Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Via Daily Kos: It's Finally Official - Pope Francis Demotes Highest-Ranking US Cardinal Over LGBT Issues

attribution: None Specified

It's been in the news. Now it has been confirmed. As of this past weekend, Raymond Leo Burke, America's highest-ranking cardinal at the Vatican, was officially removed from the Vatican's Supreme Court, and demoted to chaplain of the Knights of Malta, where he will reign with much less responsibility. The ultra-Conservative and anti-gay cardinal, continuously challenges the jurisdiction of Pope Francis, and the Catholic Church's new receptive stance on homosexuality. 
 How ironic it is to find the demoted cardinal is from the United States. What does that say about America - that even the Catholic Church and a pope are ahead of so many anti-LGBT lawmakers and extremists in this country.

Weeks after taking office in 2013, Pope Francis asked, 'Who am I to judge?' speaking of the LGBT community. Since then, he has had great support for his progressive views, and of course, great opposition. Raymond Burke is one of the pope's strongest opponents. The 66 year-old Burke believes homosexuality is, 'always and everywhere wrong [and] evil,' and continuously questioned the authority of Pope Francis, now 77. Burke told Buzzfeed in October:
“The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
Apparently the Pope is free, at minimum, to encourage change. This is one more reason why so many free-thinkers in America, and in other countries love Pope Francis. 
 Raymond Burke is also staunchly outspoken with his anti-choice views. He once protested well-known pro-choice advocate, Sheryl Crow, for performing at a benefit concert. Burke stated:
"A Catholic institution featuring a performer who promotes moral evil gives the impression that the church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching."
Many of us love these new Catholic Church 'inconsistencies,' Burke denounces. They represent the over-due distancing of archaic religious dogma that drove many people away from the church. As a pro-choice Liberal woman, I cannot end this diary, in good conscience, without conveying my hope that Pope Francis will vocally extend his progressive efforts to defend the reproductive rights of women, as well as women's position in the church. One step at a time. Meanwhile, here's to a great pope and a great man, who continues to be a breath of fresh air for many, many people around the world.

h/t Karen Hartjen

Originally posted to Leslie Salzillo on Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 09:23 AM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets , LGBT Kos Community, and Anglican Kossacks.

Via Daily Kos / FB:

Via George Takei / FB:

Via Daily Dharma

Willingness to Investigate | December 31, 2014

When we are willing to investigate, with loving attention, the difficult feelings that come up in relationship to others, our happiness or unhappiness is less conditioned by how others behave.

- Narayan Liebenson Grady, "Questioning the Question"

Via Robert Reich / FB:

The Republican’s problem isn’t just Representative Michael Grimm resigning Congress after pleading guilty for tax evasion, or Steve Scalise, the 3rd-ranking House Republican, giving a speech at a White Nationalist hate group. It runs deeper. The radical right that now dominates the Republican Party disdains government and has no respect for equal rights. So it’s no surprise that some of the people it recruits won’t pay the taxes they owe or will give speeches at such forums. Grimm and Scalise aren’t just two rotten apples. I fear congressional Republicans have a barrel of them.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Via JMG: STUDY: Gays Less Likely To Divorce

Via Pink News:
Same-sex couples are more likely to have stable, long-lasting relationships than straight couples, according to a new study. Statistical research conducted by the Williams Institute at the University of California looked at data on the break-up of same-sex marriages and partnerships in New Hampshire, Vermont, California, DC, New Jersey, Washington and Wisconsin. The data showed that in New Hampshire and Vermont, 5.4% and 3.6% of marriages were terminated across the first four years of marriage equality. While these numbers seems high, it corresponds to an annual relationship termination rate of 1.1% – which is just over half the comparable mixed-sex divorce rate of 2%.
The study notes that in states that had already legalized same-sex marriage, the rate of gay nuptials increased after the demise of DOMA.

UPDATE: JMG reader Chris notes that the Washington Post has an issue with the study's methodology. 
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: FLORIDA: City Of Fort Lauderdale Plans Beach Wedding For 100 Gay Couples

Via the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to invite at least 100 couples from around the country and around the world to marry oceanside in a common ceremony sometime this winter, said Nicki Grossman, president of the Broward County tourism group in an interview. The 100 number also will honor Broward's 100th birthday celebration now underway. "We're going to pull out all the stops, just like a proud father does when their child marries," said Grossman, calling gay travelers "a very loyal and important part of our destination." The wedding extravaganza is just the first of many gay-marriage activities planned in Broward, a pioneer in promoting gay tourism. In 2013, more than 1.3 million LGBT travelers visited Broward and spent about $1.5 billion, accounting for about 10 percent of tourism in the county, Grossman said. And that counts only those who came on LGBT tours, attended gay events, responded to gay ads or in some way, self-identified as LGBT. "We believe that there are considerably more LGBT travelers than that" in Broward, Grossman said.
A date for the event has not yet been announced.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via The Hunger Site / FB:

Baha'i A Field Guide to the Faith by MrDonut

And some day I am bitter:

Product Details

  • Paperback: 134 pages
  • Publisher:; 1st edition (November 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160725526X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607255260
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,699,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • Editorial Reviews


