Monday, 28 September 2015

Substance of God

I am, not will or was
I am, not part thereof
I am, not bought or sold
I am, not young or old
I am, not male or femme
I am, nothing to condemn
I am, and will not be judged
I am, living loved
I am, not sin redeemed
I am, not life undreamed
I am, enough, complete
I am, a bit rough, but sweet
I am, part of the whole
I am, on no church roll
I am, substance of God
I am, a lightning rod

I am, you
I am, us
I am...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Sea of Sadness

The sea of sadness hosts no storms
It dampens the angry clouds of lightning
It unravels twisting water spouts
Languid waves lap it's shores

Mists drift in and out dripping soft tears
Silver light shines in poignant beauty

The sea of sadness holds hearts that have too much to bare
It's sparkling silver arms of comfort
Wrap warm and deep pains in stillness
   Truths that can never be spoken  
   Love that can never be revealed 

The sea of sadness is wide and deep
It welcomes the weary with gentle caress
It promises nothing but a moment of eternity
And the glimpse of a distant beacon

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Being a "man"

There's so much around these days about what it means to be a man.

There's this image of the prefect man, who creates an environment for women to become perfectly "whole", kids to become perfectly fulfilled and for society in general, to be blessed by their masculinity.

Men must be men! We have a blueprint for the perfect man and if we don't fit that blueprint then we are a failure, not only creating dysfunctional families but even worse, mocking God, who created very clear boundaries for what a man is supposed to be.

Reality check!

There is a gender/sexuality continuum.
There are two types of "psyche" (for want of a better word) that define certain characteristics as masculine or feminine.

The masculine is described as strong, decisive, objective etc...
The feminine is described as emotional, sensitive, empathic etc...
We are very familiar with these concepts.

However, to associate these characteristics with particular genitals is nothing more than a social construct. Sure, lots of humans with penises like football and are strong and aggressive. And lots of humans with vaginas are soft and caring.

But here's the glitch - countless humans, irrespective of their genitals and hormones, display a broad mix of masculine and feminine traits. Many humans with penises are emotional and sensitive - they love to support others with compassion and empathy - they are nurturing, and empathic... And lots of vagina and breast endowed humans love to rough it up, take charge, be confident and assertive, and play football. In fact most humans have a completely random mix of these qualities in various quantities.

But society/culture and especially religion, consistently creates stereotypes that force the "psyche" attributes to fit the physical attributes. This is probably one of the most tragic things society has suffered!

Humans are supposed to deny who they are at the deepest level, in all its amazing and beautifully unique complexity, to become stereotypes, as defined by religious definitions.

Our genitals DO NOT DEFINE US. We are who we are!

If you have a penis and experience "feminine" traits, then guess what - you are a perfect human! If you have breasts and like "masculine" things, then you too are a human - perfect just as you are.

I am a gay man. I love having a penis and have no desire for anything physically feminine (I mean breasts are just yucky). But I have a few feminine qualities, and definitely lack the "macho" needed to enjoy footy.

So why do I need to be anything different? Why does anyone need to adopt a gender based role to be a "whole" and fully functional human? Why is some perfect balance of masculine/feminine the ideal that all humanity must strive for to create a perfect society that pleases god?

If all of us are free to simply be who we are in every way - and by free I mean that we are accepted as equal, valued and valid members of society - then we  will also be free to contribute all we are to the richness of humanity.

To demand that "men" be masculine and women be "feminine" is to deny the very character of god and all that we are as unique and wonderful creations.

I've seen first hand the tragic damage caused by forcing men and women into gender stereotypes. It's time to grow up, and become exactly as we are created to be.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Do I hate Christianity?: Part 3

I've been pretty harsh so far about christianity.

I've been honest, with myself, and also wanting to validate the pain and abuse countless millions have suffered at the hands of this religious system for centuries. It completely screwed my own life up, so yeah, there's still some anger there about even the most foundational beliefs, and especially how those beliefs are implemented.

Of course I know all the "correct" theological answers to my own complaints. I could argue against my own arguments quite convincingly!

