Monday, 25 May 2015

Woe is me


(Plagiarised from, and inspired by David Hayward, aka The Naked Pastor, who runs The Lasting Supper)

 
You suck. You're a failure. You're useless and worthless!

Is that what you tell yourself?

"I'm a complete failure and I should just give up"

So here's something to ponder - self-pity is the greatest obstacle to your personal spiritual progress!

Even though on one level I despise pity, I’ve had to come to realize that on another level I cherish it. It’s delicious. Not only does it make my story feel validated, it also makes me feel soothed and comforted in it.

My version of my story is not necessarily reality. I am discovering from brain science and psychoanalysis, which also agrees with philosophies like Buddhism, that me clinging to my version of my story, my attachment to certain thoughts or beliefs, or even any thought or belief, is the cause of suffering. My attachment to a thought is suffering.

”Perhaps the most important revelation is precisely this: the left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives that do not necessarily accord with the truth… The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control… What is so adaptive about having what amounts to a spin doctor in the left brain? The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves.”



It's as if we are clinging to a story about ourselves, that we are relishing a thought that causes us intense suffering. On the one hand, we want to stay attached to this story because it evokes pity in ourselves, and in others for us. On the other hand, we realize we simply could not continue in this vein because it would only perpetuate our suffering and therefore our need for pity. Pity can kill our motivation to move on.

It’s a vicious, circular trap… the more I pity myself, the more pity I get, the more I need to stay in my suffering, then the more I pity myself and the more pity I get. There would be no possible way out until… UNTIL… I realize that this is all orbiting around a lie: a fabricated narrative that says I suck as a person, and that I am a failure as someone trying to help others. It is a lie that I suck as a person. It is not true!

As soon as the centre disappears… the lie… so does its gravitational pull, its orbit, and its planets: my need for self-pity and pity from others. They are flung into the furthest galaxies.

It’s not a one time magic disappearing show. When I am inundated with negative "press" every day, not only from my own false mind as well as from those who don’t respect me, it is a daily project for me. But it’s not too difficult. It’s just a matter of looking at these accusations and simply asking, “Is this true?” Is it really true? No, it’s not. It’s a lie.

This is what progress looks like. It helps us escape from our victim mentality that would keep us  bound in our own pity and the pity of others for the rest of our lives. It helps us move on to really become healthy and independent. It helps us to become truly free. In fact, it sets us free to become a better person who truly does help others.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Silent Gays Meeting


Meeting Saturday 23rd May at Dazzle Cafe, Ponsonby - 1:30pm to 3:30pm

A safe place to find love and support for LGBT people who've suffered at the hands of religion and the church, to explore their spirituality outside of religious dogma, and be loved simply for who they are.

RSVP:
or
info@silentgays.com


Friday, 15 May 2015

I Need You!!

Silent Gays is all I do.

It's my life and passion. 


It's growing steadily and I really want to give the whole thing a massive push. I have the infrastructure in place and the people to help. Its time to get out there and let the world know that there is freedom for LGBT people outside of religious abuse, bigotry and dogma.

Last year I received so much from so many wonderful people to get my book published. It's become an integral part of Silent Gays and sales are slowly growing. Eventually it will hopefully become a steady stream of income. But now I need your help again.

I've just released the audiobook of It's Life Jim... to coincide with this new campaign. I'll also be recording new music and I'm looking at other merchandise. 

I'm also hoping some people who also have the passion for this project will be able to commit to a regular donation. 

I have all the usual bills to cover, including a healthy internet service, and the time is now right to launch a concise, targeted online marketing campaign along with setting up workshops and seminars.

Here's the plan - 

  • Buy my book (in any format, but the audiobook is where I make the most profit)
  • Buy my music (assuming you actually like it, lol)
  • Buy ANYTHING from Amazon through my affiliate link (I get a small commission on all purchases)
  • One off donations (of course)
  • Regular donations (whatever, whenever)

 I want to raise an initial $2000 for a targeted Google AdWords campaign. This will then be assessed and refined as needed for another round of advertising.