    Nancy Ellen Walker's first novel manuscript was 'inadvertently destroyed" some decades back by a Baha'i reviewer who condemned it for saying the Baha'i Faith's founder was "awesome." It started her thinking about the poet-god Baha'u'llah and the metaphor he created for his life: a prisoner and an exile. Today, that metaphor is strong in the Baha'i community, and Baha'i administration itself has taken on the role of pash and sultan. It drives its members into corridors of fear and submission to denial of conscience while presenting front populated by Ph.D.s and professionals who woo government and media for respectability. Emerging from the Baha'i organization was like getting a very slow divorce. It was challenged by Baha'i administrators who employed tactics of secrecy, silence, and slander to remove her from the community. Ultimately, Ms.Walker sees g Baha'i world administration (which begins in your neighborhood) as an attempt by Western Baha'is to imitate Sharia law - even though Islam regards the Baha'i Faith as a poseur religion. The opportunities for slavish worship and for unquestioned control of the worshipper's conscience thrive in this 'religion' that forbids its members to read material of its many "enemies" - those who stand for the right to read their own history, and worship as their conscience dictates. The Baha'i Faith has evolved in less than 200 years from the musings of a a disgruntled poet-aristocrat to an organization that is ready to claim kinship and supremacy over all other world religions. Ms.Walker finds its mighty claims and aims are the result of a long Perisan family feud that has squandered its resources to build a garden park on Mount Carmel and attempt control of the writings of its central and peripheral figures. The gravity and solemnity demanded by the Baha'is towards almost anything 'Baha'i' is the target of this book. Ms.Walker exposes with wit, satire, essay and images the futility of a few people to organize mankind into a collective. Thanks to the Internet she has explored the big empty spaces in Baha'i history. She tackled the 'forbidden' texts and sorted out the history Baha'is are forbidden to examine on pain of excommunication. What she found was real men and women who, whatever they thought of God, had very human needs, fears, and desires, and made very human choices to achieve their ends. Ms.Walker shows that the Baha'is have never refused to dress their heroes in something more than a human can bear, and it is the raiment they end up worshipping. The real founder, the man Husayn Ali, his sons, his family - are quite forgotten. This book brings them down from Mt.Carmel so we can see them as people just like us. One of the Baha'i catch phrases is "We Are One." Well, we ARE one, when we see each others' humanity and divinity without distinction. At such times it is impossible to mount character attacks and excommunication proceedings against anyone. We are one. This is the message of " Baha'i - A Field Guide to the Faith" by MrDonut. And why MrDonut? MrDonut is a companion cat who lends his name to the author in the same way Baha'is lend titles to real people: for distance, for removal of ego, for affection. --MrDonut 

    About the Author

    A late-blooming Bennington girl. Believes in pounding a guitar , blowing harmonicas, and looking for new keys with the local acoustic players. Always book-crazy. Looked deeply into many places for that Self and found it while committed to making her parents' last years some of their best. Now settling comfortably into Tao, sometimes called a state of grace. Her first published book 'Bahai A Field Guide to the Faith' is big medicine for a drooping soul. Her first novel manuscript was 'inadvertently destroyed" some decades back by a Baha'i reviewerwho objected to associating the word "awesome" with "Baha'u'llah", even though Mr.Baha'u'llah referred to himself in terms not unlike it. The Zen of it started her thinking about the poet-god Baha'u'llah and the metaphor he created for his life: a prisoner and an exile. Emerging from the Baha'i organization was like getting a very slow divorce, made easier by the fact that she was both officially shunned and unofficially excommunicated. Finally she was free to read the forbidden Things! She sees the vast and far-reaching Baha'i world administration (which begins in your neighborhood) ultimately as an attempt by Western Baha'is to imitate Sharia law - even though Islam regards the Baha'i Faith as a poseur religion. She sees the Baha'i Faith as an article of genuine human evolution, from a disgruntled aristocrat's musings to an organization that is ready to claim kinship and supremacy over all other world religions. She finds its mighty claims and aims are the result of a long Perisan family feud that has squandered its resources to build a garden park on Mount Carmel and attempt to bring under its control the lovers of the writings of its central and peripheral figures. 

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 30/12/2014

“Nos dias atuais a espiritualidade precisa ser prática. Isso significa aprender a se relacionar sem machucar a si mesmo e ao outro. Essa é a principal prática espiritual, o principal desafio para o ser humano nessa fase da jornada evolutiva. A espiritualidade prática também é sustentável, ou seja, ela integra e equilibra a vida espiritual com a vida material. Mosteiros, templos e ashrams continuam sendo centros sustentação da luz, mas a espiritualidade deve ser cultivada em todos os lugares, em todos os setores: ciência, saúde, educação, economia, politica, artes... Em tudo.” 
“Hoy en día la espiritualidad necesita ser práctica. Esto significa aprender a relacionarse sin herirse a uno mismo ni al otro. Esta es la principal práctica espiritual, el principal desafío para los seres humanos en esta fase del camino evolutivo. La espiritualidad práctica también es sustentable, es decir, ella integra y equilibra la vida espiritual con la vida material. Monasterios, templos y ashrams siguen siendo centros que sustentan la luz, pero la espiritualidad debe ser cultivada en todos los lugares, en todos los sectores: ciencia, salud, educación, economía, política, artes... En todo.”

