Sunday, April 29, 2007

We've Got the Power

Magic - Sometimes spelled "magick" is the belief that one can use the power of mind, emotion, and the forces and rhythms of nature (sometimes symbolized by mythological deities) to bring about desired results such as healing, wealth, romance, or protection. Magic(k) assumes that conditions can improve.

Positive Thinking - the belief that the subconscious mind directs most of our actions and even influences conditions in our lives. By practicing optimistic conscious thinking, the subconscious mind eventually develops the habit of looking for happy, harmonious possibilities in life. The result of habitual positive thinking is that one makes the most of unfortunate situations and actually reduces the number of unfortunate situations. Achievement becomes more likely most of the time as a result.

New Thought - the idea that there is one Mind or Universal Intelligence that is accessible to every person. The one Mind or Intelligence or Presence or Power in the Universe, expressing as the Universe and as all intelligent life within the Universe is able to produce absolutely anything. So, by recognizing one's unity with Infinite Mind, one is able to use one's own mind (as a part of the one Mind) to be, have, or do whatever is desirable. The New Thought person seeks to attract or manifest his or her good by knowing it already exists in the field of all possibilities and through the power of intention bring it to the realm of experience.

Word-Faith - a Pentecostal movement that holds onto some very revivalist/evangelical (and at times even fundamentalist) beliefs, while also believing that faith is a force that can be activated by the spoken word to accomplish any good thing. Believing Jesus' death to be an atoning sacrifice, Word-Faith adherents also believe the atonement isn't merely the forgiveness of sins or the assurance of after-life bliss. The atonement includes prosperity and good health. So, when there is lack or disease, it is viewed as an evil power (the Devil/Satan) trying to rob the believer of what is rightfully hers/his, but the good can be recovered by the power of faith. Believing the atonement includes health and abundance the believer claims this as his/her truth and affirms (or "confesses") God wants him/her to prosper and enjoy good health. This builds the believer's confidence in the abundant life and attracts blessings to him/her.

These are only four movements that seem to believe in the Law of Attraction. They understand it differently and describe how it works in different terms, but each trusts that an individual need not be a powerless victim of circumstance. Process Philosophy, Quantum Physics, Transpersonal Psychology, Eastern Mystical traditions, and New Age beliefs (including angelology, divination with tarot cards, healing with crystals, etc.) are also movements that believe that one can somehow summon power and direct that power for one's benefit and for the benefit of others.

Pick a movement (or a movement and a complimentary movement), any movement(s), but start to realize that you are a powerful being with the ability to improve your life and our world. We are powerful. Let's recognize and claim our power and then use it wisely and for the good of our world. The world needs us to wake up and to live in the power that is ours.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Response to New Mob Attack in Jamaica

Sunshine Cathedral
A Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity

For Immediate Release
April 28th, 2007

Sunshine Cathedral’s Canon Precentor Responds to New Mob Attack in Jamaica

Once again, mob violence has erupted in Jamaica. According to a news report, a cross-dresser was identified as a man in women’s attire yesterday morning in the town of Falmouth. Apparently, the victim was simply waiting for public transportation when someone shouted out that the person who appeared female was actually male. Violence ensued, and escalated. The crowd that attacked the victim with sticks, rocks, and “whatever weapon they could find” was dispersed with warning shots from the police. The assault victim was taken by the police to the hospital. The story can be found in the Jamaican Observer (

The person who was attacked apparently did nothing other than to defy society’s gender norms. It is outrageous to think that simply being different remains so dangerous today. We again are reminded of the Golden Rule, stated variously across cultures and religions, but recorded in the Sermon on the Mount as, “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about” (The Bible, Contemporary English Version). Would any of the attackers want to be singled out and outnumbered by a violent crowd? Of course not. And no one would want their child, grandchild, sibling, or friend attacked for being different. And so, again, in the name and words of Jesus, we say, “Treat others as you want them to treat you.”

We, the leaders of the Sunshine Cathedral, continue to condemn such unprovoked violence and we continue to call upon religious leaders in Jamaica and throughout the world to speak out against such violence. We further hope the Jamaican government will act to secure the safety of all its citizens. Finally, we continue to pray for the victims of violence, wishing them healing, hope, and peace.


Durrell Watkins

The Reverend Canon Durrell Watkins, MA, MDiv
submitted on behalf of Sunshine Cathedral’s Canon Circle office phone: 954.462.2004 fax: 954.462.7070

To see previous press releases and reports dating back to February 16th, 2007, please email

Friday, April 27, 2007

Time For Peace

Peace at gun point. Has it ever worked? Can violence bring peace? Time to grow up. Evolve. Let's be better, finally. Please.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Q&A on Homosexuality & the Bible (one more time)

Q1: From your perspective, what does the Bible say about homosexuality?

