Monday, June 30, 2014

Don't Sneak

Yesterday in my Sunday post, I discussed the two types of pride:  the sinful selfish pride and the pride we should take in ourselves and be stronger people.  LGBT can find meaning in pride. We start to feel able to freely and openly celebrate who we are. We need to stop hating and fearing ourselves, because those who live secret lives of pain are not able to fully celebrate their identity. I also used the following quote:

Maybe our journey in life isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about unbecoming everything that isn't really you so you can become who you were meant to be in the first place.

It symbolizes that we should take pride in our true selves and not hide or "sneak."  StoryCorps, an NPR segment, marked the anniversary of a pivotal moment for gay rights, the 1969 Stonewall riots. Forty-five years ago, on June 27, gay protesters clashed with police in New York. Now, StoryCorps launched an initiative to preserve the stories of LGBT people called "OutLoud."  Below is one of those stories, and it's a perfect example of why we should celebrate ourselves.

In the 1950s in rural Washington, a teenage boy learned an important lesson about self-acceptance. Patrick Haggerty, now 70, didn't know he was gay at the time, but says his father knew what direction he was headed.

The conversation started because as a teenager Haggerty decided to perform in a school assembly. On their way there, he started covering his face with glitter — to his brother's horror. Haggerty says his brother dropped him off at school and then called their father.

"Dad, I think you better get up there," his brother said. "This is not going to look good."

Their father did come. Charles Edward Haggerty, a dairy farmer, showed up at the school in dirty farming jeans and boots. When Haggerty saw his dad in the halls, he hid.

"It wasn't because of what I was wearing," Haggerty says. "It was because of what he was wearing."

After the assembly, in the car ride home, Haggerty's father called him out on his attempt to hide.

"My father says to me, 'I was walking down the hall this morning, and I saw a kid that looked a lot like you ducking around the hall to avoid his dad. But I know it wasn't you, 'cause you would never do that to your dad,' " Haggerty recalls.

Haggerty squirmed in his seat and finally exclaimed, "Well, Dad, did you have to wear your cow-crap jeans to my assembly?"

"Look, everybody knows I'm a dairy farmer," his father replied. "This is who I am. Now, how 'bout you? When you're an adult, who are you gonna go out with at night?"

Then, he gave his son some advice:

"Now, I'm gonna tell you something today, and you might not know what to think of it now, but you're gonna remember when you're a full-grown man: Don't sneak. Because if you sneak, like you did today, it means you think you're doing the wrong thing. And if you run around spending your whole life thinking that you're doing the wrong thing, then you'll ruin your immortal soul."

"And out of all the things a father in 1959 could have told his gay son, my father tells me to be proud of myself and not sneak," Haggerty says.

"He knew where I was headed. And he knew that making me feel bad about it in any way was the wrong thing to do," he adds. "I had the patron saint of dads for sissies, and no, I didn't know at the time, but I know it now."

If more people could understand what Charles Edward Haggerty did over sixty years ago, then we'd have a lot less teenage suicide, we'd have a lot less depression in LGBT people, acceptance would be a given, and there would it longer be the need for the closet.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Two Types of Pride

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.  Galatians 6:4

Selfish pride can be defined as "excessive confidence or glorification in one's self, possessions or nation." The concept is found in the Bible, along with pride itself, in words such as arrogance, haughtiness and conceit, among others, all of which are opposite of Godly humility. The wrongness of self-centered pride is essentially twofold. On a spiritual level, it inevitably leads to disregard, disrespect and disobedience to God i.e. self-centered pride is primarily what transformed the once-righteous Lucifer into the wicked Satan after he became too impressed with himself: "I will make myself like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). On a worldly level, selfish pride very often results in self-destructive behavior because, while a form of self-delusion, it isn't necessarily as much an overestimation of one's self as it is a dangerous underestimation of others, hence "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).

The Bible warns us about the dangers of pride, by which it means an arrogant, haughty, self-centered attitude that looks down on others and feels no need of God.  This kind of pride is wrong in God's eyes because it can make someone act as if he/she is the most important person in the world. That cuts us off from others; no one likes someone who's constantly acting as if they're better or more important than anyone else. A prideful attitude also cuts us off from God, because we think we can get along without Him. But the Bible warns, "The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low" (Isaiah 2:11).

The Bible also speaks of a good pride, but it differs greatly from selfish pride, what we might call a healthy understanding of what God has given us, and a humble determination to do our best for His glory. This can be good, giving us the confidence we need to meet challenges and undertake new tasks. The Bible says, "Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else" (Galatians 6:4).

Be on guard against a self-centered pride that ultimately will destroy you. Instead, see yourself the way God sees you, and humbly accept the gifts He has given you. Most of all, humble yourself at the foot of the cross, and commit your life and your future to Jesus  Christ.

