Category Archives: Inspiration

Happy New Year!

Some sage advice for 2021:

“Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

—Helen Keller

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

—C.S. Lewis

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

—George Eliot

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

—Nelson Mandela

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

—Anne Frank

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each year find you a better man.”

—Benjamin Franklin

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

—Thomas Jefferson

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

—Socrates

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”

—T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘it will be happier.’”

—Alfred Lord Tennyson


Goodbye, 2020

One of the things I think we all have learned this year is how selfish and hateful many people are. After four years of a Donald Trump presidency, people have lost all sense of decorum and decency. That was never more apparent than when the pandemic began, and people were asked to wear masks, social distance, and not gather in crowds. While many of us followed these directives, many others did not. They protested the mask mandates and the temporary closures because it “violated their personal freedoms.” Yet, they seemed to not care about others’ rights as they derided the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many people’s ugly personalities came out over 2020, and they became so prevalent we saw “Karens” and “Richards” everywhere we looked. People need to understand that they are not entitled to deny someone else their life, health, or livelihood. We’ve seen a Republican Senate that has refused to offer aid to starving and jobless Americans. When significant problems arose, they abdicated their leadership responsibilities for partisanship, Trumpism, and denial.

I hope that 2021 will be a year of healing. I pray that we will see a return to kindness. I want 2021 to be a year of hope. The Trump presidency will end on January 20, and hopefully, the Senate will be in the hands of Democrats after the January 5 runoff in Georgia. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, we will see at least two more years of inaction and hatefulness. This coming year could be a year of great change and finally be a time when the United States moves in the right direction and lives up to the words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The past year saw many people fight against the idea that all people are created equal, and they have done their best to deprive us of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This needs to change, and the United States needs to finally live up to its promise. We need equality and rights for all people wherever in the world they may be, and we need to be a world leader in making sure that comes to fruition. We need to put aside our differences and work together to make this world a better place before destroying it and becoming more akin to those dystopian novels of destruction where there is even greater suffering or injustice.

Let us pray that 2021 will be a better year. I pray it will be a year of hope and a year when we begin to work towards equality for all. I pray that we will work together to create a world that is devoid of discrimination on the basis of age, disability, genetic information, military service or veteran status, national origin, pregnancy, race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

I wish you all peace, good health, prosperity, and equality in the new year. May 2021 be a hope-filled year for all of humankind.


Only the Pigeons, Or A COVID Christmas

On Monday, I was reading a Washington Post opinion piece by Kay Collier McLaughlin, a leadership consultant, author, and retired religious journalist from Kentucky, titled “From a long ago sermon, a joyful message for this troubled season.” In the piece, she tells a story about a sermon by a good friend of hers. Here is the story the priest told as McLaughlin remembers it:

That sermon, as I recall (having failed to locate the cut sheets of newsprint containing the actual words), was about his friend Phil, an American priest who was serving in Guatemala. While the bulk of the story is no longer with me, the memorable line came after a vivid description of Phil climbing steep, narrow steps to the very top of a bell tower and finding there that local artisans had painted intricate designs “where only the pigeons would see.”

McLaughlin’s primary focus is the holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing mandates that are in place in most parts of the country. If government guidelines are followed, we won’t have any large family gatherings or holiday parties. No one will drop-in to wish us a Merry Christmas. On November 23, I wrote a post saying, “I won’t be going home. I doubt I will even decorate for Christmas here. I rarely do since I am not usually here for Christmas, but even though I will be alone in Vermont this year, I just feel it is a waste of money to decorate just for me.” After reading McLaughlin’s piece, I agreed with her sentiment of wanting to shout, “Only the pigeons! Only the pigeons!”