A: From my perspective, what the Bible or any sacred text says about human
sexuality has little relevance in civil discourse. Human rights, liberty, and equality cannot be denied because of narrow interpretations of ancient texts.

The ancient people represented in the bible probably didn’t share our contemporary, scientific understandings of human sexuality. For that matter, they believed the world was flat, often blamed natural disasters on divine wrath, believed that women and children were secondary in status to adult men, and assumed that slavery was a natural part of the social order. I disagree with each of these ancient opinions and I would also disagree with any opinion that denied the sacred value of same-gender loving people.

That being said, I find no where in scripture where mutual attraction or committed love (regardless of the genders involved) is condemned. The very few and isolated passages that are used as anti-gay texts always seem to be condemning sexual acts associated with violence, prostitution, or idolatry, never consensual, adult relationships!

Moreover, the prime theme of the gospels can be summed up in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Jesus himself is quoted as saying the whole of scripture (“the Law and the Prophets”) rested on that truth. On another occasion he said the greatest of all commandments were simply to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Jesus’ inclusive and progressive view of how scripture should be used certainly makes room for genuine, mutual love and attraction regardless of the genders involved and, his view would also seem to condemn violence and bigotry used to hurt anyone for any reason.

The bible isn’t a rule book to be used to justify prejudices. When the bible is reduced to a legalistic code to exclude, control, or condemn others, it is diminished and the religion of love it is meant to promote is weakened and cheapened.

Q2: Do you have any Bible texts to back up your opinion?

As a thinking person, I don’t need “proof-texts” to justify my opinions. However,
there are scriptures that easily lend themselves to my views, some of which were mentioned in my answer to the second question. I could also mention times when same-gender love is featured in the bible and even praised. Jonathon and David leap to mind, as do the Centurion and his “servant” in Matthew’s gospel (chapter 8, and repeated in Luke’s gospel). Critical readings show that these relationships could have been romantic. But again, I don’t need biblical justification for my own thoughts, opinions, and lived experiences. We have learned many things since the days of the bible, and we can use that knowledge as well as our own independent thinking when approaching the bible.

Q3: What should be the Christian response to those who have chosen to live a gay or lesbian lifestyle?

The first thing would be to not insult same-gender loving people by reducing their
life and love to a “style” of life or a “choice.” I doubt very seriously if most people choose their sexual orientation. Most people are either gay or straight or bisexual as a matter of ontology; they don’t choose their sexual orientation, they discover it. The choice is whether or not to live openly as the person one is.

However, for those who “choose” to be honest about their innate sexual orientation and live proudly as the people they are, I would hope they would be treated with dignity and respect, by Christians and non-Christians alike. We cannot love our neighbor if we have already prejudged him or her to be disordered, sinful, or inferior.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Repeating Past Mistakes

I'm watching a documentary on PBS...not really watching, just having it on while doing other things. The topic is about an unjust, unwinable, unnecessary war draining American resources and morale. I assume, naturally enough, that it is a news expose' about our war in Iraq. Sounds pretty spot on to me. I was stunned into paying closer attention when I realized the program was talking about the Vietnam War!

Something struck me in that instant:
If there were lessons to learn from the mistakes of Vietnam, this country did not learn them. In our arrogance, we continue to think that we can bully the world into doing things our way. Sometimes, the world, or portions of it, resists and even pushes back. Not learning from the heartache of previous conflicts has left us in the middle of new, needless conflicts. Lives and goodwill have been tragically lost. One wonders if we'll "get it" this time. Let's hope.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

God Can, I Can

"Decide what you want. Believe you can have it. Believe you deserve it and believe it's possible for you." - Jack Canfield

A friend of mine in the 12 Step movement told me years ago about her "God Can." It was just a coffee can around which she had wrapped brown paper. On the paper in magic marker she had written the words "God Can." It was a reminder to her that when she felt limited she could turn her issues over to her Higher Power and that Power was able to "restore her to sanity" or otherwise bring healing to the situations of her life. Her God Can was a way of saying, whatever the issue, God can help. So, when difficulties would arise, she would simply write the issue down on a small index card or piece of paper and drop the issue in the God Can, thus releasing the problem to her Higher Power. Once she let go of the problem and reminded herself that "God can" help bring healing to the situation, almost every time she would experience improvement, sometimes immediately.

Of course, for people who don't resonate with God language, I suppose an "I Can" would work as well. It may seem that some issue is overwhelming or insurmountable, but the Truth is is that "I can" cope with the situation and once I focus more on the possibilities than on the problem, or once I spend more time considering the solutions than the difficulty, I will find a way to resolve the problem or find a way to improve my situation. I can choose how I respond to any predicament. I can choose to raise my personal energy level by finding hope or joy or consolation regardless of what has happened. And my choices can help me feel better, and when I feel better I tend to attract better conditions in my life. So, if I ever wonder if I can deal successfully with a situation, the answer is, "of course I can!"

