Friday, August 31, 2012

government for the least of these...

"King Josiah [aka the government] defended the cause of the poor and the needy, and so all went well." Jeremiah 22.16 That's just in case the "bible based believers" who want small government (just big enough to bully women, gays, and immigrants) and no social programs (except for THEIR social security & medicare when the time comes for it) were interested in a "biblical perspective" on government's responsibility to those without power and privilege.

What's right?

What’s right?
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

“It seemed there was always close correlation between true believers and high body counts.”
Dan Brown

Isn’t it odd that people who are the most certain that they are right (and in order to be right they feel everyone with different opinions must be wrong) often are the very ones who seem so insecure in their “rightness” that they need to silence, control, punish, or exclude those they believe to be not right. Discrimination, violence, wars, insults, abuse…so much damage has been done for the cause of “righteousness.” My beliefs sustain me. I don’t need to prove they are right and I don’t much care if anyone shares them. As long as I’m allowed to live with dignity, freedom, and peace, then let every person hold his or own cherished beliefs. But when people believe that I don’t have a right to exist, to love, or to celebrate my life, those are not empowering personal beliefs; those are oppressive attitudes that must be challenged. Otherwise, the abuse will continue without end. And that just isn’t right!

I can cherish what I believe to be right for me without denying anyone else their rights and dignity.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jesus' message

Jesus’ message
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes.” Kurt Vonnegut

Jesus said, “Blessed are the downcast, the grieving, the meek, those who long for justice, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the oppressed” (Matthew 5.3-11). He did NOT say, “Blessed are the homophobes, the misogynists, the racists, the child abusers, the war mongers, the greedy, and those who teach that only one religion offers access to spiritual truth and human fulfillment.” Christians aren’t those who worship their own prejudices and call them “Jesus.” Christians are those who want to live with Christ-like compassion, integrity, and a desire to heal the world. May we be so blessed and may we so bless our world.

May I be blessed to be a blessing to the world, in Jesus’ name.
taken from Spirit & Truth magazine
Durrell Watkins contributor & editor

Liberated and liberating spirituality

from "Spirit & Truth" magazine
Liberated & liberating spirituality
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Hysterical fundamentalism is not the way into the future; it is the last gasp of the past.” Bishop John S. Spong

Christianity isn’t for me the passport that allows entry into an afterlife Paradise (could there be a more selfish reason for practicing any religion?!). Christianity isn’t for me the veneration of Jesus’ brutal execution (which I in no way attribute to a divine plan). Christianity isn’t for me the hope that Jesus will add magic to my life like a genie in a bottle granting wishes. Christianity isn’t for me an invitation to accept fear, shame, and prejudice and call them virtues. These tired, oppressive, and failed ideas have been replaced in the Christianity that I embrace today by a desire to work to create a world of peace, plenty, and equality, the “kin-dom of God”, which was, I believe, the hope and the mission of Jesus. For Christian spirituality to liberate us, we may have to liberate it from notions that no longer serve the greater good.
I pray for liberation in my thinking, in my emotions, in the way I live my life, and liberation
for all bound by fear, shame, or injustice. Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I’m Not Anti-Republican, but the Tea Party is Another Matter…

This is not an endorsement of a party or a candidate. As a citizen, I of course have my preferences, and my left of center leanings are no secret. But just as I value the right to my opinion and my choices, I must give others that same consideration.

However, this is an expression of concern about a group that has affiliated itself with a party. The party itself, as I will show, has a laudable  history; but embracing those who preach discrimination and intolerance  is not part of that noble history.

I’m not anti-Republican. My grandmother was a life-long Republican, as was her father before her.

My other grandparents were Democrats, but I have reason to believe they voted at least once for Reagan.

The Republican Party, at its best (if I understand correctly) has historically stood for a strong DEFENSIVE military, fiscal responsibility without cutting social programs that actually serve the common good, and they have a bias toward capitalism. I may not agree entirely with each of these points but I can respect them and I find none of them to be evil, selfish, or mean-spirited.

And, if we take an historical view, there are reasons to admire both Republican and Democratic leaders.

Of course, there was Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Eisenhower oversaw the end of the Korean conflict.
Nixon began a process that led to normalized relations with China. Nixon also appointed at least one very progressive Supreme Court justice.
Ford brought a sense of calm and healing in the aftermath of Watergate.
Reagan managed somehow to renew a sense of patriotism and was able to make people feel good with his powerful oratory skills. He also appointed the first woman Supreme Court Justice.
Bush I (George Herbert Walker) signed the Americans With Disabilities Act.

And, likewise, if we look at Democratic history we will see some shining moments.