I blogged recently about Brian McLaren's "levels of faith" and have spent some time looking at my own journey through this. Although I still have a lot of anger towards christianity to work through I am genuinely feeling a great love and patience towards those who fully embrace it's central doctrines.

As I read, meditate, explore and discuss all this stuff I find the paradox gets more extreme - I can completely understand why so many love christianity and find life and peace there, living out a "personal relationship" with God through Jesus (it's what I did for 45 years!) - but I can also see massive failings, delusions and escapism that all religions have at their core.

To even suggest to a passionate christian who has experienced deep intimacy with Christ, that what they believe is just one small subjective experience of an infinitely greater spirituality is nothing short of heresy and blasphemy!

To suggest that the whole concept of the christian god (or any god) is nothing more than a man made religious construct is to invite absolute disdain and contempt at best, and having your name added to a prayer chain at worst.

However, to see each other's spirituality as a completely unique experience, and to honour each others journey, is the best thing we can do. It frees each other to explore and grow.

The other day I was confronted by someone who was posting fundamentalist vitriol about various topics, and displaying the lack of compassion and "christ-likeness", shallow thinking and exclusivism that you'd expect. I found myself in a dilemma. Do I just treat them with forgiving grace and accept that that's just where they are at, or confront them in some way. I chose the latter, and was accused of not extending the love I preach. So there you go!

Still, I had to make the decision that although they were speaking out of ignorance, the things they were saying were destructive and damaging to many on a very personal level, and although there was nothing I could say that would convince them of that, by publicly challenging their views in a way that left no doubt about the damage they cause, I had actually acted in a far greater love than appeasing an individual's emotions.

Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he ripped the Pharisees to shreds.

So do I hate christianity? That's still a question I won't directly answer.

I hate religion in all its forms. I hate anything that separates and excludes. I hate anything that even vaguely promotes bigotry. I hate anything that says we are filthy sinners worthy of death who's only hope is the vicarious sacrifice of a man/

But I love anything that brings out our inherent beauty. I love anything that unconditionally loves us as we are. I love anything that builds unity. I love anything that speaks life and empowers people to be their unique selves expressed through love.

If christianity can do that, then I'm good to go. If it doesn't, then I'll expose it for the lie that it is. I'm sure I'll keep changing though, I know I am! Even the last few weeks have seen my heart shifting in many ways - letting go of a lot of stuff, seeing the deep levels of abuse that my spirit/heart received and it's effect on my life - allowing myself to feel things I'd always repressed, and also allowing them to be at rest, to be touchstones of empathy.

Living Loved is hard and wonderful, painful and joyful!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Common Truth

It's amazing how the further you go on this journey, the deeper you go down the rabbit hole, the more you unravel etc... the more you find deep common truths, and the paradox's of life, and that we really don't know much at all.

Although I no longer hold the basic tenets of christianity, there are still deep truths in it all, if we want to sift through it all, if you can be bothered. But then, our limited understanding, senses, world views etc. demand our labours, our passionate efforts to find some sort of truth we can hang our hats on.

It's easy to not partake in that work though. We love to find others who are "doing it" and just accept that they have found "it", and tag along for the ride. And there are countless rides to be had! Even in christendom there are so many conflicting beliefs, and when we open our eyes a little, we see the problems, so often jump off one ride and on to another, thinking it's better in some way.

But it's just another ride, in someone else's car. We don't want, or are fearful, to drive our own car - be responsible for how we drive - maintain the car - fix it when it breaks, or even get another one when it's beyond repair! (not sure how well the analogy works but I'm sure you get the idea, lol)

Dogma is the most damaging symptom of our spiritual laziness. It says "I have the whole truth and nothing but the truth and you must believe my truth to be accepted". It says "I'm right and you're wrong". It says, "my whole life journey is valid but yours isn't". It divides and destroys at the deepest level. It creates fear, anger, hatred. It truly is one of the most "evil" things we can do to ourselves and humanity.

