Sunday, December 31, 2006

Scottish New Years--Hogmanay!

Happy 2007 everyone. I know that it is not yet New Years in Connecticut where it is technically home for me, but here in Scotland, we have had a wonderful Hogmanay, as they call it. Because of high winds (up to 70 mph) and rain, they canceled Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In fact, they canceled celebrations in most towns and cities. I happened to have plans in Comrie, one of the ONLY cities to carry on.

They have a special ceremony that goes back over 300 years. No one is sure of how it even started, but they call it a Flambeaux. In order to drive out the evil spirits in the town, they light giant torches, parade through the four corners of the town with a bag pipe bag and the torches. Then they toss the torches into the river.

We nearly didn't make it though because the wind blew down a huge tree on the little country road to the village. Fortunately two local men saved the day with their chainsaw and forklift. Very impressive.

Comrie was GREAT with loads of people, many guys in kilts, and lots of fun. After that, we visited friends for first footing. For good luck you bring something to drink (whiskey is traditional), something to eat (shortbread) and something to keep warm (coal).

I have some video I will try to get up in a day or two, but off to bed and then a hill walk tomorrow.

2006 was particularly difficult for me with deep personal losses within my family. But I have also made amazing friends and feel so much richer because of them. I look forward to this new year with new adventures, activism and opportunities.

May 2007 be one filled with much love and peace and joy!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Loch Ness Non-Adventure

Someone recently told me that I am too self-absorbed. Me?! Really? Crazy.
Sure I blog about myself and I do videos about myself and I write plays about myself and in my daily journal I write pages about myself, but I am very aware of my surroundings, thank you very much!

Anyway, here is the Loch Ness video I promised. Loch Ness in DEC = cold & boring.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Can My Gay Child Change?

Do you have a son or daughter who is a homosexual? Are you afraid that your child will live a life filled with pain, loneliness, illness and end up far from God for eternity?

Perhaps your daughter is lesbian. Are you afraid she will never become a mother? That she will never have a stable home, a normal life?

Perhaps your son is gay. Are you afraid he will become addicted to drugs, that he will have dangerous encounters with strangers, that he will contract a fatal disease?

Perhaps your child told you that he or she is transgender and that they want a sex change operation. Are you afraid they are making a terrible mistake that they will grow to regret? Are you afraid that he or she will be ridiculed, persecuted and even physically harmed?

Society teaches us that a homosexuality is a lifestyle filled with pain and sadness and sickness. The worst kind of life. I know that for many parents, the idea of a homosexual son or daughter terrifies them. We love our children and want the best for them.

We may remember moments in our younger lives when we witnessed other people persecute "queers". We heard the horrible names they hurled and may have even seen them physically attack homosexuals.

Who would want that to happen to their son or daughter?

Many parents with a homosexual or transgender son or daughter seek answers:
Can my son change? Who can save my daughter from the lesbian lifestyle? Who can help my child sort out their gender confusion? Is there someone out there who can help? A psychologist? A clergyman? An ex-gay group? God?
Some have tried to seek change for their children with the belief that they are doing the best for them, but in reality these well-meaning parents have ended up harming the children they love so much.

Isn't it tragic that many sons and daughters find it impossible to confide in their parents? Many times homosexual and transgender children do not share their lives, their dreams, their fears or their hopes with their parents. They fear that their parents will reject them. Rejection from a parent can feel like the worst rejection of all.

Isn't it tragic that so many homosexual and transgender sons and daughters transplant themselves far away from their own families? Or if they stay near the family, they often lead double lives, silenced lives. This silence creates an artificial peace. But inside your child may feel so very alone unable to open up and share honestly with you. The risks are too great.

Can your child change? Yes, but maybe not in the way you expect.

These gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual sons and daughters can grow distant from you. They can become unsure of themselves. They can feel hurt and bitter towards you and even towards God. They can live in fear and isolation that someone may learn their secret and condemn them. They become sad without the love and acceptance of the people most important to them--their parents.

Your children long for your understanding, yet they fear you will stone them, and unless they change their ways, you will drive them from home and from your hearts.

Can your child change? Can they go from being homosexual to heterosexual? No, this is not possible. Perhaps some can live like a heterosexual for a time, but their desires remain, even when they insist to you that they do not. And almost always they will end up feeling miserable and unfulfilled, hurting others along the way.

A more important question may be, Can Parents Change? Many parents can change their ideas about gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people. They can learn new ideas. They can replace their old way of thinking with new concepts.

