High Hello

My greatest wish
Above chocolate and TV whores,
Greater than baseball brats on payday
Is that there is a God.
And when I die for good
And I float up to find the cave
Gravitating toward the Orion sun
Crossing the rolling green hills,
Reaching the river,
Trumpets calling
That God recognizes me.
And I remember him.
From that time I did ecstasy.
And LSD. And Shrooms.
And we laugh.

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Christ didn’t cry on the cross

I support gay marriage. That doesn’t mean I think all Christians who disagree are bigots. It doesn’t mean I want to take over America. Or that I back or promote reverse discrimination.

I say that because I’m seeing and hearing a lot of victim stories from folks who were opposed to the SC decision. Some of the same folks who supported changing state constitutions when it was clear hearts were beginning to soften toward the inequality homosexuals long faced.

If you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of public opinion, purposefully, stand by your convictions. But don’t play the victim. As a supporter, I don’t see how you’ve been harmed. The tears I’m seeing look like alligator tears.

You follow Christ, right? Was he a victim?

The fact is the road to gay marriage equality was paved by a lot of Christians who got to know a coworker or who had a relative who was gay. And those people Christians knew didn’t match the molesters in Sodom their pastor told them about. Public opinion changed, opening the door for equal treatment under the law. Haven’t we seen this before? Remember the 15th Amendment? The 19th Amendment?

Is the world 6,000 years old? Did Noah live to be over 900? Tattoos. Shellfish. Stoning adulterers. Maybe when it comes to the law, when it comes to society’s default position, people who don’t take every line of the Bible literally shouldn’t be discriminated against.

Do we not have freedom from religion in America? Are all men not created equal? What does pursuit of happiness mean? Who are “We the People?”

Even our often religious, slave-owning founding fathers had the foresight to establish a system whereby people should be treated fairly under the law. Over time, rights have extended out from white property owners. I believe those five SC justices did nothing more than extend equal rights further.

It’s not America’s darkest day just because someone disagrees with you. I side with the majority opinion of the justices: Gay couples have seen the fruits of marriage, and they deserved the same protections under the law.

Aren’t committed, monogamous relationships worthy of a little support?

As a married heterosexual, I feel there is plenty of room in our shared world for both gay marriage and traditional marriage to coexist. Your pastor shouldn’t have to conduct a ceremony he doesn’t believe is right. Catholic priests aren’t required to conduct Baptist ceremonies, and our laws support their rights.

There are radicals on both sides, but the loudest voices are often wrong. I’m not an enemy, and I’m not better than you.

Let’s not assume that all voices are loud. I can see you out there, Christian friend. I want you to see me too.20150702-225612-82572102.jpg

Calming politics

Wake with half a croissant.
Drive in the car to the place.
Up the stairs, turn on the light, settling deep in a maroon chair. Familiar faces calm the politics. I’ll eat fried chicken and keep a black phone company. Green street signs watch me pass with jealous eyes, whirling around day after week after routine Tuesday night dinner. Dishes. Trash. Kids on furniture. All of it together changing piece by part. Forgetting years. Wrenched ankle. Death looms like a memory of regret. Sunrise, moon time, send me searching for smells in my mind.
It’s beautiful, dammit.
All of it.
Faith leaves a lump of coal
I’ll swallow in minutes, days, driving, walking in steps
up stairs.

The Gay Rights Threat?

