In just a few hours,

In just a few hours, the second term of my seminar career begins. I complained last term that it seemed I had no chunks of time during the day to work on homework, well, this term, I know I have no chunks of time. My classes are spread out throughout the day. Plus, I have five solidly academic classes this term – a lot more work, I think. The only saving grace is that I am settled in now and have a better understanding of what is required. I am hoping that I can find the groove that avoided me all last term.
I’ve accomplished a lot over break. Not nearly what I had hoped for, however. I got to spend a lot of time with Ashton, which was wonderful. I got a lot of papers organized to file, but haven’t done any filing yet. I have piles that are still piles. I have not finished Celebration of Discipline, nor the four other books I am in the middle of. I worked a lot on my webpages, and they are looking much better. I still have a long way to do before I will be satisfied, if I ever am.
I have taxes, financial aid, and CPE interviews to worry about now, along side my course work.
I feel so bad for Ashton. Ashton’s dog, a Dalmatian, is 14 years old. She is showing her age. It may not be long before Ashton has to put her to sleep. It will be horrible. Through two long-term but negative relationships, through everything, the one companion that always loved him was his dog. He was 21 when he got that dog as a puppy – practically his whole adult life. He just doesn’t know what to do, and he hurts.
I hope I can discipline myself to live a balanced life this term. We shall see whether I can or not.
comments? e-mail me

Here is another news article

Here is another news article from Focus-on-the-Family. They just get it wrong, that’s all. The problem is that in their wrongness, they are trying to excerpt their wrong theological understandings onto the socio-political process. In other words, their goal is to remove, politically any law that might be favorable to homosexual people – not special-rights laws, but anything that presents homosexuals in a positive light or secures an equal footing in the same way heterosexuals enjoy. Likewise, in school curricula, in public forums relating to homosexuality, in popular-culture, etc., they demand that homosexuality and gay people always be presented in the most negative terms. After all, it is a devastating sickness and blatant sin that if left unchecked will cause all gay people to end up in the eternal fires of Hell and cause God’s intentional destruction of American. According to their generalized theories on and opinions of homosexuals, that is, which I don’t think is Biblically or spiritually truthful or empirically verifiable at all.
Anyway, here is the article:
Lesbian Awarded Money from Sept. 11 Victims Fund
By David Brody, Washington, D.C., correspondent
SUMMARY: The lesbian partner of a Sept. 11 victim gets more
than a half-million dollars from the federal government.
The Sept.11 Compensation Fund that was set up to provide
money for victims of the terror attacks has awarded more than a
half-million dollars to a lesbian whose partner died in the tragedy.
Sheila Hein died on Sept. 11 and her partner of 18 years, Peggy
Neff, believed she was entitled to financial compensation. The
federal government apparently agrees because the fund, set up
by the U.S. Department of Justice, gave her $557,000.
Jennifer Middleton, of the Lambda Legal Defense Foundation, is
happy with the decision.
“It’s important that the federal government has recognized that
Peggy and Sheila shared a household like any other married
couple … and that recognition is vitally important to respect
Sheila and help Peggy move on with her life,” Middleton said.
The decision is a clear victory for homosexual advocates, but it
has others worried.
Peter LaBarbera, associate director of the Culture and Family
Institute, feels sorry for the woman who lost a friend, but he said
a line has to be drawn.
“Nine-eleven or no nine-eleven, the government cannot reward
unhealthy homosexual relationships,” LaBarbera said. “We’ve
got to get over our sensitivity on this and deal with it, because
what the other side is doing is using nine-eleven to promote
homosexual relationships.”
Pro-homosexual groups will look at this decision as a clear-cut
case for legitimizing homosexual relationships. LaBarbera said
there’s an unfortunate truth to that.
“In a sense they’re right,” LaBarbera said. “If the government
starts recognizing homosexual relationships and treats them as
the same as normal healthy relationships, then we’re in trouble
because the government is giving these relationships
The man in charge of the Sept. 11 fund is Kenneth Feinberg — a
former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who was
named by Attorney General John Ashcroft last year to oversee
the fund. He did not return our calls.

