Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Liberal Catechism

What is God? God is All That Is, and the Whole (naturally enough) is more than the sum of Its parts. Others might say God is a concept, the highest of all human ideals. Still others might say God is the personification of what is highest and best in life. Some would equate God with life itself or they might say that God is the Source and Substance of life or that God is the process of life as it evolves. Infinite Intelligence, Perfect Love, Interconnected Web of Existence...these various philosophical ideas are represented by the one, simple word: God.

What is the Devil? The Devil is a literary character meant to personify evil, which is the manifestation of the false belief that there is a power that could oppose the Allness which we call God. To focus on evil or to believe it to be ultimately real is to give it power in one's experience of life.

Who is Jesus? Jesus represents for us the Christ Idea...the human being at her or his very best. Though highly romanticized and mythologized, Jesus is for us the symbol of humanity's potential to realize unity with the divine.

What is the holy trinity? Divine Mind, Perfect Idea, Ideal Expression...this is the New Thought experience of the Holy. The Trinity is one of many images that point toward the Allness of God. Some people will find it a useful image, and others won't. If it helps one feel united with the divine Reality, then it is an appropriate way to discuss the ultimate.

What about the bible? The bible is a story of the human search for God. The bible shows the development of a people's concept and experience of God. It is neither a rule book, an argument against science, nor a literal history, but rather creative attempts to find meaning in life and to commune with the Source of life. The journeys of the people and characters in the bible can empower and encourage us as we move forward on the journeys of our lives.

What are Sacraments? A sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace. The traditional Christian sacraments are baptism (initiation) and holy Communion (a symbolic feast representing God's love for all people). The use of water for baptism and bread and wine for the Eucharist are helpful tools in acting out the message of grace, but the grace (unconditional, unwavering divine love) is an internal, universal reality.

Do miracles still occur? If they ever did, they still do. A miracle is a change of perception. Whenever we broaden our view, we see possibilities that we didn't see before. The new vision opens us up to new experiences which we may call miracles. Some people believe that all Good is available to all people and so there are no miracles, only the abundance of life that was kept at bay by limitation thinking that was finally released by developing a healing, prospering consciousness.

Does God answer prayer? Prayer is recognizing the divine Presence. Sensing the availability of divine power, we change our thoughts. New thoughts change our feelings. New feelings change our motives. New motives change our actions. New actions bring about new results. So, learning to pray powerfully does bring about desired results, but that isn't because a god separate from us chooses to grant some favors and not others. God is universally present and when we tap into that presence and choose to think creatively, we attract our Good. In this way prayer is answered, consistently and dependably. Prayer is the way we become receptive to the goodness of life.

Can we be healed through prayer? Prayer, meditation, counseling, rest, nutrition, medication, surgery, energy work, chiropractic, massage...there are many ways to experience healing. Whatever helps us express our wholeness is an agent of healing. Prayer can certainly help us change our thinking and our feeling so that we experience more of life and its goodness.

What is sin and atonement? Sin is missing the mark. The "mark" is knowing our oneness with God. When we forget or fail to know our divine nature, we have missed the mark. Atonement, or at-one-ment is learning or remembering that we are one with God. At-one-ment is our natural state, our oneness with our Creator.

Is there a heaven or hell? The details of the so-called after-life are the stuff of much speculation. But many people believe that like all energy, life and consciousness can't ultimately be destroyed. Living a life of hope, love, and joy will mean that if death is the end of life, we can conclude our lives without regret. And, if death is but one more experience in a life that never ends, then living with hope, love, and joy is the best way to prepare for whatever is beyond the experience of death. Heaven is being in the presence of God, and hell is separation from, whenever we realize our unity with the divine, we are in heaven. When we forget our unity with God, we are in hell. Heaven and hell are states of consciousness and we can be saved from hellish thinking whenever we choose to return to the heavenly reality of being aware of God's presence within us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Blessed are the peacemakers. Four years into an immoral, ill-conceived, and unwinable war, perhaps we can finally consider peace. In this largely "Christian" nation, why in the name of the Prince of Peace have we not demanded peace sooner? War is ugly, costly, and devastating. We shouldn't start them. But if we make mistakes, can't we at least try to correct them? We started something we shouldn't have, let's pull out and "go and sin no more." Peace already. It's time. It's time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Prayer for the World

Dear God -

I'm sure you are aware of the wars, the attack on civil liberties, the homophobia, the poverty, the on-going AIDS crisis in the developing world, the unequal sharing of resources, global warming, and the rest that can be quite frightening. And after billions of years, its quite clear that you are unable or unwilling to wave a mighty hand and fix the mess once and for all. But if you live in the human heart as imagination or as conscience or as compassion or as hope, perhaps you could rise up in human awareness so that more of us do more to make a difference.