As LGBT Christians we should take pride in keeping the faith, even when others tell us we are not wanted.  A friend of mine sent me a quote the other day, that I found very inspirational and I believe it is a perfect example of why we should look at pride in a different way.
Maybe our journey in life isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about unbecoming everything that isn't really you so you can become who you were meant to be in the first place.
Our experienced help shape us, but they don't define us.  Sometime we have to unlearn things or peel away those things that hold us back.  We are taught by most ministers that pride is evil, but can we not have a humble pride? We should take pride in God and the life he has created in us.  For me this type of pride is about glorifying God.  We are made in the image of God, and we should take pride in that.  We are a witness to God’s radical love, and his love is everlasting and unconditional.  God promises us eternal life, but we must believe and have faith and follow his word (as a member of the churches of Christ, I feel compelled to say "and be baptized" but I know not everyone believes in the necessity of baptism). Our faith is miraculous: as LGBT Christians we are constantly told that we are the living embodiment of sin, but we have kept the faith, because our loving God encourages and guides us to the truth. We are called to transform the world:  it is our duty to show others that God's love is everlasting and unconditional. God journeys with us, and He is with a us at all times, in good or bad.  Our experiences teach us how to love authentically and not to listen to those who are naysayers or preach hate. As LGBT Christians, God has freed us from shame for we have nothing to be shameful of, because we have kept the faith. By embracing ourselves, we bring inner peace because we know who we are and we have "unbecome" what others told us to become because we have followed the path of God's truth.  We are unique creations of God.  Without that uniqueness we'd all be the same, and God made us all diverse and wonderful people who are filled with the capacity to love.

Some gay people find pride to be one time of the year when they do not feel alone, isolated, cut-off, rejected, hated and despised. Pride helps gay people feel they are not a tiny, powerless minority group. Through pride, many gay people find a sense of belonging, a sense of being worthwhile. Society has long taught gay people to hate themselves. By taking pride in who they are in Christ, gay people can start the long process of overcoming self-hate. Standing side-by-side with God, gay Christians are an accepted, loved, connected and powerful majority!

Gay Christians can find meaning in pride. They are start to feel able to freely and openly celebrate who they are in Christ. God wants that! God wants gay people to stop hating and fearing themselves, because those who live secret lives of pain are not able to fully celebrate their identity in Christ. Through gay pride, God calls gay Christians to live as though the world waits for them, waits for them to passionately praise God, to love as faithfully as God loves and to celebrate life, as they walk hand-in-hand with Christ into eternity.

So take pride in our struggles.  We need that good, unselfish pride to show others the true light of God.  So as we celebrate the forty-fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, with Gay Pride Month coming to an end, and next Friday, we celebrate the pride we feel in the independence of the American spirit, we should rejoice with others that God allows us that feeling of warmth in our hearts that is our unselfish pride. 

The picture at the top of this post is the reaction to this group of Chicago Christians who showed up at a gay pride parade to apologize for homophobia in the Church.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Two Anniversaries: 45 Years Ago and 100 Years Ago

Forty-five years ago today, in a small tavern in New York City, history was made. The Stonewall Riots not only sparked a movement, but changed history and, eventually, helped millions of people embrace their true identity.

In 2014, marriage equality is sweeping the nation, gay men and women can proudly and openly serve their country and we are leading the charge.

There was a time when LGBT people were forced to hide in the shadows, their way of life criminalized – marriage wasn’t even a consideration. Police would raid gay bars (if they weren’t getting paid off by the owners) and arrest people on the spot if they didn’t have identification, or if they were in drag.

But in 1969, came the biggest moment in the history of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement: the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

On Saturday, June 28, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. This was routine at the time, but this raid would be like no other before. As police they were lining bar-goers up for inspection, all hell broke loose.

“When they came in the door, they were pushing and shoving people,” said Tree, a bartender at the Stonewall Inn who was there when the riots happened. “They actually pushed this guy with a mustache — who turned out to be a lesbian with a mustache — and it took two cops to pull her off the cops.

“[Storme DeLarverie, who recently died at 94] was arrested with a few other people, he continued. “When the cops came in, my friends Fred, Charlie and I kicked the plywood wall out this door. There were like 30 of us out here. Within a few hours, it was 3, 4, 500 people. The cops were afraid to leave the building.”

“We broke the window, broke the wall behind the window, we pulled a parking meter out of the ground and used it as a battering ram to knock the doors in,” he said, pointing at the Stonewall’s now open doors, which wafted a bit of air conditioning and bar smell out on Christopher Street. “But when you start a bar on fire — with the police in it — that’s when the riot squad did come. Because we lit the garbage cans on fire and threw them through the windows.”

The riots became national news the next day, and what was just one night of chaos turned into an organized movement with LGBT groups popping up around the city, and soon, around the country.
“To me, Stonewall is an act from people who were tired of being pushed into the shadows of society, taking a stand for their human dignity,” said Susanna Aaron, a volunteer working for Stonewall’s 45th anniversary. “There was a moment of fury which was these riots at this bar but this community turned it into a real political movement with very clear goals.”

Today, when states are reexamining their gay marriage bans (Indiana just overturned theirs on Wednesday), the Stonewall Riots’ significance in the fight toward equality is recognized even more strongly.

Now, after 45 years, 19 states out of the 50 have legal gay marriage — not even half of the U.S. Will it take another 45 years to unify the country? Some think it’ll be five, but for others the completion of gay marriage is not about time, but a question of being vigilant.

