Category: Living Positively

One of the greatest things that we as artists, poets, songwriters, etc. are called to is the role of voice of the people.

In the early days – and I mean “in the beginning of music” song writers and musicians played a major role in the spiritual community. As time went on, bards and minstrels took on the social concerns of their day – as well as writing and singing love songs and carrying on the oral history through music.

Musicians became the “free speakers” of their time. Quite often able to speak up about injustice and other social issues. Many times they got away with it by making light of the escapades of those in power – in reality, they were really tearing away at the powers that be by informing their fellow citizens about the goings on in their world.

That was a very different time, but I am proud to say that the tradition lives on. A friend of mine emailed me a link to an mp3 file and it took me a few minutes fo figure out who the artist was.

It is a song called “Dear Mr. President” by Pink – featuring the Indigo Girls.

I will let the song speak for itself and Pink’s Story about the song to speak for themselves.

I have made a commitment to spread beauty. There is way too much hatred and ugliness in the world – I don’t think there is any need to spread more.

The one thing I think some people get uncomfortable about is death. According to many of them, death is to be feared and it is an an awful thing. We as Westerners spend way too much time trying to buy immortality.

For many of us, who see death as something that should be reserved for the old, will say that people died before their time.

But in reality, we all die at the appropriate time and the appropriate season.

If we are to truly embrace God and trust in God’s will in the world, we should also begin to respect the circle of life. We will not die until it is our time. The purposes and reasons of death are far too many to count.

For any Of the myriad of negative and horrible reasons we can find for death, there are just as many good and beautiful reasons. In the end it is a matter of perception.

I am in no way saying that there is not room for sorrow and grief, this is normal and good. But I would suggest that in some place during our grief, there must be room to celebrate life. In personal loss, how many wonderful things did our lost loved ones bring to our lives? How do we count the ways?

In mass death and destruction, to face the reality of it is to question why. I believe that we would be severely derelict in our responsibility to humanity to ignore such occurances. In my view, and this is only a simple observation – I could go on for days about this, but I will save that for a future post – In events of man-made destruction and death, like war, we are called to see the insanity and injustice of such actions. Jesus told us to love our enemies, not blow them into oblivion. And what about the innocents caught in the “crossfire?” Doesn’t the recognition that innocent blood is spilled underscore the incompatibility of war with Christian teaching? Ignoring the obvious “Turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies” the pain and destruction of human life and of God’s creation is just completely “un-Christ-like”

In natural disasters, esp. The ones of the previous twelve months, how often have we been reminded of the Lord’s commandment to do unto the least of these? How often have we been shown the complete disinterest of certain government officials to take responsibility for their failings; both in dealing with our own domestic watersides and in our failing to live up to our commitment to provide monetary aid to those suffering abroad because of earthquakes or tsunamis?

The revelation of how cruel, insensitive and hateful certain individuals and groups can be in both cases of man-made and natural disasters is one of the many gifts we receive from such horrible events.

Another is the mirror of the above revaluation. What is also brought to light in such events is just how good and caring people can be. The fact that there is still good in the world – a reminder that we need way too often in our day-to-day lives.

In the end, large scale disasters provide yet another opportunity for us to live in to the teachings of Christ, as well as hold people accountable for their failings which are brought to light during these times.

In between, I pray that we don’t forget the lessons we learned at such an exorbitant price.

In the long journey from the moment I lost the gift of my partner to AIDS to the present, I have come to the realization of the gift of his life and his death. In the least, for me, I have to say it simply, “I have loved.” Nothing has illustrated this as succinctly as a cycle of music titled “When We No Longer Touch.” If you read the background about this music you may begin to realize what I have learned. What I learned from him and others like him is this: we can make of our lives to others a gift from our hearts – we have that choice. The composer was facing his own death because of AIDS. What he decided to do was write his own requiem and in the process, he wrote something that has touched thousands of lives. The lyrics are based on the six phases of grief: Denial Anger Bargaining Depression Acceptance Hope and then the composer included the text from the Latin requiem mass. For me, along with helping me re-visit how I went through those phases after losing my partner, the composer also creates a thing of sheer beauty. After starting on a journey of self exploration that has come to my current point of striving for personal authenticity, I am in this place of being weary of being angry, hateful, and sometimes scared when I look at the world around me. I realized three basic things:

  1. Others are surely feeling the way I do – I’m not unique in my anxiety and my anger when I see all the injustice in the world.
  2. There are people in the world who are much better prepared to deal with the injustices and teach the Gospel and spread the Good News; standing on the street corner and protesting those who proclaim God’s word is “hatred” when necessary.
  3. God is ultimately in control and He has given me a specific task.

I believe I have finally come to a personal assurance of that task. I believe that in this crazy world, there need to be oases of calm and peace. There need to be places to take refuge from the storm. That rest is found in the Lord. I feel that with the help of the Spirit to guide me, I will try to provide some refuge. I hope to spread this art – my music and poetry – as far and wide as possible. Where does one start? Well that is another story for another post.