FDR oversaw the recovery of the Great Depression.
Johnson signed civil rights legislation into law and oversaw the creation of Medicare and appointed the first African American Supreme Court Justice.
Carter has been called the most effective former president ever.
Clinton presided over the longest economic expansion in US history and he appointed the first woman Secretary of State.
President Obama was the first sitting president to say publicly that he favored marriage equality for same-gender loving people. Early in his administration he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On his watch terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed and GM was saved. Lives will be saved because of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Both parties have cause for embarrassment also.

Truman (D) is the only world leader in history to unleash the terror of nuclear warfare.
Johnson (D) had Vietnam.
Nixon (R) had Watergate.
Reagan (R) actively ignored the AIDS crisis in its beginning, and as a result, I believe, far too many people died.
Clinton (D), while a brilliant strategist and orator had some major ethical mishaps (for the world’s most powerful person to have an affair with an intern is an abuse of power to the extreme).
Bush II (R) squandered the global goodwill after 9/11/01, turned an historic surplus into an unprecedented deficit, was in office when the economy went into all out freefall, and invaded a country under false pretenses that had not attacked our own.

Both parties have produced leaders who have made mistakes, and both parties also have long histories of caring about their country and their world. Democrats tend to want government to provide more care and security for our citizens while, before Reagan anyway, Republicans were less likely to rush into military conflicts and more likely to negotiate an end to conflicts. And while Democrats were more likely to push for such life-saving, poverty preventing programs as AFDC, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Civil Rights protections, Republican administrations usually protected and sometimes even advanced these programs once they were initiated. Republican women were at one time outspoken advocates for both the Equal Rights Amendment and a woman’s right to choose.

We might believe that the Democratic or Republican philosophy is better than the other, but we could usually trust that leaders of both parties were for the most part competent, intelligent, and motivated by goodwill.

That’s why the rise of the Tea Party is so upsetting. They are as embarrassing to the Republicans as the Dixiecrats were to the Democrats.  Like the Dixiecrats, the Tea Party is filled with racists, xenophobes, segregationists, and all of that venom is heightened by the TP’s open hostility to same-gender loving people, their opposition to women’s rights, and their anti-democratic yearnings for theocracy.

The Tea Party is an anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, fundamentalist, homophobic/heterosexist, misogynistic, xenophobic cult of hate, mistrust, and suspicion. They value their narrow understandings of religion more than protecting the rights of all citizens. They would rather suppress voter activity to maintain power than to get more people involved in the democratic process. And they seem more interested in codifying discrimination than promoting and protecting “liberty and justice for all.”

I’m not anti-Republican, not the historic Republican party that valued peace, would negotiate with Democratic politicians to serve the country, and honor safety nets put in place even if they didn’t initiate those safety nets. The party of Lincoln is honorable. Does it still exist? I best its spirit is still alive; will it be embraced and aloud to thrive again?

I might not identify with the Republican party, but I wouldn’t be afraid of that party during the times that it would win the White House or a chamber of Congress if it were no longer the sanctuary of the Religious Right and Tea Party fanatics.

We can disagree about gun control, whether or not taxes should be raised or lowered (across the board…not just raised on the working class and lowered for the super rich…that is fundamentally wrong and unfair, obviously!), and whether or not our military should be a global police force or a defense system for the homeland.

But we shouldn’t be using politics to argue about science (climate change is real, it’s time to grow up and face this challenge), religion (worship a rock or a rag doll if you want, but don’t use legislation to make everyone else follow the rules and embrace the prejudices of your rock or ragdoll religion), or to enforce discrimination (LBGT people are human and deserve equal rights – it really is time to deal with that simple fact). And we shouldn’t be using politics to turn the privileged into the super-privileged and the disadvantaged into the destitute.

I’m not anti-Republican, but I am anti-Tea Party and I am committed to resisting those who allow the Tea Party to appear mainstream. If the Tea Party is to become the face of the GOP, then I will be anti-Republican until that oppressive wing of their movement is denounced as being themselves, anti-Republican (Bachman/Palin/Akin/Ryan bear almost no resemblance to Lincoln/Eisenhower/Ford).

I have respect for the Republican party - the party that was pre-Religious Right influence and pre-Tea Party insanity. But if the GOP will allow themselves to be hijacked by the most oppressive voices of our society, then opposition to them will become a moral and civic imperative. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let’s hope the GOP can be Grand again so that “we the people” can choose between fairly debated ideas rather than between bigots and corporatists and the only party, for better or worse, that serves as an alternative.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A biblical reflection on procreative freedom

Exodus 21 is a harsh text if taken literally and applied uncritically. In that text we see slavery condoned (more than condoned, rules offered for how to carry it out) in verses 2-4.