Maybe a God Can or an I Can would serve us well - just a can where we can go through the motions of releasing our problems and perceived limitations to the Universe and thus remind ourselves that amazing blessings, even miracles, are possible. Or, rather than a God Can, we could simply remember to write or affirm aloud, "God can" heal this issue, or "I can" experience hope and healing in this situation. One way or another, it is important to remember that God, in and as me, can. And so it is!

“Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Where your attention goes, energy flows..." – Marie Turano

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kitty Carlisle Hart

She wasn't the greatest singer.
She wasn't the funniest person.
She wasn't the best actor.
But she was a good singer, a funny person, and a decent actor. And when she combined her gifts, she did seem to exude something special. She was poised and charming and confident and she was the widow of Moss Hart (who staged Camelot and My Fair Lady and who wrote The Man Who Came to Dinner). She was a game show personality, an advocate for the arts and the freedom of artistic expression, and even in her 90's she was active as a cabaret performer!

Kitty Carlisle Hart knew and worked with some of the greatest legends of 20th century show business, including Harpo Marx, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and of course her husband, Moss Hart. From opera to film to musical theatre to cabaret to arts activism to televised celebrity studded game-shows, Kitty Carlisle proved to be a living monument to grace and charm and dignity.

At 96, three days ago, she took her final bow in life and made her transition to whatever is beyond this realm of experience. Another icon is laid to rest. I bless the memory of Kitty Carlisle Hart.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

Who knows what pain, confusion, or despair causes someone to lash out to hurt and kill others? But, of course, all caring people are shocked and dismayed to learn of the Virginia Tech massacre. Prayers from around the world must surely now be with the VTU community and with the families of VTU students and faculty. For those who were killed - we give thanks for their lives and we bless their memory. For those who lost loved ones - we wish healing for their souls. For those who have had fear disrupt their lives - we hope that joy will return to them soon. And for a world where violence erupts so easily and so often - we pray for peace. May the angels of our higher nature prevail and bring hope and healing to us all. Amen.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lesson to Learn from Imus

I'm not an Imus fan. I never got into the whole "shock-jock" genre and I don't recall ever listening to Imus' program a single time. For all I know he is a great humanitarian, giving time and money to important causes. For all I know he would give his last dime or even a kidney to someone he loves. He may vote for the most forward thinking, progressive candidates. He may be an avid recycling devotee. He may be, most of the time, the salt of the earth. I just don't know much about him. I'm willing to assume that he tries, more often than not (as most of us do) to be a good, contributing member of the human family. I'm also willing to bet that he falls short of his highest ideals. Again, we all do.

Because I know so little about Imus and because I'm willing to assume most sane people want and try to be decent, caring, well-intentioned folk, I have no reason to believe Imus is an exception. However...

It was highly insensitive for him to make a clearly racist and sexist insult against the Rutgers women's basketball team. The young women he insulted are scholars and athletes. They are preparing for careers and enriching themselves with the college experience. Some of them may become great leaders in our society. They are daughters and granddaughters and sisters and girlfriends and nieces. They deserve more respect and courtesy than Imus showed them.

To his credit, Imus apologized. To the credit of the networks, he has been held accountible. To the credit of the athletes he insulted, they responded with dignity and poise and grace.

What we can learn from this is that racism and sexism are hurtful. The hateful rhetoric that demeans and belittles others is wrong. Of course, once we really get that, we may then decide that homophobic attacks and insults are also wrong. Showing respect and courtesy to all people may not be in fashion these days, but maybe the Imus incident shows us that it should be. Maybe we will learn to be civil again. Wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Why I Believe in Tithing

Being consistently generous has proven to be a blessing in my life. Giving reminds me that I have something to give. When I am participating in the circulation of Universal Supply, my life seems to go more smoothly. Maybe the discipline of percentage giving just makes me pay more attention to my budget and therefore I stay within it. Or maybe having the intention to share somehow activates the Law of Attraction so that as I think thoughts of giving the Universe responds by making sure I have more to give. Or maybe its just fun to support worthwhile causes and the joy of giving attracts good fortune back to me. But however it works, it does work. Giving is as much a part of my spiritual life as prayer, meditation, affirmation, and study are. Knowing that I live in an abundant Universe, I freely give and Life gives back to me generously. Tithing is a spiritual law that I teach and practice and highly recommend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New Thought Philosophy in a Complex World

The 5 Basic Metaphysical Principles of Unity, the New Thought Denomination:
1. There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life, God the Good.
2. Our essence is of God; therefore, we are inherently good…
3. We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.
4. Through affirmative prayer and meditation, we connect with God and manifest Good in our lives.
5. We do and give our best by living the Truth we know.

