Mayor Pete

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Let’s give a shout-out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the host city for the Democratic National Convention, July 13-16, 2020, at Fiserv Forum.  Particularly in today’s heated and volatile political climate, it behooves us to know our candidates’ platforms.

Pete Buttigieg – PBS.org

CLIMATE CHANGE

He believes climate change is a national security threat. Supporting “Green New Deal” proposals, candidate Pete is one of 407 U.S. mayors who signed a pact to adhere to the Paris climate accord after Trump pulled out of the international agreement in 2017.

ECONOMY/TRADE

Strongly supporting labor and union groups, he believes the NAFTA trade agreement caused irreplaceable job losses across the industrial Midwest saying that Democrats must work harder to advocate for working people.

GUNS

Mayor Pete is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group that advocates for gun control legislation at the state and federal level.  A supporter of universal background checks, he opposes guns in schools and “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws.

FOREIGN POLICY

Pete, having served as a Naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan, like other Democratic candidates has criticized Trump for conducting foreign policy by tweet.  He would withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but believes troops should remain in Syria and considers Iran to be the greatest threat to Israel in the Middle East.

HEALTH CARE

Buttigieg says he’s all for a single-payer health care system but would not immediately jump to that system from the current system.  Instead he would first implement an all-payer rate setting which would not eliminate private insurance companies.

IMMIGRATION

Mayor Pete supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, DACA, and opposes Trump’s aggressive deportation policies.

SOCIAL ISSUES

He favors passing the Federal Equality Act, an amendment to existing civil rights legislation that would give federal  non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ people.  He opposes Trump’s transgender ban in the military and supports gender reassignment surgery for transgender people in prison.

For links to greater detail go this PBS link – Pete Buttigieg platform

Peter Paul Buttigieg is a former military officer, now in the Naval Reserves, and combat veteran who has served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012.  Born January 19, 1992 in South Bend, he was married to Chasten Buttigieg in 2018.  He is a graduate of Pembroke College in Oxford, University of Oxford and Harvard University.  He is a Rhodes scholar who speaks 8 languages: English, Norwegian, French, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic and Dari.

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Being serious about life is hard work and soul-wearying.  Have you ever asked yourself if the entity you name as God truly wants life to be a burden?  Just look at Jesus, the one Christians revere as Savior.  Regardless of his divinity or not, regardless of his virgin birth or not, regardless of his bodily resurrection or not, he was presented as a portrait of compassionate and joyful fulfillment by the ancient writers.  He enjoyed a good wedding celebration with friends, he ate foods forbidden by his Judaic upbringing, he did not wash his hands ceremoniously before breaking bread, he counseled and healed lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and others considered unclean and immoral by his contemporaries.  He exhorted his friends and disciples to follow his example.

The Book of John, chapter 14, says that Jesus responded to his disciples, who were dismayed by his pending departure, saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  I have never been able to believe that he was telling his disciples to establish a new religious cult or that church fathers centuries later should create a revolutionary theology and call it Christianity.  No, Jesus was teaching them how to live a contented and peaceful life in a cruel and savage 1st century, Roman occupied culture.  Very simply the Way, the Truth, and the Life was his path of spiritual enlightenment shared with fellow Jews within the parameters of Judaism.

Through parables and stories he provided an ageless example for all of us to practice in pursuit of a meaningful existence in this life’s experience.  It has nothing to do with religion or correct theology or a list of “thou shalt and thou shalt not.”  Jesus was Jewish yet he rebelled at the litany of doctrines and laws which Judaism embraced.  He knew the penalty for his heresy would be death yet refused to denounce his truth within his own heart, an indwelling God.  That’s the example passed on to us – know the heart’s truth and live by it even unto death. 

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.  For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I put upon you is light.”  MATTHEW 11:28-30

I have been struggling recently – with personal issues, with faith, with the horrific injustices of government and institutions.  My answers were not forthcoming because I had chosen to take my own yoke upon me.  It’s a yoke of concern and worry, of control and judgement. I failed to remember that there is only one who can fix my crazy world.  His yoke is easy, his load is light.  He showed me how to do this with the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Lord, here’s my yoke; I want yours instead.  Lay it on me.

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speak to me of God

“I said to the apple tree: ‘sister, speak to me of God,’ and the apple tree blossomed.”  Nikos Kazantzakis ( attributed to St. Francis) 

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photo by DIDS

Don’t you think ours would be a much better, more peaceful world if those who profess a god could keep it this simple?  It’s as if my God is saying to me, “Just look around at the Creation which you attribute to me; it is there you will know me.”

Followers of the mystical path believe God is immanent, meaning inherent and indwelling.  From the moss under the trees to the king of the jungle to the man known as Einstein, the essence defined as God exists and propels the God image through all that was, that is, and that ever will be.  All that is necessary to know God is to look out the window and observe the butterfly fluttering, the bird winging across the sky, and the flower blooming.  Look at the bees pollinating, the farmer planting, and the mother giving birth.  Everything on earth contains the essence which some call God, others Yahweh, still others Allah, while many do not name it at all.  This earth is a continuum of birth, death and rebirth.  It tells us everything we need to know about life.  So why look to the heavens, or why dread hell, why sit in judgement of others, why condemn ourselves in attempts to earn God’s approval?  If that power which we label God did not approve and indwell, we would not be here.  No theology, no doctrine, no “ism” could save us.