Really, aren't we smart enough to fix some of this? Isn't it in our best interest to correct some of this? Maybe it's too big for any one of us or even for a few of us, but surely if enough of us put our minds and efforts to solving these problems, the dreamed of utopian possibilities promised by most religions would actually come to pass, at least in part.

And so God, my prayer is simple...will you please stir a bit within the human spirit to nudge more people toward social action, justice, goodwill, and caring? It's apparently up to us, so, maybe you can whisper into our souls the need to do more and to do better.

It's time for equal opportunity and equal protection. It's time for peace and for healing. It's time for unity and for a recognition of human dignity in all people. It's time for diseases to be cured and for human sexuality to be celebrated and for diversity to be honored and for poverty to be ended and for education to be universally available. It's time, isn't it God? Help us to help ourselves and each other. Help us to do what you obviously cannot do alone. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Live and let live.

Same-gender love and attraction.
Mutual attraction is euphoric, delightful, life-giving.
Genuine love is obviously good.
So really, what's the problem?
Aren't we bored with homophobia yet?
Isn't it time to get over it already?
Live and let live. It's still damn good advice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Top UU Confronts Top Marine

March 16, 2007

Unitarian Universalist Association President Calls for Repeal of "Don't ask, Don't tell."

A Statement from Rev. William G. Sinkford, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association

I am deeply disappointed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s recent homophobic
remarks. General Pace’s comments were profoundly disrespectful to gay, lesbian and bisexual
Americans, including the thousands in uniform who are serving with honor in Iraq, Afghanistan,
and elsewhere.

What saddens me the most is that Pace’s comments, while offensive, are well within the bounds
of the US armed forces’ anti-discrimination guidelines. Under the current “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
policy, discrimination is thriving in our military. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual personnel may legally
be denied employment or later discharged solely because of their sexual orientation. Last year,
this policy allowed the Department of Defense to fire 612 service members. Others are subject to secrecy, fear and harassment, and many of these are fighting men and women who are already in harm’s way every day. Unknown numbers of qualified and patriotic men and women choose not to join the military for these reasons, and this sad loss is one that our nation can ill afford.

It is immoral for an overextended and depleted military to throw away the contributions of brave and talented service members. A military operating under a discriminatory employment policy fails the soldiers whose sacrifices guarantee the American ideals of liberty and justice for all. It fails all of us.

It is immoral to ban lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons from serving openly in the military, and the policy which mandates such discrimination must be overturned. I call on all Americans who objected to General Pace’s remarks to join me in demanding the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The Unitarian Universalist Association is a faith community of more than 1000 self-governing
congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice.

For more information about the UUA and Rev. William Sinkford, please visit

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dare to Begin!

I have a friend who has diabetes. She struggles with her weight and she believes that if she could control her weight her diabetes would improve. But she won't seek support in her weight loss efforts. She won't join an exercise class because she's embarrassed to be in a class with people who are more fit. Consequently, her fitness doesn't improve. She won't join Weight Watchers or Nutrisystems or some other supportive organization because she's afraid others might lose more rapidly than she will or that friends will think she is weak for needing the extra help. So, she tries to diet alone but she won't tell her friends. They would of course want to encourage her, but she's afraid she'll fail and then they will judge her harshly for not sticking with it. Her fears keep her from making important efforts that could prove beneficial. And, the weight remains; the diabetes rages, and she remains stuck in a situation that leaves her unhappy.

I'm not picking on my friend. Many of us struggle with weight or health or other life issues. I'm sympathetic to her plight. The point in bringing up her situation is that fear of failure keeps her from trying things, and the refusal to try limits her opportunities for success.

After I finished my Bachelor's degree, I pursued ordination. My denomination did not at the time require a Master's degree and after taking classes from an unaccredited institution and doing an extensive internship, I was ordained. But I always regretted not having a master's degree. After seven years, I finally enrolled in seminary.

Fear that others would judge me for not doing it sooner and fear that as a working adult I wouldn't be able to be a good student had kept me from trying. And as long as I didn't try, I continued to be without a graduate degree. Finally, with the encouragement of a counselor, I took one class and then another. I left seminary to pursue a secular Master of Arts degree (and loved every minute of it), and then, returned to seminary to finish a Master of Divinity degree. I now have two masters' degrees and I'm pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. If I hadn't wasted 7 years being afraid, I might have that doctorate already. But fear sabotaged my goals until I risked failure and thereby enjoyed success.

