Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Does God really speak to us?

I saw a short clip from some mega church today, where the preacher was shouting at the people (aka abusing them) saying that God told her that they had no right to question the pastor because they were dumb sheep. They had to obey the pastor's every word no matter what they thought of it.

Yes God told her that.

That's a rather extreme example and I probably don't need to comment on it as such. But the issue really comes down to "God told me".

I always thought I could hear God speaking sometimes in a way that was very clear - not audible, but in a way that cut through the chatter in my head and told me how much he loved me and it would all be OK.

But like so many christians, I became obsessed with "hearing" God speak so that I could be sure that everything I did was His will. I thought every failure in life was because I didn't hear Him, so I was just bumbling along wondering if what I thought was God really was him. And yet, if I had to be honest, the only thing I could say I really "heard" were the words of love and comfort.

This was incredibly frustrating as I was obviously a second class christian. So what about those who claimed God actually told them clearly what to do, where to go, and basically everyday instructions for life?

I ended up doing a little survey amongst my online community about how they "heard" God, without using any religious language or bible verses to describe it. Some couldn't describe it without using christianese, which was rather telling, and most admitted that they felt closest to God through nature/creation and sort of went with what they felt. Once the religious jargon was stripped away, it seems most people just fudge along - except for the few who claimed to actually hear God telling them stuff.

I decided to look a little more objectively at those who claimed that level of communication and look at the fruit of their life and the things they communicated. Without any exceptions, they left a trail of destruction behind them. Broken relationships, gossip, manipulation and control, you name it, they are walking disasters, often with deep seated mental illness hiding behind the religious facade. I found this could be extended through to big name ministries, the so called prophets and apostles, the big time pastors, all who spoke the words of God.

So meanwhile, what's really going on?

I read a lot of stuff about the psychology of this and tried to put it into a spiritual perspective. At our core, we are spiritual beings desperately in need of love. We are created for love, from love, but if we don't recognise it and "get it" we do whatever we can to get whatever resembles it, no matter what it looks like or who else it affects. The more desperate we are for love, the more our hearts and minds will create and manipulate to get it, or whatever they can that helps to numb that need.

Hearing from God falls neatly into that category. I was absolutely desperate to know that God loves me, and perhaps because of my passion for integrity as well, I heard Him telling me how much he loves me, but nothing else. In hindsight, I'm so glad I didn't start to hear more than that!

I've come to the conclusion that what people hear is no more than their own hearts, but shaped and coloured by their paradigms. Paradigms that allow them to expect God to talk to them like the prophets of old claimed. Paradigms that tell them they will be blessed and loved by God if they speak his very words to people. Paradigms that are built on religious assumptions.

So where does that leave us? Personally, I think God does speak to us, but not like that. I look at who he is, in all he has created, and hear his love and peace in that. I "hear" my mind say its OK, I'm loved. I hear my heart speak truths about love, joy, peace, acceptance, because that's what I want to hear.

It comes down to integrity and honesty with ourselves. Are we so desperate that we aren't prepared to stop manipulating God and people so we can see what our hearts really want and need? Those who hear God speaking harsh judgement and damnation - are they just projecting their own fears, subconsciously taking others into their own hell?

I think God is one with us, we are inextricably united, so in a way we can't help but "hear" him, but religion blinds us to the fact that we ARE love and that we already have all we need simply because "I am". If we hear God telling us what to do, where to go, what scriptures to read, what to say to people, we are actually hearing our own desperate hearts, scrambling to find our true identity. When we are honest enough with ourselves to recognise these needs, we begin to see that everything we need is in us - I am! God doesn't speak to us - our heart's fears and desires, coloured by whatever our greatest needs are, speak to us. And if our paradigm is based in christian religion, then the voice of God will sound like that.

In the end I realised I don't need to hear God's voice, simply because "I am", and I'm learning to live loved, and because of that, I hear and see and taste and experience so much more than a mere voice in my head.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Christian guide to loving gays

I just watched a video of an interview between Steve McVey and an "ex-gay" guy, Willy somebody...

It was really interesting, mostly because of Steve being a "hyper grace" teacher (of course there is no such thing as too much grace and I don't think Steve goes far enough at all, but that's another story).

