Monthly Archives: March 2015

Florence Ripley Mastin: Poet and Teacher


Night Fell
By Florence Ripley Mastin

Night fell one year ago, like this.
He had been writing steadily.
Among these dusky walls of books,
How bright he looked, intense as flame!
Suddenly he paused,
The firelight in his hair,
And said, “The time has come to go.”
I took his hand;
We watched the logs burn out;
The apple boughs fingered the window;
Down the cool, spring night
A slim, white moon leaned to the hill.
To-night the trees are budded white,
And the same pale moon slips through the dusk.
O little buds, tap-tapping on the pane,
O white moon,
I wonder if he sleeps in woods
Where there are leaves?
Or if he lies in some black trench,
His hands, his kind hands, kindling flame that kills?
Or if, or if …
He is here now, to bid me last good-night?


When Florence Josephine Mastin was in her 20s and already a published poet, she decided to replace her girlish middle name with “Ripley.” “Ripley” sounds jaunty and masculine, and Mastin was proud of her Ripley ancestors, including George Ripley, a Transcendentalist who founded the utopian community of Brook Farm in West Roxbury, Mass. For the rest of her life, her friends called her Ripley. 

Florence Ripley Mastin chose her own name, and she spent her entire life trying to hoist that name out into the world. Between roughly 1900 and 1967, the year before she died at age 81, she published probably hundreds of poems in newspapers and magazines, including more than 90 in the New York Times alone. She authored several books of poetry, and her work appeared approximately a dozen times in Poetry between 1918 and 1935. 

Mastin’s timing was lucky and unlucky. She was brash and butch and she loved women—one woman especially—but she died one year before the Stonewall riots. She was not a great poet, but she was lucky enough to be writing in a time where poetry was published in almost every daily newspaper, and commissioned for just about every public ceremony. Poetry, during her lifetime, was a viable, exciting, and culturally relevant pursuit; Mastin relished its sheen of elitism, but the truth is that she benefited from its mass appeal. She was able to publish prolifically as a high school teacher with modest talent and without many connections to the literary scene. 

Grace Beatrice MacColl, Mastin’s partner of some 50 years, was a fellow teacher at Erasmus Hall High School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Mastin met MacColl, who was born in Vermont, when they were students at Barnard College. When they graduated, they both took the exam to become New York City high school teachers, and applied to teach at Erasmus “because of its illustrious past, its beautiful campus, and its famous staff of teachers,” Mastin later wrote. 

Mastin and MacColl’s partnership was as public as the era allowed: They presented themselves as “close friends and devoted companions,” to use a phrase from feminist historian Judith Schwarz. Family members and friends sent “love to Grace” in their letters, and the pair traveled together, marched in suffrage parades, and lived together. When an Erasmus student working on a profile of Mastin for the school newspaper wrote her a letter in 1961 mentioning her “devoted friendship” with MacColl, Mastin wrote back paragraphs on the “gifted beautiful girl” who “was a constant inspiration for my poetry: She had a keen, a brilliant mind, a broad understanding and a subtle and delightful wit. She was more of a realist than I, and was an excellent balance wheel for my romanticism. A more noble, true and devoted friend never lived.”

Mastin wrote on subjects from the suffrage movement to both world wars to Sputnik to Vietnam. Since the above poem was published in 1918, I tend to think that it is about a young man going to war.  If it was written early in 1918, it would have been roughly a year since men began being sent to war.  In the poem “At the Movies,” two stanzas on watching a newsreel of British soldiers, was anthologized in a 1919 Treasury of War Poetry and is one of her only works to be reproduced frequently online. 

Occasionally she was funny, even cruel. In one undated handwritten poem, she savaged “certain modern poets”:

The ebullitions of modern poets make me sick.
I am an ordinary person, thank God,
With an ordinary brain and ordinary emotions;
And I come in tired to a warm fire and a drink,
And I open this book of verse . . . . . . . .
I may as well be a surgeon hereafter
And open gall bladders and tracts of bile and
holes with pus in them.
Why should I continue to read your verse
Spread everywhere like damp fungus?
… Dirty highways caked with manure will be
clean to me after you.

