Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas (or not)

Christmas is traditionally a time for families.

Yes, I know there are all the "Christ in Christmas" things, and all the other religious celebrations and petty squabbles over what christmas actually is, but I'm just talking about the overall expectations of the season - about getting together with loved ones and family - about appreciating each other and sharing love.

For many LGBT people this is the worst time of year!

So many have been rejected by their families and friends. Some have been completely ostracized, some are tolerated. Some go to christmas gatherings with dread, knowing they are going to get the looks, the lectures. Others don't even bother and choose to avoid it all, in an effort to preserve some dignity and self worth. And of course, many can't go because they aren't welcome, or have been completely rejected by family.

It is often a tragic time for many people, as their loneliness and rejection becomes glaringly obvious.

Please remember these beautiful hurting people.

Much is done for the homeless and impoverished, the sick and broken. But there are so many LGBT people who silently suffer every christmas.

If you know someone like this, be love to them. Respect and honour them. Show them they are beautiful and worthy of the same love we all are. No matter what you believe, love is the only thing that heals.

Live Loved!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Respect and Paradigms

I went to a funeral yesterday. Cam Rimmer, a Kiwi christian legend, highly respected across all flavours of church and denominations.

He was one of the most lovable, kind, big-hearted men I've ever known. He was larger than life, fun loving, full of stories and laughter, but deeply compassionate and caring in a way that few experience. And it was just naturally who he was.

His life experience was hard. He'd been through it all, and used every tragedy to create new stories that inspired and touched everyone. He made everyone feel like his best friend.

He influenced my own life as well on many occasions. We'd chatted often, sometimes for hours, and I'd always feel better for it.

A truly rare and wonderful man.

It was his faith that gave him life. His love for Jesus and God's Father heart oozed out of every pore. It was the most real, genuine and "lived" faith I've seen - a faith of integrity that had love at it's core. I honour his life, influence and memory.

Cam also founded Living Waters in New Zealand.

I was involved with Living Waters in Australia and NZ off and on for around 15 years - drawn by the deep love for God and the desire to bring healing and life to people struggling with all sorts of "brokenness" - relationships, addictions, abuse and trauma, and sexuality, including homosexuality. It promised life and freedom from addictive patterns of sin, of which homosexuality was one of the most common they dealt with.

What I realised during the funeral service though, was the depth of our paradigms. Cam lived with natural integrity and his ideas about sexuality were well grounded in what he and the Living Waters organisation assumed the bible, and therefore God, thought about it all. The doctrines and methods they espouse are built on complex interpretations, mixed with some basic psychology, to create something that appeals to those who see themselves as broken.

I'll be writing a lot more about Living Waters and other groups like them soon, but my point here, is that despite the immense heart of love and compassion that Cam (and many others) have, their "religious" paradigm shapes and directs that love and passion in ways that are deeply flawed. Ways that despite the best of intentions, can produce the exact opposite of what is intended.

I genuinely love Cam. But I also hurt for all the people who now live lives of religious delusion and obsession, deeply repressed identity issues, cognitive dissonance, and worst of all, called sinners for something that isn't sin.

A day of very mixed emotions. A deeper respect for the love and genuine heart of so many in this type of ministry, but a deeper determination to break the religious strangle hold of christianity on beautiful LGBT people who are assumed to be dirty broken sinners, and suffering the consequences of that sin.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Bible, being gay, right and wrong

Being gay (LGBT) and christian is a minefield of conflicting views.

Essentially, it all comes down to interpreting the bible. There are six passages in the bible that seem to address the issue and there is a mountain of studies, articles, books and videos that directly address these passages (often referred to as the "clobber" verses, simply because they are used to clobber gay people into submission).

Many of the theological discussions are well researched, thorough and irrefutable. Others are ambiguous, but enough to allow serious questioning. I applaud the scholarly work that has been done in this area, that has tirelessly explored the ancient cultures - their social structures, cultural paradigms, the way they used language including colloquialisms, analogy and metaphor, the influence of other cultures etc, all to bring a clearer exegesis to the scriptures.

These works have been crucial to my own journey out of the unbearable burden that christianity has placed on LGBT people.

But a much larger issue needs to be looked at in light of all this. And its not just for LGBT people - it's an issue that faces every single person who claims to be a christian.

The bible!

I've written quite a bit over the last year or so  about my views on the bible and its role. It's also something that many others are questioning as we look deeper into its history and influence.

The real issue however, is our deep need to have an unambiguous set of rules that clearly define right from wrong, good from bad. A book that says "this is how you live" - that if you don't follow the instructions exactly you'll be in trouble, possibly really big trouble.

We really like to have clearly defined boundaries. It gives us security and allows us to point to something outside ourselves as the source of authority. We love laws! In fact, I wonder if the metaphor in the Garden of Eden myth, is actually about our wanting "the knowledge of good and evil" simply so we don't have to live from a place of love - a place that requires thoughtfulness, empathy and compassion, responsibility, time and energy. The knowledge of good and evil, especially once it's formalised and written down, removes all personal responsibility because its already sorted - look it up in the book - end of story.

But we were never created for that. We were created for and from love, intimate unity with God and each other. The bible itself hints at this so often (in the New Testament at least).

But our obsession for the ultimate rule book is our Achilles heel. We simply cannot agree on what this authoritative book actually says - we never have! Thousands of different groups of christians all arguing about it. We are desperate for love and unity but keep trying to obtain it by deferring to a rigid rule book out of fear. Fear that we could be wrong. Fear from wanting to know good and evil and yet never sure if we have chosen the right thing. Fear of having to take responsibility for our own hearts. Fear of some eternal consequence. Fear of disobeying (knowingly or ignorantly) a God who is just as fearful as he is loving.

We have abdicated our intrinsic humanity. We have refused to live in and from love - outside of the concepts of law, right and wrong, good and evil.

The bible has some wonderful stories, and many object lessons, but it is the most abused and misinterpreted set of documents in history, simply because we have made it something it isn't.

Our first and only priority is to love - even the bible says this, lol!! Love, from beginning to end. That's it.

But what about...!? People need to....! But if we don't have guidelines...! - all excuses for not wanting to live with the personal responsibility of love.

Sure, have faith in Jesus, be christian, but the bible is not your reference book. It's not where you go to find right from wrong. God IN YOU is where we find love that shapes all we are and do. We all know what love is, and we can wrestle with the application of it, but we all know, really we do.

Live loved - go on - try it!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Who is Jim and why is his blog awesome?

I seem to have gathered a considerably large following after all the recent publicity.

Many of you have no idea of who I am apart from the fact I've written a book about being "gay and christian".

I've just updated my "Who" page with some more details. Here it is for your enjoyment. You may now chose to join me on my journey or label me a heretic, whatever, I don't mind, although I would like to think we are all willing to share, love and learn.

I have been a Christian for well over 40 years. Probably like most of you, life has been an adventure, full of joy, pain, regrets, shame, victory, defeat... you name it!
I was "zapped" by God when I was 15. No emotional "altar call" or meetings, just me and God late one night. It was so powerful and intimate that I could never, ever doubt it. My only point of reference for this experience was the church, so I totally devoured the bible and read the classics of the faith, but my ever inquiring/questioning mind never settled with the status quo. So, my journey of wandering through every doctrine and flavour of spirituality and christianity began.
I had a checkered youth, dealing with being gay, drugs and the musician's lifestyle (you know - the sex, drugs and rock and roll sort of thing) but somehow that experience of God would never let me go, and gave me the strength to go on, no matter what. 

I studied endlessly, reading hundreds of books, 2 years of bible college, listening to who knows how many sermons and lectures and countless conferences. I absorbed the bible until it became part of my world view.

