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.

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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can't Help Falling In Love

"Can't Help Falling In Love"
written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss

Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can't help falling in love with you
for I can't help falling in love with you

I can't help falling in love with this song.  It is such a beautiful love song, which basically says that we can't choose who we love.  Even if it's a sin to fall in love and stay, you have no choice but to love the person you fall for.  Some things really are meant to be.  One day I hope to find that love that is meant to be.  I've fallen in love, without a doubt there are two men that I am in love with, but in each case (and I will always love them, no matter what), there was something that got in the way, and it was not meant to be.  Someday, though it will be meant to be.  I refuse to give up hope.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A/S/L: Let's Give This A Try

I saw this on Wicked Gay Blog and since I needed a quick post for today, I thought I'd copy it.  I hope Dave won't mind.  I've followed his blog for about five or six years and always love what I find there.

Age, Sex, Location....and if you would be so kind, how long have you been reading The Closet Professor and how did you hear about my blog? And maybe even a little about you.  I think it would be really neat to get to know some of you better.

I will get us started!!!

My name is Joe, I am a male, I live in Alabama, and I have been following this blog from the first day I started it a little over 4 years ago.  Oh, and I am a 36 years, high school social studies and English teacher and occasional part-time college instructor looking for full time employment as a college instructor.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The New, Old Commandement

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.      I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.       I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.      I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.      I write to you, children, because you know the Father.       I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.      I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:7-14

In 1 John 2:3-6, the apostle gives a test by which you can know that you truly know Jesus Christ, namely, if you walk in obedience to His word. In 2:6, he states, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Then, in 2:7-11, John goes on to apply this test of obedience more specifically to the area of love. If Jesus’ life and especially His death epitomized love, then those who claim to follow Him are obligated to live in love.

In the Upper Room, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus demonstrated His great love for the disciples by taking a towel and a basin of water and washing the disciples’ feet. After that unforgettable object lesson, He drove the point home (John 13:14-15), “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” He was not instituting a ceremonial foot-washing service, where everyone comes with clean feet to be washed! He was saying something much more difficult to practice, that we who follow Jesus must set aside our rights and serve one another out of love.

In that same chapter (John 13:34-35), Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Obviously, those words of Jesus were behind John’s words about the old, new commandment. It may be that the heretics against whom John was writing claimed to have some “new” truths. Using an obvious play on words, John counters them by saying that we don’t need new truth, but rather the old truth that his readers learned early in their Christian experience. On the other hand, if you want “new” truth, John says that the old commandment is the new commandment, which Jesus gave to us. In short,

Loving one another is an essential mark of a true Christian.

John never specifically identifies the old, new commandment in these verses, and he only mentions love once in this entire section (2:10). But his reference to the new commandment makes it obvious that he is referring to Jesus’ command to love one another.

This commandment was old in two senses. First, it was old in that Moses taught it in the Law, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Jesus identified this as the second greatest commandment, after the command to love God with all your being (Matt. 22:37-40). So in that sense, this command had been with God’s people for 1,400 years.

But the main sense in which this was an old commandment is that these believers had heard it from the very earliest days of their Christian experience (2:7): “… which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John uses the phrase, “from the beginning,” in the same way in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."

The "New Commandment", the Wycliffe Bible Commentary states, "was new in that the love was to be exercised toward others not because they belonged to the same nation, but because they belonged to Christ...and the love of Christ which the disciples had seen...would be a testimony to the world".

One of the novelties introduced by this commandment – perhaps justifying its designation as New – is that Jesus "introduces himself as a standard for love". The usual criterion had been "as you love yourself". However, the New Commandmant goes beyond "as you love yourself" as found in the ethic of reciprocity and states "as I have loved you", using the Love of Christ for his disciples as the new model.

The First Epistle of John reflects the theme of love being an imitation of Christ, with 1 John 4:19 stating: "We love, because he first loved us."

