Monday, July 6, 2015

Disappointment


I have always said that my church, and my preacher in particular,  stayed out of the politics of the world and focused on the love of Christians and how to be a better person, especially in the eyes of God.  With the recent SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, I feared that this situation would change, but I had hopes that my preacher would follow the congregations wishes that we do not discuss politics at church.  When it was not mentioned the Sunday after the decision, I hoped that I was correct, but it just took him a bit longer to come up with a “proper” response.  He claimed at the beginning of his sermon that he was going to be more positive than most Christian commentators.  Yet, he used the same old tripe and hypocritical inaccuracies that so many have used in the past.

I will discuss these points in another post, but I will give a summary of what he said.  He claimed that God has always remained the same and has never wavered in his commandments. He used the Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians verses often used by those condemning gay people, even though they take them out of context.  And one thing that he did that I found particularly loathsome was that while he always uses the King James Version of the Bible in every sermon I’ve ever heard him preach, he used a modern translation that uses the word homosexuality incorrectly.  The Bible would have never used the word homosexuality because it wasn’t a word until the 19th century, nor would it have been used because there wasn’t an ancient concept of homosexuality.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by his belief on homosexuality, but he has never mentioned it in the pulpit.  I have always felt that it is a political question of those who fear their own loss of their version of moral superiority, but it is not a biblical interpretation of morality.  When you must pick and choose verses of the Bible and translations and ignore others that don’t suit your argument, then you are not following the will of God.  I have rarely ever left church angry; I usually leave with a sense of peace.  However, yesterday, I left church furious,  and I felt betrayed.

It seems that far too often people that I have put my faith in have turned untrustworthy.  For example, I believed in what my former headmaster had as plans for the school.  When others disagreed, I kept my belief that he was making the school a better place.  When he said that academics would always come before athletics, I believed him.  Then I was fired and replaced with a coach who did not have the credentials I had for teaching history.  Now , my minister has caused me to lose my respect of him.  When many people spread rumors and insinuations about his fidelity in his marriage and his business ethics, I had always taken up for him, and I never believed the allegations.  I still don’t, but I always said that no matter what people believed about him, he has been there for my family and is a truly excellent preacher.  He teaches about how to be better people, and he’s always used the Bible to back his beliefs without having to resort to word trickery.  Now I have lost my faith and respect for him.  I felt like both of these men betrayed me.  

I shouldn’t have been as upset as I was, I should have known it was coming, but when it did, it angered me. I always thought better of my preacher than that.  I guess I put too much faith in people.  Even more of an incentive to get out of this place, but I fear people who disappoint others is everywhere you go.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Faith


Faith, hope, and love abide. - 1 Corinthians 13:13
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
 - Hebrews 11:1-3, 6
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There is only one component of the Christian life that is more important than faith, and that component is love, because without love, we cannot have faith. The dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” It also defines faith as “belief in and devotion to God.” The Bible has much more to say about faith and how important it is. In fact, it is so important that, without faith, we have no place with God, and it is impossible to please Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). According to the Bible, faith is belief in the one, true God without actually seeing Him.
Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This passage makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.
God designed a way to distinguish between those who belong to Him and those who don’t, and it is called faith. Very simply, we need faith to please God. God tells us that it pleases Him that we believe in Him even though we cannot see Him. A key part of Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “he rewards those who seek him.” This is not to say that we have faith in God just to get something from Him. However, God blesses those who are obedient and faithful. We see a perfect example of this in Luke 7:50. Jesus is engaged in dialog with a sinful woman when He gives us a glimpse of why faith is so rewarding. “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The woman believed in Jesus Christ by faith, and He rewarded her for it. Finally, faith is what sustains us to the end, knowing that by faith we will be in heaven with God for all eternity. First Peter 1:8-9 tells us “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
As LGBT Christians, we know that faith can be very difficult. All people question God’s plans at various times. Why did He allow that tornado to hit? Why would He allow some one to walk into a Church and kill nine people? At every tragedy, we ask why, but we must believe in God’s plan. Look at the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, we are openly discussing racism in this country and symbols of that racism, like the Confederate flag, that many people claim is their heritage. Yes, it is part of their heritage and that heritage is a heritage of hate and disloyalty to their country. However, that discussion is now being had all across America.
To bring this back to LGBT Christians, we wonder why God would allow parents to reject us. Why do so many LGBT youth become homeless? Why is the suicide rate for LGBT higher than any other group in society? Why does God not strike down those who preach hate in His name in the pulpits of churches across the world? But if we believe, if we have faith, then we know that God has a greater purpose. What is that purpose, because it is hard to see at times? I do not know, only God knows, but we should have faith in him.
When we question our faith, we should remember the story of David and Goliath, which is just one of many stories of faith in the Bible, but I use David because of his great love of Jonathan:
“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down. . .that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.’”
By faith, we can do incredible things that will ultimately bring glory to God. David was a small boy and Goliath was a giant, but David had faith in God and with that faith he defeated Goliath. When the odds are against is, powers that be they their best to take away our rights, and preachers fill their congregations with hatred for us, we must remember to have faith in God. He will ultimately protect us and keep us safe, but we must have faith. No matter how limited you feel about your abilities to make the world a better place, we can do amazing things through faith and for the glory of God.
I want to leave you today with what Paul wrote to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Moment of Zen: America the Beautiful


