Browsing the blog archives for January, 2012

God Pukes at Gays?

Robert V. Taylor

This blog appeared on Huffington Post January 27, 2012

Does God vomit at the thought of gay and lesbian people? That’s the graphic image that O’Neal Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach Florida, uses. It’s radically different from the one that many of us know of as a God of inclusion and love. Not vomiting but smiling on us – all of us!

What makes Dozier’s view so prominent is that he is the Honorary Chair of Rick Santorum’s Florida campaign. Although Dozier believes that homosexuality is the “paramount of sins” he is an equal opportunity exclusionist. Mother Jones reveals that his Islamaphobia and local crusade against Muslims are fueled by his belief that Muslims have an agenda for taking over America. Dozier, who claims to know the mind of God on election results, has used his position on the Florida judicial nominating committee to seek “God-fearing” judges. The test for him is whether those nominees support anti-sodomy laws.

Dozier believes America should be taken over by those who share his exclusionist views and create a fundamentalist theocracy. The constitution in his view was created only for those who are a “moral and religious people.” God-fearing in his view translates into a projectile God who throws up on those who do not share his religious vision. Thankfully there are other more spacious religious and spiritual paths.

Like millions of other LGBT people I feared God as a young person because of the religious messages I received that God had disdainful disgust for us. Like millions of other young LGBT people I considered suicide. That is one of the reasons that Dozier’s imagery and words are destructive not life-giving.

If the arc of spirituality bends towards inclusion Dozier’s views are not part of that moral trajectory. Pew Research polls reveal approximately 65% of Catholics and Protestants have positive views of gays, while only 29% of Evangelicals do. Among Post-Moderns 91% have favorable views of LGBT people while 80% of them support same-sex marriage.

The moral arc towards inclusion has a foundation of spiritual wisdom from many traditions. Christian wisdom settles largely on a message of generous expansive love matched by acts of mercy, kindness and justice. The notion of repairing the world is a central underpinning in most branches of Judaism. While Buddhist philosophy is rooted in seeking the happiness or well-being of all Buddhist practice points to the inter-connectedness of all sentient beings.

Religious leaders can be found in most traditions that, like Dozier, use their position and authority to tear apart, diminish and demean others at any cost. The climate they create is quite different than that of those who beg to differ but who seek a world in which none are harmed or excluded. The bullies who cloak themselves with the mantle of the Divine are no different than schoolyard bullies who are stopped only when their behavior is challenged.  That choice is in our hands.

We participate in the movement of the moral arc of inclusion when we actively engage in creating a world which acknowledges the goodness and compassion inherent in every person. A world in which imagery of a puking God is replaced with a spiritual path of generous inclusion in which there are no outcasts. That is a life-giving journey acknowledging and celebrating difference.

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Is Good News Underrated?

Robert V. Taylor

Watching the news is often an exercise in testing your endurance about crises, disasters and heart-breaking stories.  The tsunami of bad news buries the abundance of good news stories that exist. If we are what we surround ourselves with then paying attention to the good news stories alters our experience of being alive.

A man I know was determined to stop watching or reading the news because he said it made him feel helpless and despondent. A friend of his challenged him – “There’s an invitation in the news inviting you to respond to an issue and become a participant in repairing the world.” It was a transformative challenge for him.

Finding himself repeatedly drawn to stories about the lack of access to education plaguing young girls around the world he began to educate himself on the issue and ultimately give of his time to work with others to build schools aimed at educating girls in Africa and Asia. His life has been changed by the work he has become passionate about. He says, “I’ve become a proselytizer seizing every opportunity to talk with anyone I can about the need to educate girls. I tell stories of the amazing work people are doing!”

His proactive response to the challenge of the bad news that had overwhelmed him is a story of good news. Some media platforms are responding to the yearning for good news.  With its CNN Heroes awards and features CNN has tipped its hat to highlighting positive transformative stories of ordinary people putting compassion and hope to work.

Huffington Post has taken a bold step in launching their Good News platform to counter the cynicism that much of the news invites. Arianna Huffington says that, “Those of us in the news media have provided too many autopsies of what went wrong and not enough biopsies.” She has raised the bar and that is worth cheering!

With every act of compassion, with every idea implemented to improve the lot of others, with each word of kindness the experience of being human and being alive is transformed. The courage, imagination and voice of each of us have a cumulative energy and power to polish the world.