When we refuse to see that religious systems, of any form, are subjective, we have embraced dogma at its most foundational level. Whatever your belief system may be - it's entirely subjective. It may be a very valuable belief system that embraces methods and disciplines that enhance our humanity and love, or it may be destructive, but if we don't accept that it's OUR subjective belief system, then we are ultimately responsible for the evil we see around us.

If your belief system does not embrace the core universal elements of love, unity, compassion and empathy, then you have completely missed the point. If you treasure your belief system more than the "fruit" of that system, then you have embraced the problem and not the solution.

I have no issue with whatever religion we may choose to help understand and live those core and common truths - we all need a "handle" that helps us personally understand these truths, but every single person's "handle" is different and subjective to their unique identity and experience.

You can even make the most beautiful spiritual practices into destructive dogma. So lets take the time to do the hard work, to recognise our tendency towards destructive spirituality, and encourage everyone to explore the only thing that truly brings life - LOVE.

(I hope I'm not being too dogmatic about this!)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Post-christian prayer

The last week or so have been really interesting!

Some of you may be aware I had a mental meltdown 4 years back after Min died, and I went bankrupt, and I "came out" (if you are going to overload your brain you may as well do it in style).

One of the ongoing symptoms is that in times of stress and pressure, I get severe ADD symptoms, can't focus on any one task, can't absorb what I'm reading (especially any technical info), get to the end of the day wondering what the hell I've been doing, forgetting why I just went to another room, all that sort of stuff. So yeah, lots of fun, but I just roll with it these days. Funny thing is it doesn't affect my sense of well-being and happiness, so something's going on at a deeper level.

Anyway, that's not really the point!

I had to go for my annual review for the sickness benefit that the government generously [sic] provides me, but due to my propensity to confusion with paperwork, I sort of stuffed it up and they cancelled my benefit. I had to re-apply from scratch with nearly two weeks delay before I got any money again.

Now in the past I would have prayed and applied every christian prayer formula I could think of to get through tough financial (or whatever) situations, but these days I just stop and do a little mindfulness meditation, centring, breathing, all that stuff. But most importantly I just rest in the fact that there's nothing I can do about it, so "god" is my only solution.

I put a little call out for help, and then allowed myself to rest in that, with no fear, just simple trust that when I focus on love, the universe will reciprocate by whatever means it may.

This is something I've been living by for some time now, and I can honestly say my needs are met in ways that my "christian" years never got close to. So my recent adventure was another confirmation - that "faith" has nothing to do with religion. My faith was in the simple trust that I am loved, I am integrally part of all of us, the universe, and all that cosmic stuff, lol. But it's true!! I am just an expression of love (warts and all) and when I relax in that oneness/unity, trusting in God/Love/The Divine... than I have nothing to worry about.

It's very different to claiming and speaking out what I want. It's not "positive confession", although it kind of is. It's not demanding what's rightfully ours from God, or even putting any expectations on God. It's a simple confident rest, that comes from love and acceptance, self awareness and a sense of unity with all things and people.

I tried this one as well!
Yeah, I know it sounds really cosmic and new age. Sorry about that. But what can I say! Its where I'm at, and it's far more real and life giving than my christian experience.

Of course, I know that many will say I was obviously never much of a christian, and I know many christians who do get answers to prayer all the time. Sure, I got answers to prayer, I was passionate and loved God and Jesus and had a very intimate relationship with him. But its so much better and easier now. No more battling in prayer, and then trying to work out how the complete failure of that prayer was actually God's answer. No more twisted doctrines trying to make sense of "God's mysterious ways".

No, I'm at peace, and even when things seem to go rather badly, that peace, grounded in love, is what brings life and "answers to prayer".

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Through religion, and out the other side

This is probably more of an article than a blog. So grab a wine first.

I've spent a long time de-constructing Christianity (and religion in general) because I've lived through the worst of it, and seen the inestimable damage its done to so many, as well as the damage it's done to mankind in general.

I do this because it needs to happen. We need to be honest about this stuff. I recognise my bias/paradigm in all this, and would never deny it.