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

America the Beautiful 
O beautiful for spacious skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 

For purple mountain majesties 

Above the fruited plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea! 

O beautiful for pilgrim feet 
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God mend thine every flaw, 
Confirm thy soul in self-control, 
Thy liberty in law! 

O beautiful for heroes proved 
In liberating strife. 
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life! 
America! America! 
May God thy gold refine 
Till all success be nobleness 
And every gain divine! 

O beautiful for patriot dream 
That sees beyond the years 
Thine alabaster cities gleam 
Undimmed by human tears! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
And crown thy good with brotherhood 
From sea to shining sea! 

O beautiful for halcyon skies, 
For amber waves of grain, 
For purple mountain majesties 
Above the enameled plain! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till souls wax fair as earth and air 
And music-hearted sea! 

O beautiful for pilgrims feet, 
Whose stem impassioned stress 
A thoroughfare for freedom beat 
Across the wilderness! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till paths be wrought through 
wilds of thought 
By pilgrim foot and knee! 

O beautiful for glory-tale 
Of liberating strife 
When once and twice, 
for man's avail 
Men lavished precious life! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till selfish gain no longer stain 
The banner of the free! 

O beautiful for patriot dream 
That sees beyond the years 
Thine alabaster cities gleam 
Undimmed by human tears! 
America! America! 
God shed his grace on thee 
Till nobler men keep once again 
Thy whiter jubilee! 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Move!


DISCLAIMER: I am not singling anyone out in this post, nor am I angry at anyone. However, I want to explain why suggestions are not always easy to implement.  Please do not be offended by what I say, and I always love the suggestions and comments y'all leave.

