Saturday, October 11, 2014

Coming Out Day 2014

It's National Coming Out Day! There are those who still want to demonize and dehumanize same-gender loving and gender non-conforming people. But every time someone says "I'm Queer" or "I'm gay" or "I'm lesbian" or "I'm bisexual" or "I reject labels but am open to love and attraction however they manifest" or "I do not fit neatly into false gender binaries" AND "I love myself as I am", the power of heterosexism and homophobia and transphobia is diminished and the world becomes a better place. Be happy and be proud on this Coming Out Day!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Homophobia Isn't Over...SERIOUSLY

"You Queers have got it good enough. Stop whining about churches telling you that you are going to hell, parents beating and abandoning their Queer kids, bullies tormenting Queer youth, Queer kids winding up homeless, addicted, and attempting suicide, governors putting your rights to a vote and then complaining when majority homophobia isn't upheld by the courts, and homophobic preachers exporting their hate to nations where Queers can be imprisoned and killed just for being who they are...There are REAL issues to deal with."
That is a message that never ceases to amaze and infuriate me.

Caring about LBGTQQIA rights/equality does not mean that we should not and do not also care about economic justice, racism, misogyny, peace, the environment, immigration, gun control, universal health care and OTHER (not more, just other) important issues. Quality of life issues shouldn't be judged to be more important other others...we each do what we can for what we have the most passion about because its all important...but if you tell me my Queer life is not as important as other lives because in your estimation my life is good enough, you will have lost me as a conversation partner.

I am a white gay man who benefits from white male privilege...the privilege does not make it okay to target my gayness.
And, one's gayness does not give one permission to be unconcerned about attempts to keep people of color from the voting booth or to give governance over to corporations or to colonize women's bodies. There are many injustices left to tackle, and we won't do a good job with any of them if we start telling one another that our various experiences of injustice don't matter. That kind of divide and conquer technique is exactly what the keepers of all power want. Let's do deny them that satisfaction.

PS - It also amazes me when people think that only white men are same-gender loving (or for that matter that biology determines gender)...Does a Caribbean Lesbian of African descent not deal with racism, sexism, AND homophobia? Should we tell her that only 2/3 of her personal pain matters?
And what of Black Gay men who know racism within one community and homophobia within another. Should we tell them that only half of their experience of injustice is important? Of course not!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Human Rights, Not States' Rights

    The governor of OK not surprisingly is furious that the SCOTUS wouldn't hear marriage discrimination cases. She believes that the majority should have the right to discriminate if they collectively say they want to do so. For her, a state has rights to oppress its non-majority residents, but individuals don't have the right to demand equality. Of course, "states rights" arguments go back to the civil war, and the same mentality prevails...if enough of us in the majority want keep a minority marginalized, then the majority should rule. They don't realize that democracy isn't just the rule of popular opinion, but is also a protection of those who will never be in the majority. When White, Evangelical Christians no longer make up the majority in some of these "states rights" states, they will undoubtedly value the protection that democratic principles offer those who lack the privilege and power of the majority.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Why I Wrote Saved From Salvation

"2014 was dedicated as a 'Year of Transformation' for Sunshine Cathedral, and so it seemed appropriate that for the Year of Transformation I would chronicle my life-long journey of growth and on-going transformation. SAVED FROM SALVATION is my story of exploring the Mystery of life, of embracing the Possibilities in life, and of daring to ask the questions that are real whether voiced or not, but that can release a healing and empowering energy when asked (even though answers to the questions may not exist). The book isn't meant to influence so much as to model the power of making peace with the questions and trusting the process of exploration wherever it might lead. The book is my testimony, my witness, my experience, but my hope underneath the sharing of the stories is that the book's message is universal, giving people encouragement to ask their own questions and trust the winding paths of their own lives. Such an open, honest, and unapologetically human journey has been tranformative for me, and it would be a great joy if my journey could provide some comfort or companionship for others as they courageously continue their own." Durrell Watkins, author of SAVED FROM SALVATION

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Please, Leave Behind "Left Behind"

Don't know how the Left Behind business got the funding for a major picture release with a real and for true film star, but I so hope that everyone knows that however much this may be improved from a cinematic standpoint over the original dreck, the fact remains that its bad science fiction based on superstitious understandings of ancient apocalyptic literature. The resistance literature meant to provide hope and catharsis to those oppressed by imperialism in antiquity was never meant as an oracle for 19th/20th/21st century Americans. The hope that the world of empire would be destroyed and replaced by a better and more equitable world was not meant as Halloween horror tales about futuristic (but still somehow immanent even though it never comes to pass) planetary destruction. I will not be paying a single cent to see the new release and I really hope parents don't torment their children by taking them to see the damaging threats of doom and destruction. Here endeth the rant.