When we imagine the worst case scenario without also imagining more promising possibilities, we limit our options. When we are so afraid of failure that we won't try to succeed, we can't succeed. When in the name of being safe we wind up doing nothing, nothing winds up being our reward. I've seen it. I've lived it. I know.

Fears pop up. They seem to have a life of their own sometimes, but how we respond to them is where we find or lose our power. Enroll in that one class. Show up that first day at the Weight Watchers office. Take that first step. It may not be easy, it may not even work out. But how is not taking the step working out for you? The status quo is risky too. By doing nothing we risk stagnation, decline, boredom, regret...Why not do the thing that has the possibility of paying off? And if it doesn't, wasn't it an exciting adventure to try?

I have two friends who tried to be dancers in New York. The City was frenetic, of course, and living conditions were harsh for the struggling artists. Competition for jobs in their field was fierce. After a difficult time, both left, one for Arkansas, the other for Texas.

The one who went to Texas taught dance in a studio and danced with a local professional company. She wound up living her dream even though New York didn't work out. She always had her stories about her days in New York, and she had her success as a dancer in Texas.

The dancer who settled in Arkansas also started teaching, both in a studio and in a university. She, too, had great stories about her New York adventure, and she, too, lived her dream of dancing, teaching and choreographing professionally. Both dancers "tried" to "make it" in New York. They didn't do especially well in New York, but because they tried they went on to do very well in other places...and they got to be proud of their bold effort in New York as well.

Whatever the goal or the dream is, no matter how difficult it is or how long it may take to achieve, dare to try. There is power in the effort and where it will lead may be amazing. At least effort will lead somewhere, whereas refusing to try leads nowhere. Let's dare to begin!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Crazy, Alternate Universe (right?)

Weekly Devotional by Rev. Durrell Watkins
A cartoon without pictures:

A: I hit my kids.
B: Nobody's perfect.

A: I cheated on my wife.
B: She should forgive you.

A: I never give money to charity.
B: That's a growing edge for you. You'll do better.

A: I'm not sure I believe in God.
B: That's OK...God believes in you.

A: I drink too much.
B: You should try to stop.

A: I push baby buggies into busy streets and kick old people down stairs.
B: Tee hee. You're funny.

A: I think I'm gay.
B: Yuck! Gross! Faggot! Reprobate! Sinner! Godless scum! You'll burn in hell.

A: Huh?

(c) Durrell Watkins, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

MCC Condemns Gene Manipulation Rhetoric

PUBLIC STATEMENT from Metropolitan Community Churches

Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches Confronts Leading Baptist's Proposal forGay Gene Manipulation of Unborn Children

Editor's Note: The Reverend R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a long-time leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, suggested he would support medical treatment to change the sexual orientation of a fetus inside its mother's womb from homosexual to heterosexual, if such treatment were available. Mohler floated the idea in his blog on March 2, 2007.

STATEMENT BYThe Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson

Metropolitan Community Churches

I read with horror the recent article by The Reverend R. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, entitled "Is Your Baby Gay? What if You Could Know? What if You Could Do Something about It?" Generally we say someone or something has added "insult to injury." But Rev. Mohler has, I believe, done genuine harm to countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) who will read or be mistreated because of his words.

And his rhetoric has accomplished something else: It is an affront to the God-given quest to tear down the walls of separation between communions of the faith and create a future with hope and promise for all life. With his chilling words, Rev. Mohler has accomplished something both startling and tragic: He has added injury to insult. Here is Rev. Mohler's suggestion: With a growing body of evidence to suggest that sexual orientation may in some measure be the result of biological factors, Christians have a moral responsibility to use any medical advancements at their disposal, including experimental hormonal treatments for pregnant women, in an effort to change a child's inherent orientation, and -- he goes on to claim -- thereby further the good of humanity and God's glory. In this, Rev. Mohler crosses the line that merely separates differing opinions and moves into a realm that justifies violence against human beings who are created in God's image. His suggestion is eerily Mengelean.

The use of Scripture and faith perspectives to justify prejudice and hatred, and ultimately our extinction as a people, cannot be condoned by anyone who knows God's love and acceptance for all creation. Today, on behalf of Metropolitan Community Churches, I am joining my voice with the rising chorus of those condemning Rev. Mohler's shameful misuse of Scripture and science to inspire prospective parents to genetically eliminate LGBT people while simultaneously justifying our condemnation. Biological determination of sexual orientation, he maintains, would not "compromise or mitigate" Biblical condemnation of LGBT people because, he claims, we are the result of sin and God's judgment.

