Archive for the ‘community’ Category

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Storyteller

May 26, 2009

You know these guys.  You somehow get dragged into a tent at a festival, or the school sends home a notice asking you to bring your child to school for an evening of storytelling.  You prepare yourself for an hour of some old guy in bib overalls, telling endless stories that end abruptly and make no sense.  Perhaps it’s a woman in a long calico dress who lived on a commune in the 1960’s, and she breaks out an autoharp to sing a song about spinning wool, but either way, you feel like you’re in for a real snoozefest. 

In this case, I needed to pick up some credits for Pennsylvania’s Act 48 continuing education requirement for teachers, and this storyteller was hosted by a local elementary school.  All I had to do was show up, listen to a few stories, and collect my 1 hour credit. 

Unfortunately, I was drawn in.  This guy was good, perhaps too good.  I had to give him credit, he was in corduroy pants and suspenders instead of bib overalls.  His first story was not only enough to hold my attention, I found myself imagining what this 8 foot tall hairy woman would look like.  I wondered how this “regular man” could leave the child he had with the hairy woman, and I certainly couldn’t imagine how he could leave his son, no matter how ugly the kid was.  

So when the storyteller asked us to close our eyes and go on a journey, I did so quite willingly.  Why not?  I’ve been practicing some meditation lately, and I figured this story could be like a guided meditation.  We were directed to walk into the woods.  As we made our way through the forest, we were told to follow the path to the big tree up ahead, our family tree.  Our next instruction was to take a close look at it, feel the bark, look down at the roots, gaze up through the branches into the sunlight. 

Our storyteller asked us to do what seemed to be impossible, but it was afterall, just in our minds.  We entered the tree.  We were doing this collectively, a group, in the school cafeteria, but at this point, the story, and the experience became very personal.  I’d even describe it as sensual and intimate without being sexual.  A tree is an awesome living thing, and to be in the tree, our own family tree, is a deeply personal experience.  

“Go down to the roots, and if you see an animal there, greet them; listen to what they have to say.”   I saw a skunk, which made me laugh a little, but I heard him say what a great honor it is to live in this tree, and that I was a special part of the life of the tree.  I travelled to the highest branches and met a robin there.  The robin told me that the branches of this tree have given me the ability to soar.  I thanked both the skunk and the robin and returned to the trunk. 

Our guide asked us to leave the tree and start back on the pathway to our real world.  We rubbed our hands together, perhaps to awaken our minds to our present reality.  Then we wiped our faces to open our eyes and leave behind that great family tree we discovered in our imaginations. 

Storyteller, where did you take me this evening?  I’ve been playing with myth and magick, story and dreams.  Meditation has taken me to places much like you showed me tonight.  Once again, I am reminded that we are all connected. Family connections, whether we like it or not, can be very strong. They can be help us or hurt us.  Ultimately, the family tree determines not only who we are, but provides those heaven-lifted branches from which we take flight to become the person we are meant to be.

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Going to Church

January 23, 2009

I went to church last Sunday.  Big deal.  So did millions of other people.  It was a big deal, at least for me.  It has been over 3 weeks since I left my position as music director at a Disciples of Christ Church.  In the past 25 years, I’ve had very few Sundays in which I could experience church services that are outside of my own experience.  I’ve been employed continuously by churches since 1982, with the longest hiatus from music ministry being about 2 months.  One of the problems of being “in charge” of worship is that one rarely sees how others go about it.  This abrupt leave from my music job is the perfect opportunity to visit and make observations at other churches. 

 

The chosen destination for this past Sunday was my husband’s church, one which I’d never attended services at because I was always at the organ of my own church.  We loaded up the kids of our blended family that were with us for the weekend and headed out in the snow to the church in the country.  It’s part of a small, protestant denomination that tends to be traditional and evangelical.  They are awaiting the arrival of their newly hired minister, so it is understandable that this service may not have been a good example of what things are like there on a regular basis.  And that’s a good thing. 