Happy and fulfilled homosexuals thrive both in stable relationships and on their own. Many transgender men and women live full and satisfied lives. Many LGBT people serve God with faithfulness and much joy; often as a result of the love and acceptance that their parents give them.

Maybe your world and your experience has taught you that to be homosexual is bad, sinful, and hopeless. But the world is prejudiced; the world lies.

The Bible says:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)
God has a special plan for the parents of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual men and women. You have a vital role in bringing blessing and wholeness to their lives. Seek God and not man, and God will guide you.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (Matthew 7:7-9)
If you want to hear the experience and insights of parents who have been through what you are going through, check out Carrol Grady's My Son, Beloved Stranger and Jacqueline Ley's No Ordinary Child--A Christian Mother's Acceptance of her Gay Son. Also visit Someone To Talk To, a site for families of gays and lesbians.

For Spanish speakers, you can read ¿Puede Cambiar Mi Hijo Gay? on my Spanish blog.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Inverness and Places North

I traveled North from Crieff this week to Inverness, Loch Ness, Fort William and Aviemore. I will share a short video from the shores of Loch Ness later in the week.

I think the highlight was meeting Gay Outdoor Club member, Alan, who is an avid hill walker. He and other queer walkers and climbers have been topping Scottish hills and mountains for over 30 years. Oh and in Inverness I visited Scotland's largest used bookstore (I purchased a book of poetry by Robert Burns, a replacement copy of CS Lewis' The Great Divorce and for my host the complete short stories of Saki/HH Munro. )

In Glen Nevis (in the cloudy shadow of Britain's largest mountain, Ben Nevis), I did a short walk with my new walking trousers. I felt more elf-like than ever bounding over rocks and streams. Must me some miracle fabric or something. (click on photos for a larger view)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wisdom from My Mom

With the holiday season, I have thought a lot about my mom, Anita Toscano, who died in September. I thought of my mom's words when I recently read pre-Christmas post by Elliot, where he talks about the challenges of dealing with our families during the season especially when they struggle to embrace us for who we are. I can just see my mom sitting down with Elliot, sharing some wisdom. I wrote the following to Elliot in the form of a comment and thought I'd repost it here.
My mom often reminded me that understanding, accepting and celebrating a queer child is a hard transition for most parents.

Their minds need to be renewed. They only have years of negative images about queer folks of any sort. They have memories of terrible things happening to the town dyke or fag or queer. They often have no first hand experience of happy queer folks. They need to learn some new tricks, and for old dogs, that can be tricky. Not impossible, but it takes time and patience.

You have had months (years) to think through these isssues and do so in conversation, blogs, reading, thinking, writing. They have not done this work and don't understand how you are wired inside. So much of it doesn't make sense to them yet.

Often they speak out of ignorance and decades of conditioning. They may also remember how uncertain they were at your age, how unprepared for the world and wonder how a young people can really know himself so well, especially in a world so much more complex than their own.

This is not to let them off the hook, but to encourage you to give them some line and reel them in slowly and carefully and lovingly, like you want them to deal with you.

It can feel hard when it seems much of the outside world around us is against us. When we need allies at home, they seem so unwilling. But they will see your intelligence, your integrity, your wisdom and hopefully in time (maybe sooner than you can imagine) they will celebrate you.

In the mean time, I celebrate you and wish you a wicked good Christmas.

Boxing Day Hill Walk

With the members of a local church hillwalking group, I did a 10 mile hike in the hills to the north of Aberfeldy, Perthshire here in Scotland. We came upon a quarry where they mined for Barytes. It made funky green water.

I am off to Inverness tomorrow until Thursday night, so I will be off-line as I travel north (and stay in a wee cottage on the shores of Loch Ness).

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in the Scottish Highlands

The weather in central Scotland these past fews days has been perfect for hill walks. I love the quality of the light during these short winter days. The sun sets by 3:30 PM and comes low across the sky. I am a sucker for a good sunset, and as we walked last night into the hills well over an hour after sunset, the sky and the moon radiated amazing light changing the look of the hills every minute.

Although we didn't get snow for Christmas, a thick frost covered the ground and trees this morning making it almost a white Christmas.

Of course Christmas in the UK looks and sounds and tastes different than it does in the US. Folks get dressed up in "fancy dress" as seen in the photo of Captain Hook's gay brother stocking the Marmite at Tescos.