For LGBT Americans, the Stonewall Riots began our march toward equality, but 100 years ago today, the world changed.  It's innocence was lost, never to return.

One hundred years ago today in Sarajevo, a Serb nationalist shot to death at point-blank range Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. Their deaths triggered the chain of events that led a month later to the start of World War I -- the Great War, a horrifying, bloody four-year conflict that killed some 14 million people, collapsed empires and redrew large parts of the world's map.

The most fascinating thing to me is that it almost didn't happen.  The main attempt on the archduke's life had been botched.  It wasn't until a wrong turn on the way to visit the hospital and those injured in the first botched attempt that Gavrilo Princip, the archduke's killer, walked out of a deli to find the archduke's retinue stopped in front of the store.  He had believed the plan had failed, but took the opportunity to shoot the archduke and his wife.  Had the archduke's car not made a wrong turn, had Princip been delayed in e deli a few more minutes, or had the archduke not been sewn into his uniform (apparently he'd gained a little weight and the sewed on uniform had kept doctors from being able to save him)...the world could have been a vastly different place today.

In Sarajevo, the assassination is being marked with commemorations, concerts and exhibitions. The fault lines of a century ago remain all too real, with the country's ethnically divided politics still a cauldron of animosities. "Sarajevo is now a symbol of a century of wars in Europe but we are here to talk about peace and reconciliation," said Joseph Zimet, the head of the organization planning the commemoration.

On the eve of the centennial, Bosnian Serbs unveiled a statue to Princip who is considered a Serbian hero and freedom-fighter. A century after the assassination, the rest of the world would likely consider him -- and the underground, radical nationalist network he was operating within -- a state-sponsored terrorist. The Austrians back then certainly did, and looked at Belgrade, capital of the young nation of Serbia, as the source of the conspiracy.

What happened next, as Winston Churchill put it, was a "drama never surpassed." Ferdinand's death presented leading statesmen in Europe's great powers both a crisis and an opportunity and led to a dizzying series of diplomatic maneuvers, secret negotiations and political escalations that underlay the explosive opening of World War I. A web of alliances between Europe's competing empires -- a "concert" -- led to Russia coming in on the side of the Serbs, Germany countering Russia, and Britain, France and the waning Ottoman Empire also entering the fray.

Sean McMeekin, a professor at Koc University in Istanbul, chronicles the weeks that followed Ferdinand's murder in "July 1914," a riveting account published this year of how the war started. McMeekin and a whole tradition of World War I historians argue that even after Ferdinand's assassination, war was not a fait accompli. Indeed, in Europe and across the pond in the United States, many learning of the archduke's death were less concerned with the drumbeats of war than the question of Austrian succession. 

As we mark the war's centennial, there will be time yet to explore its legacy and effects. What McMeekin and other historians emphasize, though, was that the war was the creation of a coterie of political elites, each fueled by their own lust for greater power.

No one was guiltless in the build-up. This year, in Britain, there's already been an animated debate about how to remember World War I. Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove lambasted "leftist" historians and commentators who cast it as a "misbegotten shambles," a series of catastrophic mistakes by mustachioed monarchs and cabinet ministers. Instead, Gove argued it was a "just war" against the "ruthless Social Darwinism" of the Germans.

This is a view not shared by many. Germany was punished most in the war's aftermath, with its Kaiser Wilhelm II -- an ambitious expansionist -- made out to be the chief villain. But they were hardly alone in their imperial delusions, with the French, the British and most importantly the Russians -- whose Czarist leadership still harbored plans to conquer Istanbul, that ancient Rome of the east -- all guilty of fanning the flames.

But it's curious to imagine what would have happened had the archduke survived the assassination. A relative liberal, he had "an almost religious aversion to the idea of war with Serbia," writes McMeekin, no matter his contempt for the Serbs.

But there were always larger forces in play. An imperialistic arms race in Europe had been building up in the years before. Ethnic nationalism in the margins of fraying empires asked difficult questions of the delicate "concert" of power that was in place on the continent. A reckoning, many argue, was inevitable.

In my opinion the assassination of Franz Ferdinand marks the beginning of the Modern World.  We are still dealing with the repercussions of the fall of the Austo-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.  The old imperialistic empires that remained would linger through World War II and be nearly completely gone by the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, but we must still deal with the problems of countries that were raped of resources by European (and American) imperialists.  The fallout of World War I and the subsequent Paris Peace Conference, particularly the Treaty of Verailles, has had a long lasting effect on the world, and nearly every problem in the world today can be traced back to the events set off by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

Moment of Zen: Cuddling

Friday, June 27, 2014

Alabama Summer

I saw this on Mac's blog Yummy of the Day.  It was the Funny of the Day the other day, and some of you may have seen it, but it was just too good not to repost.  It's the end of June and about to be July and everyone here in Alabama is sweating like a whore in church.  It's hotter than two rabbits screwin' in a wool sack.  In fact, it's so hot, the chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs, and it's gonna stay hotter n' hell's basement on the day of reckoning until at least late October.