As her confusion and anger at highbrow moderns suggests, Mastin was an old-fashioned lyric poet with little interest in being on the literary cutting edge. And though she was publishing constantly, there is no evidence that she was in regular conversation with serious poets of her day, even those she admired. For Robert Frost’s 75th birthday in 1949, Mastin published a poem about him in the New York Times, then printed the poem on a huge scroll and had her students at Erasmus sign it. When Frost gave a talk at the New School soon afterward, a delegation of three students presented him with the scroll. She was only a dozen years younger than Frost, but this is the work of a fan, not a peer. 

Grace MacColl died in 1960 and was buried in the Mastin family plot on a hilltop overlooking the Tappan Zee. Afterward, Mastin couldn’t maintain her home Four Gables on her own, and she moved into an apartment north of Piermont, where she had a porch, a garden, and a view of her beloved Hudson River. “I think I never shall feel old—and maybe it is because I have lived with poetry all my life—and poetry is timeless,” she wrote around that time. “It is built of music and dreams so it never grows old.” She died in 1968. 

Florence Ripley Mastin loved to see her name—the name she had chosen for herself—in print. She kept detailed records tracking which newspapers reprinted which poems and who nominated her for which awards. Today, a few boxes of those papers can be found in the archives of Syracuse University’s Bird Library: dispatches from a life in poetry when such a thing must have seemed like anyone’s for the taking.

It is possible today to see Mastin as an unlikable woman; an unrelenting self-promoter, she sent clippings and copies of her work to friends, acquaintances, and politicians, including President Eisenhower. She was forever bragging about her Mayflower ancestry and her distant familial connection to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But she was a confident striver, that great American archetype, and her identity as a poet gave shape and weight to an otherwise ordinary life. She called herself a poet, and then she made herself one. And her story illustrates an important but easily overlooked chapter in the story of poetry in the 20th century.

Back to the Grind 

Spring break is over and there are eight more weeks of school.  And thus begins the marathon.  I had such a wonderful and magical spring break, that it makes it even harder to return to school today.  However, my plan is to let my good mood shine through and hopefully it will rub off on the students.  I know that’s wishful thinking, but good things are happening and I’m trying to be optimistic.  The best news is that it’s a four day week.  We have Good Friday out of school.

I know this is a short post, and there were several things in the news from last week that I could talk about, but it seemed like a lot of the news was depressing.  California has a proposed ballot initiative that calls for killing gays with “bullets to the head.”  Really, what kind of sick minds could actually propose such a thing, but one lawyer in California has done just that.  Furthermore, indiana has passed a new law which the governor signed which is a legalized form of discrimination against gay people, even though it’s under the sick and misguided guise of “religious freedom.”  What utter bullshit!  It’s pure bigotry and has nothing to do with religious freedoms, because they are meant for people who call themselves Christian to refuse service to the LGBT community.  What they need is to be taught about “what would Jesus do” if they want religious freedom.  They should be doing all they can to help everyone and anyone, not finding ways to discriminate.  

There were other news related issues, but even thinking about gem make me sad and/or angry.  This week is Holy Week, and I plan to spend my week being optimistic and trying my best to love my fellow man, which I guess means being nice to my students, or at least as nice as I can be without losing control of them.

I hope everyone has a fabulous week.  I’m starting my morning with a cup of coffee, which always brightens my day and puts a pep in my step.

Inclination by Mia Kerick

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  1 John 3:17

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a book review as a Sunday posting before today, but Inclination by Mia Kerick deserves a special posting.  I wish I had been able to read this book as a teenager coming to terms with my own Christianity and homosexuality.  Inclination is a guide for young gay Christians in a beautifully written and straightforward young adult novel.  Here is a description of the book:

Sixteen-year-old Anthony Duck-Young Del Vecchio is a nice Catholic boy with a very big problem. It’s not the challenge of fitting in as the lone adopted South Korean in a close-knit family of Italian-Americans. Nor is it being the one introverted son in a family jam-packed with gregarious daughters. Anthony’s problem is far more serious—he is the only gay kid in Our Way, his church’s youth group. As a high school junior, Anthony has finally come to accept his sexual orientation, but he struggles to determine if a gay man can live as a faithful Christian. And as he faces his dilemma, there are complications. After confiding his gayness to his intolerant adult youth group leader, he’s asked to find a new organization with which to worship. He’s beaten up in the church parking lot by a fanatical teen. His former best pal bullies him in the locker room. His Catholic friends even stage an intervention to lead him back to the “right path.” Meanwhile, Anthony develops romantic feelings for David Gandy, an emo, out and proud junior at his high school, who seems to have all the answers about how someone can be gay and Christian, too.