This can all be done from the Silent Gays Money! page.

Silent Gays - Money!

I've also partnered with We'll Make Cents who specialise in fundraising at a community level.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

No more stuffing around

Over the last few years I've been through the process of completely re-assessing life in every way - from my sexual identity as a gay man to the very foundations of my spirituality.

Part of this process has been writing my story in the book "It's Life Jim.." (which I'm sure you've all read!). The other even more significant part of this has been the setting up of the Silent Gays project.

Interestingly, I've been dubbed a "christian gay author" in the media, although I didn't want to be stereotyped I thought what the heck, it helps me target the christian world.

But the problem is that I'm not really christian any more. I'm not trying to help christians understand that its ok to be gay and christian. I'm challenging the entire christian paradigm that created this mess in the first place!

I'm not particularly interested in doctrinal arguments (although I can engage at that level). I'm really trying to address the narrow minded bigotry that religion has created. I'm addressing the damage that it causes on every level.

My real heart for Silent Gays is to help LGBT people (and anyone really) who have had enough with religion and want a safe forum to explore, to question, to express anger, fear, abuse and frustration, to be amongst people who will actually listen without judgement and religious bias.

I've outgrown christianity. It was my "salvation" for most of my life and kept me alive, gave me a solid reference point that I could hang on to. I can respect those still in it, and completely empathise with their dependency and passion for it.  But its like a baby sitter that is no longer needed. It confined me to the safety of the nursery until I could step outside to see the enormity of all that is life.

So I'm dropping any pretence of trying to maintain credibility in christian circles. I'm going to aggressively (but lovingly) target those who have silently and painfully questioned everything for so long - who are torn apart inside, looking for something bigger and better - desperate for unconditional love and acceptance without any strings attached.

There are millions of people in this place, trapped by the fear of rejection by God and going to hell, terrified of the consequences of leaving, or even questioning, their current religious situation. And it's not just LGBT people, although they are my primary "target".

So I'll be refining my resource materials, tweaking the website, and working on getting the word out there.

Its time for the world to grow up and really understand what it is to live loved!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Clericalism

I have a guest blog today from Dylan Morrison - a wonderful and very insightful writer (check out his books here).

Enjoy!!
Click here to see original article



I guess there’s always been a bunch of folk who saw themselves as intermediaries of sort between God and man. How come? Well I believe that bizarrely the roots of religious belief can be found in mob violence – the founding murder, so to speak. I’d better explain.

Ancient man lived in small extended family groupings or prototype tribes. When something went wrong in their fight for survival and things began to get a little heated, a scapegoat was quickly found and dispatched in a fit of rage. This unexpected blood-letting released a quasi sense of cathartic peace in the remaining family members, who began to interpret it as the blessing of the Divine Spirit in the Sky! “Ah, so if we kill someone or something on a regular basis, we can obtain the favour of the One above. If we sacrifice to Transcendence, blessings will flow.” The birth of sacrificial religious thought which sadly continues to this day.

Over time, the tribe asked for volunteers to dot he dirty deed and so the priesthood was born. Those not afraid to get blood on their hands in exchange for a new prestige within the community. “We are a cut above the rest,” became their sacred slogan as they sharpened their clerical knives. And so it has continued through the ages. For some the blood is still part of the killing vocation, for others it’s now a symbolic role, dispensing the wine of the slain Lamb on a regular basis. Since time immemorial we have been into blood and so it remains. Further exploration of this obsession is for another day. What I really want to focus on is the sociological residue of such a belief system – the clerical class.

Now, let me say that I’m friends with a number of priests of varying shades. I’m not here to question their motives or their devotion to the Divine; rather I wish to question whether they are needed. Of course, when professional livelihoods are involved the cleric understandably fights back with 2000 years of Christian tradition or even more in the case of the older religions. I can understand that all too human reaction. When we need food on the table for our kids we’ll perform all sorts of pastoral back flips to justify our existence.