And one more southernisms for y'all, since I'm going to have a pretty busy day today (running errands with my granny), I will be busier than a cat buryin' shit on a marble floor.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vanderbilt edges Virginia to win College World Series

The moment Vanderbilt fans and I have dreamed about our entire lives became a reality on Wednesday evening.  For the first time in Vanderbilt men's athletics history, the Commodores are national champions.  Other than my alma mater, I am a big fan of SEC schools (if you remove LSU from the equation--I really don't like LSU).  Being from Alabama, I've always pulled for Auburn and Alabama, but the SEC school I have always admired the most is Vanderbilt.  Even more so when in September 2003, Vanderbilt disbanded its athletic department. Intercollegiate athletics are now administered as a part of the university's Division of Student Life, which oversees all student organizations and activities. Vanderbilt is currently the only Division I school without a separate athletic department. In making this decision, Chancellor Gordon Gee cited a need to reform college athletics, returning the emphasis to the student half of student-athletes.

So I am beyond ecstatic that Vanderbilt won a national championship, especially in baseball, because I love baseball.  How can you not love baseball with those uniforms, tight pants and awesome butts.  I think it must be a requirement in baseball to have a fine behind in order to play.  For the first 5⅓, I was mesmerized by the beautiful behind of the Commodores pitcher Caraon Fulmer's round bubble butt.  It was thanks to a brilliant effort from sophomore pitcher Fulmer, who gave the Commodores 5⅓ innings of one-run ball while pitching on three days rest. He didn't factor into the decision, but his 103-pitch outing went a long way in putting Vanderbilt in a position to win the game.

Vanderbilt center fielder John Norwood forever etched himself into Commodores lore with the game-winning home run in the top of the eighth inning, turning a 97-mph fastball from first-round pick Nick Howard around and planting it into the bullpen behind left field to break a tie ballgame.

The Commodores finished off the College World Series on Wednesday with a 3-2 win over Virginia in the deciding game of the national championship series.

Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin shook up his lineup on the final day of the season in search of offensive answers after the Commodores had scored just three runs in their last 15 innings of play. Everyone except lead-off man Dansby Swanson (who is incredibly cute, see the picture on the left) received a new spot in the batting order from the night before.

All of that rearrangement was necessary to put Norwood in the box at that moment in time. He began the tournament hitting sixth and finished batting fourth.

Norwood's home run was just his third of the season and the first Commodores home run since Zander Wiel hit one against South Carolina on May 16.

Vanderbilt pitcher Adam Ravenelle worked the Commodores out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth inning, inducing a come-backer and a ground ball to shortstop Vince Conde to end the Cavaliers threat.  Ravenelle also pitched the ninth inning for the save.

Vanderbilt faced elimination three times in the NCAA tournament, and each time Corbin's team responded with a victory the next day.

Winning on this stage was a long-time coming for a program that has put 73 players into professional baseball over the past decade, including 12 players that have reached the major leagues.

One-by-one the great Commodores baseball teams of the past fell short of reaching this crowning achievement.

From the heartache of a pinch-hit home run from Michigan's Alan Oaks off Vanderbilt ace David Price to end the 2007 Commodores' dream season short of Omaha, to the 132-pitch effort by Sonny Gray that left Vanderbilt just short when the 2011 team was eliminated from the program's first-ever trip to Omaha, Vanderbilt supporters had the carrot dangled in front of them only to have it taken away, the moment that had eluded them may have seemed as though it was never going to come, but it came last night.

Anchor Down!

Go Dores!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Sometime next month, I will be taking a trip to Dallas with some family, my aunt and two cousins.  Three of us are adults and one cousin is sixteen, but she's one of the most mature sixteen year olds I know.  My cousins parents by ever take her anywhere, and she's my aunt's former foster daughter, so my aunt and I do our best to take her places.  Last year we took a trip to Huntsville and Nashville.  This year it looks like it will be Dallas.  Honestly, other than the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport, I know little about Dallas.  That's where I am hoping my readers can be of some help.

We will have three days in Dallas, and I want to see as much of the city as I can.  The question is: what are the must sees?  I know we will go to Dealey Plaza to the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas School Book Depository. What trip to Dallas could be complete without seeing where JFK was shot?  I also know we will be going to Southfork Ranch as seen on Dallas, the TV show.  My aunt and I are both big Dallas fans.  As a kid, I used to spend the night with my grandmama every Friday night and would watch Dallas with her, so it would be kind of special to me to see Southfork.  The other thing I want to do is go to the Dallas Museum of Art.  For what I've read, it has a fantastic collection.  I would also love to see the Amon Carter Museum of American Art which houses Thomas Eakins' The Swimming Hole (see below), but the Amon Carter a Museum is in Fort Worth, so I'm not sure how feasible it would be to see one painting, although there are plenty of other pieces there as well.

From the look of things on the map (though I am horrible with map scale), Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Museum of Art are all downtown and relatively close, so they can be visited on the same day.  Southfork is 25 miles north of Dallas, so that will take up a chunk of one day.  So what else should I see while in Dallas?  We've discussed the Dallas World Aquarium and the Reunion Tower, but I'm not sure.  Is anyone familiar with Dallas and can give me any pointers?  Things that I should know or be aware of?