Will Anthony be able to balance his family, friends and new feelings for David with his changing beliefs about his faith so he can live a satisfying life and not risk his soul in the process?

Inclination can really be separated into three parts: coming out, coming to terms, and acceptance.  In the first part, you see Anthony struggle with his sexuality.  Once he comes to terms with the fact that he is gay, it is not a choice, he begins to ask himself how God could create him this way and yet proclaim it to be a sin.  Sin does not come from God, but his Catholic upbringing teaches him that homosexuality is wrong.  The anguish that Anthony goes through is so real, I felt as if I was reliving that time in my life when I was struggling with the same ideas.

Anthony, however, has two things that I did not: a loving supporting family and David Gandy.  David acts as a guide, a friend, and a teacher who helps Anthony wade through the literature about gay Christianity.  David is sure in his faith and in his homosexuality, and he serves as a major asset to Anthony that many young gay Christians do not have, which is precisely why I think this book is so important and deserves a much larger audience.

I really enjoyed this book, not because I agreed with everything in it.  I think that the physical intimacy can be a part of a gay Christian’s life without it being sinful, but this is a young adult book and it should not have carnal relations in it.  Making love is just that, making love and as long as it is meaningful and in a relationship, then it is not wrong.  I believe this must be the case since in some places gay people still are not allowed to be married.  However, what I enjoyed the most about the book is that Kerick brings forth the idea that love and compassion are at the center of Christianity.

This except sums it up very well:

“Now you told me about how Laz acted today in the locker room.  And you know that it was wrong, because he was not showing compassion–you know, not loving you as he loves himself. And even though, on some level, he thinks he was acting in accordance with God’s law as he understands it–cuz homosexuality is wrong in his perspective–we both know that he was not following the spirit of God’s law.  The God I love and believe in would not encourage such behavior–it wouldn’t make sense.”  David reaches across the table across the table and grasps my hand.  The predictable goose bumps cover the skin of my arm.  “God is not arbitrary.  He doesn’t make rules for the simple purpose of making us follow them.  We’re not His trained ponies that need to prove something by turning in circles or jumping over orange cones at His whim.  There are reasons, you know, purposes, behind his rules.”

Kerick does a wonderful job illustrating the struggle many gay Christians go through.  Though Anthony is Catholic, Catholicism does not hold the monopoly on anti-gay rhetoric.  Most denominations spew the same hateful language that is against spirit of God’s laws.  While I would love to see an adult-oriented version of this book, I think it is important that young people have access to this book.  I would recommend it to any library and if you know of a young person struggling with their faith and sexuality, please give them this book to read.  It should spur on further reading and hopefully open up dialogue about what it means to be gay and Christian.

Moment of Zen: True Bliss 


Often, my MoZ for the week is a picture that I think is sexy or puts a smile on my face or something that I just enjoy.  It’s meant to be a picture that brings a brightness to my day and yours.  This week, though, I had a true Zen moment.  It was a moment of peace and tranquillity, of happiness and contentment.  Actually there were several this week with my boyfriend: eating dinner in a restaurant at the top of a mountain with an incredible view, hiking trails and looking at the scenic beauty of Alabama, cuddling together and watching a movie, or sitting outside on a beautiful evening watching the sunset.  There were many other moments of intimacy that I will leave to your imagination. However, the true moment of Zen, that true bliss, came as I was laying next to my boyfriend, my head on his chest, and I realized in that moment I didn’t have any pain (not even the minimum trace of a headache), I was happy and content (no depressive thoughts), and I was in the arms of someone I really care about and want to be with as much as possible.
It really was the best week.  I’m still experiencing some residual headaches, but they are less and less and there is more time between attacks.  It’s no longer constant.  I still have points when I’m sad, but it’s because of something, such as saying goodbye to my boyfriend and not getting to see him for a few days.  The amazing thing is that the pain is no longer constant nor is the depression.  I’m beginning to see real relief and that’s a moment of Zen in itself.
I think this is the most I’ve ever said in an MoZ post before, but this MoZ was not about the picture, but the moment, though I think I found a pretty good picture to illustrate it.
The view from the restaurant.
A very small waterfall on a stream by the hiking trail.
An Alabama sunset at its most beautiful. 



