Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dear Tony and Forgiveness Part 2

Forgiveness is not quick and easy. It sometimes is a life long journey. The journey changes but the need to forgive is always there. When someone hurts you, you will often need to forgive him or her every day for years.

My biological father left before I was born. He slept with my mom, found out she was pregnant and left. My mom was fine with that and didn’t want to deal with him anyways. He never found me. If he tried, he obviously failed. Then he was shot in Athens, GA when I was 8. I found this all out my senior year of high school after the letter was written.

As you can imagine, I had the stereotype of the deadbeat black man stuck in my head. You know the one you see in the media (music videos, Movies, literature)? I was mad at him for living, and for dying (I assumed that his death had to do with him being bad and black in a big city). I was mad at him for making me look different from everyone I knew (I now cherish these differences and love that I am not the same as everyone else).

From learning more about him, I have found that he did search and that he wasn’t a bad man. I learned that he liked sex and has kids from various mothers. However, he owned restaurants and was loved by many. The story goes that he was shot because of racism (sniped by the KKK because he would not back down and close his restaurants). It case is technically still an unsolved homicide.

Even after the letter, I still needed to forgive him. For the most part, I think that I have. But now there are several more people that I need to begin to forgive.  The process may be different and these other people may have hurt me in less serious ways; however, that does not make forgiving them any easier.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Possible Benefits of Ex-Gay Ministry

This NPR interview discusses aspects of various Ex-Gay Ministries. Issues covered include the use of Reparative Therapy, the power of communal living, and accountability. The various groups in the Ex-Gay movement are is many ways similar to various Alcoholics Anonymous groups. For someone who wants to change, the 12 steps are often effective. Forcing someone to join an Ex-Gay ministry could potentially cause more harm (or only harm) rather than good; however, the person that does fit the criteria for Reparative Therapy and does not want to be gay, or maybe wants to learn more about himself, could benefit from the various aspects of the program.

Accountability is a beneficial aspect of life. Confession sounds bad, but being able to tell the truth about yourself is extremely liberating. Having a group of people to share your downfalls with is powerful. You are able to learn that you are not as strange or messed up as you think. I am not sure if the Ex-Gay ministry focuses on grace, but as a Christian organization, it should.* In a group that understands the **grace of God, people will not judge you, nor will they shun you. If there is not mutual respect and brotherly love there is no community or accountability. The accountability would be transmogrified into forced actions.

If there is a habit that you want to change, having people who want to support you and want you to be healthier is going to help. The person who is quitting smoking, can not do it on his own. There are various forms of help include: the patch, for the nicotine cravings; candy cigarettes, for the person addicted to the action of lifting the cigarette; and people, who are willing to encourage you and ease your guilt. Everyone needs someone to talk to at some time.

We need to be supporting each other through our struggles, but in order for us to fully support one another, we need to be open. I was a camp counselor for a couple summers***. One of the camps is set up like an 1880’s style log fort. You live here with around 40 people for 5 nights a week and you live in cabin on the weekends. You shower about once a week. The weeks consist of around 40 miles of hiking. You also have horses popping their noses in you cabin window. Basically, you smell. You get to know your staff very well. You experience the “happies and the crappies” of life with these people and they love you no matter what.

Various types of therapy (I would argue group therapy) are beneficial for most people. If you have access to free therapy as a benefit of you work or school, go. Going to therapy does not make you crazy. That belief is a stigma that our society has inaccurately created. On the other side of that maybe we are all crazy and that is why therapy benefits us all. We all have our issues and mis-beliefs. Why not challenge ourselves to improve these fallacies?

Regardless of my personal thoughts on Ex-Gay ministries and the movement, some of the same aspects that are beneficial in the 12 step programs may also benefit members of the Ex-Gay ministries.


Future Posts - If you want me to address these soon, just ask.
*I will address it later but read The Ragamuffin Gospels or What’s so Amazing about Grace if you don’t understand the arguments that say it is wonderful.
**Christ was 95% grace, and someone labeling themselves with his name should attempt to be as well.
***I am in this camp video.  It is a bit of a big deal, not really, but my hair was sweet. - go to 5:02.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Tony and Forgiveness Part 1

Dear Tony,

I used to want to meet you, just to tell you that I hate everything about you, and the way you do what you do. I wanted to tell you that you were a nothing but a stupid nigger and that was all you would ever be. I wanted to know how you thought it was right to get a woman pregnant, call her a liar and say that there was no child at all, tell her she was a whore and that if there was a child, it wasn’t yours, then curse the bastard. After doing all that you threatened my mom, your baby’s mama that if she ever did look for you, you would join the army, she would never find you and you would never pay child support. I have hated you for so long. I had no reason to care about someone who never cared about me, who hated me. I wanted to tell you I hated you because you hurt me, your tore me down. I thought I needed you more than anything but wanted to tell you that I was better off without you. You made me believe that my mom and grandma were the only ones who cared about me and that no one else ever could including my dad, my real dad the one who is there for me, and is more than just a sperm donor, like you.