In that chapter we see the horror of sexual slavery, not merely condoned but legislated! (verses 7-11).

In verses 15 and 17 we see the command for unruly children to be put to death!

Verse 20 even says a slave can be beaten almost to death! Horrifying, but there it is.

So, Exodus 21 is hardly a text that could be accused of having a liberal bias (or even an humanitarian impulse!).

So, since the author of that ancient passage believes children who threaten or swear at their parents should be executed and families ought to be allowed to sell their daughters into sexual slavery and even male members of the community should be allowed to be held as slaves for up to six years, and a slave can beaten almost to death, you'd think that causing a woman to miscarry would result in the offender being drawn and quartered or at very least "water-boarded"...but you would be mistaken.

In verse 22 we read that if two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is in their way and as a result of being caught in the scuffle she suffers a miscarriage but is otherwise unharmed herself, the one who caused the miscarriage must pay a fine. The husband demands an amount and the one who caused the miscarriage must pay it.

HOWEVER, in verses 23-24, if the woman herself is harmed, THEN the retribution is "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, limb for limb, wound for wound." If the fetus is aborted, there is a fine. If the pregnant woman is harmed beyond having a miscarriage, then whatever harm she suffered, the offender must suffer in equal measure.

Now, I'm not looking to Ex. 21 to form my opinion on matters of choice (or anything else). The writer probably forteited his moral authority at the advocacy of slavery and killing ill-behaved children. But it does show that these issues are more complex than standing on tradition or the rules of an ancient institution, or looking up a sentence or two to serve as "proof-texts" that something ought to be done or avoided.

Even in our sacred literature, even in a time when daughters could be sold into sexual slavery and children could be killed for showing disrespect, to cause a miscarriage was only punished by a fine, but harming the mother was punished "eye for eye."

I am completely pro-choice and that isn't based on an ancient text or a ruling from an ecclesiastical office. But, even if I were to look to sacred literature for guidance on the issue, what I might find would probably surprise the anti-choice activists, at least if what I found was Exodus 21!

I find it disturbing that people will fight to insist that a fertilized egg is a person but then disregard the human dignity of same-gender loving people, the elderly, the poor, the uninsured, those coming to this country to improve their lives, and others. I don't know if a fetus is a person in the same way that you and I are, but I do know that LBGT people are human and deserve equal rights. I know that women are persons. I know the elderly are persons. I know that regardless of when human life begins, our responsibility for caring about it doesn't end in the delivery room!

No one is saying, least of all me, that abortions on demand should be offered at the mall. The decision to have an abortion must be very difficult and often is made after the woman has already experienced some sort of trauma. It is an invasive procedure, and no medical procedure is 100% risk free. It isn't ideal, but it is sometimes needed, and those who need the procedure should have a safe and sterile place in which to receive the procedure. And people facing the difficult choice shouldn't be harrassed by those who will never be faced with such a choice!

I honestly believe that anti-choice rhetoric is more about controling women than protecting the unborn. Those who are most vocal about denying a woman control over her own body are often the same ones who seem to think war (killing) should never be questioned, that capitol punishment (killing) is at least morally neutral if not all out good, and that deadly weapons (instruments of killing) should have very little or no regulation. These same people who are so concerned about the unborn are often the ones who then wish to deny those children once they are born affordable health care, help with adequate nutrition, and assistance in obtaining higher education. While they are undeniably pro-birth, they can't really be considered pro-life. At least they aren't always "pro" life that needs to be sustained beyond an umbilical cord.

When rape is prevented rather than redefined, when health care is a right rather than a privilege, when nutrition, housing, and education are more valuable to us than prisons and war, then my guess is that abortions will be fairly rare. But until that day, some women will need them and desperate women will get them whether they are legal or not. We can make abortions safe for the women who choose them while working to create a society where abortions would be needed less often, or we can continue to try to colonize women's bodies. I hope as a society we choose the former and not the latter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gunman killed after shooting at Empire State Bldg. What's with all the guns?

It is illegal for me to drive without a safety belt fastened around me, but I can carry lethal force on my person? I don't have a right to drive unbound but I do have a right to carry a deadly weapon? Yes, if I misuse it, I will probably be held accountable (depending largely on my financial ability to hire the best attorneys), but isn't that closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out? What is this gun cult thing? I'm not talking about hunters or law enforcement people or even having a defensive weapon in your home...but who needs to carry a deadly weapon? I can't drive past a certain speed limit because it is dangerous but i can carry a military grade weapon? WTF???

