Friday, March 27, 2015

"Religious Freedom" Discrimation Bills are Oppressive, Plain and Simple

I'm glad there is such an outcry against Indiana's law allowing discrimination based on religion (discrimination is discrimination whether or not you blame it on a deity), and I hope that the other 18 states with similar laws will experience a similar backlash (including ARKANSAS). These laws are fueled by homophobia, but once in place, anyone could refuse service to anyone else for any reason as long as they claimed it was for religious purposes...Muslims, women, divorcees, people who work at women's clinics, Jews, Catholics, Atheists, smokers, drinkers, women who wear makeup, biracial families, one is safe. All anyone would need to claim is "my religion says YOU are bad". Hatred of gays allowed these laws to pass, but it would be naive to believe they will be limited to gays (and even if they were, discrimination against one group is problematic enough). From women's suffrage to anti-Semitism to Jim Crow to sodomy laws...this battle has been fought over and over. When will this nation grow past the need to marginalize, control, belittle, or exclude groups of people (and how many times can we cling to such hatefulness in the name of a deity???). These laws make religion seem irrelevant (if not dangerous) and government seem ineffective (if not tyrannical). Write letters. Share Tweets. Vote in ALL elections (not just national). And limit spending in the places that are presenting bigotry as "religious freedom."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Religion & Gays...Better, Not Perfect

One can no longer assume that Religion is the enemy of same-gender loving and gender non-conforming people. The Quakers and the Unitarian Universalists and the Swedenborgians, the UCC (United Church of Christ...though I have encountered parishes that didn't share their denomination's inclusive rhetoric), Rev Dr Carter Heward and Bishop John Spong and Bishop Barbara Harris and Bishop Gene Robinson (and finally the Episcopal Church overall, more or less), Centers for Spiritual Living, various "Old Catholic" (not Roman) communities, many Buddhist groups, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, and finally Conservative Judaism, Alliance of Baptists, Disciples of Christ, and now ELCA Lutherans and PCUSA Presbyterians, and since day 1 MCC (Metropolitan Community Churches) have all stepped up to be friends, allies, and advocates of LBGT people. What great progress! But marriage equality isn't universal yet, and even where it is legal, there are other efforts to enshrine discrimination against LBGT folk (married or not). And fundamentalist rhetoric is as hateful and soul-destroying as ever. So please don't allow homophobia to convince you that there isn't more work to do, that lives don't still hang in the balance, that Justice has finally had Her way. Moderate to Liberal religious folk are more welcoming and more vocal about it, but that isn't a cue for any of us to retreat into the comfort of closets. The world still needs our voice, our witness, our work.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vernal Equinox...Blessed Be

Today marks the Vernal Equinox. In ancient, earth-based, goddess traditions, the deity Ostara (Germanic) or Eostre (Northumbrian) or Eastre (Old English), whose name inspired our word "Easter," was honored with painted eggs and symbols of hares (bunnies)...both symbols of fertility, new life (both still used in Easter celebrations). The Equinox marks a shift in seasons when days start getting longer (and hopefully, in cold places, warmer) and flora starts to bloom again (life emerges from Winter's tomb). Spiritually, it's a time to embrace personal renewal, to be reminded that all things are made new, that life is resilient, and that beauty always returns. Wishing everyone a meaningful Equinox and beautiful days to follow. Bright Blessings!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mourning the Loss of Moderate (and more importantly, SANE) Republicans