This was intended as a comment on Stephen Hanchett’s blog, but it got to be too long. It was in response to his post on the Family Values Cult, in which he discusses the difference between Christ’s teaching of love and family compared to the modern interpretation. I think you will find it helpful to read that post first, before reading this. Also, reading the comments to that post may help, but aren’t necessary. Sorry for the long silence… A few quick points: First: The difficulty expressed here in loving an omnipresent, “ineffable” (not really) God is that it makes it hard to know what to love…. I find it easier to start with what God gave us: His Son, Jesus Christ. He came to us as a man, and I often fall back on this when I get a little overwhelmed. To define God as anything, from “All Love” to “The Creator”, tends to do one thing – limit God. He (again, not really He) is these things and much more. If anything, we can say that God is ONE. the perfect unity, indivisible and yet innumerable. Second (and this is the LONG bit): I find it interesting that the “love” part tends to address the negation of the practices of the “Right.” But I have yet to see discussions of our own failing to live into the model of loving even those who would do us harm. I, as some of you know, will be the first to wear the “guilty” T-shirt and sit in the front of the “Love” remedial 101 class – if there ever were one. I am dying to see any attempt by either side to begin to find common ground and turn our backs on the hatred and bickering that almost everyone in these types of conversations is guilty of. Case in point: I have a buddy who has made it his mission to get the local divinity school to start recognizing and acknowledging the damage done to the LGBT community by their basically agreeing to the exclusion of said community from serving as clergy openly. This is a horrible over-simplification of the issue at hand, but I don’t want to get bogged down with the details and it isn’t this side of the equation I am trying to address. What I am trying to address is that the two “sides”, the administration of the school, and the LGBT and affirming allies are really so entrenched that my friend has his work cut out. On one side, you have administrators of a basically Methodist tradition that have a Discipline (Guiding rules) that states that all are of sacred worth and worthy to be ministered to. Then it turns around and says that any “self avowed, practicing homosexual” cannot be ordained as a minister as this “lifestyle” is against “Christian teaching.” (they fail to mention what that teaching is, however.) This results in an administration that is either too caught up in its own laws or refusing to take the high ground and acknowledge that this stance is wrong and it does more harm than good. Now that’s one side….. Then on the other side you have LGBT folks in div school and in the general population so badly hurt and suffering from these types of rules that they would just as soon go talk to a tree than to turn their eyes to God. After all, why bother with an entity that doesn’t acknowledge who you feel you were created to be? So deep are these polarizations that the very thought of open dialog seems so remote to me to be almost hopeless. I have even suggested to my friend that perhaps it would be best to tell the LGBT’s that organized “christianity” does not follow true Christian teaching and that they should follow God together apart from the “church” and be the Body. Yet he has decided to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and so I will be here for him if he needs me. My point is this: we can all rant and rave about how unjust and crooked the other is; how they cheat, murder, steal, and spread hatred….(Dem’s are just as guilty in my book – I gave up looking at this as a Dem/Rep Lib/Cons thing quite some time ago. I am Christian, period) But hold on a sec, how much hate and such are we spreading. Take some time out to look at some of the posts from the viewpoint of that question. how much is out there about the corruption and sins of the people we at least at one time supported? There is plenty of it out there, are we willing to acknowledge it and move on? Sure, I will grant you that the Administration is totally not taking responsibility for their actions, but won’t God take care of that if we can’t? I will grant that there is certainly room to complain and also to bring what really appears to be the Truth to light. But what will we do in between reading and posting? I don’t have the answer for that, I am asking. If we are dealing with the end times, shouldn’t we be living into the “Love” part, too? I mean, if the End is inevitable, shouldn’t we be focusing on trying to make this a world of love and not hate? More like Heaven than Hell? How much anger and negativity are we feeding into the world? Isn’t that a bit of a trap? David Icke said that people on opposite sides of a conflict like to think that they are complete opposites. In this case as long as both sides fight and argue, I have a hard time making a distinction – I am, of course talking about the general population and not the war criminals and crooks, their judgement will come and yes, we need to call for justice. There are plenty of people out there who only support these guys “just because.” How far could we get with a little diplomacy? In this case, the serenity prayer says it all. We can change the hearts and minds of those who will listen, but we have to reach them. We can never hope to change the behavior of those in power, much less any one else. We may never be able to vote them out of office. What is God’s plan? I think only God really knows. What happens if we don’t like the answer do that question? We can either pray and ask for acceptance and understanding or be miserable for the rest of our lives. As far as “preaching” goes, speak the truth in love. A friend of mine had three guidelines to keep in mind before saying something. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember what they are right now, but I will ask her and get back to you. It is correct to help guide someone when they are in error. But always be prepared to be receptive of correction, too. None of us are without fault. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I am far from getting the “Speaking the Truth in Love” thing down, but I am tired of being angry and I know that I can do more harm than good most of the time. I will be posting here more often, but the tone will change.

Events in my life over the past few weeks have led to a re-opening of some old emotional wounds that I had thought at least mostly healed. A friend of mine is dying of cancer, and I was deposed today in a “wrongful death” case of another friend. The funny thing is, that the friend dying of cancer really re-opened the memories of the loss of my partner Eric in ’94. I grieved his loss for a very long time and wondered how things could have been different. What has come from that though is I now look back on those times with fondness, and I often smile. Why? Because it is he who finally helped me see that I was loved and could love. We were together for 5 years and we never fought, we never raised our voices at each other – we had some discussions over differences of opinion, but we were both intelligent adults that knew how to work through the rough spots. We were AIDS activists in a small NC military town. We made a major difference. Our lives had purpose and we followed that purpose together. We had a wonderful life together. It is something I will never forget. I will always love him. That doesn’t mean I will never love that way again, it just means he will never leave my heart. In a concert on Saturday, June 18, I shared him with the audience. I believe I said his name and talked more about him in public than I had in the last 10 years. I am so thankful for my friends and my adopted “family” of brothers that have been here for me through all of this. I thank my band of brothers, Triangle Gay Men’s Chorus for helping me through and giving me the opportunity to tell them and our wonderful audience about Eric. I am also very thankful for the music of Mark Weigle. I had the opportunity to meet him last year and he has some wonderful insight into life. His music is a celebration of life and I thank him for it. I have a new-found peace about my love for Eric, I smile more when I think about him and our lives together. Remembering him is no longer about the loss, it is about the gift of love and life he gave me that I will never forget.

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