Friday, 27 February 2015

New Book Website

My publisher has just launched the new publicity site for my book.

It's the focal point for all the marketing and I'll be updating the blog and media section regularly.

Check it out!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Losing our lands, gaining the world

I was talking to someone the other day about land rights, here and abroad, the middle east, all that stuff. You know what its like. The endless to and fro about who was there first, the injustices and horrors.

I thought about the ISIS stuff, the christians, and all the other religious wars and persecutions. I wondered about the Jews claim to their God given homeland, the cries of the Palestinians, the Ukrainians, and all the other eastern Europe conflicts. The aboriginals, the American Indians, on and on through history.

So much is tied up in national identity and its relationship to the land. Humanity has what I would call an obsession with the land being integral with their identity. The history of countless generations becoming an almost physical part of the soil they stand on. Every nation on earth has this.

Countless "superior" nations have invaded and conquered weaker nations and tribes, dislodging them from their native lands, often cruel, and even genocidal. Often those earlier nations did the same with even earlier cultures and tribes. It's a cycle that humanity keeps going through.

History proves that man learns nothing from history. This seems to be a prime example. People tromping over each other, claiming some superior reason or right - often a "reclaiming" of old lands that are their heritage, as if who they are is inherent in the particular patch of earth they "own".

Sure, there are nations that "get it" in the sense that no one owns the land. But they aren't that common any more. Many of them have been forced into the same "ownership" mentality.

How sad that humanity keeps thinking that anything outside of themselves - external to them - is of such value that they are willing to kill for it!

I understand the spiritual connections to the land, but as a species we keep elevating that connection to our personal and corporate identity. We think that if we don't stand together with our tribe on our "ancestral" land (and that goes for any country/nation/tribe/culture) we will lose all meaning and hope.

What a waste!

Seriously, it's a tragic delusion that focuses on the external, the material, as if that is what makes us who we are.

Patriotism - what an absolute ripoff! Yes, I love the country I live in and all the benefits I have as part of that culture, but patriotism is a deep "us and them" arrogance. It says we are better, stronger, nicer, happier, we have better morals, better government. It separates into tribes and build walls. It stands in defiance against humanity's unique unity.

My country is no more special than yours. I love where I live, but its not my identity. We hold ideals as if they magically make us better. We think our "rich" heritage actually means something. Sure its interesting, but its not WHO WE ARE.

America, the Middle East, ALL of us. We are humanity, we are one! This isn't some hippie drug induced dream - its the only way forward. No religion will ever provide a solution, no political system will make a difference. Only our determination to break apart those paradigms and actually see each other as loving beautiful people, will make any difference.

How do we do this? How do we actually get to this point? We simply start doing it. We stop being patriotic, one individual at a time. We stop looking for our identity in others, in our environment, in our culture, in our family. We still love them, but they are not US. It's not an unachievable pipe dream. Its as simple as letting go and choosing to see with eyes that love - exercising empathy and compassion, over and above our obsession for cultural identity.

It's simply living loved.

Monday, 2 February 2015

What am I?

I've been chatting with one of my besties about just tearing apart the traditions of religion, the bible, the church and even the basic premises of christianity, but not putting forward a positive alternative.

It's something that I often worry about, and I must confess there is a lot of satisfaction in attacking that which has caused myself, and countless others, far more damage than we realised.

I'm still a recovering fundamentalist with a lot of deep hurts and a lifetime of cognitive dissonance to work through. I have had to face issues of faith head on, and be (hopefully) honest and open enough to go wherever that leads.

I can only speak out of my own paradigm, and share what has been involved with becoming aware of that paradigm and all its implications. It's a long journey, and I've been encouraged to share that journey by many who have been inspired or can relate in some way to it.

So these days I get asked if I'm a christian... what are my beliefs... why don't you spell out what you are trying to say...

But I can't answer these questions, because trying to define who I am in these terms is a major part of the problem. We are so hooked on certainty, to the point that we will kill to maintain it; the idea of not having a clear label to categorise and assess everyone with is completely untenable.

I just can't offer another religious platform to replace what I'm tearing down. Unless you can call my bottom line of love a religion - which I guess it is in a way!

