I’ve found that boxes, labels and “catch-phrases” oversimplify the vast complexity of our humanity. They also, to be sure, oversimplify the vast complexity of our sexuality. Labels may be fine for canned goods, but not always for people.

I’m writing here what is the most open, public, and personal statement about my sexuality; not to just talk about myself, but more to add my voice to a current discussion that all too often is a divisive “issue.” So, here goes…

I pretty much always knew that I was gay. Later in life, due to my religious views at the time, I considered myself ex-gay.
Now, I’m an “Ex” ex-gay.
I could be considered a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage.
Since there are varying degrees of bisexuality, “bisexual” is probably my self-identifying term of choice.
Whatever my sexuality, here’s what I do know:
I am a man who has chosen to live in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship with the woman I love, and to whom I am genuinely sexually attracted. That doesn’t mean I’m not still attracted to men.
I am.
Contrary to accusations I’ve received, I am not being hypocritical or “denying my true self.” Many straight men are still attracted to women other than their spouse. To be faithful to the one you love, while recognizing that others are attractive, is NOT hypocritical. It is, in my opinion, just part of existing as sexual beings.

In “Thou Shalt Not Love: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays,” Patrick M Chapman suggests that sexuality exists on a continuum. This can help explain why not everyone can so easily be crammed into pre-determined categories. Mr. Chapman’s book, by the way, is the single most complete and thorough treatment of the subject I’ve ever seen. He writes from the viewpoint of a gay Christian anthropologist. [Update: I’ve since found another simply wonderful book called “A Time To Embrace.” Together, these two books are pretty much a complete library on the subject.]

So, anyway, I went through so-called “reparative therapy.” I used to be part of an “ex-gay” support group. I no longer promote “ex-gay” ministries. I did receive some positive input throughout my therapy, but it wasn’t because of the “ex-gay” aspects. It was the simple, general psychology and self-worth portions which helped. The promises of a changed orientation are simply not true. Actually, they are downright harmful. [The practice is being banned is some places for minors, as well it should be!] I must say that of all the people I have personally known who say they “came out” of homosexuality, none of them ever quit being attracted to those of the same sex. I can say that in all my years of involvement with those groups, I’ve never seen it happen. I have seen many who have said it happened, end up proving it didn’t. Many people in the movement now admit that the only change is in behavior, and not in orientation. And as one man from the documentary “Through My Eyes” has said, “Well, that’s just not good enough.”

Another label I used to wear was “right-wing, Republican, evangelical Christian.”
The journey “out” of that sociopolitical mindset that masquerades as following God, is a journey many have taken, and more and more people who follow Christ are beginning to take. That journey became “big news” through the statements of author Anne Rice who, while remaining a “Christ follower” decided she had to “quit Christianity”. (God bless you, Anne).
As part of my journey out, (including much investigation, Bible study, research, prayer, and just plain living) many of my beliefs have changed. I am now convinced that when the Bible is properly approached, interpreted, and understood – not as a constitution, but as a divinely inspired community library – there is no reason to believe that God condemns same-sex relationships . Like many, it is because of my commitment to Christ (not in spite of it) that I have become gay-affirming, and take a stand for marriage equality. I won’t go into all the Biblical and extra-Biblical discussions, interpretation, analysis, and arguments here. Many have already done that, and have done a much better job than I could ever do. (Check out the additional resources at the end of the article.)

One thing I’ve found is that attitudes often change when things are moved from “issues” to “people.” Everything is simple when it’s all “in theory.” I can’t tell you how many Christian friends of mine have taken stands on various issues, only to do a 180 when the situation “hit home.” When it’s no longer about abstracts, and it’s about the people you know and love; when it’s about YOUR life, things look a lot different. No, that doesn’t change “truth,” but it can certainly make us realize we may not have had the grasp on truth that we thought we had.

OK. I know I’m an exception, and not the rule. I’m not one-of-a-kind, but I may quite likely be “one-of-a-few.” Even with marriage: My wife and I were divorced and remarried.  That almost never works.  I left the marriage thinking that it was the best thing for both of us.  (Alright.  Mostly best for me.)   After a couple years of “playing the field,” I came to the realization there was no one, of any sex, I wanted to spend my life with more than my wife.  My orientation did NOT change, but I realized that we love who we love.  That’s just the way it is.
Again, we are the exception. BUT, that is a large part of my point. All these labels, boxes, and definitions are sometimes a little too “neat” for real life. I know we can’t avoid them (and they can be very useful), but we need to be aware of their limitations.
Whatever labels you place on yourself, and whatever your religious persuasion or lack thereof, one label we all wear is “human.”
We’re all people.
And there are a couple of things the Jesus I believe in made very clear:
“Love God. Love people.”
I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

