LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

Love Is The Cure June 20, 2013

loveisthecure
Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
– By Elton John

While there is certainly some very interesting autobiographical material here, this is not primarily an autobiography.  It is a book about AIDS.

Elton looks at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, and then brings us up to date.  From the science to societal reaction we’re given the facts, as well as many stories of lives directly impacted by AIDS.  Of course, all our lives are impacted by AIDS.

We start with a story of a small town in Indiana called Kokomo, as we look at the life of Ryan White.  Ryan was a teenage hemophiliac who became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment. We see, as Elton John states, that Ryan and his family were “true Christians.”  The story also reveals the very non-Christian actions and attitudes of many of the church-goers and residents of Kokomo at that time.  The majority of the townsfolk ostracize this afflicted boy and his family.  “It seemed like a modern-day witch hunt, and Ryan was to be burned at the stake.” Adults were worse than the kids who teased and tormented him. His entire family suffered. This is some sad, sad commentary on the nature of fear, religion, and those who propose to represent God.  But even through being shunned by the town, his classmates and his “church,” Ryan said “There’s always hope with the Lord. I have a lot of trust in God.”
Eventually, Ryan and his family did have to leave town so Ryan wouldn’t have to be buried in such a place of evil hatred.  The town he moved to, only miles away, welcomed him with open arms.  In the end, Ryan reached the entire nation.
The faith, love, and Christ-likeness of Ryan and his mother forever changed the life of Elton John.  Elton is very honest about how his addictions, anger and ego were in control of his life.  “You can’t imagine how selfish I was at the time, what an asshole I had become.” Seeing Ryan give out so much love in the face of so much hate helped E.J. face his own demons.  Elton entered rehab in 1990 and has been sober ever since.  His interactions and friendship with Ryan White also led to the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Elton shares stories of personal loss, as so many of his friends and acquaintances were suffering and dying from this pandemic. There are stories of people like Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury.

We also see AIDS on more of a national level.  This, of course, includes people like Jerry Falwell, again on their religious high-horses proclaiming AIDS victims are just getting what they deserve.  Even some government leaders help spread the hate, fear, and misinformation that ads fuel to the fire of an already devastating crisis.

And we look at AIDS from a global perspective.
Over in Africa, we see that in addition to an extremely bad AIDS situation, there is also an epidemic of rape.  Someone is raped every 26 seconds.  The men and leaders seem to think this is normal behavior, and punish the women who attempt to report being raped.  These unreported atrocities give tremendous momentum to the spread of the disease.
Another disgusting story is about how the Bayer pharmaceutical company knowingly sold tainted, AIDS transmitting medication to other countries so they wouldn’t have to throw them out and lose money.

Throughout this book, we’re shown the many faces of AIDS.  The involvement of some famous warriors against this disease, like President Bill Clinton, Paul Michael Glaser, Princess Diana,  Elizabeth Taylor, and many others is discussed.  We examine what has been done, and where we need to go from here.

I would be remiss as a reviewer if I did not mention the book’s shortcomings.  They can be summed up by saying “Elton John is not an author.”  The writing stumbles from time to time, and there is much redundancy.
Having said that, the stories are far too interesting, and the information far too vital to miss reading “Love Is The Cure.”

I’ve always enjoyed Elton’s music.  At the same time, I sensed that he was pretty much a jerk.  Reading this book has helped me see a different side of Elton John:
A loving, helpful, mellowed-by-age-and-experience, redeemed Elton John.  When he speaks of his drug use, party-life, and “unprotected” multiple sexual encounters he says that it’s a “miracle” he never contracted AIDS.  I feel he does not use that word lightly.
His miracle is one with which I can totally identify.

“Love Is The Cure” is truly an eye-opener, and I thank God that Elton John has written it.


Buy the book. Click HERE.


[For years, now, my wife and I have been involved in raising funds for our local AIDS Task Force here in Fort Wayne, Indiana through  their annual “AIDS Walk.”  This year’s walk is over, but you can still donate.
If you’d like to do so, click: www.Aids-Walk.info.
Thanks! Dave.]

Buy the book. Click HERE.