So here it is - you can label me with this if you want, if you can put a name to it, its the best I've got so far. Are you ready for it? Its really complicated and full of profound depth! OK? Deep breath...

Love everyone, no matter what.

Now if you can fit your own religious constructs and paradigms around that and maintain that bottom line, then we are doing well. Believe what you want! But if that's not the bottom line then your beliefs are detrimental to humanity. After 58 years, its all I'm left with. And you know what? It feels good! It's awesome actually, to be able to let go and let love be the ONLY "rule".

Some say its too idealistic and simplistic and doesn't relate to reality - that we need complex moralities, belief systems, legal systems... we can't be trusted, we are corrupt at the core, we are incapable of anything good, we always resort to our ego driven selfishness, and on and on with why love just isn't enough.

I call bullshit! Yeah, it means we have to stop, use some self control and take responsibility for our actions and thoughts. Sure its a process, its a journey. We can make it simple or complicated. Most importantly we can BE love to everyone else. And when we can't, we can receive love until we CAN give it.

Have we ever thought that instead of judging and condemning, demanding justice, rights, taking offense and wanting retribution, we should simply encourage each other to see love in everything? Seriously - if we simply challenged each other to live with empathy - if we helped each other to find a solution based in love - if we assessed every situation in life with "is it love?", "will it produce love?"...

Remember, its a process, we aren't looking for perfection - just a willingness to live loved.

Its friggin simple!! I care naught for religious constructs any more. If you think the bible can help you to live loved, and can be bothered spending years sorting through it all, then go for it, and I'll respect that. If you think the Koran, or any holy writings will help you live loved, then awesome - do it! But I'll keep challenging anything that crosses that bottom line of love. I care not for sacred cows and taboos. If any doctrine (no matter what "scriptural" support it may have) requires endless mental gymnastics to make it "love", then you can stick it where the sun don't shine.

Once we have that fundamentally rooted and grounded as the only basis for life, then we can ponder "greater" issues - not the other way round.

Yes, for me at least, there is a better way, a way that is so simple that we keep missing it, because we keep wanting the fruit from that old "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Yep, we have been duped by that tree for sure. The "Eden" life isn't some stupid ideal - it's already in us if we can be bothered to look for it.

Like I keep saying over and over, and will continue to say...

Live loved!!!!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Confession time!

I'm up to over 1200 friends on Facebook
Every time I look at my computer there are usually 50 or more notifications staring at me.
My Silent Gays page has about the same number.
This blog also gets a lot of hits!

Sometimes I think I'm only a few clicks away from disaster. I could post something that would over step the mark and lose all my christian friends. Or I could post something really christian and be subject to mocking from my atheist friends (although not very likely these day)

I feel like I walk a narrow line, of respecting and honoring people's personal journeys, and challenging religious paradigms. I have a christian heritage that I hate and love at the same time. I can relate to all the horror stories about religion. I know exactly how my atheist friends feel about the psychopathic God christianity has created. I understand and embrace the so called "new age" ideas of universal unity and love. But I also understand the validity of core chrsitian beliefs - I've seen how well they work for many, the psychological value as part of their journey.

And I still have my own journey to walk. Every day I discover more about who I am, my personal paradigms, what drives me, my reactions and passions, my impatience and deeper anger. I surprise myself some days, when I get angry with my son, or so easily judge that strange person in the supermarket.

There are people now looking to me as one who has insight. Hey - I've written a book and run a support network!

But I'm just me, still one click away from posting something really stupid, of offending someone who is genuine and simply doing the best they can.

Perhaps I just want to please everyone, to find acceptance. Not surprising given what I've been through. But I do feel the pain that so many others experience at the hands of religion pretending to be Christ-like. I feel the emotional and spiritual abuse that is dealt out to millions in the name of Christ. But I can't burn my bridges when I want to still reach into the church and love the unloved and abused.

It's my passion, and yeah, sometimes I'm just one click away from "fuck it".

So there you have it. It's quite a responsibility looking at all those "friends" and "likes", and knowing that people are actually reading my book. Please remember that I'm just a human like you. I question everything, make far too many mistakes (just ask my son), offend people, and don't ask me to organise anything bigger than a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I'm Free!