Recently I have found someone that has turned everything around. This someone is Jesus. He built me back up. He helped me forgive you, which took 17 years and a lot of prayer. He did this by forgiving me for everything I have done the past few years. I still may want to meet you, but it’s not to tear you down. Telling you you’re horrible won’t make me any better. We are both only human. It doesn’t make what you did right or help me to understand. I no longer hate you. Without you I would not be here. I would not be who I am today. You have shown me that I do not need you, or any man except Jesus Christ, the one who died for me and loves me unconditionally. This is just one of the things he has helped me with over the last four years. Now I do want to meet you, not for advice, but to thank you for making me stronger, bringing me closer to God (although that was Him), and for giving me the challenge of loving someone who hates me, wanted to kill me (abortion is homicide) and the world tells me to hate.

Thank you,

Your loving daughter,

Felicia

*** This was written when I was in HS.  I think I was a sophomore or senior.  So maybe in 2004 or 2006.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gay Christians

Here are two different Christian perspectives that I can respect. I think that I lean more towards the bottom video, in my personal beliefs but I think the top video brings out some excellent points as well.  I am a bit on the line. Maybe I will discuss my viewpoints in more detail at some point. If you have questions, ask. I love dialoging and thinking about religion and specific issues.

They do get a little long so here are some quick points - I think you should get the general idea.
1:11 - 2:05        3:05 - 3:35       4:30 - 4:50         5:35 - End



Here is the link.
Another view...
Highlights:    3:00 - 4:10        2:30 - 2:45         6:00 - end        0:25, 0:45, 5:24 - 5:30 

Here is this Link.
I expected this guy to anger me…but he didn’t...I liked him...

It is interesting to think about the difference in these videos. I have a ton of respect for the guy on the bottom. He does a good job of speaking his beliefs. He is not belligerent or mean. He simply has his beliefs and that is good. **Whoo-Paw** He has some good points about the freedom of speech as well. **Whoo-Paw**  (I think they show more in his Gay Avatar Protest video.  I'm not as big of a fan of that video.  But it makes me want to protest Avatar Movie because there aren't enough black Na'vi.) **Who-Pah**

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Manly Man vs. The Annoying Hardcore Dude

Just watch...

Link to Manly Man

Everyone who has been to a HXC show knows who he is talking about.

I realize its a bit annoying when the audience fills in the blanks. The first time I saw Bradley Hathaway, I was lost and had no clue how everyone knew all the words.  Still hilarious.


Link to The Annoying Hardcore Dude

Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top Five Aspects That Make Me A Christian…

Well maybe just one.

5. My actions and what I choose to do and not to do.
4. I read my Bible everyday and go to church on Sundays.
3. I believe in God.
2. I am spiritual.
1. I believe in Jesus Christ and who he says he is.

Some people think that being a Christian is about what you do. It’s not. There is nothing I can do to make God love me more or less. There is nothing that will make me a more or less of a Christian. I believe in Christ and therefore want to follow him. That is what makes me a Christian even when I fail miserably at doing what is right I still believe in Jesus.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Hug Poem

I like the way Bradley Hathaway seems to be conversing with Jesus in his poem. This view of Jesus seems so personal and intimate.  I wonder what Jesus would have really been like.  

Link to The Hug Poem
What do you think Jesus would have been like? I'm not asking what you think Christians, religious people or spiritual people are like today. But what do you think Jesus was like? Personality? Friends? Looks (I don't think he was the white guy we have all seen)?

Jesus vs. Christianity

Oh boy, I have a ton of journals about religion and such things that would fit in this blog. This one is from almost a year ago. It was why I decided to create my "Grace is a Bit Queer" poster series…

The other day I saw a bunch of posters on social issues that a Graphic Design class created. It was interesting how many of them talked about religion. One poster was of a church and above it said “straights only.” Another poster addressed how religious people are “blinded by faith” and avoid scientific facts.  A third stated that the religious "prey on the week" and had a gun.  The overwhelming consensus was clearly that Christians are bullies as well as a hypocritical and ignorant community. It made me think about Christianity and Christ.