I am hoping to see plenty of sexy cowboys, but I'm not sure how realistic that will be.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Love in the Morning

Love in the Morning
By Annie Finch

Morning’s a new bird
stirring against me
out of a quiet nest,
coming to flight—

breath-filling body,

clean as clear water,

kindling companion,

mystery and mountain,

About This Poem
“‘Love in the Morning’ was written in a spirit of sensual gratitude. The poem unites the four elements to celebrate male sexuality.”
—Annie Finch

Annie Finch is the author of Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2013). She teaches online in the Poetcraft Circles and lives in Portland, Maine.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Writer's Block

If you have followed this blog long, you know that unless there are unforeseen circumstances, I post everyday.  However, there are time when I have nothing to write about.  On those days, I usually begin to write about not having anything to write about, and a post emerges.  This is not one of those times. I have pondered what to write as much as I can and I've come up with nothing.  Sorry about that, but as Scarlet O'Hara says in Gone with the Wind, "...Oh, I can't think about this now! I'll go crazy if I do! I'll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it....After all...tomorrow is another day!"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God Uses the Unlikely To Accomplish the Impossible

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.Luke 5:1-11 
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him.Mark 1:16-18

"God uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible."
Author Unknown

The first quotes are biblical texts describing Jesus calling Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to be disciples.  The third quote is an anonymous quote that a friend sent me.  He sent me this quote because he said that it really struck him because he believes God uses people like you and me to help others or answer prayers. He said that things that seem impossible to achieve or overcome, can be accomplished by unlikely means.  I think that God knows when we need a good friend to get through difficult times and somehow He finds ways to connect us.

The Apostle Peter may have been the most outspoken of the twelve apostles in Jesus’ ministry on earth. He certainly became one of the boldest witnesses for the faith.  His beginnings were certainly humble in origin.  He was born about 1 B.C. and died sometime around A.D. 67.

Peter was originally named Simon.  Jesus was the One Who changed Peter’s name. Peter means “rock” or literally Petra.  He was a Galilean fisherman and was the brother of Andrew.  The brothers came from the village of Bethsaida (John 1:43, 12:21).  Peter was married.  He was also a follower of John the Baptist.  Peter, like all humans before their calling, was a sinful man.  In fact he was ashamed of his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus Christ (Luke 5:6-8).  Peter was perhaps the very first disciple that Jesus called along with His brother Andrew.

Fishermen at that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language.  The fishermen of the first century were a man’s man.  They were full of vigor and had boisterous tempers.  This is perhaps why James and his brother John were called the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).  Their’s was a rough life since fishing was a very physically demanding job.  They must have been somewhat fearless too because some of the storms that came quickly upon the Sea of Galilee were fierce and furious.  They often caught the fishermen by surprise and could easily capsize the 20 to 30 foot boats they used.

Peter was always putting his foot in his mouth but one thing you could say about Peter was that when Jesus told them (Peter and Andrew) to “follow me” they simply walked away and left everything they had without a second thought (Luke 5:9-1).  Consider the fact that this meant that they left everything – all of their fishing boats, their fishing nets, and all the accessories that came with their trade.  How many today would be willing to leave their own business to follow Someone that had simply asked them to follow Him?

As mentioned earlier, Peter was among the first disciples called by Jesus and he was frequently their spokesman – for good or bad.  One thing that he is credited with is the special insight that he had concerning Jesus’ identity.  Peter was the first to call Jesus the Son of the Living God – the Messiah (Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, Matt. 16:16-17).   When Jesus called him, Peter knew that He was of God and felt unworthy to be in Jesus presence (Luke 5:6-8).   Even so, Jesus did not hesitate and told Peter and Andrew that He would make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Peter was bold but often times in the wrong.  Once he even rebuked the Lord and said that he was willing to die for Jesus even though at the arrest and trial of Jesus he denied Him three times (Matt. 16:21-22).  Jesus loved the disciples and knew which of those whom would remain loyal to Him and those who would betray Him (Judas Iscariot).  Peter was an eyewitness to the many miracles that Jesus did.  This was where Jesus’ humanity was peeled back to reveal the glory of His Divinity (Matt. 17:1-9).

A disciple means a “follower of” and that is what most Christians actually are today.  An apostle is “one sent forth” in the sense of sent forth by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The biblical definition of an apostle and the only one’s that are called apostles in the New Testament had to be either with Jesus during His earthly ministry (like the disciples) or having seen the risen Christ (as did Paul who was taught three years in the desert by Jesus Christ Himself).

After Christ tells the disciples about the end of the age (Matt. 24) He gives them the charge or command of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).  This is the very last thing that Jesus tells them (Acts 1:8) and from that point on the disciples (followers of Christ) become the apostles (those sent forth).  The designation of their being apostles was never used until after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1) because before then, they were still following Jesus.  After Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and was seated there (signifying His earthly ministry was done – except through the apostles) He sent them forth to go to all ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Peter was the first one to preach on the day of Pentecost after the coming of the Holy Spirit and he was the first one to proclaim Christ to a Gentile.  He was one of the boldest apostles of all.  He willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings, and even rejoiced at the fact that he was worthy to suffer disgrace for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:41).