The British sing some carols I never heard before and even when they sing songs where I know the words, they sing them with different tunes altogether. Food is different too, hot sweet punch, mince pies, Christmas pudding. I did make some vegan eggnog this mornig so that I can taste Christmas as I am used to it.

All of these cultural differences got me thinking about the Bible and how the cultures back in the First Century in the Greek-speaking Roman Empire were vastly different than our modern "Western" cultures today.

If little things like Christmas foods come out so differently between two modern English speaking countries, even with all the access to travel, the Internet, TV and film, how can we presume to understand the translated Bible texts written in another language, at another time, in cultures all together different that our own.

Yet people proclaim "The Bible says x,y,z!" and condemn whole groups of people who don't fit in with the modern interpretation they ascribe to the texts. Like a good hill walk, we need to take it slowly with these texts, catch up with each other, be considerate of each others' pace, stop, be still, wait and allow the Light to change the quality of our vistas.

And off I go to Christmas dinner. Happy Merry Funky!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nativity Remix

A local conservative church here in Crieff, Scotland asked members to create floral arrangements to symbolize the birth of Jesus. These could be traditional, literal representations of the stable with Jesus in the manger, or something more abstract. A friend of mine, who is a member of the church, invited me to design and construct one with him.

Some days later I envisioned a stable made of rusted, broken, ugly, inorganic materials with a single sprout of new life wedged into the rubble. (The emergence of something New in the midst of the old world-order of brokenness and decay).

On a walk, we found an old dump pile loaded with broken glass, rusted metal and chicken wire. In another place we found a piece of barbed wire on a fence. My friend suggested a single lily nestled in highland moss instead of the sprout I initially suggested.

Below you can see the result (click on the photos for a larger view).

Right now this same church faces a crisis and a test. One of their members just came out to them as gay. The pastor knew for a few years, but as long as the man stayed relatively silent about it, the church had no problem. Suddenly, as an openly gay man, some members of the church feel they need to "manage" the situation.

One elder tried to persuade the man to step down from his elected position as worship coordinator. The pastor pressured the man to stand aside and not lead the pre-Christmas service that he had been asked to organize and lead weeks before. More meetings will take place over the next few weeks with the worse case scenario that this gay man will be removed from the membership roles and forbidden to serve the church in any way and only just allowed to attend services as a guest.

This serves as a test for the church. Suddenly the Outsider, the Alien, the Other stands among them. Do they rely only on their assumptions and ignorance and chuck him out like an unwanted and inconvenient pile of rubbish? Or do they labor to love this man, to understand his world, to recognize the years of work he has done to embrace both Christ and his sexuality?

If God were a novelist, I doubt God could script it much better than this. The church gathers to celebrate the birth of the OTHER among them, the Stranger Savior, who religious leaders ultimately execute and the Church then embraces as the cosmic scapegoat.

Parallel to this celebration, a man, a brother, reveals he is not exactly who they always imagined, but something more, something different, something new for them (or perhaps something they have been avoiding and managing for years). Will they embrace this new part of the person among them and allow their understanding of him and the scriptures to grow?

The ending remains unclear. Perhaps we will see a Christmas miracle and the appearance of wise women and wise men who will recognize Christ in their midst in each and every member of their community, even the queer ones.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Deflated Love--An Original Music Video

I wrote earlier in the year about my European love affair. My love and I have been going the distance, but lately we have had some strain in the relationship. My love has not been putting out like at first. Our love feels deflated and needs to be refilled. To share my longings, I have produced this music video.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Bible--Enemy and Friend

Heath posted a powerful blog entry about his own personal tortured and special history with the "World of God".
I ran to the Bible whenever the fight became too hard. I ran to it like an abusive lover; it's words and its ideas hurt, but I enjoyed the pain. The pain meant that it was working. The pain was part of the process. I wrapped myself in the pain, believing with all of my heart that it was the antidote to the horrible, sinful feelings I had. I waited patiently for my transformation, but it never came.
My Enemy, My Friend

Winter Hill Walk

Today I took a long walk up Ben Chonzie, a Munro, a Scottish Mountain over 3000 feet (914 meters).

It was sunny and clear when we started at the bottom, littered with sheep, but at the top, the mountain hares in their winter white fur ran around, the sky turned gray and snow covered the ground.

