Monthly Archives: October 2012

We Are All Children of God

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the details of being a Christian.  There are theological issues to resolve, questions we don’t have answers to, and disagreements that have existed since the beginning.  Sometimes, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees.

So this week, let’s step back and get back to the basics.

If you’re frustrated in your life, confused by issues, or way too busy for your own good, take a moment to relax.  Take a deep breath.  Ask God for a refreshing spiritual breeze in your life.

Then read the following two passages for a reminder of why we’re Christians.

1 John 4:7-19
Beloved, jet us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

1 John 3:1-3 
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
You are a child of God.

May that be the single thing that sticks in your mind as you tackle whatever life throws at you this week.

God loves you, exactly as you are.  So take that love and share it!


Moment of Zen: That Moment…

You all know the moment I am talking about.  It’s that moment when the hot guy you are checking out either reaches up for something or absent-mindedly lifts his shirt up to scratch his belly or something.  For what ever reason, you get that little extra bit of skin revealed.  Then again, maybe it’s just me…

Mission America Founder, Says Halloween’s ‘Satanic’ Origins Explain Holiday’s Gay Appeal

I think I have said this before, but Halloween is one, if not the, favorite holiday of mine.  It is a time when we can truly express ourselves and have fun.  I just love it, not to mention the candy.  But, you didn’t expect Halloween to pass without at least one anti-gay condemnation from a right-wing pundit, did you?

Well, rest assured: Mission America’s Linda Harvey has slammed Halloween, saying the holiday’s purportedly Satanic origins make it a “huge celebration in the LGBT world.”

“We all can see it’s a huge celebration in the LGBT world, especially for the gender-confused folks. This illustrates some of the problem. The core of Halloween is glittering artificiality, you can pretend to be someone you aren’t for a night, you can flirt with danger, you can divine a different destiny, but it is all void of the presence of or will of God. 
It’s a seduction that says, ‘don’t be afraid, do whatever you want, there’s nothing to fear,’ it’s one of Satan’s oldest tricks.”
Saying that costumes “disguise our very souls,” Harvey noted, “Christians aren’t supposed to be consulting fortune tellers, Ouija boards or palm readers about our future but all are frequently a part of Halloween festivities…do your kids know how risky these practices are and that real contact with real demons is quite possible? Satan doesn’t care about our intentions; he will take any willing participant.”

Harvey, of course, is no stranger to anti-gay proclamations. Last year, she warned parents against allowing their children to visit lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) medical practitioners.

Harvey’s rant follows news that organizers of a Minnesota town’s Halloween parade have turned away LGBT youth group, claiming that the event had reached its “maximum for walking units.”

The vice president of Justin’s Gift, a group created to support gay youth after several suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, said kids who planned to participate were “pretty upset” by the news, and that he was “confused and mystified” as to the denial of the request. “We’re trying to show these kids that they’re part of the community and unfortunately it backfired and sent a completely different message,” Jefferson Fietek is quoted as saying, noting that about 30 students had planned to march in the parade dressed as their favorite fairytale characters.

I have never understood the problem that some right winged nut jobs have against Halloween.  Halloween has always been fun, and dammit, it should remain that way. Some people are just too serious in this world and can’t stand the thought of a little fun. 

"The Right Wing Judy Garland"

She may have been once billed as “the right wing Judy Garland,” but Ann Coulter is feeling the heat from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community today after a controversial National Coming Out Day tweet.
Yesterday, Coulter tweeted the following:

Ann Coulter

Last Thursday was national “coming out” day. This Monday is national “disown your son” day.
The ultra-conservative pundit’s tweet was quickly slammed by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which noted that Coulter’s “joke” added “to the idea that family rejection of LGBT young people is expected, or even ‘normal.'”
“There was a time in our culture’s history when, if thousands of LGBT kids were to come out on the same day, the next week genuinely would be exactly what Ann describes, all across the country. Fathers disowning their sons and kicking them out onto the street. Mothers locking up their daughters or sending them to charm school. Children forced to undergo electro-shock or even worse forms of ‘therapy’ to rid themselves of their orientation. To learn how to not be true to themselves.
And although we’ve come a long way from those ideas as a cultural collective, I have no doubt that last week, more than a few American households experienced the tragedy that Ann joked about.”
McQuade went on to note, “Like I said, I’ve never taken Ann Coulter seriously, and I’m certainly not going to start now. But the idea of family rejection is one that does deserve serious attention as a society.”
Less diplomatic was John M. Becker of Truth Wins Out, who simply deemed Coulter an “odious human being.”