In the days leading up to Peter’s death, almost all of the apostles had been martyred.  Did Jesus actually predict Peter’s death by crucifixion when He said that “when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18-19)?  The church historian Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius state that Peter’s was stretched out by his hands, he was dressed in prison garb, he was taken where no one wanted to go (a crucifixion), and was crucified.  He was said to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the way that the Lord Jesus Christ had been.

From an arrogant, cocky, man of thunder, he became a humble, willing, obedient servant of the Lord even to death. He rejoiced in that day of his death, knowing that he would be reunited with his beloved Savior.  This was a lifetime of 65 years – of which his last forty would be devoted to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament the number 40 was always a number of testing – and tested Peter was.  Peter passed in glorious colors and will be one of only 12 apostles that will rule with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men – and one that changed and shaped the world forever and is still proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through his gospel (written by Mark), the book of Acts, and through the epistles of 1 and II Peter.

A good deed or act of kindness can change the direction of peoples lives.  Just as Jesus did for Peter.  We will probably never make the drastic change that Jesus made in the life of Peter, but even a small change can make a difference if we just try, no matter how unlikely we believe it may be.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Moment of Zen: Summer

Whether your hanging out at the park, the beach, the lake, or the mountains, Summer is officially here.  Summer begins today with the summer solstice.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Hope He's Still There...Yep, He Is

Let's face it, as men, we were born with our best friend attached to our bodies.  He's a stand up guy, well he becomes one after we hit puberty and he begins to get some hair, and he always has two nutty friends who are always hanging around and are loads of fun.  Yep, this guy is our penis.  Most of us probably have a nickname for our old trusted friend, but only those who are up close and personal with him have the chance to learn mine's nickname.  We may be more proud of this guy when he's fat and/or really tall, and if he's short and/or skinny, we might be embarrassed to show him in public, but we love him nonetheless.

He is one of our most important assets, and contrary to the belief of women, we are afraid we might lose him.  Tragedies do happen, so we have to check on him fairly regularly.  So I have to disagree with the mom who wrote the letter below:

My dearest sons,

You know the dangly appendage that occupies your thoughts and/or your hands for a large percentage of the day? Well, as a concerned mother, I feel it’s my duty to enlighten you on the subject of your penis.

Now, never having been in possession of one myself, I can’t be considered an outright expert, but I’d like to think that my experience raising you counts for something. After all, I’ve seen enough nakedness around this piece to rival any nude resort. So, for you, and any other boys out there, here are nine things you should know about your penis.

1. Relax; Your penis won’t fall off.  It will stay right there in your pants (provided you’re wearing any), so you can stop clutching it while you watch TV and falling asleep with it in your fingers. In fact, it will be with you for the rest of your life, so maybe you should think about being a little less rough with it.

2. One exception: Having a firm grip on it is encouraged – and preferred – when using the toilet. It’s floppy, and when you don’t have it under control, you spray like a leaky hose.

3. Keep it in your drawers, ok? (This is a piece of advice that will have a different, but equally significant, meaning during your teen years – so don’t forget it.) There’s really no need to lay it on your brother’s arm. Or dip it in your chocolate milk. Or poke it through the hole of a DVD. Or wrap it around your eating utensils. Or your pencil. Or your brother’s pencil.

4. It might not hurt you when you stretch it out ten miles long like it’s made of rubber, but it hurts me just looking at it, so stop.

5. On rare occasions, you may actually let go of it in order to grasp something else. Like a sandwich, or your brother’s face. In the event of such occasions, hand-washing before you touch anything else is the courteous (and sanitary) thing to do.

6. It’s not the end of the world when it’s facing the wrong way or bunched up in your underwear. No need for a meltdown.

7. It’s handy and portable and all that, but just because you can pee anywhere doesn’t mean you should.

8. If you’re gonna stretch/dangle/pull/twist/twiddle or otherwise manhandle (boy-handle?) it, please do so in your room and spare us all a little awkwardness. Please.

9. I’ve seen it a million times, so there’s no need to waggle it in my direction after your bath, nor make it dance and jump around by thrusting around like Elvis with a hula hoop. (This also goes for your dad, so pass that tidbit along.)

I’m hoping this letter will serve as a handy reference to the proper penile etiquette, and that you’ll start having a little ding-dong dignity.

You’ll thank me later… or at least your wife will.

Lots of love, Mommy

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Would Say, "Only in Texas," But...

The first Father's Day for Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs was bittersweet because days earlier, a judge in Texas denied their request to have their names placed on the birth certificates of their newborn twins.

The twins, Lucas and Ethan, share an egg donor and were born to a surrogate mother a month ago. The twins are half brothers.  Each of the men is a biological father to one of the babies. But, because Texas has a ban on gay marriage (it was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge last February, but the decision was stayed pending appeal), and because a judge can use his or her own discretion in these cases, neither of the men is currently on the birth certificates of either of the boys, nor have they been able to co-adopt each other’s biological child.