I beg to differ, Rev. Mohler. All life, including LGB T life, is the result of God's love and God's creative genius. All life is pronounced "good" by God. There are no exceptions. God knew us by name and knit us together in our mother's wombs.This is the witness of Scripture.

Rev Mohler also writes: "...The human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God's judgment. The discovery of a biological basis for homosexuality would be of great pastoral significance, allowing for a greater understanding of why certain persons struggle with these particular sexual temptations." Let me say clearly: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are not the result of sin or God's judgment. If some LGBT people struggle with our identities, it is not because our orientations are in any way inherently sinful.

My more than 35 years of affirming, supportive ministry to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith reveal the underlying reasons why some LGBT people struggle with their own acceptance and identities:-- It is because some of our brothers and sisters in Christ insist that we are an aberration, call for our virtual elimination from the human race, and advocate "unapologetic support" for "the use of any appropriate means" to change our God-given orientations. -- And it is because too many faith leaders have used their positions of authority and their publicly acclaimed voices to fan the flames of homophobia, leaving some LGBT people singed with unnecessary shame and false guilt.I thank God that the Scriptures offer the promise of a "more excellent way" (I Corinthian 12:31). It is because of my love of the faith, and because of my love of the Church called to serve that faith, and because of my love of God, and because of my love of all God's creation, including God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children, that I call on people of conscience and goodwill across the faith communions to join me in praying for Rev. Mohler, as well as for those who will be led astray by his misguided beliefs. Join me in praying for the unity and peaceful coexistence of all faith communities, and for the prioritizing of the genuine Biblical mandates to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and heal the sick. And perhaps you'll take a moment, as we prepare to celebrate Easter and the promise of change and new life it harbors, to join me in contacting Rev. Mohler through the web-site -- let him know that you are praying that God will remove the walls of separation between us and build up hope for a common and glorious future.

Grace and peace,


The Reverend Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches

For More Information, Contact:Jim Birkitt
MCC Communications Director
Los Angeles, California

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some people are Methodists.
Some people are Socialists.
Some people are nudists.
Some people are extremists.
I'm a show queen.

I can't help it. I mean, I love plays and films, but I am an absolute slave to the show tune. It's dated. It's trite. It's effete. And I don't care. I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses! See?

When my grandmother died, I swear to God, devastated and bereft in the funeral home, I quoted lines from the musical Mame to myself. It amused and comforted me. Show queen that I am, it gave me strength. Afterall, there's no people like show people. You get the word before the show has started, that your favorite uncle died at dawn; on top of that your ma and pa have parted, you're broken hearted but you go on. There's no people like show people they smile when they are low...

La Cage, Mame, Annie Get Your Gun - It's all part of me. Show tunes comfort, inspire, and encourage me. The bravado, the connection to some sense of purpose, the raw emotion, the fact that one need not be a perfect musician to pull them off (Jack Klugman in Gypsy? Excuse me! Or Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady? Please!)...what's better?! The average guy can be a star! The brassy lady commands the stage. The musical makes room for the queer, the obese, the odd (Tommy Tune? Harvey Fierstein?). It's magical and inclusive and empowering. It's divine.

The Broadway musical is where reality and fantasy intersect to form a witness to potential and possibility. It may not be deep or fashionable. It may even be a tragic longing for days gone by, but it's my world that I'd like to have a little pride in; my world and its not a place I have to hide in. That's the point, isn't it? The musical is a doorway to new worlds, inner worlds, sacred worlds. It may one day die out, like the 5 Act play or the morality play, but the Showtune Cult will always have at least one high priest. If there's only one, I'm proud to be the one (singular sensation, every little step he takes. One thrilling combination, every move that he makes. One smile and suddenly nobody else will do;you know you'll never be lonely with you know who.One moment in his presence and you can forget the rest, for the guy is second best to none,Son. Ooooh! Sigh! Give him your attention. Do...I...really have to mention? He's the One!).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gen. Pace...Another Embarrassing Moment in US History

The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that homosexuality is "immoral" and defended the U.S. Military's homophobic policies. In our long, sad history of excluding or even targeting marginalized groups while claiming to be the "freest" country, the land of opportunity, the nation to which we pledge "liberty and justice for ALL" we still haven't learned that anytime we label the "Other" as less than human, less than equal, less than full citizens, unworthy of equal, human rights, history always judges us harshly and in time we must change our view.