The real crisis and heart-breaking stories invite us in, reminding us of our common humanity and our need for one another. The mantra of media executives is that the titillating, the scandalous and the invented crises are what the public responds to or craves. That presumption and the life-draining news that results from it can only be changed by you and me.

In neighborhoods, offices, community groups, families and towns across the country the stories of the good abound. When you intentionally tell those stories you create a different energy. When you interject a conversation about gloom and doom news with positive stories you shift the narrative of what is possible, of what it means to be human.

The negative news is highly overrated. The way to change those ratings is to engage with the positive stories. Not to avoid the awful realities or crises that exists for many, but to invite ourselves and others into a fuller narrative. Good News will become more highly rated, more sought after when we make our need for it known. Social media reminds us that it lies in our hands to do that!

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MLK: Envy or the Beloved Community?

Robert V. Taylor

The “politics of envy” in the United States is political fodder masking a truth that Dr. Martin Luther King pointed to almost 50 years ago. He said his entire work pointed to one goal – the creation of a “beloved community” of Americans. His prescient words invite a new conversation about who we are.

The Pew Research Center reports that two thirds of Americans believe that conflicts between the rich and the poor are strong or very strong. The stagnant or falling wages for the poor and the middle class over the last decade stands in sharp contrast to increasing wealth held by a few. The Great Recession and the Occupy movement make those data starker.  

The data do not reveal envy of the wealthy.  Instead Pew and the latest Gallup research reveal that most people want jobs, fair wages and opportunities to work and succeed. Fairness is a very different conversation than the envy that some expediently talk about.

It’s not politically fashionable to talk about the poor these days. Those who dare to couch it in language about the “working poor” as if honest honorable work is a bearer of poverty. The political consensus that most of us implicitly support is that it is more prudent to worry about the middle class. It is a false either/or compact. It diminishes all of us by casting some aside.

Marti Luther King believed that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.  While we celebrate his leadership on civil rights we generally ignore his leadership on economic issues made plain in his Poor People’s Campaign.

King was clear that civil rights and economic opportunities are questions of justice collectively pointing to the overarching vision of creating a new “beloved community” in the United States. His faith and politics were rooted in how to create that community.

Imagine leaders who lead us to a new sense of oneness as people; who remind us of our need for one another; who celebrate the richness of our collective strengths; who see strength in our diversity and who are not fearful of the truth that none of us prosper unless the well-being of all is possible.

Imagine that leader being you and working intentionally to make a beloved community possible. It’s often said that we get the leaders we deserve. I’m not sure that is true. Instead we often cede the public conversation and leadership to the alpha types who have their own agenda about political power.  All too often we disengage out of exasperation.

There is another path that celebrates Dr. King’s living legacy. Celebrating your leadership and work to bring about the beloved community, you begin to shift the expectations of what kind of society and people we want to be.  King believed that it was possible to “transform opposers into friends” and “transform the deep gloom of the old age into exuberant gladness of the new age.” That possibility lies in your hands; in the possibility of organizing for our oneness when the well-being of all is a value.

This moment in history is an invitation to that dream becoming a reality.

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Wake Up Call! – Appreciative Delight

 


APPRECIATIVE DELIGHT

Appreciation affects the flow of your day.

Coffee, the morning paper and silence used to frame the start of my day. It was sacrosanct time until a friend said, “You realize that you’re really grumpy if anyone interrupts your routine. Is that how you want to begin your day? ”

I could have chosen to resolutely cling to my established pattern or else see an invitation in my friend’s observation.

My work or life was not dependent on digesting news in a cone of silence at the start of the day. I began to experiment with different morning rituals. I now get up at sunrise each day, marveling at the sun’s appearance as I sip on my coffee. It is impossible not to be filled with appreciation for the sun’s interplay with everything in sight.

The result is that my former practice which came with an ornery insistence on silence has been replaced with a ritual of appreciation for the fresh start of another day. My delight in the sunrise is freely shared with those in sight. This new practice sets the tone of the day and how I choose to enter into its flow.

Call-to-Action:

In your daily rituals:

  • Develop a practice that opens you to the flow of the Universe
  • Express your appreciation for the day before you
  • Find something that fills you with delight each day

Notice how your appreciation for each day affects you engagement with yourself, others and the Universe.
Share your story of appreciative delight here.

 

Saying Yes to Your Own Life! – click to watch it on YouTube or Robert’s website

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©2011 Robert V. Taylor

 

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