There was a time when Republicans were considered classist because they tended to be well educated, secular, intellectual, fiscally moderate to conservative, and wanting a well equipped but seldom used military. They worked in a bi-partisan way to create social safety nets, and yes they favored business but usually without demonizing or intentionally  marginalizing the poor. Corporate types might be Republican and Labor types might be Democrat (though there were Republican Union members and super rich  Democrats), but Republicans weren't necessarily mean, and certainly weren't anti-science or fundamentalist. I bristle when people say "I hate Republicans" or "Republicans hate the poor" or "Republicans are a cult" because I remember when that simply was not true. But, the spirit of the once vocal and completely odious Dixiecrats has in the last generation taken over the leadership of the Republican party. The fair minded, strong but peace loving intellectuals that once dominated the GOP have gone the way of the dinosaurs, which the current GOP leadership is likely to deny having ever existed. Though my left of center leanings mean that I would rarely ever vote Republican, I am sad that I can't respect or trust the party as a whole. One should be able to like one's philosophical opponents, but this incarnation of Republicanism (hijacked by fundamentalists and tea partiers and Fox news) has made it impossible to take them seriously except as a threat. My condolences to the Teddy Roosevelt and Nixon and Ford Republicans...your party was stolen from you and I grieve for your loss. Our country is worse off as a result. (dw)

Death Penalty for Child Abusers?

In response to the question, "Should the death penalty be an option for pedophiles and those who kill children?" I recently wrote:

In the millennia of human history, violence for violence has never decreased violence. Of course child abusers, rapists, murderers, elder abusers, animal abusers (pick a reprehensible behavior) should be held accountable, but state sanctioned murder won't fix the problems (nor give the state the moral authority to tackle them). Capital punishment feels good to our primitive impulses, but has never solved any social problem and never will.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Congress' Shameful Behavior

The Speaker inviting a foreign leader to speak to Congress without conferring with the White House...47 US Senators trying to sabotage presidential attempts to negotiate with Iran...
The GOP leadership in Congress is waging an attempted coup. It makes me angry because of the blatant (and let's be honest, racist) disrespect of a president I very much admire; but as importantly, if they are successful in weakening the president, they will have also been effective in weakening the office of the president, and that will be devastating for our democracy (POTUS is the only office all Americans get to vote for). Pres Obama is too smart and too strong to let them succeed with their treasonous attempts, but I am furious that they try so diligently.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

God Beyond Theism (What Some of the Great Thinkers Have Said)


Omnipresence, the All-Presence, the Presence that is always present! The Presence dwells everywhere even to the uttermost parts of the Universe, now and forever.  What is our name for Omnipresence – “The Presence that filleth all?” [Eph 1.23]. We love to speak of it as God…Infinite Mind, Source and Cause, Principle. It, in fact, makes but little difference what name we use; the vital matter is that we…live in the consciousness of It.Nona Brooks (Divine Science pioneer, Short Lessons in Divine Science)

God is not person, but principle.” Charles Fillmore (Co-Founder of the Unity Church, The Revealing Word)

Each one of us is inseparably one with God, the source and substance of life and wisdom and every good.” Myrtle Fillmore (Co-Founder of the Unity Church, Healing Letters)

In Divine Science the term ‘Omnipresence’ is used more than any other word, and it is really the foundation principle of all our work. Wherever we use the term Omnipresence, we mean to convey…the eternal fact of the all-inclusive, all-pervading, all-infilling, all-sustaining Life, which [humans have] pleased to call or name ‘God’, and of which [we are each] a part.” Daisy Baum (early Divine Science teacher, Studies in Divine Science)

God is invisible energy which permeates all that is.” William Warch (author, The New Thought Christian)

God: The First Cause, the Great I Am, the Unborn One, the Uncreated…the One and Only. Spirit, or the Creative Energy which is the cause of all visible things. Love, Wisdom, Intelligence, Power, Substance, Mind.” Ernest Holmes (author, The Science of Mind)

[A]n eternally existing substance, uncreated and never-ceasing motion, infinite time and infinite space, are inseparably connected. Any particular substance, motion, interval or space must be part a great unitary whole which includes yet transcends them all…[T]here is one, and only one, eternal, omnipresent Reality, whence came all that ever existed, or ever will exist, which includes and is all that ever proceeds from it, the one, ultimate, all-embracing Cause…It is self-existent, uncreated, indestructible, at once the basis and the essence of all being, the once source to which all activity is ultimately traceable.” Horatio W. Dresser (early New Thought philosopher, influenced by the work of Phineas P. Quimby, The Power of Silence)