No, do we really need a professional class of priests, pastors and dare I say it, Apostles ( for my Pentecostal friends) in order to know God. Do we still require the experts to stand between Divine Source and man? Well, if we still insist on communities that centre around a round of religious gatherings in a purpose-built building, then the clergy still play a role, albeit an organisational one. For, let’s face it, if there wasn’t a paid official to do all the stuff, the whole system would collapse due to apathy. Folk have always wanted a Moses figure to go up the Mount and come back with a tabletised list of instructions from God, especially if they can also perform the role of CEO for the business named church.

I guess I’m saying that we don’t need a bunch of men or women to dispense the Divine for us, for Presence already dwells within. What we may need is one almighty shock to our ego system, that reveals this dramatic truth, one that rarely comes through the dedicated efforts of the clergy. A sudden death, a health scare, a divorce, redundancy etc all have the potential to jolt us into an Awakening experience. The place for answers is within, in the depths of our ego screams. There the Light dwells and we knew it not. Most folk within clerical systems of ministry are nice folk, though not all. Yet, there very existence may divert folk from meeting the Divine, heart to Heart. A little ministerial cul-de-sac that seems to help for a while until a new top-up of concern is needed. Life is messy and it’s there that Divine Love has chosen to dwell.

The trouble is that the priest/pastor/reverend etc can feel that it’s their job to keep the whole God show on the road. This is often done by teaching the particular dos and don’ts of their interpretive tradition. Having joined the clerical class to help mankind they can so easily end up propping up a moral empire based on the interpretive add-ons of their religious tradition. It’s so easy to switch into control mode in the name of the God of freedom. It’s the historical virus that invades the very heart of religious systems. The priest once more stands as judge and jury on the whole God-man thing, tempted to shed blood, albeit verbally on the chosen scapegoat.

Finally, let me tell you a wee story. A couple of years back here in Lincoln, I was out for a walk along the local High Street when I noticed a bunch of Christians doing their evangelistic thing. Always willing to have a chat will fellow God folk, I stopped and entered into a friendly chat with a guy, who turned out to be the pastor of the gang. At first our conversation was friendly but soon it was strongly inferred that I should be a church member and come along to sample his particular brand of gathering. At this point I suggested that the pastor try a wee experiment. Why not stop all church gatherings for a year, when folk could just mix with society at large. After 12 months have a meeting to see how many people had become Christians through contact with his flock. Unfortunately, I saw sheer disbelief in his eyes. “Dylan, I couldn’t do that.” “Why not?” I asked. “Well, frankly my members wouldn’t make it if it weren’t for our church programme.” Enough said. ” The Christ within would wither up and die if the pastor’s flock didn’t get their weekly worship session and sound Bible instruction.

The clerical system at its worst methinks.

Friday, 24 April 2015

An NDE and me, or, Jim slips into the Twighlight Zone

I saw this video yesterday and was glued to the screen for the whole 30 minutes.

Now that may sound a little odd for many of you simply because its just another Near Death Experience story, and we all have various opinions about them. I've seen many of these stories, but this hit me big time.




So here's what stunned me...

I've always had a deep impression of what God is like - who we are and how it all fits together. I've tried to squash it into christianity all my life - to make it fit as best I can. It probably came from my spiritual experience when I was 15 (I cover all that in my book), that I could never put into words.

Over the years my deepest experiences with God were far bigger and more expansive than any christian or general religious beliefs. But I would get stuck with the christian paradigm and think I was just deluded or something and shelve it all.

The last few years have seen a reawakening of all this as I've strived for integrity in my journey. So what's that got to do with the video, I hear you ask? Just about everything this guy experienced is what I've experienced. Not in the same level of "reality" that he has, but as a shadow, or a knowing - as thoughts and concepts that gurgle through my mind. Snippets of greater things that are just out of reach. As I heard him talking about his experience I thought "he's been inside my head!!".

