Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So Tired of the Hate

Hatred of Roman Catholics.
Hatred of Gays & Lesbians.
Hatred of Muslims.
Hatred of Mormons.
Hatred of the President.
Hatred of people with opposing political views.
Hatred of people who value science.
Hatred of transgendered people.
Hatred of people who don't hate who we hate.
So much hatred...

Doesn't anyone ever just get tired of hating? I mean, it is exhausting. It's toxic. It's ugly.

We don't have to agree with everyone...PS, we couldn't if we wanted to!
But what ever happened to disagreement? Why can't people just have a different view anymore? I can disagree with your political opinion without deciding that you are a louse on Satan's scalp.

I can worship differently than you do without dismissing you as human garbage worthy only to be cast upon the trash heap of eternity.

I can love someone of a different gender than the person you love, and I can do so without campaigning against your love and the joy it brings to your life.

Remember that great lyric from a few decades ago: "There ain't no good guys; there ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree."

So simple. So profound. So true. So needed.

I may not hate who you hate. I may not hate what you hate. I may not be part of a group you favor. But maybe you can handle that without hating me. Or, if you have to hate me, maybe you can do so without trying to punish me. And if you can't manage that, maybe you can hate and punish me without trying to punish others simply because they may not hate me.

Really...aren't we tired of the hate yet? Can't we try something else. Maybe we could try on Jesus' suggestion that we love our neighbor...not just the neighbor who resembles us, but every neighbor. Let's give it a try. We can always go back to hating if the love thing doesn't work out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still Learning to Turn the Other Cheek

"One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any [perons], however much we have suffered from [that person]." - Socrates

Socrates, Buddha, Jesus...they have very high ideals, and thousands of years later we are still trying to embrace and live into least I hope we're trying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eid Isn't Xmas, and "The Stamp" Isn't New

I keep getting these emails by people who are horrified about an Islamic Christmas stamp (as if)...the stamp in question is already 8 years old and has nothing to do with Christmas (its for Eid, at teh end of Ramadan). It was not ordered by Pres. Obama (as the uninformed claim) but by the USPS EIGHT years ago. Fear and hatred of the Other is bad enough, but circulating misinformation to promote one's prejudices really is unacceptable. I guess we're all entitled to our hatred, but let's at least know the facts we are using to justify the hatred...or, we could buy what Jesus was selling and try to forgive our enemies and love our neighbors. Now there's a thought...

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Am A Values Voter

I am a US citizen.
I am a faithful voter.
And, as it turns out, I have values.

I value equality.
I value civility.
I value religious pluralism.
I value "liberty and justice for ALL."
I value mutual affection (regardless of the genders expressing that affection).
I value civil liberties.
I value peace.
I value opportunity for all people.
I value diversity.
I value health, and I believe all people should have full access to health care.

Those who beat the drums of war, and those who confuse homophobia for family values, and those who point fingers and shout insults and make threats rather than engaging in respectful dialogue, and those who equate capitalism with democracy, and those who are willing to sacrifice civil liberties for a false sense of security clearly have values, and they are demonstrating what they value. But let's not be fooled into believing that those are the ONLY values to be had.

Liberal values are values none the less.
I, an unapologetic liberal, have values.
And I am a values voter.

Not everyone will share my values. But not everyone who uses the rhetoric of values speaks for all values, and certainly not for mine.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Gambling on Sundays, Faggot!

"Church leaders called Friday for Jamaica's government to drop plans for horse racing on Sundays, saying the ills from gambling addiction and its harm to families will far outweigh financial benefits." -

Are you freaking kidding me? They're getting worked up about Sunday gambling, but nary a word about the epidemic of gay murders and mob violence? I'm sure this is the karmic result of colonization, imperial conquest, and other evils where one culture tried to dominate others...but it is mind numbing regardless of the sociological explanations. Give me strength!

Victorian prudishness is alive and well. This is a perfect illustration of fundamentalist be outraged about what day on the calendar gambling takes place while being totally ambivalent (or even pleased) about the violence done to same-gender loving people in society. Jamaica may be the most homophobic country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most dangerous countries for gay people on the planet. But in that country, an outcry can be heard from the "faithful" against horseracing on Sundays.

I know its complicated. I know many factors for many years have contributed to this sad reality. Slavery, financial exploitation, colonization, European racism, and imperialism disguised as "missiology" and other harsh realities can all share blame for the fundamentalist and violent attitudes that thrive in Jamaica.

We have contributed to a world where a day of the week is sacred, and love shared between two humans is not, where a column on a calendar has importance, and the human dignity of a person whose innate attractions are for people of the same-gender does not. Surely there is a cure for this madness. Surely fundamentalism will not always be with us.


- dw+

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Speak Out Against Homophobic Violence in Jamaica

Since 1997 Amnesty International has recorded the murders of more than 35 gay men in Jamaica. 32 incidents of mob violence have been recorded in just the last 18 months. And last week, another gay man was attacked and brutally murdered in that country.