John tells his readers that they have had this commandment “from the beginning,” and then identifies it as “the word which you have heard” (2:7). It was part and parcel with the gospel that they had believed at the outset of their Christian experience. When we hear and respond to the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners, at that point the love of God is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). The first fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22). As I mentioned, the entire Bible may be summed up by the two great commandments, to love God and to love one another. So learning how to establish and maintain loving relationships is not “graduate level” Christianity. It is basic, beginning Christianity.

It all begins with how you think about others. Instead of thinking first about yourself, your feelings, your rights, and your needs, you must learn to think first about others. How can I show this difficult person the love of Jesus Christ? How can I serve this person in love? Rather than thinking angry thoughts about how he wronged you and how you’ll get even, you begin to think about how Jesus wants you to think about the one who mistreated you. You begin to pray for this person, that he would come to know Jesus. You look for opportunities to return good instead of evil. I recommend that you write out Paul’s description of love (1 Cor. 13:4-7) on a card and read it over several times each morning, until you have in your mind how a loving person acts.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I have often written about people who profess to know Christ, but their relationships are marked by anger, abusive speech, bitterness, and self-centeredness. Invariably, they don’t have a clue as to why they keep experiencing such hate. While I do not know their hearts (only God does), their lives do not give evidence that they have experienced the love of God in Jesus Christ. Rather, they seem to be in spiritual darkness, blindly colliding from one profession of hate to the next. They do not practice biblical love, which is an essential mark of every true Christian.

Again, none of us loves perfectly. When we fail, we need to repent and ask forgiveness of the one we wronged. It is a lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But those who have met Him at the cross will be growing in love for others.

Also, note that love for others is a commandment, not a warm, gushy feeling. That should give you hope, because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and God’s Spirit gives us the grace and power to obey His commands, which are for our good. Biblical love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. You can obey the commandment to love others!

So if you’re thinking, “But I don’t love my mate any more,” or, “I just don’t like that difficult person,” the Bible is clear: Get to work obeying God’s commandment to love him or her. It’s not optional for the follower of Christ. It’s essential!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Moment of Zen: Ryan Kelley

Ryan Kelley, aka Deputy Jordan Parrish on MTV's Teen Wolf, is without a doubt my moment of zen this week.  Not only is he, in my humble opinion, one of the hottest men on television right now, he's also a model (see photo below) and if his Instagram is any indication, an animal lover (see photo above).  Ryan Kelley is just so damn hot.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Time: SCOTUS and Marriage Equality

The U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in to block a federal appeals court ruling that would have allowed gay marriages to begin in Virginia on Thursday.  The decision was widely expected and tells little about how the high court will ultimately rule on the issue. It merely preserves the status quo.  Now, it's up to the Supreme Court.  It's unlikely they will continue a perpetual stay on the issue.  The federal courts have been moving quickly on the issue, and the Utah and Virginia cases have passed through the appellate courts and await the Supreme Court.  Virginia asked the justices to decide the gay marriage constitutional question "as quickly as possible."

The first opportunity for the court to take action would be when it meets Sept. 29 for its first conference of the new term. But even if the court decides to go ahead and take the Utah case, which likely will be the first one there, the timetable for filing briefs would put the argument at mid- to late January at the earliest.  If this timetable occurs, the Supreme Court could issue a ruling by late spring 2015.

Many court specialists believe the justices will go ahead and take either the Utah or Virginia case early in the term. Other experts think the justices may want to wait for a decision from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, where the panel at argument this month sounded as though it would uphold the ban on gay marriage. That would provide a conflict in the lower courts for the Supreme Court to resolve.

To date there have been 37 pro-gay marriage rulings in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law barred federal recognition of marriages performed in states where such unions are legal, and set the stage for a nearly unanimous set of rulings in the lower courts issued by both Republican and Democratic appointees.

While the nations lower courts have consistently overturned gay marriage bans, the Supreme Court will likely be forced to make a final decision on the matter.  This is a risky proposition.  Equal protection should give the Supreme Court no choice but to say that all states must recognize same sex marriages from states where it is legal.  Will they go a step further and make it legal in all states, or issue a partial ruling such as in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act?  However, if the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals does uphold the ban, the Supreme Court could do the same, and marriage equality will take a step backwards, or at the very least remain static.   Federal recognition could remain, and state recognition could continue to be a state issue.