More “personal” posts:
Here I Am        The Vega, The Ghost, And The Rambling Old Man        CLICK        More About My Journey        Comments On A Comment        Baby Smashing: 101

SPECIAL NOTE:
In connection with the new book “TORN” by Justin Lee, check out his “SYNCROBLOG FOR SANITY Click this link: http://gcnjustin.tumblr.com/sanity

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Through My Eyes        Holy Terror        Thou Shalt Not Love        A Time To Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics        Bible teachings at Gay Christian Network        Box Turtle Bulletin        A New Kind Of Christianity        For The Bible Tells Me So         [Photo from Star Trek, the original series, episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Original airdate December 29, 1967 ]

FOOTNOTE: I will say, even if you do believe the Bible is anti-gay (which I do not), that is no reason to oppose marriage equality. In the USA, you don’t have to be a Christian to get married. You don’t have to go to a church to get married. You don’t have to believe in God to get married. In this country, marriage is an act of the state. It is a legal contract. In the United States, marriage is not a religious right. It is a social institution. Just from a legal perspective, there is no reason to deny gay couples that legal avenue. Plus, since the divorce rate among evangelicals is as high or higher than the rest of the country, any talk from them about the sanctity of marriage is empty rhetoric, and laughably hypocritical.

THANKS: Prior to publication, this post was sent to a select few for feedback and input. This included those who self-identify as gay, ex-gay, and straight. I give sincere thanks to all who responded. Agree or disagree, those who chose to respond did so with respect. Of course the biggest thanks goes out to my wife, who has walked this journey with me for over three decades. What a true woman of God. She also gave input into this article, as well as the MUCH needed proof-reading. And she helped me choose from about 10 possible titles.

ADDENDUM: I don’t really like the argument from either side about whether or not homosexuals CAN change. To me, that misses the point. The bigger question is WHY change. Is it necessary or beneficial? Is is what God wants? I think not. At least no kind of “self-created” change. If, as in my case, one actually falls in love with someone of the opposite sex, and develops sexual attraction to that one person of the opposite sex, then that change (or maybe “expansion” is a better word) is “organic” and far different than some kind of forced or unwanted change. In the end, we love who we love.

 

Alive and Well August 21, 2010



Saturday morning. This almost always means breakfast at a restaurant. It’s usually an enjoyable experience. Today, not so much.

As we were entering the establishment we had chosen today, another family was leaving. I held the door open for my wife to enter, and this family of three seemed to be leaving in a huff. Being the cynic I am, I just assumed they were rude.

It so happened that this was a family of African Americans. As we were waiting to be seated, the man of the family came back in, and engaged the cashier and hostess is a heated conversation. He was accusing them of racist acts in their seating policy. Now, we weren’t there during the event being discussed, but we were certainly available to hear the aftermath.

As we were seated, there was much conversation between some patrons AND THE STAFF about “those people.”
“Those people,” meaning blacks. There was talk of how ridiculous “they” act. How “they” walk. Most of the remarks were agreed to by the staff engaging in the conversation.

As we were checking out, the male customer in front of us, and the female cashier, were in whole-hearted agreement with their disgust for “those people.” Just before walking away from the counter, the man actually said, “They don’t even take points off of your drivers license,” indicating running them down was perfectly acceptable. I’m guessing he was “half-joking.” That doesn’t change the absolute reprehensibility of his words and attitudes.

Well, my wife has sent an email to the management of Halls Restaurants, to inform them of the horrible, completely unacceptable words of the staff at their Coliseum and Lima location. The only way to even begin to rectify this is to fire all employees who were a part of this verbal hatred. If only we had the presence of mind to take down names. All we can do at this point is to refuse to eat there anymore, and inform as many people as we can.

It seems coincidental that my wife and I had just been discussing racism. How it often seems like “a long time ago” that slavery was the norm. It wasn’t, in fact, all that long ago. It wasn’t all that long ago that interracial marriage was made legal in all of the US. That didn’t happen until 1967.

So, again we are reminded that in spite of all the technological advances of mankind, our attitudes of hate haven’t changed as much as we may like to think. Hatred is alive and well. Racism is alive and well. Don’t believe it? Just visit Halls Hollywood Drive-In. You’ll see. But you may not be able to finish your meal.