What this article reveals is their anger that gay relationships are treated in the same way that heterosexual relationships are treated. If a straight man, who was divorced and remarried three times, had died in the 9/11 tragedy, then his wife of two years should receive the money. A lesbian relationship, that was 18 years old, should not. Homosexuality has simply become their sin de-jour, their sin that raises the most cash, their sin that enables them to scapegoat a whole class of people and generalize the worst within the gay community to be normative for all gay people. It enables them to hate something and to prove by comparing themselves to gays that they are in fact holy and acceptable to God, because they are not like THOSE people!
I honestly don’t have a problem with the honest ex-gay ministries who try to encourage people to live a life they see fit according to their interpretation of scripture. Fundamentalist expressions of Christianity do not allow for differences of opinion on Biblical interpretation, so they see only their opinion of scripture as being God’s. I don’t agree, and I think Biblical scholarship and the reality of most gay and “ex-gay” and”ex-ex-gay” people’s experience will not support their theories.
The problem is that the Religious-Right, the politicized Christian sub-culture, is taking their theological opinions and demanding that our nation adopt their viewpoint. They demand that civil law abide by their theological notions. It isn’t much different then Islamic law being implemented in many African and Middle-Eastern nations. They demand their notions of Christian law (really Mosaic and Levitical Law) be adopted by civil authorities. What they want is a theocratic form of government – defined by themselves and no other Christian opinion is tolerated. Homosexuality is the bogeyman that they feel is proof that they must succeed, else God will intentionally destroy American. Of course, not all believe this. Of course, there are some who believe that if we truly abide by scripture, then homosexuals need to be put to death, because that is what Leviticus demands. Yet, the prevailing “wisdom” among conservative Christians is that it is wrong, sinful, and destructive to pass laws that give homosexuals and homosexual relationships equal footing with heterosexuals and heterosexual relationships.
comments? e-mail me