Nineteen of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, currently allow same-sex marriage.  How likely do you think it is that the United States will have nationwide marriage equality by the summer of 2015?  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Return's Playlist on Spotify

Last week, I reviewed Brad Boney's book The Return.  The last time I got so excited over a book was Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City.  I read a lot and usually love most of the books I read, but occasionally one just speaks to me in a special way.  The Return did.  I loved how he interwove the stories together.  The coincidences gave me goosebumps, and of course, I now understand why.  As a historian and researcher myself, I love the amount of research and accuracy Boney put into his books.  So many authors just make up details or mesh together numerous details to create the perfect setting.  From what I can tell, Boney uses real settings and doesn't seem to compromise on the details.

Tuesday night, I wrote an email to Brad Boney thanking him for retweeting my review and for posting it to Facebook.  In my email, I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading about all of the music mentioned in the book, and would love to be able to listen to all of it.  I suggested that he make a playlist to share on Spotify.  (If you don't have Spotify and you are a lover of music, it is a necessary app to have.). Boney liked the idea of a Spotify list.  I was even more amazed that he sent me a follow-up email last night with a link for a Spotify list containing the music from The Return.

If you are interested in listening to the music, you can click the link below to listen to Brad Boney's playlist for The Return on Spotify:

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do.  If you haven't read the The Nothingness of Ben and The Return, I strongly urge you to do so. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Naked Sleeping and Relationships

A recent survey conducted by Cotton USA asked 1000 British people in relationships what they wear to bed and how happy they were in their current relationships. The survey found that couples who sleep in the buff had happier relationships, more sex and stronger bonds.

57% of those who reported sleeping naked said they felt happy, compared with 48% of pajama wearers and 43% of nightie wearers.

Manhattan-based therapist and relationship expert Amber Madison wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“Being naked in bed with your partner is physically and emotionally intimate,” she said. “It’s a way of showing, ‘I want to be close to you’ and a green light for sex. That intimacy and emotional and physical availability is what keeps a relationship strong in light of daily stressors and challenges.”

I asked a friend of mine who has a pretty wonderful relationship with his boyfriend, if they are usually naked when they sleep together.  He said that they usually are, but occasionally will wear briefs to bed.  When I am sleeping in bed with someone, I certainly feel closer and more connected if we are both naked.  I also certainly understand why couples who sleep together naked would have more sex.  What's better than waking up naked next to your partner when either or both of you have morning wood.

The study also looked at general sleeping habits and relationships. It found that dirty clothes on the floor, clutter and beds left unmade are big turn-offs. Eating in bed, allowing pets in the bedroom, stealing the covers and wearing socks to sleep were also listed as pet peeves. Full story here via the Gaily Grind!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Love Returned

Love Returned
Bayard Taylor

 He was a boy when first we met;
     His eyes were mixed of dew and fire,
And on his candid brow was set
     The sweetness of a chaste desire:
But in his veins the pulses beat
     Of passion, waiting for its wing,
As ardent veins of summer heat
     Throb through the innocence of spring.

As manhood came, his stature grew,
     And fiercer burned his restless eyes,
Until I trembled, as he drew
     From wedded hearts their young disguise.
Like wind-fed flame his ardor rose,
     And brought, like flame, a stormy rain:
In tumult, sweeter than repose,
     He tossed the souls of joy and pain.

So many years of absence change!
     I knew him not when he returned:
His step was slow, his brow was strange,
     His quiet eye no longer burned.
When at my heart I heard his knock,
     No voice within his right confessed:
I could not venture to unlock
     Its chambers to an alien guest.

Then, at the threshold, spent and worn
     With fruitless travel, down he lay:
And I beheld the gleams of morn
     On his reviving beauty play.
I knelt, and kissed his holy lips,
     I washed his feet with pious care;
And from my life the long eclipse
     Drew off; and left his sunshine there.