Sunshine Cathedral Recommended Reading

            In August Sunshine Cathedral started offering a list of three books each month for SC members to consider reading. One book is to help to with biblical studies, the second is for theological enrichment, and the third is for self-help/empowerment.  The recommendations for August – October (as well as a sneak peak of November and December recommendations) follow:

August: (Bible) Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, & Religious Liberals by John A. Buehrens (2003). Understanding the Bible is written by a Unitarian Universalist minister. “In making accessible some of the best contemporary historical, literary, political, and feminist readings of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, UTB encourages all who would find in the biblical heritage an ally and not an enemy in the quest for a more just and humane world.”
(Theology) The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God by Bishop Carlton Pearson (2006). The Gospel of Inclusion…written by a Pentecostal bishop who stopped believing in Hell. He now calls himself a “metacostal” (combination of metaphysical and Pentecostal theologies); he is an ally of the LBGT community, a universalist (believing that God’s love embraces everyone regardless of their religious affiliation and that no one is ultimately excluded from the divine Presence), and his personal journey has led him to believe that the true good news (gospel) is a message of inclusion, not fear and punishment. His atonement theology might not match up exactly with what is taught at Sunshine Cathedral, but he nevertheless believes that all people are “saved” (“Muslims, Jews, atheists, everyone”).
 (Self-Help) I Can Do It: How to Use Affirmations To Change Your Life by Louise Hay (2004). Louise Hay needs no introduction to the New Thought and New Age crowds. She is a woman who has for decades embraced more and more of life and taught others to do the same. In the worst days of the AIDS crisis she helped people living with AIDS do so with less fear while learning to love themselves. She models forgiveness, optimism, and the courage to embrace the power that is within us all. A trained Religious Science minister, Louise Hay’s ministry has been writing, public speaking, and publishing. Her books tend to be small, easy to read, easy to apply, and simply powerful. Her small book, I Can Do It offers short lessons followed by sample affirmations to use in daily spiritual practice to improve health,
finances, creativity, relationships, self-esteem, and more.

            September: (Bible) The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love by Bishop John S. Spong (2005). Retired Episcopal bishop John Spong addresses how the bible as been misused against the environment, women, gays, children, and how it has wrongly been used to promote anti-Semitism and present God as a blood-thirsty ogre. He concludes his study by offering the possibility of a progressive reclaiming of both the bible and Jesus.
(Theology) Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter, PhD (2009). Theologian (professor at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York) Paul Knitter looked to Buddhism to help him navigate a crisis of faith. As a result, he became a more committed, if pluralistic, Christian. Rethinking notions of prayer, the afterlife, and even “God”, Knitter concludes that Buddhist philosophy can actually enrich the Christian experience.
            (Self-Help) Change Almost Anything in 21 Days: Recharge Your Life with the Power of over 500 Affirmations by Ruth Fishel (2003). Author and meditation teacher Ruth Fishel experienced healing and recovery in her life and seeks to help others do the same by showing how we can retrain our minds with consistent positive thoughts. From bad habits like procrastination to severe problems like addiction,
one can find ways of moving through life’s challenges and experience improvement. We each must do our own work, but Ms. Fishel helps the reader understand just how to do so.

October: (Bible) What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality by Daniel A Helminiak (1994, 2000). Catholic theologian Daniel Helminiak warns against viewing biblical teaching as having the last word on sexual ethics. He also concludes that the bible "supplies no real basis for the condemnation of homosexuality."
(Theology) Saved From Salvation by Durrell Watkins, DMin (2014). Saved From Salvation chronicles a journey from fundamentalism to a ministry of spiritual humanism. The book tackles homophobia and heterosexism, looks at the bible and human sexuality and the spirituality of celebrating one's innate nature. The book also looks at non-theistic religion, progressive Christianity, liberating language, prayer, and ministry that affirms the sacred value of all people and that seeks to build community rather than enforce stale, antiquated dogmas. The final pages offer a real hope, a genuine faith, a practical spirituality that can be shared by believers and skeptics, Christians and non-Christians, seekers of truth and makers of meaning of every type. 
(Self-Help) Transform Your Life by Barbara King (1995). Founder of Atlanta's Hillside Chapel, Dr King applies metaphysical principles to the bible to help the reader overcome fear and transform her or his life through the power of prayer.

November: (Bible) The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus by John Dominic  Crossan (2012). Bible scholar Amy-Jill Levine says of this book, “Crossan recovers the profundity, and the provocation, of the biblical tradition.” Crossan is one of the foremost Jesus scholars alive today as well as being a theologian, bible scholar, and historian. Crossan examines both the tales that Jesus imagined to make moral and spiritual points, as well as what was later imagined about Jesus pretty early in the development of the Christian tradition. Crossan argues that much of what we read about Jesus was always intended to be read as parable rather than history.
(Theology) Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity by David M.  Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy (2012). Using the wisdom of top Christian scholars and progressive leaders, this book is an excellent introduction a progressive view of the Christian message and life.
(Self-Help) The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy (1963) is a classic but its message is timeless and universal. Learn how to tap into the power of your subconscious mind to improve health, develop peace of mind, solve problems, and experience more happiness in your life.

December: (Bible) Meditations on the Good News: Reading the Bible for Today by Debra Haffner (2013). This Unitarian Universalist minister offers readings of scripture that are life-giving and liberating rather than cumbersome and fearful. She says, “As I begun studying Scripture, I felt joy to learn that the bible has hundreds of passages in which God is delighted with us. It is replete with messages that life is to be enjoyed here and now…”
(Theology) Science and the Search for God by Gary Kowalski (2003). Praised by scientists and theologians, this easy to read book by a Harvard educated minister suggests that science and religion are natural allies and both can help us move beyond materialism to a worldview that embraces “consciousness and spirit.”
(Self-Help) Help-Thanks-Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott (2012). A writer and deeply spiritual person, Lamott believes that prayer ought to be kept simple. Her simple and sweet book of about 100 pages makes that case quite well.

Buy these books from Amazon by using the Amazon icon on the Buy & Donate page at