Ramblings of an Insomniac

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Seeing that no one ever reads this blog anyway, I'm gonna post a few thoughts that will probably be the most controversial I have ever written.

This past week, the California supreme court upheld the infamous Proposition 8, an item on November 2008's ballot that defined marriage in California being between a man and woman. Prop 8 was supported by the Christian Right, the Muslim Community (see they can agree on a few things :), and the Hispanic community. The result of it's win meant that homosexual marriage was once again considered illegal in California, despite the ruling of the San Francisco appeals court that deemed any such ban as unconstitutional (to clarify... that's the state constitution nor the federal constitution). Today there are protests in the streets of California, declaring the passing and upholding of prop 8 as a violation of civil rights. Arrests have been made, countless voices are screaming for attention in this debate.

So why am I choosing to write about it? I'm just a Christian hetero, semi-conservative, white boy, in North Carolina, why do I care? Well I've really started to think about it.
Especially after seeing and hearing some of the debate about this issue.

I stumbled upon this video that tries to paint a picture, of at least how the homosexual community is feeling after this decision.

The video goes a bit too far, and creates a bit of a "straw man" argument, yet... it is compelling. If a vote can decide to take away something that was previously allowed, what else could a vote do? Could we vote our rights away?

To me this goes deeper than trying to overturn a single proposition on a ballot. This is about defining words and concepts for today's world. First let me say, that I feel gay marriage is not a moral issue, it is a social issue and should be treated as such. Therefore, I will not even begin a discussion on a Christian's response to blah, blah, blah... this is a responsible citizen's response to the issue.

Now that I've gotten that first little bit off of my chest... I want to ask some really difficult questions.

1) Is marriage a civil right or is it a privilege?

On December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly ratified a document known as the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". (click the link for the full text)
It represented the first global expression of rights of every human being, seen absolutely necessary after the atrocities of World War II. It states in article 16 that "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses." 48 countries around the world voted in support of this document, including the United States.

So yes, I believe we have established that marriage is not just a privilege, it is an inherent right, expressed and accepted world wide, and nationally.

So to deny someone the right to marry whom they choose is in violation of this right.

But there is a problem here, obviously those who oppose same-sex marriage will say, "Homosexuals and heterosexuals have the same rights, any heterosexual man can marry any heterosexual woman, and any homosexual man can marry any homosexual woman..." There in lies the next concept to be defined.

2) Is the homosexual community a "minority"?

Let me rephrase, is the gay community a group of individuals who differ from the "dominant" group in some characteristics? (The word "minority" bothers me, because of it's connotation, but lacking any other legal definition, it is the word we will stick to.) The obvious answer to the question is yes. Regardless of what you think about homosexuality (born-that-way or choice) there is no denying that to be a homosexual is to be part of a social group, not unlike being Catholic, or Jewish, or African American.

So isn't denying same-sex couples the right to marry discrimination?

3) What is the definition of discrimination?

Here in lies the problem, on what grounds do you call it discrimination?
Different states and different nations see this differently.

The federal laws of the United States, and court decisions "prohibit discrimination in such areas as employment, housing, voting rights, education, and access to public facilities. They also proscribe discrimination on the basis of race, age, sex, nationality, disability, or religion."

While the Quebec government has written...

"Every person has a right to full and equal recognition and exercise of his human rights and freedoms, without distinction, exclusion or preference based on race, colour, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age except as provided by law, religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap. Discrimination exists where such a distinction, exclusion or preference has the effect of nullifying or impairing such right."

Do you notice the difference? The United States does not recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation in our laws or court decisions. Now, individual states have the power to include this clause, and some have, but California does not have such a clause in their discrimination laws (by the way, neither does North Carolina).

Here in lies the real battle. Discrimination... denying the rights of others based on their sexual orientation, that is what is really going on. So instead of fighting to overturn a vote on a small proposition, I believe energy should be spent in the changing the language of our laws. So that all people are given the rights that we have agreed upon as a people.

If marriage is a right and being gay means being part of a "minority" people group, then banning their right marry whom they choose is discrimination and a civil rights issue. It is not only unconstitutional it is against the inherent, accepted, and expressed universal rights of all humans.

There I've said my piece... no one will read it, but I've said it and I feel better.
Maybe now I'll get some sleep.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Another late night...

Here are a couple of videos that I've done lately...

Maybe they will help.