Each time I rant about stupid bigoted Alabama politics or something with my family or whatever situation I speak of, someone and generally more than one person, suggests that I move. Moving away from here has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. When I moved to Mississippi for graduate school, I did get away. I lived in Mississippi’s most progressive city, or at least it was progressive in the circles I was in. However, circumstances brought me home and I've been trying to get away again since.
I have been working on this for five years, and it's one of my many failures in life. I can't seem to make it work, and I can't just pick up and move. For the past five years, I have been underemployed, and now I am unemployed. All of that means that I was living paycheck to paycheck and now I wonder what will happen when I get paid my last paycheck at the end of this month. Unemployment should kick in, but it will be just enough to pay my current bills (I hope). Moving will take two things, which I currently don't have: a job elsewhere (or a job at all for that matter) and money.
I am not a risk taker. I really never have been, which means that I am not going to drop everything and move to a new place without a job. I'm not even sure that if I get a job elsewhere I will be able to afford to move, but I will pray that my family will help me get on my feet somewhere else if it's for a good job. Poverty fucking sucks, and it keeps sucking you in deeper and deeper. I have talked about my money situations before, and I do believe one day it will get better. Right now though, the future is hopeful but also pretty damn scary. So it's easy to say move away from Alabama, but the reality is not so easy. 
There is also something else to consider when people suggest that someone move away from a less than welcoming environment. Some people have reasons for staying. I have a boyfriend here, and the dynamics of leaving him is not something I want to discuss on this blog, that will remain private. Just know that he wants what is best for me. Also, my family is here, including my niece and nephew. Those are things that would make me very sad to leave behind, but things I could live with. But there are other LGBT individuals who have much stronger reasons to stay. Maybe they take care of a sick family member. Maybe they work for a civil rights organization. Maybe they can't imagine living anywhere else. There are so many reasons why people would want to stay in Alabama, reasons that outside of this state, people might not understand, but it doesn't make their reasons less important. Therefore when I rant about issues in Alabama, I am hoping for a better place not just for me, but for the whole LGBT community in Alabama.
Any of us who dealt with bullies as children, or even as adults, know that there are times when you need to run away, but there are also times to take a stand.  If we don't take a stand, then the bigots win. They cannot win. We have to continue fighting, and even if I leave Alabama, I will continue to be interested in Alabama politics and the rights of the LGBT community in Alabama. I still keep up with what happens in Mississippi because I did live there for ten years, and I keep up with Louisiana because I have wonderful friends there.
So my point is, it's nice to say “move” but the reality is not so easy. It's more complicated than that.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