I thought I knew what an intimate relationship with God looked like despite all the religious, legalistic, cultish rubbish I went through, and I kept seeing glimpses of a life resting in perfect grace, mercy and unconditional love. It's only been the last few years where that freedom has become a reality as I began to embrace the fullness of who I really am. I began slowly "renewing" my mind to our wonderful union with God every moment of my life, and the freedom from every religious expectation and demand.

Where am I today? Good question!

Life has become a wonderful adventure, free from the dogma of any religion, free to explore my unique journey with God, wherever that takes me. I can rest in the fact that he/she is far bigger and better than any one religion can contain. I've found that christianity can be a wonderful and valid expression of who God is and our relationship with him/her and each other.

But above all, doctrines and theologies aren't important - love is the only thing that matters. If the fruit of our belief system is anything other than love, then that system is bankrupt. I spent my life trying to discover how to live with integrity of faith and character, to have complete honesty in all I am and do. I believe that is all we can ever ask of each other. We each have our own completely unique journey to live.

Live loved!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fight for Law change

I received this from Diane Sparkes ( who often writes for GayNZ).

We need law changes to fully protect our society from hate speech, bullying and abuse! Logan Robertson's email abuse does qualify for prosecution under the crimes act for inciting suicide, but we need broader more effective laws as we slowly move towards the extremes that places like the USA have become renowned for.

I really wish it weren't so. It breaks my heart to think that we need laws to protect us from stuff that no human should even consider! But until that....

Jim Marjoram, is right, he (the Pastor) needs support, but how do we do this when
we fail to take it upon ourselves to demand from the society we live in the
consequences for Hate!
New Zealand has often been called God’s own country yet as a country we make no
demand of our rights.
As New Zealanders we are constantly told how great this country is but there are still
many issues that we as a society have failed to demand.
Justice is one of our collective rights and we have created many responses to just
what is acceptable for us all.
But one area of justice that we have failed to attend to is Hate.
I an article I wrote back in March 2013 for GayNz
I described my concern for this lack of a workable law on behalf of all marginalised
people. However it seems the demand has not been take up.
Hate is insidious in our society and it is societies purpose to let the whole of society
know that it will not be tolerated.
Whenever a person makes a decision to assault verbally or physically, a person
intentionally because they are different, of how they identify, a down fall of society
itself can be the only result.
The Justice Minister will be quick to point out that the crime of hate is taken care of
at the time of sentencing and is included in the sentencing act. Yet the police state
their hands are tied because there is no crime in the act.
But as stated in my article this is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
Not much help when someone proffers hate in this case, we have freedom of speech
do we not, but should we accept this kind of hatred as acceptable, certainly it sells
papers and promotes in the media indignation as a means of keeping us informed.
But the reality is, is it Right!
And what should our New Zealand society demand, our laws must show in no
uncertain terms just what we will accept, and while our enforcers of our laws are
disallowed the means of protecting our rights, we stand naked, discriminated against
for who we are, by freedom of speech.
Overseas where Hate is a crime, society through its laws seeks to protect its
community from this kind of hatred. See: American hate pastor set to stand trial
Demand for the crime of Hate is definitely needed in this country if we are truly
“Gods Own”.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Logan Robertson

As you can imagine, I've been completely inundated with email and messages, phone calls and media attention, so I thought I should try to pull all the strands together and make sure things don't get out of hand.
Despite the horrific abuse Logan has dished out, I'm genuinely concerned for the guy. We all know that he's completely incapable of delivering on his threats, so that's not an issue. But I AM concerned that many LGBT people may want to deliver on some of the threats against him and his family, although I'm sure no one would actually kill them.
Despite what we may think about his beliefs and actions, he needs love and support, not from his brainwashed followers, but from US! This is the biggest opportunity for LGBT people to demonstrate that we are NOT like that!
Jesus said to return good for evil, to forgive our enemies etc- you know the stuff. And here's the crunch, the only thing that heals is love! 
Yes this guy is sick, but he needs love more than anyone. People like this have never experienced real love, and its up to us who can, to let him know what real, unconditional love is.
I also understand that for many this is impossible because of the abuse they may have suffered at the hands of people like this - I get that - so there is no condemnation for feeling anger.
But the only thing that brings real lasting change is love.
PLEASE - no threats - no violence - no hate!
Concern, anger are all fine and healthy, and must be acknowledged and respected, but to act on it isn't acceptable.
So lets love on Logan, show him that his God isn't our God. Show him that WE are love, That the greatest force in the universe is love and that we are all equally loved by God, no matter what religion or spirituality you embrace. We are all together in this journey.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Tolerance (practicing what I preach)

I'm such an idealist!!

I think the world can be changed overnight by just adopting a few basic principles.
I think I can be changed overnight!
But here I am, still being my usual argumentative obnoxious self. I even wrote a blog not long ago about being a snob.
The worst part of it all is seeing others struggling with the crap I used to struggle with, seeing people trapped in the stuff that made me a tormented, deluded, suicidal wreck. I just want to tell people to get out of that religious garbage and shout at them to run away!! I want people to see the enormity of life and love and how small religious boxes are.
I want to desperately argue, discuss, reason and plead, and make them see how deceived they are!

But of course, I overlook the one thing that I claim to be so passionate about: respect for each others journey.

My life has been my unique journey. Your life is your unique journey. I can share my life and all that has made me what I am - all that has led me to here and now, my beliefs and hopes. But that's all. I have no right to demand that you change. I can encourage things like honesty and integrity, love and empathy. I can challenge our paradigms and confront bigotry and abuse. But I can't expect you to be me. I have no right to demand that you believe the same things I do, feel the same way I do.

When I respect your journey, I respect who you are. I acknowledge that God (whatever you conceive "him" to be) will take you on the path that is perfect for you and you alone.

I'm still learning to be tolerant. I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes you all make me so frustrated!! Other days, I can see our unity, our common humanity, and I love you all to bits.

I'm so fickle, sigh...

Friday, 28 November 2014

Good christianity?

Buy iy now!Sorry folks, been neglecting the old blog lately, mostly because of  trying to publish my book, which I hope you are all cuing up to buy a copy as we speak!

Been a lot of stuff buzzing around my brain cell, but I shall briefly mention my most recent thoughts.

I blogged a while back about why Christianity works, which is kind of a strange statement, especially if you have left the confines of christian dogma. Despite my own theological/spiritual views these days, I'm learning to look at the inherent value of religious traditions and belief systems.

I still battle with the damage that church has inflicted on me. Just when I think its OK, I find myself reacting to things people say, cliches and christianese, religious dogma and bigotry. Still got a way to go!

But I've been trying to respect the faith that kept me going all my life in terms of what it is that makes it "work". I'm not talking about the correct doctrines and whether or not the bible is God's written word or Jesus was actually God incarnate etc. No, I'm talking about why it fills a need so effectively and can bring real life changing benefits, peace and joy to people.

It seems that whatever language and theology we build around it, there are spiritual principles that are just the way the universe is. Christianity provides a way of accessing and utilising these principles, often very effectively. What are these principles? Well, that's something I'm (and millions of others) are slowly coming to terms with.

There are things like the Law of Attraction, Positive Affirmation, Karma (and lots of dreaded "new age" stuff, lol) and even things that quantum physics is revealing, that seem to be at the deepest level of all we are. Of course, its all open to dispute, but the door is open, people are seeing a far bigger universe than any one religion has ever offered. Christianity has become just one aspect of universal spirituality.

Most fundamental/traditional christians will say that everything else is deception and lies created by the devil to deceive us from the truth, that Jesus alone is the way. I know, I used to be one of the most adamant about it! I could define everything in terms of Jesus being the only truth and everything else a lie, and because the devil was so good at creating this deception, it meant that there was nothing anyone could say to convince me otherwise.