The gist of Willy's testimony was basically, after being brought up a highly performance orientated christian, who's whole life and acceptance by God was based on how well he behaved, he discovered God's unconditional grace and love and it changed his life and filled him so full of love that he simply lost his need for romantic/sexual relationships with men and now only saw them as brothers. Indeed he now sees people as beyond male or female and loves the spirit.

Now that is something I totally agree with. We should be loving the spirit of every person equally no matter what their sexuality or gender. But there was one huge glaring hole in the interview that was neatly ignored (well a few actually...).

He never mentioned if he still found himself attracted to men at all, or if he was now attracted to women instead, and Steve neglected to ask this. But even more interesting is I can only assume he is now asexual! It seems he has completely decided to ignore and repress
something that is intrinsically part of every human. He (and many others like him) have decided that sex is simply an earthly worldly thing and ultimately, living in God's love exceeds that physical love in every way, thus making it sort of redundant.

I totally get that. I used to think that myself, and in some way still do. I think it really is a mark of spiritual growth to be able to see beyond the sexual.

BUT... God created us as physical sexual beings. We are intrinsically sexual and even the bible has lots of romantic/sexual imagery relating to our relationship to God and each other. Every culture holds romantic sex as something sacred that expresses deep spiritual truths and unites us in deep profound ways. To be asexual really is a rare "gift", if it can even be called a gift. Perhaps for some the journey to deeper spirituality can be hindered by earthly sexuality so they genuinely manage to leave it behind. But the longer I live, the more I see this as a very, very rare thing.

So basically the idea, according to Willy and Steve, is to be gracious and loving to those of us who embrace the sin so that eventually God's love will fill us to the point where we no longer desire it. We don't condone the sin/lifestyle but unconditionally love the person.

There were many comments on the video thread. Everybody had their opinions about how this worked, and of course there was always the assumption that being LGBT is a sin that must be treated like any other. There was even a long discussion by some people about "gayness" being a physical neurological condition, which medical science is supporting now, but then they assumed that it was a physical abnormality that needed healing like any other disease.

But it always comes back to the assumptions that any variation or departure from the "one man - one woman" doctrine is sin. The bible says so and that's it, end of story. That is the root of the issue for christians (and fundies of all persuasions). Its really pointless discussing anything outside of that premise.

The bible, no matter what we think of it, has been the source of more atrocities, hatred, bigotry and evil the world has ever seen. Sure, there are good things in it if you choose to see them (and many have and do), but we still just don't get it. We cannot "live by the bible", it doesn't work, because we will forever twist it to make it say what we want - always - and we are no better now than we were 1000 years ago. We can pull out the nice bits, but we can't even agree on what the nice bits are!!

So all these patronising christians saying we love our LGBT brothers and sisters, and we'll simply pour out God's love and let him sort out their sin - can take a running jump.

Being LGBT is not "sin". All that matters is that we live, with all we are and do, as love. If I have a loving caring relationship with another man, that brings the "fruit" of love to each of us, and everyone around us, then that's all that matters. If anything we do brings love, then keep doing it.

I challenge any christian to explain to me how having a loving, caring romantic/sexual relationship with someone of the same sex is wrong.

Well??

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Project!!


Most of you may have heard about my Silent Gays website and some of you may even be following the Silent Gays Facebook page - thanks so much if you are (*hugs*).

So its time to explain the big picture, because I'd love to have as many people on board as possible. I'm passionate about this and feel there is a huge need to be met! So here's the (drum roll):

Silent Gays Project (trumpets, applause, screaming adulation...)

The Silent Gays website is the central location for resources and general info. Silent Gays Facebook is where the action happens - the latest news, articles, inspiration etc.

Here's where it gets interesting - I want to facilitate and inspire "silent gays" everywhere to get together, to talk and love and support and inspire and cry and believe in each other and BE God's love to this world.

I've started a "secret" Facebook group (Gaylent Sighs) as a safe, private place for people to share their hearts in a loving and safe environment. Its also a place where people can organise small group get-togethers.

