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Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

Faith’s foot in the door

13 Mar

This is in response to Davey Wavey’s blog entry of yesterday (2012-Mar-12). DW has always been rather … well, anti-religious and I can understand why he feels the way that he does.

As gay men, women and teens, most of us have experienced the kind of Bible-bashing that pretty much turns the majority of LGBT persons “off” to the slightest possibility of faith and especially, organized religion. You condemn a group of people for just being themselves long enough, you shouldn’t be surprised when they turn and say, “Screw you.” There have been times when I myself have felt this way and I’m a person who considers himself spiritual and faithful (but it does get old after a while, having to constantly endure the prejudice of others who use the Bible as their weapon of choice against you).

Think of it this way; an entire class of people (described by most fundamentalists as “sinners” just for being gay) are made to feel completely unwelcome in the very places of worship that could provide for their/our spiritual needs. Somehow, I don’t really think that was the message that Jesus Christ was attempting to convey all those years ago.

The real problem is that once the damage is done, it’s very difficult to undo. Why else do you think that LGBTQ persons are so quick to lump those who judge us, justifying their bias and prejudice (with religion), into the same category? What started out as prejudice continues to evolve and feed into further prejudice (directed toward the very people who seemingly began the judging). It really is a never-ending, vicious cycle and it doesn’t serve anybody’s best interests.


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A Resource for Labyrinths

10 Mar

A number of people reading my blog (and commenting over on Facebook) have been asking me about labyrinths; what the purpose of same is, as well as where they can find a labyrinth of their own to walk.

I can name a few in the Dallas area (see below) but if you live elsewhere, you’ll need to either do a Google search or ask around. A likely source that might know would be one of the Unity churches in your area.

List of labyrinths in the Dallas, TX area:

  • Unity Church of Dallas: The labyrinth is a painted circle (actually, I believe there are two labyrinths located here) on the back parking lot, furthest away from the church. Unity Church of Dallas is located at 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230. I walk this labyrinth regularly; it isn’t a “beautiful” labyrinth, necessarily, but it serves my purpose. The contact for the church is John Barnes at (972) 233-7106 or via email at jrbarnes@swbell.net
    Location: Outdoors
  • World-Wide Labyrinth Locator: I stumbled across this link while compiling this list tonight and hope to check out a number of the labyrinths that are listed on the page. Upon visiting, I’ll update my list here and make my comments about the experience. To use the locator, click on Home and complete the search criteria in the box on the right side of your screen.
    Located: N/A
  • TLC Labyrinth: Located on the northeast side of the lake near the Richland College Teaching-Learning-Community (TLC) Building, located 12800 Abrams Road, Dallas, Texas 75243. I haven’t visited this labyrinth yet but hope to soon.
    Located: Outdoors
  • Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration: Located at 14115 Hillcrest Road (NW corner of Spring Valley and Hillcrest Roads), this church has what appears to be a BEAUTIFUL labyrinth (located inside). I haven’t walked this labyrinth yet but have heard about it on a couple of different occasions now. I plan to visit and walk this labyrinth soon. The church may be contacted at (972) 233-1898.
    Location: Indoors
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Oak Cliff: Another labyrinth I would like to visit soon (primarily because it is located outdoors and in a woodsy setting). The church is located at 3839 West Kiest Blvd. in Dallas, Texas; Reverend Mark Walz (waltzact2@aol.com) may be contacted at (214) 755-4315.
    Location: Outdoors
  • Cathedral of Hope: I’ve been a member of this church since 1986 (formerly known as Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas, affiliated with Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches). While the “Labryinth Locator” (above) indicates our labyrinth is made of canvas and that you need to call for availability, there IS a “small” outdoor labyrinth that is located off to the right of the church as you are facing it. The church is located at 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas 75235 (behind the Taco Bell on Inwood Road) and may be accessed from both Inwood Rd. and as well, from Cedar Springs Road. The church may be reached at (214) 351-1901
    Located: Outdoors

I encourage all who are reading to try some form of meditation. We live in a busy and tension-filled world these days and quieting the mind is truly necessary for your own well-being. Walking a labyrinth “may” help you to accomplish this task to some extent. As my own faith is important to me, this is but one way I attempt to quell the everyday stresses and frustrations that find their way into my own life (labyrinths and meditation).

Perhaps the same will be of some use for you.

