hell & damnation

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I am an avid reader.  In my mind I see myself reading the great classics, the newest block-buster sci-fi, the works of great thinkers, etc.  I stop by my local library and check out 4 or 5 selections anticipating spending an evening wrapped up in one author’s adventure or another’s philosophy.  At home in my favorite recliner, I open the book, read the intro and within 15 minutes I am snoozing.

Yeah, in my mind I’m an avid reader.  I suppose that I am doing a service for my local library by increasing their weekly circulation statistics, but, do I read much? No.  However, I did find a book that aroused my interest more than most books do.  Settling down to once again “practice” reading, I scanned the table of contents.  “Oh, there’s a chapter that looks interesting, I’ll just peruse it before starting.”

The first paragraph of that one chapter, chapter 14, saved me several hours of reading chapters 1-13.  It told me that, although an inherent alternative sexual orientation was not in itself a sin, practicing it was.  “Ah,” said I to myself, “perhaps I am reading it incorrectly.”

No, I did not misinterpret the words.  With closed book in hand, I then contemplated what was being proposed.  A man is not to be judged for his inherent disposition as long as he abandons himself to lifetime denial, gives up truthful relationships, lies to potential partners, and lives in a world which certain religious philosophers have deemed as moral.

Hmmmm, sure sounds like ‘love the sinner, but hate the sin.’  I vividly remember those words from the times of morality preaching leveled on me.  Shake my hand, hug me, welcome me, preach at me and then judge me behind my back with others in your church.  Sorry, that hypocrisy doesn’t float my life anymore.  Anybody wants to be a part of my life, well, I come as a package deal.

Some may ask why I’m so jazzed up over this.  A judge in a nearby city overruled the city’s ban on conversion therapy.  If you don’t know what conversion therapy is, you need to jump on Google and educate yourselves.  The judge sided with Christian leaders who stated the ban on conversion therapy, which in some cases employs electro shock therapy on minors who professed to be gay, was an attack on their religious rights to raise their children within the moral laws of the church.

Aw, I’m over all that crap that forged my life for too many years.  My buddy Gabby would say, “If y’all ain’t got nobody else to saddle up with judgement and damnation, then go for it.  I’ve got broad shoulders and I ain’t afraid of your burning hell fires.  EEEEEEHAW.”

But I pray for the kids.  You should too.  And if you agree with the judge that Tampa’s city-wide ban on conversion therapy is illegal because it infringes on your freedom of religious expression and it’s OK to use humiliation of kids as a form of treatment, and if you believe that shock therapy is a legitimate deterrent for your children, then send up a prayer for yourselves too.  You’re the ones who need to worry about hell fires, not me.
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you’re invited

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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I use the multi-colored message shown above to convey the basic truth that none of us are excluded from the love of God, from the table which Jesus has set to feed the entirety of mankind with his bread and his wine, his body and blood.  Do not allow anyone to tell you that your race, your creed, your sex, your orientation, or your past disqualifies you from sitting with Jesus.  No earthly being has the authority to deny you a seat.  Jesus’ invitation is eternal, unconditional, and it specifically has your name on it.

In the world of evangelists, Billy Graham’s legacy continues to command the respect and admiration of a great many people, believers and non-believers.  He shared on his blog site in 2012  THE THREE INVITATIONS OF CHRIST

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 

Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  Mark 1:17

Jesus said, “Abide in me and I in you.”  John 15:4

These invitations are an ongoing process.  I have no qualms accepting that I don’t have all the pieces to the God puzzle.  Sometimes I don’t even know what the questions should be.  GOD IS A MYSTERY.  And I believe that is a good thing for a doubter and skeptic like me.  Keep me guessing so that I continue searching.  Just when I believe I’ve reached that “Aha” moment or a fascinating revelation, another doubt and question arises.

But, the process doesn’t change, does it?  Run to Him when life gets heavy and overwhelming, learn of his ways and take his yoke upon me.  Determine what my ego wants versus what Jesus says in his words and teachings.  It all comes down to surrender.  Do I want to continue in my burdensome ways or will I turn it over to the Master, the problem-solver?