One of the commenters on the McLaughlin piece wrote that Notre-Dame Cathedral had been renovated numerous times over the centuries. During the Middle Ages, all parts of a cathedral were decorated or carved, including the roof. The roof was not decorated for those who could see it, but it was done because God could see it. On that November 23rd post, Patrick wrote, “You should put up a small tree for you and Isabella, and at least she will be happy you are spending Christmas with her.” VRC-Do You! also commented and said, “Yes, it is only you and Isabella but at least put up something that screams CHRISTMAS. Maybe a nice poinsettia. I love Christmas. Not the commercial aspect of it but the colors, lights, and decorations, and smells.” Chris commented as well to say, “As one who has spent many a holiday alone, I did buy a small tree (when I lived in Germany) that I haul out — it is only decorated in fruit, but it is a small reminder of the holiday — which you should celebrate in at least a small way. Issy will enjoy having something new around to play around.”

After the advice I received, I did put up a small tree. No one else will see it, though all of you saw it in a picture on this blog. It made my apartment a little more festive. Isabella has enjoyed it. She’s knocked off a couple of the balls I hung on the tree. Thankfully, the balls are shatterproof. She batted them around a bit and has spent some time sitting near the tree, admiring the lights. She does seem happy that I am home this holiday, though I’m not sure she understands the time of the year and that I am usually gone away at Christmas, but she’s always glad when I am here. So, Isabella and I have enjoyed the few decorations I put up, and I put the tree in the front window so that it’s lights can be seen from the street below.

On Monday, my boss stopped by my apartment. He didn’t knock, nor did he ring the bell. He just quietly set a Christmas present by my door and left. He texted me later to tell me it was there. It was very kind of him. I also bought a few presents for myself and wrapped them (the packages I wrapped are much prettier than the one he wrapped, but I am gay after all and love wrapping beautiful presents). I saw an interesting new way of wrapping gifts and wanted to try it out. Otherwise, I might not have wrapped the presents I bought. I think they look lovely under the tree.

Here are the gifts I wrapped. Here is a link to other videos with gift wrapping ideas.


This Is What You Shall Do

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

—“Preface” to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman

On July 4, 1855, Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. This first edition consisted of 12 poems and was published anonymously. It contained a preface, which Whitman left out of subsequent editions. Whitman set much of the type himself and paid for its printing. Over his lifetime, he published eight more editions, adding poems each time. He was continually revising Leaves of Grass. There were 122 new poems in the third edition alone (1860-61), and the final “death-bed edition,” published in 1891, contained almost 400. The first edition received several glowing — and anonymous — reviews in New York newspapers. Whitman wrote most of the reviews himself. The praise was generous: “An American bard at last!” One legitimate mention by popular columnist Fanny Fern called the collection daring and fresh. Praise for the work was not universal, however. Many called it filth, and poet John Greenleaf Whittier threw his copy into the fire. Writing in The Atlantic, Thomas Wentworth Higginson said of Whitman’s book: “It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass, only that he did not burn it afterwards.”

Leaves of Grass has its genesis in an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson called “The Poet” (1844), which expressed the need for the United States to have its own new and unique poet to write about the new country’s virtues and vices. Reading the essay, Whitman consciously set out to answer Emerson’s call as he began working on the first edition of Leaves of Grass. However, Whitman downplayed Emerson’s influence, stating, “I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil.” Whitman sent a copy of the first edition of Leaves of Grass to Emerson. In a letter to Whitman, Emerson wrote, “I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed.” He went on, “I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy.” Emerson’s positive response to the first edition inspired Whitman to quickly produce a much-expanded second edition in 1856, which saw the book grow from a meager 95 pages to 384 pages with a cover price of a dollar. This edition included a phrase from Emerson’s letter, printed in gold leaf on the spine of the book, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career. R.W. Emerson.” Emerson later took offense that this letter was made public without his permission and became more critical of the work. Emerson once said, “Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” Whitman certainly had ambition, and Emerson should have recognized his own advice in Whiteman’s use of Emerson’s quote on the second edition’s spine.