Namaste and peace be with you,
Michael

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A word about Faith and Reparative Therapy

28 Feb

A friend on Facebook posted a link to an article on the Huffington Post about a UAE Gay “Cure” video that had appeared on Youtube (since removed). He is [rightfully] angry about the fact that in this day and age, such places still exist. I can’t blame him; I too am angry that such abuse still takes place in the name of God.

Having said that, I want to share with you the comment that I made on his post. Maybe it will help you to understand exactly why I feel as I do about these places. (It isn’t that I believe they’ve a chance in hell of “really” changing a person’s sexual orientation. The best that can be expected is that they’ll screw the person up, giving him a feeling of “guilt for ever having such natural (for him or her) feelings in the first place” and delaying their own search for love with a partner to whom they REALLY are attracted.)

No, my anger is actually ALL ABOUT FAITH and the fact that the actions of such institutions are actually causing spiritual injury to their human subjects in the process of carrying out their abuse.

Here is my response:

Yes, this is truly disturbing but please remember that for every nutjob conservative who justifies his or her prejudice behind misunderstood scripture … there are many more [faithful] who are realizing just how wrong such treatment really is. I know that it does not seem that way sometimes but as more and more LGBT persons come out to their families (and this is by no means me encouraging others to come out before they are ready, or to even feel guilty if they choose not to), those same families are starting to question what it was that they were so adverse to in the first place.

Change does not happen overnight, regardless of how badly we would like to see it come to pass.

I’m forty-eight; I’ll be forty-nine in a couple of weeks and I’ve been among those waging the war for LGBT acceptance, understanding, tolerance and equality since I was twenty-one. (Sometimes more actively than at other [times] as it is, quite honestly, exhausting and the setbacks can take a toll on oneself.)

I DO agree with you that we need to strengthen the separation of Church and State (I’ve always believed that); I even believe that religious organizations who are involved in ventures that are implicitly intended to “be profitable” should be taxed as any other business would be.

What saddens me, however, is that when the bigots hide behind their Bibles to project prejudice upon and discriminate against LGBT persons, our community suffers two-fold. I am speaking only for myself but I do find peace in my faith. Unfortunately, many others who “might” find a similar peace are made to feel that God does not love them or that faith is not possible, given that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. The gift of hope that there could be something more, IN ADDITION to the great lives that are ours to enjoy, is made all the less likely because these same wonderful children of God do not feel welcome. THAT is what really makes my blood boil; that the nut-jobs who hide behind “their false understanding of God’s intent” use their faith AGAINST others and in the very process, diminish the likelihood that those upon whom they prey will find their own path to a faith that serves them well and might help them cope in an otherwise difficult and petty world.

I understand your anger, Robert. I even agree with you. Just please try to remember that those of whom you’re angry at represent the “extremists” among the religious right. They certainly do not speak for myself and they don’t speak for many of those I consider to be my true friends among the faithful.

Namaste and peace be with you (and have some hugs on me)

I hope that anyone reading this entry will have a better understanding of where I’m coming from, when I’m talking about matters related to LGBT equality and acceptance. If you don’t, it’s not for a lack of trying on my part.

Namaste and God bless,
Michael

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Gayatri Mantra

15 Feb

This post may seem like a departure from some of my more recent. It isn’t; the intent is still the same, to focus on Love.

As I have said previously, I believe “where love is present, all paths lead to God” (to the Higher Power from which we are all born and remain a part of throughout time). This video was shared by a friend on Facebook; it’s beautiful.

For those wondering, it is a Hindu chant, prayer or mantra (the translation follows)

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur bhuvah svahah
Tat savitur varenyamm
Bhargo Devasya dheemahi
Dheeyo yonah prachodayaat.

Translation: (alternate translation at bottom of entry)

OM, O Lord! You are the all pervading Source of Light, Sustainer, Protector and Bestower of Happiness, Kindle, Enlighten and inspire our Intelligence to possess Eternal Qualities.


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Inspiration from David Garibaldi

18 Nov

There’s nothing much that I can add other than to say I want to share this with those who are reading this blog now or at some future point in time.

