Monthly Archives: March 2013

My Last Day Off…For a While

Today is my last day off for spring break.  We were given today off because we were out for Good Friday during spring break, so they gave us Monday to make up for it. I won’t have another day off until summer begins.  So with that said, I’m going to take a holiday for myself today.  I will probably even sleep in this morning. Tomorrow I will post a poem for my usually “Poetry Tuesday.”

He Lives

He Lives 

I serve a risen Savior
  He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
  Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
  I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
  He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
  I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
  I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
  Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
  Will come at last.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
  Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
  To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
  The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
  So good and kind.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart.
He Lives” is a Christian hymn, otherwise known by its first line, “I Serve a Risen Savior”. It was composed in 1933 by Alfred Henry Ackley (1887-1960), and remains popular today.
The hymn discusses the experience by Christians that Jesus Christ lives within their hearts. It is disliked or excluded by some conservative evangelicals, on the grounds that the appeal to experience is less reliable than the words of scripture and can lead to heresy.  I find it to be an exceptionally beautiful song with a strong message.
The hymn is sung by church members in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, a screen adaptation of Jeanette Winterson‘s novel of the same name.  In the movie, Charlotte Coleman starred as Jess, a girl growing up in a Pentecostal evangelical household in AccringtonLancashire, England in the 1970s, who comes to understand that she is a lesbian

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Moment of Zen: Davey Wavey

Willie Support

Willie supports the right of two people with willies to marry!

Marriage Equality and SCOTUS II

Yesterday was the second day in a row that the high court heard arguments dealing with same-sex marriage. At issue Wednesday in United States v. Windsor was whether it was constitutional for the U.S. government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that had been recognized by the states.
It is definitely a hot topic, and my post yesterday was hotly debated.  If you have not read yesterday’s post and especially the comments, I urge you to do so before continuing to read this post.  One of the central points brought up was the argument that the possibility of procreation was necessary for a marriage and that homosexuals do not have the ability to procreate.  A few years ago, I made the argument that the roots of homophobia lay in the inability of gay people to procreate. Religions and governments need a large number of people to continue, without people who could procreate, then their influence would dwindle.  Many problem exist with procreation being the center of this argument.  Not all married couple can procreate: some are infertile, some women are post-menopausal, others don’t want to have children.  Furthermore, gay people can have children.  Most gay men and women are fertile. They can have children through surrogates, or they can adopt children.  I would much rather see a child adopted by a loving family than to be aborted. This argument was even brought up in Tuesday’s hearing on Prop 8 when Charles J. Cooper said Prop 8 supports “responsible procreation,” Kagan pushed back. “If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?”  The fact is, it’s not.  People who are not able to or have no intent to have children get married all the time.

I also want to state that has no right or duty to legislate religious morality.  Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama administration on the merits of the case, emphasized Congress’ discriminatory purpose in enacting DOMA in 1996.  The law “is not called Federal Uniform Benefits Act,” he said. “It’s called the Defense of Marriage Act.”  Justice Elena Kagan pushed a similar point. She told Paul Clement, the lawyer who was defending DOMA on behalf of the House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, “that maybe Congress had something different in mind than uniformity” in the definition of marriage. Suggesting the law was “infected with prejudice, fear, spite, and animus,” Kagan read a portion of the House Report, which said DOMA was meant to reflect Congress’ “collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”

The First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  If Congress is enacting religious legislation, such as they did with DOMA, then they are condoning the establishment of their own church governed by the members of Congress. Justice Hugo Black adopted Jefferson’s words in the voice of the Court, and concluded that “government must be neutral among religions and nonreligion: it cannot promote, endorse, or fund religion or religious institutions.”. In the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”  Of you are a regular reader of this blog then you know my views on religion.  I write about my faith every Sunday, and I endeavor to make it part of everything that I do.  From what I see of most politicians and members of Congress, I do not want them legislating my religious beliefs.  The United States of America is a republic, not a theocracy.