I have denounced the bible and traditional doctrines in no uncertain terms - not because they are devoid of any truth, but because to see any of the truths in a way that has real value to humanity in general, or to us individually, requires a level of "maturity" that not many have allowed themselves to achieve.

That's not meant to sound patronising, so I'll unpack that idea a little.

There is a "levels of faith" process described by Brian McLaren that lays out 4 distinct levels of growth or progress through our beliefs. It's not perfect of course, and often the lines are blurred between the levels, but it serves its purpose. (The levels can be applied to just about any religion).
  1. Simplicity: Seeing everything in black and white - right and wrong - us and them. God is the ultimate authority who must be obeyed. The truth is knowable and liveable, but only through our belief system. This is where fundamentalist/literalists generally fit.
  2. Complexity: There are many ways to grow and serve God. Life and spirituality is measured by goals, purpose and success. Authorities are the experts and can coach and direct us. God is the ultimate guide/coach. This is where your average church sits.
  3. Perplexity: Everyone has an opinion and we can never know who is right. Beliefs are more subjective and relative, but being honest and authentic is crucial. There's a distrust of authority and a tendency to be highly cynical. Although passionate about integrity, there's a strong tendency to be highly critical and negative. Most leave the church at this stage.
  4. Humility: There is an understanding of unity and deeper truths - our connectedness and focus is on wisdom and love instead of doctrines and dogma. Love becomes very practical and unconditional. Life is mysterious and paradoxical.
Most of us are happy to be told what to believe, how to live a good life etc, and as long as it represents good morals and makes reasonable sense we are happy to go with it. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it is a lazy thing. It's deferring the responsibility for our core identity and belief system to someone else. It's lazy because we can "believe" something simply because heaps of others believe it, and assume that it must be true. This is basically level 1.
I would say that it's only beneficial for little kids, to provide boundaries of safety as they learn to think critically and mature. This is not a good place for any human to live, although it's often part of our spiritual journey.

The last few years, I've been struggling through level 3 and moving into level 4. Although I hate the clinical labels, it does help to map where I'm at and ponder where I'm going in my spiritual journey. I'm finding more and more people struggling at level 3, seeing all the inconsistencies, hypocrisy and just about everything that makes christianity a laughing stock at best, and a damaging blight on the face of the earth at worst.

To get to this stage can be soul destroying, causing a complete crisis of faith, often resulting in totally abandoning all traditional beliefs and even becoming atheists. A few manage to sift through all this and find a far deeper understanding of God and life, and move into level 4. For myself and many others, this isn't a clear cut process, but I can certainly attest to the reality of level 3, as we become critical thinkers, using logic, reason, science and above all, honesty and integrity, to examine our belief systems.

I have probably always tended to see aspects of the mystical and higher truths, but always felt trapped in seemingly logical constraints of fundamentalism. Finally leaving christianity, as it's known and represented in the first 3 levels, has felt like walking out of a school hall full of hyperactive screaming kids all throwing tantrums, into a beautiful serene forest with flowers and a little stream... you get the idea!

But to communicate to those still living in the other level is almost impossible. Level 1s will call anything else heretical. Level 3s will despise the lower levels as ignorant fundamentalists, and often fail to see the potential to keep growing. Even those at level 4 can tend to be dismissive and patronising of others apparently stuck in fundamental beliefs.

For myself, I'm still transitioning into level 4, as I wrestle with all the crap. But the level of peace I'm experiencing as it all falls away is astonishing. Doctrines become irrelevant. There is no in or out, us and them. Unity, love, integrity, compassion and empathy, have become the only things that matter, and love has become tangible. Love is becoming something I see in everyone without even trying. Living loved is becoming a natural part of me.

Life is still rich and complex. I act out of selfishness and ego, but I recognise it more than ever, and am finding myself more teachable than I've ever been, getting less offended about stuff. My heart for compassion and justice, to help the underdog and the broken is becoming real, rather than an obligation. I no longer have to "act" loving in defiance to my "sinful" nature, I just do what I feel, which happens to be more and more loving.

What used to be unreachable/unrealistic ideals is becoming reality.

So how does this relate to anything practical? Glad you asked!

