Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Oppressed See Revolution; The Oppressors See Riots

To the holders of privilege and keepers of power,
the American Revolution was terrorist, guerrilla warfare;
the Boston Tea Party was a thuggish riot destroying property;
the first students of color integrating southern high schools and universities were trouble makers;
and Stonewall was a bunch of violent, gender-bending freakish reprobates rioting in the streets and threatening the police.
Those who benefit from the status quo are often quicken to demonize those who have been harmed by the status quo when the harmed finally say "enough" in the only way they can be heard.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let There Be Peace

So much swirling through my mind today: concern for the people of Nepal, hope for peace in war torn areas, sadness for the turmoil in Baltimore, awareness of perpetual injustice that leads to protests than grow into riots, optimism for nationwide marriage equality, caution about new attempts at discrimination that will likely follow. With so much going on in the world, I offer this prayer from the Buddhist tradition for the whole world: "May we be filled with loving-kindness; may we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease; may we be happy" and this prayer by Masahisa Goi: "May peace prevail on earth." Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Another prayer for Marriage Equality

All-inclusive, unconditional, divine Love,
Eternal Mother, Father, and Friend,
Goddess of justice/Lord of liberty,
Source of peace, hope, and joy,
Omnipresent spirit of life,
Heartbeat of all people,
Field of all possibilities,
Song of the universe,
Pure consciousness,
Infinite compassion,
Inward light,

We pray today for marriage equality in the United States. It exists in many states, and in some nations, and now we dare to hope that it will be a reality throughout this country.

We pray that all loving, adult couples who wish to marry will have the opportunity to do so, that they may love and care for each other within legally recognized unions.

The US Supreme Court will hear a case and in the weeks or months that follow will make a decision that could make marriage be an equal right rather than a heterosexual privilege. And if they do so, that will be very good news for same-gender loving people all over the world.
It might inspire other countries to legalize marriage regardless of the gender identities of people in love.
It might give LBGT people hope and courage as they struggle for safety and equality in their various homelands.
And it will send a message to same-gender loving people of all ages throughout the US that the blessings and responsibilities, security and opportunities of marriage can be theirs, complete with every legal protection they deserve.

We stand at the threshold of a great, new day.
Let the sacred value of all people be affirmed.
Let the dignity of every person be recognized.
Let the goodness of mutual love be celebrated.
Let there be liberty and justice for ALL.

In the names of lovers and healers, justice workers and peacemakers,
in the names of those who have been vilified, marginalized, persecuted or oppressed simply because they were gay or lesbian,
in the names of all who have dared to speak out in favor of justice-love and equality,
in the names of all who have “come out”,
in the names of those who longed to “come out” but somehow could not,
in the names of those who refused to give up religion even when religion seemed to give up on them,
in the names of every loving couple who formed a spiritual marriage even though the state would not recognize it,
in the names of those who never gave up hope that marriage equality would come to pass and that love would prevail,
in the names of all helpers of humanity we pray.


Prayers for Marriage Equality

Invocation by Durrell Watkins
One: Equality is on our minds today, Holy One. We are grateful for the victories we have won. We are hopeful for the future. We spend this hour in this holy place praying for marriage equality, praying for justice, praying for good news, in your many names. 
All: Amen.

Prayer for SCOTUS Marriage Equality Decision by Durrell Watkins
One: Goddess of Love, Lord of Life,
Mother of Possibilities, Father of Hope,
Spirit of Justice, Wind of Positive Change,
Fire of Courage, Wave of Right Relationship,
Ground of All Being,
We dare to embrace optimism today.
We choose to believe that Right Action is at hand.
We pray for the Supreme Court to protect the rights of all people, to uphold the ideal of liberty and justice for ALL.
We affirm that marriage equality is right and good, and it must and it will become the law of the land.
The time is right. Let Love prevail! In the name of all that is good and holy we pray. 
All: Amen.

