Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year


10 fun facts about leap year and leap day
Feb. 29, 2016

Our year just got one day longer. Today, Feb. 29 is leap day, the day inserted into the calendar every four years to keep our calendar operating smoothly. This extra day makes the year 366 days long, instead of 365 days like regular years. Curious about why we have one extra day stuck to the end of February every four years? Here are 10 fun facts about leap years and leap days. This information was found on Timeanddate.com, Mother Nature Network and the Old Farmer's Almanac. 

  1. Why add a leap day?: Leap days are needed to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun. It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. This called a tropical year. Without an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours every year. After only 100 years, our calendar would be off by approximately 24 days.
  2. Hail Caesar: Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year around 46 B.C., but his Julian calendar had only one rule: Any year evenly divisible by four would be a leap year. That created too many leap years, but the math wasn't tweaked until Pope Gregory XIII introduced his Gregorian calendar more than 1,500 years later. There's a leap year every year that is divisible by four, except for years that are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400. The year 2000 was a leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not. The added rule about centuries (versus just every four years) was an additional fix to make up for the fact that an extra day every four years is too much of a correction, according to ScienceWorld.
  3. Leap months in other countries: A whole leap month is added to the Chinese calendar every three years. The leap month's place in the Chinese calendar varies from year to year, and 2015 was a leap year in the Chinese calendar. A leap year in the Ethiopian calendar occurs when an extra day is added to the last month of the year every four years.
  4. Leap year traditions: It's acceptable for a woman to propose to a man on Feb. 29. The custom has been attributed to St. Bridget, who is said to have complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for men to propose marriage. Patrick supposedly gave women one day to propose.
  5. Leap year babies: People born on leap day are often called "leaplings" or "leapers." Most of them celebrate their birthday on Feb. 28 or March 1 on non-leap years.
  6. Leap year capital: The twin cities of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, New Mexico, are the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the World. They hold a four-day leap year festival each leap year that includes a huge birthday party for all leap year babies.
  7. Famous leapers: If you were born on leap day, you share a birthday with composer Gioacchino Rossini, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, jazz musician Jimmy Dorsey, actors Dennis Farina and Antonio Sabato Jr., and rapper/actor Ja Rule.
  8. There's a leap year club: The Honor Society of Leap Year Babies is a club for people born on Feb. 29. More than 10,000 people worldwide are members.
  9. And a leap year movie: Amy Adams and Matthew Goode starred in the 2010 romcom "Leap Year." It's about a woman who travels to to Ireland to ask her boyfriend to accept her wedding proposal on leap day, when tradition says that men cannot refuse a woman's marriage proposal.
  10. Leap years in history: During leap years, George Armstrong Custer fought the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), the Titanic sank (1912), Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity (1752) and and gold was discovered in California (1848).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

God Loves Us


So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16

I think oftentimes as LGBT Christians we struggle with our sexuality and our faith because we are too often taught that they contradict each other. This feeling makes us feel alone and unloved. However, it is only because we do not have faith enough in God to guide us along the correct path.  If we had faith in God's infallibility, then we would realize that God created us homosexual.  He would not have created us that way merely in order for us to fail, but it is human nature to have doubt, when we should look to God for faith instead.  

Philippians 3:21 says “He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.” We may think that God does not love us or that we are unworthy of his love, but He wants us to be a part of Him. God loves us no matter what, it is we who have to accept that God is love and that he loves us. He will help take away the pain. There’s far more to life for us. Jesus will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

The Bible teaches that God created human beings in His image. This means that He enables us to have some understanding of Him and of His vast and complex design. Our human nature reflects some of God’s attributes, although in a limited way. We love because we are made in the image of the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Because we are created in His image, we can be compassionate, faithful, truthful, kind, patient, and just. In us, these attributes are distorted by sin, which also resides in our nature. We may believe we are unloveable, but God loves us all.

Originally, human nature was perfect by virtue of having been created so by God. The Bible teaches that human beings were created “very good” by a loving God (Genesis 1:31), but that goodness was marred by the sin of Adam and Eve. Subsequently, the entire human race fell victim to sin. The good news is that at the moment a person trusts in Christ, he receives a new nature. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 

Sanctification is the process by which God develops our new nature, enabling us to grow into more holiness through time. Second Corinthians 5:4 says “For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” This is a continuous process with many victories and defeats as the new nature battles with the “tent” in which it resides—the old man, the old nature, the flesh. Not until we are glorified in heaven will our new nature be set free to live for eternity in the presence of the God in whose image we are created.