Celebration of Discipline by: Richard

Celebration of Discipline by: Richard Foster
I’m reading this book along with the other members of our TSP group. We plan on continuing to meet together this term and to go over this book. It has been around 20 years since I last read this book. So far, it is as good as I remembered it to be!
Chapter 1: Door to Liberation
“Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” (italics mine)
[ This is so applicable to our situation here and now in seminary. We can learn so much and experience so much, but without the work of discipleship – of the disciplines – the deepness of life and the formulation of meaning of all the learning and experience can be for nothing. ]
“In fact, the Disciplines are best exercised in the midst of our normal daily activities. If hey are to have any transforming effect, the effect must be found in the ordinary junctures of human life.” (1)
“The Disciplines are ‘classical’ because they are central to experiential Christianity” (1)
“Joy is the keynote of the Disciplines. The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear.” (2)
“The primary requirement is a longing for God.” (2)
“As Thomas Merton said, ‘We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners all our life.'” (2)
“Psalm 42:7 reads ‘Deep calls to deep.'”
[ I know this can sound, or even be, exclusionary, but their is a recognition that is present between those who find themselves in the ‘deep.’ There is always the danger of pride and haughtiness, yet deep does call to deep. It can be seen in another, just like one who has gone through horrific times in life can discern the same path of experience in another who has gone through horrific experiences. ]
“One word of caution, however, must be given at the outset; to know the mechanics does not mean that we are practicing the Discipline. the Spiritual Disciplines are an inward and spiritual reality and the inner attitude of the heart is far more crucial than he mechanics for coming into the reality of the spiritual life.” (3)
“The moment we feel we can succeed and attain victory over our sin by the strength of our will alone is the moment we are worshiping the will.” (4)
“Heinri Arnold concludes, ‘As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own will power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever.'” (4)
“By dint of will people can make a good showing for a time, but sooner or later there will come the unguarded moment when the ‘careless word’ will slip out to reveal the true condition of the heart.” (5)
“It is not that we intend to be that way. We have no intention of exploding with anger or of parading a sticky arrogance, but when we are with people, what we are comes out… Willpower has no defense against the careless word, the unguarded moment.” (5)
“The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours.” (5)
“Once we clearly understand that God’s grace is unearned and unearnable, and if we expect to grow, we must take up a consciously chosen course of action involving both individual and group life. That is the purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines.” (7)
“We must always remember that the path does not produce the change; it only puts us in the place where the change can occur. This is the way of disciplined grace.” (7)
“We did no more than receive a gift, yet we know the changes are real. We know they are real because we find that the spirit of compassion we once found so hard is now easy… No longer is there the tiring need to hide our inner selves from others.” (7)
“The Spiritual Disciplines are intended for our good. They are meant to bring the abundance of God into our lives. It is possible, however, to turn them into another set of soul-killing laws. Law-bound Disciplines breathe death… When the Disciplines degenerate into law, they are used to manipulate and control people… Once we have made a law, we have an ‘externalism’ by which we can judge who is measuring up and who is not… When we genuinely believe that inner transformation is God’s work and not ours, we can put to rest our passion to set others straight.” (8-9)
[ This is very good! I have experienced so often the legalization of our life with God. This can be found in all forms throughout the whole Church, but some traditions are more adept at it than others. Legalistic righteousness is found alive and well within the “conservative” Church. “Conservative” is a bad word to use because of the baggage it brings, but I just don’t have a better descriptive word at this point. Then, of course, we judge one another in order to prove our own self-righteousness. We judge in order to make ourselves feel better. Read Romans chapter 2! ]
“In these matters we need the words of the apostle Paul embedded in our minds: ‘We deal not in the letter but in the Spirit. the letter of the Law leads to the death of the soul; the Spirit of God alone can give life to the soul.’ (2 Cor. 3:6, Phillips)” (9)
Chapter 2: The Discipline of Meditation
“In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in ‘muchness’ and ‘manyness,’ he will rest satisfied. Psychiatrist C. G. Jung once remarked, ‘Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.'” (13)
“They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit.” (13)
“It is a sad commentary on the spiritual state of modern Christianity that meditation is a word so foreign to its ears.” (14)
[ I think this has been changing since this book was first published (the ’70’s). Of course, for me, it could be that I moved from Pentecostalism and into Anglicanism, which has an ancient history, along with all the Churches within the Catholic tradition, of meditation. ]
“Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it. The two ideas are radically different.” (15)
“Detachment is the final goal of Eastern religion… In its popular form, TM is meditation for the materialists.” (15)
“Christian meditation goes far beyond the notion of detachment… The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God and to other human beings. Christian mediation leads us to the inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely, and to he spiritual perception necessary to attack social evils.” (15)
“If you believe that we live in a universe created by the infinite-personal God who delights in our communion with Him, you will see meditation as a communication between the Lover and the one beloved.” (18)
“The history of religion is the story of an almost desperate scramble to have a king, a mediator, a priest, a go-between. In this way we do not need to go to God ourselves. Such an approach saves us from the need to change, for to be in the presence of God is to change. It is very convenient this way because it gives us the advantage of religious respectability without demanding moral transformation. We do not need to observe the American scene very closely to realize that it is captivated by the religion of the mediator.” (19)
“This is why meditation is so threatening to us. It boldly calls us to enter into the living presence of God for ourselves.” (19)
[ It is an experiential action. It is coming to know God. ]
“We must come to see, therefore, how central the whole of our day is in preparing us for specific times of meditation. If we are constantly being swept off our feet with frantic activity, we will be unable to be attentive at the moment of inward silence.” (20)
[ How many people have I known who cannot go a moment with silence. They always have to have a radio playing or television droning in the background. How many people never let themselves sit still for more then a few moments. With some of my friends, and even one relationship, I know it is because they cannot let themselves dwell in themselves – they are afraid to focus on the inner self. ]
“…we would do well to cultivate ‘holy leisure.’ And if we expect to succeed in the contemplative arts, we must pursue ‘holy leisure’ with a determination that is ruthless to our datebooks.” (21)