Only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is on the birth certificates. In essence, the men are not legally defined as the parents of their own children. And though they have DNA tests for proof, they’re worried, particularly if something were to happen to one of them while the other still has not been able to co-adopt the other’s biological child.

The couple petitioned a judge in their county to add each of their names to their biological sons' birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys.  The judge has denied the family on both requests.

“As of right now in Texas two men cannot be on the birth certificate,” Jason Hanna explained in an interview on SiriusXM Progress. “So our attorney followed the letter of the law. We petitioned the court. We had DNA testing there [in court] and petitioned the judge to ultimately remove the surrogate mother from the birth certificate, who has no biological ties to the boys. We would like each biological dad to be placed on the birth certificate of our own son, and then ultimately proceed to the second-parent adoption. The entire petition was denied.”

“We were sworn in and ultimately the judge was saying that with the information she had in front of her, under Texas law she couldn’t grant it,” Riggs said of their appearance in court last week. “I was shocked. We had a ton of questions as we walked away from that courtroom.”

'It's a little scary because right now we don't have full parental rights over own biological children,' Hanna told the Fox affiliate in Dallas.

Added Riggs: 'A family court, I guess I expected them to be looking out for the best interests of our kids. We walked out away that day and it wasn't in the best interests of our kids.'

According to GLAAD, it is unclear in Texas and 17 other US states whether LGBT parents can jointly adopt. This has resulted in legal rulings varying from judge to judge or county to county.  Some judges in Texas have approved such adoptions to same-sex couples.  It was particularly jarring to Hanna and Riggs because other gay couples in Texas, including friends of theirs, have successfully completed this process. The couple’s lawyer has offered them several options on bringing the petition back, changing the paperwork and the process. But there’s no question that if their marriage was legally recognized they would not be having this problem at all.

The legal picture could improve for the couples if a ruling by a federal judge overturning the states's ban on gay marriage is upheld by a higher court.

“In order to grant a second-parent adoption [automatically under current law], it has to be between two married people,” Jason explained. “And so, considering we’re not legally married in the eyes of Texas, they don’t have to grant that second-parent adoption because they don’t recognize our marriage…It’s up to the judge’s discretion on whether or not to grant it.”

Hanna and Riggs worry, as they wait for the next step, because they’re in a scary legal limbo.

“Without [co-adoption], if something happened to either me or Joe we don’t have any legal recourse to keep the other’s biological child,” Hanna said. “The state could come in and separate these two brothers…We want to reiterate how important it is for a state to recognize each family, whether it's same-sex or opposite-sex, and really to ensure everyone has equal protection from the state.”

Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs met six years ago and knew they wanted to be together and raise children, so they saved their money, knowing it would be a costly process. They married last July in Washington DC, where gay marriage is legal, and then went back to Dallas to celebrate their wedding with family and friends in August. They found a surrogate mom, and this past April the twins were born.

It’s heartbreaking to think that a state has erased the parents of children and put a family in legal jeopardy, simply because of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples. But that’s what happened to this gay couple in Texas after what they described as the "magical" birth of their twin boys.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


While many states are battling over same-sex marriage, Alabama has only just ruled that prohibiting homosexual sex is unconstitutional.  Civil rights organizations in Alabama are cheering a state appeals court ruling that declared part of a state sexual misconduct law as unconstitutional.

Under the statute, consensual oral and anal sex was banned in what the court determined was an act aimed at criminalizing homosexual activities. Furthermore, the statute has been traditionally interpreted to criminalize all sexual practices other than the missionary position between one man and one woman.  The portion of the law cited in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruling includes: "Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision."  The sixteen page ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals can be read in it's entirety by following this link.  (It's well worth reading, and I found it quite interesting.  Plus I'd love to know silvereagle's opinion on this case and the ruling.)

The ruling was unanimous in the case of Dewayne Williams vs. State of Alabama. Williams, a Dallas County, Ala., man, who, although was not convicted in 2010 of first-degree sodomy, was convicted of the "lesser-included offense" of sexual misconduct, according to the ruling. Williams acknowledged he had taken part in the sodomy but argued it was consensual, the ruling states.

Alabama is one of a dozen states that still have laws prohibiting consensual homosexual sex, according to a survey by the Human Rights Campaign, a national group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, applauded the ruling.   "Aiming to ban consensual sex is flat out wrong," she said Saturday. "A person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter. Consensual sex is consensual sex."

Ben Cooper, chairman for Equality Alabama, also lauded the ruling and added the law was "settled years ago" under Lawrence v. Texas, a case the Alabama court referenced in its decision. In the 2003 case, the crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct was determined to violate the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

"Each and every person, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, is entitled to equal protection under the law," Cooper said in a statement. "The Alabama court's unanimous decision overturning the statute is a step in the right direction and makes us optimistic for future and ongoing equal rights through the continued elimination of unconstitutional provisions in our state's constitution that violate privacy and equal protections."

Michael Jackson, the prosecutor in the Williams case, said Monday that he understood why the appeals court ruled the way it did, and said the decision would probably be upheld if appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. But he said the victim is not getting a fair result because the sex in the case he was prosecuting wasn't consensual.