 

The people were friendly and happy to see Scott.  They greeted me warmly and welcomed our children.  We took our bulletins and found a seat, taking a moment to arrange ourselves comfortably.  The organist began the prelude and I immediately got nervous.  I’m a musician, and a good one.  When I hear church musicians who are struggling, I become anxious.  This woman was having such a difficult time with her chosen prelude, that it took me quite some time to determine what she was playing.  It was an old evangelical hymn  Out of the Ivory Palaces. 

 

Which leads me to the next problem I had with the service: the lack of meaningful, timely hymns.  The hymnal, by my estimation, was at least 25% contemporary Christian music, or “praise choruses”  which I’d hardly call contemporary considering that they were at least 25 years old in most cases.  If a song has been around long enough to be included in a hymnal, printed, promoted, and sold to a congregation;  and the congregation uses the hymnal for a significant period of time, it’s difficult to consider the music “contemporary”.   The one “traditional” hymn planned for the morning worship service was an old Holiness Movement song “We’re Marching to Zion”.  It was sung at a slower pace than I’m used to performing it, and the musicians, both pianist and organist, lacked the skills to transpose it into a key in which most congregants could comfortably sing.  Imagine being out of breath and reaching for high notes.

 

When the ushers were called forward, I looked up to see 4 burly men walking forward.  I whispered to Scott  “is there a weight requirement?”  These guys were huge.   I said “what’s the minimum?  225?”  Seriously, I didn’t know if they were ushers or bouncers.  Of course, since this was an important job, handling the money, all of the ushers were required to be in possession of a penis. 

 

fat-preacher

 

The children’s message was delivered by a woman, which is generally thought of as acceptible in these patriarchal churches.  Caring for children is the woman’s domain afterall.  The woman talked about having friends but the point of her little message was lost on me, so I’m pretty sure the kids were as baffled as they looked.

 

We plodded through another pop-ballad hymn which was executed with technical accuracy by the instrumentalists, but with all the musicality of a horse counting to ten with its front hoof.  This song led us into a time of prayer.  I believe that the people who made their prayer requests known are genuinely concerned about those people named.  Some moved beyond the typical illness requests and made mention of current events and nationally known tragedies. In all of these honest, heart-felt concerns, there remained a sense of some unspoken desire, an appeal to magic.  That appeal to magic was reinforced by the prayer leader, who prayed extemporaneously, including all of the requests voiced moments earlier.  I noticed pretty early in her prayer that she had a favorite phrase, which was  “Dear Heavenly Father”.  She said it so much that I wrote it in my bulletin.  She kept saying it, punctuating each paragraph with 2 or 3 repetitions. So many Christians have this habit when praying publicly.  It is as if there is a mystical combination of “Blessed Jesus'” or “Loving Fathers” or even “Hail Marys”  that said in a specific quantity or order that will unlock heaven’s safe full of blessings.  When did prayer become the heavenly Powerball?  Jesus cautioned us of this in Matthew 6:7

 

And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

 

Sadly, the sermon, offered by a visiting minister, did little to hold my attention as a visitor.  I suspect that it was meant to encourage this congregation as they await the arrival of their recently hired Pastor.  The sermon began with the perfunctory joke and apologies for his shortcomings as a speaker.   Those who attend this church regularly may have heard some words of encouragement, but my mind wandered off.    After one more pop-song hymn, the benediction was pronounced and everyone bolted for the door. 

 

Now, I’ve certainly been critical and some would say downright mean with this post.  You might even tell me that the computer glitch that sent my first version of this post out into cyberspace, never to be found again, was a sign from above that I should turn from my wicked ways.  Let me reinforce this sentiment:  these people are good people, their intentions are noble and their desires are honorable.  Unfortunately, they found something that was successful at some point, decided that this is how they would do it from that point on, and mediocrity set in.  Their worship service has most likely morphed slowly to become the dry and irrelevant ritual that we experienced that morning.