While Whitman is not my favorite American poet, I am a great admirer of Emerson. The 1841 essay “Self-Reliance” by Emerson is one of my favorite literary works. It contains the most comprehensive statement of one of Emerson’s recurrent themes: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency and follow your instincts and ideas. It is the source of one of Emerson’s most famous quotes: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Emerson emphasizes the importance of individualism and its effect on an individual’s satisfaction in life. He stresses that anyone is capable of achieving happiness, simply if they change their mindset. Emerson focuses on seemingly insignificant details explaining how life is “learning and forgetting and learning again.” 

I think Emerson’s influence on Whitman is apparent in that Whitman often lived his life in his way. As a humanist, Whitman was a part of the transition between transcendentalism (Emerson) and realism (Mark Twain), incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in its time, particularly Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality. Whitman’s own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality. Yet, Whitman became one of America’s most influential poets. Critics have called him the first “poet of democracy” in the United States, a title meant to reflect his ability to write in a singularly American character. Whitman also believed in his own greatness and considered himself a messiah-like figure in poetry. Whitman became one of America’s most influential poets.


Etty Hillesum

“If there is ever to be peace, it won’t be authentic until each individual achieves peace within [them]self, expels all feelings of hatred for a race or group of people, or better, can dominate hatred and change it into something else, maybe even into love- or is that asking too much? It’s the only solution.”

– Etty Hillesum

I came across this post in my daily email from Queer Theology. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Etty Hillesum, who was a diarist and Holocaust victim. There is probably a reason for that. Her diaries are not of a young girl like those of Anne Frank, but a woman who was open about her sexuality. In one of her writings she wrote, “I am accomplished in bed.” Hillesum journaled for two years and three months. In her first entry, she boasted of being, “just about seasoned enough I should think to be counted among the better lovers.” She was then sleeping with the man she was living with, Han Wegerif, a widower of 62. Soon, Etty would be sleeping with her therapist, Julius Spear. When it came to sexual freedom, Etty was a woman ahead of her time. But besides being a sexually free woman of the 1940s, who was Etty Hillesum?

Etty Hillesum was born on 15 January 1914 in Middelburg, Netherlands. After leaving school in 1932, she went to Amsterdam to study law. She also studied Slavic languages in both Amsterdam and Leiden. She greatly enjoyed student life moving several times within Amsterdam before settling down in an apartment on the Gabriël Metsustraat in 1937 which she shared with Wegerif. She lived in that apartment until her final departure for Westerbork (a Dutch camp that served as a staging ground for the deportation of Jews) in June 1943, and it was there in the Gabriël Metsustraat that she wrote her diaries.

At Westerbork, Etty was assigned to the registration of arrivals and acted as a social worker, psychologist, and spiritual counselor. The survivors of that period testified to her radiant personality and her great dedication. “One would like to be a balm poured on so many wounds.” She devoted herself to others and bore the daily brunt of the stress in the camp such as the deportation of a part of its population every weekend. She finally fell ill, but thanks to her status, was allowed to go back to Amsterdam to be treated. Despite such pressure, Etty nevertheless remained determined to write, and she kept up her journaling. 

On June 5, 1943, when friends offered to help her hide, she chose instead to return to Westerbork and stay there to continue her work. She also had the opportunity to help her parents and her brother Misha who had been the victims of the great roundup of June 20-21, 1943. An unfortunate letter written by Etty’s mother to H.A. Rauter, the Commanding Officer of the police and the SS in the Netherlands, exasperated him and caused the entire Hillesum family to be deported. On September 7, 1943, they were sent to Auschwitz with 986 other Jews. According to the Red Cross, Etty was thought to have died there on November 30, 1943.

What survives her is a diary covering the last three years of her life. In Etty’s diary we discover her as she really was, day by day, and this presence which we perceive in her writing moves us much more than a biography written by someone else. A few letters also remain. They were published in 1982, and give us a deeply moving picture of Westerbork: “the home of Jewish suffering” stuck in the mud and barbed wire where Etty depicts men, women, children, old people who have nothing left except “the thin cover of their humanity.” The end of her diary written in Westerbork unfortunately disappeared with her at Auschwitz.