“Nowadays, spirituality needs to be practical. This means learning how to relate to others without hurting them and without hurting yourself. This is the main spiritual practice and the main challenge for humans in this phase of the evolutionary journey. Spiritual practice is also meant to be sustainable – that is, it integrates spiritual and material life and creates balance between the two. Monasteries, temples and ashrams continue to be centers that sustain light, but spirituality must be cultivated in all places, and in all sectors: from science, health and education, to economics, politics and the arts. It's in everything.” 

- Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

No More Worry | December 30, 2014

One in All
All in One—
If only this is realized,
No more worry about your not being perfect!

- Sosan Ganchi Zenji, "Shin Jin Mei"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Via Daily Kos: U.S. Senate Gives Black Eye to House Fundamentalist Christians

The U.S. Senate has courageously just stood up to the Christian-supremacist bullies in the House of Representatives. Oh yes, the Senate has just completely ripped away from their religiously bigoted, House counterparts a would-be treasured bible-thumping bonanza of immeasurable, unconstitutional proselytization.  This erstwhile prize of legislative plunder had been specifically designed by these Congressmen and Congresswomen from the House, in nefarious collaboration with their legions of fundamentalist Christian parachurch allies, to be embedded deep within the confines of the 2015 Pentagon authorization/funding act.
Fortunately, the plan by these Christian crusader Members of the House failed. Please let me briefly explain, my friends.

For nearly a decade we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) have fought night and day against the noxious trespasses of the Religious Right upon the rights of the brave men and women in our United States armed services. It’s been a bruising fight, no doubt, one filled with angry words, violent threats, as well as lies, damned lies, and hideous distortions lifted straight from the era of McCarthyism. Many of the vicious battles MRFF has engaged in have involved commanding officers, senior NCOs and chaplains operating on the assumption that it is their uncontestable and absolute right, if not their divine duty pursuant to The Great Commission (see Mark 16:15 or Matthew 28:19), to relentlessly proselytize the un-churched (or those who aren’t “the right type of Christian) and use their superior military rank as a bully pulpit from which to hammer in the "Good News". As if the unique set of pressures our servicemembers undergo isn’t enough, these fundamentalist Christian monsters have piled insult upon injury, mercilessly forcing their weaponized version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon their helpless military subordinates while hypocritically claiming to do so under the banner of “religious freedom.” However, those of us who’ve been fiercely combating this ongoing war of attrition waged by Christian extremists and triumphalists against the U.S. Constitution have received a truly surprising holiday gift of sorts. 
It turns out that sometimes miracles DO happen, and not just on 34th Street but on Capitol Hill, too.

In what we can only describe as an amazing early holiday present for servicemembers, Constitutional loyalists, and those who value the separation of Church and State, an obscure, but extremely detrimental amendment to the House-passed H.R. 4435 version of the bill “miraculously” disappeared from the final version of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2015 NDAA). If the House had its way, next year’s Federal roadmap for America's armed forces would have included the following painfully ugly provision designated as "Section 525” in the Hoped-for House version:

 “…if called upon to lead a prayer outside of a religious service, a military chaplain may close the prayer according to the traditions, expressions and religious exercises of the endorsing faith group.”

One needn’t rack one’s brains to read between the lines and see where such a course may lead. For those of you imagining a chaplain shouting “Takbir!” with Quran in hand followed by nervous soldiers chanting “Allah Akbar,” think again. No doubt about it, Section 525 would have amounted to a precious, blank check for every wannabe missionary comprising the sectarian Dominionist/fundamentalist Christian fifth column in the U.S. military. Hordes of these religious predators unfortunately can be found lurking throughout the ranks of the military chaplaincy. In fact, it’s an open secret that the military chaplaincy hardly matches the diverse cross-section of faith (and non-faith) groups represented in our armed forces. Instead the chaplaincy has been transformed largely into a clearing-house for evangelizing zealous zombies. For these chaplains, the military isn’t a place for Constitutionally mandated pluralism, religious respect and mutual tolerance. On the contrary, these missionizing maniacs see their government-paid chaplaincies as an inexhaustibly fruitful proselytizing venue and unlimited, open season “mission field”. Thus, a chaplain would be permitted to end all MANDATORY military gatherings with such standard patriarchal, monotheistic benedictions as “Thank you Father God for your blessings upon us in Jesus’ name, amen.” Or any other seething sectarian permutations of the same such as “I pray that our troops assembled here today come to understand that they must utterly surrender themselves to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ before they die or ELSE.” Cue the “burning in hell for all eternity” music.

As I have said many times in many places for many years, in the U.S. armed forces you may have mandatory formations and you may have religious formations but you CANNOT have mandatory, religious formations
 Luckily for us, the United States Senate took the side of the U.S. Constitution, its construing Federal and state case law in conjunction with DoD directives, instructions and regulations. Further, the Senate obviously and carefully considered U.S. national security as well as the compelling governmental interest in optimizing the unit cohesion, mission readiness, good order, morale, and discipline of our valued armed forces members. 
In the end, it turned out that not only could the Lame Duck Senate fly, but upon taking wing it was able – just barely – to avoid the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian buckshot being fired in its direction. 

