Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Gift

A Gift
By Amy Lowell

See! I give myself to you, Beloved!
My words are little jars
For you to take and put upon a shelf.
Their shapes are quaint and beautiful,
And they have many pleasant colours and lusters
To recommend them.
Also the scent from them fills the room
With sweetness of flowers and crushed grasses.

When I shall have given you the last one,
You will have the whole of me,
But I shall be dead.

 About This Poem
“A Gift” was originally published in Lowell’s second collection of poems, Sword Blades and Poppy Seeds (The Macmillan Company, 1914).

About This Poet
Amy Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1874. Among her honors is the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Lowell died in Brookline in May of 1925.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Unofficial End of Summer

Though summer isn't quite over, and if the heat wave Alabama is currently having is any indication, we have quite a ways to go.  But for many people, Labor Day marks the end of the summer season.  Schools used to wait until after Labor Day to start back, but I don't know any schools that do anymore.  For educators and students, our summer has been over for nearly a month, if not more.  I had a busy but wonderful summer and I hope all of you did as well.  Here's to looking forward to the cooler temperatures this fall.  I hope you've all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend, maybe some of you even went to Southern Decadence in New Orleans.  One day I'm going to make it down there for that.

I'd originally planned a longer post for today but I'm having Internet issues here on the lake, so this will have to do.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Children of God

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 2:28-3:3

We come first to a section on the privileges of the children of God. Quite simply, those who are children of God have confidence with God, a theme that is repeated often in the First Epistle of John. Such repetition suggests that the readers may well have lacked this confidence, and John wishes to instill in them a vibrant conviction of their salvation. At the least, the return again and again to the theme of assurance points to the beliefs and experience of the author himself. He affirms that in Christ we can indeed have confidence with God, and he has experienced this in his own life.

If God's blessings are sure and secure, why must believers be commanded to "remain" and to continue in their faith? Do these commands suggest that these readers can lose their status as God's children? Are they in danger of facing God's judgment? These various commands, which urge continued steadfastness, are not intended to frighten the readers or to suggest their inadequacies or failures to abide in Christ. Quite the contrary, these words encourage them to continue faithfully in the direction that they have been heading all along. The command admonishes them, but it does so by affirming them in their present course. They have abided; they must continue to do so. Encouragement and exhortation are joined together.

When we continue faithfully in relationship with God, we can be confident and unashamed before God when Christ comes. These two adjectives suggest opposing positions: one will either come into God's presence confident or one will come in shame. The shame of which the elder speaks is not the shame that believers sometimes imagine that they will or ought to feel in the presence of one who is righteous and pure. It is not embarrassment for those things which we have done wrong. In fact, it is not something that believers are expected to experience at all. Rather, the "shame" that is spoken of here is the disgrace or rejection that unbelievers will experience when they come into judgment. And, in context, those who come into such "disgrace" are those who do not "abide."

The command ("abide in Christ") functions in two ways. On the one hand, it exhorts readers to continued faithfulness to God as God is made known in Christ. Yet, on the other hand, it is a promise. For it promises to those who continue in their commitment to God that nothing will bring them to shame at the judgment. In this light, the statement you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of God seems both out of place and possibly even at odds with the promise of confidence before God. For who truly "does right" just as Christ is righteous?

Two points must be noted. First, the statement serves to remind readers that righteousness is not simply an intention or feeling, but is manifested in deed and truth, in the moral quality of one's life. Righteousness is the responsibility of those privileged to be God's children. Second, righteous behavior provides confirmation of our relationship with God. Righteous conduct does not make us God's children. Rather, such conduct is the consequence or expression of a relationship that already exists. Privilege carries with it responsibility. This leads directly to reflections on the designation children of God.

Three important ideas are inherent in the assertion that we are God's children: First, it is by God's initiative and power that we are born as the children of God. We do not bring about this relationship any more than a newborn baby caused its own birth and gave itself life.  Second, that God calls us children of God inaugurates a reality that will be brought to its fruition at a future time. Again, as a newborn baby lies in its parents' arms, they see it with eyes of hope, possibility and promise. A newborn's birth is not the goal of its existence; its growth and maturity are. Third, that we are God's children is evidence of God's active and creative love for us.

The world's failure to recognize Christians as God's children could refer to a general lack of understanding on the part of unbelievers as to what Christian life and claims are all about. In the historical context it may also refer specifically to the failure of the dissidents to accept the claims of the early Christians. But John reminds his readers that such lack of recognition should not surprise them, for the world did not recognize Jesus' relationship to God either. But even as there will come a time of public manifestation and recognition of Jesus, so there will be a full revelation of what the children of God will be. If we are God's children now, even though the world does not recognize us, what we shall be someday is not known even to us. But since God's children are to reflect God, and since we are promised that when we see God we shall be like God, we can assume that what we shall be someday brings to fullness and completion the identity that we now cherish as God's own children.