A Moderate…

When asked which political party I am, I will without hesitation say that I am a Democrat.  The problem is that, I’m not a far left Democrat.  There are some Republican issues I agree with and some Democrat issues that I agree with; however, there are also issues with both parties that I am against.   As a whole, I feel that neither political party represents me, and for that matter, neither represent the majority of Americans.  On my post on Monday, a commenter stated that like he and I were moderates, which is fairly correct. Then, why do I consider myself a Democrat?  For one, I’m a Southerner, and I think that one of the reasons that the Democratic Party continues to move further to the left and away from my political philosophy is because Southerner, by and large, no longer identify with the Democratic Party.  Second and most importantly in the last decade as I have come to understand myself more, I agree with many of the social political issues of the Democratic Party, especially when it comes to LGBT rights.

The funny thing is that even though my political beliefs have not changed in the last decade or decade and a half, the way I am viewed politically has.  Let me explain that.  When I was in graduate school and most of my colleagues were more liberal than I was, I was seen as the conservative one.  Now that I am a teacher in a small, rural Southern town, where most of my friends and colleagues are more conservative, I am now seen as the liberal one.  Mostly that has to do with the communities I have been involved in and how that has changed as my geographic location and my profession has changed.  Geographically, I am only a few hundred in distance from where I was but my cadre of acquaintances and friends has changed dramatically.

Truthfully, the majority of Democrats, if they heard my views on all of the issues, would not consider me a Democrat. Likewise, the majority of Republicans, if they heard my views on all of the issues, would not consider me a Republican. Then again I would not describe myself as a “demopublican” or as a “republicrat.”  I consider myself a moderate, and as someone who really doesn’t adhere to the political philosophies of either political party.  I also do not believe that I am the only one.  I believe there are many moderates out there who don’t fit into the current politics of America’s two-party system.  So where do we belong? Though, I wish a third party was the answer, the United States has rules and procedures that are stacked against third parties.  Third parties have often been single issue parties or a party that was formed to rally around a specific candidate.  Either way, the are not very successful.

In my opinion, moderates like the middle class are largely ignored by the political parties.  Both Democrats and Republicans will speak about middle class issues or persuading independents, but neither really do anything for the two groups.  What political philosophy do you adhere to?

Leave comments in the comments section and please vote in the poll below.

What political philosophy or party do you identify with?