John Terry, a British diplomat living in Jamaica was beaten and strangled. A note found near his body read, "This is what will happen to all gays."

You can email the Jamaican Prime Minister, The Hon. O. Bruce Golding ( and tell him that as a person of faith you are calling for decisive action to change the culture of violence and intolerance in Jamaica. And join us in praying for an end to homophobic violence in Jamaica and around the world.

To view our statement on the recent killing, go to

Yours in shared service,


Friday, September 11, 2009

Hate is Not the Answer

On this day in 2001 in the US, four airliners were hijacked and crashed. Two airliners hit the World Trade Center in NYC. One airliner hit the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. About 3,000 people were killed.

Hate Is Not the Answer
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” [Buddha]

Remember when desegregation scared many people in the South? The fear of change caused some people to behave reprehensibly. Demonizing the “Other” allowed people to act in demonic ways themselves. The demonized “Other” has taken many forms in our history: Homosexuals, Communists, Middle Eastern Muslims, Japanese, Jews, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Irish, Latin Americans, Italians, Feminists, etc. Eventually, we come to our senses and see that “they” are really fellow human beings and our prejudices against “them” created needless conflict in the world and kept us from being our best selves. Today is a new day. Let’s let go of old hatreds and suspicions and truly embrace the Christ Way of justice, peace, and reconciliation.

Prayer Treatment:
Divine Love, in and as me, has no enemies. I see the sacred value of all people and I celebrate my unity with all the world. And so it is!

Today’s devotional prepared by Durrell Watkins

{from Spirit & Truth, the daily devotional magazine of the Sunshine Cathedral}

Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11 Commemoration

September 11th - a day that serves to remind us how dangerous religious fanaticism can be. Fundamentalism and the intolerance it breeds, as well as the violence it tends to promote, is dangerous and potentially lethal whether it calls itself Muslim, Hindu, or Christian.

In 2001 I was living about 60 miles outside of Washington, DC. I was stunned as I watched on CNN a plane fly into the World Trade Center (NYC was only a four hour drive from my house at the time). While I was trying to make sense of what happened, another plane struck a tower. I remember saying, "We're under attack." Of course, the Pentagon was also attacked, and another plane landed in rural Pennsylvania.

Friends from Texas called me to make sure I wasn't "too" close to the planes that were raining down from the heavens. Less than a year later I began a second master's degree in New York City. People in the City still responded with sorrow and near disbelief when they spoke of the terrible day in 2001.

It's 8 years later.
Religion is still used to divide, wound, and intimidate.
Politics seem no more civil than they were almost a decade ago.
Racism along with political discord and religious fundamentalism all conspire to keep power and privilege in the hands of too few.
The oppressed and marginalized attack one another rather than banning together to demand equal opportunity and "liberty and justice for all."

September 11, 2001 was a sad in the US.
Of course, other countries live with days like 9/11 every day.
In this country, AIDS attacked entire communities while many pretended not to notice or worse, actually blamed the victims.
Matthew Shepard and James Byrd knew what it was like to be targeted, tormented, and killed for being different.
9/11 could have been a wake-up call that caused us to look with compassion on all who suffer. It could have been an opportunity to unite for the common good making sure no one gets left out.

As we continue to argue about providing health care for all people, and as we continue to protect homophobia/homohatred instead of standing up for equality for everyone, and as we voice our disagreements by spreading misinformation, insults, and personal attacks instead of engaging in healthy, respectful dialogue, one wonders if the healing that could have followed the 9/11 tragedy has been carelessly overlooked.

As we remember a sad day in American history, let's also remember that others have also had sad and painful days. And lets use our painful memories not to justify hatred or to promote fear, but to summon the compassion and goodwill that can bring healing to our whole world. That is the Phoenix that ought to rise from the ashes of 9/11. That is the Resurrection that can affirm life in the aftermath of death. That is the spiritual maturity that may just help heal the wounds inflicted by fundamentalism of every stripe.

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
12:45 AM (EST), Sept. 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Christ Will Come...Today?"

An excerpt from “Christ Will Come…Today?”
A sermon from Transfiguration Sunday, 2008
by Rev. Durrell Watkins
Mark 9.1-8

Mark, writing in or near the year 70 CE, some 40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, puts these words into the mouth of the Jesus of his imagination: “I say to you there are some standing HERE who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.” Mark’s community has been waiting 40 years already and Mark is convinced the wait is almost over; and maybe it was, and maybe it is.

In verse 2 of our reading today we are told that after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. Already, there is a wealth of symbolism that we should not ignore.

In the bible, the high mountain is where a prophet goes to encounter the Divine. The Mountain top experience is a metaphor for being in the presence of God. Jesus enters into the divine presence – that kingdom which is always at hand.