These groups will be around 6 people max, in "public" places - cafes, bars etc - so there is no hint of anything religious or "churchy" (home groups can be intimidating and triggering for a lot of people).
The basic premises for the groups are:
  • The meetings are NOT to be counseling sessions. Everyone attending is on equal ground, the goal being to listen to each other’s hearts, discuss problems, share burdens and explore religious assumptions and paradigms that underlie the issues.
  • Every person’s spiritual journey must be respected. The process of dismantling religion to find spiritual and personal integrity can be a long difficult process. The group’s purpose is to support each other on that journey while exploring and challenging traditions and religious assumptions.
  • The Gaylent Sighs Facebook group is the central focus for meetings. People can look for others in their area in the group and discuss issues, share their concerns, ask for advice etc.
  • This isn’t a dating service! Although relationships can start anywhere, we must be respectful of everyone’s emotional state and vulnerability.
My book, Its Life Jim... will be an integral part of the project as it will hopefully inspire people to be real, ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers.

Of course, I need MONEY to help it along, so I have a GoFundMe campaign set up raking in the filthy lucre for my spurious project. Please feel obliged to give me as much as you can!!


Seriously though, I do need some descent backing to get the marketing running on a serious level as well as enough to cover a first print run of books (around $1000 to kick off).

I'm so grateful to everyone who has supported and encouraged me this far. Lets get this thing on the road!!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

In Time

Time is loose in tight sort of way
Today, after yesterday
Lunch, after breakfast
Waiting for today
Remembering tomorrow
Before yesterday has had its way
Tired in anticipation
Of what last week held

Its Monday already?
But it seems like it was just Tuesday!

I could walk to straighten out time
Steady steps pace my mind
Each breath reminds
Sequence, consequence
I am divine, but waking still
And listening to time
This moment that is no point in time
That cannot be called now in time
Because it has slipped in time
Before it can be named

Fluid time, never still, never sleeps
A roller coaster dragging precipitous inclines
To be released with screams
Into quantum dreams
Looking for a cat in the box
And a black hole full of worms

Another slip into sleep
And tomorrow will be today.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Mighty Israel, Part 2

I had a lot of interesting feedback from my last blog and noticed one very consistent thread with all of the comments: none of them spoke of the the God that Jesus loved - none of them spoke of his most basic teachings. None of them spoke of Paul's declarations of unconditional love. All their comments were based on Old Testament scripture. I made this comment on a Facebook thread and thought it may help expand the issue somewhat.


I feel I need to make very clear my views on the Old Testament, especially in relation to Israel's national psyche - it's religious paradigm that governs all of its moral judgments.

Again, I am not judging individual people. Your average Israeli is just like you and me, caring and loving, wanting the best for their friends and family (hopefully).

The problem for me was always the gross discrepancy between the character of God that Jesus and Paul portray and the God that the OT displays. I totally understand the traditional viewpoints about the purpose of the Jews etc, but ultimately I simply couldn't correlate the psychopathic horrors of a god that would demand others to commit genocide on a massive scale. I also simply cannot get my head or heart around God picking one barbaric tribe to be his "chosen" ones and make a bloody covenant with them based on performance, adherence to complex rules and regulations, and a fear that we could accidentally offend him and get zapped.

I have studied and read deeply as a christian for over 40yrs, even went to bible college, all in an effort to understand all these complexities. The only real answer I ever got, after endless questioning and digging, was that His ways are perfect and we have to trust His sovereign purposes - God is God and in the end he can do what He wants, we just have to have faith that He has our best intentions.

In the end, however, that just doesn't cut it. You see, to make it all "work", to give consistency and integrity to Gods character and heart, I had to turn my brain off, and abandon rational thought, logic, compassion, heart and the very essence of love that He has put deep in my heart - the love that Paul describes in 1 Cor 13.

I began to see that the entire OT was simply one particular ancient tribe trying to make sense of life and spirituality. They are writings of struggle, power plays, loss, victory, hatred, self justification, barbarism, cultic practices - all wrapped in a deeply held belief that they were the only nation on the earth that God had any interest in - that God actually despised every other person he had ever created and demanded that this one tribe annihilate the rest.

No matter how much I tried to work through the analogy, metaphor, the hidden purposes of God and the deep mysteries that point to Christ, the glaring facts remained - if the stories in the OT are true, then that God is the most horrific psychopathic monster imaginable, and we have been brainwashed to believe He is loving and caring.