We once denied women the vote - how foolish must we feel about that now.
We once demanded racial segregation in parts of this country - how embarrassed we must be now.
We once participated in the evil institution of slavery - how we must be ashamed to look back on that moment in history.
We once decided that the native inhabitants of this land were not entitled to live freely on it, in control of their homes, their nations, their destinies. Once again, not our best moment.
We once incarcerated American citizens of Japanese heritage simply because of their race and ethnicity during WW2. Another shameful period in American history.

One day (let it be soon), we will look back on our anti-gay hysteria and our unfair treatment of same-gender loving people, and we will experience shame once again.

Equality. Fairness. Treating others the way we want to be treated. These are easy concepts to grasp, and they are the hallmarks of a civilized nation. I honestly hope we get there soon. In the meantime, General Pace, offer an apology. The foolishness has to stop sometime. Why not with you?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Questions & More Questions: A Ninety Second Play by Durrell Watkins

A: Do you believe in God?
B: There is life, and the inter-connectedness of all living beings. It doesn't hurt to call it all "God."

A: Was Jesus God?
B: Jesus expressed life dramatically.
A: So, was he God?
B: If God is all, then Jesus was certainly part of God - a God filled person.
A: That's a yes?
B: Yes. No. Maybe. Does it matter?
A: I thought it did.
B: Then, yes, sure. Jesus is as good a symbol as any other for the Sacredness of life.

A: Does Jesus save?
B: Anyone who helps you express hope, appreciate life, and share love is a savior.
A: How's that?
B: If someone helps to liberate you from despair or fear or self-loathing, they've saved you, haven't they?
A: Forever?
B: What's forever? Now's good enough for me.

A: Do you know Jesus?
B: The spirit of Jesus is very present. I've engaged that spirit. So have you.
A: How do you know?
B: We're talking about him. That makes him here in our imagination, our thoughts, our consciousness. If he's here with us, we must know him, at least somewhat.

A: You make it all too simple.
B: You make it all too hard.
A: Aren't you afraid of Hell?
B: Fear is Hell.

A: I'm skeptical.
B: Wonderful! Stay that way if you can.

(c) Durrell Watkins, 2007
Sunshine Cathedral

For permission to perform "Questions & More Questions," contact the Reverend Durrell Watkins at

Beautiful Day

The Sun is out.
Now to clear away the internal clouds that keep the Inward Sun from shining as brightly.
Not always easy. But worth the effort. I know it is. I remember.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Number 23

Saw The Number 23 tonight. Wow. Without scary puppets, zombies, ghosts, chainsaws, airborn viruses, demon possession, or other standard gimmicks, this film qualifies as a genuine thriller and the real terrifying twist is the mostly plausible ending. Jim Carrey proves that he is capable as a dramatic actor and The Number 23 demonstrates that a slightly mystical, moderately paced whodunnit psychodrama can captivate audiences and stimulate the imagination. 23 shows the power of the human mind and how, like all great forces, that power can thrill, heal, and terrify. Definitely a Must See.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Losing 1/5 of a Pound per day...Why Bother?!

Started my eat less move more regimen on Fat Tuesday (ironically) - a day early for Lent. 7 days later i had lost not a single ounce and was ready to commit mass homicide (any excuse, right?).

However - its now 16 or so days later and I have lost 5 lbs.
painfully slow...1/5 of a pound a day or so. Why bother. Down from 211 to 206 which still seems huge. But, strangely, feeling more flexible, sleeping like a rock, off of both anti-depression meds and high blood pressure meds (got an OK from a psychiatrist to go chemical free - after i had already done it! and having my chiropractor check my BP each week when I go see her...if it gets crazy I'll go back to the MDeity to get back on the BP meds). So far, so good.

Usually a Slimfast for breakfast, no alcohol (except at social functions - church related cocktail parties where its mandatory, then i'll have a vodka tonic or two), 6" a veggie delight on whole wheat or honey oat bread from Subway for lunch (or chicken salad sandwich and soup at Lester's or garlic chicken and rice at our fave Thai place or some similarly reasonably portioned fairly light meal), early dinner of whatever I want (but not 2nd helpings, huge portions, or dessert), an hour in the gym, and later if I feel peckish, some yogurt or popcorn or fruit or juice or chips and salsa...not always diet stuff, but usually pretty safe. Trying to keep it to one soda a day, but sometimes a second one provides irresistible temptation.

