go away, Irma

irma

There is a group of religionists who gained notoriety by protesting the funeral services of military members killed in action.  They laid the blame for these deaths on an America which condoned homosexuality;  God was having revenge on the rampant sinfulness of the country.  Carrying their placards near the funeral route, they spouted a brand of hatred which was based on their interpretation of Biblical verses especially from the writings of the Old Testament.

I remember many years ago viewing one of my mother’s favorite televangelists offering his explanation for the severe weather patterns touching the East Coast.  It was the punishment of an almighty God upon a sinful population in the major cities.  Yes, those folks in Charleston were simply having too much fun.

Well, folks, I guess Florida takes the trophy for sinfulness.  We’re gonna get nailed and honestly, most of us don’t really have that much fun to brag about.  I just want to know how their God decides what type of punishment to use.  We have our hurricanes, the Pacific has typhoons, Japan has earthquakes and Oklahoma….well Toto….this ain’t Kansas.  Ever set directly under a tornado?  I have and immediately confessed my sins and begged for deliverance.  Then I watched the light show from the exploding electrical transformers a half mile away and I knew God was going to keep me around for another day.

Don’t want to step on anyone’s toes….well, yeah, I do…..but, the concept which I name God has a terrific sense of humor.  If not true then surely he/she/it would have blown all of us to smithereens by now.  Would anything other than a gracious and benevolent God process all the shenanigans happening in this world and not pull the plug?  Remember the simple meal-time grace we recited as kids….”God is great, God is good; let us thank him for this food.”  We also need to add, “and thanks for loving me enough not to feed me what I deserve.”

Irma is heading this way.  There will be billions of dollars in property damage, lives will be changed forever, and unfortunately some will die.  But, it’s a force of nature, possibly a result of climate change, and it doesn’t matter from where it has come.  But, woe unto you religionists who tell me it’s a punishment.  Shame!  I hope Irma lays a big booger on your pillow this weekend.

 

THE “LIBERTY COUNCIL” : hatred in America

“The Liberty Counsel was founded by conservative activists Mathew (“Mat”) Staver – an attorney and former dean at Liberty University School of Law – and his wife Anita. The Counsel bills itself as a non-profit litigation, education and policy organization that provides legal counsel and pro bono assistance in cases dealing with religious liberty, “the sanctity of human life” and the family. Mat Staver chairs the Counsel; his wife Anita is the president. The Liberty Counsel shares a close affiliation with Liberty University (founded by the late Jerry Falwell in Lynchburg, Va.) , especially the university’s school of law. The partnership includes the Washington, D.C.-based Liberty Center for Law and Policy, which conducts legal research and writes about current legislation and policies.”

liberty council

splc file

“Now [the group will] allow homosexual young boys in the Scouts and allow homosexual leaders in the Scouts, and what are you going to have? You are going to have all kinds of sexual molestation. This is a playground for pedophiles to go and have all these boys as objects of their lust.” – Mat Staver, “Faith and Freedom Radio,” August 2015

 

I am convinced that it is futile to argue the propaganda set forth in the above statement relating to the  Boy Scouts of America.  An enlightened, discerning America knows this is absolute hogwash.  Those who wholeheartedly support this claim by Staver will always choose to live in their darkness and homophobia.  But, let’s talk about hypocrisy.  Those of us who are familiar with the writings of the Bible and the words which have been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, know that Jesus strongly and frequently condemned the Jewish religious hierarchy of his day.  He referred often to the hypocrisy which had taken an ancient faith based on one’s personal trek with God to a ritualistic cult of animal sacrifice and human oppression.  The commoners of Jesus’ contemporary society were in bondage not only to the Roman overlords but also to the Jewish elite.  Only a few references are made to the oppression of government while most of the writings focus on the oppression inflicted by religion.

John 8:7  He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Mark 12:30-31  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 7:3  “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to see the log in your own eye?”

Matthew 23:28  “So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”                                                                                                                         

Do your own research of the LIBERTY COUNCIL through the links provided above and their own website which proclaims on the opening page:

“Liberty Counsel is Restoring the Culture by Advancing Religious Freedom, the Sanctity of Human Life and the Family”                                                                               liberty council

Yes, they are promoting freedom if it is their very narrow and intolerant interpretation. Fundamentalist religious persuasions tend to take this route.   However, what is most disturbing about its agenda is their need to legislate their brand of morality and to attack a minority of American society which has historically been marginalized by a homophobic society intent on promoting hatred and distrust rather than acceptance and inclusion.

