Monthly Archives: August 2013

Moment of Zen: College Football

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The college football season begins today. I can’t wait to see how my team does this year. We didn’t win a game last year, but we have a new coach this year.


More Ignorance

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Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, so I felt that the above image was perfect to go along with the news story in this post.

A North Carolina-based mother is facing misdemeanor child abuse charges after she allegedly instructed her 12-year-old son to “beat the gay away” from his older brother, 15.

As local news outlet WECT TV6 reports, Whiteville police were summoned to the home of Mary Gowans on Aug. 24. When they arrived, there were “several people yelling and screaming,” according to a police report cited in the report.

Gowans is alleged to have made her 15-year-old son strip down to his underpants while instructing his younger brother to strike him repeatedly with a belt, according to WITN. Gowans, however, denies those charges, even though she told reporters that her younger son did hit his older sibling, but that the older had hit the younger one first.

Gowans also told reporters that she believes her older son is gay “in some way,” and that he has been visiting an older gay man who she heard had molested him. She said she tried to contact authorities with regard to the alleged sexual abuse, but nothing has yet been done.

Last year, a pastor in Fayetteville, N.C. sparked controversy after he urged his congregation to attack their children if they appear to be exhibiting behavior outside of gender norms, Good as You’s Jeremy Hooper first reported.

Sean Harris, senior pastor of Fayetteville’s Berean Baptist Church, later said he “would never ever advocate” hitting a child, but nonetheless defended his belief in the need to reinforce traditional gender roles in children.


Ignorance

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Yesterday, one of my fellow teachers asked me how I dealt with students who believe in the literalness of the Bible. As someone who teaches history, I teach about prehistoric man, who was believed to have developed around 200,000 years ago, according to fossil records. However, biblical literalists believe the world is only a little over 6,000 years old, and they do not believe in the accuracy of radiocarbon dating. I told her that the term “day,” as it is translated in the Bible, is actually a Hebrew word that means a period of time. So we began discussing how so many things can be misconstrued especially when people have a closed mind.

Ignorance always saddens me, and most of the time, makes me angry. Such was the case when Pat Robertson delved into a discussion about AIDS during a recent episode of “The 700 Club,” in which he suggested that infected individuals in cities like San Francisco purposefully infect others by cutting them with special rings.

On Tuesday, Robertson and co-host Terry Meeuwsen responded to a question from a viewer about the disclosure of an AIDS status. Apparently, the viewer had been driving a nursing home patient to church and came to find out he has AIDS. The viewer was angry no one disclosed the man’s health condition to her.

Robertson said he “used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact.” So, he advised the woman not have sex with the man.

“There are laws now… I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction,” he continued. “You can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.”

“You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” he said. “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”

Right Wing Watch reported that particular comment from the broadcast was edited out of the clip the Christian Broadcasting Network later posted online. The Huffington Post could not immediately reach a CBN representative for comment.

Back2Stonewall writer Will Kohl dubbed Robertson’s statements “the worst and most horrible lie that has come out of Pat Robertson’s mouth in his history of anti-gay hate.” He asked for supporters to call CBN headquarters and demand the network force Robertson to apologize for his “outrageous lies.”

In an email to the Huffington Post Kohl added, “It’s well past time that members of not only the LGBT community but real Christians everywhere stand up to the anti-gay religious extremist like Robertson and say enough.”

Tuesday’s segment was certainly filled with fallacies.

AIDS develops from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is transmitted via infected persons by blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids or breast milk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These fluids must either come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream for someone to be infected.

In addition, the gay community has not put “draconian” laws on the books like the televangelist claimed. In fact, many states have partner-notification laws that make an HIV-positive person legally obligated to tell his or her partner or partners, according to AIDS.gov. In some states, the omission of this information could result in a criminal charge.

Finally, HIV/AIDS is not a “gay” thing. The diseases affect people of all races, genders, sexualities and creeds.

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To Electra

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To Electra
by Robert Herrick

I dare not ask to kiss,
I dare not beg a smile,
Lest having that, or this,
I might grow proud the while.

No, no, the utmost share
Of my desire shall be
Only to kiss the air
That lately kissèd thee.

About This Poem
“To Electra” is one of many poems Herrick wrote to a woman he calls Electra, whose appearance he compares, in another poem, to “broad day throughout the east.”

About This Poet
Robert Herrick was most likely born in London in 1591. Although it is not known when Herrick was born, he was baptized on August 24, 1591. Overshadowed during his lifetime by metaphysical poets like John Donne and Andrew Marvell, Herrick became more popular as his work was rediscovered in the 19th century. He died in 1674.

PS Sometime it’s nice to imagine a poem like the one above is between two men.


The Order of Chaeronea

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In the reckoning of George Cecil Ives, today would be the sixth day of the year 2341, since he counted years from the Battle of Chaeronea, which fell on 20th day August in 338 BC. A self-described “evolutionary anarchist,” Ives was also a poet and penologist who, around 1893, founded a secret homosexual society, the Order of Chaeronea, the name taken from the town in ancient Greece where, in the late 19th century, the remains were found of an elite corps of 150 pairs of male lovers who died in 338 BC in a battle against Philip II of Macedon. The army of Alexander the Great and Philip II of Macedon (for he was still alive then) vanquished the one-hundred-fifty members of the Sacred Band of Thebes in this last battle before Greece was under the hegemony of the Macedonians.