 

Traditionally, people in this country have attended church for the spiritual encouragement they receive by participating in worship services.  There was a time when people attended church out of a sense of obligation, regardless of any spiritual or communal benefits that may or may not have been derived from attending.  I’ve heard complaints about the lack of commitment to the church and its programs.   My question, after visiting this church, is “what does this church offer that would encourage people to attend regularly and support their programs?”  In addition, for those who do attend, are their perceived or actual needs, physical and spiritual, being met?  And finally, are the people we meet in this or any other Christian church a reflection of the Christ they strive to emulate?

 

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Mohandas Gandhi

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Today’s Sermon: Creation: God Starts it All Off with a Big Bang

October 12, 2008
I was honored to speak as a layspeaker at church this morning.  Here is a copy of my sermon. 
In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness and some gas. The Bible says the Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that. Anyway, God said, “Give me a light!” and someone did. Then God made the world. He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.  Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something. 

Right from the beginning, we are confused on the creation story.  And if this is what a child hears when we read today’s scripture, is it any wonder that even the theologians can’t agree on what really happened in Genesis?  “Oh, Steve, We aren’t tackling Evolution vs. Creationism today, are we?”  No, we’re not.  We don’t need to.  As Disciples, we have members who accept the creation story as historical fact;  we also have members who believe it to be metaphorical, a creation story unique to Christians, but in many ways similar to creation stories from other cultures. We find that many of us fall somewhere in between. As Disciples, our tradition has been to encourage each other to study the scriptures, and respect each other for where we are on our individual journeys. So I’m not going to tell you what you must believe about God’s first actions.  However, let’s look at the beliefs we hold about these early chapters of the Bible and why they can cause such controversy. 

Christians who accept the Genesis 1 account as historical fact, must have a strong faith in God.  I mean this in the most positive way.  They look at the events of each day: separation of day and night,separation of the waters to create an expanse known as the heavens, and the water and land; and in these events they witness a powerful God, speaking a word and the elements of the universe moving to obey. In 3 days the stage is set for life to begin.  In the next 3 days, God speaks the planets, ocean life and birds, and animals and humans into being. God pronounces all of it good, and takes a day off.  We need only to look around us to find the witness of nature to God’s awesome power. 
 
For some of us, it’s too much to take in, we just can’t believe that something so big, so majestic, so amazing as our universe could come into existance in a mere 6 days.  In our quest to learn more about our selves, our environment, our planet, our galaxy and our universe, we have questioned everything. And we’ve found some clues that it may have taken more than 6 days to put this place together. As humans developed methods for studying every aspect of our planet and beyond, and learned that scientific methods could indeed yield answers about where we come from, the 6 day creation account has been called into question.
 
One of the most famous inquiries in the science vs. faith debate was the Scopes Trial in 1925.  John Scopes was a science teacher in Tennessee who openly defied the law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, made popular by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of Species.  The case went to court, and very quickly, instead of John Scopes being tried for breaking the law, the Bible seemed to go on trial.  Clarence Darrow, the famous attorney, questioned William Jennings Bryan relentlessy about things most Christians consider miracles that which could not be explained scientifically.  Mr. Bryan died 5 days after the end of the trial, and the enmity between Christians and Scientists has lingered since then. 
 
If we could begin that discussion again, how would we bring together the opposing sides?  Where would we find agreement?  How could we find a current in which faith and knowledge flow together? 
I say that we should begin with God’s love.  I say that no matter what you believe about the creation story, it very simply demonstrates God’s great love in that God creates a world, an amazing universe for humans to occupy and share with the rest of the creation. It appears God’s motivation for the creative act is to receive honor and glory from beings who have a choice to do so. 
The creation story comes to us, presumably through Moses, in a way that these early people could understand.  The story was handed down in an oral tradition and finally put on paper by Moses, although I’m sure you’ll find some people who would argue that point with you.  In doing some research for today’s sermon, I discovered a theory I’d never heard before:  That the creationism vs. evolution argument is not about Science, it’s about literary genre.  This makes sense to me.  Did the original author intend to write, or recite history?  Or, did the author intend to write something more like poetry?   Could it be that giving the story somewhat of a symmetrical structure would make it easier to retell?  A look at the structure of the text reveals that the first three days of creation MIRROR the second three days of creation:

