Tag Archives: love

Thoughts for Thursday

The Good, Great Man

BY SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

      “How seldom, friend! a good great man inherits
      Honour or wealth with all his worth and pains!
It sounds like stories from the land of spirits
If any man obtain that which he merits
      Or any merit that which he obtains.”
REPLY TO THE ABOVE
   For shame, dear friend, renounce this canting strain!
What would’st thou have a good great man obtain?
Place? titles? salary? a gilded chain?
Or throne of corses which his sword had slain?
Greatness and goodness are not means, but ends!
Hath he not always treasures, always friends,
The good great man? three treasures, LOVE, and LIGHT,
      And CALM THOUGHTS, regular as infant’s breath:
And three firm friends, more sure than day and night,
      HIMSELF, his MAKER, and the ANGEL DEATH!
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Happy Bisexuality Day!!

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I need to be 100% honest and admit that I was guilty of thinking a lot of the things  posted in the image above.  I just didn’t get it.  Like almost all prejudices, until I met someone I deeply trusted and respected that was bisexual I thought it was just something that people who liked to have sex with everyone said they were.  I see now how utterly rude and condescending that notion is but I need to be honest and say that I felt that way.

In what part of the psyche does that judgmental nature call home?  Is there a way to unlearn it without having to go through that step where you sound like an asshole until you figure it out?  I am very thankful to my friend who showed me the capacity to love people and not gender.  She has made me realize that type of approach to love is something we all need more of.  That doesn’t sound selfish or greedy to me, it sounds pretty flipping remarkable!!

So Happy Bisexuality Day to all my bi friends!!  I hope today someone else gets opened up to the beauty of bisexuality and is able to see it for what it is, a gift from God that allows one to find an enduring love in someone regardless of their gender.

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Preach

pope-francis_originalPope Francis said this:

This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity 

That’s pretty awesome. Break out, people. Dare to ask each other to be better for the sake of the Gospel. Dare to hold one another accountable. Dare to do so with grace and mercy. Dare  to do so with difficult, transformative love.

Read more about how Pope Francis continues to rock the Catholic Church.

Love and Death

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The past few days I’ve been watching all of the Harry Potter movies again. I finished the books last week, and so it made sense to have a Harry Potter movie marathon while Denise is out of town at a retreat. I especially enjoyed the last two books. They are highly entertaining and also kind of all about death and love.

About a week before Denise left on her retreat we stood in Washington Square Park and I gave her a plastic engagement ring (she’s Brazilian and didn’t really want an engagement ring) and asked her to marry me. I was nervous. She said yes.

And today I am sitting outside on this gorgeous day in the churchyard, which is really a graveyard. Someone is mowing the grass and there are construction sounds and I’m feeling pretty grateful to be alive among the living and the dead, those who have lived and loved and been laid to rest here.

It seems to me that these two things are at the heart of religion: love and death, that with God’s help we overcome our fears about the future, about the uncertainty and the uncertainties of life, and choose to love.

How can I keep from singing?

I get chills and can barely choke out the words whenever we sing this hymn.

[there are tons of versions of this song, but this was the one that most satisfied my inner church lady… plus, holy moly, it is beautiful and you can really see the joy on everyone’s faces as they sing.]

Lyrics:

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Thro’ all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
What tho’ my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it;
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his—
How can I keep from singing?

Those are the original lyrics as published in 1868, I think in a lot of the modern versions some of the words get rearranged or substituted.

When I find myself overwhelmed with life, stress, housework, cat litter needing to be changed, friends to be phoned, work to be done, etc. etc. etc., songs like this one remind me that there is joy and love and gratefulness in everything.

Life

As I watch this trailer my heart is breaking and mending cyclically in a way that only Spike Jonze makes possible. It’s partially the music in his movies with voices that verge on tears, partially the monsters he creates and then makes you love, and partially the willingness to hold nothing back. But all together it makes for something untouchable.

While I, of course, haven’t actually seen the movie (it opens Nov. 20), “Her” crosses a frontier that probably makes a lot of us uncomfortable. Begging the questions: what is love? and how do we love?,  it also asks the bigger question, what is life?