Frankly, I don’t think the government should be in the business of defining marriage, whether it is a state or federal issue.  There should be two distinctions of legal unions, civil unions recognized by the government for legal purposes and marriages recognized by religious bodies.  This is not likely to happen, though it is practiced around the world.  In a way it is even practiced in America when we sign a marriage certificate and we have a ceremony.  It’s a sticky issue filled with semantics.  With that being said, I do believe that if the government is going to recognize the unions of opposite sex couple then it should do the same for same sex couple.  There are too many issues at stake for the government not to recognize same sex couples in the same way: adoption, child custody, parental rights, legal status, divorce, taxes, etc.  The government should not and cannot make LGBT people second class citizens anymore.  We deserve the same rights as anyone else.  EQUALITY FOR ALL!

Marriage Equality and SCOTUS

The fight for marriage equality is progressing each day. This week, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of two gay marriage laws: the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), United States v. Windsor, and California’s Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry. The hearings have the potential to help shape gay marriage equality laws for a long time to come. As the Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage rights laws this week, Gay Dating Blog decided to compile a list of their favorite 100 marriage equality blogs. Some of you might be interested in checking it out:

The Human Rights Campaign’s push for marriage equality swept social media Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case. The social campaign launched around 1 p.m. EST Monday afternoon, when the organization changed its Facebook profile picture from its iconic blue and yellow logo to the current red version.

“Red is a symbol for love, and that’s what marriage is all about,” Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charlie Joughin told on Tuesday. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to show their support for marriage equality in a public and visible way.”

Needless to say, this is a momentous week for LGBT rights and the Supreme Court.  I can’t say that I understand all of the arguments that were presented yesterday, and I doubt I will understand all of the arguments presented today.  Most of the analysts of yesterday’s arguments before the Court seemed to place Justice Kennedy as the major swing vote.  Here are some of the arguments presented, as reported by The Huffington Post:

“Can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them?” Sotomayor asked Charles J. Cooper, who is representing supporters of Prop 8’s ban on gay marriage. “Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?”
And when Cooper said Prop 8 supports “responsible procreation,” Kagan pushed back. “If you are over the age of 55, you don’t help us serve the government’s interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?”
Yet the liveliest moments came when Scalia asked Ted Olson, President George W. Bush’s solicitor general and the lawyer for the two same-sex couples challenging Prop 8, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791 [when the Bill of Rights was ratified]? 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted?”
Olson pushed back against Scalia’s originalist view, asking him in return, “When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages?”
“It’s an easy question,” Scalia said. “At the time that the equal protection clause was adopted. That’s absolutely true. But don’t give me a question to my question.”
“There’s no specific date in time,” Olson ultimately answered. “This is an evolutionary cycle.”
Alito’s issues with Olson’s argument were more pragmatic. “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet,” Alito said. “On a question like that, of such fundamental importance, why should it not be left for the people, either acting through initiatives and referendums or through their elected public officials?”
Yet Ginsburg noted that one of the decisions Cooper was relying on in the case was written in 1971, when “same-sex intimate conduct was considered criminal.” In that case, Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court dismissed a Minnesota man’s attempt to marry his male partner as lacking a “substantial federal question.”
Kennedy also said he was “trying to wrestle with” whether a same-sex marriage ban should be viewed as a gender-based classification, calling it a “difficult question.”
By the end of the argument, it was clear that Kennedy believed the Prop 8 proponents had standing to sue, that same-sex couples had the right to marry and that such a right extended to all states. Yet that option — making same-sex marriage a federal constitutional right — compelled him to search for an escape hatch.

It is unclear from yesterday’s hearings how the Court might rule on Prop 8.  It remains entirely possible that the Court might dodge the substantive question or rule on narrow grounds that only affect the State of California and not the rest of the country.  Whatever it does, the rights of hundreds of thousands of families will be profoundly affected by whatever the Supreme Court rules on two marriage equality cases it is hearing this week.  Without question, what the Court rules will make a difference in the short-term legal and political realities faced by same-sex couples.

But when Martin Luther King spoke about justice rolling “down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream,” he evoked the long arc of history that ultimately bends toward equal treatment and fairness for all.   The Supreme Court may hurry the pace of justice or slow it down or dodge it altogether, but the sanctioning of anti-gay bias and legalized discrimination against gay families will someday soon be nothing more than an ugly relic of the past.

A decision in the case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, is expected by July.

Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa, by Oscar Wilde

“Shelley’s Tomb in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome” – Painted by Walter Crane, 1873. Actually, it is John Keats‘ gravestone shown here.
Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa
by Oscar Wilde 

I wandered in Scoglietto’s green retreat,
The oranges on each o’erhanging spray
Burned as bright lamps of gold to shame the day;
Some startled bird with fluttering wings and fleet
Made snow of all the blossoms, at my feet
Like silver moons the pale narcissi lay:
And the curved waves that streaked the sapphire bay
Laughed i’ the sun, and life seemed very sweet.
Outside the young boy-priest passed singing clear,
“Jesus the Son of Mary has been slain,
O come and fill his sepulchre with flowers.”
Ah, God! Ah, God! those dear Hellenic hours
Had drowned all memory of Thy bitter pain,
The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiers, and the Spear.

In 1877, Wilde travelled to Greece with the Revd Sir John Pentland Mahaffy, his former tutor in Trinity College Dublin. On his return through Italy, Wilde had a private audience with Pope Pius IX in Rome. Afterwards, Wilde locked himself in his room, emerging only after writing a sonnet inspired by and dedicated to the Pope. But hours later, he visited the Protestant Cemetery in Rome where the Romantic poet, John Keats, was buried. Kneeling at his grave, Wilde ostentatiously declared it to be “the holiest place in Rome.” 

Today’s poem, ‘Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa,’ is technically an iambic pentameter, it but follows a strict rhyming pattern that has more in common with what is called the Italian sonnet, possibly adopted by Wilde because he was writing in Genoa.

The poem was published in 1881 on Wilde’s return to England, but he probably wrote it in Genoa, where Wilde may have attended the Chiesa Anglicana or Anglican Church.

During his travels in Greece with Mahaffy, Wilde’s interest in Roman Catholicism waned, and he was tinged with a little guilt when he was back in Italy in 1881 and realised in Genoa during Holy Week that he would rather remain an Anglican than become a Roman Catholic, or that he would rather be in Greece than in Rome:

… those dear Hellenic hours
Had drowned all memory of Thy bitter pain,
The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiers, and the Spear.

The sonnet opens with the poet in Scoglietto, the park around Villa Rosazza, near the Di Negro Metro Station. The oranges hanging from the trees are a common feature of Genoa in Via Negro as elsewhere. The imagery here is powerful with the oranges as lamps their brightness shaming the day. The flower blossoms, disturbed by the birds fluttering, fall as snow, an unusual but not uncommon feature of the climate in Genoa.

The sweetness of life in Genoa is underlined with the imagery of the sea and the narcissi and contrasted by the announcement of the death of Christ by the boy-priest, an image that reminds us not only of Wilde’s infatuation with Roman Catholicism but possibly of his troubled sexuality too.

The snows of the fifth line become flowers again to fill the sepulchre, a common practice in Italy and Greece as Christians decorate the churches for Easter.

The Hellenic hours could have various meanings, both to Wilde’s own sexuality but also the Graeco-Roman history of Christianity.

The last line is a kind of poetic shorthand summoning up aspects of the Crucifixion that are part of the common Christian memory.

Seventeen years after this poem was published, Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance Lloyd, died in Genoa in 1898 and was buried in the Staglieno Cemetery. A year later, he visited her grave in Genoa on 26 February 1899 – a poignant and little-known episode in his life – and spent some more time in Genoa just a year before his own death.

Excerpt taken from PATRICK COMERFORD’S BLOG.  Rev. Patrick Comerford is a priest in the Church of Ireland (Anglican), Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Dublin (Trinity College Dublin) and a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. For many years he worked as a journalist with the Lichfield Mercury, the Wexford People and The Irish Times, where he was Foreign Desk Editor until 2002. 