One of Christianity's greatest claims is "freedom". And rightly so! When we are caught in the endless cycle of stuffing up, guilt, shame, low self esteem, that leads to more stuff ups, we long for some sort of freedom.

The acceptance of Jesus as an external source (outside of ourselves) who can break that cycle by taking all those things onto himself by a mystical act of substitution is very powerful. I personally experienced that power regularly throughout my life, and was about the only thing that stopped me from taking my own life on many occasions.

The problem of course was the cycle was never really broken, just moved up a notch, just far enough so I could sense the freedom and the joy that it brings.

But over the years I had greater revelations of freedom. There would be deeper realisations of God's grace and love that would bring me to a place where I'd think "this is it - finally, I understand what freedom is!".

A few months or so later, another doctrine etc would unlock more of the hold religion had on me, and I'd see how bound I'd been by things like legalism, expectations, ritual and so on. But then the cycle would begin again.

Lately I've seen many preachers, who were very influential in helping me break out of religious deception, falling back into the same cycle, but in a way that is sickening. They are mocking and belittling anyone who believes there is any more to discover. They believe they have made it and if anyone continues to look beyond the limits they have set, they are heretics. And yet it wasn't so long ago they were the heretics!

But here's the point - all these exercises in struggling to find deeper truth, moving from one level of revelation to another, although they can be stimulating and bring personal joy and satisfaction, don't really bring freedom. Nor do they bring anything of real value to the table.

Like a broken record I'll keep saying again and again. Love is all that matters. It's not a doctrine, its not a philosophy, its not a mystical process or some gnostic ideal.

Love is also described as "goodness". The simple act of being good - to yourself and everyone else. Although the doctrines surrounding Jesus and general christian theology can be beneficial as I said, they are just stop gaps, solutions that require greater solutions.

The simple act of being good to ourselves and good to others is powerful in its simplicity beyond measure. The act of seeing the goodness in everything around us, in the air, all we see and touch, in the grumpy checkout girl, in the lonely guy at the bar, anyone anywhere - the appreciation of the intrinsic value of simply being a human, is the start of all wisdom. Not some esoteric belief system that requires detailed understanding of complex doctrines to be "saved". Of course, many will say we need Jesus as our ticket to heaven, but that is another story and not that relevant in the big scheme of things - yes, I can hear the screams of protest ;-)

God is all in all - He IS goodness/love. We simply choose to slow down and see it - everywhere. We take the time to be thankful for it. We nurture it, in US first, and in everyone and everything else.

Only love brings life - and freedom.

Friday, 9 January 2015

It's so friggin simple!

(Sorry, tried to find a picture for this blog but everything to do with love was just soo cliched and tacky! So just use your imagination)

Theology, doctrines, religions, denominations, cults and sects, eschatology, hermeneutics, etc...
On and on it goes.
Endless debates.
2000 years and christianity is even more divided than ever. Religions divide the world.
Complex doctrines abound that try to explain the basic tenets of the faith - of all faiths actually. Yet despite our best efforts its all really murky.

Sure, there are some basic ideas that persist, but really, it all comes down to putting our faith in a book instead of the source - instead of love - instead of that which is deep in all of us.

Jesus supposedly said that we needed to see all this with the eyes of a child. Our faith, our meaning for existence, has to be simple enough for a child. Sure we can ponder the deeper issues and embrace all sorts of philosophical views. But the most foundational issues of all we are and do must be simple.

Christianity as it's traditionally presented, simply does not fit this requirement. It is anything BUT simple. It involves every person believing a complex set of doctrines in just the right way so that they can be saved.

Now many of you probably know, I'm a bit of a broken record with the Live Loved thing. I'm forever simplifying everything down to that. And I get accused of being naive, simplistic, ignorant, idealistic etc, to say nothing of the shouts of heretic! (seriously - a heretic for preaching love?!)

I've writing many blogs about the bible and about our preoccupation with clear defined boundaries and rules, so no point in repeating all that. Suffice to say, the more I focus on the simple most basic concepts of who we are, the less importance the bible has. And the less important ANY religion is.

