Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fat As I Ain't

OK...i'm not bragging (its still premature for that), but i am really excited. you see, i discovered tonight that i have lost an inch and a half in my hideously fat neck! from a 19 collar to a 17 1/2 collar...i haven't been able to wear a 1...7.5 in YEARS. The shirt is probably out of style and I couldn't care less! i'm wearing it proudly, buttoned to the top with a tie. i may one day be fit again afterall.

neck 17.5 (down form 19). waist 34 (down from 36). weight 201 (down from 218). its been the slowest, hardest weight loss ever (about 8 months...but i've been the most consistent/commited for the last 4)...but for the first time in years, i haven't given up after 6 or 8 disappointing weeks. so...2 more inches in waist to go. one more inch in neck to... Read More go. 13 more pounds to go. but actually beleive i might make it this time. thank you tod (who works out with me every week so that i don't throw in the towl and replace it with twinkies).

This is quite a different story than I posted on Oct. 17, 2006 where I was simply resigning myself to corpulence and trying to find the wherewithal to celebrate it. If Fat and Fabulous is the best I can do, I'll take it. But, honestly, Fit and Fabulous is better. I want it. And I'm really getting close (hopefully the obesity gods won't strike me with a terminal craving for Krispy Kreme and thus undermine all my hard won progress...but for now, it's looking good).

A blast from the past:
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Fat As I Am

Wasn't it Sophie Tucker who sang, "I don't want to get thin; you can laugh and you can grin but I'm doing very well the way I am"? Oh for such self confidence!

And didn't Mae West in mid-life and full figured just know that she was sex walking! Oh for such self assurance!

And wasn't it Bette Midler who made fun of herself by singing, "Fat as I am, who wants to see a diva fat as I am..."? How wonderful to laugh at one's foibles rather than taking them too seriously.

Well, here I am, weeks away from 40 and for the first time in life I've passed the 200# mark on the hateful, satanic scales of scorn. Every photographic image of myself, every mirror reflection, every bathroom scale, every pair of pants that fit me only two months ago that now serve only to cut me in half as I try to zip them up all remind me that I'm starting on the back 9 and I may need a cart to finish!

Oh, I swear that I will get to the gym or take a pilates class or sit on a cushion and meditate the lbs away. But mostly, I drink another soda (never diet) and prepare for the next Star Trek rerun on TV. After all, Captain Kirk is quite corpulent these days too. At least I have my hair, though the same mirror that shows my Santa belly and double chin also demonstrates that my luxurious hair is as a grey as a mule's. Can I please catch a break?! Though, at this point I couldn't even catch a frisbee (not that I would bother to try).

Maybe this is what middle age is like. I keep hearing that 60 is the new 40, so why does 40 look like the old 60?! It isn't fair.

Maybe I'll get to the gym. Maybe I'll will away the poundage and release the svelte inner homo that longs to re-emerge. Or, maybe I'll channel the spirit of Sophie and decide that I'm doing very well the way I am. I think that may be the answer. My new resolution is to have the attitude of Ruth Brown, who sings, "Now look at this nice bottom, ain't it easy on the eyes, guaranteed to support any weight or size!" Or in the words of a song from that fun musical, WHEN PIGS FLY, "Put on a few its not so bad, your man will learn to love it; I have all I ever had - in fact I have a lot more of it."

Yes, there are reasons to get back in the gym and work on being healthier. But I can be happy with who I am right now. At any size, at any age, I'm a damn good person. Now I feel fantastic! I think I'll celebrate with a pizza. Hey! Who are you to judge?! I'm doing very well the way I am!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheers for the ELCA

Following the example of Metropolitan Community Churches (since 1968), the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, and The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America takes the courageous step of validating the sacred value of its LBGT members. There will be name calling, threats of schism and financial bullying, and pleas to return to "traditional" values (that demonize and exclude the Other), but you can't unring a bell. "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice." The ELCA has taken courageous risks for justice and inclusion. I applaud our Lutheran friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leaders in Progressive, Inclusive Religion

I am grateful that The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Presbyterian Church in the USA have been discussing human sexuality for years now. I'm grateful that most recently the ELCA has adopted a progressive and inclusive statement on human sexuality. The UCC and the UUA progressed faster on issues of sexual justice and inclusion than some of the others, but they've all been willing to challenge assumptions and prejudices and to consider new ways of being "the Church." Additionally, Reform Judaism and the New Thought churches have proven themselves gay friendly. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Community Churches (founded in 1968) have ALWAYS affirmed the dignity of LBGT people, have always ordained LBGT people, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was blessing same-unions long before anyone thought gay marriage would ever be legal anywhere! I'm proud of MCC's moral/social leadership. I'm glad and grateful to be part of the MCC movement.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Health Care a Personal Issue for Some of Us

My grandfather was a small business owner. He was a self-taught machinist without a high school education. He survived the depression (as an orphan) and went on to teach himself a trade, start his own business, build his own house (before the days of onerous permits), and raise a family.