God is the principle responsible for all creation. The Principle cannot abandon the creation, without the creation ceasing to be. So, truly, God is in all things…This God is…an indwelling Spirit, ever eager to find expression through creation – through you.” William L. Fischer (author, Alternatives: New Approaches to Traditional Christian Beliefs)

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions; of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible.” (from the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England)

“…God is called the being as being or the ground and the power of being…” Paul Tillich (Protestant Theologian)

Apparently humans everywhere and at all times have concepts of a power [or] idea…that lies beyond everything. This idea…is called God.William Hendricks (Protestant Theologian)

God is…Living Intelligence…God is universal, infinite Mind. God is Spirit. Spirit is vital essence, formless, radiant, vibrant, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient…God is stable Principle…The Creator is absolute Good…God is infinite Being…God is the originating cause and the continuing source of all life, all being, all creation. God is at the same time the supporter and the support in its essence and basis. God is the creator and moves within the creation unceasingly.” Helen Zagat (author, Faith & Works)

As inadequate and confused as the god metaphor may be in the Christian tradition, no other word has yet appeared to replace it.James Rowe Adams (Episcopal priest, founder of The Center for Progressive Christianity, From Literal to Literary: The Essential Reference Book for Biblical Metaphors)

We must get away from this theistic supernatural God that imperils our humanity and come back to a God who permeates life so deeply that our humanity becomes the very means through which we experience the Divine Presence.” Bishop John S. Spong (retired Episcopal bishop)

“…much of 20th century theology…tended (1) to recognize all statements about God as poetic and metaphorical rather than factual and literal; (2) to delve for divine images in women’s experience, in nature, and in Asia’s great non-theistic religions; and thus (3) to emphasize God’s immanence, intimacy, and dynamic relationship to the universe, rather than the traditional theistic attributes of transcendence, remoteness, and static perfection. With the increasing dialogue between the great religious traditions of the Occident and Orient, these trends will almost certainly continue.Paul A. Laughlin (religion scholar, Remedial Christianity: What Every Believer Should know about the Faith but Probably Doesn’t)

“…there is some minimal good, beauty in all life, including my own, and…what finally matters, even to me, is the life of the Whole, the Something that includes me, outlasts me (save as I contribute myself to it), and contains more good than I can distinctly imagine.” Charles Hartshorne (philosopher)

You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in one drop.” Rumi (poet)

I am an event. You are an event. So is a bear, a rainforest and the winding of the helix within us all. All are active participants within the bigger picture…[Some] would call that big picture God, a reality that includes all of us but is larger than any of us.” Gary Kowalski (Unitarian Universalist minister, Science and the Search for God)

If the idea of a personal god is incomprehensible to you, drop it. Substitute instead the idea of eternal Absolute Goodness…the ‘universal energy’…Thomas Shepherd (New Thought Theologian, Good Questions)

Our English word ‘God’ is derived from the German language and means ‘the good,’ but in the Near Eastern languages – Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic – the term ‘God’ has a deeper significance than simply ‘the good.’ The Aramaic Alaha, the Hebrew Elohim, and the Arabic Allah all come from the…root words AIL and EL, and mean ‘to aid,’ ‘to help,’ ‘to defend,’ ‘to sustain,’ and ‘to succor.’ The name of God in the biblical languages also has various subordinate applications which express the idea of might, power and strength. Thus, God is thought of as All Might, All Power and All Strength. And in the East in general God is understood as the very essence of all life and as the great Provider.” Rocco Errico (author, bible teacher, expert on Aramaic idioms and culture, Let There be Light)

God is all-pervading Spirit…our life, substance, intelligence and power is God. [God] is our love, truth, beauty and perfection.” Malinda Cramer (founder of Divine Science, Divine Science and Healing)