[NOTE: The picture of the sign is to help make a point, and was not actually displayed at this Halls, although, it appeared some of the staff wishes it was.]

 

Open My Eyes, Lord August 19, 2010




Listening to some classic Barry McGuire today:
– ♫ ♪ Won’t you open up your heart my friend and welcome in the Father’s Son ♫ ♪ –
Somehow, the tune in my head transitioned into “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.”
I realized, I could totally hear Barry singing that. 🙂



Also, it seems odd now, that I can see so clearly the social justice ideologies in some of
the songs that Barry, and others then, sang that I looked right over before. (e.g. “Don’t Blame God”)
Our so-called “worldview” can actually blind us.
At least, mine did.
Man, our eyes need to constantly open anew.
That just doesn’t happen when you think you already have all the answers.


         AND NOW…
For the first time in over 35 years!
BARRY McGUIRE, and A BAND CALLED DAVID,
                    TOGETHER AGAIN!
Check out “The Final Tour – Don’t Blame God”  CLICK HERE.


AND, in case you’ve missed it, here is
         EVE 2012

“McGuire continues to promote the awareness of social and environmental justice.”

 

PEACE August 15, 2010

Filed under: Humor,Personal — lifewalkblog @ 1:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,



My wife likes flowers and plants.

We have a lot of them.

We also have a lot of trees around where we live.



Of all the gin-joints…I, I mean,
Of all the trees where a bird could make a nest,
This dove chose to come onto our deck, and make
a nest in one of my wife’s plants.



My wife made the discovery as she was watering the plants.
She held the sprayer over the hanging plant, pulled the trigger, and
both her and the bird got quite a surprise!






We’ve named the dove “Peace.”  She’ll let us get pretty close, but she seems
to be camera shy.

After her “close-up,” she flew away in a huff. It wasn’t long, though, until she was back sitting on her egg.

Now Introducing her babies, Joy and Love.

 

Thou Shalt Not Love August 12, 2010

Wow.  This is one of the most well researched books I’ve ever read.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with all of the authors conclusions, because I don’t.  There is plenty here I do agree with.

In “Thou Shalt Not Love” – What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays,” Patrick M. Chapman, Ph.D., covers the subject matter from every conceivable angle.
The sociology – It’s there.
The psychology – It’s there.
The Anthropology – It’s there.
The Theology – It’s there


Written from a gay Christian anthropologist point of view, this book includes:
Scientific findings.  Biblical culture.  Biblical history.  The Evangelical mindset.  What the Bible does, and does not, say about homosexuality.  There’s a discussion of what Dr. Chapman believes is the difference between biological sex, and gender.  He talks of “reparative therapy” and the so-called “ex-gay” movement.  There’s information on varying views of marriage.

All in all, there is a wealth of information here.  Information that, agree with it or not, is vital in one of the most divisive discussions of our time.

— df


From the back cover:

“When dealing with the homosexual issue, many of us in the Evangelical community have made assumptions and assertions that are being called into question.  No one … has called them into question as seriously and as carefully [as Chapman]” —  Tony Campolo

“As a member of an evangelical church, he underwent reparative therapy; it’s failure led him to investigate scientific and biblical evidence about homosexuality.  Distilled from his experience, this critique of evangelical views broadens the debate with insights drawn form disparate cultures, zoology, genetics, evolution, psychology, Bible studies, and the current controversy over gay marriage.” — Walter Wink


Some Quotes


“Many evangelical leaders refuse to accept any responsibility for the violent treatment of homosexuals, even though their comments, teachings and sermon sometimes fuel the fires of hatred.”  (I actually heard Jimmy Swaggart say “If a man ever looked at me that way, I’d kill him and tell God he died!”  This was part of HIS SERMON!  Yeah, no responsibility there. – df)


“The Religious Right didn’t grow out of a love for God and one’s neighbor – it grew of of racism, pure and simple.”


“Based on Jesus’ teaching, the debate should not be whether a homosexual can be a Christian but whether a rich person can be a Christian.”


Buy the book.  Click HERE.

 

GOD HELP US! August 9, 2010

————

What it Says About Us When a 17-Month-Old Boy
Is Beaten to Death for “Acting Like a Girl”

At approximately 8:25 p.m. last Sunday night, the New York State Police on Long Island logged a 911 call about a toddler in cardiac arrest. The boy, 17-month-old Roy Jones, was rushed from the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, N.Y. to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m.

“I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl,” Jones explained.

Read the rest of Michael Rowe’s story. Click the logo below.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: