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Going Where the Spirit Blows Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "Spiritboi" journal:

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February 8th, 2007
12:04 am

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Integrity sermon - February 4
I'm not yet a trained preacher, but I was asked to preach the sermon at the last meeting of Integrity the Anglican/Episcopalian group for Rainbow Folks. I don't think I did too badly, considering.

newboy says that he trusts my preaching, even if I'm a touch too evangelical for him. I thought it was a nice compliment. :)

Living God, known to us in Jesus Christ and by the power of your Spirit, we have come to hear your good news for our lives. We open our hearts to you to receive your gift of transformative power, not only for ourselves, but for all the nations. I take responsibility for what I say; therefore, may the words of my mouth and the thoughts in our hearts bring joy to you, O Lord our tree of life and our redeemer. Amen.

As I was preparing my homily, I was thinking that preaching from the lectionary is a bit like the childhood game where you lie on your back in the summer and find figures in the clouds. You’re never quite sure that what you see is there, even if someone else says, “Oh, I see what you mean!” I want you to know that if you see something different in these texts than I do, that’s ok. I am trying to preach the text as well as I know how, because obviously, Scripture is quite a bit more substantive than those clouds.

Our reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is from the book of Jeremiah. I don’t know if you have any experience reading Jeremiah, but it’s pretty tough going. Jeremiah was just a young guy, probably even younger than me, when God called him to the prophetic ministry, and that’s why, as he said in the readings a couple weeks ago, “I do not know how to speak, I am only a child.” He had to speak some of the most brutal words ever to his people: God’s anger is against you, you are going into exile, it may be too late to repent! The people got so sick of him that they nicknamed him “terror on every side.” Here comes Mr. Doom and Gloom, the people said. Why don’t you just shut up and go home? Maybe that’s why, a few chapters after our reading, he seems to have a nervous breakdown: “Lord, why do you give me such terrible things to say? I love you, but I wish I’d never been born!”

In the middle of all this turmoil, Jeremiah receives a word about people who are blessed, and people who are cursed. The comparison between the blessed and cursed is quite similar to the description in Psalm one: The blessed are like a perpetually green tree planted by a river. Even in times of drought, their fruit will keep growing. Those who are cursed are like a shrub in the desert; there is no time to thrive, only to barely subsist—no matter how deep their roots go, if they can’t find any water, they will die.

Sometimes we in the contemporary church find it difficult to talk about a God who curses people. But simultaneously we know that there is something in the human personality that is alienated and “sick” or "perverse" as Jeremiah’s word says. For all our advances in medicine and psychotherapy and psychiatry (and those disciplines benefit many people), there is still something in our lives that will not mend. For all our introspection we cannot heal ourselves, even though we long for streams of water, some relief, some reassurance that our lives matter and that we’re going to be alright.

When I was growing up, I heard Jeremiah’s word as an exortation to personal repentance and trust in God—turning away from my agenda (that usually had something to do with sexual sin) toward God’s favour—and of course, it is that. But I’d like us to look at the verses surrounding this reading and see if we can’t get a more wholistic sense of what’s going on in this passage.

1 The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars, 2 while their children remember their altars and their sacred poles, F63 beside every green tree, and on the high hills, 3 on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your sin F64 throughout all your territory. 4 By your own act you shall lose the heritage that I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled F65 that shall burn forever.

And directly after the reading comes this revealing bit:

11 Like the partridge hatching what it did not lay, so are all who amass wealth unjustly; in mid-life it will leave them, and at their end they will prove to be fools. 12 O glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, shrine of our sanctuary! 13 O hope of Israel! O Lord! All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you F66 shall be recorded in the underworld, F67 for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord. 14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise. 15 See how they say to me, "Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come!" 16 But I have not run away from being a shepherd F68 in your service, nor have I desired the fatal day. You know what came from my lips; it was before your face. 17 Do not become a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster; 18 Let my persecutors be shamed, but do not let me be shamed; let them be dismayed, but do not let me be dismayed; bring on them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction!