Therefore, as LGBT Christians we have a further step, a further test, than most Christians.  We can follow the steps of salvation, but we must also have faith that God created us in his image.  We must have faith that God created us to be attracted to and love those of the same sex.  No matter what the flaws of man may be, or the sin that mankind tempts us with its doubts, we must be strong in out faith and believe that God made us who we are and know that He is love and that he loves us.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Moment of Zen: Pancakes



This is for a pancake loving friend of mine, who said that if a man made him pancakes, he'd marry him on the spot.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Furies


Yesterday Micheal suggested I do a post similar to the one on the Graces for the Furies. In Greek mythology the Erinyes also known as Furies, were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses." A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath." Burkert suggests they are "an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath." They correspond to the Dirae in Roman mythology, and some suppose that they are called Furies in hell, Harpies on earth, and Dirae in heaven.

According to Hesiod's Theogony, when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes as well as the Meliae emerged from the drops of blood when it fell on the earth (Gaia), while Aphrodite was born from the crests of sea foam. According to variant accounts, they emerged from an even more primordial level—from Nyx, "Night", or from a union between air and Mother Earth. Their number is usually left indeterminate. Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto or Alekto ("unceasing"), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone or Tilphousia ("vengeful destruction"), all of whom appear in the Aeneid. Dante followed Virgil in depicting the same three-character triptych of Erinyes; in Canto IX of the Inferno they confront the poets at the gates of the city of Dis. Whilst the Erinyes were usually described as three maiden goddesses, the Erinys Telphousia was usually a by-name for the wrathful goddess Demeter, who was worshipped under the title of Erinys in the Arkadian town of Thelpousa.

If the Furies of ancient mythology were Unceasing, Grudging, and Vengeful Destruction, then maybe the male version of the Furies should be Relentless (Unceasing), Back-Biting (Grudging), and Evil Queen (Vengeful Destruction).  The actual number of the Furies is not known. It was more than one, but the number could have been infinite. It sometimes seems that the evil of this world and the vengeance is infinite so I think there was an infinite number of Furies, not just the three of Virgil and Dante.

Of course, this post is all in jest, just as yesterdays was.  The Furies or Erinyes were women and as far as I know, there were no male equivalent. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but then the same could be true of gay men. The picture above is of a single winged man surrounded by a murder of crows, it seemed appropriate for the male Furies. Of course, don't forget that the furies could also come from heaven (Dirae), and thus relentlessness, remembering when we've been treated badly (holding a grudge), and exposing hypocrisy (i.e. vengeful destruction) can be good things.

So here is a challenge for you: My three male Furies (homosexual? probably) were Relentless, Back-Biting, and an Evil Queen, what would you name the three gay Furies?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Graces


In Greek mythology, a Charis, or Grace is one of three or more minor goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility, together known as the Charites or Graces. The usual list, from youngest to oldest is Aglaea ("Splendor"), Euphrosyne ("Mirth"), and Thalia ("Good Cheer” or “Abundance”). In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Graces". In some variants, Charis was one of the Graces and was not the singular form of their name.

When I saw the picture above, I immediately thought of the Gay Graces. If the Graces of ancient mythology were Splendor, Mirth, and Good Cheer, then maybe the male version of the Graces should be Fabulous (Splendor), Gay (Mirth), and Endowed (Abundance).  These fellas have their backs to us, so we can’t tell if they meet those three names or not.

Of course, this post is all in jest.  The Graces or Charities were women and as far as I know, there were not male equivalent.  To be truthful, I was having a hard time coming up with a topic for today, so I went through my saved pictures and came across this one.

So here is a challenge for you: My three male graces (obviously homosexual) were Fabulous, Gay, and Endowed, what would you name the three gay Graces?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why I "Feel the Bern"


Living in the state of Vermont, I see a lot of support for Bernie Sanders. He will undoubtedly win Vermont, but I don’t expect him to win the nomination.  While I like his ideals, I don't think he is what the country needs right now.  He is what the country needed back in 1992 or 1996, but in this present day and age, I think Hillary is really what we need. Bernie would have made a great president in a time of peace and prosperity, but in a time of war and recession, we need someone who can do what needs to be done. 


There are many reasons that I like Bernie. This is one of the reasons I like him. Back in 1995, the U.S. House of Representatives was debating an amendment to impose tighter water pollution rules at federal facilities. Then-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) was having none of it. "I look at the individuals that are offering this. Is there any shocking doubt, the same people that would vote to cut defense $177 billion, the same ones that would put homos in the military, the same ones that would not fund BRAC, the same ones that would not clean up —"

At that point, Cunningham was interrupted. "Mr. Chairman," said then-Rep. Sanders. 