The Basic Principles of Divine Science:
1. God, Perfect Presence, Divine Mind is All.
2. This One that is All is perfect life, love, and substance.
3. Human-beings are the individualized expression of God and are always unified with God.

A Short Affirmative Treatment from a Religious Science Minister:
1. God is All and All is well.

The New Thought traditions tell us that there is one Universal and divine Life and within this Life is all that we need to be happy, successful, and fulfilled. This Life is our life and by sustaining positive thoughts and feelings, we summon the best this Life has to offer and blessings are made manifest in our experience. Eastern philosophies, transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, and mystical interpretations of Judeo-Christian scriptures, as well as the lived experience of those who have put the principles to use all confirm the Truth that we are one with Divine Life and by using the power of Life wisely we can have, be, or do almost anything. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination and willingness to apply the spiritual principles.

Now, someone will say, "But I'm very spiritual and I've had a very difficult time now and again." Who hasn't? Someone else will say, "If our thoughts and feelings create our experience, why does Evil seem to strike on such a massive scale?" They then refer to war or disease or crime or, invariably, Hitler.

There are people who will hypothesize why The Great Depression hurt so many people or why the AIDS crises took so many lives. They will say that enough people entertained thoughts of fear or repressed feelings of self-doubt that those feelings materialized as mass distress. Others will say that is blaming the victim and that such horrors are largely random.

But here's the thing...while we're arguing over why some people were hurt by a flood or a tornado or a stray bullet or an automobile accident, we are failing to take responsibility for the things we can improve in our own lives. Maybe continuing anti-Semitism finally manifested as Fascist cruelty in Hitler's Germany. Or, maybe Hitler just worked and schemed his way to the top and from a position of power made cruel choices that hurt others. But in any case, some people faced the horrors of the Holocaust with great courage and dignity. Some people showed great kindness to others in need. Some survived. As terrible as it was, some people found empowerment even in the midst of a troubling time.

I don't want to waste a lot of time blaming myself for needing eye glasses or for needing medication for some health issue or the other; nor do I want to assume that victims of mob violence in Jamaica somehow created or contributed to the circumstances that terrorized them. What I do want to do is find all the power that is available to me, summon it, and use it wisely so that I will have fewer problems and so I will successfully navigate the problems that do arise. I also want to share this empowering viewpoint with others so that they, too, can minimize discord and maximize opportunity in their lives.

The Humanist believes that the human mind and will can solve most problems. The Theist believes that by praying to God, s/he will get God to somehow, in some way offer help in a time of distress. The New Thought person believes that by choosing the most positive thoughts and most optimistic attitudes, s/he will have better health, more abundance, and a better quality of life. Isn't each person hoping for the same thing, and doesn't each person simply believe there is a way to get more out of life?

The New Thought way is one of the paths of personal empowerment. The New Thought practitioner knows that by practicing affirmative prayer by which s/he will conceive, believe, and receive Good, life can be more rewarding. In fact, don't most people on a spiritual path believe that life should be fair and joyous and just and productive and loving? And don't they believe their spiritual practices will help life be all that it ought to be? I don't know why Bird Flu and Hurricanes afflict so many, I just know that even in a world where bad things happen, there is still reason for hope, and those who have hope seem to do better overall. And so I continue to affirm that God is All and all is well. I say that not to blame any victims, but so that I won't often feel like one myself. There is one Life, it is divine Life and it is my Life now. This fills me with hope and with the assurance that great Good is always at hand. And so it is!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Secret is Out

"One of the things I learned the hard way was it does not pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself." - Lucille Ball

You've heard of the hot new book, The Secret. Well, if you've ever read Norman Vincent Peale or Myrtle Fillmore or Ernest Holmes or Claude Bristol or Agnes Sanford or Malinda Cramer or Louise Hay or Ralph Waldo Emerson or "Abraham" (relayed by Ester Hicks) or Wayne Dyer or Marianne Williamson, then the secret has been out for a long time.

But what seems to be appealing about The Secret (of course I had to read it!), is that it so succinctly says (and seems to confirm) what you knew from reading Holmes or Peale or Hay. The secret is that you knew what to do all the time! And, if you haven't dipped your toe in the pond of positive thinking, then perhaps it really is all new and does seem like a secret has been revealed. Either way, its good stuff.

One of the pearls of wisdom from The Secret is simply this: "Feeling is desire."
Now, if I feel sad, I probably don't consciously enjoy feeling sad (enjoying it would make me happy, wouldn't it?). But, my subconscious mind works as faithfully as any other natural law. When I allow myself to feel sad (or angry or afraid, etc.) for a prolonged period of time, my subconscious mind interprets that as a request. So, it draws my attention to things or ideas that will contribute to more sadness (or anger or fear, etc.). By dwelling on the negative, I find more negative to dwell on, and I wind up stuck in a rut for minutes, or hours, or days, or weeks, or...