It is not only personal sin that makes the heart sick, causing the forces of death to sweep around us. Curses come—death comes—when the people of God forget to do what we have been called to do. We forget the covenant that God made with Her people—we get riches by injustice rather than listening to the prophets and reformers who call us back to a life of blessedness, of true fruitfulness. We refuse to give up our ugly shrub-like searches for personal gratification and economic gain.

Perhaps, looking at the Gospel reading with this perspective, we can see how terrifying and liberating Jesus’ words to the disciples are:

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you F54 on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 "Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

I’m not going to try and interpret these sayings of Jesus all that much, because I think, in a culture that really is rich beyond the world’s wildest imaginings, that we continuously want to find a way to get around the text: “The poor aren’t blessed by definition, are they? The rich aren’t cursed by definition, are they?” We’d like the world to be much as the old testament people of God saw things: the rich are blessed, the poor are cursed. But what a liberating word for people who are experiencing oppression from the rich people and bureaucratic systems around them: “God is on your side! Even though you are hungry, you will be filled. Even though you weep now, you will laugh. When your calls for justice are scorned, you will see God deal with those who persecute you.” We rich folk like to get comfortable and avoid our complicity in oppressing the poor, because after all, “the poor will get their reward in heaven.”

The hope of heaven is a wonderful thing, but our text doesn’t really give us the option of deferring justice for the poor and oppressed to the next life. Look what Jesus was doing just before he clues his disciples in (with the crowd—the great unwashed—eavesdropping):

17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

Jesus was demonstrating exactly what he said to his disciples afterward—the power of God was present with him to aid the people at the bottom of the latter, the ill, the demonized, the cursed ones that all the good religious folk (who laughed at Jesus and said he had a demon) rejected. Perhaps our unwillingness to get down into the thick of things with those filthy sinners and with the oppression they are under explains why the Church in the Global North has so little experience with healing the sick and casting out demons. Perhaps only the rich have time for relegating real suffering and spiritual struggle to the abstract.

Let me take just a couple more minutes and talk about how all this might apply to us sitting here tonight. I suspect that GLBT people often feel like Jeremiah—“Hey Lord, we’re just trying to speak the good word of justice—don’t let them pick on us, deal harshly with them instead!” We want to include ourselves in the group of people who are true prophets, the ones persecuted not only because we believe we’re preaching the Gospel, but because other peoples’ view of the Gospel allows them to persecute us on account of the Son of Man. There is a time and place for these feelings, for the kind of anger borne of extreme rejection and trauma. If that’s where YOU are in your journey, that’s ok. Be welcome here, and we will be with you and pray with you if you are willing.

But let’s turn to the last reading, briefly, Paul’s argument for the bodily resurrection of Christ. It sometimes escapes me why there are so many people today, even in the Christian Church, who want to say that Jesus Christ is still alive but was not raised bodily from the tomb. I suspect one of the reasons is that if Jesus was raised bodily, that means that the Christians are right and we often decide to persecute other people and religious traditions because “our God got up from the grave, none of your guys did!” Do you see how contrary that attitude is to what we just read in the Gospel of Luke? We have to remember that God, in raising Jesus from the dead, didn’t vindicate any of our religious ideas or social divisions—God vindicated JESUS CHRIST and made him the firstfruits of an entirely new type of creation. Bodily resurrection is important to the Church not least because it grounds our hope in God’s scandalous plans for a future which is not “heaven after we die in the sky by and by” as though we’re spirits floating in the ether. We’re talking about flesh and blood and God acting within history to put to right everything that’s gone wrong. That’s why Paul says that if Christ is not raised our faith is futile. If God didn’t raise Jesus from the dead, than the whole project is off boys and girls and we might as well get on with something more interesting.

Bodily resurrection is important for one more reason: because it boggles our minds and undermines all our pretensions. We presume to identify with the poor, the outcasts, even the prophets, and yet we killed God’s son. Even GLBT folk—the scapegoats of society—know how to persecute prophets and ignore the poor. Marketing people go on and on about the “new gay dollar” and say that most gay white men have a tremendous amount of disposable income—maybe we should think about what that means. So we know that our own hearts are sick, too, not just the social structures around us. We are not blameless victims of social structures—we buy into the same lies that everyone else does. God resurrected his son to show us his faithfulness and guarentee that he has forgiven our sins and promised us a new world where there will be only blessing.