I snapped some video I posted below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Glasgow Winter Night

I spent two excellent days in Glasgow hanging out with new friends. The city is totally decked out for the holidays. Although I like Edinburgh, I like Glasgow more. With its gritty hometown feeling and friendly people, Glasgow reminds me of Memphis, TN. Edinburgh with its pristine buildings, always dressed up for tourists, reminds me of Nashville, TN. I guess if I had to choose between the two, I would choose to live in Glasgow.

Earlier in the day, I had tea at the famed Willow Tea Room designed by the Scottish artist, architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. After tea I met Elaine Davidson, the most pierced woman in the world. And although I took two photos of her, somehow her wild aura refused to allow the camera too work properly (either that or I need a new data card).

I am now back in chilly Crieff where I will work most of the day. But, I may also go for a walk later today since it is so gorgeous out today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quakers and the Quest to Reclaim Azeroth

Quakerism and especially Quaker meeting for worship are a lot like video games, particularly, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) like World of Warcraft.

Warcraft and Quakers???? Although I am a novice at World of Warcraft, I see many similarities between the Quaker world and the quest to drive out evil from the mythical land of Azeroth (mythical to most but more real than this world for many).

In MMORPG games like World of Warcraft, players log onto the internet and then enter an alternate reality. At first they begin to move around in that world, discovering it and exploring it for themselves. Once they know their way around, they pick up tools, gifts, abilities, roles and most importantly of all, they make friends.

These are not imaginary friends, but real-life people, perhaps thousands of miles away (or right next door), who also have entered the game. These friends join up to form groups and then their groups grow. Finally together with their shared resources, knowledge, gifts and abilities, they face challenges, quests and evils greater than any one of them could face alone. (I know this is a VERY basic simplistic view of the game. For those of you gamers out there reading this forgive me for the generalizations)

In meeting for worship yesterday in Dunblane (Western Scotland Monthly Meeting), the regular attenders and members grieved over the news that one of their long-term Dunblane Friends, a woman in her 80's who was on holiday in southern England, had a terrible accident and now lies paralyzed in hospital.

In response, the children wrote cards, the members recorded a tape with greetings from each one child and adult present, they made plans to visit, to send cards to the hospital staff and to enter into silent worship with this dear Friend so many miles away now restricted to a bed, perhaps for the rest of her life.

Quakers face many challenges and "evils" both global and personal--poverty, racism, wars, loneliness, fear, feelings of inadequacy. Most are too great to take on ourselves, and even too much for discussion initially, but we can enter an alternative universe, a place of quiet, of stillness, of contemplation. Regardless our nearness or distant, we can come together in our mystic communion and face the challenges together that would crush us alone.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Joe G is No More & I am Smarter than You

Two seemingly unrelated stories emerged on the blogs today. First and most startling, Joe G announced his retirement as a podcaster and a blogger!

Stating the rising costs of production (financial and time constraints), the decrease in audience, the commercialization of podcasting, his transition into the profession of psychology (or astro-psycho-physics, or whatever his field), and the phenomenon of pod-fade, he concluded that the time has come to hang up his headphones and iriver. (He does hint that he will not completely fade away himself but will reemerge in another cyber life form)

In LA last June Joe G evangelized podcasting to me trying to get me to board the podcast bandwagon. I told him it took too much time and money. Besides I'd rather ride on the backs of other podcasters having them to do all the hard work while I provide material and talent. (So the question remains, where do I go from here????)

Please visit Joe's latest (final????) post, and leave an endearing or obnoxious message (or both). And download his podcasts while you can; he's pulling the plug on the whole operation very soon!

hat tip to QuakerQuaker (who still has Joe G, formally known as a Quaker, listed as a team member, perhaps in hopes of luring him back to the Light.)

In other news... Now here I thought it was because I was better than most people, turns out it is simply because I am just more intelligent. The Independent reports,
It’s official - vegetarians really are smarter. But it is not because of what they eat. Bright children are more likely to reject meat and opt to become vegetarians when they grow up, a study has shown. Clever veggies are born not made.
The article goes on to discuss the intelligence factor leading to health benefits of a meat-free diet.
"Our finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, coupled with the evidence on the potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life."
That info along with the Independent's recent piece about Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars proves that vegans are the smartest of them all. So since soy makes someone gay, AND vegetarians are smarter than meat eaters, no wonder the carnivorous anti-gay Religious Right is always on the defensive.

hat tip to to fellow intelligent gay veggie blogger Terrance at Republic of T.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Svensk Spädbarn -- My Swedish Blog

Not content with a Spanish blog, I have now launched a Swedish blog. In fact, I hope to revolutionize the Swedish language. The blog is entitled Svensk Spädbarn.