"Sit down, you socialist!" barked Cunningham.

Sanders didn't sit down. After a few procedural hurdles, he came after the notoriously sharp-elbowed conservative. In his gravely Brooklyn accent, Bernie attacked in his signature style. ”My ears may have been playing a trick on me, but I thought I heard the gentleman a moment ago say something quote unquote about homos in the military," Sanders said. "Was I right in hearing that expression?”

"Absolutely," Cunningham responded. "Putting homosexuals in the military."

"Was the gentleman referring to the thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? Was that the groups of people that the gentleman was referring to?"

"You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line," Sanders continued. "I think they are owed an apology.”


The “nefarious” homosexual agenda did not ultimately undo Cunningham's congressional career but corruption did. In 2006, he was sentenced to more than eight years in prison after being convicted of taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Awakening



The Awakening
By James Weldon Johnson

I dreamed that I was a rose
That grew beside a lonely way,
Close by a path none ever chose,
And there I lingered day by day.
Beneath the sunshine and the show’r
I grew and waited there apart,
Gathering perfume hour by hour,
And storing it within my heart,
        Yet, never knew,
Just why I waited there and grew.
 
I dreamed that you were a bee
That one day gaily flew along,
You came across the hedge to me,
And sang a soft, love-burdened song.
You brushed my petals with a kiss,
I woke to gladness with a start,
And yielded up to you in bliss
The treasured fragrance of my heart;
        And then I knew
That I had waited there for you.
 

 
 
About This Poem
 
“The Awakening” was published in Johnson’s book Fifty Years and Other Poems (Cornhill Company, 1917).

James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1920 he became the national organizer for the NAACP. Johnson’s works include Fifty Years and Other Poems (Cornhill Company, 1917) and Saint Peter Relates an Incident: Selected Poems (The Viking Press 1935). He died on June 26, 1938.
 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Miscellaneous


The church I tried out yesterday was really nice. It was a small congregation up about a dozen people, but they were all very kind and welcoming. I really enjoyed the service, and while the order of the service was different from a church back home, it was a very familiar service. I expect that I'll be going back.

In other news, it looks as if I will finally reach one of the goals I've had for the past seven or eight months. I finally was able to purchase a MacBook Air, and it will arrive, according to UPS, tomorrow by the end of the day. I had it delivered to work so I could make sure that I could sign for it. I'm excited because it means I will have a laptop again, and I can do more with my blog. Also, it will be easier to work on my novel.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Trust in the Lord




Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
    and a refreshment for your body.
Proverbs 3:5-6

He [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
Job 1:21-22

Last night, I was watching House of Cards on Netflix. In the third episode, a   young woman has been killed in a car accident in the main character's (South Carolina Congressman Frank Underwood played by Kevin Spacey) congressional district. Because she was texting about a peach water tower that looks like a butt and was built because of Frank, he speaks at her parents’ church to try to win them over and not take the blame for the accident.  While Frank's speech was politically motivated, it made a great deal of sense. Underwood frames an old-school passionate sermon around the idea of hate, going so far as to yell,  “I hate you, God” in front of a South Carolina congregation. He’s able to connect to the parishioners by making them equals, saying they’ve all done this before when feeling soul-crushing  loss, and who among them are feeling that today. 

Spacey's character's speech is based on the fact that at some point we have all felt betrayed by God. We have all wanted to, whether we did or not, scream "I hate you, God." In Matthew 27:46, Jesus didn't say,  "I hate you, God" but he did shout, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” Which   is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I think we've all felt that way. I know  I have felt that way for the past three months. Spacey's character though quotes Proverbs 3:5 by saying,  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight." In my crisis of faith, I may have questioned God, but my belief in Him never wavered.

Why did Jesus shout, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He did so because he was in pain. We think God has left us when we are in pain, pain so excruciating we don't want to live, but  God has never and will never leave us. I was thinking yesterday how I'd expected to rely on my friend who'd lived in a climate similar to Vermont to get me through and provide advice during the winter. However, God chose for this to be a mild winter. Is it because I didn't have the guidance I needed/wanted for a harsh winter? Maybe.

These past few months have not been my only crisis of faith. When I came to terms with my sexuality, I struggled with the fact that I'd been taught that same-sex  attraction would send me to hell. I asked myself how could a God that says He loves me, who created me, condemn me to hell for how he created me. I tried to be attracted to women, but I just wasn't. My attraction was to men. God never abandoned me on my search for answers. Instead,  He guided me to those answers. Just as He is guiding me to a better understanding of the tragedies that befall all of  us.