  • On the first day of creation God said “let there be light,” as well as darkness, and on the fourth day of creation he made the moving inhabitants of those realms (the sun, moon, and stars).
  • On the second day God separated the waters above the earth from the waters below the earth, and on the fifth day he made the moving inhabitants of those two realms (the birds and sea creatures).
  • On the third day God made the dry land and plants appear, and on the sixth day he made the moving inhabitants of that realm (the animals and man).
 In the first 3 days, the stage is set, and in the following 3 days the actors appear.  The story is set up to describe the things that “are” and the things that “move” – the living creatures. Is it possible that in the years this story was told in the oral tradition that it developed this form?  Is it possible, like that old game of “telephone”, that with each retelling of the story the details were nuanced?  When humans are involved, we need to acknowledge the opportunity for such changes, even error, but that does not negate the main idea:  God loved and God created.
 
You may find people willing to stand on their arguments for or against the Creation story based on the words used.  The simplest telling of the story teaches us that God made a man named Adam and a woman named Eve.  Research tells us that those Hebrew words ‘adam and havvah may be more symbolic terms meaning mankind and mother of all life.  For those who wish to discredit the literal or historical creation story, it’s a simple move to then ask about the children of this couple.  In fact, it is a question that was asked by Clarence Darrow, back in the Scopes trial that I mentioned earlier:  Where did Cain’s wife come from?  Maintaining that Adam and Eve were the only 2 humans from which life springs, takes us to a place we’d rather not go when explaining how the earth became populated. Using a symbolic interpretation of Adam and Eve as “the people” that God created solves that problem, but makes many more for us.  It becomes much easier to simply dig in our heels and lock horns with our adversaries, rather than do the research and discern what God wants us to learn from such a story. 
And if this isn’t enough controversy for you, we’re given a second account of the creation in Genesis 2:4-25.  The second telling of the creation doesn’t match the first telling in Genesis 1.  In the first chapter of Genesis, humans are the last thing created by God; in the second chapter, humans are created before the other animals.  In chapter one, the man and woman are created simultaneously; in chapter two we get the famous “adam’s rib” story. 
 
At this point, do we get hung up on the controversy, or do we look beyond it to discover what God wants us to know?  I’ve seen some of the arguments over these scriptures.  They go off into tangents on issues that don’t matter, but all sides want to claim these words as proof that God agrees with them and not their opponent.  We place our own prejudice and our own bias on top of the Word that we’ve been given.  We can suddenly find ourselves in a place we don’t want to be.  For example, in chapter two, Adam is alone.  God says “it’s not good for man to be alone” so God creates the animals and brings them to Adam to be named.  From the scriptures, it’s clear that Adam is to choose a helper from the animals. It seems that it is only after Adam fails to choose a helper, that God creates Eve.  For those reading these verses with a literal viewpoint combined with a skewed agenda, it could sound like God expected man to have a working relationship with animals beyond what we already experience.  
And we haven’t even gotten to the “Fall” of humans.  Was it really an apple?  What did the “serpent” look like before God made it crawl on its belly?  Are the tree, fruit, and serpent literal or symbolic?  Believe it or not, I even found a website that believes Cain was not Adam’s son, but Satan’s.  Controversy!  From the very beginning!  
Does it make a difference in our daily lives if God spent 6 days working and 1 day resting?  Do we lose our salvation if God’s day means thousands or millions of years instead of 24 hours?  Is God’s love negated if the creation story is told as a narrative with some details changed to make it easier to remember as well as for better drama?  More importantly, how does it benefit any of us to deride each other for holding the literal or allegorical view of the creation story?  The Disciples slogan certainly is appropriate “In essentials, Unity; In non-essentials, Liberty; and in all things, Charity.” 
From the very beginning, God has interacted with humankind. Whether it was through a booming theatrical voice to speak the world into being, or the voice of God as the Big Bang Theory, we may never know.  The universe is an amazing place, full of things our human minds will never comprehend.
When Albert Einstein was asked if he believed in God, here was his response: “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws.”