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Veep Matters

Adams, Jefferson, Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Van Buren, Arthur, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, L. Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and GWH Bush were all Veeps who became president, either by inheriting the position on the death of a president or running for president after a sitting president did not or could not run again, except for Nixon who had an 8 year gap between being VP and Pres. FOURTEEN VPs have become president. It happens. In other words, the opinions, policies, and views of a vice-presidential candidate matter. Just saying...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

For Me, Pro-Choice IS Pro-life

According to a commentary offered by a cable news network anchor on August 22nd, 2012, in 1930 alone, more than 2700 American women died from illegal abortions (that's more than 7 per day throughout the entire year and that is just one year!). When abortion was illegal, people still sought them, but b/c they were illegal they were done in unsanitary places, often by people who were not medically trained, & so women died. I may or may not "believe" that a fertilized egg is a person, but I know with total certainty that a woman is a person, and I am "pro" women's lives and I trust women to make their own choices for their own bodies.
{The number of 2700 women dying in 1930 was reported on the Rachel Maddow Show, Aug. 22, 2012, MSNBC}

All Hail the Weather Deities

The fundies and right wing crazies have blamed earthquakes, hurricanes, and even terrorist attacks on divine retribution, saying God was punishing cities or countries that valued diversity and civil liberties. Now, a hurricane is heading for the GOP convention, and of course many of those right wingers hide out in the GOP. It is so tempting to use their rhetoric (even playfully) to suggest that God is out to get them; but let's not. Let's take the high road, if for no other reason than to show we have a more intelligent understanding of meteorology than that. The gods don't send bad weather to show displeasure. Weather just happens, and if we happen to be in the the flood plane or tornado path or near a fault line, we'll just get caught up in nature's drama. Of course they were idiotic to blame disaster on people they don't like; let's not be as idiotic.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Bible & Gays

The Bible and Gays
Durrell Watkins
There are four questions I am most often asked about spirituality in relation to LBGT people. My ministry is within a church that is rooted both within the Christian tradition and the Gay Rights movement. However, I am a spiritual humanist and a religious pluralist and while I speak from a primarily Christian viewpoint, the message that I try to offer is universal. Here are the questions and my answers.

Is it a sin to be gay?
“Sin” means to miss the mark (an archery metaphor). To “be” anything is a matter of ontology (of “is-ness”). So to discover that one is something and to be honest about it can never be missing the mark. Self-discovery and expressing one’s truth with integrity is hitting the bull’s eye!

Did Jesus condemn homosexuality?
Jesus condemned precious little. One of the few things that he did condemn was the tendency of religious people to participate in condemnation! Jesus seemed to have a great deal of patience with almost everything other than self-righteous people who tried to enforce religious rules in a way to oppress or control others.

Was Jesus ever sympathetic to homosexual persons?
The word “homosexual” would not have been part of Jesus’ vocabulary. However, in the 8th chapter of Matthew’s gospel (and the story is repeated in the 7th chapter of Luke’s gospel) Jesus is said to have healed a centurion’s servant. The original hearers of that story would have assumed that the servant was the centurion’s lover. From what we know of 1st century Roman culture, we know that such relationships were not uncommon. And for a person of such high rank to be so concerned about a servant that he would approach a faith healer of lower status in a desperate attempt to help his servant suggests an intimacy far greater than one would expect between a military officer and his “servant.” How did Jesus respond to the centurion? He praised his faith! His relationship was not condemned or even questioned.

Also, in Matthew 19, Jesus defines “eunuchs” in a much broader sense than we normally hear. He says that, there are those who are castrated, which is the usual definition. But he also says there are 2 other kinds of eunuchs. He says some “choose” to be eunuchs (living a life of celibacy) and that others are “born” eunuchs (people who by nature are sexually different). He also says that not everyone would accept his broad, inclusive, and non-judgmental definition of eunuchs, but he says, “whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Jesus was giving an example of sexual diversity - some are different because they’ve been surgically altered. Others are different because of personal choices to not marry or to remain celibate (e.g. monks and nuns). And still others are different because they are born different, that is, they are innately different. Jesus did not suggest that anything was wrong with any of the eunuchs, and he certainly did not propose an “ex-eunuch” program. Some of us are “different” from the majority, and Jesus seemed to think that was OK and that everyone who can accept such diversity needs to accept it! His teaching reminds us of Isaiah 56 where the prophet places these words in the mouth of God, “The eunuch need not say, ‘I am a dry (barren) tree’…I will give them in my house a monument and name which will be even better than having children; an eternal, imperishable name…For my house shall be called a house of prayer for ALL peoples.” In any case, Jesus never condemned same-sex love or attraction.