My grandfather, though generous, was also fiscally conservative. He saved and was ready to retire with a significant nest egg (mostly invested in Certificates of Deposit). He retired at 62 with his savings and Social Security as his only income. My grandmother, a life-long home-maker, drew a significantly smaller Social Security pension.

At 65, my grandfather would have received Medicare. But you see, for some reason, he had never bothered to purchase health insurance. And since he didn't have it while he was working, he didn't think he'd need it in retirement, especially since Medicare was just three short years away.

Sadly, cancer did not wait on medicare. Medical bills depleted most of my grandparents' savings. In fact, my grandmother was still paying for my grandfather's illness years after his death. When she turned 65, my grandmother received Medicare benifits and eventually took out an AARP supplemental policy. But neither of her insurance plans at that time covered prescription medications. She spent the rest of her life spending most of her fixed income on her own medical care. The lack of insurance, or insurance that covered the real cost of health management left hard-working, saving, thrify people spending their retirement years far less comfortably than they had planned for, hoped, and deserved.

My other grandmother was a teacher. She did not have the added income of a spouse in her retirement years. She had social security and teacher retirement pensions and an insurance policy. That insurance policy proved invaluable as Alzheimers disease struck and left her needing a great deal of care. Where would she have been without it? And if she had chosen a different profession, she might not have had insurance. Then what?

My father had a union job and therefore had good benefits. Again, this was lucky for him as he was forced to retire slightly early because of health challenges that probably resulted from a lifetime of factory work. What if he had worked for a non-union company? What if he had not been lucky enough to have health insurance? How would he have paid for his oxygen, his medications, his quadruple bypass surgery, his year of chemotherapy?

I am in a profession that provides HMO coverage for me. I'm glad. Otherwise, the thousand dollars a month of HIV medications I take to remain healthy would be financially devastating to me. And without the medications...well, we know the story of AIDS.

You see, I know from personal experience and family history that health insurance is not a is a necessity. Not every job provides it. Not every individual can afford it. And yet, at some point, almost every individual will need it. Physical health and financial survival may depend on it.

That's what the national health care debate means to me. I don't care if people think its socialist (it is no more socialist than Medicare, Social Security, VA benefits, civil service benefits, guaranteed student loans, etc.). I personally don't have a problem with socialism. In fact, I am a great admirer of the social democracies of Western Europe and Canada. I am aware of the Christian Socialist movement of the late nineteenth/early 20th century (championed at the time by such evangelicals as Francis Bellamy, the Baptist who wrote the US Pledge of Allegiance!). But regardless of what it is called, health care is a human right, a practical necessity, and human compassion should make it a priority for an advanced civilization (especially one that imagines itself to have the moral authority to call itself a world leader).

If you have insurance, think of how lucky that makes you. Think of how horrible it might be if you didn't. Think of all the people who don't. Our wealthy nation can provide this necessity for everyone who can't afford it otherwise. Shouldn't that settle the matter once and for all?

Theological Discussions

A Progressive View of "The Way, the Truth, & the Life"
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

Where Do We Go When We Die?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

Is the Bible the Word of God?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

Why Don't the Miracles of the Bible Happen Today?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

What is Progressive Christianity?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

How Can I Be Good Enough?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

Why Healthy Religion Must Confront Heterosexism
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. BK Hipsher, MATS

A Progressive View of Salvation
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. Brent Hawkes, MDiv/DMin

Integregation of Sexuality & Spirituality
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. Elder Don Eastman

Can Gays Pray?
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. Michael Diaz, MDiv

Gay Images of God
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. Michael Diaz, MDiv

Queer Bible Study
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin; Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv; & Rev. Mona West, MDiv/PhD

Affirming Gay Outreach
Panel: Rev. Durrell Watkins, MDiv/DMin & Rev. Robert Griffin, MDiv

There are more topics at

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Welfare is OK; Yours is No Good

Social Security.
Free public schools.
Low tuition community colleges.
College tuition grants.
Federal work-study programs at colleges/universities.
Federal student loans.
Military retirement pensions.
Public school lunch programs.
Civil service benefits.
Small business loans.