  

 

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Wedding Wine

August 2, 2008

This is my last weekend as a bachelor.  Next week at this time I’ll be married to the man I love, my anam cara, my soulmate.  The big drive is on to accomplish all the plans for the Big Gay Wedding.  I also note that I’ve not written nearly as much these past few weeks.  There will be at least one more post before the celebration, I know this because I’ve got it filed away, waiting to be posted.

Here’s some of what has been achieved this past week:

  • more cookies have been baked.
  • food for the rehearsal dinner has been purchased.
  • the guest room has been painted and reassembled so that it now reflects a mature point of view.  No more bunnies.
  • flowers for boutonnieres and corsages have been purchased.
  • we’ve bought clothes for the rehearsal, and for the kids to wear to the wedding.
  • I’ve transcribed a piece of music for my daughter to play on French Horn for our ceremony.
  • a singer has backed out on us, but the other, Daniel, has learned one of her songs, and my daughter has learned the other. 
  • Centerpieces have been prepared, but not completed.

Today.  Ahhh, today I was feeling peaceful, relaxed.  Then the stress got to my future husband and that got transferred to me.  We’ve been walking around with chips on our shoulders since about 4pm.  At the moment, a truce has been called.  In light of the peace treaty, a few more things were accomplished.   Scott works for a factory that creates envelopes and greeting cards, and has access to overstock inventory.  We had a choice of place-cards, so this evening, I got to work on that excess card stock.  It is a lovely white card embossed with a wave and starfish.  They were just a bit too big, so I cut them down, and scored them so they fold easily. 

I also created our guest book.  It’s really a high end photo album from Hallmark.  It has interchangeable pages so that it can be customized and expanded.  We’re using it not only for our guest book, but also as a wedding album.  I created a few photos to go into the pockets of the lined pages.  I lifted a few of the pictures from photobucket, but added the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each page will feature one of these photos with room for a number of guests to sign beneath the picture.  Later, we’ll add the photographs from the wedding. 

Finally, the whine, I mean, wine.  We’ve made a beautiful white zinfandel with exotic fruit flavoring from a kit.  We’ll be using this wine as our favors for our guests.  It really is a lovely color, and has been somewhat hassle-free from start to finish, but it took a lot of patience.  [Here comes the whine] We bought 2 kits and started both at the same time.  For some reason, one was cloudier than the other at the earliest bottling date.  I stirred it vigorously again and let it sit another week or so.  Everything is fine.  We ordered 100 5oz bottles and some fancy shrink wrap capsules.  Months ago, I made the labels with our clipart and wedding date on them.  Not one step of the process has been overwhelming, but there have been a lot of steps!  Today, I wiped the bottles clean and applied the labels.  The wedding wine is done. 

 

Now, I am reminded of this:  the first miracle that Jesus performed was at the Wedding in Cana.  We offer this gift of wine in celebration of our wedding, honoring a tradition that Christ himself endorsed as he began his public ministry. 

Slainte!

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McDonald’s is All About “teh gays” So Don’t Eat There!

July 9, 2008

That’s right folks, the American Family Association is highly insulted that McDonalds would make a donation to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  So miffed that they are asking all good christians, and anyone else they can strong-arm, into boycotting the fast food restaurant chain.  They’ve even mounted a website for this very purpose. 

McDonalds’ exact sin, according to the AFA’s inflammatory website, is that they donated an amount of money to the NGLCC which may have qualified them to be listed as a corporate partner.  Recently, an executive from McDonald’s corporation was elected to the NGLCC’s board of directors.  The amount of the donation, from some reports, appears to be $20,000, which considering the billions of dollars generated by McD’s, is chump change. 

McD’s has been clear about their support for diversity, and for their commitment to fighting discrimination.  The following is an excerpt of the letter sent to Donald Wildmon and the AFA, by Pat Harris, the Global Chief Diversity Officer for McDonalds.