So "the secret" to feeling better is to think a happy thought. Rather than dwelling on something that makes me miserable, I choose instead to dwell on something beautiful, lovely, fun, encouraging, or affirming (see Philippians 4.8). By finding a thought (my favorite movie, vacation spot, meal, best friend, memory of a special achievement or a spectacular sight or beloved pet) and focusing on that until my mood lifts, I have changed my whole energy field. My subconscious mind then figures, "Oh, he wants happy stuff now. Let's look around for things that will make him happy." The quip remains true: Where attention goes, energy flows.

Disappointments will come along. We will respond to loss with grief and to injustice with sadness. But we must be careful to not make a happy of dwelling on the negative...on lack or pain or regret. What we dwell on produces feelings, and feelings that we sustain are interpreted by our subconscious mind as a request. Let's request joy, hope, fulfillment, confidence, love, and goodwill. We think of those things until we experience good feelings about them, and then we hold those feelings until they manifest as experiences that will produce more good.

The secret is out. Let's put it to good use.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Response to Easter Attack in Jamaica


Response to Easter Attack
From The Reverend Canon Durrell Watkins, M.A., M.Div.
on behalf of the Canon Circle of the Sunshine Cathedral

According to frequent reports, Jamaica remains a very dangerous place for same-gender loving people, and even for people who are merely suspected of being gay or lesbian. Just over a week ago, young men presumed to be gay were attacked by a mob at the MoBay Nite-Out Carnival. And more recently, on Easter Sunday, a funeral was reportedly disrupted by a threatening mob objecting to the presence of mourners who were thought to be gay.

According to a J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals, & Gays) press release, a number of individuals left the church where a funeral was being conducted on April 8th and returned with a crowd from a nearby community. The crowd, reportedly armed with machetes and knives, surrounded the church and threw objects through the windows of the church while the funeral service was in process.

Words fail to communicate the despair and righteous indignation such reports cause justice-seekers, human rights activists, and peace loving people of goodwill. Homophobia cannot be allowed to disrupt sacred ceremonies that are meant to honor the departed and bring comfort to the bereaved, nor should violence be considered an acceptable way to demonstrate disapproval of any minority group.

We at the Sunshine Cathedral call for an end to institutionalized homophobia. Pulpits and political platforms should no longer be used to dehumanize same-gender loving people. Disguising anti-gay prejudice as a religious value gives the more zealous in any community perceived permission to strike out against gay and lesbian members of society. Surely these incidents show that homophobia is the true danger to a society. The Sunshine Cathedral, a progressive and inclusive Christian church, affirms the sacred value of all people and we continue to offer a message of hope and liberation to all who have been oppressed by homophobia and other forms of prejudice that fan the flames of intolerance and violence.

The Sunshine Cathedral continues to call upon religious and political leaders as well as individuals throughout society to denounce violence against any class of people. Violence limits freedom, not diversity. Violence limits the safety of society, not the differences within it.

We at the Sunshine Cathedral hope the police will thoroughly investigate the most recent attacks and work diligently to protect all inhabitants of Jamaica. We continue to call upon the Jamaican government to take anti-gay violence seriously and to propose viable, fair solutions. And, we continue to pray for our lesbian, bisexual, and gay brothers and sisters who often fear for their very lives simply for being who they are.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This is not simply an internal matter for Jamaica, nor is this simply a matter for same-gender loving people. The present situation in Jamaica shows that justice everywhere must be valued, promoted and protected. And so, we at Sunshine Cathedral continue to speak out for justice and equality for same-gender loving Jamaicans and for all people in all places.

The Reverend Canon Durrell Watkins
The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford

Sunshine Cathedral
Affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity
Office Phone: 954.462.2004
Fax: 954.462.7070

Monday, April 09, 2007

Strange Gods of my Olympus

Sir Ian McKellen - brilliant actor, gay man.
Sir John Gielgud - brilliant actor, gay man (deceased).
Agnes Moorehead - brilliant actor. Rumored to be bisexual (deceased).
Paul Lynde - comedic actor, gay man (deceased).
B.D. Wong - brilliant actor, gay man.
Bruce Vilanch - comedian, writer, actor, gay man.
Tennessee Williams - amazing playwright, gay man (deceased).
Charles Nelson Reilly - actor, director, acting coach, gay man.
Mae West - actor, playwright, self-made sex symbol, cinematic libertine, friend of gays (deceased).
Sophie Tucker - actor, singer, Jewish activist (deceased).
Bea Arthur - brilliant actor, strong personality, friend of gays.
Ethel Merman - actor, singer, friend of gays (deceased).
Harvey Fierstein - fabulous playwright, actor, drag performer, AIDS activist, gay activist, gay man.
Charles Ludlam - playwright, actor, director, gender bender, gay man (deceased).