The word spädbarn is under utilized in the Swedish language. It means baby, as in infant, but that is it. You can't say, You look hot, baby or Baby you can drive my car or Baby you melt my butter. (Du utseende het , spädbarn eller Spädbarn du kanna driva min bil eller Spädbarn du smälta min smör -- see what I mean).

I imagine I will write about ex-gay stuff there, but it will also be for fun. (kinda like my English language blog)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lies and Purveyors of Lies 2

Back in June I blogged about how Focus on the Family misused scientific studies to support their own claims. Well, they are back at it. This just in from Wayne Besen:
Truth Wins Out urged Time Magazine today to renounce a guest column written by James C. Dobson in this week's magazine after a second professor, Kyle Pruett, M.D. of the Yale School of Medicine, expressed concerns that the Focus on the Family leader "cherry picked" his work. In a letter to Time and Dobson, Dr. Pruett asked that Focus on the Family, "not quote from my research in your media campaigns, personal or corporate, without previously securing my permission."
The first professor to state that her work was used inaccurately by Dobson was New York University Professor Carol Gilligan, PhD. Yesterday she responded to Dobson's Time Magazine piece,
I was mortified to learn that you had distorted my work this week in a guest column you wrote in Time Magazine. Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with. What you wrote was not truthful and I ask that you refrain from ever quoting me again and that you apologize for twisting my work.

From what I understand, this is not the first time you have manipulated research in pursuit of your goals.
No, not the first time. This has been going on for years. Under the cover of being a kindly educated Christian child psychologist, Dobson spins lies about LGBT folks. It is one thing for a Christian leader to say he stands opposed to same-sex love, but quite another for him to lie and deceive others through misrepresenting research.

Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out encourages folks to write to Patrick Smith, the editor of Time with the clear message, If the Right can't prove it, Don't use it. Write your comments to

A Blogger Returns wtih Insights and Tenderness

After a long absence, South African blogger and podcaster, Dampies, has posted four entries on his blog which he now calls New Creations Blues (formally me and my black hole of anger) He shares about where he is at these days.
I think however that if we are all to be honest, we can only ever reflect the part of our journey we are on. There has been a time when I resolutely called myself "no longer under the curse of death" (read: homosexual). After that I said I was no longer gay (read: that I had revoked my choice to live a gay lifestyle). After that I started admitting that I still had same-sex attractions, but that didn't mean that I was gay because the attractions were unwanted (and still are). Now I have moved one step further. I am in a place where I would rather stay in some sort of denial position and not say anything at all, because the issues are SO complex and it is simply not possible to reduce any person's journey to a formula that will work for everybody. But I can tell you, that people are more important than their ideology and God thinks so too.
I like how in all four posts he brings out the complexity of the issues with a gentleness towards himself and others that I often see missing from many ex-gays (and gays). He also shows love for his former homosexual self, something that I never was able to do when I identified as ex-gay.

When you get a chance, read more here, here, here, and here.

Crap! I've been "Tagged"

I HATE, detest and LOATHE all sorts of forwarded cutesy e-mails that include jokes, sappy stories and cartoon animals with large dewy eyes. In addition I HATE, detest and LOATHE all of those get to know you questionnaires one is coerced into filling out and then must share share with others. Often extortion fuels the process--Do this immediately and extremely good luck will befall you. If not, you or you pet will die a horrible death by the end of the month.

But since Willie Hewes is such a dear and it is the Xmas season, (and I am loaded up with holiday music more than the Christmas turkey is pumped full of hormones) I feel generous. Below are my answers to 5 weird things.

1. My tic is that I crack my knuckles in my sleep (or so I have been told)

2. My favorite spot on a man's body (or a woman's, for that matter) is the little crease between the upper leg and the torso. I am sure it has a name.

3. I have a extreme phobia of tires (or for Brits tyres or for Swedes däcken--I think) that when I fill up a tire with air it will explode in my face. I was actually once on the Car Talk radio show talking about my phobia.

4. I don't like artichokes and cheesecake (together or apart).

5. I had an imaginary friend when I was 15-36 years old. His name was Jesus.

Okay, now I am supposed to tag six others. Suddenly I feel powerful. I will only choose bloggers (and Willie already chose Elliot--drats!)
1. Joe G (and I'd love it if you would share your six weird things on your excellent podcast)
2. Alex
3. Christine
4. Anna HP
5. Diana (she is the queen of questionnaires and personality tests)
6. Nonesquitur

TAG, you are now IT.