The opening quote from Mat Staver is just a sampling of the outrageously uninformed and unsubstantiated misinformation coming from this non-profit organization posing as a legal refuge for the victims of religious persecution.

Anyone -believer, agnostic or atheist- who has read the Gospels of the Bible with an open mind can only interpret the message of the great mystic, Jesus the Christ, as a message of love, tolerance, compassion and inclusion.  Anything other than this is religious heresy and hypocrisy.

                                                                                                                                  

 

 

bends, turns & detours

As with any journey, the destination is not always what we imagined it should be and quickly we discover that there are bends, turns, and detours to negotiate.  Such is the quest for sanity and serenity in sobriety.  When I had accomplished what seemed impossible, one year of continuous sobriety, I thought, “Aha, this is it, I have arrived.”

Yes, in a way, I did arrive.  But, I soon realized I had just touched the surface of what sober living entailed.  Thirty-six years later, I have yet to arrive.  The drinking is no longer the problem.  It’s actually easy now.  Don’t drink and I won’t get drunk; one is too many and ten is not enough; I won’t drink even if my ass falls off.  No, it’s not the alcohol anymore, it’s me and all the baggage stowed away in my head which continues to need an inventory and cleaning.  I suppose all of us are like that and the main difference is that we recovering alcoholics are fortunate enough to have a program geared specifically for us in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Perhaps the most difficult clean-out of the brain is releasing the religious indoctrination of our early years.  Today, as an old man approaching the septuagenarian decade of life, I no longer judge harshly the experiences of a childhood overwhelmed with a theology of condemnation and hell-fire although those experiences were definite contributors to my addiction.  I don’t harbor anger and resentment over injustices done in the name of a vengeful God.

But, I also do not forget.  The quest I am on leads into new and exciting ventures in the realms of spirituality, it leads into exploration of varying faith communities, it leads into appreciation for the ancient religions established long before the advent of Christianity.  And I do this comfortably because my mainstays are  love, compassion, peace, and nonviolence.  If, in the scriptures and writings which I encounter, those four companions of universal Oneness and solidarity don’t jump off the page and fill my brain with a sense of completeness, then I must move on.  I trust that inner spirit today.  Where it leads, I will follow.

And so, I try to walk the path of Buddha, worship corporately with Lutherans, and fellowship with sober people.  It’s a fine mix of all the best things in life when I maintain priorities and always remember that my name is Larry and I am an alcoholic.

hate in the good ole USA

(reference links for this article)

*FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL

 *AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION

*LIBERTY COUNCIL

THE PRAY IN JESUS NAME PROJECT

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE

CATHOLIC LEAGUE

The groups listed above would appear to be benign, American-values organizations dedicated to advancement of spiritual principles and family affairs.  In truth, they are poster children for bigoted, intolerant religionists.  These groups are on the watch list of the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center).  All are considered to be anti-LGBT+.  The three with asterisks are listed as LGBT+ hate groups.

All came forward with statements praising Trump’s transgender ban.  Their agenda is obvious and their methods and scare tactics are in line with the man who won the White House with their endorsement.  They have put a justice on the SCOTUS giving the evangelical Christian movement the necessary clout to repeal a woman’s right to choose and the marriage equality Amendment.  You’ve heard them on radio, television, and internet whining about the persecution Christians are suffering at the hand of a liberal, hell-bent population.

Link to the SPLC website to learn more about hatred in the good ole USA.

splc

 

FLASHBACK: 1970

Recently a family member threw a term (not a term of endearment) on me which was common and expected back in the protest era of the 1960s and 70s.  My broad shoulders back then and determination to live my life as my conscience dictated deflected comments and words meant to belittle and diminish.  Our cause became a mantra for equality in the courts of law and acceptance in our communities.  I thought we had made great strides.  But the election of 2016 exposed through the candidacy and subsequent election of Trump an America still saddled with bigotry, hatred, and intolerance for people like myself who follow the beat of a different drummer.

Thank God I am at an age when I truly don’t give a rat’s butt what others think of me.  It’s a blessing.  But insensitive language from a family member still hits home.  As a  society which promotes itself as the bastion of egalitarianism and tolerance, which claims to be the greatest people of the world, which boasts the largest Christian population anywhere, perhaps it is time to evaluate and do a self-inventory.  Are we what we think we are?  Is there honesty within us or do we deceive ourselves?

I have found peace through a lifestyle which teaches an inner search to truth and enlightenment.  It is not found in the church I attend or the people with whom I associate.  It’s an inside job which painful names or hurtful people cannot touch.  That revelation within continues to tell me, even when behavior and speech of others attack, that we are indeed a universal brotherhood dependent on each member of this earth’s humanity, dependent on a healthy ecosystem, and equal in all respects.