Inter-religious Litany for Marriage Equality by Durrell Watkins 

(using Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist sources)
One: Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu…
All: Blessed are you, our sovereign God!
One: We know that love is divine.
All: And so we pray for love to prevail, for all genuine, mutual love to be recognized and protected.
One: Om gum ganapatayei namaha.
All: We revere That Which is Holy and we know It can remove all obstacles and grant us blessings.
One: Om mani padme hum.
All: May compassion and loving-kindness guide the leaders of our nation.
One: Nam myoho renge kyo.
All: We are devoted to the Law of Love.
One: Gate gate paragate, parasamgate bhodi svaha.
All: We will keep moving forward, all the way to enlightenment and joy.
One: All shall be well; all shall be well…
All: And all manner of things shall be well.
One: We pray for marriage equality.
All: We pray for liberty and justice for all.
One: Alleluia! Shanti. Shalom. Blessed be.
All: Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

a prayer for today

"Spirit of Life,
Our hearts go out today to the people of Nepal as they rebuild their lives following the earthquake.
We are mindful also of unrest in cities all over the country as lethal brutality by police against unarmed African American men is brought to our awareness more and more. We are thankful for the many brave peace officers who serve us faithfully and well even as we hope that those who abuse power and target minorities will be held accountable. We choose to believe in and hope for restorative justice.
We know that the US Supreme Court is hearing important cases, including the case that could settle the issue of marriage equality in this country. We affirm the dignity and sacred value of all people as we hold to the ideal of liberty and justice for ALL. May marriage equality be the law of the land throughout our country very soon and may we never wrap our fears, ignorance, prejudice or hatreds in the language of nationalism, religion, or "security" but rather let us value and celebrate the beauty of diversity.
And we continue to pray for cures to be found for diseases, for the wisdom to care for our good Earth, for children and the elderly to be safe, for compassion to guide us, for hope to sustain us, and for peace to prevail on earth. Amen."  - Rev Dr Durrell Watkins

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fundamentalists, Please, Just Stop

I can't stand it! Would the hateful fundies of the world just crawl into a hole somewhere, please! First of all, read a book for crap's sake! You don't get to call same-gender love and attraction a "destructive lifestyle"...overeating is a destructive lifestyle, not exercising is a destructive lifestyle, drinking to excess is a destructive lifestyle, but getting weak in the knees at the sight of a sweaty muscle man (or sweaty muscle woman for the lesbians) is just life; and falling in love with anyone, regardless of gender identities, is just damn special - a wonderful blessing! No credible mental health organization would agree that same-gender attraction is disordered. So, mean ol' fundies, you're just making shit up and please quit it.
And secondly, "the word of god" that is supposed to settle the matter in favor of your bigotry also tells us that Noah's family with their limited gene pool repopulated the entire earth (after creating a floating zoo big enough for every species), that a chatty snake fooled a naive couple into eating magic fruit which somehow screwed up the whole world, that a 90 year old woman got knocked up (don't get me started on pregnant virgins), that some dude lived inside a fish for half a week (as so often happens), that angels seduced a bunch of women (and their off-spring were diabolical giants), that Lot had incest with both of his daughters after offering them to a rape gang (and that story is supposed to be one of the "proofs" that god hates gays!), that pork chops and shrimp cocktail are sin-food, that Jesus snatched his pal Lazarus out of heaven just because he missed him...
The point is...NO ONE takes everything in the bible literally (even the most marginal sanity would forbid it), so to pretend that your misreading of half a dozen verses that are 2000-3000 years old "proves" that gay is naughty just makes you look ridiculous. Enough with the biblical gay bashing (and every other kind). Seriously, just freaking enough.
Slow exhale...

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Will Right Wing Christians Support "Religious Freedom" Based Discrimination When They Are Its Victims?

This is a response to someone who defended the "religious freedom" bills that are meant to allow discrimination against LBGT people. He insisted that same-gender coupling was "sinful" (I strongly disagree) and said that while we should always be polite to people, we shouldn't be forced to participate in same-sex weddings (as if selling flowers or cakes or tuxes to people was "participating" in their nuptials). He further stated that while Jesus associated with "sinners" he probably didn't pay prostitutes for sex or steal people's donkeys. I responded with one of my more verbose rants. It follows:

Actually, the Palm Sunday story features Jesus having his disciples steal a donkey. But, there were so many Messianic figures in the first century that was a common case the next Messianic claimant was really the one, if they asked for an animal to ride, one usually just let them have it...though, the stories don't show the disciples asking, just taking, and when they are caught and asked, "what are you doing?" only then do they say, "The Teacher has need of it." But, Jesus wasn't the literalist that many of his later followers pretend to be.