Fortunately there were cracks in the system that started to be prized open by discovering the depth of grace - the revelation of God's unconditional love that has now become the "grace movement". But even that has just been a stepping stone for many people, although for most they are happy to stay with that revelation, and once again fall into the trap of everything else being lies and deception.

But despite all that, there are universal principles. Prayer for example. People focusing and meditating, speaking love and blessing, calling things that "aren't as if they are" through a deep faith in that process, brings results, whether its christian or not. There is a law/principle/whatever at work that goes beyond christian doctrine.

Then there is the central aspect of Jesus and all that he stands for - his words and actions, his own beliefs and passions - all that we ascribe to him - that provides a point of deep universal identification with humanity and spirituality. There's something for everyone!

Its a huge subject, and I may keep throwing around ideas and digging deeper as part of another book!

I totally understand wanting to completely ditch christianity, especially after seeing the gaping holes of logic, reason, morality and ethics that are obvious to anyone outside of that paradigm. And I totally understand the pain and distress so many have suffered under the abuse of churches and religion. I really get that.

But I'm learning to respect what much of christianity DOES get right, and how effective it can be in bringing life and love. I will continue to tear apart religion that doesn't bring life - religion that is nothing more than a license for bigotry, hate and abuse. There is a lot of evil in the church, and the institution is past it's use-by date, but the spirit of Jesus and all he stood for can and does bring life and love.

And of course, in the end, all that matters is living loved!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

We have to.

We want to be so sure.
We can't bear to think that there is no black and white.
There must be clear moral standards. There must be laws.
There must be the knowledge of good and evil.
We must know how to treat each other - how to treat ourselves.
We must be told what love is.
There must be certainty.
We have to know our eternal destiny.
There must be rewards and punishment.
We have to know who is good and who is bad.
We must define sin.
There has to be defined qualities for "in" or "out".
We have to be able to judge correctly.

Without a clear moral guideline, without a set of rules and procedures that describe how we are to believe and behave, without a clear picture of eternal principles, without knowing exactly who God is and what is required to be accepted by it, without all we need to know being laid out in minute detail
- how do we know if we are right or wrong?
- how can we tell who is speaking truth?
- what do we have?
- what will we do?
- how shall we behave?
- what do we believe?



We already know - every single one of us.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Remembrance Day

This is a poem I wrote many years ago. Thought I'd drag it out for Remembrance Day.

We think war is justifiable. A sad but necessary fact of life.

No - it isn't. We just think it is because we are too proud and stubborn to think there could be a better way.

I refuse to have anything to do with Remembrance Day. Not because I don't feel for the millions of lives lost in the senseless carnage, or am unthankful for the the society I live in.. But simply because it is a failure of mammoth proportions - a failure to be human. We don't need to remember war. We learn nothing from it. We are happy to keep initiating more. Patriotism is division. It works against all that we desperately need to embrace for a better world.

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,

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

Monday, 3 November 2014

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The False Assumption

We assume we need holy texts. We also assume that nature is flawed along with  humans.
What I've discovered is that most religions (especially christianity) are complex systems built on those assumptions.

What if we are actually perfect, exactly as we should be, but all that is missing is our realisation of that?

Every single person created knows what love is. Its inherent in our deepest psych. We may not understand it fully or have experienced it, but the deep longing for unconditional love is absolutely universal. In fact, its the only thing that truly is universal.

The only thing that brings life and healing is love.

The bible myth about the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" expresses the basis of the problem - we keep choosing to look at everything in terms of right and wrong instead of love. Even Paul in the New Testament, hinted at it often with statements like "everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial".

The people we all most admire and respect as examples are those who live from that place of unconditional love. They don't judge, they simply love.

We don't need any holy writings for this. Its already who we are. We simply need to acknowledge it, and "repent" - a word that literally means to just change your mind. That's it!! Just change your mind about who you are.

Sure we will still act in unloving ways as we gradually learn our true identity, but all we have to do is be responsible for any mess we make. That's all there is to it!

Its living loved. Everything else is a distraction.

We think we need endless books and sacred writings of wisdom that talk of how and what to do to be good people - but we already are perfect people - we have just been convinced that we aren't by choosing to judge right and wrong instead of living loved.

Its a massive paradigm shift, but myself and millions over the centuries (all history I guess) have discovered that this really is the narrow road - its the real gospel, and the only thing that brings real freedom and the "fruit of the spirit". Its taking responsibility for who we really are, not shifting that responsibility on to the shoulders of others.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Why I Changed My Mind On Homosexuality

Sermon by Pastor Danny Cortez

New Heart Community Church, La Mirada, CA
This message was given on February 9, 2014

This is the most powerful christian message on homosexuality I've ever heard!

Monday, 13 October 2014

My Scooter

Not my scooter - but closish
(a true story)

I had a scooter when I was a kid. Not one of those little things they have these days. Nope, this was the 60s. I had a blue and white super deluxe scooter with big pump up tyres and white rubber hand grips. It was fast and smooth. It could handle the rough, but best of all was the speed.

We lived near the bottom of a long gentle hill, and as I slowly gained more confidence, I would go further up the hill to get that extra bit of speed. Stopping was a challenge, even though it had good brakes, but you could never be too careful!

Off I’d go down the footpath, oblivious to the thought of people coming out of drives and old ladies with walking frames or the postman. When it was quiet however, I’d go straight down the middle of the road.

Finally I worked my way to the top of the hill but still I needed more speed. My ultimate technique involved crouching down to minimize drag, and I was always oiling everything to get that last little boost as well.

Of course, it wasn’t without its risks, and there were many grazed arms and knees, but I was never daunted. It was my scooter – it was perfect.

I’d scoff at other scooters and prided myself on how fast I could go. And yet, in the back of my mind I knew bikes were even faster. My older brother had a bike, but I ignored it completely – stupid looking thing with skinny tires and you were right up in the air, not close to the road like my scooter.

I did try the bike once, but it was terrible! All wobbly and just not right at all. No, bike riders were stupid. Scooters ruled!

For some reason I never allowed myself to think that bikes were actually far more useful. So much so that I would rather walk than make the transition. Eventually though, after pushing it too hard for too long with too many accidents, I had to admit defeat and finally realise I had outgrown my precious scooter!

So as soon as I was old enough I got a motor bike and eventually a car, as you do. I mean, scooters are great, don’t get me wrong. When I was little it was my life, my pride and joy, and did everything I needed. But I simply had to admit that there were bigger and better ways of getting around.

My spiritual journey was very similar.

I wanted the best! I wanted truth, wisdom and knowledge. So amidst all the options I choose Christianity.

Christianity had everything I needed! It was slick, with all the answers. I could dig deep into mysteries and get more and more revelations. I could stretch my limits with faith and “ministries”. There was so much to do and strive to be better.

Of course, it wasn’t without its risks, and there were many accidents, causing damage to myself and others. I’d trip up when doctrines didn’t work properly and find another one that did, or patch up the old one with a few different scriptures.

I’d not only scoff at other beliefs, but actually declare them evil – even other Christians who didn’t have my particular polished, high speed, oiled and maintained doctrines, weren’t as good as me.

For some reason I never allowed myself to think that other beliefs were actually far more beneficial – both for me or everyone else! Eventually though, after pushing it too hard for too long with too many accidents I had to admit defeat and finally realise I’d outgrown my precious beliefs.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make Christianity work any more. It finally became a matter of either ignoring all the other options and doggedly limping on, or at least giving these other beliefs a serious look.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with Christianity as such, but like my scooter, it had a limited usefulness – it would only take so much before turning into a liability.

All this may sound a little patronising to a lot of Christians. I would have thought it was when I was still oiling the wheels and going further up the hill to get more speed. I would have vilified anyone who thought I would outgrow such an amazing belief system.