OK, I'm probably being too cosmic or whatever (too many drugs in the 70s?), and I've probably lost all credibility with most of you by now, but I have to be honest about this stuff. I have no agenda and no reason to make this stuff up. It's all kind of freaky on one hand, but beautiful and affirming on the other.

For those of you who have followed my ramblings for a while you may already see the association with what he says and a lot of what I vainly try to express.

Anyway, I'm inspired and excited. Maybe we are both whako? Who knows! But I feel a huge relief and peace about my own journey after seeing this. It feels like I have permission to follow my heart with a new level of honesty and integrity.

God is Love, Love is God, we are God, yet we are ourselves.
Live Loved!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

ANZAC and other atrocities

Years ago I wrote a poem about ANZAC and Remembrance Day. I dug it up and posted it a couple of years back, but I've been thinking about it all with the ANZAC centenary this year, and thought I'd post it again.

Its a very emotional and evocative time for millions as they remember those who died in war. I understand that, and quietly remember them too. But for me, there is no glory, there are no heroes, there is no "dying for freedom" or sacrificing lives for the good of mankind, and any other patriotic idealism you want to throw at it.

It is simply murder on a massive scale. No glorious soldiers dying in battle. Just murdered humans.

We think of ANZAC, and acknowledge it was a devastating failure. But somehow, it's been made into more than that. It seems too hard for us to accept that it was the ultimate act in stupidity - absolutely pointless in every sense. Historians try to make something good out of it but fortunately, there are other historians who are presenting the truth now.
Murdered humans

There were no heroes. The reality is there were a bunch of scared young men played like puppets by pompous, arrogant British commanders. There is no "glory" in war - ever!

I don't join in any ANZAC or other war remembrance activities, and I never will. Sure, I know many think it's good to remember how horrible it is, and I'm OK with that. But for me, I won't give it any more than this blog.

Perhaps it's because my dad was a prisoner of the Japanese in WW2 in Changi and forced to work the Burma railway for 3 years, and I saw the determination he had to live life, to forgive the Japanese and actively embrace them. He detested the gatherings of the other POWs who would sit around and complain how horrible it was and hold on to their bitterness, and wallow in memories that became myths of glory and triumph.

No, count me out.


And what of our future;
Glories of war, past and present,
Lies and myths float on the phosphorous clouds
Inhaled by Red, Yellow, Black...
We have fought with patriotic eyes,
As have they!
Who can see death without tears?
How many knew the reasons?
Innocent, ignorant, martyrs.

A dawn's early mist drifts and carries fatigue,
Echoes of shellfire -
Scarred earth -
A child's terror,
Nightmare vision and Godless chills
And prickling hackles
Making beds for propaganda - patronising, patriots,
Fanatics.

At the setting of the sun
And in the morning
We will grieve them, Lest we remember.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

It's Life Jim... - excerpt Ch 7

Click here to buy a copy
After finishing the internship with Vineyard, we continued to be very involved with Living Waters, even though we didn’t do church as such any more. We both participated regularly in the 26 week course they run. Over the next few years either Min, myself or both of us, would lead the worship at the beginning of the meetings and were then either participants or assistant leaders in the small groups.

Up to this point, life had been a continual battle of hopelessness, confusion, depression,shame, anxiety, you name it. Marriage was a constant exercise in fear. Although I still loved Min as a person, the effort of trying to be a straight husband was tearing me apart. I think she understood to a degree, and often called me asexual, simply because I had to turn off any sexuality in order to survive.
But it produced a very difficult dynamic, and a sense of continual disappointment in both of us.

Who else?

(For Min)

Just when you thought,
I know you, but I don’t - we don’t.
I think I’m comfortable, but stretch me,
But you are here for more than that
My anchor
Inspirer
Patient lover
Who else would bleed for me like you?
Sacrifice so much...
See through me, love me, by my side
My poppy blown in the wind, but strong and tall –
Trampled by my thoughtless feet,
But nurtured to blossom bright again
by the tender handed Gardner
A bruised reed – unbroken
Your eyes open me, melt me, expose me, fill me
Who else could there be?
Who else could be there?