No man or woman in the Bible suffered more than Job. Job is presented as a good and prosperous family man who is beset with horrendous disasters that take away all  he holds dear, including his offspring, his health, and his property. He struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties. God rewards Job's obedience during his travails by restoring his health, doubling his original wealth,  and giving him seven new sons and three new daughters, which bore him great grandchildren before he died.

Job, though,  is an inspiration because his faith did not waiver. He did not feel betrayed by God. He did not have a crisis of faith. When he said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He meant that the Lord knew what he was doing. In all this,  Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22). I think we can learn from Job. God is watching out for us. No matter what life deals us, God is there with us.


By the way, on a different note, through the help of a close friend, I have found a church  of Christ in the area. I'm going to try it out for the first time tomorrow. I hope and pray that it is a church that will give me that sense of home,  and will provide the healing  I need.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Goodbye, Miss Lee



Alabama legend and literary master Nelle Harper Lee has died at the age of 89. May she rest in peace with her father and sister, who passed on before her. She may have been a tiny woman but she was a literary giant with her masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird.

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/02/harper_lee_dead_at_age_of_89_t.html

Relaxing



I'd thought about doing a political post, but it's been a long and busy week at work and I just wasn't up to it.  So I decided to relax and do nothing, which included writing a post for today.  More at another time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What's Your "Number"?


We aren't talking telephone number either. Can anything good come from telling your partner(s) how many people you've slept with before you met them? Many people would say, "no way." The very idea of revealing that number can be terrifying because they're afraid that they'll be judged for having had too many intimate encounters -- or too few -- and they worry that the information could harm their relationship. It's also probably not a good answer when you say, "Um, I lost count. The orgy in Italy threw my numbers off a bit." Yeah, not a good answer, but some of us were sluts when we were younger, had more hair, and were better looking.

"[What happens when you reveal your number] depends on what are the attitudes and values of the people involved and what their reactions are going to be," Dr. Zhana Vrangalova , a sex expert and professor at New York University, told the co-hosts of HuffPost Love+Sex Podcast, Carina Kolodny and Noah Michelson . "My husband has actually had that experience with a couple of his friends and girlfriends. They would share the number and he would be so accepting of whatever the number was that they walked away thinking, Oh my God — I’m not this dirty slut that everyone has been telling me I was. So if you have a positive reaction to that, or your partner has a positive reaction to that, it can be a really empowering and really anti-slut shaming that I think a lot of [people] could benefit from it.”

To hear more about what can happen when you share "your number," as well as questions about everything from the above question about "numbers" to "what should I do if I only want to date 'daddies' and they all think I'm too young for them," listen to the podcast go to iTunes to download it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two Interesting Studies


How Do You Feel About Your Nether Regions?

new study found that regardless of sexual orientation, people who either feel good about their genitals look or are not self-conscious about them are more likely to have good sexual self-esteem and feel sexually attractive. The study examined the relationship between perceptions of genital appearance and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. The study sample included men and women aged 18-45 who identified as heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Participants responded to an online survey assessing their self-perceived sexual attractiveness, genital self-image, genital self-consciousness during sexual activity, and sexual esteem. Based on previous findings, the study hypothesized a positive link between genital self-perceptions and self-perceived sexual attractiveness, with sexual esteem acting as a mediator. Analyses revealed a significant association between both genital self-image and genital self-consciousness and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. However, these relationships were at least partially mediated by sexual esteem, across both gender and sexual orientation. The findings suggest that, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, individuals who maintain a positive genital self-image or lack genital self-consciousness, are more likely to experience greater sexual esteem, and in turn, feel more sexually attractive. The findings have implications for the importance of genital appearance perceptions and improving individuals' sexual esteem and self-perceived sexual attractiveness.

Freud would agree. I think that when someone is confident in the way their genitals look, then they are overall more confident and have greater self-esteem. The same i believe is true of people who are happy with their body image. It gives the person more confidence and self-esteem. The problem is that for some of these people who are happy with their bodies become overly conceited and obnoxious to deal with overall.

Science: Gay Dudes Like Muscly Hunks

Yeah, this is real: researchers recently counted and analyzed the photos and comments posted on Queerty.com, a blog mostly for gay men. The overwhelming majority of pics and comments celebrated hunky, muscly men with basically zero body fat. The downside: not critiquing these images might be reinforcing an unhealthy body image among blog visitors. This study conducted a content analysis of 243 photographic images of men published on the gay male-oriented blog Queerty.com. The study also analyzed 435 user-generated comments from a randomly selected one-year sample. Focusing on images' body types, the study found that the range of body types featured on the blog was quite narrow-the vast majority of images had very low levels of body fat and very high levels of muscularity. Users' body image-related comments typically endorsed and celebrated images; critiques of images were comparatively rare. 