Here is a news item

Here is a news item from the latest “Focus-on-the-Family” e-mail news updates:
“Report: Gay Men Seeking HIV
One out of four newly HIV-infected men actively sought out the
disease, according to a new article in Rolling Stone magazine. John
Paulk, the manager of Focus on the Family’s homosexuality and
gender department, said that is actually old news within the gay
“Young men, especially in cities like San Francisco, have considered
themselves ‘pre-AIDS,’ ” Paulk said. “In other words, they’re not HIV
positive, but they know that they will eventually get AIDS and often
seek it out.”
He said the attitude shows the hopeless desperation of young gay
men. They feel that unless they have AIDS they’re not a full part of
the homosexual community.
“What that says to us is that homosexuality is not just a normal
variant of sexuality,” Paulk said. “That, inherently, within
homosexuality are negative consequences — psychologically,
emotionally — and you see the negative health risks.”
Paulk said homosexuality leads people to think their life is worth so
little, that purposefully catching a deadly disease would actually
improve their outlook.”
Yes, regrettably, it is old news. People have been tracking this phenomenon for a number of years now, especially in San Francisco. As might be expected, there are whole websites devoted to the giving and receiving of this “gift” from one gay man to another. I have heard it explained that some gay men feel “left out” because they are not HIV infected. Those who are infected supposedly get all the attention, so they want to feel part of “it.” I agree that it is unbelievable and very sad. The fatalistic attitude is killing people, which may be obvious with fatalistic attitudes, but it is still astounding nonetheless.
This has a lot to say about the hedonistic focus of those who yell the loudest in the homosexual community. In the same way that advocates of wearing condoms in the early ’80’s where labeled “sexual Nazis” by many gay men who didn’t want to believe the fact of HIV/AIDS and didnÂ’t want to stop having unrestricted sex in any way, so are those who strongly advocate for sexual sanity today, for an end to the sexual obsession of gay men, for the idea of living for something other then hedonistic pleasure. All one has to do is look at most gay publications, parties, the pervasiveness of porn, etc., to understand that we as a subculture are obsessed with sex and hedonism. It needs to stop, because there is something so much better and life-giving, but when the very element of society that helps “calm the savage beast” within us, the Church, rejects gay people and perpetuates the notion that gays are hopeless and evil, why should the “Way of Christ” have any appeal any longer? People, who make up the Church, may have rejected and condemned homosexuals, by God has not.
It is an uphill battle to convince the homosexual community that despite want anti-gay, prohibitionist Christians say, God does love gay people and desires a full life for us, in the same way God desires a full life for heterosexual people. Their brand of Christianity is distorted, and even though no of knows fully what the complete Way of God comprises (I Corn. 13:9-12), we can fully understand that we are to love God with all of ourselves, and love our neighbor as ourselves. That is the element they forget to employ.
I agree that there is definitely something wrong, not just spiritually but psychologically/emotionally, with anyone who intentionally becomes infected with a deadly virus that despite medical advances will still kill most of them. It has to do with feelings of immortality that most young people posses; it has to do with a life devoid of anything other then what feels good – a nice hold over from the 60’s and 70’s; it comes from not understanding who we are and what we are capable of in God; it comes from a subculture that encourages sexual-obsession; it comes from a subculture that has been so devastated and reviled by the Church and “love-the-sinner” Christians that they have rejected the Church, Christians, and most horribly of all – God; it comes from a sense of hopelessness and fatalism. As the article said, “…they’re not HIV positive, but they know that they will eventually get AIDS and often seek it out.” Men, apart from God, do what men do – whether straight or gay – young men would have sex with as many people as they could if there were not social strictures to lessen the impact of the libido. Within the male gay subculture, because it is made up of only men and because of the rejection they experience from those who could advocate for sexual-sanity, the strictures are far less effective.
The problem with the Focus-on-the-Family report, however, is that they lump all homosexuals into this same category. This is something the prohibitionist Christians love to do – demonize a whole group of people. They have done it to so many, gay people being only the latest rendition of the ploy. The fact is, most gay people do not seek out the HIV virus. Most I know, even though they are not Christians and therefore do not abide my the same moral codes that we strive to live by, go to great lengths to avoid the virus. Most gay people I know live relatively conservative lives – they are faithfully partnered or looking to be, they are not sex-obsessed, they are not drug abusers, they are not pedophiles, they are people who live like most single or married straight folks, despite what the politicized, anti-gay, prohibitionist Christians what everyone to believe.
So, when Paulk says, “…homosexuality leads people to think their life is worth so little, that purposefully catching a deadly disease would actually improve their outlook,” that’s what Focus-on-the-Family and other anti-gay Christian organizations what society to believe so that their whole “ex-gay” theology, pseudo-psychology, and political demands will be accept by the common American – thus the outlawing of homosexuality and any positive portrayal of gay people. The reason that many gay people still believe that their lives are worth so little is because people like Paulk and their like-minded organizations demand that homosexuals be hopeless and immoral and that society and the Church do everything it can to perpetuate that attitude among gay people. Their view is that homosexuality is evil, thus “practicing” homosexuals are also, and they want everyone to believe that, despite the “love-the-sinner” rhetoric. They want homosexuals to believe they themselves are evil and incapable of living a good life, a moral life, and a fulfilled life. They want gay people to believe that God rejects them outright, and therefore they have no ability to live a life worthy of anything. They want gay people to believe it so that they will allow ex-gay ministries to bring “healing” to their lives in God – except that their base understanding of the whole gay issue begins with a misinterpretation of scripture. They want gay people to live miserable lives because it enables them to perpetuate their anti-gay theology and ideology. A non-Christian gay subculture gives them something to hate – it gives them a scapegoat for the worldÂ’s ills. If prohibitionist Christians and their organizations did portrayed the gay-subculture as it really is, a mirror of straight culture with some excesses in different areas of life, they would not have a money-raising machine, they would not have a reason to exist, they would not demonize to scapegoat.
There are nihilistic, fatalistic, emotionally screwed-up gay males who are out there trying to be infected with HIV because of a whole number of reasons, none of which is acceptable. We need God’s saving grace to live life to the full, as it was meant to be lived. We need to advocate strongly for a rejection of hedonism within all walks of life – because it pulls us away from true life, from true freedom, and from true satisfaction. What we don’t need is people trying to demonize whole groups, and then doing everything they can to perpetuate the very reasons so many in that group find themselves screwed-up. Yes, as Paulk and Focus-on-the-Family says, it is sad. The problem is the conclusions they draw.
comments? e-mail me