The quote above shows her feelings about humanity. With protests, divisive politics, and an emerging police state surrounding us every day, we need to take her words to heart. We can honor her legacy by expelling those feelings of hatred we may have and achieve peace. We can turn our negative feelings to love and create a better world. I think Etty makes a very good point. It is something we should strive for in our lives.


Let Justice Roll Down As Waters

But let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Amos 5:24 (ASV)

One of the most moving tributes I’ve ever seen is the the Civil Rights Memorial dedicated to forty-one people who died in the struggle for the equal treatment of all people, regardless of race, during the Civil Rights Movement between 1955 (Emmett Till) and 1968 (Martin Luther King, Jr.). The LGBT Rights Movement has had its own martyrs. The Civil Rights Memorial Center lists Billy Jack Gaither, a 39-year-old gay man, was brutally beaten to death in Rockford, Alabama, simply because he was gay. But there are many others: the thirty-two people who died when an arsonist burned the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, Harvey Milk, Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, Barry Winchell, and so many others who were killed because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The list is further expanded when you add in the number of LGBT suicides, especially of teenagers, because of bigotry and hatred often fueled by religious fanaticism.

The Civil Rights Memorial may only list the names of those who died because they believed in equality for African Americans but it also stands as a testament to all those who have died because of differences perceived by others. It is to remind us of the fight for equality. The concept of Maya Lin’s design of the Civil Rights Memorial (Maya Lin’s most famous design is the Vietnam Memorial) is based on the soothing and healing effect of water. It was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s paraphrase “… we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. …”, from the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963:

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

No matter who is fighting for rights and equal treatment, the message is basically the same. The Supreme Court gave us marriage equality, but we cannot be satisfied with that. We need to end discrimination of any kind and for those who claim that they can discriminate because it is their religious right and they are only fighting for their religious freedom are in reality fitting for their own bigotry, no different then the white supremacist of the 1950s and 60s. Amos is a very appropriate prophet to look at when discussing equality. Throughout the Book of Amos, Amos voices prophetic rage against the injustices of the day. The entire book is given to denouncing the excesses of eighth-century B.C.E. Israelite life and reminding people of their true covenantal obligations. Those who are “at ease in Zion” and “feel secure on Mount Samaria,” who “lie on beds of ivory” and “eat lambs from the flock,” will “be the first to go into exile” (Amos 6:1-7) because they have forgotten the plight of the poor and mistaken religious observance and piety for moral responsibility.

If Amos were alive today, what might he say? Perhaps the most famous line from the book is the one King paraphrased from Amos 5:24: “But let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” The context of this powerful statement is a prophetic denunciation of the “sacrifices and meal offerings” of a people who have failed to keep the covenant, which is constituted by justice and fairness. Throughout Amos 5-6, the prophet lashes out against those who have become rich at the expense of the poor and against public—but hollow—displays of piety. According to Amos, God says, “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies” (Amos 5:21). Religious devotion is meaningless if it is accompanied by unfair taxes on the poor, backdoor bribes, and working against those in need (Amos 5:11-12).

Because of these sentiments, this passage has become an important source for some observers of contemporary American religious and political culture. I think Amos would disapprove of the concentration of wealth and the corresponding increase in poverty, and he would rage against the displays of self-importance and exceptionalism in some quarters of American life.

According to Amos, a nation is exceptional by the measure of how it cares for the lowest members of society; and a nation of religious hypocrisy and injustice is one that will perish. John Winthrop expressed the message of Amos in his famous work “A Modell of Christian Charity” (1630); he knew that for the Puritan legacy to be a “light unto the nations” and a “city upon a hill,” the community would have to be based upon principles of justice, fairness, and regard for others, “that every man afford his help to another in every want or distress.”