A Few Thoughts…Happiness 

First let me say this, I have never in my life enjoyed a vacation (or even just a few days in a row) as much as I did with my boyfriend this week.  It was so easy to be with him: to talk, to cuddle, to be intimate, to fall asleep next to each other, to wake up next to each other, etc.  I’ve never felt this easy companionship with anyone else.  It felt so incredibly natural.

It’s so easy to talk to him about anything.  We can talk about history, politics, education, and religion with so much ease that it is a dream come true.  I love being with him.  He makes me feel so wonderful and happy, and I hope I am doing the same for him.  When we parted yesterday to go to our respective homes, I missed him instantly.  I didn’t want our vacation to end.

He makes me happy, so very happy.

The Beauty of Nature

Yesterday, we did some hiking and had a wonderful time checking out small streams and waterfalls and enjoying the scenery.  Mostly, we have just enjoyed being with one another and being kind of lazy.  It’s spring break and teachers need the rest and relaxation much more than the kids.  We have to have the strength to forge ahead through the last few months at school and make sure that the students don’t give up too quickly or easily.

I’ll be heading home later today.  It’s been a wonderful trip.  I haven’t had much internet access up here on the mountain, which is the reason for the short posts.

A quick health update:  the new antidepressant seems to be working well and my body is adjusting.  Also, the medicine for my cluster headaches seems to be working.  As I’m typing this, I unbelievably am not experiencing any pain.


Hiking is our plan for the day, but we will be wearing more clothes.  I liked this picture though.  It reminds me of spring break shenanigans, but in the mountains like I’m doing for spring break.  I wouldn’t mind coming across these two on the hiking trail.

Two Poems By Cyrus Cassells

Beautiful Signor
By Cyrus Cassells 

     All dreams of the soul 
     End in a beautiful man’s or woman’s body. 

     —Yeats, “The Phases of the Moon” 

Whenever we wake,
still joined, enraptured—
at the window,
each clear night’s finish
the black pulse of dominoes
dropping to land;

whenever we embrace,
haunted, upwelling,
I know
a reunion is taking place—      

Hear me when I say
our love’s not meant to be
an opiate;
you are the reachable mirror
that dares me to risk
the caravan back
to the apogee, the longed-for
arms of the Beloved—

Dusks of paperwhites,
dusks of jasmine,
intimate beyond belief

beautiful Signor

no dread of nakedness

beautiful Signor

my long ship,
my opulence,
my garland

beautiful Signor

extinguishing the beggar’s tin,
the wind of longing

beautiful Signor

laving the ruined country,
the heart wedded to war

beautiful Signor

the kiln-blaze
in my body,
the turning heaven

beautiful Signor

you cover me with pollen

beautiful Signor

into your sweet mouth—

This is the taproot:
against all strictures,
I’ll never renounce,
never relinquish
the first radiance, the first
moment you took my hand—

This is the endless wanderlust:
yours is the April-upon-April love
that kept me spinning even beyond
your eventful arms
toward the unsurpassed:

the one vast claiming heart,
the glimmering,
the beautiful and revealed Signor.

Return to Florence
By Cyrus Cassells

How do I convey the shoring gold
at the core of the Florentine bells’
commingled chimes?

Vast as a suddenly revealed
field of wheat,
that up-and-away gold
is equivalent to the match-burst
morning I returned,
intent as doubting Thomas,
to my old classroom terrace,
open to the showy, blue yes
of the bustling Arno,
to my timeless, sun-laved
Basilica of Santo Spirito,
and discovered
ebullient citizens reciting,
at a hundred different posts,
the same unbetraying passage
of Dante’s Paradise.

Cyrus Cassells is the author of four books of poetry: The Mud ActorSoul Make a Path Through ShoutingBeautiful Signor, and More Than Peace and Cypresses. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a William Carlos Williams Award, a Pushcart Prize, two NEA grants, and a Lambda Literary Award, which he won for Beautiful Signor. He is a tenured Associate Professor of English at Texas State University-San Marcos, and lives in Paris and Austin.