So for me, we have been utterly duped, slowly and inexorably over centuries, to believe in a schizophrenic God through the use of incredibly complex doctrines that are MAN MADE. We have created a god in our own frustrated, distorted image - fickle, angry, abusive, conditional, narcissistic, and yet somehow, who loves us.

I cannot with any integrity whatsoever believe in that God. If He is love (as New Testament points out), then the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its nothing more than an ancient tribe justifying its crap. Sure there are some great bits in it that actually do express His real heart, when those people caught the occasional glimpse of it.


No, the Old Testament is NOT God speaking to us, its NOT His holy word, its NOT the expression of His character or heart.

I now find it completely and utterly offensive to the very core of my being to think that God commanded ruthless, brutal murder and genocide - no matter how much theology you care to wrap it up in.

God IS love - if what we read doesn't fit that, then its not God - end of story.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Mighty Israel


I'll preface this blog by saying emphatically that I'm not dissing Jewish people.  They are all wonderful individuals uniquely created and loved just like us all. This blog concerns a deep national paradigm. All nations have some sort of national mind set or paradigm that overlays individual paradigms, creating very clear national identities and stereotypes. 

Some of my comments here are very provocative, but I feel they are worth the observation. Again, not as an insult to individual Jews, but as a very clear rebuttal of the Israeli mindset over military actions.

It is of course, entirely possible that I'm sprouting crap, but its how I see it, and I think it has a lot of merit.


Despite protestations from many that the nation of Israel is a political entity these days and religion doesn't colour their attitudes, Prime Minister Netanyahu and many members of his cabinet make no secret of their belief that "the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers." In his speech to Congress on May 24, 2011, Netanyahu emphatically stated: "This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one god... no distortion of history could deny the 4,000-year-old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.

The Torah very clearly states that Israel obtained this land through complete and utter annihilation of every previous resident. Apparently God instructed them to commit genocide on a massive scale, and even punished Israel if they didn't kill off every last man, woman and child.

However we try to colour this with theology and doctrines, we end up with the fact that they absolutely believed they were God's one and only true chosen nation and they must occupy those lands as laid out in the Torah by whatever means.

This has been the central issue ever since. They are a nation whose history is steeped in merciless bloodshed and genocide - something that is laid out very clearly in their writings.

So here's the problem... When they were tortured and killed by the millions over the years, by many nations, and yes, especially Hitler, its not really surprising, considering their own actions. I absolutely abhor any murder, and Hitler's actions were amongst the worst ever known, and I feel sick when I think about the horrors so many innocent Jews suffered.

But as they say "karma's a bitch". Harsh you say? Anti-semitic? Why? Its a simple fact, that once again, even their own writings would agree with - there are numerous scriptures about reaping what you sow.

So obviously, my main point is about Gaza and the Palestinians. Ultimately, Israel are forever reaping what they sowed. The nation founded in horrific bloodshed in the belief that a psychopathic God told them to do it, is getting upset about another nation who is simply sick of their never ending arrogant assumption that the land is theirs.

You can interpret all their scriptures in mystical allegory about God's perfect ways, holiness and righteousness, stories of how evil those other nations were and the lessons God was teaching us through those actions, but like it or not, it all comes down to the fact that their God told them to commit massive, ruthless genocide.

Let's stop supporting this attitude, just like we condemn any other nation that acts inhumanely. Let's love every individual Israeli - show them the true nature of God - unconditional love. The sooner they realise this, the sooner they will stop reaping the consequences of their heritage. And I would lay odds on that the Palestinians will respect them for it.

Love wins, always, without fail. ALL middle east nations seem to be very lacking in this simple piece of wisdom.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

An open letter to Africa

This is not a racist post, so please don't take it that way!

Nigeria, Uganda and all the others - you know who you are.

Shame on you - Yes, SHAME ON YOU!

You who were ruthlessly abducted into lives of slavery - 10 million of you!
You who were tortured, beaten, murdered, neglected and abused.
You who were dragged away from your native lands - your homes - your roots.
You who were treated like scum, unloved and not even human.