No matter what religious fanatics and bigots say, God is on our side, and one day, truth, justice, and equality will prevail throughout the United States, and instead of the death and destruction that the bigots proclaim will happen, God and His peace and love will be there instead.  On that day,  justice will roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Adapted from a post originally posted on August 9, 2015 and reposted today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


Wentworth Miller

image
As someone who himself has struggled with issues of depression, sexuality, and weight, I find this statement by Wentworth Miller particularly inspirational. I saw it on Wicked Gay Blog and knew I wanted to share it here also. This is what Miller wrote:

Today I found myself the subject of an Internet meme. Not for the first time.

This one, however, stands out from the rest.

In 2010, semi-retired from acting, I was keeping a low-profile for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, I was suicidal.

This is a subject I’ve since written about, spoken about, shared about.

But at the time I suffered in silence. As so many do. The extent of my struggle known to very, very few.

Ashamed and in pain, I considered myself damaged goods. And the voices in my head urged me down the path to self-destruction. Not for the first time.

I’ve struggled with depression since childhood. It’s a battle that’s cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights.

In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.

And I put on weight. Big f–king deal.

One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. “Hunk To Chunk.” “Fit To Flab.” Etc.

image

My mother has one of those “friends” who’s always the first to bring you bad news. They clipped one of these articles from a popular national magazine and mailed it to her. She called me, concerned.

In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.

Long story short, I survived.

So do those pictures.

I’m glad.

Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.

Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.

Anyway. Still. Despite.

The first time I saw this meme pop up in my social media feed, I have to admit, it hurt to breathe. But as with everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.

Of myself and others.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Reach out. Text. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. Much love. – W.M. #koalas #inneractivist#prisonbroken

http://www.afsp.org
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
http://www.activeminds.org
http://www.thetrevorproject.org
http://www.iasp.info

http://www.facebook.com/notes/wentworth-miller/flour-or-wheat/1653559881523614


Pondering 

  

 I’m still not feeling 100 percent, so I thought I’d do something a bit different today. I want each of you to look at this picture and tell me what comes to mind. It can be one word, a sentence, or even a paragraph. 
For those of you who this picture evokes no particular thoughts, I’m going to give you a prompt. It obviously looks as though he is thinking something, pondering, you might say. What is he thinking about?

I obviously like this picture, but I want to know: What does it say to you? What feelings/emotions does it evoke? Do you even like the picture?

Feel free to answer one, all, or any number of the question. I’d like to hear your thoughts today.


Christian Persecution

image

 

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.1 Peter 4:16

Lately in the news, we’ve heard a lot about religious freedoms laws, because people are afraid they will be persecuted for being Christians. The idea that in America that people would be persecuted for being a true Christian who follows a loving God, is preposterous. Sadly, however, Christian persecution in the United States is real. It’s just not what you think.

Christian persecution isn’t about having to offer birth control to women. It’s not about having to serve wedding cakes to gay and lesbian couples. Christian persecution isn’t even having people call you out when you spout homophobic, sexist, or racist opinions, veiled blasphemously as biblical.

Real Christian persecution is having your church burned to the ground because black people worship there.

Real Christian persecution is sitting in a church as a minister misinterprets the Bible to fit his own narrow minded views.

Real Christian persecution is having your church graffitied hatefully because gay and lesbian people can worship there. Real Christian persecution in the United States terrorizes people — often Christians themselves, and more often then not, it is done by people professing to be Christian but persecuting LGBT Christians and LGBT-affirming Christians.

This type of Christian persecution uses hate and violence, because hate always leads to violence, done in the name of God and continuing in the name of God. And Christianity— particularly as it has been historically practiced by white, heterosexual people in the United States—has a very deep, very long history of perpetrating this kind of violence.

The latest victim of such persecution is the Church of Our Redeemer, a Metropolitan Community Church in Augusta, Georgia (MCCOR). It’s an open and affirming church in the midst of a deeply homophobic culture that birthed the Southern Baptist Convention.

The church is a beacon for LGBTQ equality, a home and safe haven for many in the town.