We saw earlier that being blessed is like being a green tree planted by the river. I would like to mention one more tree in the Bible. This tree, from Genesis 2 and Revelation 22, is God’s promise of life and new creation through Jesus Christ:

22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

I speak in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God, who loves us as a Mother would. Amen.

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January 30th, 2007
12:46 am

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Recently I was challenged by a graduate of AUC to give my take on the "homosexuality" passages of the Bible, especially Romans 1. I've taken forever, and she doubts that I'll get back - I don't blame her.

But since I have the next month off, and tonight free, I figured I would try to focus on Romans 1 in order to speak from the heart about it.

Romans 1:18-32 ESV

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.


This text is THE BIGGIE no matter what your position is within the Christian tradition. Some Christian liberals feel very comfortable saying, "We think Paul is wrong, therefore we'll just completely ignore this text." I'm not one of them. The conservative Evangelical position is that Paul argues that homosexuality in all its forms is contrary to the creative intention of God. I don't think this is a good interpretation of the text, but I do believe that Paul condemns specific types of homosexuality - those which are forms of sexual abuse, and those which occurred in the Roman mystery religions - orgies dedicated to gods like Cybele.

From my research, I noticed three things that I consider really important.

1) "For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature." First of all, defining what natural is, even in Paul, is a sticky proposition. Woman on top sexual intercourse would be considered "unnatural" in Paul's time, as would women with short hair (1 Corinthians). Even more interesting though is that there is no need to read the next clause, about the men, as identical with this one. In other words, in the above phrase Paul says more generically, "Women aren't doing what's natural," and then specifies what the men are doing, "burning with lust for each other." If this interpretation is correct, lesbian sex is not even mentioned once in the entire Bible! So why would Paul go out of his way to condemn male homosex and not female?

2) If there is a religious context for Romans 1, than Paul is talking about idolatry and sex in pagan Gentile religions - he says "their women" and the men as though he is talking to the Jewish part of his audience.

3) Do Christians really think that all homosexuals are as nasty as the "twenty one gun sin salute" at the end of chapter 1? And why do they ignore Paul turning the tables at the end of chapter two: "You [Jews] do the same things!" Although the kinds of things that Paul refers to are definitely sin, part of his point seems to be, "Excuse me you judgmental folks, everybody falls short." Some Christians put such emphasis on the idea that homosexual people "exchange" or "choose" their orientation that they forget to read the whole argument.

What does this mean in my life? I was taught that being attracted to men was broken and needed to be healed. I was told that any sexual thoughts I had about guys were lust, that gay men can't be faithful, that they are promiscuous, and that they are disease ridden. I believe that this description of GLBT people is sinful because Christians who describe most homosexuals this way are "bearing false witness against their neighbour."

Most men in our culture will tell you that they don't feel they chose their orientation. I don't care whether one chooses or not, because I believe Paul condemns abusive sex or pagan sexual orgies rather than faithful relationships. I know for myself that Jesus is the number one love of my life - I have no interest in making sex god, nor have I ever been a part of any faith other than Christianity (and I've certainly never been a part of a religious orgy!). I have met men who have been faithful their whole lives 50+ years, and men who have tried with no success to change their feelings about men, even after deliverance, prayer, counselling, beating oneself up...sometimes for thirty years! When nothing works, perhaps we need to consider that maybe we're interpreting Scripture wrong rather than assuming that people don't have enough faith to get well.

In my case, I approached scripture first, and dealt with all the other passages before Romans 1. Although I was in a great deal of pain, I don't think it's fair to say that I really wanted to be gay and that's why I didn't get healed. Once you start down that road, you can't have a conversation without someone feeling defensive.

So there's a start. Hopefully it'll strike up some good conversation!

The two best books that I've read about these issues are:

"The Children are Free" and "Is the Homosexual My Neighbour?"