As GLBT Christians, we are often not recognized as Children of God by many who call themselves Christians, but that does not lessen our faith.  We must continue to follow God's word and strengthen our relationship with God.  God gives us the promise of eternal life in exchange for eternal faith.  These promises give us hope.  My most fervent hope is that one day all Christians will recognize the faith of GLBT Christians.  Christianity will be a true rainbow faith that encompasses all who believe, and we will cease judging others, since only God may judge.  I know it is not something that will happen quickly, but we must become more accepting of everyone for Christianity to be what Jesus established.

Hope can't be hurried.  Hope is like a baseball game.  Once a runner gets on base, it may take several other hitters before the runner can make it home.  The next hitter my strike out or be called out on first.  The next may get on base and the first hitter will advance to second.  And so it goes.  We want a home run every time, but sometimes we must be patient.  We want a grand slam every time the bases are loaded, but sometimes we are only able to hit one runner in.  Hope can progress slowly.  It can take time, but if you're a fan of baseball, you know to never lose hope.  God wants us to be like good baseball fans, no matter how slowly things progress, we must keep hope alive.  As Children of God, hope is what abides our faith.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Jason Mraz

I was watching this week's "So You Think You Can Dance," and Jason Mraz was the musical guest.  I love Jason Mraz.  His voice is so sexy and smooth, and he's so damn cute.  I said that to a friend of mine, and he said Jason had to be gay or bisexual.  He said, "Jason Mraz has a cock tattoo tramp stamp.  What straight man gets a tattoo like that?"  I have to agree with him there, even though Mraz identifies as straight.

Mraz is a social activist whose philanthropic efforts span wide-ranging issues, including the environment, human rights and LGBT equality. In 2012, he was featured as the first-ever straight man on the cover of Instinct magazine in recognition of his efforts in support of LGBT rights.  The Jason Mraz Foundation was established in 2011, with a mission to support charities in the areas of human equality, environment preservation and education. Organizations supported by the foundation include VH1's Save The Music Foundation, MusiCares, Surfrider Foundation, Free the Children, Life Rolls On, the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the True Colors Fund, which promotes LGBT equality.

In May 2010, Mraz attended the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, a 1000 person event to acknowledge the late Harvey Milk, and was so moved that he took to his myspace blog to talk about the importance of equality:
When I was in high school, I experienced being bullied. For whatever reason, there were a few students that enjoyed calling me 'f****t' as I walked thru the lunchroom. On one occasion, just before graduation, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and picked up a few punches, kicks and scrapes to add to my story. I never knew why the handsome lads called me names or felt the need to bully me, but it happened and I let their actions contribute a great deal to my moving away from that community. 
Shortly after the row, my best friend came out, sharing with his friends and family that he was gay. In my small town, this was uncommon and since then I’ve considered my friend to be the bravest man in the world. Aware of the hate within our community, I was afraid my friend might be inviting trouble to his door – but that never stopped him from being fully expressed. 
This is why I am actively seeking equality for the whole. When all of us are acknowledged as the human equals that we really are, there will be no space left for bullying. It will no longer be wrong to choose one thing over another. Equality and Separation cannot exist in the same space.

Jason has always been vocal about feeling like part of the GLBT community. He told British gay magazine Attitude back in July 2003 on his first interview that he knew “this gay guy who I became really good friends with. We really enjoyed each other’s company. I mean, I’d do everything with this guy- I’d sleep on his bed, drive his car, share every moment of the day with him. On Valentine’s Day we ended up in this really nice French restaurant and we looked like a couple. All of the sudden it dawned on me that I had been dating him for the last two months!”

When asked if he had a sexual relationship with this gay friend, Mraz added “He was a gentleman, though, he never crossed the line.” When the interviewer asked if he wished the guy had crossed the line, he answered “Mmm, I don’t know, maybe. The thing with me is that I can fall in love with anyone, man or woman, it’s what is their head that counts!”

Mraz is truly phenomenal.  I've mentioned the book The Return before, and Mraz's statement remind me of a passage from the book.  One of the characters has a theory that sexuality is becoming increasingly fluid and in several generations sexual orientation will no longer exist as people fall in love with people regardless of gender.  I don't know if I agree with that theory, but sexuality is definitely becoming more accepted, and I do believe a day will come when sexuality is not an issue and we can all be as open and free as we want to be.

By the way, if you have been watching "So You Think You Can Dance," I hope that you are pulling for the amazing dancer Ricky Ubeda.  He is incredibly sexy and, of course, talented.  I'm really rooting for him to win.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Still Yucky

Though I do feel some better, I had a bad migraine last night and decided to go to bed early.  So I'm taking another day off from blogging.  Hopefully, I will feel much better by tonight and be able to actually write a decent post for tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Feeling Yucky

I think it's my allergies acting up. I woke up (well wake up is not the right word because without coffee, in not really awake) yesterday just feeling yucky.  Just tired and achy all over, but not fever or flu-like, just achy.  I went on to school, and it was an okay day at school, in fact some classes went exceptionally well, but I never did shake the yucky feeling.  I'm hoping today will be better.  I don't want to be coming down with anything.