The list could go on and on. Who are these people? They are Queer (in one way or another) artists who have inspired me. They are people who made me want to create. They are people who demonstrated the power of living passionately. They are people who make the complexity of being human seem to make a bit more sense. They are people who seem(ed) to be powerfully alive. They are people who made me want to touch whatever in me might be creative and powerfully alive. They are people who said with their lives that people like me were somehow special, somehow capable, somehow a gift to the world. They affirmed me, through art, in ways that religion, family, and politics never did. They added joy to my life and I suspect to the lives of others. Some may not even realize how they were comforted, encouraged, or inspired by one or more of these deities in my personal pantheon (or by other luminaries like them).

My heroes are often unsung. Some people think Sophie Tucker is a Bette Midler creation (Bette, by the way, should be added to the list; Cher, too). Mae West is sometimes reduced to an oversexed caricature. Ethel Merman is an often badly imitated drag like persona. Paul Lynde is simply remembered as "Uncle Arthur" or as the "center square." Charles Nelson Reilly is often thought to be dead. Far too few people even know who Charles Ludlam was. But these artists, and all who are named above, and others not named in this blog are more than punchlines or camp characters to me. They are people who spoke out for gay people, or who embraced gay people, or who came out as gay people, or who used their own gay realities to inspire and energize their work. They each were angels bringing me good news of the gift gay people are to the world. They each spoke to my soul and became role models for me.

The creative geniuses I have named, many of whom are/were gay, remain my heroes. They don't have to be yours, but I hope you have some. I hope you have that person who was full of life and creativity and passion and courage who drew your attention to him/her. And as you were focusing on that hero's life, I hope that heroic soul somehow said to you, "You are special. You are an amazing gift. There is something that is yours to be, have, or do, and the world is waiting for you to claim it." If you have such a hero, then you know that you are a person of sacred value, and that's the most amazing gift of all.

The gods of my Olympus may seem strange, but they are powerful to me. I'm grateful to them and pay homage to them even still. Thank you queer deities for illumining my path.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Blessing

The sun will rise.
When we fall, we will get back up.
The memory of a departed loved one surfaces again bringing the gift of love remembered.
Winter must give way to spring.
Life continues; it must. It will.

And so the Phoenix rises.
And so the bud bursts forth as a new flower.
And so the tomb of despair is found empty as hope rises again.

Alleluia, Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

May Resurrection Power bless us all this Easter. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Feeling Reveals Thinking

"Our feelings let us know what we're thinking." - Marci Shimoff

Thoughts seem to be at the root of most experiences. But it has been said that we can think as many 60,000 thoughts per day! How can we control so many thoughts? How can we even be aware of all of them?

Our conscious thoughts are easy to figure out. I just thought to write the previous sentence. Then I did it. Then I remembered doing it. Conscious thoughts are easy. But we also have subconscious thoughts. How do we know if they are pleasant, optimistic, constructive, useful, etc.? We know by our feelings. Thoughts produce feelings (not the other way 'round). So, if we are feeling badly, we must be having habitually negative thoughts.

The cure is to meditate (clearing the mind), to affirm our Good, to read positive material, hang out with pleasant people, listen to uplifting music, etc. Filling our minds with good thoughts will produce good feelings. So, when our feelings are positive we know we have developed the habit of thinking positive thoughts.

Let's continue to work on our thoughts and monitor our feelings. The results are on the way.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We Have the Power

"All that [one] achieves and all that [one] fails to achieve is the direct result of [one's] own thoughts." - James Allen

In moments of clarity I know that James Allen is absolutely right. Oh sure, I'm tempted now and again to play the think that life is happening randomly around me, sometimes to my liking and other times not. And maybe some problems of life we just step in, but my experience tells me that more often than not our situations in life are of our own making, and even the few that seem to be thrust upon us can be navigated more or less successfully depending on our thoughts, feelings, and choices. So, at the end of the day, we create our experiences with our thoughts.

Everything I have ever said with absolute conviction has come to pass in my life. I was determined to live in the most exciting city in the United States (New York), and I did! I said once, with absolute clarity, that by the time I was 40 I would be living in Florida. I celebrated my 40th birthday in my Fort Lauderdale condo. Those are just two instances but they remind me that when I really decide on something, that is, when I focus my attention and intention on a thing, it almost always works itself out according to my instructions!

Of course, it works in the negative as well. I was terrified of HIV. I imagined how I would react if I tested positive. I obsessed about it. Sure enough, my thought form crystalized as a postive HIV test. Now, of course one might say that I was simply exposed to a virus, that the occurance was random. And yet, I have been exposed to other viruses that did not take up residence in my body, and others have been exposed to HIV but somehow remain negative. No, I am convinced that by focusing my attention on what I didn't want I was still contributing to my sero-conversion. Let me hasten to add that I live a very healthy life and expect to live a long life. Just as I attracted HIV, I seem to be attracting the ability to live well with it. Maybe one day I summon the courage to dismiss it from my consciousness and from my body, but until then, I live life passionately and in seeming good health. It remains, at least largely, my choice.