Secondly, Jesus may not have paid for sex (though we can't know), but his ancestor (Tamar's father-in-law) certainly did (with Tamar, who is listed in Jesus' genealogy) fact, ALL of the women in his genealogy are associated with Taboo activity (Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes, Ruth was a pagan Moabite, Mary was an unwed mother)...that Matthew makes a point of showing Jesus' less than pristine lineage shows that Jesus comes from earthy stock...of course the men were pretty gritty too...Solomon with 1000 sexual partners, David who was a murderer and a rapist, Boaz who seems pretty gay to me, etc.

Thirdly, these scriptural and theological discussions are IRRELEVANT for civil law. We aren't a theocracy. All citizens should have equal opportunity and equal protection. Religion shouldn't even be part of the discussion. We already have religious freedoms...we can worship anywhere in anyway or not at all. We are at choice. But religion can't be an excuse to discriminate against others in public life (and business and politics are public life). We settled the issue of if diners could refuse service to people because of race long ago...can they now refuse service to Muslims, atheists, gays, single mothers, non-citizens...NO. 

If Christian Business Owner doesn't agree with abortion, then she shouldn't have one, is free to pray for unwed mothers, donate money to anti-abortion "counseling" services, but is not free to say "I won't sell you my product because i heard you had an abortion." When you open a business, the social contract is that you will serve the public without discrimination. You don't have to agree with Hindus, but you can't deny them service. You don't have to understand that sexual orientation is innate and not chosen, but your ignorance of sexual diversity isn't a reason to refuse service to LBGT people. You can think atheists are on a fast train to hell, but you can't humiliate them by denying them service in this life. If I sell you flowers or cake or a veil that you will use at your wedding that i don't understand or like, that doesn't imply that I agree with you, only that I don't use my personal prejudice as an excuse to humiliate or dehumanize you. You have a business, gays want to support your business (but if they know how you feel about them, I wonder why they would), and that's that. YOu aren't allowed to use your business to force your religious values on others (or to punish them for now sharing your beliefs).

You can even let the Bully Some Homos for Christ Club put posters advertising their next meeting in your window, but you can't refuse to do business with someone just because they are the target of the BSHFCC.

These onerous and odious "freedom" bills are a petty backlash against marriage equality. In the end, they will be ruled unconstitutional (and are already proving to be vastly unpopular) and those who wish to marginalize same-gender loving people will have to find new and more novel approaches to do so. 

One final point: Sauce for the Christian goose is sauce for the non-Christian gander. Will the Christians who assume these new bills give them a blank check to dehumanize same-gender loving people, be as supportive of the laws when Muslim business owners refuse to do business with "Christian infidels", when Wiccan shop-keeps refuse service to anyone driving an Earth harming SUV, when Christian Science teachers won't send your injured child to the school nurse, when Gay Christians won't serve homophobes...If religion is the legal excuse to deny service, then any religion can be used to deny service to anyone...will Right Wing Christians support the law when it is used against them?

Resumes Matter in Politics

I hate to sound elitist (not enough to prevent myself from sounding elitist)...but resumes matter. The people of my homeland (AR) elected Asa Hutchinson (or failed to vote, which is even worse) knowing that he is a graduate of Bob Jones University (founded by someone who was not himself a college graduate for the sole purpose of making sure Conservative Christians wouldn't be "contaminated" by such scientific discoveries as evolution), a bastion of fundamentalism, misogyny, racism, and homophobia. If he has not publicly and repeatedly repudiated his undergraduate indoctrination, then one should assume that his biases are usually in favor of oppressive positions and policies. We must know WHO we are voting for, and, we must VOTE. Otherwise, the foolishness of Mike H and Asa H will be standard fare. Young people tend to be more progressive, but also more disenfranchised from the political process. We have to get our young liberal supporters to the voting booth!!! (even as the Far Right attempts to make voting less convenient)

I understand that in response to public outcry, he has sent the Religious Freedom bill back to the legislature for some clean up work (so, hooray for raising our voices), but it should come as no surprise that without such public protests the onerous bill would probably have been enacted without delay.

Meanwhile, there is more work to do. About half the country now has similar laws that have passed or are being proposed. Freedom of Religion is already guaranteed in this country. We don't need religious freedom laws which are usually nothing more than an attempt to legalize discrimination against marginalized groups of people.