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Sacred Band of Thebes were much lamented by Alexander himself, and have never really been forgotten. And, all those years later, George Cecil Ives’ Order of Chaeronea (the specifically spiritual effort within “the Movement” for full equality for queer people that he and many others took part in during the late 19th century) was founded specifically in their honor and memory, hence his dating schema mentioned earlier.

George Cecil Ives was born on October 1, 1867. He was raised by his father’s mother, Emma Ives, and referred to her as his mother. Ives and his grandmother primarily resided in England at Bentworth Hall, or in the South of France. Ives was educated at home and at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

In 1892, Ives met Oscar Wilde at the Authors’ Club in London. By this time Ives had accepted his homosexuality and was working to promote the end of the oppression of homosexuals, what he called the “Cause.” Ives hoped that Wilde would join the “Cause” but Wilde did not have the same compassion towards this movement that Ives did. Lord Alfred Douglas met Ives in 1893 and introduced him to several Oxford poets, whom Ives encouraged to join the “Cause.”

By 1897, Ives understood that the “Cause” would not be accepted openly in society and must therefore have a means of underground communication. Thus he created and founded the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society for homosexuals. Ives and other members dated letters and other materials based on this date, so that 1899 would be written as C2237. An elaborate system of rituals, ceremonies, a service of initiation, seals, codes, and passwords were used by the members.

The ‘Rules of Purpose’ stated that the Order was to be ‘A Religion, A Theory of Life, and Ideal of Duty’, although its purpose was primarily political. Members of the Order were ‘Brothers of the Faith’, and were required to swear under the ‘Service of Initiation’, that “you will never vex or persecute lovers” and “That all real love shall be to you as sanctuary.” The group was male dominated, but did include a few lesbian members. At its peak ‘the Elect’ numbered perhaps two or three hundred, but no membership lists survive. Oscar Wilde was, however, likely an early recruit, along with Lord Alfred Douglas “Bosie”. Other members may have included Charles Kains Jackson, Samuel Elsworth Cottam, Montague Summers, and John Gambril Nicholson.

An elaborate system of rituals, ceremonies, a service of initiation, seals, codes, and passwords were established. The Order, according to Ives’ notebooks, had a specific purpose, distinct prescriptions and philosophy, and its particular symbolism: the “sign-word” AMRRHAO and “the seal of the double wreath.” The prerequisites of membership were indicated to be “Zeal, Learning and Discipline.” The principle of secrecy was conveyed by the metaphor of “The Chain” underlining that one should never reveal any information about the order or its members. The writings of Walt Whitman were particularly revered.

Ives was keen to stress that the Order was to be an ascetic movement, not to be used as a forum for men to meet men for sex, although he accepted a degree of ‘passionate sensuality’ could take place. He also believed that love and sex between men was a way to undermine the rigid class system, as a true form of democracy. The Secret Society became a worldwide organization, and Ives took advantage of every opportunity to spread the word about the “Cause.”

In Ives’ words:

We believe in the glory of passion. We believe in the inspiration of emotion. We believe in the holiness of love. Now some in the world without have been asking as to our faith, and mostly we find that we have no answer for them. Scoffers there be, to whom we need not reply, and foolish ones to whom our words would convey no meaning. For what are words? Symbols of kindred comprehended conceptions, and like makes appeal to like.


What Defiles a Person

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And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:14-23

Last week, I wrote that I would continue my previous post with a follow-up to answer the last question posed to me. My commenter asked: “Regarding Jesus, what do you think Jesus means concerning sexual immorality defiling the heart in Mark 7:20-23? What sexual immorality would He have in mind and how would we know what He meant?”

First of all, you will notice that the verses that I quote above are Mark 7:14-23, not just Mark 7:20-23, because I wanted to present the wider context of what Jesus was saying. What is the key to living a life of truth and purity in Christ? Is it following the traditions of the church? No. Jesus in this section showed that purity in Christianity was not an outward thing but a matter of the heart.

Jesus had just scolded the Pharisees for following their traditions rather than following the word of God. In fact they gave such importance to their traditions that they completely negated the word of God, which was leading people astray. Jesus showed the error of their ways and then went on to correct them.

The argument came up over the washing of hands before eating. This was a tradition the Pharisees were teaching and were annoyed because the disciples of Jesus were not following their tradition. In showing the error of their argument, Jesus said to all the people that, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.” (Verses 14-15)

A person is not defiled by eating without washing their hands, at least not in the sight of God. A person is defiled when they behave poorly towards their fellow man. Real defilement is a matter of behavior not food. When someone behaves badly towards another they are showing a lack of respect and of love for that person. The basis of both the old and new covenants is love. So when a person acts in opposition to love, they are defiled for they are not acting in accordance with the nature and the will of God.

