Monday, June 29, 2015

Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple. They were part of a system that exploited and excluded people in God's name. Bree Newsome--knowing she would be arrested for it--climbed a flagpole and took down a symbol that represents exclusion and oppression, also done in God's name.  WWJD, indeed.

 (Art by @Niall_JayDub via Twitter)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A few thoughts from an old, straight, Christian guy after attending Seattle PrideFest 2015:

1) The overall mood this year felt not only celebratory (as expected) but also more relaxed--almost a prolonged collective sigh of relief.

2) My wife and I are introverts and can't handle being in large crowds for long, but it felt so joyous to be surrounded by this sea of people made in God's image; all shapes and sizes and colors. I could feel the presence of God and my heart swelled with a sense of God's love.

3) Naked people walking around in public look funny. Nothing sexy about it. I couldn't imagine doing something like that myself (even when I was young and svelte), but I'm glad that they felt safe enough to do it. And I appreciate the benevolent wisdom of the Seattle Police in allowing people (a relative few) to "let it all hang out" so long as they weren't hurting anyone else.

4) We watched an amazing musician: Edna Vazquez. Check her out:

Friday, June 26, 2015

This is GOOD NEWS!!! Marriage equality has now been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a Constitutional right. This is justice. This is fairness. This is dignity. This is right.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I stopped into a guitar store yesterday, to kill a little time. There I saw a kid--maybe 14 years old--fumbling around on a bass, with a hopeful look in his eyes. His dad stood behind him with a skeptical expression and asked, "How much? Two hundred?" Suddenly I was transported back 40 years, when I was that kid, and it made me miss my dad terribly.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

- A.A. Milne

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"It is even possible that as, under the Roman Empire, Christianity drew out of and inherited from the other Oriental religions the heart of what was best in them, so the present religions of India and the form of Buddhism that is practiced today in the Far East may contribute new elements to be grafted onto Christianity in days to come."
-- Arnold Toynbee, historian (Civilization on Trial, Oxford University Press, 1948)

"When a historian one thousand years from now writes about the twentieth century, he will surely be more interested in the interpenetration which occurred for the first time between Christianity and Buddhism than in the conflict between the ideologies of democracy and communism."
-- Arnold Toynbee, historian (A Study of History, Vol. 9, Contacts between Civilizations in Time, Oxford University Press, 1954)

Friday, June 12, 2015

"The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the Way.”

-- Bodhidharma

Monday, June 08, 2015

"It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church. ... One reason I am changing my position on this issue is that, through [my wife] Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own. Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families. Furthermore, we should be doing all we can to reach, comfort and include all those precious children of God who have been wrongly led to believe that they are mistakes or just not good enough for God, simply because they are not straight."

-- Tony Campolo

Saturday, June 06, 2015

"God doesn't make mistakes." This is a phrase I have repeatedly heard some Christians say towards people who are transgender. It is a way of dismissing a transgender person's identity and condition and journey. It is saying, essentially and rather crudely, "You may think that your gender identity doesn't match your physical gender, but if that were true it would mean God made a mistake, which can't be the case, and therefore your experience and understanding of yourself (and the assessment of medical and psychiatric professionals) must be wrong." And so with a four word sentence that person's life-long struggle is brushed off as mere "confusion" or "disobedience to God."

But you never hear Christians use that phrase in that way when speaking to the parents of a child born with a birth defect, or to someone with a congenital condition--because, obviously, it would be idiotic to try to deny the existence of something that is in plain sight. Most Christians (nowadays at least) wouldn't use that phrase upon someone who had an "internal" condition such as bipolar disorder either. To do so would just be crass. And yet "God doesn't make mistakes" will flow right out of someone's mouth (or keyboard) when talking about (or to) a transgender person.

The fact is that in the messy world of biology, all kinds of variations and anomalies occur. To deny them is to deny reality. And to assume that you know better another person's internal condition than they and their health professionals do is the height of ignorant arrogance (and arrogant ignorance).

On a related tangent, it is now estimated that 1 in 2,000 people are born Intersex. Sometimes this presents as "ambiguous genitalia" or a chromosomal identity other than XX or XY (such as XXY) or a person being physically one gender and chromosomally or hormonally the opposite gender, etc. There are a multitude of situations that come under the Intersex umbrella.

Maybe the error is assuming that a variation from the norm is a "mistake." Maybe it just is what it is: a product of the complexity of biology. In that case, "God doesn't make mistakes" has an entirely different meaning: variations--including transgenderism--are all part of God's intent.

For more information, I highly recommend this 32 page document entitled "The Myth of a Pink and Blue World" written by Kathy Baldock:…/The-Myth-of-Pink-and-B…

(Pictured: A cardinal with bilateral gynandromorphism, which means it is literally half male and half female)

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Within each of us there is a silence
--a silence as vast as the universe.
We are afraid of it ... and we long for it.

--Gunilla Norris

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

"Most Christians, when they recite Psalm 8, which says we are 'a little lower than the angels,' emphasize 'lower.'  [Saint] Benedict would have put the stress on 'a little.'"

--Patrick Henry, Benedict's Dharma