It’s dang cold here in

It’s dang cold here in New York right about now. Ashton brought his dog tonight – a 14 year old Dalmatian. I was worried about the five flights of stairs, but she seemed to handle them all right.
I woke up at 3:20 am this morning. I called Ashton just to make sure he was okay, alive, and home – he didn’t call earlier. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so this has been a very long day. We’re going to watch The Manchurian Candidate . It’s just good seeing him.
CPE – I’m kind of worried. So many of the programs are full by now. All the hospitals I applied to have already selected their students. I’m on waiting lists, but I could likely find myself without a CPE position this summer. I have no idea what I’m going to do if that happens.
comments? e-mail me

So, my dad is staying

So, my dad is staying out on Long Island for business. He was in the city yesterday for a number of meetings and we planned on going to dinner. He swung by the seminary and picked me up – I was going to show him were to park. As we are going west on 19th St., here was this open spot close to 10th Ave. There were lots of other cars parked on that area of the street, so why not. There was a no parking between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm sign; we parked at 5:15 pm. He thought it didn’t really matter whether he got a ticket or not because the car was a rental and he lives in Ohio. We walked to a nice Japanese restaurant on 8th, where he insisted on buying me sushi. You know, it was actually pretty good! Anyway, we walk back to get the car, and no car. “Am I sure we parked on 19th,” I asked myself. No car whatsoever. It had either been stolen or towed. A guy was going into the apartment building on the part of the street where we parked, so I asked him whether they generally towed cars, and he said not generally.
Called the police. They said call the tow pound. Call the tow pound, and yup, they had the car. Actually, the whole process of getting his car back wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. It cost $185.00, but for him it was much better then having the car stolen – all of his business stuff was in the car! We – roommates, Ashton, etc. – came to the conclusion that because the rental car had Pennsylvania plates, the police figured that the driver wouldn’t pay the parking ticket, so why not tow him and get the money one way or another. Ashton was saying that if he had NY tags, a ticket was probably all he would have gotten. Who knows?
We had some evening last night. I wanted him to give my mom a good report about where I was living, etc., but then to have his car stolen, rental or not, would have caused my mom to worry about me even more.
comments? e-mail me

Sitting in Big Cup yesterday,

Sitting in Big Cup yesterday, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, and reading The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism, I overheard some guys talking. Here is a quote from one of them. I’m not sure what he was thinking of converting to. “I’m thinking of converting. I go to church every now and then. I would be fine with it if they just quite talking about Jesus all the time. Every song is about Jesus. All I can say is, Jesus Christ!”
Well, okay, and what IS Christianity?
comments? e-mail me