“We treat our employees and our customers with respect and dignity, regardless of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factors.  We support our employees’ personal involvement in organizations of their choice.” 

“McDonald’s is associated with countless local and national affinity groups here in the United States.  We have a well-established and proud heritage of associating with individuals and organizations that share the belief that every person has the right to live and work in a community free of discrimination.”

It appears that Donald Wildmon and his christian friends don’t appreciate that McD’s would be nice to “teh gays.”   He doesn’t like the corporation throwing its coins to an organization that is committed to helping businesses owned by the members of the lgbt community.  Wildmon, by past boycotts, appears to want to tell businesses to whom they should market their products, and it is always the gay and lesbian community that Wildmon believes should be ignored. 

The McDonald’s Boycott website has a page for comments.  Jeremy of G-A-Y was trying to make some neutral statements, but evidently, the site is being moderated and only the anti-gay, anti-McD’s comments get published.  I decided to give it a shot.  I made a vaguely anti-McD’s comment, but tried to insert a cryptic message.  It got in.  Here’s the screen shot:

 

 

I know you can’t see that picture very well.  My message included sentences that started with letters in G,A,Y and made sort of an anagram.  I wasn’t too clever with my statements, which come across as anti-McD’s, but I did manage to sneak in the word “GAY” by separating the first letter from the rest of the word as I began each sentence. 

“G ood thing I saw this. I took my kids there often when they were younger. A ny thinking person would know to eat elsewhere. Y esterday I vowed not to return.”

So, Game On!  Can you slip in a cryptic message to the AFA’s comment section at Boycott McDonald’s?

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1,000 Hits

June 26, 2008

 

That’s right!  This blog has reached 1,000 hits this month!   That’s a new record.

What have I learned?  I’ve learned that the titles of the posts need to be sensational headlines akin to the National Enquirer. 

I’d like to thank my daughter for being the drum major at IUP.  When all those high school drum majors do a search about audition routines, they end up here. 

I’d like to thank a certain Baptist Church whose members are sneaking over to look at my blog after their pastor mentioned me in his sermon last week.  Yes, I am marrying another man; we’re registered at Lowe’s.  Gift cards are acceptible. 

I’d also like to thank Gretchen and Celeste.  God knows there are plenty of people doing searches for “lesbian couples” and they always manage to find my entry about their wedding. 

Thank you, to my readers.  Some of you keep coming back for more, and I appreciate that. 

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Spiritually Deaf and Blind: 2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad

June 23, 2008

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in somewhat of a dialog with a Southern Baptist Minister for the past day or so.  I thought the discussion was pleasant until this morning when the minister voiced his concern that he was being targeted for his anti-gay speech.  Very quickly, he shut down his church’s blog to comments from the general public.  Note to bloggers:  if you put it out there in the public realm, you can be sure someone will see it, comment, and perhaps disagree with you. 

Pastor Rick’s blog announced that he would be preaching against gay marriage this Sunday morning (June 22) and gave the scripture reference.  I suspected that this would be prooftexting so I made a comment that asked Pastor Rick to go beyond Romans 1: 18-32, and include Romans 2, which demonstrates what Paul was trying to teach the christians in Rome at that time.  Many believe that Paul was condemning homosexuality with this scripture, but careful reading reveals that this is just not the case.  It is hard for some christians to accept this, and this appears to be the case with Pastor Rick. 

By Sunday afternoon, we get a sense of the direction this is going to take.  Pastor Rick feels targeted by myself and the one other person out of six that I messaged about this blog. I brought it to their attention with the purpose of reading my response, not to engage in an attack against Pastor Rick.  We very quickly hear the slippery slope arguments of allowing gay marriage will mean that polygamy, child prostitution, and all forms and expressions of sexuality would become legal.  In a later response to my friend, Matt, Pastor Rick distances himself from comparing homosexuality to child rape, yet it’s clear by listing them together, even in an order meant to show levels of depravity, that P. Rick does not think very highly of gay people. 