And for that proud and rare occasion, we should all be truly thankful.   

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at

Michael L. "€œMikey"€ Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the 7-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy, and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra"€ Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. He is the author of "With God On Our Side"€ (2006, St. Martin'€™s Press) and "€œNo Snowflake in an Avalanche"€ (2012, Vireo).

Originally posted to Mikey Weinstein on Tue Dec 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Good News, and Progressive Atheists.

Via Collective Evolution / FB:

Via Dialy Dharma

Holding All Beings Dear | December 29, 2014

Encountering a person we view as vile, we are given the chance to see our rebellion against a truly altruistic attitude as well as the enormity of the task of holding all beings dear. The vile provide opportunities to build character and to practice patience, and hard times are a great opportunity for advancement along the path.

- Jeffrey Hopkins, "Breaking the Habit of Selfishness"

Sunday, December 28, 2014

VIa JMG: FLORIDA: Dozens Of Major Corporations File Brief In Support Of Marriage Plaintiffs

Dozens of major corporations have filed an amicus brief with the Eleventh Circuit Court in support of Florida's same-sex marriage plaintiffs. Among the signees: Amazon, AT&T, Bloomberg, CBS, Delta, Deutsche Bank, eBay, Electronic Arts, General Electric, Levi Strauss, Marriott, Oracle, Pfizer, Staples, Symantec, Target, and Viacom. From the brief:
We are located and/or do business in Florida, Georgia, or Alabama, all of which prohibit marriages between couples of the same sex and refuse to recognize existing same-sex marriages. State laws and constitutions denying marriage to gay and lesbian citizens are bad for our businesses. Amici are forced to bear unnecessary costs, complexity, and risk in managing our companies, and we are hampered in our efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible—all of which places us at a competitive disadvantage. Our success depends upon the welfare and morale of all employees, without distinction. The burden—imposed by state law—of having to administer complicated schemes designed to account for differential treatment of similarly situated employees interferes with our business and creates unnecessary confusion, tension, and ultimately, diminished employee morale. We write to advise the Court of the impact on employers of the disparate treatment mandated by states that refuse to permit or recognize marriages between same-sex couples.
RELATED: Among numerous other groups filing amicus briefs are the NAACP, PFLAG, and a coalition of 16 Florida counties and cities. Many more briefs can be viewed at Equality Case Files.
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via : The Compassionate Replacement of Painful Thoughts

photo 1(19)

First, become more carefully aware of the content and rhythm of the voices inside. What are their regular, unhealthy remarks and devastating comments? What do they sound like? What do they feel like? Begin to study how much pain they cause you. Feel how they take you over and how they hurt. When do they come out most strongly, day or night? What situations provoke them? Social occasions, family time, partners, competitive situations, work or leisure? Do they criticize your body, your mind, your actions, your whole being?

Notice the particular phrases and destructive, unhealthy perspective, the judgment, the shame, the self-denigration they engender.

Now, create a true antidote, a phrase or two or three, that completely transforms the falsehood of these unhealthy thoughts. Let the phrases be the healthiest words you can find, even if you don’t believe them at first. They can be as simple as “Life is precious” or “I will use this day well.” Or they can express the healthy opposite of thoughts of shame: “I will live with nobility and dignity .” Or the opposite of anxiety: “I will live my life with trust.” If helpful, they can be based on the phrases from loving-kindness practice:
May I love myself just as I am.
May I sense my worthiness and well-being.
May I trust this world.
May I hold myself in compassion.
May I meet the suffering and ignorance of others with compassion.

Now begin to work for a week with the phrases you have chosen. Particularly pay attention to those situation that trigger painful patterns. Every time you notice the destructive, unhealthy thoughts, even if they have been playing for a while, pause and feel the pain in them. Take a breath; hold your pain with kindness. The inwardly recite your phrases, firmly, deliberately. Do this over and over. It does not matter if they sound false, if you don’t quite believe them. 

Say them anyway, out of compassion, as an antidote to your suffering. You may need to say them a thousand times before you realize they are working. And they will.

This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology”

Via Freedom to Marry / FB:


What a wonderful year for the freedom to marry! We DOUBLED the number of states where same-sex couples can marry, and it's because of supporters like you. Share this stunning recap, and help to keep it going - every donation will be matched!

An interesting Juxatpostion

Bom dia on a terribly hot morning here in Amparo, where we are spending the holiday with Milton's family. Here in Brasil we are in the midst of a national discussion about and related to corruption. As is my custom on Sundays I listen to the BBC, and this morning they revisited this discussion about the Business of Kindness.
As well this quote from Sri Prem Baba ran across my feed:

“If karma determines that you are to live in a large urban center, you will need to pay close attention to your lifestyle and your habits in order to avoid being swallowed up by the dense energy around you. If there is one element that steals your presence and your consciousness the fastest, that would surely be food. Still, just watching what you eat is clearly not enough. Some people are able to maintain healthy and restricted eating habits, ones which are free from cruelty, but they still have other habits that connect them with harmful tendencies. It is crucial for us to become aware of the habits that open these doors.”
and another from the the Daily Dharma:

Real independence is the result of reflection and disciplined, honorable behavior.

- Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, "The Phone Rings"

It seems that what we buy, how and where we buy it , maybe even when we buy it  influences to a large part  the quality of life around us and the political system we are immersed in.  When we buy form the little guy, we support communities by seeing much of the tax benefit going back into the community. When we buy from megacorporations that invest off shore where ever your shore may be) and look only at the bottom line and are not concerned with the environment, we are part of the problem.

Interesting how this mindfulness movement is getting little to no play here in Brasil unless you have access to English speaking media.

Our mindful dollar, our real is a real vote for kindness and community. Or as my Grandmother was so fond of saying, "you are what you eat".

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 28/12/2014

“Se o karma determina que você viva em um grande centro urbano, para não ser tragado pela densidade energética que o rodeia, você precisa estar muito atento a suas condutas e hábitos. Se pudesse eleger um dos elementos que mais rapidamente rouba a sua presença e sua consciência, sem dúvida seria a alimentação, mas claro que somente observar a alimentação não é o suficiente. Algumas pessoas conseguem manter uma alimentação bem restrita e adequada, isenta de crueldade, mas mantém outros hábitos que conectam com a maldade. Então, é importante você tomar consciência dos hábitos que abrem essas portas.”
Acesse o satsang completo:

“Si el karma determina que vivas en un gran centro urbano, para no ser tragado por la densidad energética que te rodea, es necesario que estés muy atento a tus conductas y hábitos. Si pudiese elegir uno de los elementos que más rápidamente roba tu presencia y tu conciencia, sin duda sería la alimentación, pero claro que solamente observar la alimentación no es suficiente. Algunas personas consiguen mantener una alimentación bien restringida y adecuada, libre de crueldad, pero mantienen otros hábitos que conectan con la maldad. Entonces es importante que seas consciente de los hábitos que abren estas puertas.”

“If karma determines that you are to live in a large urban center, you will need to pay close attention to your lifestyle and your habits in order to avoid being swallowed up by the dense energy around you. If there is one element that steals your presence and your consciousness the fastest, that would surely be food. Still, just watching what you eat is clearly not enough. Some people are able to maintain healthy and restricted eating habits, ones which are free from cruelty, but they still have other habits that connect them with harmful tendencies. It is crucial for us to become aware of the habits that open these doors.”
- Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma

Real Independence | December 28, 2014

Real independence is the result of reflection and disciplined, honorable behavior.

- Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, "The Phone Rings"

Via FB:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Two Gay Dads, Two Kids, A Normal Family

Via Liberal America: A Letter To My Boyfriend’s Homophobic Parents On Christmas

Congratulations. You’ve won. You’ve earned your ticket into Heaven by showing your son God’s love.

You’ve shown your son God’s love by not allowing him to bring me to your home for Christmas. You’ve done exactly what Jesus would do – shun others. After all, Jesus didn’t let JUST ANYONE at his table. It’s sad that on a day you celebrate the birth of Christ, you’ll be acting in the complete opposite way that Jesus acted. Alas, you must show your son God’s love and not condone “our behavior.”

It worked last Christmas. You manipulated him into coming home and he was treated as if he were a leper. He was called names, harassed, and told he was going to Hell because I was dragging him there myself. He was in mental anguish over your treatment of him. You tore him apart with your words. 

You degraded your only son.

But this Christmas….. He’s over it. He’s over the threats, the lies, and the bullying. Since you don’t recognize him and I as a couple and since you’ve said you won’t treat us like part of the family, he’s decided to choose love over hate this Christmas. He’s choosing to NOT go back to what he once called home. His home is with me and it has been for three years. He’s become an integral part of my family. While you were shunning your son away, he found a family of his own. He found people who love him without conditions. He found a table he was welcome at.

During your Christmas celebration when you try to justify your actions, please remember that you gave your son an ultimatum – for him to get rid of the love of his life or to leave your family. I know you blame me for taking your son away, but whether I’m in the picture or not, your son is still gay and you must face this realization.

You’ve made it abundantly clear that you think I’m demon-possessed, a bad influence, and a sinner. Your judgment of me has no effect, but your treatment of your son causes my heart to bleed. I’ve had to sit by and watch you throw stones at the person I love most. I’ve watched as you and the rest of his family have disowned him. I’ve thought of every scenario to get you to love your son again. I’ve blamed myself because I felt as if I personally caused him to lose his family. I know this isn’t the case and that your son chose me because he recognized true love. I’m writing this to say that I have your son’s love and that’s all that matters. Your son and I love each other and that love is eternal and unconditional.

While you’re feeling comforted knowing that you’ll be rewarded in the next life for “not condoning the gay lifestyle”, I’m consoling your son in THIS LIFE. I’m the shoulder your son cries on today. I’m the person who will hug him tight tomorrow. I’m the one who will apologize on your behalf until the day I die. I’m the one who wants to scream at you and say, “Stop! You’re hurting your son! 

You’re hurting your only son!” But deep down, I know where your heart lies. Your heart beats to that of a literal interpretation of the Bible. Your heart beats to Fox News. Your heart beats to discrimination and treating other “sinners” the way you think they should be treated – condemned to Hell. Your heart beats with hatred to the things you fear and do not understand.