This is 10th diet, or is it 20th, in adulthood.
I was 155# in High School.
165# in college.
180# in my 20's until I got on a workout kick, and then dropped to about 170#.
Then, Thirty hit (like a hurricane), and its been 188 - 211 ever since. I'll get sick of it...exercise and diet, drop 5 or 10 pounds, feel good about it, somehow get off the plan and gain 11-15. Its a sick and twisted and disgusting and depressing trend. Maybe this time its gonna happen; maybe this time I'll win. Whoops - sorry, channeled Sally Bowles for a minute.

Anyway, the last nutritionist I saw in NYC (I curse her still), said I should be about 167#...I would settle for 180# and would be damned proud of 175#. That's only 31 more lbs to go. Christ. Now i'm sad again. Need a twinkie. Pray for me (which of course means, sing a show tune in my honor).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Stop the Homophobic Insanity

I'm reading the Jamaican Observer. Someone writes a letter to the editor. He's outraged that good people in his country and beyond are concerned with the unchecked violence against perceived gays and lesbians in Jamaica. He says that Jamaica has the right to deny human rights to its gay and lesbian citizens. He says that no one in Jamaica or beyond can "push" homosexuality "down the throats" of average Jamaicans. He suggests that violence against gay Jamaicans is a reasonable response to their hatred of the idea of same gender love and attraction. And finally, he even invokes the bible to justify his hatred. He says that the bible condemns homosexuality and that St. Paul even devotes a whole chapter to slamming gays. His ignorance is eclipsed only by his arrogance. My blood begins to boil with righteous indignation.

"The bible" is not a unified document. Its a collection of books. It has many authors. It covers a period of more than a thousand years. Not a single original copy of any of its texts is in existence today. The bible was written in ancient languages and must be both translated and interpreted for it to make any sense to most people. Not a single biblical author spoke out against slavery and every single one believed the world was flat. Not one person in the bible knew how babies are "made." To blame any prejudice on the bible is absurd.

To make the homophobic editorial even more disturbing, St. Paul did not write an entire chapter condemning homosexuality. I can only assume he is referring to the first chapter of Romans in the New Testament. In that bizarre chapter, Paul says that people who worship "idols" are being punished by being zapped gay by God. In that passage, homosexuality isn't the sin, its the punishment for worshipping improperly. That's Paul's logic. Any sane person today would surely disagree with Paul, but even if one totally agreed with Paul the fact remains - homosexuality isn't the offense, its the punishment for the offense of idolatry!

We've learned a lot since the last half of the first century when Paul was writing. We understand human sexuality differently than he did. We don't think that homosexuality is a disorder nor do we think its the punishment from a jealous god who can't tolerate anyone worshiping other gods. Its just part of the diversity of life. Same-gender love and attraction is normal for a significant percentage of the population. Genuine and mutual love couldn't possibly offend a just god or a rational person. To blame homophobic prejudice on the bible or God is beyond silly. It's unforgivable.

If the bible said on every single page, "Gay is bad," that still wouldn't justify dehumanizing gay people or targeting them for abuse. And, if the bible said on every single page, "Gay is bad," thinking people of conscience and compassion would certainly be free to disagree. To reduce God to an excuse for hating others is to render God totally irrelevant and meaningless. It is to make God into the deity of hatred and ignorance, an idol to intolerance. And that's what St. Paul devoted most of a chapter condemning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What Else is There?

“The world is illusory; [God] alone is real. [God] is the world.” - Sri Ramana Maharshi

“The Godhead completely transcends all worlds and thus completely includes all worlds.” - Ken Wilbur

Catholics receive the Eucharist, believing that the bread has transubstantiated into the real body of the Lord. Pentecostals refer to themselves as “spirit-filled,” while many evangelicals will confess that Jesus dwells in their hearts. How can billions of people all receive Jesus’ body? How can one Spirit indwell countless Pentecostal believers? How can Jesus live in so many “born-again” hearts? Aren’t these idioms really saying, “I am one with my Source, and one with all who also share this Source”? The metaphors point beyond themselves to a universal truth: We are all one. There is One Reality, nothing else, and we each share equally in the One.

(c) Durrell Watkins, 2007
First published in Sunshine Cathedral's Spirit & Truth magazine

Monday, March 05, 2007

On-going Confessions of a Non-Theist

I've got to find a better word. "Non-Theist" is assumed by atheists to be the same as their rejection of anything divine while traditional religious types just can't seem to imagine the divine as anything other than an invisible person, granting (or denying) requests, deciding (for some strange reason) when people will die, and sending the occasional natural disaster.