Have a great late night.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So it's another late night, and I can't sleep, not a big surprise.
So I guess it's time for another blog about the information that's been filling my brain for the past week.
The following are my notes from a seminar given by Brian McClarin, on the topic of "Christian Faith as a Way of Life"

Scriptural Basis - I Cor 13

Question: Do we see "Christianity" (a heavily weighted word) as a
1) System of belief (or)
2) Way of life

Do we envision the Christian faith as working from the individual to the global, or from the global to the individual, or both. Christ came to change the world by changing individuals.

Rome was a tolerant society when it came to religious matters. There were new religions born everyday in Rome, and shrines to all types of deities. The idea of opening your mind to new religious thought was supported in Rome. But Christ did not come to start a new religion, Jesus proclaimed a new KINGDOM.
New religions were fine in Rome, but New Kingdoms get you killed!

In the New Testament, the word disciple is used 261 and the word Christian is used only 3 times. Ephesians 4 calls us to "LEARN CHRIST" to be the "embodiment of Christ". The gospel of Jesus has always been referred to as "The Way".

Historically most Christians have had this view of their Christian faith.

Here the emphasis is on getting the
"self" to heaven. We call people out of
the world and into the church, the
church feeds the self so that the self
can get to heaven.

Notice the separation between the
three circles. The Church is not a part
of the world, the self is not a part of
the church nor the world.

This is disconnect.

The way of Jesus is different.

Here the emphasis is on heaven being
poured into the individual, whose is a
part of the church, which is a part of
the world. Heaven pours into the
individual and then spills out into the
church and the world.

The individual becomes heaven on

Everything is connected.

So how can we be heaven on Earth? How can we be true disciples of Christ. "If the way of doing an art is lost in just one generation it is lost forever." Apprenticeship is the key. To come along side of a master and learn their skills by watching and doing. This is ELBOW KNOWLEDGE, what you learn by being elbow to elbow with the master.

Some examples of getting elbow to elbow with Jesus are intentional spiritual practice AKA disciplines! "Actions within our power which we do to train ourselves to do things currently not within our power." Like training for a Marathon by running in small distances and gradually increasing. The sermon on the mount is a training manual for the WAY of Christ.

Disciples are formed through practices.

But this is only half of the story

Christ calls DISCIPLES and He also sends APOSTLES.

Christ told us that the greatest commandment was "to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to Love your neighbor as you love yourself." The purpose of personal transformation is social transformation. Your love of God should affect your love for people.

If disciples are formed by personal intentional spiritual practices, then how are apostles formed? Through MISSIONAL practices.
Does Christ's Church have a Mission?
or does Christ's Mission have a Church?

The Church is the community that joins God in His mission.

What good is our religion if this isn't what it is about?

What we need now is not more institutions, we need a movement!

Inspiring thoughts for a late night.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This is the content of a seminar I recently attended at the National Pastor's Conference in San Diego. The title of the seminar was "Answering the Tough Questions on Sexual Identity," an intriguing and controversial subject to say the least.
Andrew Marin, president and founder of the Marin Foundation, delivered the seminar. If you are interested in reading about him check out his website...
The Marin Foundation
or his blog...
Love is an Orientation

This blog is a collection of my notes on his seminar, in other words not my own material.

"I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension my whole life, but there is a type of constructive, non-violent tension which is necessary for growth." Martin Luther King Jr. while in prison in Alabama.

Research now shows us that the average age when people first realize that they have an attraction for someone of the same-sex is around 13 years old, and that the average person "comes out" or declares their sexual orientation at around 15 years old. The question is who are they going to tell? Think back when you were 13, 14, or 15 years old, who did you trust? They are searching for something, and when you search for something, you will find an answer, but is it the right answer. If we ostracize those who are wrestling with these feelings of having an attraction to someone of the same-sex, then we are setting up an expectation for them to become what they are feeling.

Expectation Yields Integration... there is a difference between having a same-sex attraction and being homosexual. This comes in practice and how the attraction is dealt with. Everyone is looking for somewhere to belong and if you are wrestling with these feelings, then of course a community of people that offers acceptance not in spite of or in ignorance of your actions and feelings but BECAUSE of them of course you will become a part of that community.

What does that mean for the church?
What are we doing to peacefully and productively bridge this topic? Why can't a person struggling with their sexual identity find help and support in the church?
How will the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Trans-sexual) community know that you are not, "like everyone else?" (homophobic, hateful, etc.)