When does Jesus do this? After six days, but six days after what? We may remember from the book of Exodus that Moses took a friend with him up a high mountain. Moses takes Joshua up the mountain of God where the Shekinah glory of God, in the form of a bright cloud, covers the mountain for SIX DAYS and on the seventh Moses hears the voice of God (Exodus 24.16).

Shekinah is a word used in ancient rabbinical literature to refer to the glory of God. Shekinah is the maternal nature of God…and after communing with the maternal presence of God for six days, Moses and Joshua are able to actually hear from their inner-most divinity.

In any case, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John…why those three? Charles Fillmore believed that each of the apostles represented a spiritual quality. He identified Peter with the development of Faith, James with Wisdom, and John with Love.

Perhaps Jesus is taking Faith, Wisdom, and Love, the trinity of his being up the high mountain, the presence of God, because it is faith, wisdom, and love that will guide his mission and those are in fact the qualities of God. To enter into the presence of God is to increase in the experience of faith, wisdom, and love.

Jesus goes up the mountain, and Mark says, “Jesus was transfigured…and his clothes became dazzling…” In Eastern mysticism, faces and bodies of the righteous are often depicted as beaming with divine illumination. Also, we remember the story of Moses on a high mountain with God, coming down and having been in the presence of God his face had become radiant or dazzling (Exodus 34.30).

Furthermore, 15 or 20 years before Mark’s gospel, St. Paul wrote, “All of us gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

Mark is continuing the tradition of depicting communion with God as being something that releases divine light in our lives…we shine with the very holiness of God in whose image we are made when we allow ourselves to believe in the God of our being, and to encounter the divine light and love that is always within us.

The story of Jesus’ transfiguration may actually be the story of our own! When we experience the glory of the Lord [the Life Principle] we are transformed into the SAME IMAGE from glory to glory…

The next thing we see in Mark’s story is that Moses and Elijah show up. We’ve already recalled some stories of Moses on the mountain of God, but Elijah also spent time on the mountain (1 Kings 19.11). And now, with Jesus on the mountain, they return, the symbols of the law and the prophets. Moses the Law-giver and Elijah the great prophet are symbols of scriptural teaching…those teachings that encourage faith, wisdom, and love.

What is the bottom line of scripture, the law and the prophets? “Do unto others whatever you would have them do to you. THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS” (Matthew 7.12). Moses and Elijah are reminders of what the Law and the Prophets are really trying to teach, and those teachings are continued in the ministry of Jesus.

Living a life of kindness, generosity, and goodwill, this is what the bible teaches. It isn’t about who to blame, who to be against, who to hate, who to change, who to convert…it’s about treating the next person with the dignity and compassion you would like to receive. And the symbols of that simple but world changing message are present in Mark’s story to show what following Jesus really means.

Then, Peter wants to pitch three tents to mark the occasion. He didn’t know what to do, but he wanted to do something. Other than on the mountain of God, where was the Shekinah glory of God experienced? When people gathered to study the scriptures, or to pray, in the tabernacle, and in the Temple. In fact, a tabernacle is basically a tent!

So, building shelters, or tents, is actually a reasonable response to the glory of God. When we experience God, we want to give, we want to share, we want to create, we want to do something good! Peter’s response is appropriate.

Then, in the Mothering Presence of God, with wisdom, faith, and love attending, we hear the voice of God saying about Jesus, “this is my child. Listen to him.”

Listen to him…don’t make him into an idol, don’t create a lot of complicated doctrines about him, listen to him and do what he says…love your neighbor, work for justice, resist oppression, pray for one another, include those who have been excluded, cultivate wisdom, faith and love. And then “Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.”

Listen to Jesus; follow his example. And when we hear that message and embrace it, we see only the Christ of our being, the perfect Idea that we are in the mind and heart of God. We see our goodness, and we commit to sharing it with the world.

“I say to you there are some standing HERE who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God HAS COME in power.” Mark says, the return of Christ, for some here, is immanent…and then he shows them how.

The return of Christ happens when we go inward into the presence of God, that high mountain of our own soul, and we take with us the wisdom, love, and faith that God has poured into our hearts, and devote ourselves to that experience, following the Christ-way of love and hope and healing and compassion, and we are bound to experience the power of divine glory so powerfully that we wind up seeing only the Truth, the Christ within; and in that moment, Christ has returned in power and in glory. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1.27).

I stand here willing to say exactly what Mark said, “there are some here TODAY who will experience the coming of Christ in their own lives.”

Not something out there, but something right here, right now. And with that experience will come hope and healing and happiness. Today, we can enter into the divine presence, that high mountain of God, and discover there the Christ in US, the hope of glory.

This is the good news. Amen.

Durrell Watkins (c) 2008

Friday, September 04, 2009

Why Must We Vote on Equality?

It is deeply offensive that to "win" equality in a state or a country, a group has to persuade the majority to "allow" it. Democracy shouldn't be a "tyranny of the majority," but a guarantee of equal opportunity and protection.

--durrell watkins