But outgrow it I did. I still appreciate all that I’ve learned. It’s opened up the enormity of God to me and set me on a far longer and fascinating path. But I grew too much for it to contain me. Like my scooter that is way too small for me now, Christianity is too small to be of much value.

Like I said though, nothing basically wrong with it, and at the time it was extremely valuable – and still is in many ways. “Are you still a christian then?” I hear you ask? Well, I could still ride my scooter if I wanted too, but why would I?
I’ve grown to see its purpose for some people as part of their journey, even if it’s prone to abuse as all religious systems are. Some kids trash their scooters, run over people’s toes, smash into old ladies’ shopping trollies and wreak havoc!

So, sorry if you feel like I’ve been patronising and thinking I’m better in some way. Far from it! I finally feel like I’ve just started my journey, with a new level of respect for all mankind and all our uniqueness and an experience of love that christianity could never offer.

And I’ve even come to realise that some people bypass the scooter stage completely!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

New Zealand on Fire - apparently

A friend shared this prophesy today.

New Zealand on Fire

In the 80s and 90s I was swept away in the pentecostal mindset. The thrill of hearing God speaking was something we all clamoured for. We hung on every word of the prophets who would speak His very words to us - inspiring us, building our faith!

The best prophetic words were about revival. It was going to sweep the world, save the lost, convict the evil and bring God's righteousness to earth in a radical tangible way. It was the advent of the final days where God poured His spirit out on the world.

The prophesies kept coming thick and fast. On they went, always the same. Of course, it was usually dependent on the church getting their act together. Although others would say the revival would MAKE us get our acts together. Either way, it was coming!!

So many meetings, worshiping, praising... moving "in the spirit", listening, waiting, striving.

As the 2000s rolled on it became clear that God was taking His time, despite the urgency of the latest round of prophets. The old faithfuls kept revamping their old tried and true "words from God" while the newbies added their little twists to it.

And still it goes on.

I wouldn't care less if it didn't hook so many faithful but gullible christians into a life of expectancy - of forever waiting for some miraculous event that would save the world. So many people thinking that God will come and change everything so they can bypass their daily lives and magically be part of some new way of life. There's always the rapture of course, but that never seems to fit in with these types of prophecies - oh well. So perhaps revival will come and then all the "revivaled" people will get whisked away to heaven with Mr Cage.

Its almost as if there is a special book of prophetic cliches that these people have to learn. The right words said in the right way is what gives you that level of anointing and credibility.

One day, christians might actually realise that it's simply a matter of being your authentic selves - loving the person next to you, living with integrity - like I always say - living loved!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Left Right

OK, politics is big at the moment in New Zealand with elections tomorrow.

We all get heated, tempers flare and it gets a bit nasty. Political debates by party leaders in the media are a joke - no better than a bunch of kids throwing punches. A complete waste of time.

Everyone thinks their favourites are demigods and everyone else is stupid at best, evil at worst, for believing otherwise. Of course, this applies to all politics in the democratic world.

I've been chewing on it all for a while and made
some observations of a spiritual nature. Most people probably know I am left wing in my views, so yes, I'm biased. Take that into account of course, but I'm trying to be objective.

Left versus right - conservative versus liberal - socialist versus capitalist, and other various labels.

I've noticed, as a generalisation, that most left leaning people are the creative passionate ones. They are often artists of some description. They tend to see the world through eyes of compassion. They tend to feel the pain of others and are concerned for injustice. They hate oppression and inequality. They often see the unity of humanity, our relationship with the world and nature. They are more demonstrative and vocal. They are idealists.

Right leaning people, as a generalisation, see the world through the eyes of personal success. They see the value of inspiring us all to achieve, and often assume everyone is capable of being well off, happy and healthy through hard work. This is usually because it's exactly what they have achieved themselves. They tend to be more materialistic and put great value on power, personal success, capitalism, consumerism, and feel that the economic success of a country justifies the means taken to attain it.

As I said, these are generalisations, but the overview is valid.

So which of these is more "christ like"? Which of these represents God's heart of love?

Most christians in the west have been deeply influenced by the Protestant work ethic. This leads to a very materialistic world view, making our hard work and success an indicator of our spirituality.
The justification for many is that our wealth can then be used to extend the kingdom of God and get people saved. For many people, its simply a matter of "if you don't work and pull your weight, you don't deserve to eat", and variations on that theme. There are of course, many others who see a different picture, where our value isn't determined by materialistic success.

But I think there are very deep issues underlying all this. Right wing views often state that we need good capitalism to provide the resources so we can help the needy. To a degree this is true, but very shallow and shortsighted. Often those who are deeply involved in business and money making justify it by saying their taxes help the poor, or they donate to good causes. But there are very few who realistically live this ideal. They often give token amounts that are gestures to help them feel good. Jesus apparently had a lot to say about money and the mentality behind riches. Also, the underlying values of the whole stock-market/share-trading system is to make money in the most impersonal way possible. Companies hand over financial control to thousands of faceless investors who have no concern for the hearts and passions of those who make up the real business. Profit is the bottom line. To me, its the most insidious form of abuse and greed we have devised.

All that's not to say it wrong to make money. Our whole society is based on money, for better or worse. But in the process we lose sight of deeper values.

Why is it that those who really care, who see the suffering, the injustice and abuses in this world, at every level, care little about conservative, capitalistic, materialism, treating money only as a way to bring love and equality to all mankind.

In my experience, I've found right wing conservatives, ultimately lack a depth of compassion and understanding for the world and of individual hearts. They tend to label the underprivileged, abused and dispossessed as a single nondescript entity, rather than millions of individual people with their own unique stories, each one precious and loved in their own right.

I'm "left" because its the only way I can see God's heart of unconditional love being effectively expressed to every person. Yes, there's a balance in all this, and I've made generalisations. But at the core of it all, I understand why Jesus apparently said the pursuit of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

I cannot, with all good conscience, support any right wing views, no matter how well they expressed, simply because the core values are built on something that is the antithesis of unconditional love.

I know many will have different views on this and will jump on me for being so black and white, and sounding judgmental. But don't take it personally, think it through carefully, and like I said, its a generalisation.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Ostrich Syndrome

The incredible revelations surfacing in the upcoming New Zealand elections have, for me anyway, highlighted a part of human nature that is pretty universal - our propensity to bury our head in the sand when confronted by something that is potentially dangerous.

In the case of the elections, the accusations being made about the Prime Minister and his party are overwhelming, and the world is watching, waiting for him to cave in. But meanwhile, the party faithful not only refuse to believe the evidence, but actively deny the possibility of any wrong doing. Their leader and his political party would not just be unwilling to commit such things, but would be incapable because they are so honorable.

You constantly hear comments like "John Key is such a lovely man", "he has such a lovely manner and smile", "he's a good family man" etc.

People are afraid to admit they could be wrong. They can't admit they voted for someone who could do that. They aren't prepared to face the implications of the issues. The status quo is more important than having to live with the mess that will ensue. Its better to hang in there with the devil we know and just bury our heads in the sand, in the hope it will all blow over and everything will carry on as it was.

Christendom is exactly the same - only on a much larger scale.

We do the same with our beliefs. Its impossible that we have made a mistake. It's completely inconceivable that our treasured belief system, that has been established over nearly 2000 years, could even vaguely be off course, let alone off the tracks completely.

So we bury our heads in the sand when confronted by new evidence. We refuse to believe that anything outside the traditional christian paradigm has any validity. We claim that our spirits know that anything outside that paradigm is a lie from the devil. Our faith system is so firmly stitched up that those who even entertain the possibility of alternatives are branded rebellious or at worst, heretics.