But aren’t there bible verses that do condemn homosexuality?
It depends on how you read the bible. The people who wrote the documents that in time became our bible were products of their time and culture. They had specific agendas and were writing to particular communities, usually in response to definite events. None of them had any idea that 21st century Americans would be reading their work. In fact, none of them knew there was a North American continent or that the world wasn’t flat. And so, we do read statements in the bible that support slavery, that assume women are in some way inferior to men, that seem to suggest God takes sides in bloody military conflicts.

             Today, we do NOT accept that women are in any way inferior to men.
Today, we believe slavery to be one of the greatest evils of human history.
Today, many of us believe that war is almost never the will of God.

Do we read the bible with an awareness of its historical, cultural, and linguistic contexts? Or do we cling to isolated verses that seem to support one prejudice or the other? How we choose to read the bible will determine if we believe the bible promotes homophobia. And how we choose to read it actually says more about the reader than the text.

Out of the entire bible written by many people covering a period of more than a thousand years, there are only about half a dozen sentences that are routinely used to shame, condemn, harass, or terrorize gay and lesbian people! Each of those rare, isolated passages, when taken in their cultural, historical, linguistic, and literary contexts can be deconstructed in ways that are actually quite liberating for same-gender loving people! Love and even mutual attraction are never condemned in scripture.

The bible is against rape, exploitation, and harming your neighbor (and rightly so!). It is not a collection of books meant to condemn love, mutuality, or any life-affirming situation.

Now, reflect on these passages from the bible that some of us believe accurately sum up the divine message for the human family: “God is love and WHOEVER lives in love lives in God and God lives in them!” – 1 John 4.16; “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Eternal, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope.” – Jeremiah 29.11; “By the grace of God I am what I am.” – 1 Corinthians 15.10; “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5.22-23.

There is no law against love and we are all one. This is the message of the bible. It doesn’t tell us who to hate; it tells us how to love. We can be sure that LBTG people are as capable of living love-filled lives as anyone else.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let's NOT Go Back to the Middle Ages...PLEASE

"Romney-Ryan Respond to Akin on 'Legitimate Rape'"

A Missour Senatorial candidate Todd Akin opposes a woman's right to choose...he even opposes her right to choose to not carry her rapist's child! The Romney-Ryan campaign is trying to distance itself from this heartless, draconian view, but Romney as Governor of Massachusetts and Ryan in the US Congress both supported anti-choice legislation very similar to Akin's views.

The Flat Earth Society used to just be ridiculous and annoying.
Now they are terrifying because they have a constituency.
An anti-intellecutal, anti-scientific, anti-civil liberties, imperialistic, militaristic, heterosexist, misogynistic, white-supremacist theocracy is what they want and there may be enough fools and wackjobs to make their dream a possibility.

Every individual who does not vote in November is endangering our country. Please, please, please vote.

For your LBGT friends - please vote.
For the accessibility of higher education for more than the rich -please vote.
For every woman you've ever known - please vote.
For the environment on which our very lives depend - please vote.
For the elderly - please vote.
For those who now have health coverage for the first time in their lives - please vote.
For the possibility of peace - please vote.
For liberty and justice for all - please vote.


Stop Gay Bashing for Jesus

Stop Gay Bashing for Jesus

Take 11 minutes to watch this discussion and then share with your friends.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Response to FRC Shooting

On Thursday, Aug. 16th, 28 year old Floyd Corkins was charged with shooting a guard at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, DC.

The FRC identifies as a conservative, Christian organization and they are well-known for their opposition to LBGT equality.

The president of the Family Research Council used the event as an opportunity to vilify the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying, “Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

The leadership of Sunshine Cathedral is grateful that the guard survived the shooting and we certainly can’t condone acts of violence. However, it must be stated that the Southern Poverty Law Center is an historic, non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry. Using the unfortunate incident to blame and attack an organization committed to working for justice and equality was neither helpful nor fair.

Organizations that advocate for LBGT equality (and for the dignity and well-being of all people) and that respond to anti-gay rhetoric (even when it is cloaked in religious language) are not the cause of violence but in fact are trying to reduce the prejudice and dehumanizing rhetoric that does promote violence and discrimination.

Our best wishes go out to the guard as he recovers from his injuries, and we also continue to hope that those who promote discrimination against gays and lesbians come to realize that they are doing violence too and we pray for an end to all violence in our society.