Quotes:

– The bottom line is, we’re all human, and we all deserve to be helped and to be loved.
– I was consumed by cocaine, booze, and who knows what else. I apparently never got the memo that the “Me” Decade ended in 1979. The Elton ego train kept rolling right through the ‘8Os.
– Ryan White inspired a nation, changed the course of a deadly epidemic, and helped save millions of lives.
– As a child with hemophilia, Ryan had been treated with compassion. As a child with AIDS, many treated him with contempt.
– Many religious institutions, governments, and the general public sent an unmistakable message to people with AIDS: We do not care about you.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– Falwell and his ilk helped guarantee the AIDS epidemic would get far worse.
– It still stings to recall the pure, unadulterated hatred that was spewed at gays and AIDS sufferers.
– What makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It take advantage of our social weaknesses.
– Conservative religious and political leaders continue to stand in the way of implementing what we know for a hard fact will save millions upon millions of lives.
– Fighting stigma is difficult work. Instead of directing our animosity and fear at someone’s disease, we direct it at the person who is sick.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The discrimination that the LGBT community [in Haiti] faced after the earthquake is hard to stomach.
– Like many people, I deeply regretted much of what [George W. Bush] did in office, but [his] decision to take aggressive action [with his [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] saved millions of lives.
– There are 2.5 million people infected with HIV in India, and their government has said essentially, “We don’t care about any of you because some of you are gay.”
– We certainly can’t do it without religious institutions on our side. Their power is too great, their influence too far-reaching. There is no excuse for furthering pain and injustice in the name of any god.
– For a small fraction of what was spent on the war in Iraq, America would forever be heralded as the country that won the war against AIDS.

Buy the book. Click HERE.

– The cure for AIDS is a matter of changing hearts and educating minds.
– The fight against AIDS comes down to compassion.

Buy the book. Click HERE.



WE ALL HAVE AIDS

 

Of Goats and Men June 25, 2011

So.
As the victory for equality in New York is being celebrated, one of the first comments from the opposition I read is something to the effect of, “Well then, I want to marry my goat.” This echoes the quote used by Box Turtle Bulletin, “Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”

That would be like having said, “Gee, I might as well let my DOG vote,” when women were finally granted that right.

It’s a bogus argument emanating from people to justify their prejudice, hatred, or (maybe most often) plain ignorance.
It is an extension of the much-loved false notion of the old “slippery-slope” nonsense.¹

Our past shows us that the majority cannot always be trusted to insure the rights of the minority.
In 1912, there was a constitutional proposition to ban interracial marriage. It was claimed that if interracial couples married
the very fabric of society would dissolve.”²
Gee. That’s sounds vaguely familiar.

Many will say, “Yes, that was obviously wrong.”
THAT’S MY POINT. It wasn’t obvious to them at that time!
Listen people, these views were espoused by the “church!”  Complete with lots of Bible verses!
“God said it. I believe it. That settles it!”

You may see their error now, but if you were a conservative, right wing, protestant male at the time, the likelihood is that these views would have been YOUR views! AND you would have been saying, “It’s not me. It’s GOD.”

How can we be so oblivious to at least the possibility that we may be just as guilty of misunderstanding God as were our oppressive ancestors?
Yes, you’ve got your handful of verses.
So did they!

Even if you were right theologically, the one marriage that is truly devastating is that of church and state.
We were watching “The King’s Speech” the other night. It showed how the king was also the highest official of the Church of England.
The mini-series “The Pillars of the Earth” really brings home the atrocities that occur when the cross and the sword become one.
I digress.

When two humans who love each other and want to spend their lives together are allowed to unite in marriage, it has nothing to do with turtles or goats. There is no slope involved. Especially not a slippery one. The “fabric of society” will not unravel because of it. Marriage is not being “rediffined.” Others are simply being included in the existing definition.
We’re just talking basic human equality. Divorce is the great threat to the sanctity of marriage; not same-sex unions. I believe these unions will, if anything, strenghten our society.

It’s been said before, but our history shows that religious people are often the last to be swayed by the truth.
How sad is that?
Those who should be the ones championing equality and truth are all too often the ones fighting hardest against it.

— df

¹ “The slippery-slope argument – that we’d better not budge on or rethink anything for fear we’ll slip down into liberalism, apostasy, or some other hell – proves itself dangerous and naïve even as it tries to protect us from danger and naiveté. [For one thing] it assumes that we’re already at the top of the slope, when it’s just as likely that we’re already at the bottom or somewhere in the middle.”
Bryan McLaren, in “A New Kind Of Christianity.”

²  William Stacy Johnson, in “A Time To Embrace.”

Also see:
What’s So Amazing About Grace
Thou Shalt Not Love
Fall To Grace
Gay Christian Answers
The Myth of a Christian Nation
Evolving In Monkey Town

 

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.]

 

 
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