WTF Alabama: No Moore


The Alabama Supreme Court on Monday issued an order delaying gay marriage for 25 days, although most Alabama counties have ignored the state order and continued to issue the same-sex marriage licenses.
John Carroll, a former federal judge and now a law professor at Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, explained the reasoning behind the order and suggested those counties who ignore it are on safe ground.
"Did the Alabama Supreme Court have to do this? The answer is 'no,''' said Carroll. "Were they within their rights? I guess.  
"But there is a period of time, by rule, before the decision is final." 
While the U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling Friday legalizing gay marriage has almost no chance of being changed, it is not technically the law of the land for 25 days after the ruling.
When the U.S. Supreme Court issues an order, there is a 25-day period for appeals before the court's "mandate" is issued to the appeals court that sent the case to the high court. That mandate establishes the opinion is now the law.
Citing that short window of appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court on Monday issued the order telling the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, some counties, such as Marshall, Franklin and Colbert, had stopped issuing all marriage licenses today. And just before the court order, the association of county commissioners issued a statement urging all county probate judges to issue same-sex marriages, per the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Friday, the same group had advised counties not to issue same-sex licenses.
It's too soon to tell what effect the state order will have or if it will be challenged, but the courthouse in Madison County continued on Monday to issue marriage licenses to couples, same-sex or not.
Madison County Probate Judge Tommy Ragland said he sent the Alabama Supreme Court order to the county attorney's office today and after it was reviewed, he was told there was nothing preventing the office from continuing to issue marriage licenses.
"We forwarded that to (county attorney) Jeff Rich," said Ragland. "He didn't' tell us to do anything different, and so we're issuing them."
A Birmingham attorney working to untangle the issue this afternoon said the state high court's order doesn't matter.
"The Alabama Supreme Court did not direct probate judges to delay compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision," said Birmingham area attorney Heather Fann. "This order has no practical effect. U.S. District Court Judge (Ginny) Granade already ordered Alabama's probate judges to stop enforcing the marriage ban as soon as the Supreme Court rule, and that is binding immediately."
The Alabama Judiciary under the direction of Chief Justice Roy Moore have decided that the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges is merely an opinion but not the law of the land. Alabama is merely trying to stall the inevitable, but they are in actuality acting like spoiled brats. The probate judges are the only officials in Alabama who “may” issue marriage licenses. I put may in quotations because that is what Alabama's Constitution says. In fact, Alabama law says that probate judges "may" issue marriage licenses, and several Monday morning were using that one word to cease issuing licenses altogether. ALA CODE § 30-1-9 states:
No marriage shall be solemnized without a license. Marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties. The license is an authority to anyone qualified to solemnize marriage to join together in matrimony the persons therein named.
If certain probate judges are basing this decision on the traditional heterosexual marriage then they have a bit of a problem. If tradition trumps the law, then tradition has it that Alabama probate judges issue marriage licenses. It's been that way for over 100 years, that is since the ratification of the 1901 Constitution of Alabama. However, these judges are not following Alabama legal precedent but their own interpretation of the Christian Bible. However, Alabama grants no fault divorces which is in direct violation of the words of Jesus who says divorce is only acceptable in the case of adultery. Alabama also allows for people to marry again after divorce. Jesus says that this is still adultery as long as the divorced spouse still lives. And where is this in the Bible?
But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. - Matthew 5:32
However, if you want the part about marriage it's in Matthew 19, where he addresses marriage and divorce (this happens to be where the “one woman, one man” argument comes from):
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." - Matthew 19:3-9
The Bible should have great influence on our lives, but it is the Spirit of the Word that should guide our leaders. It is the center of all moral philosophy that we are equal and that we should love and respect one another. The probate judges of Alabama who are refusing to issue marriage licenses are not following the Spirit of the Word, but their own bigoted hatred for the LGBT community. A few are also trying to get a name for themselves to run for higher office. However, considering that our highest court has ruled, they should follow Romans 13:1-5:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. - Romans 13:1-5
If Alabama officials refuse to do their job, or a significant part of it, then they should be dismissed. Each probate judge who refuses to follow the law, should be removed from office by the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The Chief Justice has the power to remove from office any probate judge who refuses to act (ALA CODE § 12-13-37). These judges are refusing to act in accordance with the law. They are doing this on several levels, since the Alabama Code - Section 12-13-36 states that the:
The probate judge shall keep his office at the courthouse, and, unless otherwise provided by a local law, the office of the probate judge shall be kept open for transaction of business on every day, except Sundays and legal holidays, from 9:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M.
If you happen to live in Alabama, please let me know if your probate office is open on Saturday. My county’s probate office is only open four and a half days a week, as are most county courthouses in the area, this is in direct violation of Alabama Code - Section 12-13-36. So if a few probate judges want to split hairs with the law and use the word “may” to decide not to issue marriage licenses at all, an inconvenience to those in that county, then let's split hairs. All Alabama probate judges not “kept open for transaction of business on every day, except Sundays and legal holidays, from 9:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M.” Should be removed from office by the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court pursuant to Alabama Code – Section 12-13-37. The greater problem is that the person who should be removing them from office is the Chief instigator of these shenanigans, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Therefore, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Lambda Legal, and the Human Rights campaign should file complaints against Chief Justice Moore for failure to perform his duties and responsibilities pursuant to Alabama Code - Section 12-2-30.
It is time for the state of Alabama to comply with the law. I am tired of my state being made to play the part of the fool for the United States because our state’s elected officials are clowns who care more about posturing for cameras than for carrying out their duties as officers of the state. The people of Alabama need to wake the fuck up and start electing people who will follow the law not follow it only when it is convenient for them. Pay attention to who you vote for and if someone has been removed from office for misconduct once (Roy Moore) then for God's sake don't elect him to the same position again. If your legislators cannot pass a budget, their one sole fucking duty, then do not vote for them again. If your probate judge refuses to do his job, don't vote for him again. And if any official within the state refuses to carry out the duties of his or her office with dignity and respect for the law, call for them to either resign or be removed from their position. We cannot sit by and watch this happen, we must act and act now!
Needless to say, I'm a tad pissed off at my state.