This Christmas, your son and I are surrounding ourselves with people who love and care about us. We understand what true love is. So this Christmas when you think to yourselves, “He’s abandoned his family for the gay lifestyle,” just know that your son didn’t abandon you. He’s been the same person he’s always been. You are the ones who changed. You’ve deemed certain people unworthy to sit at your table. You’ve put conditions on your love for your son and that is the worst Christmas gift of all.

Caleb Woods is a Communications and English major. He is a reader, a writer, and an activist for LGBT rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the American people. He has lived in Alabama for his entire life and has experienced first-hand discrimination and bigotry. He hopes to change hearts and minds across the world so that people may show more compassion and empathy for their fellow man and woman.

Make the jump here to read the original

Via Daily Dharma

From Disillusionment to Renunciation | December 27, 2014

For the mind that is ripe and self-reflective, affluence undermines its own false promises, and many Westerners have come to Buddhism from disillusionment in the successful pursuit of worldly gratification. That disillusionment is the first phase of renunciation.

- David Patt, "Who's Zoomin' Who? The Commodification of Buddhism in the American Marketplace"

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 27/12/2014

“A entrega espiritual em é um fenômeno que se dá através da Graça. O ego não é capaz de se entregar; ele é capaz de preparar o campo, de se mover em direção à entrega, mas a entrega em si é um fenômeno que está além dos domínios da mente e do ego. Ela ocorre quando o ego amadureceu o suficiente para poder relaxar e diminuir o controle a ponto de dar um cochilo. Nesse momento, Deus pega.”
“La entrega espiritual es un fenómeno que se da a través de la Gracia. El ego no es capaz de entregarse; él es capaz de preparar el terreno, de moverse hacia la entrega, pero la entrega en sí es un fenómeno que está más allá de los dominios de la mente y del ego. Ella ocurre cuando el ego madureció lo suficiente como para poder relajarse y disminuir el control al punto de adormecerse. En ese momento, Dios te toma.”

“Spiritual surrender is a phenomenon that takes place through divine grace. The ego is not capable of surrendering. It can prepare the inner field and move us towards surrender, but actual surrender is a phenomenon beyond the mind and the ego. It takes place when the ego is mature enough to relax and let go of its control to the point where it dozes off. That is when God catches hold of you.”
- Sri Prem Baba

Friday, December 26, 2014

Via Karen's Thoughts: Nourishing Rage and Letting It Go

He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me – in those who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease.

This verse, at the very beginning of the Dharmapada, speaks of the very simple truth that if we bring to mind our wrongs and nourish our hurt and anger, we make ourselves miserable. This verse caught my attention a long time ago, because that is exactly what the mind does--it repeats the list of the wrongs someone else has done to us: “He did this. She did that.” followed by your favorite four-letter word for people you dislike. Like a bulldog with a bone, the mind chews on hurtful events over and over again.

Another Buddhist scripture speaks of revenge being like trying to throw a hot coal at an enemy, we burn ourselves before we even have a chance to hurt anyone else. Someone who says “I will never forgive!” is really saying that they will nurse their grudge internally and turn it around and around in their mind, making themselves feel terrible, while the object of their hatred is untouched – this is assuming one is not planning to break the law by doing violence, which leads to its own cycle of suffering.

Now, I'm not so perfect that I've never nursed a grievance. There's a huge amount of energy in anger and you feel like you're going to explode if you don't do something with it. I tend to talk about it until I run myself to a stop. During domestic arguments, I do housework --- the place is never so clean as when I'm rolling on a big internal rant. Ideally, one should use that energy to resolve that situation. I had something happen at work that was unjust, and I used that anger to solve the problem in a professional way, then poof! Anger all gone. Sometimes, I find what's under the anger is essentially anxiety – and knowing that doesn't make it go away necessarily, but it does give me a tool to fight it with. Because., as the Buddha makes clear, it's your own anger that's the real enemy, not the person you're raging about.

It's hard to let go. I sometimes hang on to the illusion that if I can only just explain how they hurt me, they'd understand and admit they were wrong. And let's be honest with ourselves: There is something pleasurable about the idea that we can have the last word and put someone in their place. We fantasize about it. I think that the next time a doctor asks me if I eat French fries when I've come in to have an ingrown toenail treated, I will tell him exactly what I think of him and his stereotyping, and I will stomp out of his office, numbed toe and all! (And I've eaten French fries less than a half-dozen times in the last ten years. Bastard!) Anyway, it's a very satisfying picture to think that you can let 'em have it and leave them speechless as you storm out the door.

But that usually doesn't happen. People aren't “put in their place”; they just defend and justify themselves, and do their best to put you in the wrong. The more you try it, the worse the conflict becomes. The more you justify yourself, the more ammunition you give to someone who wants to put you down. In my experience, the only way to really end any conflict is absence and stubborn silence. It takes two to fight. Nobody can keep a fight going by themselves, except in their own minds.

