wlotus: (Rainbow Cross)
That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

Read the rest of Bishop Tutu's op-ed piece in the Washington Post...
wlotus: (Rainbow Cross)
An inspiring essay by Bishop John Shelby Spong, dated Thursday, 15 October 2009.

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
By RICHARD A. FRIEDMAN, M.D.
Published: October 19, 2009


...

A patient of mine, a lovely woman in her 60s whom I treated for depression, recently asked my advice about how to deal with her aging mother.

"She’s always been extremely abusive of me and my siblings," she said, as I recall. "Once, on my birthday, she left me a message wishing that I get a disease. Can you believe it?"

Over the years, she had tried to have a relationship with her mother, but the encounters were always painful and upsetting; her mother remained harshly critical and demeaning.

Whether her mother was mentally ill, just plain mean or both was unclear, but there was no question that my patient had decided long ago that the only way to deal with her mother was to avoid her at all costs....

Read the rest...


I have some close friends and online-only acquaintances who seem to have truly toxic parents. While it is great to try to work out family issues, sometimes one's family is simply too attached to their dysfunction, and the dysfunction is far too toxic to justify continued exposure to them. Breaking ties (at least for a while) can be hard to do, but it can also be the healthiest thing you can do for yourself, if you are in that position.
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
Yesterday's Daily Om was just what I needed to read at this phase of my life.
The Wisdom of Fear )
wlotus: (Exorcism)
The media loves to stir up drama where there is none. Case in point...

Screaming Headline: Michael Jackson memorial cost L.A. $1.4 million

Quiet Details: "Los Angeles officials say Tuesday's memorial service for Michael Jackson cost the city $1.4 million to cover security, traffic control, and other services, according to the Associated Press. The figure includes $1.1 million in overtime pay for the 4,173 police officers securing the Staples Center, Forest Lawn cemetery, and other areas that attracted fans and media, the Police Department said in a statement."

Let's get this straight, people: the Jackson family paid for Michael Jackson's memorial service, like any family does for their loved one. The city of L.A. paid for the police presence, etc., based on what THE CITY felt it would need for crowd control. Furthermore, any city does this when a celebrity who generally draws crowds comes to town. If Mother Theresa's funeral had been held in L.A., there would have been a significant cost for crowd control. When Aaliyah's funeral was held in NYC there was an increased police presence--those police barricades keeping fans back from the church did not appear on their own, nor did they stay up of their own volition--at the very least to escort her coffin in the horse-drawn carriage. But of course, the media is not saying that. Instead, the media is twisting things to make it sound as though L.A. paid for the memorial service of the media's favorite whipping boy...who, by the way, is not around any longer to defend himself. And I am sure his family has much better things to do (like comfort one another during this grieving period and look after his kids) than to waste time defending themselves against the media spin machine.

In short, don't believe the hype!
wlotus: (Stupid People)
10 September 2008
By: Ross Wolinsky

"The rise of social media has made it easier than ever to keep in touch with friends, relatives and coworkers. With a few keystrokes you can reconnect with an old high school buddy, learn what your coworker’s favorite band is, or play Scrabble with a friend who lives on the other side of the globe.

"But while increased connectivity is an undeniably good thing, you can just as easily use it to annoy the living hell out of everyone you know. This is the internet, after all, and if something on the internet can be used in an annoying way, you can safely assume that 99% of the population will proceed to do so (go try reading a comment on YouTube if you don’t believe me).

"People need rules to tell them how to act. Luckily I went to the top of Mount Internet last night, and God handed me down these 10 Commandments of Facebook for all to obey. Follow them or you’ll go to hell."

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!


All I can say is amen, and hallelujah!
wlotus: (Photography)
Every month, National Geographic staff photographer Mark Thiessen answers your photography questions—and spills the secrets behind the shots.

Widely published in books and magazines, Thiessen has been on staff at National Geographic since 1997. He's covered subjects from the discovery of the U.S.S. Yorktown to the search for other Earths. He's also a certified wildland firefighter.


It is exciting to read through his answers, learn new things, and get confirmation that I am on the right track. In July, Thiessen answered questions on ISO, shooting modes, and equipment, among other things.
wlotus: (Atlas Shrugged)
By SCOTT ANDERSON
Published: July 6, 2008
Is suicide the deadly result of a deep psychological condition — or a fleeting impulse brought on by opportunity?
“What was immediately apparent,” Rosen recounted, “was that none of them had truly wanted to die. They had wanted their inner pain to stop; they wanted some measure of relief; and this was the only answer they could find. They were in spiritual agony, and they sought a physical solution.”

If more people understood the truth of that statement, there would be more compassion for people who have experienced suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.



wlotus: (A Woman's Place)
New York Times
Published: June 5, 2008

In a nation indifferent to the sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, no wonder a film like "Sex and the City" is a hit.

"Is it a coincidence that the bubbling idiocy of “Sex and the City,” the movie, exploded upon the cultural scene at the exact same time that Hillary Clinton’s candidacy imploded?

Literally, of course, it is. Figuratively, I’m not so sure."

Read the rest...
wlotus: (A Woman's Place)
I agree with every word, including her reasons for supporting Senator Clinton, whom I also support.

THE woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy....

Read the rest...

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