We are actively discouraged from pursuing any line of questioning that isn't confined within the current theological boundaries, and taught that the only truth to be had is strictly within the bible. We must not undo all the good work that centuries of minds far better than ours, have sweated over, apparently under God's guidance, to bring us orthodox, unquestionable doctrines.

Of course, we conveniently overlook the fact that there has been endless arguments over those doctrines, but none the less, the bible is unquestionable (whatever that means).

But just like our comfortable voters refusing to have their paradigms shaken no matter what is put before them, christians remain standing with their heads firmly buried in the sand (well, bent over somewhat I guess!).

Why? Because they have too much to lose. The mess created by confronting and sorting through the real issues could damage the status quo irreconcilably. The truth becomes too "inconvenient", no matter how its presented. Reasoning is futile, logic is futile. All questioning outside the accepted doctrines is deemed deception.

I could go on, but to those who have seen this phenomenon, well, they know the futility of trying to confront it.

How do we help people get their heads out of the sand?

Bloody good question. For me, deep down, I could never be satisfied by the status quo, no matter how determined I was to fit in, or to embrace it all because everyone genuinely believed it was the only truth. No, I had to be wrong, I was rebellious, so I towed the line and repressed everything until it all turned to custard.

And yet for many others, they are blissfully unaware until one day, a light get's turned on.

Perhaps its a deep desire for truth and integrity - to want to know truth for ourselves, no matter what the cost. Perhaps that finally rises up in some and breaks into the light.

And many never make it. They simply perish with their heads still happily stuck in the sand, and genuinely happy at that! Ignorance is bliss I guess. And in the end, I simply can't judge a person's worth just because they are happy where they are! Of course, everyone is equally loved and intrinsically part of God whether they know it or not. So its not like I feel superior - just sad and sometimes frustrated.

But something in me refuses to accept that people can't live better lives, happier, more fulfilled, more loving and compassionate, if they can let go and allow themselves to think bigger and not be afraid of where that may lead, because ultimately, all roads lead to love. It would be great though, if we could get the best out of the journey on that road!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Does God really speak to us?

I saw a short clip from some mega church today, where the preacher was shouting at the people (aka abusing them) saying that God told her that they had no right to question the pastor because they were dumb sheep. They had to obey the pastor's every word no matter what they thought of it.

Yes God told her that.

That's a rather extreme example and I probably don't need to comment on it as such. But the issue really comes down to "God told me".

I always thought I could hear God speaking sometimes in a way that was very clear - not audible, but in a way that cut through the chatter in my head and told me how much he loved me and it would all be OK.

But like so many christians, I became obsessed with "hearing" God speak so that I could be sure that everything I did was His will. I thought every failure in life was because I didn't hear Him, so I was just bumbling along wondering if what I thought was God really was him. And yet, if I had to be honest, the only thing I could say I really "heard" were the words of love and comfort.

This was incredibly frustrating as I was obviously a second class christian. So what about those who claimed God actually told them clearly what to do, where to go, and basically everyday instructions for life?

I ended up doing a little survey amongst my online community about how they "heard" God, without using any religious language or bible verses to describe it. Some couldn't describe it without using christianese, which was rather telling, and most admitted that they felt closest to God through nature/creation and sort of went with what they felt. Once the religious jargon was stripped away, it seems most people just fudge along - except for the few who claimed to actually hear God telling them stuff.

I decided to look a little more objectively at those who claimed that level of communication and look at the fruit of their life and the things they communicated. Without any exceptions, they left a trail of destruction behind them. Broken relationships, gossip, manipulation and control, you name it, they are walking disasters, often with deep seated mental illness hiding behind the religious facade. I found this could be extended through to big name ministries, the so called prophets and apostles, the big time pastors, all who spoke the words of God.

So meanwhile, what's really going on?

I read a lot of stuff about the psychology of this and tried to put it into a spiritual perspective. At our core, we are spiritual beings desperately in need of love. We are created for love, from love, but if we don't recognise it and "get it" we do whatever we can to get whatever resembles it, no matter what it looks like or who else it affects. The more desperate we are for love, the more our hearts and minds will create and manipulate to get it, or whatever they can that helps to numb that need.

Hearing from God falls neatly into that category. I was absolutely desperate to know that God loves me, and perhaps because of my passion for integrity as well, I heard Him telling me how much he loves me, but nothing else. In hindsight, I'm so glad I didn't start to hear more than that!

I've come to the conclusion that what people hear is no more than their own hearts, but shaped and coloured by their paradigms. Paradigms that allow them to expect God to talk to them like the prophets of old claimed. Paradigms that tell them they will be blessed and loved by God if they speak his very words to people. Paradigms that are built on religious assumptions.

So where does that leave us? Personally, I think God does speak to us, but not like that. I look at who he is, in all he has created, and hear his love and peace in that. I "hear" my mind say its OK, I'm loved. I hear my heart speak truths about love, joy, peace, acceptance, because that's what I want to hear.

It comes down to integrity and honesty with ourselves. Are we so desperate that we aren't prepared to stop manipulating God and people so we can see what our hearts really want and need? Those who hear God speaking harsh judgement and damnation - are they just projecting their own fears, subconsciously taking others into their own hell?

I think God is one with us, we are inextricably united, so in a way we can't help but "hear" him, but religion blinds us to the fact that we ARE love and that we already have all we need simply because "I am". If we hear God telling us what to do, where to go, what scriptures to read, what to say to people, we are actually hearing our own desperate hearts, scrambling to find our true identity. When we are honest enough with ourselves to recognise these needs, we begin to see that everything we need is in us - I am! God doesn't speak to us - our heart's fears and desires, coloured by whatever our greatest needs are, speak to us. And if our paradigm is based in christian religion, then the voice of God will sound like that.

In the end I realised I don't need to hear God's voice, simply because "I am", and I'm learning to live loved, and because of that, I hear and see and taste and experience so much more than a mere voice in my head.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Christian guide to loving gays

I just watched a video of an interview between Steve McVey and an "ex-gay" guy, Willy somebody...

It was really interesting, mostly because of Steve being a "hyper grace" teacher (of course there is no such thing as too much grace and I don't think Steve goes far enough at all, but that's another story).

The gist of Willy's testimony was basically, after being brought up a highly performance orientated christian, who's whole life and acceptance by God was based on how well he behaved, he discovered God's unconditional grace and love and it changed his life and filled him so full of love that he simply lost his need for romantic/sexual relationships with men and now only saw them as brothers. Indeed he now sees people as beyond male or female and loves the spirit.

Now that is something I totally agree with. We should be loving the spirit of every person equally no matter what their sexuality or gender. But there was one huge glaring hole in the interview that was neatly ignored (well a few actually...).

He never mentioned if he still found himself attracted to men at all, or if he was now attracted to women instead, and Steve neglected to ask this. But even more interesting is I can only assume he is now asexual! It seems he has completely decided to ignore and repress
something that is intrinsically part of every human. He (and many others like him) have decided that sex is simply an earthly worldly thing and ultimately, living in God's love exceeds that physical love in every way, thus making it sort of redundant.

I totally get that. I used to think that myself, and in some way still do. I think it really is a mark of spiritual growth to be able to see beyond the sexual.

BUT... God created us as physical sexual beings. We are intrinsically sexual and even the bible has lots of romantic/sexual imagery relating to our relationship to God and each other. Every culture holds romantic sex as something sacred that expresses deep spiritual truths and unites us in deep profound ways. To be asexual really is a rare "gift", if it can even be called a gift. Perhaps for some the journey to deeper spirituality can be hindered by earthly sexuality so they genuinely manage to leave it behind. But the longer I live, the more I see this as a very, very rare thing.