I believe in the Sacred. Mystery. Wonder. Awe. The interconnectedness of all living things. I believe in Intelligence, Wisdom, Love, and the amazing Process of life. I believe in prayer (though I may call it thought, feeling, wishes, visualization, or hope). I refer to my prayers being "received" rather than heard. I sometimes even call the Whole in which I believe, of which I am a part, and in which we all "live and move and have our being," God. I believe in God, I just don't believe in the God I used to believe in or that others seem to accept. My God is more than any image or name or understanding. God symbolizes infinite possibilities, extravagant love, deep wisdom, the unity of all that is. God is a clumsy word for that which can't be named. It's often the best I can come up with, but it's still just a word that represents what can't be known and what can't be limited by human understanding or language.

Emptiness - that's the Buddhist attempt to name what is "really Real."
Inward Light - that's what the Quakers came up with.
Mind - that's what some of the ancient Greek philosophers called It.
Ultimate Reality - I believe that's one of the terms Hindus use.
The Universe, the gods, Spirit...different names, all pointing toward the eternal Truth. Allness. Isness. "God."

Panentheism tells us that God is in us and we are in God. Theism believes in a God outside ourselves. Deism believes in a Theistic God who retired. Pantheism believes that God is in every living thing. But Panentheism believes that God is everything but the Whole is MORE than the sum of Its parts! How can you adequately name that which is All and More? My brand of non-theism is actually panentheism, but that requires explanation, too.

I'll keep working on it, but I dread the day I succeed at finding a term. Because once you can name and explain a thing, you have diminished it. And a diminished, understandable deity is just one more false idol that needs to be destroyed so that the search for the Infinite can resume.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Statement from MCC Moderator to Anglicans

Rev. Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator Metropolitan Community Churches
on behalf of the MCC Board of Elders

A Pastoral Response byMetropolitan Community Churchesto the Crisis in the Anglican Communion March 2, 2007

PASTORAL RESPONSE: As a woman Moderator of a very Twenty-first Century church, Metropolitan Community Churches, I felt enormous compassion and solidarity with Presiding Bishop (Primate) Kathleen Jefferts Schori as she recently traveled to Tanzania in her historic role as the first and only woman to serve as the leader of a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. She knew what she was facing, and that made it only a little easier, I am sure. Bishop Jefferts Schori is a person of enormous faith and spiritual maturity who, though a relative newcomer to church office and politics, is wise and well-grounded. As a woman who leads a church that ordained an openly gay bishop and that seeks to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at all levels, she is the bearer of what scandalizes the Anglican Communion.

This combination of "offenses" puts her on center stage for all the world to see. Some of the primates at the conference in Tanzania refused to take communion with her, or to acknowledge her presence. But I do not think she can be ignored. Today, as fellow shepherds and bishops of Metropolitan Community Churches, we call to account our colleagues for their poor example as bishops and shepherds. Refusing to take communion with fellow bishops brings our calling and profession into disrepute and is a poor witness for our Christian faith. Likewise, the treatment of duly elected gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, as well as the deafening silence which appears to sanction the homophobic and potentially lethal anti-gay legislation in Nigeria promoted by Archbishop Peter Akinole, betray the model of the Good Shepherd described by Jesus in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10, and add to that sense of professional and spiritual disrepute.

As Elders (a small house of bishops in our own right) in Metropolitan Community Churches, we rejoice at the courage of the Episcopal Church in the US in persevering in doing what is right, i.e., acknowledging and living into the full equality of men and women, and the full inclusion of LGBT people. Let us say unequivocally that gay people are not an "issue"; rather, we are real people, God's children, created in God's image. We cannot be "compromised" off the table, especially when that table doesn't belong to us, or to any church, but to the Jesus Christ, who we say is sovereign over that table, who lived and died and rose that it might be an open table of grace and mercy for all. This is the joy and hope we affirm every day within Metropolitan Community Churches.

We urge the Episcopal Church to say "No" to those who would want to intimidate them into turning back the clock on inclusion. Unity that thrives on exclusion, or which accommodates suffering and oppression, is not unity; it is deadly conformity. It does not serve the cause of Christ, which is to liberate and unite. To unite without liberating is to betray the Christ of history, who is moving so powerfully in our time to open the Church to all. We affirm the words of our friend and colleague, the Rt. Reverend Steven Charleston, Bishop and Dean of The Episcopal Divinity School: "We will not change our devotion to doing what we believe is right. We will not delay justice for the sake of making our lives easier. We will not deny a truth that we are certain is from God. We will not play politics with human lives."