Spring Break

Spring break is here.  No children for a week, then two months until summer.  I am so excited.  This has been a trying year at school, and I’m ready for it to be over.  Spring break always give the teachers the needed rest to persevere through the final two months of school;  spring break always seems to signal the end of the year for students. They think their work is done, but we have plenty more to do.
So you might ask what I am doing for spring break, well the above picture is NOT a hint, but a dream.  I’d love to find a semi-secluded beach and spend my week reading, soaking up the rays, and drinking coffee in the morning and tropical drinks all day, but kids are always at the beach for spring break and I want as far away from them as possible.
My boyfriend is therefore taking me hiking in the mountains of Alabama.  Yes, we do have mountains in Alabama, they just aren’t very tall and they make up the most southern point of the Appalachain Mountains.  It’s a three day, two night trip, but most of all, I get to spend that time with my boyfriend.  Maybe he will even pamper me a little bit.  The local restaurant on the mountain we are staying on serves local wines, muscadine and grape, which I’m looking forward to sampling.  I’m really not supposed to drink alcohol with my cluster headaches, but hopefully the new medicines I’ve been prescribed will help.  The real tricky part is going to be surviving the side effects of the prednisone dose pack my doctor has me taking.  Hopefully, the fresh clean air of the mountains will also help.


Pay It Forward 

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:1-10

Many of us know the New Testament story of Jesus and Zacchaeus (see Luke [Lk] 19:1-10).  The events of that story took place near the end of Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus entered the Judean town of Jericho and a man named Zacchaeus climbed up a tree so he could see Jesus as Jesus passed by.  Zacchaeus was a short man, so he needed to climb the tree in order to see over the crowds.  But Zacchaeus was also the chief tax collector in Jericho and an extremely wealthy man.  One does not expect such a person to climb a tree to see anyone.  His willingness to do so indicates the degree of desire which he had to see Jesus.  It may also indicate that He was a humble tax collector not given to haughtiness or pretense.

So there he was, perched in a fruit tree, when Jesus walked right to that very tree, looked up at Zacchaeus, called him by name and said, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).  Notice Jesus’ words.  “I must stay at your house today.”  The word translated “must” indicates throughout the Gospel of Luke that what is taking place has been planned by God.  It means that it is important to God’s purposes that the designated event occur.  Jesus has found the man whom God had led Him to Jericho to see.

But why?  Why Zacchaeus?  I think that a look back through the preceding chapters of Luke makes it easier to answer that question.  Notice that in Luke Jesus interacts with many people who were, for one reason or another, outcasts–-social pariahs.  The Jewish religious establishment criticized Jesus often because He spent so much time with those whom they referred to as “sinners.”

In Lk 15, we read the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the Prodigal Son.  That chapter makes clear, in verses 1 & 2, that Jesus told those parables in response to the Jewish complaint that He should not be spending time with such low life.  You see the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son all represent, in these parables, the “sinners” whom the Jews wanted Jesus to stay away from.

But we also must notice the way that the persons whom the Jewish establishment rejected are so often described in Luke.  They are described by putting together two nouns.  The two nouns are “tax collectors” and “sinners.”  A devout Jew of Jesus’ day would not eat with a tax collector because such a person was considered ritually unclean due to their involvement with the Roman Imperial authorities.  The fear that one might have touched a tax collector is one of the reasons that the Jews ritually washed their hands before they ate; they feared that just touching such a person might religiously poison their food.  And Jewish laws in Jesus’ day did not allow a tax collector to hold a “communal office” or even give “testimony in a Jewish court” (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4:522).

The view of the Gospel of Luke, however, is entirely different.  John the Baptist, in Lk 3:12, is asked by a group of tax collectors what they should do to show the proper fruits of repentance.  John does not tell them to change jobs; he tells them to be fair (Lk 3:13).  And Jesus Himself even calls a tax collector, Levi, to follow him as an apostle, and Levi does follow Him (Lk 5:27-32).  And Jesus eats with tax collectors regularly.  He clearly does not fear being defiled by them.

So Jesus had come to Jericho to meet Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, the only person referred to in that way in the entire New Teatamwnt.  And, to make matters worse, Zacchaeus is rich.  Take a person holding a hated position; make that person rich; the hatred only increases.