 

PRIDE – conversion therapy

Living the PRIDE.  It’s not only about protests and political action, but also about enjoying the freedom to live as created.  There continue to be many who oppose that pride6freedom and would return America to the days prior to 1950 when the closets were filled with gay men and women who feared physical harm, incarceration and personal shame.  We’ve come a long way, baby, and those closet doors have been permanently thrown open never to be shut on us again neither by government nor religion.

But, some will try.  Conversion therapy is alive and well among fundamentalist Christian groups determined to “change” gays, especially minor children, to a heterosexual orientation.  Years ago this conversion used barbaric methods including shock therapy, aversion therapy and in extreme cases, lobotomy.  Being gay was not an acceptable family nor church circumstance.

Today’s methods, not as drastic, resort primarily to counseling and role playing in attempts to make a gay person straight.  Conversion therapy is, however, unanimously discredited by mainstream psychological and psychiatric associations citing the potential for severe emotional damage to developing young minds.  Many of those who condone this ‘therapy’ apply the delusional thought that the lifestyle is chosen and not innate.

Whenever this hypothesis is presented to me, my response is always, “OK, so you are a straight man/woman.  If heterosexuals were a 10% minority and you were directed to become one of the gay majority, either by will power or conversion therapy, could you do it?  Could you refute what has always been normal behavior for you?”

Usually the response is hands thrown in the air, a shrug, a scornful face and a few expletives as that person abandons his/her attempt to ‘change’ me.  I WAS BORN THIS WAY.  But even if my way of living were a choice, you, dear evangelizer, have no right to inflict your views upon me.  That’s the wonderful thing about freedom – we have the right to choose.  Choice is life’s golden ticket.

I have referred numerous times to the SPLC, a non-profit dedicated to exposing and c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d[1]prosecuting discrimination against minority groups.  Recently, it won a New Jersey case against JIFGA, Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, citing the bogus practice of facilitating gay to straight conversions.  Not only was JIFGA ordered to dissolve, it also will be paying the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and a financial settlement.  Follow the link above, JIFGA, for the full story.

 

PRIDE & God

god loves everyone….if not, She would have annihilated us by now…

“Why not?  Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of a woman?  Pretending that God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters.”  Mirabai Starr (1)

(1) cac.org

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STATES & CAPITOLS

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TGIF –  know what that means?  It’s Friday night.  No more TV news, no more politics, no more Democrats or Republicans, no more news from abroad, no more gut-wrenching scenes from our southern border, no more hatred on our screens.  Seize the weekend because it belongs to us.  Baseball, hikes, soccer, boating, picnics, swimming, vacations, family, loved ones and music.   Let’s kick it off with a refresher course on United States geography.  Can you name all the states AND their capitols?  Need help?

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PRIDE – men & monkeys

 

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As a younger man, about 28 years old, a friend and I had a house-painting/paperhanging business. (Yes, for those of you under 50 years old, wall paper was a popular decorative choice and could be very lucrative.)  We landed a contract with a successful building contractor.  He had several dozen employees, he was a respected community leader and  he was a member of good standing in the local church.   This job offered the promise of significant future work.

We arrived on the job site at his house just before he himself left for work.  Very affable and likeable, Tom always took a minute to talk with us before leaving the house.  One morning he offered the usual morning pleasantries before sharing a bit of information garnered from his church family:

“Boys, did you know that a study was done on a group of monkeys exposed to daily hard rock music?  Yep, the monkeys turned queer.”

My partner, a happily married heterosexual man guffawed and snickered.  I just smiled because at that moment I knew I would have to give up the hard rock which I loved or live my life as a gay man.

Here are two of my all-time favorites.  I promise, listening to it will not make you queer.

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PRIDE – acceptance

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Let’s get honest.  We all need to feel wanted and accepted.  It’s a human thing which most people are able to navigate effortlessly.  Helping us along the way to becoming respectable, normal members of our communities were parents, teachers, clergy, and friends, all of whom were well-intentioned in their guidance.  They unanimously wanted nothing more than happy, well-adjusted, heterosexual kids to grow up, find a calling in life and raise families just as they and generations before them had done.

That could be the end of story….and it is in some cultures.  But, in America, we grow up with choices, with the prerogative to love whom we want.  That right is protected by the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws enacted following years of protests, marches, beatings and deaths.  We are the USA and in this country no religion nor institution can deny our hard-won rights although some still try.

Growing up, we knew about those few freaks who did not fit into the community plan, those who moved to the city, those who relocated to another state to pursue their idea of happiness and fulfilment.  At the dinner table there was talk of cousin John living with another man in sin or of aunt Mary divorcing her husband to set up housekeeping with another woman.  They were not accepted, they were not considered normal and we quietly heeded the unspoken warnings concerning the criteria for acceptance.

So it is not surprising that this gay thing which troubled so many of us as an unacceptable, deviant lifestyle was learned at an early age.  Also not surprising is the revelation that ultimately the greatest challenge was not in gaining the approval of parents, teachers, clergy and friends, but rather instilling approval of ourselves.  The bigger issue became how to love me when so many obviously did not care about me, the person, but rather how to control me, the pervert.  We had to learn how to live a life with no secrets, no lies, no cover-ups.  In doing so, we realized that some people would withdraw their love, some would vehemently denounce us, some would try to cure us, and some would always disapprove.

But, we found others who could love us unconditionally and embrace the truth of our lives.  When being true to ourselves became more important than winning the approval of others, we finally became free to be the human beings we were born to be.