“Solidarity: I am you, you are me, we are one.”

rainbow-solidarity

The current political atmosphere and social divisiveness are a test of what America truly is as a people.  Our responses to the challenges we face will determine if this great experiment of ours is real or merely a flash in the pan as so  many great societies before us.  Let’s celebrate Flag Day remembering that our ‘red, white, and blue’ represents all of us, not just those who have assumed an exclusive and intolerant brand of patriotism.

 

 

ORLANDO ANGELS

 

 

Picture35

 

 

King David in Psalm 35 exhorted his Lord to send angels to drive away the enemies who persecuted him and intended harm for him.  In this passage we can visualize those angels protecting David just as our angels in Orlando protected mourners from the hateful signs and chants of a hate group from Topeka, Kansas. Their behavior does not warrant being associated with the word Christian. As with the Orlando shooter, I refuse to give them any further publicity by giving them a name. They are nameless. YouTube and Wikipedia are teeming with that information.

“Let those who plan to destroy me
    be turned back in terror.
Let them be like straw blowing in the wind,
    while the angel of the Lord drives them away.
Let their path be dark and slippery,
    while the angel of the Lord chases them.”

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“…….is an unaffiliated Baptist church known for its hate speech, especially against LGBT people, Catholics, Muslims, Jews and politicians. The church is categorized as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty  Law  Center  ….some protests have included WBC members stomping on the American flag and/or flying the flag upside down on a flagpole.”

Let’s face it folks.  These protestors follow Old Testament law rigidly.  They base a belief system on Leviticus 20.  Because the recipients of their brand of hate are so diverse and widespread it is obvious they have learned to read between the Biblical lines which they profess to believe.  I guess when one has a direct hot line to God, when his/her Bible is inerrant and literal, that person can substantiate any theology he/she desires.  Very few other congregations which label themselves as Baptist or Christian or Muslim or Judaic have attained this level of enlightenment.

Have you read Leviticus 20?  It is lengthy.  It is filled with death, blood, and stoning.  It depicts a time when God came to dwell with the Israelites and established his law.  Having just escaped slavery in Egypt, the tribe’s leaders (and God) eschewed anything Egyptian; customs, morals, habits, sexual mores.  If the story is indeed true, life for Jacob’s people must have been anything but “a land flowing with milk and honey” which Moses had promised.

To Jesus followers and to most Christians, adherence to Old Testament law is in itself sinful considering that the new covenant instructs us to “love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself”.  Twelve easy to understand words supersede the entire book of Leviticus.  We may look to the Jewish scriptures for guidance and instruction but we are no longer bound by its law.

“If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” john 8:36

It’s that simple and I’m afraid the association of haters we have referred to in regard to the Orlando angels…well, I’m afraid they are mightily ticking off God almighty.

VIGIL IN SMALLTOWN

 

39

 

Tonight was one of those moments in life when existence takes on new meaning.  We labor under daily drudgery, shattered dreams, and worldly turmoil.  The moments which rekindle the fires that make life exciting and meaningful are to be cherished, embraced and remembered for future reference.

Tonight I participated in a prayer vigil for the Orlando victims, the 49 beautiful people who were gunned down while celebrating life and youth in a place which they considered to be a safe haven for the LGBT community.  They gathered at Pulse to dance, sing, and party with peers who came from all walks of life, all professions, all creeds.  They were murdered by a disturbed man who allegedly  shared their passion but could not reconcile his religious tradition to their lifestyle.

America’s response has been predictable.  There has been a great outpouring of sympathy and love for the friends, families and loved ones of the victims.  God bless America.  There has also been a response from radical Christian and Muslim sects cheering the deaths as the direct intervention of a vengeful God pouring his full wrath upon a sinful nation. And then there was Trump polarizing America, inciting even deeper Islamophobia among the voters.

But, tonight was a very personal directive in my life.  Those 49 victims will not have died in vain as long as I have breath in my body.  You see, almost 100 like-minded people were at that vigil.  100 people pledged to live life offering love, peace, honor, and respect to all races, all creeds, all ethnicities, all religions, and all sexual orientations.  It’s not too late; we can save mankind from self-destruction and I will be an instrument of that saving peace.  That is my personal promise to those who died too young in Orlando.  They have not died in vain.  They have inspired ordinary people at my vigil here in Smalltown, USA and vigils worldwide to stand up to the hate-mongers and the hatred they intend to spread. Our loving God of peace will prevail.  Amen.