So when Zacchaeus and Jesus walk together toward Zacchaeus’s house, the crowd grumbles; they complain.  They complain loudly enough that Zacchaeus hears it and stops.  I know that the New International Version says that he “stood up,” but the verb here can and, in my judgment, should be rendered as stopped, which is the rendering employed in the New American Standard Bible.  Anyway, Zacchaeus responds by turning to Jesus and saying what is most naturally and literally translated by the Revised Standard Version.  The RSV in Lk 19:8 says, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Now most English translations render the verbs “to give” and “to restore” here as future verbs, i.e., “I will give” and “I will restore or I will give back.”  But the Greek verbs here are both present tense verbs.  Now, it is not impossible in Greek for a present tense verb to have a future meaning (such is called by Greek Grammarians, a futuristic present).  But, for such a rendering to be chosen, the more normal time reference of the verb has to be impossible or unlikely.  Here, I do not think that the natural understanding of these Greek verbs is unlikely at all.  Read as normal present tense verbs this story is telling us that Jesus has been sent to Zacchaeus to help expose how unjust Jewish religious intolerance really is.  He has been sent to bring salvation to him, and salvation here has the idea of Jesus the Savior staying with this “son of Abraham” and, thereby, making clear that this man is not outside of the love and care of his God.  Jesus is saving Zacchaeus from the feeling foisted upon him by His fellow Jews that he is sinful, wicked, and separated from God’s people.  Jesus makes clear that he is a son of Abraham and that the very reason that Jesus is going to Zacchaeus’s house rather than someone else’s is due to the unfair treatment which he has been receiving.

If you read this passage with the words in verse 8 as words of repentance and change (i.e., reading the relevant verbs as future tense verbs) then it is the grumbling of the crowd which causes Zacchaeus to repent, and grumbling is not normally a positive thing in the Bible.  I think it is better to view Jesus here confronting, as He so often does, a social stigma that was unfair and unjust, a stigma based upon religious elitism rather than upon the actual deeds of the person or persons concerned.

But what I want to notice this morning is the lesson that this passage gives us for the use of our wealth.  Jesus revealed the goodness of Zacchaeus by giving Zacchaeus a stage on which to communicate the generous way that he used his wealth and compensated for any mistakes that he made.  He gave half of his goods to the poor.  If he took more from anyone than he should have, then he gave them back four times more than that.

In the days of Zacchaeus we would all be considered wealthy, and I suspect that many within the religious establishment would have doubted our religious purity as a direct result of that wealth and the types of jobs we do to create it.  I want us to follow Zacchaeus’s model.  I want us to be surprisingly generous in the way we use our wealth.  I want us to pay our money forward, forward into eternity, by using our wealth to bless others and by using our wealth to give glory to God.

We have lots of stuff.  But the persons who pay it forward realize that it is not their stuff at all.  It is from God, and God really owns it.  The persons who pay it forward use it in ways that show forth the heart of God, the giver of all that we have.

We Americans like to think of ourselves as the land of the free.  But my experience is that outside of this country we are known as the land of stuff.  What will we do with all that stuff?  Let’s follow the example of Zacchaeus.  Let’s be generous in using for others.  Let’s follow the example of Danny.  Let’s use it to communicate love.  By doing so we will spread peace and the righteousness of God.

This is an edited version of a sermon by Dr. Rodney Plunket, the former pastor of Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas.  The parts I edited out were not because of the message, but because it dealt with members of the Broadway Church of Christ congregation.  I also want to add a few words of my own.

We far too often hear about people who call themselves Christians but only teach hate and fear and condemnation, and far too often these same people end up in scandals about their wealth and status.  They forget that Jesus ministered to those condemned by the Jews.  I think in the present day, LGBT Christians are the Jewish tax collectors of Jesus’s day.  Churches shun us and don’t want to have anything to do with us.  They preach about their hatred of us.  The argument against homosexuality used to be that gay men were promiscuous and committed fornication with other men.  However, now that gay people can get married and more and more of the LGBT community are in long term monogamous relationships, the very thing we were criticized for not having, the same people are trying to block us from marriage.

My thought is this, no matter what other Christians say or believe, LGBT Christians are still “Christians.”  We should continue to give back to those who need it.  I mentioned the other day that I have some medical expenses looming and the help I received from several people was tremendous.  They paid it forward, and whereas I am unable to do that monetarily right now, I try to find other ways to “pay it forward.”  Zacchaeus was judged simply because of his job, and Jews of the time didn’t care to see what Zacchaeus did with his wealth, but Jesus knew what Zacchaeus did as he knows us in our hearts.  So don’t let the judgement of other people stop you from helping those in need.