There is only one thing that is common to all mankind - every person everywhere, at every moment in time. Its deep within every heart - its the innermost cry of and expression of every soul. It's what every mind, whether through emotion, intellect or logical reasoning longs for.

It's LOVE.

It's not love defined by any religion. It's not love with conditions. It's not a set of rules and principles that make us lovable.

It's unconditional love. It's being accepted exactly as we are with no questions asked. It's something we all long for even if we have never experienced it.

There are no doctrines, there is no holy book, there are no wise teachers that can tell us any more than what is already in each of us. We are made from and for love.

So what do we do about that? We live loved!

We look for that deep need in each other. We nurture that need. We do all we can to find that point of love in every single person we meet. We BE love. And in being love to others we are becoming love to ourselves, and this, and this alone, is what brings change to the world, one person at a time.

When we "live loved" we are beyond all concepts of good and evil, right and wrong or sin. We have abandoned the need for endless doctrines and holy writings (although they can certainly be of value). We have simply embraced who we are.

The more I embrace this - the more I practice this - the more whole I become. Issues like trying to figure the correct doctrines, the way we should treat women in church, our attitudes to politics, social needs, gay people, all become completely irrelevant. Because love transcends all these things. they become red herrings.

God is not in any holy book. God never wrote a book that defines himself or what we have to do to be accepted by him!

God is love! That's it - and that is more than enough.

Although christinaity, and all religions, can show ways to see that love through their writings and traditions, they are not the truth. The only truth is love, and that truth is intrinsically part of every human being ever created.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Something bigger

I've always known that love is the key.
But its a carrot of idealism dangling just out of reach.
Yet the mere fact that I/we dream of it, long for it and momentarily embrace it...
   the fact that we are even capable of such ideas...
Shows it must be attainable - that we really can live loved.

Most embrace the concept that we are born broken as truth. We declare our sinfulness as inherent, the fruit of rebellion. We have accepted the biblical story that we are filthy and completely incapable of anything good without "repenting" and accepting the perfection of Jesus as a sacrifice that enables us to be welcomed back into God's fold.

There are so many doctrines that explain this process - so many subtle variations and nuances. There are huge disagreements as well. Some say God is angry with us and can't bear to look at us and only sees Jesus when He looks our way. Others say that Jesus took all our sinfulness on himself to allow us to be clean enough for God to live in us.
Many variations...
Many reinterpretations of scripture.

I studied the role of Jesus in this whole dilemma most of my life. Even in bible college, I knew all the right answers, but still nothing sat right. Every theory fell far short of my deepest experience with God. I mean, I wanted all the doctrines to be right. I really tried to make them work. But despite that, I couldn't make sense of the whole idea that somehow, God just couldn't simply forgive us for "missing the mark" and acting in unloving ways, without the whole Jesus thing.

I can see the psychological value of using Jesus as a point of identification, a scapegoat, someone we can dump all our crap on so we get to walk free of the guilt and shame. I can see the benefits of accepting that it's "Jesus in us" that is the point of perfection - the focus - that brings us to perfection and peace. I get that, and all the other doctrines built around everything he did.

BUT, it has always seemed like second best - a stopgap. In fact, most religions seem to just be bandages trying to cover a deep belief paradigm that is essentially flawed from the ground up.

Most of my life I believed christianity had every answer, that the bible contained the entire wisdom of God and was the sole source of all truth, and everything else was just deception or imitation. And yet I also had the niggling feeling that we were missing a far bigger picture.

What if we aren't essentially and intrinsically broken and flawed, born in sin? Suppose we are born perfect and what really happens is we forget as we grow. We become victims of everyone else who has forgotten until all that's left is a shell full of guilt, shame, fear and "missing the mark" of love.

Perhaps we've got it all backwards! Love is the essential nature of the universe. God is love, love holds everything together, it brings life, it IS life, it's universal consciousness, and our real journey in life is remembering that.

Just imagine if the "renewing of our minds" is all to do with simply focusing on that love and drawing it out of others - choosing to see everything else simply as the absence of love. We then choose to see each other as creatures of love, that are hurting and blind - blind to who they really are, and we can simply BE love to each other. We can be compassion and empathy, and look through the unloving actions and thoughts to the real person of love in all of us.

The only thing that brings real, lasting change is love. We all know this, despite our emotional reactions, we all know that if we were truly loved more, we would love more. We would be changed!

We can not bring love to each other until we love ourselves. We can love Jesus and defer all our identity on to him. We can say "I am nothing and Jesus is everything", but that's just a false image. It's transferring our true nature in an act of false humility, because we are afraid that we may actually be way better than we have thought.

I think that our unity with God is such that we are perfect at our core, that we are pure unconditional love in the deepest part of our being. I believe we can choose, as we renew our minds, to see this in each other. I think the stopgap of christian doctrine has had its day, and it really hasn't been a good day despite it's moments!

I look at scripture with a whole different lens these days. I see the layers of religion that have been overlaid and used to reinvent Jesus. I see a limited collection of documents assembled to reinforce a particular set of beliefs that had arisen after Jesus. I see these documents as records of the struggles of men trying to piece together a coherent religion out of something that was never meant to be one!

In saying all this, I risk being accused of being arrogant and patronising, of trashing 2000 years of tradition and the collective wisdom of thousands of biblical scholars and theologians. It's not my intention however, and I still respect the journey I have been on (and have hardly started in reality) and we are all on. I owe my continued existence in this world to my faith in Jesus that I clung to through thick and thin. I respect the value of the tenets of faith, and won't belittle or "talk down" to those who find life there.

I am however, finding far deeper waters. I've seen too much to confine myself to one set of doctrines and theologies. I've found God to be so much bigger, better, more loving and life giving than anything biblical christianity has ever produced, and I simply want to share that and encourage everyone to take nothing for granted - not the bible, not tradition, not teachers or wise men, not me, not anyone or anything! Question - explore - dismantle - assume nothing - and most importantly find the love that is at our core, because there lies our true worth and life.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas (or not)

Christmas is traditionally a time for families.

Yes, I know there are all the "Christ in Christmas" things, and all the other religious celebrations and petty squabbles over what christmas actually is, but I'm just talking about the overall expectations of the season - about getting together with loved ones and family - about appreciating each other and sharing love.

For many LGBT people this is the worst time of year!

So many have been rejected by their families and friends. Some have been completely ostracized, some are tolerated. Some go to christmas gatherings with dread, knowing they are going to get the looks, the lectures. Others don't even bother and choose to avoid it all, in an effort to preserve some dignity and self worth. And of course, many can't go because they aren't welcome, or have been completely rejected by family.

It is often a tragic time for many people, as their loneliness and rejection becomes glaringly obvious.

Please remember these beautiful hurting people.

Much is done for the homeless and impoverished, the sick and broken. But there are so many LGBT people who silently suffer every christmas.

If you know someone like this, be love to them. Respect and honour them. Show them they are beautiful and worthy of the same love we all are. No matter what you believe, love is the only thing that heals.

Live Loved!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Respect and Paradigms

I went to a funeral yesterday. Cam Rimmer, a Kiwi christian legend, highly respected across all flavours of church and denominations.

He was one of the most lovable, kind, big-hearted men I've ever known. He was larger than life, fun loving, full of stories and laughter, but deeply compassionate and caring in a way that few experience. And it was just naturally who he was.

His life experience was hard. He'd been through it all, and used every tragedy to create new stories that inspired and touched everyone. He made everyone feel like his best friend.

He influenced my own life as well on many occasions. We'd chatted often, sometimes for hours, and I'd always feel better for it.

A truly rare and wonderful man.

It was his faith that gave him life. His love for Jesus and God's Father heart oozed out of every pore. It was the most real, genuine and "lived" faith I've seen - a faith of integrity that had love at it's core. I honour his life, influence and memory.

Cam also founded Living Waters in New Zealand.

I was involved with Living Waters in Australia and NZ off and on for around 15 years - drawn by the deep love for God and the desire to bring healing and life to people struggling with all sorts of "brokenness" - relationships, addictions, abuse and trauma, and sexuality, including homosexuality. It promised life and freedom from addictive patterns of sin, of which homosexuality was one of the most common they dealt with.