The Raven

The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,.
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here forevermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
” ‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door.
This it is, and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you.” Here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
“Lenore!” Merely this, and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
“Surely,” said I, “surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
“‘Tis the wind, and nothing more.”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore.”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore,—
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never—nevermore.”
But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore —
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore:
Is there–is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me I implore!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!
The Raven is my favorite Poe poem (second is probably The Bells).  I absolutely adore the rhythm of Poe’s poetry, and I always here Vincent Price reading it in my mind when I read it.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay on the creation of “The Raven,” entitled “The Philosophy of Composition.” In that essay Poe describes the work of composing the poem as if it were a mathematical problem, and derides the poets that claim that they compose “by a species of fine frenzy – an ecstatic intuition – and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes.” Whether Poe was as calculating as he claims when he wrote “The Raven” or not is a question that cannot be answered; it is, however, unlikely that he created it exactly like he described in his essay. The thoughts occurring in the essay might well have occurred to Poe while he was composing it. 
In “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe stresses the need to express a single effect when the literary work is to be read in one sitting. A poem should always be written short enough to be read in one sitting, and should, therefore, strive to achieve this single, unique effect. Consequently, Poe figured that the length of a poem should stay around one hundred lines, and “The Raven” is 108 lines. 
The most important thing to consider in “Philosophy” is the fact that “The Raven,” as well as many of Poe’s tales, is written backwards. The effect is determined first, and the whole plot is set; then the web grows backwards from that single effect. Poe’s “tales of ratiocination,” e.g. the Dupin tales, are written in the same manner. “Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with the pen”. 
It was important to Poe to make “The Raven” “universally appreciable.” It should be appreciated by the public, as well as the critics. Poe chose Beauty to be the theme of the poem, since “Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem.” After choosing Beauty as the province, Poe considered sadness to be the highest manifestation of beauty. “Beauty of whatever kind in its supreme development invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.”
Of all melancholy topics, Poe wanted to use the one that was universally understood, and therefore, he chose Death as his topic. Poe (along with other writers) believed that the death of a beautiful woman was the most poetical use of death, because it closely allies itself with Beauty. 
After establishing subjects and tones of the poem, Poe started by writing the stanza that brought the narrator’s “interrogation” of the raven to a climax, the third verse from the end, and he made sure that no preceding stanza would “surpass this in rhythmical effect.” Poe then worked backwards from this stanza and used the word “Nevermore” in many different ways, so that even with the repetition of this word, it would not prove to be monotonous. 
Poe builds the tension in this poem up, stanza by stanza, but after the climaxing stanza he tears the whole thing down, and lets the narrator know that there is no meaning in searching for a moral in the raven’s “nevermore”. The Raven is established as a symbol for the narrator’s “Mournful and never-ending remembrance.” “And my soul from out that shadow, that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted – nevermore!”


Politics and the Elephant in the Corner


I always seem to make people mad when I talk about politics, but after seeing this, I just couldn’t help myself.  There are two things here I want to comment on.  First, when it comes to Paul Ryan, I just can’t make myself like because he is such a smart ass, and I deal with enough of those on a daily basis as a teacher that I don’t want one to be my country’s VP.  He also says that Ayn Rand is his idol.  And while she was a conservative, she was also an atheist.  She did an interview two years before her death with Phil Donahue which an excerpt of can be seen by following this link. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GS6vxb4H3M&sns=em).

The second thing I wanted to mention is the hypocrisy of Republicans who are ignoring this aspect of Ayn Rand while still saying that they are Christian conservatives.  This is the same Christian Right who the vast majority have said in the past that they do not believe that Mormons are Christians, but now that a Mormon is the Republican nominee, they have changed their tune.  I find the whole thing to be ridiculous.  Most mainline Protestants and Catholics have always seen Mormonism as a cult and not true followers of Christ, but now they are willing to forget this for Mitt Romney.  I personally think that Mormons tend to be very nice people, but I do not agree with them religiously.

Many of the Christian Right, at least the ones I have talked to, say that they would rather vote for a Mormon than a Muslim.  Also stating that at least they believe in the same God, but worship Him in a different way.  How is it that people still believe that Obama is a Muslim?  (If you are in doubt that Obama is a practicing Christian, read this article from Time Magazine: “The Obamas Find a Church Home — Away from Home” http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1908437,00.html). I know people have the right to change their minds, but this is a drastic change.  Ignorance abounds throughout the political world and the voting public, but this election is showing America’s ignorance in politics and the politicians they support or not.  Maybe America should take a closer look at the elephant in the corner that everyone seems to be trying to ignore.

Okay, so that is my say (rant) on the subject. What do you guys have to say?

Forgiveness and Homosexuality

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Gay people do not need to be forgiven for just being gay any more than straight people need to be forgiven for just being straight. Homosexuality is not in opposition to Christian values. Homophobia and the systemic abuse and oppression of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identified people is opposed to basic Christian values. 

When it comes to sexual orientation, forgiveness is important to the both the gay and straight communities. The level of anger around topics related to homosexuality is harming both straight and gay people. A load of anger can make people bitter and can harm people’s health. Through forgiveness people can find true peace and healthy spirituality.