Those who did this to you had a biblical mandate.
There are many scriptures that irrefutably proved God endorses slavery.
There are no scriptures that say men should NOT have slaves.
God saw that your race was inferior. The bible says so.
White men were doing God's will by keeping you in slavery - it was where you belonged.
It was your lot in life according to scripture.

So what changed?
What did those brave men use to convince the religious and state powers they were wrong?

They used God's unconditional heart of love.
They used basic human morality.
They appealed to the heart of love and compassion that is in all of us.


Love won, and you were freed. It was a long hard battle, and it still is for many.
Thank God for His precious love despite what the bible says.

So tell me,
Why do you judge and condemn LGBT people, when you have known the depth of God's unconditional love already? You experienced God's incredible mercy, despite what the bible says.

LGBT people face the same issue!

You say the bible supports your views. That God hates LGBT people, they are abominations, less than human. Sound familiar? It should! That's what they said about you!

So make your choice - extend the same love that was shown to you, despite what the bible appears to say, or be prepared to confront your own hypocrisy, because confront it you will, eventually, whether you like it or not.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Theory of Everything Part 4

Over the years I wrote some blogs on my theory of everything (parts 1 to 3 obviously). Its a couple of years since the last one so I thought it might be fun to sift through my current views on this subject.

I'm one of those unfortunates who wants to know everything, right now! Anyway, that's not going to happen any time soon so I have to settle for wild guesses and assumptions based on the ponderings of other crazy people and scientists and philosophers.

If you've kept up with my blogs over the last
few years, you'll see a very pronounced departing from traditional christianity, wrestling with the most foundational issues such as the relevance of the bible, who Jesus really was, the nature of God - you know the sort of thing, nothing major.

One area that I've been quietly looking at for some time now is the link between science and spirituality, especially in the area of quantum physics - a subject that is guaranteed to completely scramble and fry any unsuspecting brain cells you may have left unatended.

The most astonishing thing is that the physics side of this isn't the made up ramblings of some wild eyed, mad scientist. It's established, accepted, everyday quantum physics that people with enormous brains discuss over breakfast.

Here's my take on things so far. I'll try to keep it as simple as possible, which is all I can do anyway. I'll also assume that I haven't completely misunderstood the scientific concepts.

Quantum physics states that everything in our universe, when we take it down to its most fundamental (quantum) level, consists of nothing more than strings of vibrating energy. These strings vibrate at certain frequencies and combine in resonance with others to assemble into higher level particles, which in turn assemble into more complex structures, becoming atoms and so on up the scale - from micro to macro.

So in reality we are nothing more than vibrating energy. That's very simplistic when we consider how many gazillions of atoms we are made of, let alone how many quantum particles and "strings". Just as astounding is that the relative distance between these particles (at the quantum level) is huge, meaning that an atom for example is actually about 99% nothing!

A real picture of a hydrogen atom!
But here's the thing - at the quantum level, physics as we understand it, totally changes. Time and space don't behave the same at all. Particles can exist in multiple places simultaneously, they can affect each other no matter where they are in the universe. Did you know that electrons whizzing around the nucleus of an atom keep changing their orbit? But they don't move to a new orbit, they simply disappear and reappear in the new orbit instantaneously - teleport as it were (*looks perplexed and scratches head)! Its the stuff of Sci Fi, except its for real.

If all that wasn't enough, there is a growing school of thought that the physical universe is actually a construct of our combined consciousness and doesn't exist at all in the way we think it does, and there's some freaky dudes that have a lot of maths to support the idea!

So what does this have to do with God and spirituality? Apparently, at an even deeper level, some theoretical physicists (who have been search for the "unified field theory" - the thing that generates the strings of energy in the first place and is the fundamental cause of everything), are thinking that the unified field is actually universal consciousness - thus producing a cross over into spirituality that has a "scientific" basis.


This may all seem a but far fetched but I'm mulling over these things and watching mind numbing videos about quantum physics, and thinking about the universal nature of God being love and the source and sustainer of everything. We are simply small expressions of God, made of the same stuff and part of each other in the same way. The energy we are made of vibrates in harmony with all other energy, but our level of consciousness allows us to interact in ways that can enhance or destroy that synchronisation with God and the rest of the universe.