Current Location: Winnipeg, MB
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December 13th, 2006
10:18 pm

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Gay evangelicals
New York Times Article

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December 10th, 2006
11:42 pm

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I thought this was interesting.
Hippie
You are 28% Rational, 57% Extroverted, 42% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.
You are the Hippie! Characterized by a strong sense of extroversion, irrationality, gentleness, humility, and a faint scent of marijuana, you no doubt frolic through fields preaching peace and free love! Immediately following that, you then frolic to the hospital with herpes! You are probably either very spiritual or needlessly paranoid about "the man", like most hippies, as a result of your focus on intuition and feelings over cold, brutal logic. You probably enjoy poetry, especially beatnik ultra-liberal crap about how horrible fascism is, even though your suburbanized, sheltered idea of "fascism" is having to pay two dollars per gallon at the gas pump. You are also very, very social. And like any hippie who would have no qualms about hitchiking across the country just to meet some interesting people, you also love to interact with others, even complete strangers. Though I highly doubt they love to interact with you! Because we know most any hippie is peace-loving and humble, it stands to reason that you, as well, are terribly gentle and humble, almost to the point of revulsion. Your carefree attitude of peace and harmony is probably very, very sickening to realists or cynics or anyone who isn't a hippie, to tell the truth. In short, your personality is defective because you are overly emotional, extroverted, gentle, and humble--thus making you an annoying hippie. Now go do your drugs and have sex with filthy bearded men in tye dye shirts.


To put it less negatively:

1. You are more INTUITIVE than rational.

2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.

Compatibility:

Your exact opposite is the Sociopath.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Televangelist, and the Robot.

*

*

If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!





My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:


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You scored higher than 20% on Rationality

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You scored higher than 58% on Extroversion

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You scored higher than 48% on Brutality

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You scored higher than 37% on Arrogance
Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Current Location: Winnipeg, MB
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November 30th, 2006
10:40 pm

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Nanowrimo Winner!
I have just won the 2006 National Novel Writing Month Competition by being one of several thousand people to write 50 000 words or more in 30 days.

GO ME! :D

Current Location: Winnipeg, MB
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October 30th, 2006
08:55 pm

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Hey hey hey!
1) Jon and I are now legally married, as of October 15.

2) My Philosophy course and History course are done. I'll get the marks within a couple weeks, I think. :)

3) National Novel Writing Month starts Nov. 1 at 0 hundred hours. The goal is to write a novel of at least 50 K words in 30 days. That's 1667 words a day at least. It should be fun. Check out the website at www.nanowrimo.org. Wish Jon and me luck!

In peace,
Rob

Current Location: Winnipeg, MB
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October 6th, 2006
02:20 pm

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Gay rights
"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines

We would like to know who really believes in gay rights on LiveJournal. There is no bribe of a miracle or anything like that. If you truly believe in gay rights, then repost this and title the post as "Gay Rights." If you don't believe in gay rights, then just ignore this.
Thanks.

Current Location: Winnipeg, MB
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September 11th, 2006
12:35 am

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Your English Skills:

Grammar: 100%
Punctuation: 100%
Spelling: 80%
Vocabulary: 80%

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September 5th, 2006
05:34 pm

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A welcome challenge - food for thought
Re: The challenge that my anon. friend from AUC posed to me about homosexuality. I came across a quote that might serve as a way to think about the hermeneutics of the discussion:

'What one believes about the nature of "male" and "female," masculinity and femininity, identity and alterity, will affect how one thinks about homosexuality. That is, what one makes of and how one explains same-sex desire will have clear enough practical implications for [gays and lesbians]...[and] for heterosexuals, too--a great deal, as it turns out. For each relationship is correlative, reversible: Every claim about the supposedly "biological" nature of homosexuality has the effect of naturalizing sex roles. And every discussion of humosexulity as an "exception" to the rule points to a *rule* for how it is that "normal" men and women are supposed to be and act. In the regime of nature, as in the prisonhouse of language, those on both sides of the law are subject to its tyranny.'
(Roger N. Lancaster, _The Trouble With Nature_, p. 32.)

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05:33 pm

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Five questions meme
RULES
1 - Leave a comment, saying you want to be interviewed.
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

I'm only anxious about my schoolwork, that's all.

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