Sunday, 31 May 2015

For the Love of Facebook!


What an amazing place!

Sometimes I think I spend way too much time there. I belong to about 50 groups (far too many to have meaningful contact with them all!). I have four of my own pages and a couple of groups, so yeah, I'm committed to this!

Some days I get overwhelmed. Too much crap! Depressing world news, pictures of people being tortured, children abused, all sorts of horror hitting me in the face, demanding my attention, emotions, responses, money, time. So much that I can do little or nothing about. So much that overwhelms, to the point of desensitising and just skimming over it all.

But then there are cats, and food, and babies, and funny memes...

There's also the friendships - with people you've never met. Some become quite deep and personal, others are just fun and flippant. I've had the wonderful fortune of meeting a couple of FB friends from overseas - and it was wonderful!!

But there's also a huge world of discussion, argument, conflicting views, exploring ideas, discovery, growth - and also the world of preaching, bigotry, hate, dogma, ignorance. There's a lot of really ugly stuff as well.

So why do we do it? Why do I spend so much time on it?

On one hand, I like it when I'm "Liked". I express some idea, post something funny or meaningful and the Likes come rolling in - it feels good. I post something controversial or challenging and get the Likes, the encouragement, the discussions and arguments, and it feels good to have triggered something bigger than myself.

On the other hand, I can get attacked. I can be vulnerable and have people take advantage of that. I can be abused, misunderstood and victimised by people completely unwilling to hear others, or who are just victims of their own biases and dogma. But it hurts, especially when you know they don't see you as a real person, with the same loves and passions and fears as all of us!

But on the other hand (Ok, three hands, but who's counting), I see a mass of humanity, all wanting to be understood, to be accepted, affirmed in their humanity, to be honoured for where they are at. People wanting to be loved.

I get torn. There's so much shallow thinking, so much obsession with meaningless stuff. So many who fail to see the most basic consequences of their thoughts and actions. People totally unaware of their paradigms and biases, who they are and what made them that way. People who are so self centred that they refuse to believe for a second that they could be wrong about anything.

I get torn because I know these people need love - more than anything else, they need to experience pure, unconditional love. But we also need to educate, to challenge - and some are so ignorant of the damage they inflict on other people that we can't simply sit back and let them go on.

Perhaps empathy is the key. When we stop and really want to understand others, to get inside their heads and feel the way they do, we might be able to respond in a way that brings life and healing.

Some christian circles might call it prophesy or "word of knowledge", but we don't need some wanky religious jargon to apply a basic human attribute. Empathy has nothing to do with our belief systems. It transcends any religion or dogma. Empathy is unconditional love. It's as simple as taking the time to listen without prejudice and put ourselves in their shoes.

Facebook! (and the entire internet/social media network) - we can make it a place of life and love. It's the most powerful tool for the growth of mankind that the world has ever seen!!



Thursday, 28 May 2015

On Being Offensive

It's been an interesting few days! I've learned a lot about being offensive and taking offence!

One of the Facebook groups I frequent had a blow-out. I won't go into details, but you can imagine, if you've been on Facebook long enough.

It wasn't pretty and people got hurt, blamed the administrator, relationships broken, and now there's all the subsequent slander and back-biting that inevitably comes after people are hurt and feel betrayed.

I even tried to bring some understanding, hope and life into the mess and got slammed for being controlling, insensitive, passive aggressive etc.

It hurt. Many simply couldn't or wouldn't understand what I was saying.

What came out of all this though, is the whole idea of venting - expressing our offences and hurts, working through the pain and frustration, being free to look at abuse and how it affects us, and right through to holding the other person accountable for
what they've done.

This is a huge issue, and something we aren't really good at discussing in depth. When people are really hurt, the last thing they want is to be rational. They need the space to process and work through it all. But there's also the issue of inflaming the problem, of causing damage to others, that down the line sometime, we may realise was completely unjustified. We can cause a heck of a lot of damage to others during the venting process.

What do we do? How do we express this stuff in a way that affirms our own pain and feelings of injustice, rejection, control or whatever, but allows the "offender" the same right to process the events - all in a way that brings life and love.

All too often the end result is complete separation and division, and, especially where there has been religion involved, accusations of selfish, evil intentions, fraud, slander, you name it. It turns into a witch hunt, looking for any action the offender may have made that could be construed to fit with the initial offence.

Perhaps the very public acts of control, abuse and deception by high profile "preachers and ministers" that have affected many innocent people, have created a mentality that is overly sensitive to these issues? We are far more aware of how this dynamic works than we ever have been. But here's the thing - we are all capable of it, and actually do it all the time as part of our complex systems of interactions and relationships.

I've often caught myself trying to manipulate a situation, say the right words to get people to agree with me and do what I want. I've juggled group dynamics to my own benefit, and as a worship leader, its something we are trained to do very well (but that's a whole other story!!). I want to protect my vested interests, my security - not in terms of income etc, but in terms of my self value. I've worked hard to protect myself and I want to maintain that, even if it means using manipulation to achieve it.

This is what we do as humans. We all do. But when we are in a position of power and responsibility, these habits become far more problematic.

So how does this all work in relation to my original idea? Bloody good question!!

Perhaps it simply means that we ALL have a far greater responsibility to own our emotions than we care to admit. Perhaps our propensity for self pity, however well deserved, is our Achilles Heal. We need to be honest with ourselves on every level, to admit our weaknesses and to give ourselves room to process, work through the emotions and grow. We need the space and freedom to come out the other end with dignity and self-worth. But if we do that at the expense of anyone else, have we really achieved anything?

I don't know. Relationships are hard. All I DO know is that love, compassion and empathy are absolutely key to all we do, no matter how difficult, even in our worst pain! Love is a key we so easily throw away in focussing on our own needs.

Let's work together - be vulnerable - be open - share our pain - remember that we all need the same amount of love; no matter if we have offended, or are offended.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Woe is me

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

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

Is that what you tell yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Silent Gays Meeting

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

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


Friday, 15 May 2015

I Need You!!

Silent Gays is all I do.

It's my life and passion. 

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

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

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

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

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

Here's the plan - 

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

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

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

Silent Gays - Money!

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

Thursday, 7 May 2015

No more stuffing around

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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