The Deadly Christian Agenda

I just read a post at Eugene's Paradoxy in which, inspired by the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, he writes about the beauty in pre-Christian China. He reveals the conflict that acknowledging this beauty can have on some types of Christians who insist that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and NOTHING beautiful, good or spiritual can really happen apart from their God in the mix.

In Forsaken, Eugene writes,
For the diehard fundamentalist there's nothing to question; if the Bible seems to suggest that all of those people deserve to go to hell, then that's simply all there is to it
He goes on to share his thoughts on the matter while still maintaining his belief in Jesus and the Gospel.
There is tremendous beauty to be found in Far Eastern cultures. The fundamentalist has no choice but to dismiss that beauty as meaningless, but I'm convinced that the God who authored beauty is honored whenever human beings strive to emulate their Creator's creativity. Without devaluing my own beliefs I can affirm the good that I see in those who may not share my theology, and through those relationships build on my own understanding of the God I strive to know.
I commented that many Quakers have maintained the belief that that of God is already in each person regardless of their faith (or even if they have no faith). I wrote,
When we see the Other as a non-believing pagan savage ruled by the god of this world, we will always treat the Other poorly, as less than. We will war against the Other. We will take advantage of their child labor. We will discount their humanity. We will condemn them to hell. We will deny the truth that God works in their lives and is expressed through them.
Next over at Gay Spirituality & Culture I read Convert or Die a short post by Darrell Grizzle about a new "Christian" video game that's out in time to celebrate the birth of the Savior (no not the capitalist savior & god--Walmart, the other guy,--Jesus). Grizzle quotes the San Francisco Chronicle:
Liberal and progressive Christian groups say a new computer game [Left Behind: Eternal Forces] in which players must either convert or kill non-Christians is the wrong gift to give this holiday season and that Wal-Mart, a major video game retailer, should yank it off its shelves.
Personally, I am grateful that this game is on the market, because it reveals in stark detail the attitudes of certain types of Christians towards whom they consider "lost".

If some are lost souls who refuse OUR GOD, then big deal if we blow them up. They are just extras in God's giant action film. Nameless, unimportant extras. Like the extras in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Palestine and in Darfur as well as the wrong believing extras who have same-sex attractions or gender differences or simply a different kind of faith in Jesus. We've seen the action films; extras get exterminated.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God's Original Design Shot to Hell

Recently I bought a snazzy looking travel-size Bible (see photo)and have begun to read through it. I've done it several times before, but it's been awhile.

In reading the first few chapters of Genesis I remembered a conversation I had earlier in the fall with the wife of a conservative Christian pastor here in Scotland. She could not get passed the idea that heterosexuality was God's original design. Therefore, homosexuality was OUTSIDE of God's original design.

At the time I didn't see just how powerful those Genesis texts can be for some people. Reading them the other day it struck me that the writer(s) of Genesis clearly wished to communicate that:
1. God created everything.
2. God affirms heterosexuality.
3. Man comes before woman
4. Woman was designed for man's companionship and aid (marital and otherwise)
5. Man gets to rule over all of creation
Who gets to tell the story determines what gets told and how. Genesis 1 and 2 are dangerous texts, particularly for women, people with same-sex attractions and the animal population.

Looking at the texts as a literal, I can see how some people conclude that God meant for one man to be with one woman. But looking at it a little longer one can also conclude that God designed us to live in the magical Garden of Eden and to eat an exclusively vegetarian diet.

And if we take a literal view of things, in order for humans to multiply and populate the earth, they indulged in incest (Who did Eve and Adam's children marry?) and polygamy.

And it wasn't until the time of Adam's grandson Enosh (at least 200 years after the garden incident) that "people first began to worship the Lord". So what did they do before that? Was it God's original design that people NOT worship the Lord?

Clearly people do not live according to "God's Original Design". We have many single adult men living alone (And the Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone"). People eat meat to excess and in the form of hamburger, sausage and Spam™. And we have coupling in forms other than solely heterosexual. And what about plastic products? And TV? And single moms? And Intersex folks? And Trans folks? And mega churches? And the Bible on ipod? And even the Bible itself?

This whole "God's Original Design" argument is a terrible slippery slope.