But a neighbor Tuesday morning called the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Rick Sosbe, after noticing a vandal had sought to extinguish the church’s light for equality. Someone had spray-painted “Leviticus 18:22” on doors of the church along with the words “burn” and “lie.” And just an hour away, the KKK, a self-professed Christian organization, is protesting the Confederate battle flag being removed from the South Carolina capitol in the most vile and hateful of ways. Certainly, these two shouldn’t be simply equated with each other, but at their core, both are motivated by hate and by violence toward difference.

Hate, it seems, has become a “Christian” value for some. These Christians use biblical verses out of context to spew their hate and to justify their violence. They may not be as well-organized or as violent as ISIS, but they are no better. Many would love nothing more than to have a Christian version of ISIS in America, yet in the same hate speech they will denounce ISIS without seeing the correlation between the he two.

How in God’s name has Jesus been fashioned into an idol for bigotry? Need we be reminded that almost half of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community are professing Christians? Need we be reminded that the vast majority of Black Americans are Christians? Need we be reminded—yet again—that in the United States, it has almost always been Christians terrorizing Christians?

White Christians have been terrorizing Black Christians for centuries since whites forced African slaves into conversion to Christianity. Heterosexual Christians terrorizing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians for decades and longer. Those categories aren’t mutually exclusive mind you, but it bears remembering that hate crimes in this country have tended to be committed overwhelmingly by Christians, frequently against Christians.

It’s terribly ironic. Christians like Franklin Graham fret and worry about attacks on the Christian faith from Muslims or other vague bogeymen who aren’t white, who aren’t Christians, or who aren’t heterosexual. But the real attack on Christianity is coming from Christians.

As tempting as it is to focus just on this evil and hateful crime in Augusta that’s not the whole story. The MCCOR community is continuing to shine its light in Augusta . Church and community members—even a few passersby—have rallied together to repair the damage, to clean and re-paint. There has been shared joy in the joining together to literally erase the hate, according to folks there.

As always, the whole story can be so much bigger and more generous than an act of hate, and we can be a small part of that. In many ways, MCCOR is a beacon—and a fairly isolated one at that—in Augusta for ministry to and among LGBTQ people. My sister used to live in Augusta, so I know how it is not one of the most welcoming of cities. She and her husband only stayed a couple of years.

May God bless LGBT Christians everywhere and especially MCCOR.

Sources: This is an edited version of a Believe Out Loud post by David Henson who received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He is ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He lives in North Carolina, is a father of two boys, and the husband of a medical resident.

http://www.believeoutloud.com/latest/real-christian-persecution-augusta-church-hit-anti-lgbt-hate-crime


Solitudine

Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. 
Mario Stefani
(Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the of others in vain.)
 
Mario Stefani
(August 4, 1938 – March 4, 2001) Italy
Poet, art critic, journalist
 
The gay poet Mario Stefani, was born in Venice; a semi-local celebrity and good-hearted neighbor whose mysterious suicide shocked the Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio community in which he lived.
 
“Anyone who loves Venice, is a true Venetian… even a tourist, but only if the tourist stays long enough to appreciate the city.”  So used to say Mario Stefani.
 
Mario’s poetry is mostly in Italian; his only two collections of Venetian dialect poetry go back to the late sixties, written in the Venetian of those years in a simple style, without any type of linguistic experimentation.
 
He is quoted in John Berendt’s new book, The City of Falling Angels, which I am currently reading again, as saying “Telling the truth is the most anticonformist act I know.”
 
About three weeks before Stefani’s death, someone had wrote in red stay paint something on the wooden wall covering a small building site right next to the Rialto bridge: “Solitudine non è essere soli, è amare gli altri inutilmente. Mario Stefani” (Loneliness is not being alone, it’s loving the others in vain). Three weeks later, on a Sunday, when he’d least likely to have been missed, he hung himself in his kitchen.
 
Even when we are surrounded by people who love us, we can still feel lonely.  This is especially true when we are hiding a part of ourselves.  Stefani was an out and proud gay man; however, he was hiding a great sadness behind his ever present smile.  So, what I’d like for all of us to do, is tell our friends and loved ones how much we care and love them and that they are not alone.  Sometimes we just need to hear that.