First of all, Queerty is the worst place on the net to read comments. Their commenters tend to be the bitterest queens on the planet. However, if you look at this from an evolutionary standpoint, those with less body fat and nice musculature look healthier, meaning that our minds perceive them to be people who will live longer. Attraction often has to do with having a male partner who will love a long time. When it comes to women, heterosexual men tend to find a woman with large breasts and nice hips to be seen as more fertile, just as healthy men are seen as more virile. So when we look at what we find attractive, it comes down to who the evolution of the human species will take the best care of us and who will be the best at procreation. While this may seem to exclude homosexuals, it does not. We still want virility. Whatever sex we are attracted to, we still have the evolutionary genes that tell us the same things about the same sex we are attracted to as it does when opposite sexes are attracted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Road Not Taken

 
 
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
 
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
  
 
Everyone can quote those final two lines. But everyone, writes David Orr in his book “The Road Not Taken” (Penguin Press), gets the meaning wrong.
 
The poem is praised as an ode of individuality, to not follow the pack even though the path may be more difficult.
 
Except Frost notes early in the poem that the two roads were “worn . . . really about the same.” There is no difference. It’s only later, when the narrator recounts this moment, that he says he took the road less traveled.
 
“This is the kind of claim we make when we want to comfort or blame ourselves by assuming that our current position is the product of our own choices (as opposed to what was chosen for us, or allotted to us by chance),” Orr writes.
 
“The poem isn’t a salute to can-do individualism,” he continues. “It’s a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.”
 
Wrongly referred to by many as “The Road Less Traveled,” the poem’s true title, “The Road Not Taken,” references regret rather than pride. That’s by design. Frost wrote it as somewhat of a joke to a friend, English poet Edward Thomas.
 
In 1912, Frost was nearly 40 and frustrated by his lack of success in the United States. After Thomas praised his work in London, the two became friends, and Frost visited him in Gloucestershire. They often took walks in the woods, and Frost was amused that Thomas always said another path might have been better. “Frost equated [it] with the romantic predisposition for ‘crying over what might have been,’ ” Orr writes, quoting Frost biographer Lawrance Thompson.
 
Frost thought his friend “would take the poem as a gentle joke and protest, ‘Stop teasing me,’ ” Thompson writes.
 
He didn’t. Like readers today, Thomas was confused by it and maybe even thought he was being lampooned.
 
One Edward Thomas biographer suggested that “The Road Not Taken” goaded the British poet, who was indecisive about joining the army.
 
“It pricked at his confidence . . . the one man who understood his indecisiveness most acutely — in particular, toward the war — appeared to be mocking him for it,” writes Matthew Hollis.
 
Thomas enlisted in World War I, and was killed two years later.
 
Orr writes that “The Road Not Taken” is “a thoroughly American poem. The ideas that [it] holds in tension — the notion of choice, the possibility of self-deception — are concepts that define . . . the United States.”
 
It is also, as critic Frank Lentricchia writes, “the best example in all of American poetry of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
 
I have always equated this poem with what Jesus says during the Sermon on the Mount about the narrow gate. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says "13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
 
Frost’s religious beliefs have long been speculated upon. Raised by a mother who was a follower of Swedenborgianism, a Swedish mystical belief, many of Frost’s biographers have noted his apparent atheism or agnosticism. But he was deeply interested in Christianity.
 
Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and a prominent Frost scholar Jay Parini said that “Robert Frost called himself an ‘Old Testament Christian. Which meant he was really more focused on the Torah and the old Biblical stories. Things like the Book of Job, the first five books of Moses, the Book of Proverbs and the Psalms were hugely important to Frost as a poet, a man and a thinker.”
 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Post Valentine Post


I may be a hopeless romantic because I still love Valentine's Day. Last year, I had a wonderful man in my life, but that ended when I moved over 1300 miles away. So this year, I spent Valentine's Day alone.  I'd planned on not being lonely the whole day, because I was going to brave the sub-zero temperatures and go to church. It didn't happen like I'd expected because I woke with one of my damn headache. So I stayed in and watched season 5 of Game of Thrones.