We can then put those ideas into "religious" language to produce a set of meaningful psychological, sociological and spiritual tools to provide purpose, health, peace, joy etc to life as we know it. It seems every religion has scattered through its beliefs and doctrines, recognition of these basic "fundamentals", although some religious constructs can be more damaging than helpful.

I'm still chewing over the emotional and "heart" side of the whole thing, but I can see plenty of scope in this to cover just about everything really. 



So, umm, yeah - the Theory of Everything? How the hell should I know?? This sounds pretty good for now!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gay types of stereo

OK, stupid title, but it got your attention. If I just put "gay stereotypes" you would probably have just clicked on past.

This is kind of an awkward topic, mostly because I don't mean to, or want to, offend anyone in the LGBT community. I'm talking about stereotypes, so it helps to also remember I'm generalising. I am of course, targeting this blog at everyone, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, including categories such as intersex and other cultural groups like Fa'afafine), "straight" and anyone in between.

You may hear someone say "I have a gay friend!". Your brain probably immediately displays a picture of a rather effeminate looking guy, tight pants etc, or maybe a large drag queen, or a slightly awkward looking transsexual woman. Yeah, the stereotypes.

We all have mind images that pop up unbidden for stereotypes in every aspect of life. Its how our mind works. Part of the way we process and store information is by internal association and labeling. Its unconscious and is a very important factor in mental health.

The problem is when our internal labels are created by incorrect or biased data - data that has been slowly determined by our paradigms since the day we are born. This includes family, peers, culture, religion, societal ethics and morals, and a million other influences.

The problem with the whole LGBT issue is complex, far more so than religion and culture realise.

Firstly, there is actually no clear cut "gay or straight" categories. The term LGBT hardly does it justice! In reality, there are sliding scales for gender identity, gender expression, sexual attraction and physical gender. Although there are a few minor variations in how this is presented - it looks like this.

Secondly, everybody has different personality traits - quiet, loud, introspective, extravert, blunt, rude, gentle, cautious, sensitive, you name it! Strangely enough, this applies to LGBT people as well. So you get those who are at different points on the scale (as mentioned above) combined with the usual mix of personalities and you get a small percentage of really "out there", bold, happy, up front and loud gays and lesbians, drag queens, and everything we use to stereotype them with. Why? Because they are the ones who, no matter what their sex/gender orientation is, will always be seen. They are the ones at the Pride parades and Mardi Gras, just being who they are - just the same as anyone else who is passionate and outgoing (especially with "causes" that affect them personally) will be the visible, vocal ones.

Thirdly, let's consider the statistics of the number of people who are LGBT. As I said above, we are all somewhere on the spectrum so it makes getting real stats extremely difficult. Heaps of research has been done on this over the years, and all of it differing depending on demographics, especially the type of questions asked and environment (physical/emotional/spiritual etc) where the research was taken. From all the research done, it seems we could generalise somewhere around 15% of the population are far enough towards the LGBT end of things to fit that category. Bear in mind that some surveys asked much broader questions about same sex experiences in ways that allowed the participants to express feelings and encounters that bypassed their own stereotypes, so they felt free to report experiences they would otherwise have never spoken of. Some of these surveys revealed up to 25% of the population.

We may never know the true figure simply because of the paradigms and biases associated with the whole subject.

With all that taken into consideration, we see that it's a minority of LGBT people who have helped us create the stereotypes. In reality, most LGBT people are quietly going about their business just like everyone else. They aren't effeminate, or drag queens etc. They are often "in the closet" and you would have no idea! They aren't drug addicts, abuse victims, sex addicts or satanists. They don't have an "agenda" to recruit your children or take over government or anything else. Many have  wonderful loving families and the best upbringing you could hope for. Many are pillars of society and church. You just don't know.

You may be in a room with 10 guys - the chances are good that 2 of them are LGBT.

Think about that.

You are in a church meeting of say 200 people - maybe 20 to 40 of them have experienced same sex attraction and enjoyed finding expression for something that is deeply part of them, but have suffered enough guilt, fear and shame to never mention it.

The stereotypes we create end up destroying our efforts to understand and look past the things that disturb our paradigms. We have to realise that stereotypes, no matter what they are associated with, are just that, and they do not, nor cannot represent the truth.