We aren't opposed to government programs. We are only opposed to government programs that we don't feel we need. We seem to think we're entitled to the ones we enjoy.

Save "my" government program; just don't let "them" get the one "they" might need. "Mine" is legitimate. "Theirs" is frivolous.

How did the "Land of Opportunity" become so lacking in public generosity? And is it possible to call us back to a compassionate, caring path?

Government IS Involved in Healthcare

Guess what? The US government is already involved in health care. The poorest families with children get medicaide. The elderly get medicare. The military has its own hospitals. Veterans get VA benefits. Why not provide care for the rest of Americans who are uninsured? The people who are so angrily opposing universal health care either have it themselves and don't care that others who need it can't afford it or otherwise can't get it, or they have allowed themselves to be frightened by untruths and vitriolic rhetoric. The government already insures many's time to make sure EVERY American has access to quality health-care. It is not only the moral thing, but as a Christian minister I also believe it is what Jesus would endorse. Jesus spent a great deal of time in his ministry caring for those who were ill. Followers of Jesus should likewise be concerned for the well-being of all people. This isn't about partisan politics; this is about doing what is best for every person in this country. And as the government already provides coverage for many, let's go the rest of the way and make sure there is coverage for all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pray Without Ceasing

Pray Without Ceasing
by Durrell Watkins

Can we really pray all the time? We pray continuously when we let our lives be prayer. When praying with our words, a useful formula is to acknowledge the Power of Life (God/Goddess/Higher Power/Spirit, etc.), realize that we are not separate from this Power (it is within us, around us, flowing through us, expressing as us), trust this power to lead us to our highest good (we express trust by affirming our progress), give thanks (an attitude of gratitude is a magnet for miracles), and finally release the prayer to the activity of divine right action ("let go and let God").

The affirmative prayer then might simply say, "Dear God, my heart is your home; your heart is my home. You are expressing in and as my life, and you are All Good; therefore, I confidently affirm the blessings of happiness, hope, and harmony and I am grateful that these blessings are even now being made manifest in my experience. I now relax and allow life to unfold in joyous, wonderful ways. Amen."

But did you know we can live that prayer as well as say it? And living it is praying it! We can at any moment quiet our minds, notice our breath, and feel an instant, inner calm (acknowledging the divine presence and our unity with It). Then as we perform any task (paying bills, watching television, answering an email, washing clothes, walking the dog, etc.), we can do so mindfully and joyfully, affirming with our attitude and action that in that moment all is well. Experiencing such a moment of well-being, we can be glad and grateful, and naturally enough, we will find ourselves more relaxed (letting go).

The spoken prayer is a model for how to live prayer. Whenever we are aware of Life, remember It is expressing as us, believe in our potential, feel thankful, and allow ourselves to "let go," we are praying. The more we practice "living prayer," the better we get at it, and we will find that we are actually praying continuously.

{Reprinted from Healing Rays: A Progressive, Positive, Practical Weekly Reflection, January 27th, 2009}

Friday, August 07, 2009

Children of God

Children of God
“[Jesus] did not claim unique Sonship of God but boldly declared that all [people] are God’s [Children].” - Albert C. Grier

Albert Grier was a Universalist minister who in the early 1900s founded the Church of Truth denomination. He was a pioneer in the New Thought movement. He taught that the Christ Consciousness is actually within every human being. Grier, along with other important thinkers of his time, saw Jesus as our great Example showing us what we are meant to be and how we can live with power in our world. He reminds us that we are all children of God; and as children of God, we have unfettered access to God’s wisdom, grace, and love. Today, let’s recognize and embrace these divine gifts in our lives.

I am a child of God, made in God’s image and filled with God’s spirit. I live in the joy of this truth, and so it is!

Today’s devotional prepared by Durrell Watkins
{taken from Spirit & Truth magazine}

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Remembering Hiroshima

Today is the 64th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. From that attack, about 144,000 people were killed (about half from the initial blast, the others from wounds and illnesses that resulted from the blast). Over the next few decades, hundreds more would develop cancer or leukemia as a result of the radiation from the attack. Most casualties were civilians.

I am glad that no other war has ended in nuclear holocaust; and I do hope that nuclear weapons will never again be used.