With the exception of last year, Valentine's Day has always been a dud of a day for me. The first girl I ever "dated" (if you can call just hanging out at school and claiming to be going steady) back as a young kid of maybe 12 broke up with me the day before Valentine's Day. This was particularly horrific since the school had been selling carnations to give to those you "love" and I'd bought her one. They delivered it to me to give to her and my teacher encouraged me to go give it to her, not knowing we'd "broken up."  She was in the grade below me, so I had little choice as a shy kid who wasn't about to tell a teacher no, but to go knock on the door of her classroom and gove her the carnation. I was so embarrassed. I should have told my teacher that we were no longer dating and just kept the carnation to give to my mother.

I was never dating but three people when Valentine's came around.  My first "girlfriend," my last girlfriend, and my boyfriend last year. Last year was a lovely day spent together. With my last girlfriend, by Valentine's I'd already decided that I no longer wanted to pretend and date girls, but she was still a good friend so we kept seeing each other for another month or so. On that Valentine's, we had a nighttime picnic overlooking a lake. It was a nice Valentine's.

This year, I tried not to think too much about it being Valentine's Day. I didn't get a single Valentine's Day card from anyone. Usually, at least my mother sends me one, but if she did, it did not arrive before Valentine's Day. I did get a couple of lovely messages from friends, and an email or two saying Happy Valentine's Day.

How was your Valentine's Day? Were you with someone you love? I hope you all were.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

For God Is Love



"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

Do we really believe that scripture?

I believe this verse would serve us well to consider in its literal simplicity: God is love.

I love how this verse opens up my ability to see God in the flesh, in the here and now.

See the love around you and there it is: there is God, in the flesh.

A father buying his daughter an ice cream conethere! An elderly couple holding hands–there it is again! A woman playing with her dog in a field–Again! God being love. A day care worker leading a crowd of children to the playground–there too! A group of friends enjoying an evening around a table of food and drink. There! There God is again! God being love, in the flesh.

And even better, whenever I myself experience a loving act, I know that God is there loving me.

When my partner comes home after a day at work and I get a hug and a kiss hello, God is there, loving me in the flesh. When my best friend and I hang out together and we get to talk about what’s been going on in our lives, there God is, loving me, loving us, in the flesh.

As a gay man I especially treasure these moments. For many years I was taught that my love is sick, sinful, disgusting, and abomination. I’m guessing the same is true for many of you. I treasure loving moments all the more because it took a lot of work to shake off those teachings, well, for the most part, I have shaken those teachings out of my head, and I have come to believe that my loving acts, yes–my loving acts–fully participate in the love that is God.

What a marvel that is! First John doesn’t add any restrictions or caveats: God is love. Not: God is mixed gender love; Not: God is white people love; Not: God is cis-gendered love; Not: God is highly educated love.

Simply and fully: God is love.

We are all invited to shake off those teachings we learned from society: God loves dark skin less? No! God loves accented English less? No! God loves women less? No! God loves trans and bi and lesbian and gay less? No!

It can be difficult to remember that God loves me without qualification. As a gay man, even after more than 30 years of being out, even after finding many safe and affirming places in my life, there is always–always!–the awareness that not everyone around me knows that I’m gay, the awareness that I am participating in my own oppression in the closet balanced with trying to remain safe and secure balanced with simply being. This is a balancing act I’m too well practiced at.

The need to struggle with that balance is deep in the bones, buried deep in the flesh of any queer person who grew up taught that same gender loving flesh and transgender flesh is an abomination. Perhaps you can relate as a woman or person of color or person with an accent.

For me, that struggle has been so deeply embedded for so long that I rarely notice it anymore.

Though I’d rather not think about it, it remains a costly struggle. And, if we ignore that cost the price can be dear in terms of self oppression, internalized homophobia and their companions depression, addiction, dysfunctional relationship, and other unhealthy destructive behaviors.

For many of us, we have reduced the struggle with oppression by finding safe places. We have reduced that struggle by finding healthy loving committed relationships. Many LGBT people have reduced the impact of our oppression with 20 or 30 years of being out, by claiming God’s love, by living openly and courageously. We have reduced our oppression and struggle, but we still struggle. As much as we want to forget, as much as we want to ignore it, we still live with our oppression.

And it serves me well to remember how precious is this knowledge: that God is love, that my love participates in God’s love, that God loves me in the flesh, that my flesh participates in the love that is God.

Too often, I have seen what happens to people who don’t know that God is love.

When I worked as a psychologist, I worked with too many young adults who spent their adolescence bullied daily. I worked with too many young people who were kicked out of their Christian homes because their parents’ church taught that this was the loving thing to do to LGBT teenagers.

I have read too many statistics about the number of homeless lgbt youth on the streets of our major cities, not because they want to be there, but because the emotional and physical abuse of their home life was worse than living on the streets of cities like New York.