Yours in shared service,

Rev. Durrell Watkins, D.Min.
Senior Pastor

Let us pray:
Spirit of justice and healing,
        It grieves us that as we work for “liberty and justice for all,” there remain groups and individuals committed to keeping some in the margins of society and that often even blame their prejudice on religion. We work and wait for an end to such blasphemous misuse of religion and we stand up and speak out for true equality and the affirmation of the sacred value of all people.
        While we disagree with the homophobia and heterosexism promoted by the Family Research Council, we would never wish anyone in their organization any harm. We pray for them to become more tolerant, more accepting, and more appreciative of the diversity of the human family, but our disagreements can be settled with discussion, legislation, legal action, and the changing of human hearts and minds. May we never condone the use of violence even in our most vehement disagreements.
        And now, Power permeating all life, let healing energy flow through the body of the one who was wounded, and let healing love deeply touch the souls of all who have been impacted by these recent events, including the shooter. And may the day soon come when all people are treated with dignity and respect, when suspicions and unreasonable fears are healed, and when violence is rare and peace is known everywhere and at all times. Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Who are people?

I could never and will never embrace a philosophy that says corporations and fertilized eggs are persons with rights but same-gender loving individuals are not.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

Healing Rays
Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

The human spirit is so great a thing…If we could understand the human mind
nothing would be impossible to us…” Paracelsus

The power of our thoughts and attitudes is no longer a subject left to the mystics among us. The fields of psychology, physics, and philosophy have all given overwhelming evidence that thoughts are energetic and where our “attention goes, energy flows.”

Whether we are focused on what we want or on what we don’t want, what we focus on we seem to attract.

People who are focused on how “difficult” it is to lose weight often find that belief validated with disappointing weigh-ins. Of course, they would like to lose weight, but their focus, even while they are dieting and exercising, is on failure and what they focus on they tend to experience (this is a lesson I’ve had to learn personally!).

The writer of the ancient drama “Job” has the protagonist of that story say, “The thing I feared has come upon me.” We now know why that is. Where attention goes, energy flows! Fear is focus, and we can actually move toward, create, or attract what we DON’T want when we keep our focus on it.

People will say, “I couldn’t find a job for over a year, and then when I got one job offer I got three!” Fear of not finding something can keep us from finding it, but once we do find something and the fear leaves us, opportunities seem to just fall from the sky!

When people are lonely and complain that they can’t get a date or that everyone they date turns out to be less than ideal, they don’t realize that desperation repels rather than attracts good companions. Focusing on “there aren’t any good ones out there” or “I can’t get a date for the love of God” actually makes it harder to meet nice and interesting people.

Even something as simple as bowling – fear of gutter balls will often result in gutter balls! But keeping your eye on the pins you want to knock down and allowing your arm to follow your gaze will result in more pins falling down. Where attention goes, energy flows. Whether you focus on your hopes or focus on your fears, the power of focus remains the same.

Now, if the power of intention/focus/visualization can help you find a parking space or a date, shed a few pounds or improve your golf or bowling game, then what else could it do?

Some people fantasize about success or achievement but never put forth the effort needed to make it come to pass. Others work very hard, but always assume that the universe is somehow conspiring against them and the best they can let themselves hope for is to just get by a little while longer. But those who combine enthusiastic, focused effort with indomitable optimism are the ones who show us time and again that obstacles can be overcome, difficulties can be turned around, and delays are not necessarily denials. In other words, right thinking combined with right action will lead to right results. That is right-eousness (right-use-ness) at its best!

If you’re feeling stuck, defeated, lonely, sad, or overwhelmed, maybe life is trying to show you that you have been focusing in directions that rob rather than add joy. Our feelings show us what our habitual thinking has been, and our thinking is something we can always change. Focus on what is good, what is desirable, or what is healing and keep your focus on that positive possibility and you will soon find that you are starting to create, attract, or move toward what you do want rather than what you don’t! Where attention goes, energy flows, so keep your focus on the good you deserve.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gay is Perfectly Normal

Some one stated on another blog that no one is born wanting to have sex with a cow (I swear, that was his statement) and then added that no on is born wanting to have sex with someone of their own gender (he seems to believe that gender is fixed and binary, I disagree).   He went on to say that homosexually is aberrant and that "sexual orientation" is a superstition (I wonder if that includes heterosexual orientation!). He then insisted that his readers face these "facts."  My response was as follows:

"No one is born wanting sex at all. Infants are not yet sexual. However, we do develop into sexual beings, and a significant percentage of every population in every era of human history (and in every animal population as well) develop same-gender love and attraction, and are probably biologically predisposed to do so. This isn't new information...The Kinsey Reports of the 40s and 50s, Dr Hooker's research in the late 50s, the American Psychiatric Asso in 1973, the American Psychological Asso in 1975, and every major mental health organization (including the World Health Organization) in the west and many throughout the entire world have confirmed this.