I downloaded the sermon and listened to what the good pastor had to say.  I took some notes.  There was a carefully planned introduction that made sure the audience knew that this week’s news story about gay marriage came from a sinful place: California. He now refers to it as the “left coast” because it has “left” America’s morality; it’s left sensibility. There you go, let’s get started with the sweeping generalizations.  P. Rick is in favor of a theocracy as evidenced by his statement that “What is not legal in God’s eyes should not be legal in man’s eyes.”  Human dignity regarding LGBT people is disregarded throughout the sermon as the vocal inflections imply sarcasm: “People who say they are gay” and an elongation of the word “ho-mo-sex-u-al” with a drawl.  Keep in mind, Californians, because of you, “we’re going down the toilet.”

Outside of Matt and myself, Pastor Rick knows all he knows about gay people from his 2, count them, 2 college friends who are gay.  Here’s what Pastor Rick knows:  gay people are not happy, they are afraid of disease, and afraid that their partner will leave them because “that’s the nature of this kind of relationship”; they live in fear.  When Matt pointed out that these were “sweeping generalizations” P. Rick pointed to his 2 college friends as evidence that this was not a generalization.  Hint, P. Rick: drawing a conclusion about an entire group of people based on your experience with just 2 of them is generalizing.  Perhaps these college friends are just losers. 

There is much more in the sermon, but I want to take a look at the interaction that took place today, in P. Rick’s blog.  In the comments section of his blog, I pointed out the inconsistency regarding his “sweeping generalizations” as well as the religious and political conservative’s opinion that LGBT people should be denied Civil marriage.  I asked how he can deny gay and lesbian people the opportunity to commit to each other in a monogamous relationship, then turn around and ridicule them for being promiscuous.  It’s clear to me that people, gay and straight, have looked to their religious leaders for guidance and received bad advice.  When your pastor stands in the pulpit and says that gay men have sex with hundreds of other men in their life time, the young gay man sitting in the pew hears this is what is expected of him because of the way God created him.  Gay people hear that their relationships are worthless, not valid to be considered for marriage, and often fulfill that expectation. 

At this point, something seems to snap.  Pastor Rick is suddenly complaining that we’ve taken the time to respond and engage in discussion.  In what appears to be anger, he states “You guys knocked on MY door. YOU initiated this. You are the ones that conspired together to make comments on my church website.”  I apologized and assured Pastor Rick that he had not been “targeted” and that there was no conspiracy.  Here’s the final paragraph of my last comment:

You, Bro. Rick, have a degree in psychology. You are probably aware that not only the American Psychological Association, but other professional organizations believe that a homosexual orientation is naturally occurring and unchangeable. How is it justifiable to deny people CIVIL rights based on your religious beliefs when the science says this is natural for some people?

Perhaps that is what ended the discussion.  However, I noticed something about all of my comments; most of them were ignored. There was no acknowledgement that he did indeed make generalizations based on stereotypes or limited exposure to LGBTpeople.  There was no response to my appeal to his psychology degree and the scientific evidence of which, as a psych major, he would surely be aware of.  There was no hint that he understands a marriage license issued by the state government is not the same as a religious ceremony conducted by a minister in a church.  Instead, we get a mantra of “it’s a sin” because God says it is, and a list of buzzwords typically used by fundamentalists to degrade LGBT people:  lifestyle, alternative choice, and claims that orientation is changeable, yet groups like Exodus can not provide valid and reliable studies to demonstrate this. 

Finally, Pastor Rick explodes with this:

You are using a common intimidation argument by GLBTgroups. Civil rights are reserved for groups of people based on race, gender, disabilities & age, but not sexual orientation. While there have been some gains by GLBTgroups in this arena, you aren’t guaranteed civil rights based on your sexual preferences. So don’t go there.

Matt,

 

To all, since this is my website, I get the last word. Comments are now turned off on this post.

 

 

 

My thanks to Wendy at bridgeout for the idea of using the church sign generator to create this pic.