Can you imagine? Worse than living on the streets of New York City–in the winter? homeless? hungry? These young people didn’t start out as homeless youth on our streets. They were, they are, typical everyday kids, usually from the suburbs, usually with no idea of what life is like on the streets of a big city–would you survive a day living homeless on the streets of New York City in the winter?

They are kids who ended up on the streets because of what the church, our churches, have taught about sexuality and gender identity.

Most parental rejection of LGBT youth is based on religious belief, and that must stop.

But, you might be tempted to say, we’re making progress. Look–Will and Grace! Look–marriage equality! Look–Glee!

You think it’s getting better?

That esteemed journal of modern life, Rolling Stone, had an article last September, describing the rising–yes, the rising–tide of homeless lgbt youth today.

Here is a quote from that article, from the founder of the nation’s largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth: “The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, we saw the number of homeless kids looking for shelter go up 40 percent.”

Wow. Up by forty percent? What happened? The article goes on to explain that these kids, hoping that it’s getting better, seeing marriage equality come to our states, watching TV and YouTube videos, these youth are finding the courage to come out younger–and when youth come out younger, they get kicked out of their religious homes younger.

This is why, my friends, it is so important that we love in the flesh, that we embody God in the flesh to our neighbors and their children. 

This is why it’s so important that our Open & Affirming churches name that affirmation and love out loud and visibly, in the flesh, so that everyone grows up believing that God does love them, so that every parent knows that every child is loved by God.

This is why, for me, the "open" in Open & Affirming is so important. We don’t proclaim our churches Open & Affirming for ourselves–we do it for our neighbors. We do it so that our neighbors know that there are churches that affirm LGBTQ people. We do it so that our neighbor’s children know there is a love that may not be present in their parents’ church, that there is a loving church different from the ones they see in the news on TV.

This is why it is so important that we continue the work to bring all our Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations to a welcoming place, to proclaiming openly their affirming welcome of all people regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation as well as race, ethnicity, gender, class and, well, all people.

Let us build a church where no person grows up lacking the knowledge that God loves them, her him and trans, queer bi gay and straight, that God loves all, in the flesh.

Let us build a church where no person grows up encouraged to hide in a closet and participate in their own oppression.

Let us build a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and let us build Christian Churches across the US and Canada where all know that all are welcome.

It’s time to be God in the flesh for all our neighbors, openly, clearly, out loud. Amen.

Originally published by GLAD Alliance  and was written by Rev. Dr. Mark Johnston, Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program of Gay Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance.


The churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ have a mutual founding in the Stone/Campbell movement. If anyone knows of a Disciples of Christ in central Vermont please let me know. I think the Disciples of Christ is probably the only denomination I'd feel truly comfortable in.

I'm sure I've posted this hymn before, but the verse above always puts this hymn in my mind.  It's called "God Is Love":

GOD IS LOVE

Come, let us all unite to sing:
God is love!
Let Heav’n and earth their praises bring,
God is love!
Let every soul from sin awake,
Let every heart sweet music make,
And sing with us for Jesus’ sake:
God is love!

Refrain

God is love! God is love! Come let us all unite to sing that God is love.

O tell to earth’s remotest bound,
God is love!
In Christ we have redemption found,
God is love!
His blood has washed our sins away,
His Spirit turned our night to day,
And now we can rejoice to say:
God is love!

Refrain

How happy is our portion here,
God is love!
His promises our spirits cheer,
God is love!
He is our sun and shield by day,
Our help, our hope, our strength and stay;
He will be with us all the way;
God is love!

Refrain

In Canaan we will sing again:
God is love!
And this shall be our loudest strain:
God is love!
Whilst endless ages roll along,
We’ll triumph with the heavenly throng
And this shall be our sweetest song:
God is love!

Refrain


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! May you feel God's love, the love of friends and family, and my love for each of you.

Friday, February 12, 2016

TGIF?...Not Really



Yesterday's post about anticipating cold weather and how it's been a mild winter in Vermont wasn't taken as tongue in cheek by everyone as expected. Then again, people don't always (if ever) get my sense of humor. It's a little odd the things I find funny. Anyway, yesterday's post was supposed to be a bit fun.

While today is Friday, I'm not looking forward to the weekend. It will be another lonely weekend. I do not plan on leaving my warm cozy apartment this weekend. I definitely don't plan to walk to church Sunday morning in -12 degree temperatures. As I'm writing this the wind chill outside is -17 degrees and the actual temperature is a whopping 0. When this blog piece posts, it is supposed to be -3. I do have to go outside tomorrow, and honestly, I don't mind. However, with the temperature predicted to be dangerously low with wind chills of (now they are predicting) -20 to -30, I think I'll stay in. Maybe I will do some house cleaning, or maybe I'll just stay in my warm bed and read. Our friend Susan has given me a list of books to read, and I might as well get to reading them.