I’m not writing to defend or condemn the actions of a war that took place decades before my birth. I know the Japanese Empire was given an ultimatum before the attack was launched and I know that Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor is what officially drew the U.S. into WW2. I’m not interested in rehashing the rationale for the use of such deadly force at Hiroshima; nor am I interested in trying to discern if in the end such action was ethical or necessary. What’s done is done.

What I do want to do today is honor the lives of innocent people lost in every war. I want to acknowledge the horror of Hiroshima, the brutality of war, and the sacredness of human life. And, I want to express an on-going wish for peace in the world and a constant desire for the day to come when conflicts can be settled by means other than violence.

For those who lost their lives at Hiroshima in 1945…Rest in peace.
For all who have lost their lives because of any war at any time…Rest in peace.
For those who risk their lives in service of their country…May you never be unnecessarily placed in harm’s way.
And for our world that longs for peace, justice, and stability…May an Abiding Peace bless us and keep us, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Full Moon

I love a full moon...lots of positive energy. Good for new beginnings. Make a wish. Better yet, make a commitment, and get started moving toward the goal! Happy Full Moon everyoone :-)

Re: Using the Bible to Protect Marriage Norms & to Vilify Same-gender Couples

Biblical marriage looks nothing like the contemporary, monogamous, western norm. Whether we look at the mythical Adam & Eve (from either of the two contrasting creation narratives in Gen.1-3) or the polygamous marriages of Jacob, Abraham, David, Solomon, and many others, or the apparent celibacy (and sexual hangups) of the Apostle Paul...we see very little that looks like the relationship norms of our day and culture. The bible has long been used as an excuse to demonize or marginalize others. Eventually, we always come to regret using the bible in such a way.

--Durrell Watkins, D.Min.

See Your Good

See Your Good

“Visualizing is the great secret to success." Genevieve Behrend

Genevieve Behrend was a personal student of Thomas Troward (who influenced Emmet Fox who influenced Norman Vincent Peale). She reminds us (as do Troward, Fox, and Peale) that using our imaginations constructively and intentionally is very beneficial. If we can see something in our imagination, we’ll feel as if it is ours or at least as if it can be ours. We’ll drift toward the goal. We’ll get ideas about how to accomplish the goal, and we’ll be attracted to people who can advise us along the way. If we can just let ourselves “see” our Good, we will be well on our way to achieving it.

I believe in my goals, and I dare to imagine success. I see my achievement. I feel it. In the realm of Spirit, it is already mine. In deep gratitude, I allow it to be.

Today's devotional prepared by Durrell Watkins
(from Spirit & Truth, Aug. 4, 2009)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Choosing Our Destiny

Healing Rays: A Progressive, Positive, Practical Weekly Reflection
by Durrell Watkins
August 3, 2009

"We build our future, thought by thought,
For good or ill, yet know it not.
Yet so the universe was wrought.
Thought is another name for fate;
Choose then thy destiny and wait,
For love brings love and hate brings hate." - Henry Van Dyke

My grandmother was an elementary school teacher. But she didn't become a teacher in the conventional way. She didn't go from high school to college and start teaching at 22. She got married at 17 and decided to go to college two years later. It was during WW2 and there was a teacher shortage. She entered a special program that allowed one to get a teaching certificate without a degree. She went to college for one year and then started teaching. Of course, after the war, the state raised the standards for teachers so that within a few years all teachers were required to have a Bachelor's degree again. However, those who had received the non-degree certificate where allowed to keep teaching (but they were paid less than degreed teachers).

My grandmother decided she wanted to complete the degree, so every summer for 10 years she went to school until finally she did complete her Bachelor of Science in Education degree. Her sister got her degree in the exact same way and went on to earn a Master of Education degree, and their brother earned a Bachelor's degree and two Masters' degrees after serving as a pilot in WW2. All three retired from the profession of teaching.

What's the point of this bit of family nostalgia? Just that these relatives demonstrated to me that achieving goals may not be quick or easy, but that doesn't mean they aren't possible. We may have to find creative ways to achieve our goals. We may have to wait years before our dreams are fully realized. But deciding on a goal, believing it is possible and remaining committed to it until it is realized however long it takes is the recipe for ultimate success. By choosing to be committed, optimistic, and determined and by not giving up too soon, we may find that we are able to do exactly what we had always wished was possible. As it turns out, most of what we wish for really is possible. Our job is to "choose then [our] destiny and wait..." Let's keep moving forward toward our goals!

Rev. Durrell Watkins, D.Min.
Sunshine Cathedral