He burns no more with youthful fire;
     He melts no more in foolish tears;
Serene and sweet, his eyes inspire
     The steady faith of balanced years.
His folded wings no longer thrill,
     But in some peaceful flight of prayer:
He nestles in my heart so still,
     I scarcely feel his presence there.

O Love, that stern probation o’er,
     Thy calmer blessing is secure!
Thy beauteous feet shall stray no more,

     Thy peace and patience shall endure!
The lightest wind deflowers the rose,
     The rainbow with the sun departs,
But thou art centred in repose,
     And rooted in my heart of hearts!

Monday, August 18, 2014

MCM: Zac Efron

Last night, I watched 17 Again, a cute little movie with Zac Efron in it.  It's worth watching.  And while Zac may have some substance abuse problems, and I hope he's getting the treatment he needs, I still think Zac is one of the top ten hottest men in Hollywood, and gets better looking every year.

I knew immediately it was a hoax when I read that James Franco was the first to officially congratulate his brother Dave and hunky heartthrob Zac Efron on their newly-public relationship, posting a screenshot of an article confirming the new Hollywood power couple on Instagram.

“Effron [sic] and My brother, dating!!!!!!”, he writes. “Congrats, boys! I’m so happy for you!!!”
The news of Efron’s brand new relationship with his Neighbors costar comes less than a month after reports linked him to openly bisexual actress Michelle Rodriguez. It is also, unfortunately, totally fake.

But wouldn't they make a beautiful couple.  And Dave does seem to have his eye on "Lil Zac."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Walking in Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1 John 1:5:10

1 John is a great book. If you have not read it or not read it recently I suggest that you do. In this post I want to discuss how we are able to walk in the light, in future posts I plan to explore more of the Epistles of John. Do we simply decide one day that we want to start walking in the light? Are there any requirements we must meet before we begin to walk in the light? If these seem like “loaded” questions they are so please don’t hold that against me.

First, lets define what “walking in the light” means. We are given the context in verse 5 where we are told that God is light. We must also know that when we see “walking” in the Bible, it often is a metaphor for how we live our day-to-day lives. With these things in mind it becomes clear what “walking in the light” means. It means to be living daily in accordance to God’s commands. Simple enough, right? Now that we know what “walking in the light” means we must turn our attention to how we can actually live according to God’s commands. This is not a small task.

Walking in the light is the opposite of walking in darkness. It means seeing reality for what it is and being controlled by desires that accord with God's light. If God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, then he is the bright pathway to the fulfillment of all our deepest longings. He is the deliverer from all dark dangers and obstacles to joy. He is the infinitely desirable One.

What does God want of me? What does God want of us? Probably every Christian has asked these very questions. They are asked in times of anguish, during crisis and decision making and, implicitly and explicitly, on a day-to-day basis. What does God require of those who want to offer their sincere allegiance and devotion?

God has created human beings in such a way that they continue learning and growing intellectually all throughout life. It is normal, natural and desirable that we continue to grow, even in our understanding of the Bible and theology. That is one of the reasons we attend church. Obviously we go to worship the Lord but we also go to learn from the Bible. This also means that as I grow, I become more responsible than I was earlier in my life. Paul teaches this same truth about love when he says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish way s behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). The implication of this passage is that earlier in our life—when we had a simple understanding of truth, God accepted us and our ignorance. However, as we received more and more information, God holds us to a higher level of understanding.

So, if we continue learning and growing intellectually in our relationship with God, are we then doing what God wants? Are we walking in the light? We cannot simply mark these things off on a checklist. For there is a unifying thread woven through the pattern of "walking in the light." These "expectations" are unified by an understanding of God's character and of God's activity in Christ. Thus John begins with an assertion about God, the simple statement that God is light. Everything depends upon and flows from that statement. It is worth examining at some length.