Learn and then share with others what has been discovered.  Those of us in addiction recovery programs know the necessity of service to others.  We share our war stories and then extend our experience, strength and hope.  Alcoholics and addicts are invited just as they are to the tables of the meeting rooms.  The beauty and success of AA, CR, and other recovery programs depends on the fellowship putting others before personal interests.  Those questioning, new arrivals are invited to share our repurposed lives, to sit at the table of miracles.  We become fishers of men.

Finally, Jesus invites us to abide with the God of our understanding in a peace that surpasses anything which the world has to offer.  To me this means building and cherishing the most intimate relationship which I could ever know. When I am willing to surrender, when I am willing to pull my head out of self-serving ways, when I am willing to be still and know, then we can be as one walking this path through the joys and travails of an earthly life.  God dwells in me and I in Him.  That is the solidarity of  “I am You, You are me, and we are One.”

Believe me, it is not always where my head and heart dwell.  This challenge which is called the human condition tries to detour me, lie to me, and steal me away.  But, running to my Lord is no longer the option of last resort.  I have learned to go there as quickly as possible.

He said, “Come unto me and learn of me, my yoke is easy and I will give you rest.”

He has invited you, too.  What’s holding you back?

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the Gift

They came from the East bearing gifts;  but the One they came to honor was the greatest gift of all.

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“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Can we imagine a world as described above?  Probably not.  And most likely we should not expect it anytime soon.  Back in the 1960s, when life was young and irreverent, my contemporaries who had taken time to read the Revelation of the Bible would exclaim,

“Cool, far out, that dude John must have been on some kinda awesome drugs.”

Drugs indeed.  In my generation drugs, alcohol and sex were the answer to all of life’s problems.  We proclaimed it on the streets and in our music.  That was the world in which we lived.  Many stayed there, some died there, but God, for unknown reasons, brought a few into His world of forgiveness and grace – a place where all the sorrows and pain still existed, but we now had the tools to co-exist with death and heartache living life abundantly.

That is what the ‘greatest gift’ given to us in the teachings and words of Jesus, the Christ, is all about.  The world is what it is, always has been a violent, miserable place and probably always will be.  But, now we don’t have to wallow in it.  We have a place to go deep within and commune with a God who wants peace and brotherhood for all mankind.  That light we experience within can defeat the darkness surrounding us.  Like Jesus, we were born to live it and share it.  Black, brown, white, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, male, female, gay, straight – all were invited to the table set by the birth of a baby in Bethlehem two millenia ago.  I’ve been invited, you too.  C’mon, let’s party hearty over the birth of the Good News!  AMEN.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 🙏❤

 

BEN PLATT – SOMEWHERE

Thanks to my friend, Dr. Horty @ IT IS WHAT IT IS for the inspiration and hope.  Love you, my sister.

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to facebook or not to facebook

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…..that, my friends, is the question of importance this morning.  On the one hand, Facebook is informational and I’m able to follow the groups and organizations such as SPLC, AU, Media Matters, and my Congressmen which keep me informed about issues of significance in my life.  On the other hand Facebook is filled with a litany of stupidity and ignorance that somehow also creeps into my daily routine.

Friends on Facebook?  Yeah, right.  I am “public”, anybody can read me.  Of those who follow me are 7 people whom I do not know, and one girlfriend from the foggy days of the 1970s.  She scares me more than any of the others.  Assuredly, I can access the privacy settings and make myself virtually inaccessible, but, what’s the point in that.

No, as a blogger friend has noted, it should be called “Fakebook”.  I like that.  It just rolls off the tongue and it is a much more accurate description of what a man can expect when he signs up.  Although, during the 2016 campaign, my cadre of Facebook “friends” showed their true colors and most of them deleted me.  Hmmmmmm.  maybe there is a redeeming value in Fakebook.

I am virtually friendless on social media but, I now know who the loyal people are in my life.

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“do not harm” act in Congress

DO NOT HARM  house bill HR3222

This bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and
Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), would ensure that the
federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) couldn’t be used to exempt people or businesses from
adhering to laws designed to ensure basic
civil rights and legal protections. 
AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

Research the bill.  If you agree that the rights of LGBT realized after decades of blood, sweat and tears must be protected from religious institutions’ attempts via the RFRA to regulate and negate those rights, contact your U.S. Representative and tell him you expect his/her support of the Scott/Kennedy bill now pending in the House.  Create an account with congress.gov to receive email updates on bills pending and voting schedule.

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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.”

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“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.