What I realised during the funeral service though, was the depth of our paradigms. Cam lived with natural integrity and his ideas about sexuality were well grounded in what he and the Living Waters organisation assumed the bible, and therefore God, thought about it all. The doctrines and methods they espouse are built on complex interpretations, mixed with some basic psychology, to create something that appeals to those who see themselves as broken.

I'll be writing a lot more about Living Waters and other groups like them soon, but my point here, is that despite the immense heart of love and compassion that Cam (and many others) have, their "religious" paradigm shapes and directs that love and passion in ways that are deeply flawed. Ways that despite the best of intentions, can produce the exact opposite of what is intended.

I genuinely love Cam. But I also hurt for all the people who now live lives of religious delusion and obsession, deeply repressed identity issues, cognitive dissonance, and worst of all, called sinners for something that isn't sin.

A day of very mixed emotions. A deeper respect for the love and genuine heart of so many in this type of ministry, but a deeper determination to break the religious strangle hold of christianity on beautiful LGBT people who are assumed to be dirty broken sinners, and suffering the consequences of that sin.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Bible, being gay, right and wrong

Being gay (LGBT) and christian is a minefield of conflicting views.

Essentially, it all comes down to interpreting the bible. There are six passages in the bible that seem to address the issue and there is a mountain of studies, articles, books and videos that directly address these passages (often referred to as the "clobber" verses, simply because they are used to clobber gay people into submission).

Many of the theological discussions are well researched, thorough and irrefutable. Others are ambiguous, but enough to allow serious questioning. I applaud the scholarly work that has been done in this area, that has tirelessly explored the ancient cultures - their social structures, cultural paradigms, the way they used language including colloquialisms, analogy and metaphor, the influence of other cultures etc, all to bring a clearer exegesis to the scriptures.

These works have been crucial to my own journey out of the unbearable burden that christianity has placed on LGBT people.

But a much larger issue needs to be looked at in light of all this. And its not just for LGBT people - it's an issue that faces every single person who claims to be a christian.

The bible!

I've written quite a bit over the last year or so  about my views on the bible and its role. It's also something that many others are questioning as we look deeper into its history and influence.

The real issue however, is our deep need to have an unambiguous set of rules that clearly define right from wrong, good from bad. A book that says "this is how you live" - that if you don't follow the instructions exactly you'll be in trouble, possibly really big trouble.

We really like to have clearly defined boundaries. It gives us security and allows us to point to something outside ourselves as the source of authority. We love laws! In fact, I wonder if the metaphor in the Garden of Eden myth, is actually about our wanting "the knowledge of good and evil" simply so we don't have to live from a place of love - a place that requires thoughtfulness, empathy and compassion, responsibility, time and energy. The knowledge of good and evil, especially once it's formalised and written down, removes all personal responsibility because its already sorted - look it up in the book - end of story.

But we were never created for that. We were created for and from love, intimate unity with God and each other. The bible itself hints at this so often (in the New Testament at least).

But our obsession for the ultimate rule book is our Achilles heel. We simply cannot agree on what this authoritative book actually says - we never have! Thousands of different groups of christians all arguing about it. We are desperate for love and unity but keep trying to obtain it by deferring to a rigid rule book out of fear. Fear that we could be wrong. Fear from wanting to know good and evil and yet never sure if we have chosen the right thing. Fear of having to take responsibility for our own hearts. Fear of some eternal consequence. Fear of disobeying (knowingly or ignorantly) a God who is just as fearful as he is loving.

We have abdicated our intrinsic humanity. We have refused to live in and from love - outside of the concepts of law, right and wrong, good and evil.

The bible has some wonderful stories, and many object lessons, but it is the most abused and misinterpreted set of documents in history, simply because we have made it something it isn't.

Our first and only priority is to love - even the bible says this, lol!! Love, from beginning to end. That's it.

But what about...!? People need to....! But if we don't have guidelines...! - all excuses for not wanting to live with the personal responsibility of love.

Sure, have faith in Jesus, be christian, but the bible is not your reference book. It's not where you go to find right from wrong. God IN YOU is where we find love that shapes all we are and do. We all know what love is, and we can wrestle with the application of it, but we all know, really we do.

Live loved - go on - try it!