Whether we want a thing or not is irrelevant...if we focus on a thing, the subconcious mind assumes that thing is ours and it works to attract it into our experience. Whether fear or hope, attention brings about the thing upon which it is focused.

Knowing this means that my good fortune isn't dumb luck, here today and gone tomorrow. And it also means that my difficulties aren't random injustices over which I have no power. The thoughts I think will fuel my emotions and color my interpretation of life experiences, and therefore, my thoughts in large part are creating my reality, or at least how I perceive reality. Also, my thoughts are bringing many of my life situations to me, so if I don't like what's showing up, I can change what I focus my attention on and thereby change my experience. I'm not powerless. Indeed, I'm quite powerful which is why it is important to learn how to use the power. I have often used it against myself, and I can begin to use the power more intelligently to attract more of what I what.

Will there always be challenges? Probably (especially since I have just affirmed as to watch that sort thing!). But there is also the possibility that I will navigate those challenges successfully, learn from them, grow from them, and turn some of them into great blessings. There is also the possibility that I will minimize the challenges in life, and attract, create, influence, and manifest those things that will bring me comfort, joy, and fulfillment.

I have heard it said, and in my better moments I absolutely believe, that I can be, do, or have anything that I can imagine...Nothing is too big, too good, or too difficult. I can be, do, or have anything, and so can you.

I have the power. So do you. Now, what will we do with it? The choice is always ours. Let's choose wisely. Let's make a miracle or two today, shall we?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Prayer for Well-Being

There is one Universal and Divine Life and this Life is expressing in, through, and as me now. Within this Divine Life is all I need to be healthy, happy, successful, prosperous, and wise. And so it is that I feel good about my life, knowing that unlimited possibilities for great Good exist for me, now and always. I am blessed and my future is bright. I expect happiness, opportunity, good health and abundance to be made manifest in my experience now and always. I call forth my good, I allow it to show up for me. I expect it. I give thanks for it. I live the good life that a child of the Universe deserves. I am filled now with gladness, gratitude, and joyful expectation. All is well. Amen.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The TRUTH About the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments (See Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5):
1. Have no gods other than Yahweh. 2. Do not have images of the divine. 3. Do not misuse Yahweh's name. 4. Keep the Sabbath day holy (don't work on the Sabbath because “God made the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th”). 5. Honor parents. 6. Do not commit murder. 7. Do not commit adultery. 8. Don't steal. 9. Don't lie in court. 10. Don't begrudge your neighbor her or his good fortune.

I know very few Christians (I can't think of one off-hand) who call God "Yahweh." Most Christians seem to call the mystery of life "God" and not some specific name (e.g., Yahweh, Allah, etc.). More conservative Christians might suggest that Jesus is in some way the God of the bible. But the 10 commandments do not say that one should have no god other than "Jesus." They don't even say to have no god other than "God." The commandment says that "the LORD" is to be the only god worshipped, and "the LORD" (in all caps) is how translators indicate "YHWH" (Yahweh) is the divine name being used. If we don't think of "YHWH" as our god, or if we don't call our god Yahweh, then we are not keeping the first commandment.

Many Christians love the image of the cross to represent Jesus, and for many of these same Christians, Jesus is the image of the divine. Still others insist on calling God "He" or "Father" - showing they clearly have a male image of the divine. But commandment number 2 frowns on such images.

The third commandment doesn't condemn swearing, it condemns using the name of Yahweh carelessly. Most people don't use the name of Yahweh at all!

A day of rest is physically and psychologically important, but I wonder if it is one of the 10 most important ethical rules of human behavior!

Of course, the rationale given in the Ten Commandments for a day of rest is that God took a breather after creating the Earth in just a week. Educated people who believe the world materialized out of the blue in just a week are probably few. The argument given in the 4th commandment for the 4th commandment is weak and, by contemporary standards, even bizarre.

Honor parents. This is a commandment to adult children of elderly parents. Caring for the elderly is very important. Commandment #5 is the first in the list that seems to have any relevance to contemporary society!

The second half of the ten commandments makes a bit more sense. Murder is savage (as are, some would argue, capital punishment and unnecessary wars). Adultery, the betrayal of trust, can cause a lot of pain. Stealing, under normal circumstances, is bad (obviously enough). Lying in court could lead to someone's loss of liberty. Good people will want to avoid these unscrupulous activities, though they needn't be "commanded" to do so by a divine authority. It is in our own best interest to live in a civil manner. To have the society we want and deserve, most rational people will want to live ethical lives.