Once we recognize our need for a Savior we are willing to listen and respond to the Gospel.  We must hear and respond to the Gospel before we can “walk in the light”.  When we respond to the Gospel, by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God adopts us into His family.  We become joint heirs with Jesus.  We must be adopted into His family before we can “walk in the light”.  As adopted children, we then become responsible to live under the authority of our heavenly Father.  This means following His commands.  When we follow His commands in our day to day lives we are “walking in the light”.  Verse 7 gives us the benefits of “walking in the light”.  We will have fellowship with one another and will be cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Are you “walking in the light”?  As I read this passage, I couldn't help but remember one of my favorite hymns, which I want to leave you with.

Heavenly Sunlight
Henry J. Zelley, pub.1899

Walking in sunlight all of my journey;
Over the mountains, through the deep vale;
Jesus has said, “I’ll never forsake thee,”
Promise divine that never can fail.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

Shadows around me, shadows above me,
Never conceal my Savior and Guide;
He is the Light, in Him is no darkness;
Ever I’m walking close to His side.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.

In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,
Pressing my way to mansions above;
Singing His praises gladly I’m walking,
Walking in sunlight, sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding my soul with glory divine:
Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,
Singing His praises, Jesus is mine

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Symphony of Words: A Review of Brad Boney's The Return

The Return by Brad Boney

A friend of mine recently suggested that I read Brad Boney's two books: The Nothingness of Ben and The Return.  I will admit that I listened to them on audiobook.  I drive back and forth to work each day forty minutes both ways, so audiobooks are an easy way for me to consume new books, without me staying up all night long reading as I often do with books.  While The Nothingness of Ben is a wonderful book and a true joy to read (and by the way must be read before The Return), The Return is an absolute masterpiece of gay fiction.  It is a symphony of words and one of the most masterful pieces of literature that I have read in years.

Here's a quick description of The Return
Music. Topher Manning rarely thinks about anything else, but his day job as a mechanic doesn't exactly mesh with his rock star ambitions. Unless he can find a way to unlock all the songs in his head, his band will soon be on the fast track to obscurity.  
Then the South by Southwest music festival and a broken-down car drop New York critic Stanton Porter into his life. Stanton offers Topher a ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert, where a hesitant kiss and phantom vibrations from Topher’s cell phone kick off a love story that promises to transcend ordinary possibility.
There is a lot of music associated with The Return, and it only seems fitting that I review it using symphonic allegory, at least that's what I calling it.  A classic symphony is in four parts:  1) an opening sonata or allegro, 2) a slow movement, such as adagio, 3) a minuet or scherzo with trio and 4) an allegro, rondo, or sonata.  The book loosely follows this pattern.  It begins with the opening sonata or allegro which is fast, quickly, and bright.  There is a whirlwind of things happening in the beginning, but once you start you are hooked and can't stop.  Then there is a slow movement, adagio, which is slow and stately.  I will admit it slows down and you think this book will be quite predictable.  I thought I knew where it was going and what would happen, yet I couldn't have been more wrong.  The scherzo can frequently be referred to a fast-moving humorous composition which may or may not be part of a larger work.  In the case of The Return, this come approximately in the middle of the book and holds the novel together.  It's fast.  It grabs your attention and the tears begin to flow.  It's all about a tying together of events, and Brad Boney is a master of this.  The third quarter of the book has a rising crescendo that grasps you emotionally.  Every emotion is tugged at and your heart swells and sinks as the book progresses.  Once the book reaches it's climax and you know how things will end, or at least you think you know, you must continue even though you know the emotional roller coaster is no where near its end.  The last couple of chapter, the last quarter of the book, is the second climax that brings things together that you would have never guessed.  When you think the book becomes predictable, hold on to your seat.  Many classical rondos feature music of a popular or folk character.  In the fourth movement of The Return, the central character of most serious gay fiction since the 1980s is also a major character.  If you don't understand, I'm speaking of the AIDS epidemic.  As I said though, this is an emotional roller coaster and one that you will not want to get off of.