Today, as the spiritual and pastoral leaders of Metropolitan Community : We urge... the Anglican Communion to be true to itself, continuing to cling both to the tradition of apostolic succession and its own history of willing engagement with and adaptation to contemporary culture, while continuing to embrace and re-interpret its cherished traditions. This is the genius and appeal of Anglicanism, which we, too, celebrate. Those who propose an Anglicanism that never changes, or that looks backward, are truly "un-Anglican" at the core.

- We urge... the Anglican Communion to engage in rigorous, faithful, public conversation and education, and even debate, about sexuality, scripture, tradition and science, in ways that can overcome the kind of fundamentalism that has infected some churches, particularly those with colonial roots. There must be an acknowledgment of the oppressive legacy of that colonial fundamentalism, which is still evident in unhealed sexism and homophobia. Creating safe spaces across cultures and churches for dialogue about these issues is a paramount spiritual responsibility. This important work must precede any calls for compromise of any kind. It cannot be avoided. It is the failure to do this work, and not women primates or gay bishops, that threatens to divide the church.

- We urge... all people of faith to understand that Africans are of many diverse opinions about many issues, including women in ministry and homosexuality. One only has to look at the inclusive ministry and writing of human rights hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu to see the range of views.

- We urge... the Episcopal Church in the US to stand firm and not to compromise or cede its authority to make decisions about ministry and leadership. Stand in your integrity, even as you are willing to have mutual, respectful dialogue and conversation about differences.

- We urge... the Anglican Communion and their primates to focus their energy on the true crises facing our world: war, poverty, HIV/AIDS, violence of all kinds, and the desperate need for interfaith dialogue and understanding. It is a scandal in the Twenty-first Century for the church of Jesus Christ to have its focus diluted by anything else.

- We urge... the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinole, to repudiate his support for the most vicious, lethal homophobic legislation ever proposed anywhere, which is soon to be signed into law. If enacted, these laws will exacerbate an already hostile environment for gay people and their families in Nigeria, and will lead to more suffering and death. These laws are unchristian and not worthy of the support of any faith community, especially by leaders within the Anglican Communion.

- We urge... the Anglican Communion to work with their constituencies for the inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in hate crimes legislation and to support the freedom of assembly for LGBT people in all countries, basic human rights protections afforded all people ascribing to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

- We urge... all member churches within the Anglican Communion to break their silence and speak boldly in support of their friends, family members, and congregants who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Stand firmly with us against anything less that the unconditional grace, mercy, and love of Jesus the Christ, which is extended to all people.

- We further urge... all people of faith, including the people of Metropolitan Community Churches, to faithfully remember in their prayers the Anglican Communion, and the Episcopal Church in the USA, and their Presiding Bishop, Kathleen Jefferts Schori. Pray for her health and safety, and for her voice in this critical time. Pray for Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and the leaders of Anglican Churches the world over. Pray for all who have assumed the mantle of Christ, that we may truly follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd.


+ Nancy Rev. Elder Nancy L. WilsonModeratorMetropolitan Community Churches
and the MCC Board of Elders

Friday, March 02, 2007

Responding to a devotional in which I quoted Sakyong Mipham, someone from the Quaker tradition shared how similar the quote was to something a Quaker writer that he enjoys once said. Calling to the mind George Fox (who many consider to be the founder of Quakerism), I answered his observation with the following comment:

"George Fox and those inspired and influenced by him were/are so similar to other mystics of other traditions...Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Yogananda Paramahansa, Ernest Holmes, Charles Fillmore, Nona Brooks, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mother Teresa, John Shelby Spong, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Alan Watts...
Regardless of the vocabularies or images they inherited or invented, they each seemed to share a similar interior life, an Innate Wisdom, and an awareness of the unity of all life. I'm always amazed, impressed, and awe-struck by how similar their conclusions were and how they each seem to point toward the same inexpressible, experiential, universal Truth. That Tibetan Buddhist Sakyong Mipham would express the same Wisdom discovered by Friends is no surprise to me. It seems to suggest that we are all really part of the One, the Whole."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Journey to Divinity

“…God became human and…human beings became God and sharers in the divine nature. The only-begotten Son of God…[took] our nature on itself and became human in order to make humans gods.” - St. Thomas Aquinas

After Jesus’ baptism, the tradition goes, he went into the wilderness to battle temptation. He emerged from the experience, we’re told, ready to begin a ministry that would change the world. The angels of his higher nature ministered to him; he defeated the doubts and fears of the Ego, and embraced the truth of his oneness with the Source of all Life, all Good. Jesus’ wilderness journey helped him wake up to his own divine greatness. May our Lenten journeys do the same for us.

[By Durrell Watkins, published in Spirit & Truth, March 2007]