This is something I had to work through myself, despite being gay! I was so influenced by the christian paradigm that I had internalised homophobia, reinforced by working in reperative therapy for years. I still sometimes battle with the stereotypes imprinted in my mind. But that's another story!

There is no such thing as just "gay or straight" - there are only people, with a myriad of subtle to extreme sexual and gender characteristics, who simply want the freedom to live with integrity. Until then, we have to talk about it, loudly, and persistently!


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Jims Awesome Cult Watch

On a whim and rush of adrenalin (or the last vestiges of gin coursing through our veins from the night before), myself and a friend decided to check out the grand opening celebrations of Destiny Church's new "City of God" in Auckland.

For my overseas friends - Destiny is a large pentecostal church in New Zealand that has had its fair share of flack for many years. Over the last year or so their numbers have been dropping and then last December, the leader's right hand man did a runner and opened his own church just down the road.

So anyway, the pastor, Brian Tamaki, made himself a bishop a couple of years back (for real) and of course refers to himself as an apostle. Most of the elders are family and he runs a VERY tight ship.

I've only ever read the odd article about them and seen the news reports, and must confess I haven't even read the book that was written about him last year by Peter Lineham, who I know, very slack of me, sorry Peter!

To be fair, they actually do a lot of good work in the community and have great programs for helping the poor and needy, and their motivation certainly seems pure.

So we found comfy seats, which, by the way, were "movie theater" seats - plush thick purple padded things with armrest, just no drink/popcorn holder - and settled in for the show for around 1000 people. And what a show it was!!

Every cliche in the book, the loud pumped up rock/R&B worship music, the pep talks and emotional dynamics (which I know soooo well cos I used to lead worship myself). The stage is a wonder to behold with the country's largest LED screen in place extending 24meters across the back of the stage, floor to ceiling, and very impressive light shows to complete the polished performance.


Then there were the offerings - yep, 3 all up. Tithes AND gifts (which they passed around the seats for, and a special seed faith offering which everyone had to take to the front of the church and put in a couple of big baskets, which were then lifted up in the air and prayed over.

There was a performance (a Maori Kapa Haka) put on by the Destiny school kids (yes, they have their own school) that told us how amazing the school is and how it was only so good because of Brian.

We had Stan Walker singing beautifully, and finally the Bishop (no one calls him pastor, let alone Brian), gave us the sermon. Apparently God specifically told him to not preach what he had planned but instead to give a very blunt message on "Wolves in the fold" which he informed he was "winging it" at the last minute - despite the fact that the big LED screen operator seemed to amazingly anticipate his subject headings and scripture references while he was preaching.

So anyway, the whole point of the sermon seemed to be damage control after the recent split, with very strong and unambiguous references to wolves coming among the sheep to destroy them. There was plenty of out of context and misquoted scripture, lots of mocking and patronising, large servings of emotional manipulation and fear mongering, and most importantly, unquestioning and unswerving allegiance to himself and the elders.

This was preached in no uncertain terms and he said that only he had the most powerful anointing to discern these wolves, and the elders had the next most powerful. Everyone else were just silly happy sheep who couldn't be trusted to discern these things for themselves and had to completely trust the leaders, who would decide who are wolves and who are sheep. No one could be trusted and he even encouraged wives to not trust their husbands and to be prepared to ignore him if he started getting slack about going to church and his allegiance to the Bishop.

This was all the most wonderful display of a narcissist in full flight. Incredible control and manipulation through fear and mistrust, using the indigenous cultural values of the Maori and pacific islanders to threaten the breakdown of their families if they didn't follow his advice.

It was the kind of thing you don't really believe unless you actually hear it. My only hope is that it will not survive the recent split and the people will come to their senses and see the depth of this guys deception. I think that at the heart of even his best social work initiatives is the need to feed his narcissism, to be held and worshiped in his position of complete power, to have the adulation of those he can coerce to give him the love that will never satisfy.

We can only hope that the fallout, when it eventually comes, will be small and those who end up hurt won't fall for the same thing again.

Update:
There is also a special ring that men can buy for $600 when they become one of Brian's spiritual sons. They sign a covenant pledging loyalty to him.