Lady Liberty & the Round Church

When I attended Love in Action in Memphis, TN, they forced us to worship at Central Church. At that time Central was housed in a big round structure, a vision of the then Pastor Jimmy Latimer (he has since been pushed out of his position by other church leaders and started another church--long story and a little sordid).

Now before all that Love in Action moved onto Germantown Baptist Church where John Smid became licensed as a minister Rumor has it that Jimmy Latimer would not license John at Central (at least according to one reliable source). Germantown has had its own problems with nearly a church split over the now former senior minister's ideas of power sharing. (Church business in Memphis is more complicated than a soap opera).

Back to the round church, ...upon arriving at Central Church for LIA's Family and Friends Weekend, my dad turned to my mom, "Anita, it sure looks like a spaceship. Look out babe, but I think we've just been abducted!" (Which was not far from the truth)

Central Church later moved further East (they have traditionally gone along with the White Flight of Memphis' population) and sold their facility to the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church. (Which when it was on Highland Ave had the most amazing sign that in the right light looked just like the Playboy logo.)

Bob Painter e-mailed me with a link to the latest addition to the church's property, the 72 ft. tall (23 meters--5 Stories!) Statue of Liberation through Jesus Christ clutching a honking big cross. According to the New York Times, she holds the ten commandments in her other hand and the name Jehovah is written on her crown. Sort of a feminine Jesus on steroids.

Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses...but just for salvation. We spent all we had on this here statue. They also spend their money on full-page newspaper ads condemning homosexuality.

What does something like that cost? It's almost as bad as Bellevue Baptist Church's giant crosses (aka Bell-Vegas). "The center cross is 150 feet (45.75 m) tall, flanked by two 120-foot (36.5 m) crosses." So glad that God's dollars are going to the erection of such fine monuments in Jesus' name.

Gay Evangelicals in NY Times

Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he, the 29-year-old son of Southern Baptists, is an evangelical Christian.

Justin Lee set up a Web site about being a gay evangelical Christian.
Just as he is certain about the tenets of his faith, Mr. Lee also knows he is gay, that he did not choose it and cannot change it.
You can read more of Gay and Evangelical at postmodern politics & sexuality.

Among Friends in Scotland

One of the things I like about being a Quaker is that virtually anywhere I go in the world, I get to meet up with other Quakers, or Friends, as we like to be known. I still remember how earlier this fall in Sweden I got to meet up with Janet, a Quaker from Lund (who Lirou pointed out immediately in the crowd and said, "She looks Quaker." And really Janet did have a peaceful calm about her.)

After an overnight flight that got into Edinburgh at 7:00 in the morning a week ago Sunday, I stumbled into the Quaker meeting in the city center. No one even had to speak to me. It felt just like home. What a great way to start a trip, to sit in silent worship with Friends. It centered me and spoke deeply to me. After worship, Alastair, one of the members, bounded over to greet me. "I know you from Joe's podcast!" (It is a small Quaker world)

This past Sunday I attended a much smaller meeting in Dunblane. A lesbian couple had come down from the far North for their civil partnership and a marriage ceremony at the meeting. These two had been members of Dunblane meeting before they moved north. They also had spent time in jail because of peace activism.

Of course I knew none of these details at the beginning of meeting. Their story unfolded as Friends shared messages about the woman and to the women. Love, appreciation, affirmation, respect flowed from the messages.

I sat, letting God scan my heart and mind, knowing that God knows better than I do what I need. Being in the presence of greatness--God, these two women, these Friends--I felt confident that just being there, I would change and grow and become a better person.

I entered the meeting into a collected group of strangers, but by the end of meeting, when we greeted each other as is the custom, I shook hands with friends.

(Photos are of the cathedral in Dunblane across the street from the little room where the Quakers meet)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Tofu Made Me Queer

Okay, I heard the wooly argument about how the estrogen in soy (and soy products) stimulates female hormones in men thus turning them gay. I really thought it was just material for the Fake Gay News. The only real risk I see in eating lots of soy is the possibility of developing man boobs. Which can be cute (and at times a little scary).

Jim Rutz over at the WorldNet Daily expounds on the danger of soy in his recent column, A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
Rutz fails to list a single report to backup his claims.
So what is wrong with being feminized? He makes it sounds like to be a feminized male is a fate worse than death. Of course he is ONLY concerned with male homosexuality (the most dangerous and important type I guess). Perhaps lesbians don't get enough of the feminizing soy formula.