The 10th commandment is psychologically sound: We shouldn't be jealous of the success of others; such wasted energy only gets in the way of our own accomplishment.The first four commandments are either irrelevant in today's world, or they are almost universally ignored (without, apparently, any negative consequence). The remaining six commandments are basically common sense that most intelligent people would probably work out even without being "commanded."

What is my point? That rather than having the Ten Commandments placed on school or court house walls, or insisting our politicians "believe in" them, we should promote rational thinking and responsible choices. Murder isn't wrong because it made an ancient list; it's simply wrong. Rather than following any commands blindly (or, pretending to follow commands that we don't know or don't understand or don't agree with on close inspection), we might be better served by being encouraged to think critically and to act rationally.The philosophical argument is ancient but remains true: A thing isn't right because the gods command it; the gods command a thing because it is right. It's time for all of us, religious and secular, to take our place as thinking individuals, responsible for our choices and in charge of our collective destiny.

If we need a scripture to guide our behavior (until we trust our own rational thinking), why choose such a long and cumbersome list as the Ten Commandments. I prefer Micah 6.8, "...This is what is required of you - only to act justly and mercifully and live humbly..." Or, as a Christian, I even might actually refer to Jesus who said that the whole of scripture boiled down to just this: Treat others the way you would like to be treated (The Golden Rule). Those are "rules" that are easy to remember and that make sense in every age.

The Season of God

Easter, Passover, Spring, Hanuman Jayanti (the Hindu celebration of Lord Rama's incarnation as Hanuman): this is a time of year when divine life is experienced in nature, in community, in poetry and literature, and of course, in religious tradition and ritual. This is the Season of God, reminding us that life springs forth, even from death, even from destruction, even from injustice and tyranny.

This season of God gives us metaphorical language to express our experience and to give voice to our most profound hopes. God, the ultimate metaphor for the mystery of life, will spring forth as new ideas, new movements for peace, new cures, new efforts to end oppression, new friendships, new beginnings. Life will spring forth; it must. And this promise written on psychic tablets deeply buried in the human spirit gives us hope and this holy season encourages us to reactivate this innate and natural hope.

The Holocaust did not last forever. Hitler's reign of terror finally came to an end.
The Cuban people, starved and cut off from much of the world because of boycotts and blockaids, have continued to thrive. They remain a resilient people living in a beautiful country commited to their ideals.
In the 1980s, AIDS seemed an almighty foe against whom no weapon could prosper. Today, people treat the HIV virus with medications that are keeping people alive year after year (and in some cases, decade after decade!).

The dark night, the time of terror must eventually come to an end. Life and hope and beauty and peace must rise again to the surface and replace oppression and injustice. Life, in all its goodness and grand potential, must spring forth. This season of God, filled with metaphors and dramas and literary symbols of resurrection and new life and divine appearances points us in the direction of liberation, healing, and goodwill.

This is the Season of God. Put another way, this is the Season of Hope. Let's make the most of it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Not "Did" But Rather "Does" Easter Happen?

Osiris, the Dalai Lama, the Phoenix...Stories of a divine, holy, or magical person or creature that returned to life after having died.

Elijah...a prophet who, according to legend, ascended to heaven in a whirlwind and who was expected to return from the hereafter to lead his people to freedom and glory.

Life seems to slumber, even die in the cold winter only to be renewed and revived when spring returns.

Day disappears as night takes over, but a few hours later morning breaks anew and the day lives again.

The images and stories of death being but part of the never-ending flow of life are numerous. Among them are, of course, the stories of a Galilean prophet who was executed but who somehow did not stay dead. This prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, is celebrated every Easter with hymns and scriptures and sermons affirming Resurrection Power.

Today, Palm Sunday, begins Holy Week in the Christian tradition. This week leads to the glorious celebration of Easter.

Are the stories true? Of course. The Phoenix who rises from the ashes of her own death communicates an eternal truth...the energy of life can't be destroyed. It continues beyond the appearance of death. Nothing that is true or ultimately Real can ever be destroyed. Was there ever a magical bird that would dive into a burning fire and then rise to new life from its own ashes? Not that I can prove. But the story points to something beyond itself that seems to be very true to me. Life will find a way to express, today and forever, even beyond the appearance of death.

Is the Easter story true? Absolutely. Did Golgotha end the story of Jesus? Did it end his significance? Did it end the hope for justice or healing in our world? Did it kill the truth? No. And so, the story of life beyond crucifixion is real, true, relevant.

Did Easter happen? In some sense, I'm willing to bet it did. But the more important question for me is, "Does Easter happen?" And to that question I must answer without reservation: YES. And so next Sunday I will add my voice to the voices of others, saying, "Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!" In part I will be celebrating a possibility of the past, but more than that, I will be affirming the reality of the present and of all time.