In the literary history of gay fiction, you have books such as E.M. Forster's Maurice in which the main character find tragedy and sadness as a punishment for his homosexuality. The same is the case with the heart wrenching Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.  Gay authors were not allowed to publish books with a happy ending.  Then came the liberation of gay fiction in the 1970s and happiness could be seen in gay fiction for the first time. But once the AIDS epidemic begins, gay literature takes on a mourning period.  There are no more happy endings, only lessons of loss.  By the 2000s, there was a return of more cheerful books of gay fiction, romance and mystery.  These books were whimsical and fun, but publishers have since largely closed their gay imprints and ebooks and independent publishers have replaced the gay imprints. And finally, those who love gay fiction can find a large supply of books to read.  Some of the authors, such as Brad Boney, Amy Lane, Xavier Mayne, LB Greg, JB Sanders, and KC Burn are creating beautiful and emotional love stories, some are even still whimsical such as JB Sanders.  Not all of this proliferation of gay literature is readable or even mildly entertaining, but just as with the authors I just mentioned, there are numerous gems to be found.

I mentioned at the beginning that I listened to this book.  It was read by the actor Charlie David, who,read both The Nothingness of Ben and The Return.  I will admit, that Charlie David is a good reader, but some of this southern pronunciations of names and especially places is off in The Nothingness of Ben.  But with The Return, David had found his ability to capture the voices and settings.  He adds the emotions and conveys them like no other narrator I have ever heard.  There is one scene when Topher is on the plane coming back from NYC and he calls his band mate Peter and cries.  Charlie David's voice breaks, and I cried with Topher.  I can't imagine anyone reading a book with the emotions and savvy of Charlie David.  He was perfection in his reading of The Return.

The Return does transcend ordinary possibility and borders on fantasy or science fiction, but it's a beautiful story and the end will blow you away.  You just read this book, and along the way, listen to some of the songs mentioned.  It will truly bring the book alive, especially if you aren't listening to Charlie David read it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

LGBT Youth and the Internet

In a recent study released by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, nearly three times the amount of LGBT youth respondents — and particularly those in rural areas — reported bullying and harassment online, as compared to their non-LGBT peers (42 percent of LGBT youth versus 15 percent of straight, cisgender youth). In addition, LGBT youth were twice as likely to report being harassed via text message.

Billed as the first study to deeply explore the Internet experiences of LGBT youth, Out Online: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet drew on a national survey of 5,680 students in middle and high school.

Reported effects of bullying included lowered self-esteem, higher likelihood of depression, and lowered grade point averages. But while the Internet exposed respondents to more harassment, users also reported increased peer support, access to health information, and opportunities for civic engagement.

"The Internet does not serve to simply reinforce the negative dynamics found offline regarding bullying and harassment," said Michelle Ybarra, the president and research director of the Center for Innovative Health Research, in a statement. "Rather, this technology also offers LGBT youth critical tools for coping with these negative experiences."

The study found LGBT youth nearly twice as likely to research medical information online (81 percent of LGBT youth vs. 46 percent of non-LGBT youth), with transgender youth proving particularly proactive. Half reported having at least one close friend online, as compared to only 19 percent of their non-LGBT peers who said they had at least one close friend online.

This study begs the question? Are LGBT youth worse off because of cyber-bullying or better of more information and easier access to that information?  I tend to think LGBT youth are better off because they have greater and easier access of information about sexuality and health.  From my experience as a teacher, LGB youth are more accepted by their peers, even those only perceived to be LGB. (I exclude the "T" because, and not to sound insensitive, transsexual youth are not yet as easily understood by the current generation.)  It is often socially unacceptable to bully your peers face-to-face; however, we all know that some people can use the internet to be jerks and bully those who they wouldn't have the courage to bully in person.  

Bullying is going to happen.  We can try to prevent it in our schools, but we cannot be everywhere all the time.  We have to also rely on students to report the problem.  I do think most schools do a remarkable job of preventing bullying on campus, but cyber-bullying is something we had a harder time controlling.  Kids can use anonymity to cyber-bully, and they can also prevent parents and faculty from monitoring social media by keeping their Twitter, Instagram, Kik and Facebook accounts private and/or secret.