So basically the idea, according to Willy and Steve, is to be gracious and loving to those of us who embrace the sin so that eventually God's love will fill us to the point where we no longer desire it. We don't condone the sin/lifestyle but unconditionally love the person.

There were many comments on the video thread. Everybody had their opinions about how this worked, and of course there was always the assumption that being LGBT is a sin that must be treated like any other. There was even a long discussion by some people about "gayness" being a physical neurological condition, which medical science is supporting now, but then they assumed that it was a physical abnormality that needed healing like any other disease.

But it always comes back to the assumptions that any variation or departure from the "one man - one woman" doctrine is sin. The bible says so and that's it, end of story. That is the root of the issue for christians (and fundies of all persuasions). Its really pointless discussing anything outside of that premise.

The bible, no matter what we think of it, has been the source of more atrocities, hatred, bigotry and evil the world has ever seen. Sure, there are good things in it if you choose to see them (and many have and do), but we still just don't get it. We cannot "live by the bible", it doesn't work, because we will forever twist it to make it say what we want - always - and we are no better now than we were 1000 years ago. We can pull out the nice bits, but we can't even agree on what the nice bits are!!

So all these patronising christians saying we love our LGBT brothers and sisters, and we'll simply pour out God's love and let him sort out their sin - can take a running jump.

Being LGBT is not "sin". All that matters is that we live, with all we are and do, as love. If I have a loving caring relationship with another man, that brings the "fruit" of love to each of us, and everyone around us, then that's all that matters. If anything we do brings love, then keep doing it.

I challenge any christian to explain to me how having a loving, caring romantic/sexual relationship with someone of the same sex is wrong.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Project!!

Most of you may have heard about my Silent Gays website and some of you may even be following the Silent Gays Facebook page - thanks so much if you are (*hugs*).

So its time to explain the big picture, because I'd love to have as many people on board as possible. I'm passionate about this and feel there is a huge need to be met! So here's the (drum roll):

Silent Gays Project (trumpets, applause, screaming adulation...)

The Silent Gays website is the central location for resources and general info. Silent Gays Facebook is where the action happens - the latest news, articles, inspiration etc.

Here's where it gets interesting - I want to facilitate and inspire "silent gays" everywhere to get together, to talk and love and support and inspire and cry and believe in each other and BE God's love to this world.

I've started a "secret" Facebook group (Gaylent Sighs) as a safe, private place for people to share their hearts in a loving and safe environment. Its also a place where people can organise small group get-togethers.

These groups will be around 6 people max, in "public" places - cafes, bars etc - so there is no hint of anything religious or "churchy" (home groups can be intimidating and triggering for a lot of people).
The basic premises for the groups are:
  • The meetings are NOT to be counseling sessions. Everyone attending is on equal ground, the goal being to listen to each other’s hearts, discuss problems, share burdens and explore religious assumptions and paradigms that underlie the issues.
  • Every person’s spiritual journey must be respected. The process of dismantling religion to find spiritual and personal integrity can be a long difficult process. The group’s purpose is to support each other on that journey while exploring and challenging traditions and religious assumptions.
  • The Gaylent Sighs Facebook group is the central focus for meetings. People can look for others in their area in the group and discuss issues, share their concerns, ask for advice etc.
  • This isn’t a dating service! Although relationships can start anywhere, we must be respectful of everyone’s emotional state and vulnerability.
My book, Its Life Jim... will be an integral part of the project as it will hopefully inspire people to be real, ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers.

Of course, I need MONEY to help it along, so I have a GoFundMe campaign set up raking in the filthy lucre for my spurious project. Please feel obliged to give me as much as you can!!

Seriously though, I do need some descent backing to get the marketing running on a serious level as well as enough to cover a first print run of books (around $1000 to kick off).

I'm so grateful to everyone who has supported and encouraged me this far. Lets get this thing on the road!!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

In Time

Time is loose in tight sort of way
Today, after yesterday
Lunch, after breakfast
Waiting for today
Remembering tomorrow
Before yesterday has had its way
Tired in anticipation
Of what last week held

Its Monday already?
But it seems like it was just Tuesday!

I could walk to straighten out time
Steady steps pace my mind
Each breath reminds
Sequence, consequence
I am divine, but waking still
And listening to time
This moment that is no point in time
That cannot be called now in time
Because it has slipped in time
Before it can be named

Fluid time, never still, never sleeps
A roller coaster dragging precipitous inclines
To be released with screams
Into quantum dreams
Looking for a cat in the box
And a black hole full of worms

Another slip into sleep
And tomorrow will be today.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Mighty Israel, Part 2

I had a lot of interesting feedback from my last blog and noticed one very consistent thread with all of the comments: none of them spoke of the the God that Jesus loved - none of them spoke of his most basic teachings. None of them spoke of Paul's declarations of unconditional love. All their comments were based on Old Testament scripture. I made this comment on a Facebook thread and thought it may help expand the issue somewhat.

I feel I need to make very clear my views on the Old Testament, especially in relation to Israel's national psyche - it's religious paradigm that governs all of its moral judgments.

Again, I am not judging individual people. Your average Israeli is just like you and me, caring and loving, wanting the best for their friends and family (hopefully).

The problem for me was always the gross discrepancy between the character of God that Jesus and Paul portray and the God that the OT displays. I totally understand the traditional viewpoints about the purpose of the Jews etc, but ultimately I simply couldn't correlate the psychopathic horrors of a god that would demand others to commit genocide on a massive scale. I also simply cannot get my head or heart around God picking one barbaric tribe to be his "chosen" ones and make a bloody covenant with them based on performance, adherence to complex rules and regulations, and a fear that we could accidentally offend him and get zapped.

I have studied and read deeply as a christian for over 40yrs, even went to bible college, all in an effort to understand all these complexities. The only real answer I ever got, after endless questioning and digging, was that His ways are perfect and we have to trust His sovereign purposes - God is God and in the end he can do what He wants, we just have to have faith that He has our best intentions.

In the end, however, that just doesn't cut it. You see, to make it all "work", to give consistency and integrity to Gods character and heart, I had to turn my brain off, and abandon rational thought, logic, compassion, heart and the very essence of love that He has put deep in my heart - the love that Paul describes in 1 Cor 13.

I began to see that the entire OT was simply one particular ancient tribe trying to make sense of life and spirituality. They are writings of struggle, power plays, loss, victory, hatred, self justification, barbarism, cultic practices - all wrapped in a deeply held belief that they were the only nation on the earth that God had any interest in - that God actually despised every other person he had ever created and demanded that this one tribe annihilate the rest.

No matter how much I tried to work through the analogy, metaphor, the hidden purposes of God and the deep mysteries that point to Christ, the glaring facts remained - if the stories in the OT are true, then that God is the most horrific psychopathic monster imaginable, and we have been brainwashed to believe He is loving and caring.

So for me, we have been utterly duped, slowly and inexorably over centuries, to believe in a schizophrenic God through the use of incredibly complex doctrines that are MAN MADE. We have created a god in our own frustrated, distorted image - fickle, angry, abusive, conditional, narcissistic, and yet somehow, who loves us.

I cannot with any integrity whatsoever believe in that God. If He is love (as New Testament points out), then the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its nothing more than an ancient tribe justifying its crap. Sure there are some great bits in it that actually do express His real heart, when those people caught the occasional glimpse of it.

No, the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its NOT His holy word, its NOT the expression of His character or heart.

I now find it completely and utterly offensive to the very core of my being to think that God commanded ruthless, brutal murder and genocide - no matter how much theology you care to wrap it up in.