Forgiveness is not amnesia. When we forgive somebody, we do not forget the past. In fact, forgetting the past can be the wrong thing to do. We can learn important life lessons from the times we’ve been hurt. The gay community should not forget terrible acts that governments, legislators, courts, police, churches and individuals have committed. Forgetting the past could place one at risk of not learning history’s lessons. To forgive somebody is to decide not to hurt a person back after the individual hurt you. Forgiveness is not something one only needs to do once. You need to forgive every single time the desire to hurt back returns.

Moment of Zen: Tall, Dark, and Handsome


Banned LGBT Books (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of my two-part post on Banned LGBT Books.

Howl and Other Poems

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems was originally published by City Lights Books in the fall of 1956. Subsequently seized by U.S. Customs and the San Francisco police, it was the subject of a long court trial at which a series of poets and professors persuaded the court that the book was not obscene.

Luv Ya Bunches: A Flower Power Book

What do Katie-Rose, Yasaman, Milla, and Violet have in common? Other than being named after flowers, practically nothing. Katie-Rose is a film director in training. Yasaman is a computer whiz. Milla is third in command of the A list. And Violet is the new girl in school. They’re fab girls, all of them, but they sure aren’t friends. And if evil queen bee Medusa—’scuse me, Modessa—has her way, they never will be. But this is the beginning of a new school year, when anything can happen and social worlds can collide . . . Told in Lauren Myracle’s inventive narrative style—here a fresh mix of instant messages, blog posts, screenplay, and straight narrative—Luv Ya Bunches has been called “enticing” by Publishers Weekly and received a starred review from Booklist, which called it “a fun, challenging, and gently edifying story.”

Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

Bobby and Jamie are getting married, but Bobby’s niece Chloe is worried that she won?t be his favorite person anymore. Will Uncle Bobby still think she is special? Sarah Brannen’s warm story is set in an alternative family as Uncle Bobby marries his boyfriend. Uncle Bobby?s Wedding embraces Bobby?s relationship with Jamie, but keeps its focus where it truly belongs: on an uncle and niece?s love for each other. Beautifully told and charmingly illustrated, this simple yet moving story begs to be read time and again.

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health (The Family Library)

Now offering a brand-new chapter focusing on safe Internet use — one of parents’ key concerns — this universally acclaimed classic by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley is a cutting-edge resource for kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and anyone else who cares about the well-being of tweens and teens. Providing accurate and up-to-date answers to nearly every imaginable question, from conception and puberty to birth control and AIDS, IT’S PERFECTLY NORMAL offers young people the information they need — now more than ever — to make responsible decisions and stay healthy.

Revolutionary Voices

Invisible. Unheard. Alone. Chilling words but apt to describe the isolation and alienation of queer youth. In silence and fear they move from childhood memories of repression or violence to the unknown, unmentored, landscape of queer adulthood, their voices stilled or ignored. No longer. Revolutionary Voices celebrates the hues and harmonies of the future of gay and lesbian society, presenting not a collection of stories but a collection of experiences, ideas, dreams, and fantasies expressed through prose, poetry, artwork, letters, diaries, and performance pieces.

The Color Purple 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple is the moving story of a young woman’s endurance of shame and suffering to become whole and to know God. The novel became an instant classic and has been adapted into a film and musical. Paired here with The Temple of My Familiar, which the author describes as “a romance of the last 500,000 years,” this edition brings together two works that established Walker as a major voice in modern fiction.

Naked Lunch

Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

Am I Blue?: Coming Out from the Silence

Original stories by C. S. Adler, Marion Dane Bauer, Francesca Lia Block, Bruce Coville, Nancy Garden, James Cross Giblin, Ellen Howard, M. E. Kerr, Jonathan London, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, LeslÉa Newman, Cristina Salat, William Sleator, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jane Yolen . Each of these stories is original, each is by a noted author for young adults, and each honestly portrays its subject and theme–growing up gay or lesbian, or with gay or lesbian parents or friends.