It's a new generation, a new world, and new technology that makes cyber-bullying possible.  We must remain more vigilant in our protection of our youth.  At the same time, we should encourage LGBT youth to use the internet in a positive way and to gain greater information about their sexuality.  Let the positive aspects of the internet, networking and information, outweigh the negative impact of cyber-bullying.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Great Sadness

On Monday, the same day I posted about my own battles with depression, Robin Williams committed suicide.  Williams had been seeking treatment for depression.  The Oscar-winning actor for years dealt with bouts of substance abuse and depression and referenced his struggles in his comedy routines. Just last month, Williams announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program.

The circumstances of the death do not help explain what motivated him, suicide experts said. Understanding that would require a detailed "psychological autopsy" that includes the review of medical and other records, and interviews with family and friends.  These experts stressed that suicide rarely is triggered by a single factor, such as depression or substance abuse. Typically there are at least two such influences, often compounded by acute stress, such as from financial hardship or troubled personal relationships.

I think that if you looked at any of Williams's performances you will see one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived, yet you would also see an undertone do sadness.  Maybe that is 20/20 hindsight, but Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, Patch Adams, and so many others show a troubled man who also used humor to hide what was underneath, a great sadness.

The first "gay" movie I think I ever saw was The Birdcage.  It showed men who were gay and were proud to be gay.  It showed something that I had never seen before, and it didn't degrade gay men, just used them as part of the comedy as any other character in the film was used.  It's actually the heterosexuals in the film that become the most ridiculous.

Robin Williams will be greatly missed.  I am sorry that depression took someone who made so many people happy.

If the loss of Robin Williams was not tragedy enough, Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in To Have and Have Not, died at the age of 89 yesterday.

Her death was confirmed by Robbert de Klerk, the co-managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate with her son Stephen Bogart. "She passed away peacefully earlier today in New York," according to family, De Klerk said. Some news sources state that she died of a stroke.

With an insinuating pose and a seductive, throaty voice — her simplest remark sounded like a jungle mating call, one critic said — Ms. Bacall shot to fame in 1944 with her first movie, Howard Hawks’s adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel To Have and Have Not, playing opposite Humphrey Bogart, who became her lover on the set and later her husband.

It was a smashing debut sealed with a handful of lines now engraved in Hollywood history.

“You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve,” her character says to Bogart’s in the movie’s most memorable scene. “You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

The film was the first of more than 40 for Ms. Bacall, among them The Big Sleep and Key Largo with Bogart, How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, the all-star Murder on the Orient Express (1974), each are some of my favorite films.  Those that you can see a hundred times and never tire of them.

In 1996, Bacall appeared as the meddling mother to Barbra Streisand in The Mirror Has Two Faces, a role for which she received her only Academy Award nomination as supporting actress.

She was considered a shoo-in to take home the Oscar but lost out to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient.

The actress told The Times in 1998 that she wasn't bitter.

"The part I had in Barbra's movie was a terrific part just on its own," she said. "The opportunity to work with her was great, but you know, the whole thing of awards is a nightmare, I think. It has gotten out of hand. There are too many awards."

She said she was surprised when she received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 1997, calling it "a very special honor."

"Listen, I never went into this business thinking of winning anything," she said. "I went into it because I loved it and I wanted to be good at it. It was a form of expression for me. I love to hide behind characters. So [any recognition] I get is a perk. It's just an extra. Just the fact that all that happened to me last year, it is -- well -- fabulous."

Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams were class acts and their legend will continue.  Of you haven't seen one of their movies in a while, I encourage you to do so.  It might just inspire you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

American Boys, Hello!

American Boys, Hello!
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh! we love all the French, and we speak in French
As along through France we go.
But the moments to us that are keen and sweet
Are the ones when our khaki boys we meet,
Stalwart and handsome and trim and neat;
And we call to them—“Boys, hello!”
“Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!”

We couldn’t do that if we were at home—
It never would do, you know!
For there you must wait till you’re told who’s who,
And to meet in the way that nice folks do.
Though you knew his name, and your name he knew—
You never would say “Hello, hello, American boy!”
But here it’s just a joy,
As we pass along in the stranger throng,
To call out, “Boys, hello!”