I kept a journal off and on over the years. I would start with lots of passion and determination to pour out my heart so that I could look back and thank God for the progress in my life, but it ended up a never ending exercise in depression.Simply flicking back to older entries sent me spiralling downhill, seeing that nothing ever changed. The same battles, the same pseudo victories, the same positive self-talk, the same disillusionment, the same defeat and depression –in never ending cycles. Someone said doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result was actually insanity! Well, I guess I was insane!

I’d look back over all the endless sermon notes, all meaningless christianese jargon that had absolutely no correlation to what was going on inside me.

My poor family had to bear the brunt of my depression, and I’m amazed at how well my son has survived through it all! He was dragged from pillar to post, through boring meetings, intense groups, music rehearsals and services. And he survived our endless arguments, and my angry outbursts of frustration. I must say that he has grown into an amazingly strong young man with a big heart.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Roll up, Roll on, Roll over


Roll up, see the clowns
Roll up, feel the frowns
Roll up, do the job
Roll up, lunch time jog

Mind your peas and cues
Eat your greens and never lose
Incessant, relentless days
Wake to fog, sleep to haze

Roll on, catching moss
Roll on, gathering loss
Roll on, spinning blind
Roll on, with human kind

Dance the dance
Dream the dream
Claw it in, don't voice the scream
The insane just know
The sane are obscene

Consume the life
Spit out the bones
Devour the hate
Ignore the moans

There, over there, 
The mantis slowly swivelled head
The bird flight in gold light
The bee, the flower leaning
The wave lapping sand gleaming
Shell crunching gull screaming
Forest green scent mulch
Wing flurry rodent scurry
Soft grass for dreaming

Roll over, open eyes
Roll over, perfect skies
Roll over, heart sublime
Roll over, its time...


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Anti-christian?

Over the last few years my views on religion, and Christianity in particular, have dramatically changed, and I'm sure all of you who have known me that long are well aware of that fact!

Many people accuse me of renouncing my faith, that I was never a real Christian in the first place, that I've been deceived by the devil, that I've twisted my beliefs to fit my experience, or that I've succumbed to my fleshly lusts so I can live the "gay" life.

I speak a lot about all that is wrong with religion, and am quite outspoken about the damage it inflicts on people.

In many ways, I've walked away from the belief system that completely shaped who I was for over 40 years. I've seen the logical fallacies, the contradictions, the lack of evidence, the confusion, the bigotry, the hypocrisy... and used the "God given" abilities of reason and logic along with experience and a ruthless self examination, honesty and as much integrity as I can muster, to unravel everything I believed.

Why? Because when push came to shove, it simply doesn't "work".

Am I "anti-Christian"? Am I even still Christian? I don't think they are the right questions to ask, because to attempt to answer them directly doesn't allow for the real scope of the issue.

The belief system of Christianity is very workable on many levels and has provided a tidy answer to the meaning of life for millions of people over the centuries. It addresses issues such as our place in the universe, human nature, morals and ethics etc in well defined ways, that if followed correctly, are good enough for most people to be able to get on with life without being distracted by the "big questions".

It works - on a certain level. Unfortunately, for myself and countless others, it has proven to be very lacking, with a very blinkered and fundamentally flawed view of life. I've written copious quantities about this so won't bore you with the details, but the point of this blog is to address my "anti-christian" stand.

My simple answer is this:

If whatever you believe brings love to yourself, and through that, brings love to everyone else...
If whatever you believe breaks down barriers and looks for love and beauty in everything...
If whatever you believe brings life, peace, joy and encouragement...
If whatever you believe accepts everyone without an agenda...
If whatever you believe has no dogma, bigotry, exclusivism or hate...

Then awesome! Go for it!

But if you have the guts and integrity to examine your belief system and find it lacking in any of the above, then it's time to stop and unravel, be prepared for a "crisis of faith", because your beliefs are the problem, not the solution!