To eat with unwashed hands could make you sick physically, but it will neither commend nor cause your rejection before God. He does not care whether we wash our hands to eat or not. The old saying that “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” is completely wrong. What will cause you to be defiled is anger, wrath, malice, evil behavior, fornication, licentiousness, adultery, murder, deceit and so on. These are the true blots and blemishes on the character of man.

The application of what Jesus is saying goes far beyond the issue of what foods we eat. The same principle applies to the music we listen to, the beverages we drink, the movies or tv shows we watch, the books we read etc. There is nothing external to you that will defile you because sinful corruption and defilement comes from the human heart. Your goal should not be just to rigidly and ritualistically avoid all the things external to you that you consider unclean and unrighteous. Your goal should primarily be to surrender your heart to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your heart, transform your motives, and transform your desires so that your heart no longer desires to sin but desires to obey God and live a life of purity. Do not think that by avoiding all the “unclean” foods, drinks, places, or activities that you will automatically be clean and righteous. It would be a tragedy if you spent your life, like the Pharisees, completely preoccupied with all the external issues but never dealing with your internal heart issues.

So nothing outside of a person corrupts him/her, does that mean we’re free to eat, drink, watch, read anything we want anytime we want? Be careful. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul addressed this issue by saying, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” So in a sense, barring any explicit Biblical commands to the contrary, yes we are free to “do anything.” However, it is not always constructive or beneficial to “do anything.” For example, a Christian who is a recovering alcoholic has the freedom to drink alcohol, but it probably would not be beneficial for him/her to do so. Jesus’ proclamation that nothing outside of a person makes him/her unclean and unrighteous is not meant to be used by you as an excuse to simply do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, and however you want.

Remember, the root issue is your heart. If a person is pursuing sinful behavior, it is not because something external to that person caused them to become sinful, but is because their human flesh wants to sin in that way. Your sin isn’t a result of something outside of you; it is a result of your human heart and flesh wanting to be in rebellion against God. Read through that list of sinful vices Jesus listed, keeping in mind his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount that even looking at a woman lustfully is adultery, or that even being angry can be as bad as murder. After reading that list ask yourself, “Which of these/how many of these have I committed in the past day? Week? Month? Year?” How have you attempted to overcome those sinful behaviors? Simply avoiding external things and abiding to external rules is not enough to defeat your sin. You need Jesus. You need your heart to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Instead of simply trying to correct your behavior, continually be surrendering you heart over to Jesus, and continually be seeking to have your heart, desires, and motivations conformed to the will of God. Only with a heart transformed by the Holy Spirit will you be able to experience true victory over sin.

Though the question from my commenter explicitly asked to address what Jesus meant by “sexual immorality,” I find the complete context to be more beneficial to study than two words near the end of the passage. However, I do want to address this because I think it is important for LGBT Christians to understand. Sex outside of marriage, i.e. rape, fornication, and adultery, is clearly defined as sin, as are the lustful thoughts that go with them, even without the act, as Jesus states in the Sermon on the Mount. However, that being said, when different places forbid LGBT marriages, they take that away from us. We are denied the right to be married and have a fulfilling and loving relationship within the confines of marriage. Furthermore, homosexuality as a sin is a tradition of man and is not upheld by a true reading of the scripture of the New Testament. Those who condemn homosexuality are no better than the Pharisees that Jesus corrects. As was pointed out in our study of the Book of James, we must be hearers and doers of the Word.

In Jesus we have the opportunity to overcome the nature of man. We can have the victory over the flesh by learning and applying the words of the truth. The path we are to follow is not the traditions of man, but the truth of the gospel of Christ. Seek His ways and you will find a path where there is no defilement.


Moment of Zen: Smiling

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TGIF

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It’s the end of the second week of school. So far things seem to be going well, and the students are responding well with my new “I’m not taking any of your crap” attitude. So tonight, I plan on getting my drink on with friends. The question is: should I drink Vodka or Beer? I will probably go for beer, but I haven’t totally decided, vodka goes down too smoothly, especially when it’s mixed with something and I might have too much. I always stick to only one type of drink a night, so that I don’t get a hangover or get sick. No matter what I drink, I plan on having a good time.


Wentworth Miller Comes Out

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Though rumors of him being gay were rampant when he was on Fox’s Prison Break, Wentworth Miller never responded to the rumors. Now, he has revealed that he’s gay in a letter to the Russia’s St. Petersburg International Film Festival declining their invitation to attend.

Wentworth’s letter, which is posted on GLAAD’s website, thanks festival organizers for an invitation but states that “as a gay man, I must decline. I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government.”

“Wentworth’s bold show of support sends a powerful message to LGBT Russians, who are facing extreme violence and persecution: you are not alone,” said a statement from GLAAD representative Wilson Cruz, who is also an actor (My So-Called Life).

Miller’s announcement comes amid international condemnation of tough laws targeting homosexuals that the Russian government has passed in recent months. The new laws include fines for individuals accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors, and penalizes those who express pro-gay views online or in the news media. Gay pride rallies are banned as well, as is the adoption of Russian-born children by same-sex couples.

Here’s a bonus picture of this sexy man:

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