Probably the best tool in your arsenal for that mental fight is the practice of metta (loving-kindness) meditation. It really is the opposite of the “He wronged me” rant quoted from the Dharmapada. Instead what you do is say phrases like “May he be happy. May he be healthy. May he be safe. May he be at peace.” You can google metta and find a wide variation on the theme, but the basic idea is that we start with wishing ourselves well, then those who are close to us, then in ever-widening circles until we embrace the entire world with loving-kindness. But included in this practice are those wishes for those who “we have difficulty loving” or “a person that we find difficult”. If I stop and think about it, I don't really want anything bad to happen to a person who has made me angry. What I want, mostly, is for them to leave me alone – and if I keep stewing about what they've done, it's just a way of keeping them in my life. Ideally, one should be able to endure obnoxious people and still wish them well, but I'm not that saintly yet. One step at a time. :-)

Read the original Here

DrRic Tutorial 4-7-8 Breathing

See also:

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 26/12/2014

“Uma coisa é achar que tem fé; outra coisa é ter fé. Você acha que tem fé, mas isso é imaginação – é uma fé mental. Essa fé é construída a partir de uma interpretação intelectual do conhecimento espiritual. Essa falsa fé é apenas um truque da natureza inferior, pois ela desmorona diante do primeiro desafio que aparece. A autêntica fé é um fenômeno que se dá no plano do coração, e quando essa conexão é estabelecida, pode vir o balanço que for - você não cai. Este é o poder da fé: sendo autêntica ela faz o cego enxergar, surdo ouvir e manco subir montanha. Essa é a minha experiência.”

“Una cosa es creer que se tiene fe; otra cosa es tener fe. Crees que tienes fe, pero eso es imaginación - es una fe mental. Esta fe es construida a partir de una interpretación intelectual del conocimiento espiritual. Esta falsa fe es sólo un truco de la naturaleza inferior, pues ella se desmorona ante el primer desafío que aparece. La auténtica fe es un fenómeno que se da en el plano del corazón, y cuando se establece esa conexión, puede venir la dificultad que sea - tú no caes. Este es el poder de la fe: siendo auténtica ella hace al ciego ver, al sordo oír y al cojo subir la montaña. Esa es mi experiencia.”

“It’s one thing to think you have faith, and another to actually have faith. We may think we have faith, but it’s only in our imagination – a mental faith. This faith is based on an intellectual interpretation of spiritual knowledge. False faith is merely a trick played on us by our lower nature. It falls apart as soon as the first challenge appears. Authentic faith is a phenomenon that occurs in our heart. Once this connection is made, regardless of what comes to shake us up we never fall. That is the power of faith. When faith is authentic, it makes the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame climb mountains. That’s my experience.”

Via Daily Dharma

See the Suffering | December 26, 2014

By paying attention to sensory experience as it is happening—and not getting caught up in the labels, preferences, thoughts, and emotions that happen in the split seconds after bare sense-data impinge on our awareness—we learn to see the suffering involved in getting caught up. And by seeing that suffering, we learn to free ourselves from it.

- Cynthia Thatcher, "Disconnect the Dots"

Via Freedom to Marry / FB:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Via Healing Light / FB:

Via Daily Dharma

Spirituality Among Family | December 25, 2014

Manifesting a spiritual practice with our family is extremely difficult, but it’s also really simple. We don’t get carried away by our emotions; we don’t affirm our position at the expense of where others are coming from. But we do our best to open our arms, open our heart, and let what we've got inside us flow out into the situation and let the situation outside flow into us. In that process, we lose ourselves.

- Shozan Jack Haubner, "Drama or Dharma"

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Via Just a Bahai: Uganda's anti-gay laws get tougher

In this interview (…/ugandas-anti-gay-laws-get-to…/21003022/) with a Ugandan Gay rights campaigner - one thing he said was "that we need to get religious leaders that are very progressive to also engage in Uganda" - this was in reference to the influence of conservative American Christian groups who had been hosting anti-gay conferences (see:…/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Act,_20…). We are talking about human beings being murdered by mobs as David Kato was (see my blog - The 2014 Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, (it was called the "Kill the Gays bill" until the proposed death penalty clauses were removed), allows for life imprisonment for someone who is declared gay or lesbian. When it was passed, world leaders such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, various Presidents, and religious leaders voiced their protest. The Vatican legal attaché to the United Nations made this statement: "Pope Benedict is opposed to 'unjust discrimination' against gay men and lesbians" (ibid)

On 1 August 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid because it didn't have the required quorum, and now the interview discusses a new bill that is being promoted by the Ugandan government. I hope that the UHJ's 2010 letter urging the Bahai community to stand up for the rights of those who are oppressed one day bears fruit. I have yet to read or to hear of a single Bahai community making any form of statement in support of human rights for gays and lesbians. I am not suggesting that Bahai communities should get involved in the politics of the day, but like the Vatican statement, it could show a stand against discrimination. In Uganda, most would think the Bahais were against gays and lesbians because of their past involvement in an anti-gay coalition: to undo that, the Bahai community would need to show in deeds that it is against any form of discrimination. But Bahai communities around the world need to show this too, because the only things on the topic of homosexuality that Bahai communities to date have publicized is to diminish the rights of gays and lesbians. How hard would it be for a Bahai community in any other country in the world to make a statement against discrimination against gays and lesbians? Looking the other way, saying nothing, is .... like letting the elephant keep its foot on the tail of the mouse. I thank God for countries around the world who do something about the plight of gays and lesbians and accept them as refugees.