Are you a Christian? Do you work with someone who is gay? Do you have a sister or aunt or uncle or know a server from Starbucks who has a partner of the same sex? Or wants one. Or is confused? I’m going to play the odds and assume you are. Well, it seems those people you know in everyday life are freaking out some of your brothers in Christ.
From Indiana to Arkansas, red states are moving to protect religious freedom. Does the Constitution already protect religious freedom? Yes. So, why the doubling up? Without diving into The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (the law in Indiana is modeled after it and calls on the government to not substantially burden religious business owners) it’s the threat posed by the Rainbow Warriors! #letstalkreligionnow #starbucksno
Now, in 37 states, gay marriage is legal. Even in Bible Belt communities such as Fayetteville, Ark., and Springfield, Mo., nondiscrimination ordinances designed to extend rights in public accommodations to the LBGT community have been passed. But some Christians are resisting. Voters in Fayetteville repealed that move and Springfield pollsters could follow April 7.
Assuming we could agree that many Christians feel threatened by the call for equal rights from our gay neighbors and siblings, the larger question is what are you, the average Christian, going to do about it? Should you brace yourself to fight the rainbow wave and risk looking like the bad guy who can’t play well with others or welcome the neighbors in a new era where (some of) your buddies feel they can’t carry their consciences in the marketplace. It’s no easy question.
Well, consider this: It’s nothing new.
Federal protections for peeps based on race, gender, national origin and religion have been in place since the 60s, and they didn’t come easily. Curse you Civil Rights Act of 1964! That’s a joke. And a point. The fact that religion is part of the mix is very interesting. It means you can’t be denied a job or service at a public restaurant because you believe that Jesus died for your sins.
The other side of the coin is that the right to discriminate against people of other faiths is gone too. As Yoda would say: Stripped rights to discrimination have been. It’s not a new thing at all. Does anyone miss this right to discriminate? Do we want to go back to a world where people had more freedom to discriminate? Negative, Yoda says.
But homosexuality is different, right? Skin color is a characteristic. So is gender. And age. People choose to be gay. And it’s a sin!
Here’s the thing, not everybody agrees about that. And both your right to believe it’s a sin and my sister’s right to not believe that are protected in a land of religious freedom. So how do we agree to disagree? Equal rights.
Gay business owners can’t discriminate against the religious. But the faithful, at least in many areas, can refuse to serve those people in your everyday life and claim the religious freedoms the RFRA is designed to protect. Doesn’t it seem like if your business is open to the public, you should have to serve the whole public? Have business owners of faith been substantially burdened by having to treat people of other faiths fairly in the marketplace? Fifty years in, I’d say no.
In the interest of fairness, if you see sexual orientation as a choice, I’d ask you to consider religion as a choice too. If your deeply held personal choice is protected, and your brothers are busy doubling down (is it down or up?) on those protections, why should your co-worker’s rights mean less? But let’s not fight. We all have touchy feelings on the subject, so let’s just agree to be impartial when it comes to the law. Your aunt or whoever would appreciate that. #starbucksout

An open letter to Christian soldiers

Do you know what keeps me interested in Christianity despite my objections to large swaths of text in the Bible? The idea that what is most important to God and Jesus is service and compassion. Time after time, Jesus, the exalted King, lays down his position of privilege to serve others. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus turned to the example of a nonreligious person who served another in need when asked by an expert in the law how he’d get a chance to go to heaven. In my life, I’ve been blessed by the generosity of Christians more times than I can count. I’ve seen that devotion to others by people of faith, and it is always humbling. But as someone who has long been confused about his own faith, I’ve seen a disturbing trend in the Christian culture: the bold emergence of the defensive, rule-loving, money-loving, war-loving Christian. In my country, God-fearing Christians often speak openly against homosexuals in monogamous relationships, against taxes used to serve the poor and in favor of war against their rule-worshipping, money-hungry, war-mongering enemies. Then, they blame the youth for turning away. What sets Christianity apart, or should, is the service and compassion of Christ. The big man, washing our dirty feet, and laying down his life on the disgusting Roman cross. Even godless atheists, same-sex couples and stubborn religious types could be compelled by such a love. Assuming, they had a chance to see it.

Dinosaurs doing taxes

The whole world of value
Explodes.
A star bursting with juicy
Arms stretched reaching
Its limit in a sacrifice
Triggered by the memory
Of faith, the lingering
Notes of a friendship song,
Dying so another can see
A light and feel
hope.
Everything we draw out
Is born from a spark.
A death folding in on itself
And sprinting forward.
Look at me, extravagant love,
You flower,
And run home.
Let the dinosaurs do taxes
And cross check statements.
Then, come home.
Hands forward,
Not in a prayer’s pose,
Spread wide
In a dancer’s embrace.
Jumping like a fool,
Laughing,
Exploding.