God IS love - if what we read doesn't fit that, then its not God - end of story.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mighty Israel

I'll preface this blog by saying emphatically that I'm not dissing Jewish people.  They are all wonderful individuals uniquely created and loved just like us all. This blog concerns a deep national paradigm. All nations have some sort of national mind set or paradigm that overlays individual paradigms, creating very clear national identities and stereotypes. 

Some of my comments here are very provocative, but I feel they are worth the observation. Again, not as an insult to individual Jews, but as a very clear rebuttal of the Israeli mindset over military actions.

It is of course, entirely possible that I'm sprouting crap, but its how I see it, and I think it has a lot of merit.

Despite protestations from many that the nation of Israel is a political entity these days and religion doesn't colour their attitudes, Prime Minister Netanyahu and many members of his cabinet make no secret of their belief that "the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers." In his speech to Congress on May 24, 2011, Netanyahu emphatically stated: "This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one god... no distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.

The Torah very clearly states that Israel obtained this land through complete and utter annihilation of every previous resident. Apparently God instructed them to commit genocide on a massive scale, and even punished Israel if they didn't kill off every last man, woman and child.

However we try to colour this with theology and doctrines, we end up with the fact that they absolutely believed they were God's one and only true chosen nation and they must occupy those lands as laid out in the Torah by whatever means.

This has been the central issue ever since. They are a nation whose history is steeped in merciless bloodshed and genocide - something that is laid out very clearly in their writings.

So here's the problem... When they were tortured and killed by the millions over the years, by many nations, and yes, especially Hitler, its not really surprising, considering their own actions. I absolutely abhor any murder, and Hitler's actions were amongst the worst ever known, and I feel sick when I think about the horrors so many innocent Jews suffered.

But as they say "karma's a bitch". Harsh you say? Anti-semitic? Why? Its a simple fact, that once again, even their own writings would agree with - there are numerous scriptures about reaping what you sow.

So obviously, my main point is about Gaza and the Palestinians. Ultimately, Israel are forever reaping what they sowed. The nation founded in horrific bloodshed in the belief that a psychopathic God told them to do it, is getting upset about another nation who is simply sick of their never ending arrogant assumption that the land is theirs.

You can interpret all their scriptures in mystical allegory about God's perfect ways, holiness and righteousness, stories of how evil those other nations were and the lessons God was teaching us through those actions, but like it or not, it all comes down to the fact that their God told them to commit massive, ruthless genocide.

Let's stop supporting this attitude, just like we condemn any other nation that acts inhumanely. Let's love every individual Israeli - show them the true nature of God - unconditional love. The sooner they realise this, the sooner they will stop reaping the consequences of their heritage. And I would lay odds on that the Palestinians will respect them for it.

Love wins, always, without fail. ALL middle east nations seem to be very lacking in this simple piece of wisdom.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

An open letter to Africa

This is not a racist post, so please don't take it that way!

Nigeria, Uganda and all the others - you know who you are.

Shame on you - Yes, SHAME ON YOU!

You who were ruthlessly abducted into lives of slavery - 10 million of you!
You who were tortured, beaten, murdered, neglected and abused.
You who were dragged away from your native lands - your homes - your roots.
You who were treated like scum, unloved and not even human.

Those who did this to you had a biblical mandate.
There are many scriptures that irrefutably proved God endorses slavery.
There are no scriptures that say men should NOT have slaves.
God saw that your race was inferior. The bible says so.
White men were doing God's will by keeping you in slavery - it was where you belonged.
It was your lot in life according to scripture.

So what changed?
What did those brave men use to convince the religious and state powers they were wrong?

They used God's unconditional heart of love.
They used basic human morality.
They appealed to the heart of love and compassion that is in all of us.

Love won, and you were freed. It was a long hard battle, and it still is for many.
Thank God for His precious love despite what the bible says.

So tell me,
Why do you judge and condemn LGBT people, when you have known the depth of God's unconditional love already? You experienced God's incredible mercy, despite what the bible says.

LGBT people face the same issue!

You say the bible supports your views. That God hates LGBT people, they are abominations, less than human. Sound familiar? It should! That's what they said about you!

So make your choice - extend the same love that was shown to you, despite what the bible appears to say, or be prepared to confront your own hypocrisy, because confront it you will, eventually, whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Theory of Everything Part 4

Over the years I wrote some blogs on my theory of everything (parts 1 to 3 obviously). Its a couple of years since the last one so I thought it might be fun to sift through my current views on this subject.

I'm one of those unfortunates who wants to know everything, right now! Anyway, that's not going to happen any time soon so I have to settle for wild guesses and assumptions based on the ponderings of other crazy people and scientists and philosophers.

If you've kept up with my blogs over the last
few years, you'll see a very pronounced departing from traditional christianity, wrestling with the most foundational issues such as the relevance of the bible, who Jesus really was, the nature of God - you know the sort of thing, nothing major.

One area that I've been quietly looking at for some time now is the link between science and spirituality, especially in the area of quantum physics - a subject that is guaranteed to completely scramble and fry any unsuspecting brain cells you may have left unatended.

The most astonishing thing is that the physics side of this isn't the made up ramblings of some wild eyed, mad scientist. It's established, accepted, everyday quantum physics that people with enormous brains discuss over breakfast.

Here's my take on things so far. I'll try to keep it as simple as possible, which is all I can do anyway. I'll also assume that I haven't completely misunderstood the scientific concepts.

Quantum physics states that everything in our universe, when we take it down to its most fundamental (quantum) level, consists of nothing more than strings of vibrating energy. These strings vibrate at certain frequencies and combine in resonance with others to assemble into higher level particles, which in turn assemble into more complex structures, becoming atoms and so on up the scale - from micro to macro.

So in reality we are nothing more than vibrating energy. That's very simplistic when we consider how many gazillions of atoms we are made of, let alone how many quantum particles and "strings". Just as astounding is that the relative distance between these particles (at the quantum level) is huge, meaning that an atom for example is actually about 99% nothing!

A real picture of a hydrogen atom!
But here's the thing - at the quantum level, physics as we understand it, totally changes. Time and space don't behave the same at all. Particles can exist in multiple places simultaneously, they can affect each other no matter where they are in the universe. Did you know that electrons whizzing around the nucleus of an atom keep changing their orbit? But they don't move to a new orbit, they simply disappear and reappear in the new orbit instantaneously - teleport as it were (*looks perplexed and scratches head)! Its the stuff of Sci Fi, except its for real.

If all that wasn't enough, there is a growing school of thought that the physical universe is actually a construct of our combined consciousness and doesn't exist at all in the way we think it does, and there's some freaky dudes that have a lot of maths to support the idea!

So what does this have to do with God and spirituality? Apparently, at an even deeper level, some theoretical physicists (who have been search for the "unified field theory" - the thing that generates the strings of energy in the first place and is the fundamental cause of everything), are thinking that the unified field is actually universal consciousness - thus producing a cross over into spirituality that has a "scientific" basis.

This may all seem a but far fetched but I'm mulling over these things and watching mind numbing videos about quantum physics, and thinking about the universal nature of God being love and the source and sustainer of everything. We are simply small expressions of God, made of the same stuff and part of each other in the same way. The energy we are made of vibrates in harmony with all other energy, but our level of consciousness allows us to interact in ways that can enhance or destroy that synchronisation with God and the rest of the universe.

We can then put those ideas into "religious" language to produce a set of meaningful psychological, sociological and spiritual tools to provide purpose, health, peace, joy etc to life as we know it. It seems every religion has scattered through its beliefs and doctrines, recognition of these basic "fundamentals", although some religious constructs can be more damaging than helpful.

I'm still chewing over the emotional and "heart" side of the whole thing, but I can see plenty of scope in this to cover just about everything really. 

So, umm, yeah - the Theory of Everything? How the hell should I know?? This sounds pretty good for now!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gay types of stereo

OK, stupid title, but it got your attention. If I just put "gay stereotypes" you would probably have just clicked on past.