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 24/12/2014

“Jesus é um mestre a quem muitos milagres foram atribuídos. Dizem que ele ressuscitou mortos, transformou água em vinho, multiplicou alimentos e fez cegos enxergarem. Mas isso é pequeno perto do maior milagre que ele realizou; é apenas um jogo para acordar a fé das pessoas. Às vezes somente milagres como esse (que transcendem os limites da mente) podem acabar com o sonho do ceticismo. Porém, o maior milagre de Jesus foi amar e perdoar até mesmo aqueles que o crucificaram. Esse é o verdadeiro milagre: a superação do ódio, da vingança e do medo; é compreender que o ataque, os maus tratos e o ódio do outro são, na verdade, gritos de socorro.”
Confira o satsang completo:

“Jesús es un maestro a quien se le atribuyeron muchos milagros. Dicen que él resucitó muertos, transformó agua en vino, multiplicó alimentos e hizo a los ciegos ver. Pero esto es pequeño cerca del mayor milagro más grande que él realizó, es sólo un juego para despertar la fe de las personas. A veces solo milagros como éste (que trascienden los límites de la mente) pueden terminar con el sueño del escepticismo. Sin embargo, el mayor milagro de Jesús fue amar y perdonar incluso a aquellos que lo crucificaron. Este es el verdadero milagro: la superación del odio, de la venganza y del miedo; es comprender que el ataque, el maltrato y el odio son, en realidad, gritos de socorro.”

“Many miracles were attributed to the master Jesus. They say that he resuscitated the dead, turned water into wine, multiplied food and made the blind see. But that is nothing when compared to the greatest of all his miracles... These other miracles were just a play, meant to awaken people’s faith. Sometimes only miracles like these, which transcend the limits of the mind, can put an end to the illusion of skepticism. Jesus’ biggest miracle was loving and forgiving even the ones who crucified him. This is the true miracle: overcoming hate, revenge and fear, and understanding that the other’s attacks, abuse and hate are all merely cries for help.”

Via Daily Dharma

The Psychology of Awakening | December 24, 2014

In its ability to shine light into the hidden nooks and crannies of our conditioning, psychological inquiry can serve as a powerful ally to spiritual practice. It can help break up the hard, rocky soil of our personality patterns so that this soil becomes permeable, allowing the seeds of spiritual realization to take root and blossom there more fully.

- John Welwood, "The Psychology of Awakening"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Via JMG: SCOTUS To Consider Four More Marriage Cases At January Conference

We already know about Louisiana and now four more have been added. Via Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed:
The Supreme Court is set to consider on Jan. 9 whether it will hear appeals of same-sex couples’ marriage challenges in cases out of five states, one of the legal teams representing the couples told BuzzFeed News on Monday. “The Tanco [Tennessee case] petition will be considered at the Court’s January 9 conference, along with … petitions filed by the plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana,” National Center for Lesbian Rights spokesperson Erik Olvera told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon. The plaintiffs and marriage equality advocates alike hope the petitions will provide the Supreme Court with the chance to take a case to resolve the issue nationally with a ruling that would apply across the country.
More from SCOTUSblog:
At issue in the Sixth Circuit cases is a ruling by the appeals court for that region, upholding all of the bans on same-sex marriage licensing or recognition in the four states. At issue in the Louisiana case is a decision by a federal trial judge in New Orleans upholding that state’s ban on licensing and recognition. If the Court takes an initial vote on the cases, on the question of granting or denying review, when it returns in January from a winter recess, and ultimately grants review, the cases could be scheduled for briefing, oral argument, and a final decision in the current Term, which runs through late June or early July. The distribution of the four Sixth Circuit cases for the January 9 Conference is not yet reflected on the Court’s electronic docket, but is expected to be entered there on Tuesday. The docket does reflect that scheduling for the Louisiana case.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Tide commercial / advertisement with a Gay Couple

Via JMG: MAP: Our Historic Year For Marriage

Embiggen the above map from Freedom To Marry and marvel at this year's progress. As seen in the graphic below, even more action is coming early in 2015.

Reposted from Joe Jervis  

Flor do Dia - Flor del Día - Flower of the Day - 23/12/2014

"O princípio único da vida se expressa de diferentes maneiras através de cada um. Ele nos dá a chance de experimentar a matéria, e ela nos permite conhecer essa tão complexa e misteriosa criação que é o ego humano. E através dessa experiência, dessa grande aventura, amadurecemos e aprendemos a ir além da consciência humana, para alcançarmos a consciência crística.”

“El principio único de la vida se expresa de diferentes maneras a través de cada uno. Él nos da la chance de experimentar la materia, y ella nos permite conocer esa tan compleja y misteriosa creación que es el ego humano. Y a través de esa experiencia, de esa gran aventura, maduramos y aprendemos a ir más allá de la consciencia humana, para alcanzar la consciencia crística.”

“The one and only principle of life is expressed in a number of ways through each one of us. It gives us the chance to experience matter and it allows us to get to know the complex and mysterious creation of the human ego. By experiencing this great adventure, we mature until we are able to go beyond the human awareness to reach the Christ consciousness.”
- Sri Prem Baba