There is nothing aberrant about mutually beneficial and agreed upon relationships. The gender identities of those in a relationship are not what make those relationships sacred. The "fact" is that some people are gay, it's perfectly natural for them, and it harms no one to acknowledge that. You can hate gays if you want, but you can't blame nature or God. You'll have to own your own prejudice." - Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

It's My Life, Not an Issue

Debate Over Hate?

Five Ridiculous Anti-Gay Marriage Arguments Challenged

The Struggle Continues

Why MCC?

Loving people don't condemn people for their love

Using the bible against people like a weapon isn't loving. It wasn't when people used the bible to keep women silent and it wasn't when people used the bible to defend and promote the evil practice of slavery.

Of course some people will be homophobic (or racist, or xenophobic, or other scared of or afraid of "the other"), and some will even try to convince themselves that their prejudices are God's prejudices. We are free to believe in any deity (or no deity) and to beleive whatever we will about our fellow human beings. But, regardless of our beliefs, all people have a right to live lives of dignity and all people should have equal rights.

Hate who you want to hate and even call it love, but don't keep other citizns marginalized. That's where the problem lies.

LesBiGay people are being told to deny who they are, to be ashamed of their very ontology, and to give up the people they love most in the world. You may not think that matters, but if it were you, regardless of how seriously you take the Golden Rule (which is also in the bible you know), would you want to have church and state (which should be separate) try to keep you and the love of your life apart? Of course not.

I don't care if you hate me; i don't even care if you fool yourself into believing that hating me is loving me, just don't try to keep me from having all the rights, privileges, and protections you take for granted. You don't have to bless my relationship, but neither should you try to keep me from having it and from it enjoying all the protections that yours does.

Read more here:

Thursday, August 09, 2012

It's My Life, Not an Issue

Piece I wrote for


Debate Over Hate?

At last night's LBGT Inclusion forum, I was honestly surprised to learn/remember that those who oppose complete LBGT equality don't see the humanity of the people they are hurting, nor are they willing to acknowledge that they are hurting people. They kept speaking about their right to disagree with our "sexual ethics" (I don't recall anyone disclosing what their sexual ethics were).

It boils down to they have decided it's wrong for love to be shared between persons of the same gender and their right to believe that gives them, they believe, the right to deny equality to those whose love and attraction isn't heteronormative.
They kept presenting it as a difference of opinion (with their opinion deserving the force of law) and those who said the legislation of their homophobic views caused pain and suffering to same-gender loving people were actually "hateful" to religious people (forgetting that at least one gay clergy person was in the room).

Very frustating that they think their prejudice deserves protection but my relationship doesn't. We still have so much work to do.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Prayers for Sikh Temple

Sunshine Cathedral, a progressive Metropolitan Community Church, extends warm wishes to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin for healing in the aftermath of the attack on its worshipers yesterday, August 5th.

Sikhism is one the six largest religions in the world (along with Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism), but more important than its size is the fact that it is made up of members of the human family seeking enlightenment, wisdom, and spiritual growth who have consistently contributed to the pursuit of wisdom, peace, and joy in the world.

We at Sunshine Cathedral affirm those who have inherited or chosen the Sikh pathway to spiritual fulfillment and we denounce the unprovoked violence that that Temple in Wisconsin has suffered. Furthermore, we pray for healing for those who have been wounded and comfort for those who have suffered loss.

May God bless the members and friends of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin who are in our hearts at this time.

Peace and blessings,

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister
Sunshine Cathedral
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Friday, August 03, 2012

Why MCC?

Why MCC?
I am the senior minister of a Metropolitan Community Church. My spiritual background is ecumenical and interreligious...confirmed an Episcopalian, ordained an MCC pastor and a Divine Science minister. I'm also a certified Reiki Master, a member of the International New Thought Alliance, and religious practice and expression over my life has included Buddhism (Zen and Nichiren), Unitarian Universalism, Catholicism, and more. I am a graduate of ecumenical seminaries. My professors in theology school were Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Buddhist. I am culturally and historically Christian and I minister in a movement that is firmly rooted in the Christian tradition but I value spiritual enlightenment and empowerment wherever it may be found and I in no way believe that any text or tradition, creed or congregation, doctrine or denomination has or could have a lock on truth. So why MCC?
From Quakers to UUs, from Unity to Religious Science, from Reform to Reconstructionist Judaism, and increasingly throughout the United Church of Christ, many Episcopal churches, and even within the ELCA and Presbyterian Church USA, there is more and more acceptance of LBGT people and even advocacy for LBGT rights. So why MCC?
There is a homophobic myth within MCC that says if we are bold in our affirmation of Queer people, not only as being acceptable but as having a special and gifted place within the human family, then those who do not identify as LBGT will not want to worship with us.
I disagree.