Between technological advances, medical and political debates and extraterrestrial exploration the question is a relevant one. What is Life? How do we define it? Does it have to be carbon based? Does it have to die? Does it have to be “conscious” in the way we are conscious? or does it simply have to be? And once we have defined it, what does it mean to honor it? 

I’m uninterested in sparking a debate here on abortion or various forms of research, what I am interested in is how definitions of life restrict or expand our understanding of the infinite creativity present in the creation. If God truly is “I am,” that is, being itself, than everything that exists both reflects and honors that foundation.

So while I may pity Theodor Twombly in “Her,” I also hear Samantha discovering, beautifully discovering, the life that is already hers. She is perhaps  not so far off into our future, how will we receive her? Alive?

(A good friend, the Rev. Dr. Lucas Mix who is both Episcopal Priest and astrobiologist will be studying the definition of life in both theology and science through Harvard’s biology department over the next couple years. I’ll try to interject insights from him from time to time as his research progresses)

George Saunders and Love

In the tradition of great writers giving graduation speeches, a speech by George Saunders has been going around. It includes a lot of good advice, which boils down to “err on the side of kindness.” It’s lovely and affecting.

I’d like to highlight a couple of paragraphs that I think are helpful to any young adult trying to figure things out. First this:  

“If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.”

This is something I’ve had to learn, and I don’t think I’m alone. Not too seriously, of course, but you are an adult now, and maybe it’s time to stop making all those self-deprecating jokes that hide your insecurities, to stop laughing off all your faults as quirks, and to just do better, because you know you can do better. To some this comes naturally. To others it takes some work.

This is the second thing:

“As you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.”

Which sounds to me a bit like John the Baptist out in the desert shouting “He must increase and I must decrease.” He being Christ, or God, or Love, and I being all the stuff that gets in the way of Love – selfishness and pettiness and anger and hate.

Err on the side of kindness, friends. It’s good advice. Or put another way, Love one another. Do it now. 

Only Love Can Save You

Finding Right and Fighting Fear

This chart is an amazing piece of work. The original posting is even better because it is interactive.

AW - Chart - Gay rights rainbow wheel

I can only imagine what this chart looked like when I came out a decade ago, or when Ellen came out and lost her show 15 years ago, or when Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was signed into law 20 years ago.

How far we’ve come! I am really grateful to be alive now.

But I am still afraid, nonetheless, because an animal cornered always fights the hardest. And it has only been in this last year even that the homophobic, the bigots, the old guard have been dethroned and declared a minority.  That’s a scary place to be — especially when you’re used to holding the power.

That’s a place from which people speak absurdly and strike out violently, a place where fear becomes the driving force, rather than reason, or much less, love.

As I move back to the South, from a maxed out wedge on the chart (WA) to its near inverse (NC), I pray for a love that conquers fear, both in myself and in  the grieving and displaced. I pray that just as I have fought to defend my own humanity, I will be compassionate enough to recognize the humanity of those who would do me harm, emotional, physical, and legal.

I’m relatively sure I’ll be safe in Durham, that the aura of the academy will protect me to some degree, but I hope I’ll be brave enough to stand with those who aren’t protected by that privilege, to lend courage to those who need it and compassion to those who fear.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. – 1 John 4:18

My Ex-Gay Salvation

exgayThis week I found out I’m in a book I would have fought to be in had I known it was being written. The book is Jeff Chu’s Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage In Search of God in America. It is a collection of stories about the diversity of Christian responses to homosexuality in the US. The stories range from the Episcopal Church’s first lesbian bishop Mary Glasspool to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Chu writes so as to humanize each perspective, making it probably the most Christian book on homosexuality around. On page 123 he writes:

When he was in college, he became close with another Christian guy who was wrestling with these issues of theology and sexuality. “We really enjoyed hanging out with each other. It felt good to be desired,” he says. “But I just couldn’t reconcile it with what I believed, and I told him I wasn’t ready to decide anything.” He looks a little wistful, a little sad. Continue reading