What are your plans for the weekend? Is this arctic blast supposed to reach you? When I told a friend of mine what the wind chill was last night, she happily said that it was 70 degrees where she was in Louisiana. Her other comment was "Holy shit, that's cold." I'd still rather be cold than hot, and besides, I like winter fashions over summer fashions.


PS Speaking of winter fashions, I have yet to buy the requisite Vermont flannel shirt that seems to be the uniform here. I'm just not a flannel kind of guy.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Winter...Finally?


Before I moved to Vermont, my new coworkers kept asking me during the interview if I realized how cold it would be up here. My response was that, "I hate the heat of the South."  It's true. I have always hated Christmases when you can wear short sleeve shirts and shorts. I've always hated summers when you walk outside and the humidity causes you to instantly break out into a sweat. I hated having seasons that instead of being called Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall should have been named after salsa: Hot, Medium, and Mild.

So when I moved to Vermont, I bought all the winter gear necessary. It got the winter clothes, boots, and coats. I got the snow tires and winter windshield wiper blades. I got winterized. Then, the promised winter never seemed to come. Imagine my surprise when the majority of this "winter" seemed a lot like Alabama but with a bit more snow. Yes we've had weeks where it did not get above freezing, whereas Alabama would be in the 30s and 40s most of the time, rarely getting below freezing. There's one major difference I've noticed though. Alabama gets a lot more wind and rain in the winter than Vermont has gotten this year. When it is cold, windy, and rainy, it gets to your bones and it's hard to get warm. However, in Vermont there hasn't been as much wind and snow just doesn't feel as cold as those damp "winter" days of Alabama.

I realize that this is highly unusual for Vermont. The ski resorts are really struggling. I've heard that the maple syrup season is not going to be as good this year. Last night here was a news story about the poor snowshoe rabbit who turns white each winter and with the lack of snow now thinks it's camouflaged but sticks out like a sore thumb for predators to swoop in and feast on. 

This week, things have begun to change. Apparently, we are finally getting the weather we should have had in November or December. Since Sunday we have gotten snow each day and the temperature continues to plummet.  The news says we will be lucky to reach 0 degrees this weekend with lows between -20 and -10 degrees. The predictions I have seen are slightly better for the highs but it's supposed to be windy so the wind chill will drop that quite a bit.  This is what my forecast looks like:


It finally looks like winter is supposed to look, at least this weekend does. Then, it's expected to warm up again next week. This weekend is apparently just temporary, but it's nice to see snow forecasted for each day. I'm sure I'm the only one (besides the ski resorts, ice fishermen, and maple sugar producers) who feels cheated by this mild Vermont winter. I still can't convince my family that it's just not that cold up here. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Porn Phenomenon



Josh McDowell, a well-known evangelist and apologist, commissioned a new study to expose what he calls the “pervasiveness of pornography in the church and among Christians” and to his disbelief, the statistics proved what he had already feared – “pornography has infiltrated the church, especially among young adults.”
“Of young adults 18-24 years old, 76 percent actively – and these are Christians – actively seek out porn,” McDowell lamented to OneNewsNow.
Here are some additional key findings from the church commissioned study titled: “THE PORN PHENOMENON: A COMPREHENSIVE, GROUNDBREAKING NEW SURVEY ON AMERICANS, THE CHURCH, AND PORNOGRAPHY: Impact of Internet Pornography on American Population and the Church.”
  • 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn.
  • About 12% of Youth Pastors and 5% of Pastors say there are addicted to porn
  • 87% of pastors who use porn feel a great sense of shame about it
  • 55% of pastors who use porn say they live in constant fear of being discovered
OneNewsNow reports on McDowell’s one man crusade to turn the tide on all those young Christian’s addicted to playing with themselves.
McDowell tells OneNewsNow young people have a cavalier attitude towards porn.

“Of 13- to 24-year-olds, 96 percent would say that when they talk to someone about porn – their friends, which most of them are Christians now – they do it in either a neutral, positive or encouraging way,” he says.

McDowell is putting together what he calls the most comprehensive conference for Christian leaders about Internet pornography. Called “Set Free Summit,” it will take place in April in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Source: The Daily Grind, February 5, 2016


Read more: http://2anothercountry.blogspot.com/2016/02/church-funded-study-finds-76-of-young.html#ixzz3zOufwhQs