Dear Lord, please let me get a job, preferably in another state, or better yet, maybe in another country whose officials have a modicum of sense. Amen.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Status Update


 
It's hard to believe that June has already come and gone.  I've spent most of the month sending out job applications, but so far, I have had now luck.  I'm going to keep trying though.  Another thing that I have been doing is writing.  Nearly everyday, I write something.  I wrote my blog posts everyday, but I've written a few blog posts in advance.  I'm working on a new series for my Sunday blog.  I wanted to look more closely at 1 Corinthians 13.  It's often called the love chapter, and since last Friday, the LGBT of America have a lot of love to celebrate.
I also had phenomenal sex with my boyfriend on Monday night.  It was a kind of going away, because he will be gone nearly the whole month of July.  It looks like my right hand (or hopefully another wet dream or two) will be keeping me busy and somewhat satiated until he gets back.
In addition to writing and filling out job applications, I have also,started volunteering at a museum.  Most museums want someone with some experience in a museum and the volunteer work that I will be doing will let me see all the various workings of the museum.  It is a state run museum and since the legislature of Alabama seems to enjoy cutting their budget,  they rely on a large number of volunteers and part time employees.  Also, on the museum front, I am looking into an online museum studies certificate program that is offered by one of America's top universities.  It looks like a good program and it will add to my credentials.  Though it's the least expensive of the programs like this one, it still isn't terribly cheap, but I think I have found a way to afford it.
I am looking more into museum work.  Five years teaching middle and high school is enough.  God bless the people who make that a lifelong career.  The only teaching I want to do from here on out is college teaching whether it's full time or as an adjunct.  This doesn't mean that I am absolutely ruling out middle and high school, desperation drove me to that job and desperation may drive me to take a job like it just at a different school.
So that's the update from here.  As the motto of the New York Times states this is "All the News That’s Fit to Print."  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sonnets 16 and 17 by Richard Barnfield


Sonnet 16By Richard Barnfield
Long have I long’d to see my love again,
    Still have I wished, but never could obtain it;
    Rather than all the world (if I might gain it)
Would I desire my love’s sweet precious gain.
Yet in my soul I see him every day,
    See him, and see his still stern countenance,
    But (ah) what is of long continuance,
Where majesty and beauty bears the sway?
Sometimes, when I imagine that I see him,
    (As love is full of foolish fantasies)
    Weening to kiss his lips, as my love’s fees,
I feel but air: nothing but air to bee him.
    Thus with Ixion*, kiss I clouds in vain:
    Thus with Ixion, feel I endless pain.
Sonnet 17
By Richard Barnfield

Cherry-lipped Adonis in his snowy shape,
    Might not compare with his pure ivory white,
    On whose faire front a poet’s pen may write,
Whose roseate red excels the crimson grape,
His love-enticing delicate soft limbs,
    Are rarely framed to entrap poor gazing eyes:
    His cheeks, the lily and carnation dyes,
With lovely tincture which Apollo’s dims.
His lips ripe strawberries in nectar wet,
    His mouth a Hive, his tongue a honeycomb,
    Where Muses (like bees) make their mansion.
His teeth pure pearl in blushing coral set.
    Oh how can such a body sin-procuring,
    Be slow to love, and quick to hate, enduring? 
BIOGRAPHY
Richard Barnfield was born in Staffordshire, England. In his youth, Barnfield was deeply influenced by Virgil’s work and the 1591 publication of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella, which popularized the sonnet sequence. Best known for his poem “As it fell upon a day,” Barnfield is the only Elizabethan male poet apart from Shakespeare—whom he admired—to address love poems to a man.
Little is known about Barnfield’s life and career, but it is thought that his maternal aunt raised him and his sister after his mother died during childbirth. In 1592 he graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford. At the age of 21 he published his first two books, The Affectionate Shepherd (1594) and Cynthia (1595), both addressed to “Ganymede.” Originally published anonymously, The Affectionate Shepherd expands upon Virgil’s second eclogue, and its homoerotic themes made Barnfield’s poems controversial for his time.
*  Ixion, in Greek legend, son either of the god Ares or of Phlegyas, king of the Lapiths in Thessaly. He murdered his father-in-law and could find no one to purify him until Zeus did so and admitted him as a guest to Olympus. Ixion abused his pardon by trying to seduce Zeus’s wife, Hera. Zeus substituted for her a cloud, by which Ixion became the father of Centaurus, who fathered the Centaurs by the mares of Mount Pelion. Zeus, to punish him, bound him on a fiery wheel, which rolled unceasingly through the air or, according to the more common tradition, in the underworld.