Progressive theology, vibrant and dynamic worship, inclusive community, and concern for justice for all people are highly attractive. There are people looking for exactly that. One need not be gay or lesbian or bisexual or gender variant to be excited that there is a new and different kind of church that values thinking and feeling and that is willing to challenge patriarchy, heterosexism, and homophobia as part of its core mission. That remains a compelling vision and in my experience there are many people, gay and not gay, who respond very favorably to it.

In MCC, we have no creed. There are documents that say we value the "principles" of the historic creeds, but those creeds are not quoted nor are the principles clearly defined. Recitation of creeds is not a part of most MCC worship services. We also have no "set in stone" worship format. Every MCC looks and feels a little different. In that way, MCC remains organic, alive, and relevant to local needs. MCC has not yet taken on the feel of "tradition" that keeps liturgy or theology from evolving. So, even after four decades, MCC remains something new.

And most importantly, the idea that there is no longer the need for religious advocacy of same-gender loving people and their allies is simply not true. THIRTY states in the U.S. have codified gay discrimination in their marriage laws. Gay teens are much more likely to wind up homeless than non-gay teens. The bullying of children who are merely suspected of being gay is epidemic in our schools. National food chain Chick-Fil-A has given large sums of money to oppose not only gay marriage but gay rights in general, and Baptist minister/former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee called for an outpouring of support for the fast food chain. Stories are told every day of lesbians and gays who are brutalized for being who they are, and beyond the US there are actually "Kill the Gays" bills which very well could pass.

Yes, there are non-MCC churches that will let us worship without being overly mean to us, and there are even some that will marry and ordain us without too much fuss, and that is great progress and I celebrate it with my friends in those churches that are taking risks and reaching out to be more inclusive. And yet, that others are doing more does not negate the special calling and purpose of MCC, a church that led the way in saying that not only is Gay OK but Gay is actually GOOD, part of the divine diversity of creation, a blessing to those whose reality it is.

MCC also was at the forefront of declaring that "God" is not a boy's name; and when the AIDS crisis hit, when other churches remained silent about it or even dared to use God's name in vain by declaring the disease a manifestation of divine wrath against gays, MCC was mighty in the midst of those who were living in pain and terror and grief to offer comfort and hope.

I know MCC has room for improvement. I still hear people say that if things don't work out for them in denomination A or B, then MCC is their fall back plan. We need to improve our image so that people want to do ministry in MCC first!

I still hear non-MCCers describe MCC as a fundamentalist church that differs from other such churches only in that we say it's OK to be gay. Our anti-intellectual, anti-academic past still haunts us and we need to become the leaders in theological scholarship, not just around deconstructing the so-called "clobber passages" used against same-gender loving people but for all areas of Christian life and faith.

And, in my view, we have spent the last decade or so trying to look like a top heavy, hierarchical denomination where too much authority rests in the hands of too few people at the denominational level. I think our congregations should be even more autonomous, that our denominational structure should be leaner, and that more money should stay in the local congregation and community to do ministry rather than to support a denominational structure.

But that's not a very long list of what needs to be improved, and those are only my opinions anyway. The truth is, MCC has always gotten more right than wrong and if we are willing, we can get even better still! And the truth remains that the message and ministry, the purpose and power of MCC is still needed, is still relevant, and can still change and even save lives. That's why I am in MCC.

Gay, Bi, or are exactly what you ought to be and your sexuality and your respectful, mutual, adult relationships are good and have the potential to even be holy.
Your body is good.
And those who support discrimination and oppression in the name of religion are mistaken and an alternative to their oppressive theologies and ideologies must be consistently offered.

This is the message that MCC has always presented, and it is a message still needed today.

Gays & Lesbianas still need the message of MCC.
Bisexuals still need the message of MCC.
Transgender people still need the message of MCC.
Friends and families of Queer people still need the message of MCC.
People who are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation still need the message of MCC.
There is more to do; specifically, there is more for MCC to do.

- If you are a member of a non-MCC...please keep working within your parish and denomination to promote justice, compassion, and inclusion.
- If you are a member of an MCC, please keep working to make your church as healthy, as inviting, as relevant, and as dynamic as possible.
- And if you are not a member of any church but are looking for a church home, please give Sunshine Cathedral MCC a try. We may be what you are looking for, and you may be exactly what we need to reach even more people with truly good news.

Finally, if you are a member or friend of Sunshine Cathedral, please support your church enthusiastically with time, talent, and treasure, with positive speech and affirmative prayer...we have much more work to do, and we need all hands on deck to do it and do it well.

See y'all in church!


Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Pastor
Sunshine Cathedral