For each is a brother away from home;
And this we are sure is so,
There’s a lonesome spot in his heart somewhere,
And we want him to feel there are friends 
right there

In this foreign land, and so we dare
To call out “Boys, hello!”
“Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!”

About This Poem

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote “American Boys, Hello!” while visiting France during the latter stages of World War I as entertainment for the American soldiers stationed there.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin, in 1850. She wrote numerous collections of poetry, including Poems of Reflection (1905). She died in Connecticut in 1919.

Monday, August 11, 2014

In a Funk

As I was sitting in church yesterday,  I was trying to follow my own advice and really listen to the lesson in the sermon.  My preacher preached on the four levels of love, from lowest to highest:  worldly love, selfish love, love of our fellow man, and the highest level of love, the love we have for God.  It was a very good message, and I want to share part of it with you over the next several Sundays as I look at the Epistles of John.  As I was listening to the sermon though  I was thinking how much I love God and how I try to love all of my fellow mankind, but I was also thinking about how often I fail at loving mankind.  There are just some people that I have a hard time showing the type of love God wants us to show.  My preacher said that we should show kindness to everyone and to put behind us those things that make us not want to love that person.  I still find that there are certain people who just make me angry to look at them.  I'm gonna try and be better.

The two lowest levels of love, worldly and selfish, are two that I'm not having a hard time resisting right now.  I'm kinda mad with the world and not much liking myself at the moment   I'm in quite a funk, and this hit me hard during the middle of church, which is why I began by talking about the sermon.

School starts back today, at least for teachers.  Students return on Wednesday.  Every year, when it's time for school to start back, whether it was as a student or teacher, I get depressed.  When I was in middle and high school as a student, I went through this every Sunday.  It wasn't that I hated school, I loved learning, but I hated the people I had to learn beside.  And now, I don't much like the students I have to teach to, nor some of the people I work with.  It's really not as bad as I make it sound, but at the beginning of the summer, I had such high hopes that I would be moving on to better things.  I had put in numerous job applications, only to receive one rejection after the other.  For many of those jobs, the funding fell through, and no one was hired.  So it was not really a rejection of me, but a major let down.  At least I do have a job, I know far too many people who don't have a job and are looking for one.

The thing is, this sadness and loss of hope that I have been feeling for weeks, just came crashing down on me right in the middle of church.  I was thinking, I love God, why can't I just go and be with him.  I'm not afraid to die, and it could just make things simpler.  I'm not fond of the world I live in, and I don't much like myself, so let me be with my greatest love: God.  Please don't think I was contemplating suicide.  I won't allow myself to think that way again, but I was thinking, that maybe it would be best if God just ended this one life, my life.

Truthfully though, it was the sermon I heard today that made me reconsider those thoughts.  Those thoughts were selfish, very selfish.  The end of my love would only cause an end to my own misery, but what would it do to others.  I have a friend that I talk to several times a day through text messages, and I thought he would wonder what happened to me if the messages just suddenly ended and he received no response.  He doesn't need that and I wouldn't want him to go through that.  How would he even know what happened to me?  I felt the same way about another friend of mine.  We email each other every week, sometimes several times a week.  What if the emails just stopped.  How would he know what happened?  Then there are all those out there who read my blog.  Would they wonder why I quit posting?  The Closet Professor would have just stopped with no explanation.  Then there is my family who would grieve for my loss.

Is it selfish to believe that my death would cause others sorrow?  I'm pretty sure it would.  I not so sure how great an impact it would have.  People would go on with their lives.  The thing is I would cause sorrow in at least some people, and I'd hate to know I did that.

This funk will end soon.  I'm just feeling anxious and sorry for myself right now.  If it doesn't, and since it has been going on for a week or so now, I'm planning on seeing my doctor and asking him about my antidepressant.  Maybe he will either increase the dosage or give me something that might work better.  Hopefully, my new exercise and diet plan will also help lift my mood.  I'm sure getting back into a regular routine will help.