After blowing up the dangers of soy (cancer, penile shrinkage--horror!, infertility), Rutz ends with some good news.
Soy sauce is fine. Unlike soy milk, it's perfectly safe because it's fermented, which changes its molecular structure. Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.
As a dietary vegan, I think it is important to introduce diversity into our diets. Soy is not the ONLY source of healthy protein. So yeah, lay off too much soy. But don't take up cow's milk! One liter of cow's milk requires 990 liters of water to produce. (A fact I read in the Independent this weekend)

But how many people will read Rutz' inane and insane piece clutching at straws to determine the source of homosexuality, thinking there must be a logical reason why someone is "that way"? But they MUST have a reason why God's design has been flawed. It couldn't be that the Bible has any flaws. Now that is crazy talk.

hat tip to Rick Segreda

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Reality of Intersexuality

Last spring I received an e-mail from John, a non-gay survivor of the ex-gay movement. He suggested that looking into Intersexuality might be helpful in the discussion around the nature of sexuality and the faith struggle.

He writes,
I'm not sure if you know anything about intersexuals, as very few Americans are intersexuals, and even the GLBT movement is often unaware of this unique chromosonal makeup.

I think for many people, particularly fundamentalist gays struggling to come out of the movement, this information might really help, since whatever the right may think about gays, there is no way they can claim intersexuals aren't born that way - though unfortunately, there is now talk on the religious right about the 'radical hermaphrodite agenda' (yes, I kid you not.).

This info might de-progam some heteros on the right, too, since they will see that issues of gender aren't black and white (It helped convert Brian Mclaren, the liberal evangelical theologian, to liberalism, for instance.)
Ten Misconceptions about Intersex
Organisation Intersex International (English)
Internationell Förening för Intersexuella (Swedish)
The Self is Infinitely More Than the Sum of Bodily Parts
Poems, stories and other works by those in the Intersex Community

I also found a recent article published on a Presbyterian website that seeks to educate the church. More Light on Intersex

So how can the reality of Intersexuality help those who struggle with same-sex attractions and sexual differences to embrace themselves? Let's discuss.

Daniel's Story of Trying to Go from Gay to Straight

Daniel Gonzales skillfully creates funny, silly, searing videos and infographics exposing the ex-gay machine's duplicity. (You cannot imagine how much work we get done through instant messaging)

But this young man has a very serious story that he has filmed (with the help of Esteban) and posted on YouTube. His is a powerful story that reveals the many dangers one can encounter while pursuing an ex-gay route, including the danger of losing one's faith.

Raised in a Baptist home and now no longer a Christian, Daniel was a patient of NARTH founder, Joseph Nicolosi.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Xmas gifts for YOU!

I know some of you do not celebrate Christmas, but when gifts are involved, we can all get into Xmas.

Looking at recent comments, I drew up a little Xmas victim list. I then expended personal energy to visit the Christmas Craft Fayre here in Crieff, Scotland. I hauled my camera along to capture specially "cyber gifts" for you. (which means I am too cheap to buy actual gifts, but instead will film the items I would have bought for you had I been less of a cheap bastard.)

You may think some words are not correct in their spelling, but if you are from the US, just assume I am using British spelling. If you are British (or a colonized subject of the Queen), just assume I am using American spelling. If you are Swedish, Du er en het spädbarn. (Anna HP, I found about 40 gifts that you would like--you are easy to buy for. While Grace/Pam, I had no clue. Christine, you already got your gift :-)

iMovie is all new to me (I don't yet have the geeky cool skills of Daniel Gonzales). Hope you enjoy this five minute quest for the perfect Xmas gift just for you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scotland Day Six--Around Crieff

I spent the day in Crieff. In the morning I walked to James Square where they held a Christmas Fayre. (Look out for video on this tomorrow). In the afternoon I went walking with some 7th Day Adventist Church folk and their very active dogs. I am off to Pitlochry tonight for dinner and a Christmas concert. In another words, a perfect day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Scotland Day Five--Sunny Crieff

After Joe G's diagnosis of me on his current podcast (#64 Syblil vs. Dr. Elizabeth Lofus), I feel glad to have had a sunny day, or at least one of my personalities feels glad.
When I think about Sybil, I finally understand Peterson.
(Joe, I sound so much taller on your podcast than in real life. Is that through the magic of editing?)

I'm staying in the little town of Crieff, birthplace of Ewan McGregor, (who apparently visits often. My attitude is if he doesn't bother me, I won't bother him.) Walked in the park, sat in the sun as it went down (sunset was about 3:30 PM).