"He got attacked by another man and he had sex he didn't want to have," said Jackson. He said Alabama's sodomy law still applies in cases of forced sex.  For the record, Jackson has no business prosecuting sexual misconduct.  As District Attorney for Fourth Judicial Circuit of Alabama, Jackson has often hired female prosecutors based on their ample breasts and how often they will go to bed with him.  Jackson himself should be tried for sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.  He is a further disgrace to the already disgraceful Alabama judicial system.

The state of Alabama also was denied its request to remove the language on consent from the law and remand Williams' case for a new trial. The Alabama appeals court explained in its ruling that a remand of the case would violate the double jeopardy clauses of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution and that by amending the statute the Court would be creating and ex post facto law that would further violate the U.S. Constitution.

The question does remain as to whether the sex between the two men, Williams and the unnamed clerk at the Jamison Inn Hotel, was consensual as Williams claims in his defense.  However, because the prosecution knew they could not convict Williams of first degree sodomy, which had been struck down by Lawrence v. Texas, they chose an obscure section of the clause which made the question of consent moot.  The clause used stated that "Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision."  Therefore the prosecution cannot have the trial remanded because Williams would be tried twice for a crime in which he has already been convicted.

There are two things that really surprise me about this whole case.  First, that Jackson attempted to prosecute Williams in the first place for sodomy, when if he is going to claim that no consent was given, then he should have charged Jackson with rape and assault.  Instead, he charged him with sodomy and sexual misconduct.  For me this proves, not only Jackson's incompetence as a prosecutor, but also that there was insufficient evidence that the sex between Williams and the hotel clerk was not consensual.

Second, the other, and actually most surprising thing, considering that Roy Moore is the head of the Alabama Judicial System, is that the all Republican Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals actual made  a ruling that made sense and followed the law.  Moore's philosophy of justice is that whatever laws he deems appropriate in his head are the only ones that need to be followed, so for a lower court under his authority to make a ruling that actually follows the law is astounding.  Maybe there is hope for Alabama's Republican controlled judicial system after all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

"Alone" starts off with our speaker doing some serious soul-searching. She's feeling pretty isolated, but she thinks she just might have come up with an answer to her problems: people need community in order to get by.  I think this is very important for many minority groups, but is currently especially needed for the LGBT people in the South.  As I was discussing with a friend the other day about the HRC's Project One America Campaign.  My friend said that the most important thing that Alabama LGBT needed was a sense of community.  We currently don't have much of a community besides in larger cities.  Alabama still has a largely rural population, which often feels alone because they need that sense of community,

In "Alone," Angelou says that money won't buy you happiness. Even the very, very rich get lonely. So, don't try to make more money. Make friends instead.  Something I'm attempting do more of.  The speaker of the poem fashions herself into something like a prophet, warning the "race of man" that things aren't about to get any easier anytime soon. The solution is to realize that no one can make it on their own.  We need each other.

When poet, memoirist, screenwriter, film director, jazz singer, dancer, professor, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died in May at the age of 86, I reflected on what an icon America had lost. Maya Angelou helped people feel like they were possible of living great, meaningful lives.

She became, for so many, a symbol of resilience -- the capacity to persist in the face of hardship and adversity -- and beyond that a symbol of boundless creativity. She didn't just survive the significant trauma of her early life; she made something magnificent of that life.  Here are a few quotes a dear friend sent me from Maya Angelou, and I asked him to tell me what those quotes mean to him.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."-- Maya Angelou

This is my friend's favorite quote from Maya Angelou.  As he thought back on his life and the trials he's gone through, He said he remember people who have been there for him.  You may not remember what they said or did to comfort you, reassure you or build you back up, but we will never forget how they made us feel loved, needed and worth their time.  For my friend (and for most of us), these people are our real friends, our real family.  We love them more than they will ever know.

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them."-- Maya Angelou

This is a very wise and powerful statement made by Angelou and one that has been very difficult for my friend and many of us to achieve. We all take a beating by events in our lives, those experiences knock us down, stomp on our hearts and tear at our souls.  We can choose to be conquered by those unfortunate life occurrences or we can overcome them, learn from them and then go help others.

"Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud."-- Maya Angelou

This is so simple and yet we don't often put it into action.  We get so wrapped up in our own problems, our own desires, and our own silly day-to-day meaningless activities that we forget to be there for other people.  I've found that when I help others or reach out to a friend in need or take time with someone to let them know we care and that they are important, we are able to forget our problems, our pain and our worries.  It's all about the "Golden Rule" a dear friend once told me.  Treat others how you'd hope they would treat you.  It's in a small way following the example of Jesus Christ.

"You can see in others what they don't see in themselves and what the world doesn't see in them. We all have that possibility, that potential and that promise of seeing beyond the seeming." -- Maya Angelou

Angelou wrote for her own creative satisfaction, but she was driven by the desire to encourage and inspire people beyond their limitations, whether they were self-imposed, determined by society, or handed down through history. The point of endeavor was, as she wrote, "to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud." She sought to be that rainbow for anyone who could read or hear her work.  I try to so the same through The Closet Professor, as we should each attempt to in our lives.