Knotty Contemplations…

I received an email from a blog buddy the other day telling me about his new blog, “Knotty Contemplations…”  I decided to check it out and was quite impressed.  I had always enjoyed his other blogs, and I am really enjoying his new blog.  He wrote saying that, “Recently I have felt constrained by having only a blog that is aimed at a special interest group…I have a lot of interests and things I would like to comment on…. I have started another blog that is not aimed at a special interest group.”  He went on to say in the email that his “goal is to blog about the convoluted and difficult topics which it is not considered good to talk about in the PC world.”  
So far there are only a few posts up, but I am sure once you read what he has posted, you will be interested in reading more.  The post that really struck my interests was titled, “An Open Letter to the Republican Party.”  For the most part, I consider myself a moderate Democrat, while my friend considers himself a moderate Republican.  If you believe the media, we are both rare breed, or as the cartoon above states, “a long-extinct species.”  
In his “Open Letter” he writes:  

I have not always been a Republican. As a young man I was a supporter of LBJ, and I actually voted for Bill Clinton; not once, but twice. I don’t actually regret either stance. I’ve come to believe that the old saying, “If you are young and not liberal, then you have no heart; but if you are old and not conservative, then you have no brain,” is entirely true. As I aged, I got smarter and more realistic about the world, just as one is supposed to do.

I’m not for sure that the old saying above is true, mainly because I doubt I will ever be a Republican unless the GOP makes some drastic changes.  My friend also says:

I would like to say it is now no secret to anyone that the Republican Party must change if it is to survive, but that cannot be said. Some of the most radical right wing nuts are still contending the Party is suffering not from right wing idiocy, but from its failure to further embrace the right wing agenda.

As my friend says in his post, I am convinced that the great majority of Americans are not extremists. He justifies this (and i have to agree) by saying that “A country of extremists would not be embracing the changes now taking place in America regarding the bringing of full civil rights and acceptance to gay men and women. Although many Americans think otherwise, the growing acceptance of gays as deserving of the equality under the law all Americans enjoy is not an extremist position. It is a moderate position.”
As I wrote in my comment on the “Open Letter” post:

I agree, it’s time for change in both parties, though I consider myself a Democrat. The Democrats have moved too far left, and the Republicans too far right, which leaves no place for an American moderate. I’m not sure either party will moderate itself. The far left and right have too loud of a voice in each party. I have hopes for a true third party, not a one issue third party but one that will represent us moderates.

There needs to be a change in American politics.  Politics in the United States has become about what politicians are against, not what they support.  It is a totally negative view, and that must change.  Politicians also need to learn to compromise.  However, the Republican Party is finding it difficult to compromise because of the fear that they will lose their next election to a more extreme Republican if they are seen with a Democrat, especially if that Democrat is President Obama.


Time was not on my side last night. I got caught up in watching The Bible and Vikings on the History Channel and time got away from me.  Before I knew it, it was late.  I started writing my blog post anyway, but sadly the battery on my iPad ran out before I could finish, so my main post today will come a little later. This post is from my iPhone.  Besides, I’m on spring break.  I should get a little slack this week. 
So when I wake up and get some coffee, I will finish my post for everyone to read.  I will be writing about a new blog called “Knotty Contemplations…” from a blog buddy of mine.  I think you guys will enjoy it. In fact to check it out now and come back later to read more comments from me.

Gifts of Grace

A Prayer for Knowing Oneself Better

I thank you, Lord,
for knowing me better than I know myself, 
and for letting me know myself
better than others know me.
Make me, I pray you,
better than they suppose,
and forgive me for what they do not know.

According to tradition, the forecourt of the ancient Temple of Apollo at Delphi had inscribe on it the words γνῶθι σεαυτόν, “know thyself.”  The maxim “know thyself” has had a variety of meanings attributed to it in literature. The Suda, a tenth century encyclopedia of Greek knowledge, says: “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,” and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.

Though not a Christian maxim, Jesus actually says “Heal Thyself,” it certainly applies to us as well as to the other religions and philosophies that have used it.  Romans 12:3-8 states

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

This passage s often called “Gifts of Grace.”  Each of us have our unique gifts and we should use them according to God’s will.  To know our gifts, we must know ourselves.  God knows us best and guides us through life and we must trust in him to guide us along the narrow path of righteousness.  Knowing our qualities as LGBT Christians is an important aspect of our life.  We get rejected by some in our own community, whether that community is the community of Christ or that of our gay brethren.  We could reject one in favor of the other, but we would be following the wide, easier path instead of the narrow, more difficult path.  However, if we trust in God and pray for his guidance we will know ourselves and which path to follow.
Today is also Palm Sunday, which commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week in which Christians celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ’s Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Without Christ’s death and resurrection, we would be unable to ever truly know ourselves nor have the gift of grace bestowed upon us by God’s eternal love and infinite mercy.