This is kind of an awkward topic, mostly because I don't mean to, or want to, offend anyone in the LGBT community. I'm talking about stereotypes, so it helps to also remember I'm generalising. I am of course, targeting this blog at everyone, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, including categories such as intersex and other cultural groups like Fa'afafine), "straight" and anyone in between.

You may hear someone say "I have a gay friend!". Your brain probably immediately displays a picture of a rather effeminate looking guy, tight pants etc, or maybe a large drag queen, or a slightly awkward looking transsexual woman. Yeah, the stereotypes.

We all have mind images that pop up unbidden for stereotypes in every aspect of life. Its how our mind works. Part of the way we process and store information is by internal association and labeling. Its unconscious and is a very important factor in mental health.

The problem is when our internal labels are created by incorrect or biased data - data that has been slowly determined by our paradigms since the day we are born. This includes family, peers, culture, religion, societal ethics and morals, and a million other influences.

The problem with the whole LGBT issue is complex, far more so than religion and culture realise.

Firstly, there is actually no clear cut "gay or straight" categories. The term LGBT hardly does it justice! In reality, there are sliding scales for gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction and physical gender. Although there are a few minor variations in how this is presented - it looks like this.

Secondly, everybody has different personality traits - quiet, loud, introspective, extravert, blunt, rude, gentle, cautious, sensitive, you name it! Strangely enough, this applies to LGBT people as well. So you get those who are at different points on the scale (as mentioned above) combined with the usual mix of personalities and you get a small percentage of really "out there", bold, happy, up front and loud gays and lesbians, drag queens, and everything we use to stereotype them with. Why? Because they are the ones who, no matter what their sex/gender orientation is, will always be seen. They are the ones at the Pride parades and Mardi Gras, just being who they are - just the same as anyone else who is passionate and outgoing (especially with "causes" that affect them personally) will be the visible, vocal ones.

Thirdly, let's consider the statistics of the number of people who are LGBT. As I said above, we are all somewhere on the spectrum so it makes getting real stats extremely difficult. Heaps of research has been done on this over the years, and all of it differing depending on demographics, especially the type of questions asked and environment (physical/emotional/spiritual etc) where the research was taken. From all the research done, it seems we could generalise somewhere around 15% of the population are far enough towards the LGBT end of things to fit that category. Bear in mind that some surveys asked much broader questions about same sex experiences in ways that allowed the participants to express feelings and encounters that bypassed their own stereotypes, so they felt free to report experiences they would otherwise have never spoken of. Some of these surveys revealed up to 25% of the population.

We may never know the true figure simply because of the paradigms and biases associated with the whole subject.

With all that taken into consideration, we see that it's a minority of LGBT people who have helped us create the stereotypes. In reality, most LGBT people are quietly going about their business just like everyone else. They aren't effeminate, or drag queens etc. They are often "in the closet" and you would have no idea! They aren't drug addicts, abuse victims, sex addicts or satanists. They don't have an "agenda" to recruit your children or take over government or anything else. Many have  wonderful loving families and the best upbringing you could hope for. Many are pillars of society and church. You just don't know.

You may be in a room with 10 guys - the chances are good that 2 of them are LGBT.

Think about that.

You are in a church meeting of say 200 people - maybe 20 to 40 of them have experienced same sex attraction and enjoyed finding expression for something that is deeply part of them, but have suffered enough guilt, fear and shame to never mention it.

The stereotypes we create end up destroying our efforts to understand and look past the things that disturb our paradigms. We have to realise that stereotypes, no matter what they are associated with, are just that, and they do not, nor cannot represent the truth.

This is something I had to work through myself, despite being gay! I was so influenced by the christian paradigm that I had internalised homophobia, reinforced by working in reperative therapy for years. I still sometimes battle with the stereotypes imprinted in my mind. But that's another story!

There is no such thing as just "gay or straight" - there are only people, with a myriad of subtle to extreme sexual and gender characteristics, who simply want the freedom to live with integrity. Until then, we have to talk about it, loudly, and persistently!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Jims Awesome Cult Watch

On a whim and rush of adrenalin (or the last vestiges of gin coursing through our veins from the night before), myself and a friend decided to check out the grand opening celebrations of Destiny Church's new "City of God" in Auckland.

For my overseas friends - Destiny is a large pentecostal church in New Zealand that has had its fair share of flack for many years. Over the last year or so their numbers have been dropping and then last December, the leader's right hand man did a runner and opened his own church just down the road.

So anyway, the pastor, Brian Tamaki, made himself a bishop a couple of years back (for real) and of course refers to himself as an apostle. Most of the elders are family and he runs a VERY tight ship.

I've only ever read the odd article about them and seen the news reports, and must confess I haven't even read the book that was written about him last year by Peter Lineham, who I know, very slack of me, sorry Peter!

To be fair, they actually do a lot of good work in the community and have great programs for helping the poor and needy, and their motivation certainly seems pure.

So we found comfy seats, which, by the way, were "movie theater" seats - plush thick purple padded things with armrest, just no drink/popcorn holder - and settled in for the show for around 1000 people. And what a show it was!!

Every cliche in the book, the loud pumped up rock/R&B worship music, the pep talks and emotional dynamics (which I know soooo well cos I used to lead worship myself). The stage is a wonder to behold with the country's largest LED screen in place extending 24meters across the back of the stage, floor to ceiling, and very impressive light shows to complete the polished performance.

Then there were the offerings - yep, 3 all up. Tithes AND gifts (which they passed around the seats for, and a special seed faith offering which everyone had to take to the front of the church and put in a couple of big baskets, which were then lifted up in the air and prayed over.

There was a performance (a Maori Kapa Haka) put on by the Destiny school kids (yes, they have their own school) that told us how amazing the school is and how it was only so good because of Brian.

We had Stan Walker singing beautifully, and finally the Bishop (no one calls him pastor, let alone Brian), gave us the sermon. Apparently God specifically told him to not preach what he had planned but instead to give a very blunt message on "Wolves in the fold" which he informed he was "winging it" at the last minute - despite the fact that the big LED screen operator seemed to amazingly anticipate his subject headings and scripture references while he was preaching.

So anyway, the whole point of the sermon seemed to be damage control after the recent split, with very strong and unambiguous references to wolves coming among the sheep to destroy them. There was plenty of out of context and misquoted scripture, lots of mocking and patronising, large servings of emotional manipulation and fear mongering, and most importantly, unquestioning and unswerving allegiance to himself and the elders.

This was preached in no uncertain terms and he said that only he had the most powerful anointing to discern these wolves, and the elders had the next most powerful. Everyone else were just silly happy sheep who couldn't be trusted to discern these things for themselves and had to completely trust the leaders, who would decide who are wolves and who are sheep. No one could be trusted and he even encouraged wives to not trust their husbands and to be prepared to ignore him if he started getting slack about going to church and his allegiance to the Bishop.

This was all the most wonderful display of a narcissist in full flight. Incredible control and manipulation through fear and mistrust, using the indigenous cultural values of the Maori and pacific islanders to threaten the breakdown of their families if they didn't follow his advice.

It was the kind of thing you don't really believe unless you actually hear it. My only hope is that it will not survive the recent split and the people will come to their senses and see the depth of this guys deception. I think that at the heart of even his best social work initiatives is the need to feed his narcissism, to be held and worshiped in his position of complete power, to have the adulation of those he can coerce to give him the love that will never satisfy.

We can only hope that the fallout, when it eventually comes, will be small and those who end up hurt won't fall for the same thing again.

There is also a special ring that men can buy for $600 when they become one of Brian's spiritual sons. They sign a covenant pledging loyalty to him.