I'm finding that Silent Gays is directly aimed at those struggling through level 3, compounded by their sexual identity. I seem to be finding people who are ready to jump off the cliff of faith, or those who have already jumped and are needing an ambulance. Realising all this is helping enormously in my focus and methodology.

I'm worried though, as a read through the blogs of my journey, that it sounds like my "growth" makes me, and others who relate to "level 4", superior and patronising, and that is the last thing I want!!

If anything, I understand why people cling to dogma and black and white thinking. I get the whole need for strict authority structures for some. But it's my passion to help people move through that phase and into greater freedom and peace.

I no longer see the bible as a historical book in any sense, and I'm not really concerned if Jesus was even a real person. If there is anything to be learned from scripture it's in hidden and deeper metaphor, which could be why so many "mystics" of the centuries, have drawn any life out of it.

Spirituality is constantly growing and changing as society and culture change, as science and technology change - because these sciences discover the reality of our physical universe and how we interact with it. And that has to change our spiritual concepts whether we like it or not.

Christianity, and all religions, can serve a purpose if we are taught to use critical thinking to see the deeper universal truths. But it takes time and a willingness to be wrong - about everything - all the time. And that's something we don't like very much!

Sunday, 26 July 2015


Thought I'd try my hand at a meme.

Of course, being me, it had to be profound and loaded with subtle nuances, provocative ideas, and require some thought rather than a passing reaction.

Enjoy (or not)

If it feels good...

A friend commented about the two extremes we tend to adopt:

  1. If it feels good - do it
  2. Our feelings are completely unreliable and we must live by external guidelines
Society tends to regard 2 as the best option, and religion in particular, declares that we are, at our very core, unreliable, deceived, incapable of making good choices, incapable of real love, and that we must have external guidelines by way of laws - either legal or religious - that govern our behaviour.

Christianity, although declaring we are freed from law and it's burden by Jesus, still states very clearly that it's only by having the Holy Spirit in us that we can ever hope to make good, life giving decisions. But that's still relying on an external source, and the end goal is to prove/demonstrate our "goodness" by living to the laws laid out in the bible, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do this.

I've found, however, that those who begin to understand who they really are, who we ALL are, see life very differently.

As we see that our intrinsic value isn't based on approval by others, adherence to "laws", performance based on assumptions etc, but is based on the fact that we are all equal humans, who are created in, by and for love, the need for external laws and rules fades.

We no longer need to think in those terms, simply because all that we do reflects our own self worth. We see ourselves in others and want to draw that worth out of them. We act with empathy in all we do, because we know that love is the only universal constant that transcends all other systems of belief.

My friend said he now pretty much lives by the first statement. And I agree, because I'm starting to understand that I really can trust myself - my deepest self. I am love. Love feels good. I trust that love

We can say that we deceive ourselves, but what is the basis for that statement? Could it be that we have desperately tried to apply external rules, in the belief that without them we are evil to the core. We have been taught this for so long that we believe it without question. In fact, to question it only "proves" that we are just self seeking, hedonists

But as we gradually let ourselves see our essential worth, love becomes the prime motivation. Not performance based conditional love (which isn't love anyway), but a simple powerful love that genuinely wants nothing more than to
nurture, respect, unconditionally accept itself in all people and all things, especially and foremost, in ourselves.

This is nothing new. It's not some hippy drug induced dream, or "new age" escapism. It's the deepest truth that has wound it's way through human history. We all know it deep down, if we dig deep enough, it's there.

We ARE love, and when that revelation becomes "conscious" we can simply do whatever we want because it feels good.

Will we make mistakes? Of course! But those mistakes will help us to see deeper. It inspires greater empathy and compassion as our "unloving" ways are exposed. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Live loved!

Friday, 17 July 2015

The bible made simple

Here's the best way to understand the bible.

It's a collection of documents written over a really long period of time that describes how a primitive middle eastern tribe tried to figure out god.

The end.

Now doesn't that make religion a heck of a lot simpler. Everything falls into place, and we can actually start to learn useful stuff from it.