Much of what I write about has nothing whatsoever to do with religion or faith. A large (if not the majority) number of my posts are my own thoughts as regards matters of state and the current shape of our economy. As many or more [posts] are focused on issues relating to the LGBT community; a community of which I am a part of (and sadly, some people have or will mistakenly get the idea that I am against religion when I discuss the latter—NOTHING could be further from the truth.) Yes, I am seldom impressed by “organized bodies of religion whose leaders pretend to have all of the answers”; especially when the faith is used as a basis or justification to judge and demean others who either 1) do not believe, or 2) who have a different set of beliefs.

But never for a minute think that faith doesn’t play an important part in my life. It may not be that my faith and religious beliefs are the same as your own but then, faith IS something one holds within his or her heart “on faith and faith alone.”

Think whatever you will of me; it will certainly not be the first time I’ve been judged, nor will it be the last. When others judge you for your own beliefs, remember this as well—that your faith is a personal matter between you and that higher power known as God, Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah, El-Shaddai, El-Olam or a Lord who has been made reference to by any number of other names.

I will not argue the point, nor will I attempt to justify my faith. The journey a man or woman walks “in faith” is a quest that is uniquely his or her own personal undertaking to bear and as long as you are at peace with where your own travels have led or are leading you, who am I to judge?

Enjoy the video…

Blessings/Namaste,
Michael

Related:

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Enjoying a moment in time

01 Oct

Photo of sunset over lake White Rock

Sun setting behind a lone sailboat. (Photo taken 2010-09-29 at White Rock lake.)

We sometimes need a reminder to enjoy the simple moments of joy God can and does provide. This photo was captured from the shore of lake White Rock Wednesday evening as the sun did set for the day.

With the silhouette of the lone sailboat in the foreground, nothing (in my opinion) was more beautiful in that singular moment. So too are the people in our lives; those we know and care deeply about but on occasion forget to take the time to let them know.

I’m sharing this image and the accompanying message with you because I’m thankful for those who are a part of my life. The past couple of years have been trying, yes; but nonetheless no more so than any other year before if you really think about it. We’ll always have one thing or another to focus our “worries” upon if that’s how we wish to live our lives.

The key is to set aside the troublesome aspects of our lives long enough to enjoy the moments of clarity and real beauty when it presents itself. Take some time to count your blessings for what you have today rather than to grouse about what your life might be lacking at this time.

Namaste,
Michael

Links for Photo #2 | Photo #3 | Photo #4 | Photo #5 | For The love of the Lake

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Texas in the moonlight

24 Sep

Photo of downtown Fort Worth (Texas) with full moon rising

Full moon rising over skyline of downtown Fort Worth, Texas. (Slideshow)

In the spirit of these past few blog entries, I’m encouraging those who are reading to enjoy every moment of your lives.

Regardless of whether or not we get an opportunity to come back as another person or not (rebirth), the truth is “one lifetime, by comparison to the number of years that have already transpired – goes by in the blink of an eye.” As children, it doesn’t seem so; in fact, it seems as though the days just drag on as we look forward to being “grownups” or while waiting for Christmas day to arrive.


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Vipassana, grace and sin..

23 Sep

Today’s entry is written to clear up a misunderstanding with regard to morality, sin and “judgment”. A comment was made on on my last entry, “Digging Deep within (Part #2)” which deserves clarification.

As I consider my earlier statement (“A thing/experience is not good or bad; it simply ‘is’“), I realize I should have spent some time talking about “Sila“. Sila is a Pali word meaning ethical conduct; put another way, it might mean “morality” and forms the basis of the Buddhist practice for a spiritual life. We will be discussing the Precepts which lay the foundation for a spiritual life further on in this entry.


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Digging Deep within (Part #2)

19 Sep

Photo of pile of sawdust
We are as grains of sawdust, each grain representing a fraction of the greater Whole

In “Digging Deep within“, I spoke of how all of our history helps to mold us into what we are today. Moreover, I ventured to share with you my ideology that we’ve a hand in our own existence, in so much as who our parents will be and also in the course that some of our life’s circumstances might take.

A comment made on that entry brings me to my next point; a linear existence.


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Digging Deep within..

15 Sep


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It’s said every step along a path leads us to a singular destination and that is true.

Granted, there are many turns along the way. From the day we are born, through childhood and our teen years we are influenced by everything that is said and which happens around us. If we are one of the very few, we will enjoy lives that are happy and seemingly absent of all that is sad but more often than not, “into each life some rain must fall“.

The suffering sweet nectar of God’s tears from above are what help to mold us into the men and women we will one day become.


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