Jesus seems like he would have rather had breakfast with a gay man than go to church.  He laid his hands on the week an healed them.  It is sad that our churches are seen as the opposite of the New Testament Jesus.  We are seen as the problem.  I guess the point of this is that I want people to see the Jesus that I see; the young rabbi with infinite amounts of wisdom, grace, and love.

…My respose to this experience was a series of about ten, maybe more, posters. I have had around five of them up in public spaces so far. Woot!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Order in the Court...Church

Church Censures Minister After Same-Sex Marriages

This article discusses the Presbyterian trial of a lesbian pastor, Jane Spahr. She is on trial for marrying 16 gay and lesbian couples during her time as a minister. Spahr discusses how she is frustrated about being asked or feeling that she has been asked, to hide both her “sexual orientation and [her] faith.”

The accusation is the “failing to ‘further the peace [and] unity” of the church. She is not on trial for her sexual orientation or her beliefs but rather the idea that she may be causing problems amongst members of the church. If these marriages are not edifying the church as a whole then maybe they should not be taking place in that church.

The issue lies in the idea that a pastors’ role is to represent the church and the churches’ beliefs. A pastor should analyze and question their own beliefs. They should study and have their own convictions but teaching doctrine that the church is not in agreement over is not the pastors role. It is like any organized group. As an AmeriCorps member, it is not ok for me to wear my AmeriCorps t-shirt when I volunteer for my church, or take part in a political campaign. As an individual, I am allowed to do whatever I want but I am not allowed to represent the organization.

The article is about change in the church. The “church is simply not ready at this time to make change…” is one of the prosecutors’ defenses. It is spun in a way that makes the church seem like it is forcing people to lie about who they are and that what needs to change is the church. This article addresses a change that many Americans would like to see in churches today. The words that ‘the church is not ready’ suggests that the church will be, at some point, ready to change and therefore that the church is currently wrong, or behind, because they disagree with pop culture. (Rom 12:2)

It is difficult for the majority of the secular world to fully comprehend a case based on religious beliefs. The possibility of homosexuality being wrong is only justifiable through these religious beliefs. This being said, it is obvious why the majority of the secular world has no reason, whatsoever, to think that a pastor marrying gays and lesbians in the church is questionable behavior.

This article is not belligerently biased but like all media, there is clearly some bias written between the lines. It seems clear that the author is writing from a secular vantage point to a secular audience. It is the news.

Other notworthy articles on the subject from the NY times.
Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Athen's Boys Choir - EZ Heeb

EZ Heeb - The back ground playing is him at his Bar Mitzvah.  When he performs he has videos playing behind him.  Link to EZ Heeb

Kats is a transgendered man who performed at UW last school year.  At lunch one day he talked about going back to his Jewish church with his family.  Everything is seperated by sex.  He told two stories, one humorous and one sad. 
Katastrophe was supposed to come too, but got sick.  He did come later and we (me and my Spectrum friends) went to Sweet Melissa's with him.  Yummm...

Here is another song by Katz
WaHo

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oddballs: Part Three (We, As Christians, Are still called to Love the Unloveable)

Jesus told us to go to Gentile countries (composed of other races) and to love one another. This was significant because the Jews would not go near someone from another country. They avoided Samaria at every cost and Jesus told them to love them and build relationships with them. Christians are still called to “love the unlovable (gays, Muslims, homeless, sex offenders, abortion clinic workers, etc.)”

I know that loving some of these groups may seem difficult, but we are called to be in the world and love the people “of the world.” I am not saying that Christians need to change their beliefs or give up their own morals. I am saying that it is not moral to hate or discriminate against these people groups simply because they are different or even because they have made some “huge” mistakes. “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

Jesus loves “the other” as much as he loves anyone. And if Jesus, the only perfect person to ever live, loves a murderer it seems like we don’t have the right to cast judgment.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Class project

I am currently in an upper division English calls called Writing for the Web.  For this class we have been asked to investigate a topic and I am choosing to look at the relationship between homosexuality and religion.  For class I will be looking at it from an academic perspective and probably focus on the town of Laramie, Wyoming.

I will also be posting about the topic from my own perspective, experiences and the Bible.  These posts could include ideas from books as well as ideas from conversations.  I may play some devils advocate in trying to have a more rounded conversation.