The biggest thing to remember, ALWAYS, ALWAYS answer the tough questions whether biblical or otherwise. A GLBT is going to give one chance, one opportunity to prove that you are not like the other Christians they have met. You have one moment to show them grace and love. Don't blow it!

The following are the staple questions that a GLBT will ask a Christian about the topic of Homosexuality.
1) Was I born gay? (is there a gay gene, or is it a choice)
2) Is being gay a sin? (how does God feel about gay people)
3) Can I change my sexual orientation? (is there such a thing as ex-gay)
4) Am I going to hell? (implied in this is a condemnation of their lifestyle)
5) Can I be gay and Christian?

What do all of these questions have in common? They are all close-ended, yes or no answers. These are questions that one asks not because they are curious or want your deep opinion, they just want to know what side you're on. They want to measure you up as fast as possible.
Jesus was asked close-ended questions all the time. The gospels record 25 close-ended questions asked to Jesus. 15 times from his enemies (pharisees, etc.) and 10 times from his friends (apostles and the like). Yet he only gave a definitive yes or no answer three times (all of these times while he was on trial and had been asked several times).

Christ had a way of taking the question asked and turning the attention to the real issue at stake, he Elevated the Conversation. For example when the Pharisees asked Christ if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, Christ produced a coin in the mouth of a fish to pay his taxes. He was saying let Caesar have his image on a piece of gold, I made the fish. When James' and John's mother asked if they would sit on his right and left side in his kingdom, Jesus turned the situation into a chance to explain the bitter cup that he was about to drink. When the woman at the well asked him who worshiped better Jews or Samaritans, Christ turned the conversation to what is in the heart, worshiping in spirit and truth. Over and over again Jesus changed the conversation, brought it higher and deeper than just a petty cerebral exercise about who was right and who was wrong, he got to the heart of the matter. Often he would even answer a question with a question to catch the asker off guard. Jesus = Change!

Here are some responses to the staple questions mentioned before. These are attempts at elevating the conversation, following Christ's example.
1) Was I born gay?
I don't care, why does it even matter.
Remember there is a big difference between validation and affirmation. Accepting that someone is gay is not saying that you affirm them in this lifestyle.

2) Is being gay a sin?
We are all on a level playing field.
Romans 3:23 - "For ALL have sinned..."
James 2:10 - If you are guilty of one sin then you are guilty of them all.
Matthew 7:1-2

3) Can I change my sexual orientation?
Whatever you do with this question, DO NOT give an opinion, simply state facts.
There are those who have become ex-gay, there are those who have tried and failed.

There is a continuum of change
Stage I - Secular to Spiritual - Secular GLBT - not even interested in change
Stage II - Non-Christian to Christian - Gay Christian - Faith without seeking to change lifestyle
Stage III - Actively Practicing to Celibate - Celibate gay
Stage IV - Gay to Straight - Ex-gay - in a Heterosexual relationship
And of course there are many space in-between

4) Am I going to Hell?
I am not God or the Holy Spirit, I am not your judge.

5) Can I be gay and Christian?
If by gay you mean having feelings for someone of the same-sex and by Christian you mean a forgiven follower of Jesus Christ, then you tell me, what's stopping you?

Remember that we are to be building bridges and not walls, Christ had a way of disarming landmines set before him and finding ways to be gracious and loving in the midst of spoken and unspoken hostility.

Seems like a great deal of notes from one seminar, but there was so much more that we could not even get into.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Coldplay's Violet Hill for a late night

Coldplay Lyrics
Violet Hill Lyrics

Coldplay Lyrics
Viva La Vida Lyrics

Just great songs for a late night...enjoy

Monday, May 12, 2008

I don't agree with most of what this guy has to say, except for the last line.
It's hard to say what is the most human emotion... Fear or laziness.

What is it that keeps me awake tonight?
Am I afraid of tomorrow?
Am I afraid to dream?
Why do I chase the sandman counting sheep over fences?
Or maybe I'm just lazy
Writing blogs while I should be resting preparing for tomorrow

Thursday, May 01, 2008

With insomnia you never sleep and you're never really awake...

There is a great movie/documentary/animation called Waking Life
A film about Lucid dreaming...
I wonder is reality one lucid dream

"When one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person's dream... that is self awareness."

I'll have some solipsism to go please...
for another late night