Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

An early Sunday Sermonette: “Gay people have never been the enemy”; to suggest otherwise “makes Jesus cry”


“The institution of marriage is not under attack as a result of the President’s words. Marriage was under attack years ago by men who viewed women as property and children as trophies of sexual prowess.”
Full text of Rev. Otis Moss’ letter to his colleague

Is it *all* about Jesus? Just a quick note about hegemony


Click on the image to get your very own window sticker in this design.

Wait, Long Word Alert — here ya go:

By hegemony I mean cultural hegemony (click here for way more than you’ll ever need to know about it). I understand that the powerful swamp the world with their ideas, whether by sheer seductiveness or fire and sword or “bribery,” such as the kind that makes “rice Christians.” That’s a subject for another post, right there, so I’ll chop that tangent off short.

What I meant to say is that I link to and write about Christianity because that’s the faith tradition I know best. Yet at the Missionary Independent Spiritual churches, we not only welcome all members to our congregations, but all deities to our altars.  I don’t know many of the world’s spirits and deities very well, but I don’t want to be inhospitable or to fuel the common perception that Christians think they have a monopoly on spiritual truth.

So I’m calling on my readers to point me to seeker-friendly, progressive, hospitable links about other faith traditions — especially if you know them from the inside. Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, ATRs — bring ’em on!

An activist, poet, and chapel visitor



You can’t see it clearly in this picture, but the pretty It Gets Better lamp was still burning 12 hours after I lit it at evening candle service.

William Brandon Lacy Campos died last week.  He was someone I met when he was a college student grieving over the traumatic death of a friend. He was sharp, compassionate, quick to defend those in pain and call out their oppressors.

It was only later, on Facebook — within the past year or so! — that I heard about his work with Queers for Economic Justice, his poetry book and readings, and his marriage.

I also found out he was funny, anxious, and up to the elbows in life’s toybox.

With all that, I barely knew him to speak to.  My very last exchange with him was about three weeks ago, and it was food talk.  He had posted some photos of a dish that turned out particularly well, and I mentioned the parsnip curry I was making. “That sounds fierce!” he said.

When he died, his friends were tagging him in photographs all over the place, and they were showing up in my news feed, tearing at my heart.

So I dedicated one night of my It Gets Better lamp to him.

That helped, but not enough, so I lit him a candle of his own.

Last night, my daughter — who can see spirits come and go — heard “someone” walking around in the chapel; a few days ago, she saw “someone with glasses” in the kitchen out of the corner of her eye.  On both occasions, there were no living humans present; she checked.

So, is it the shiny activism, the chance to meet Bayard Rustin, or my cooking? Probably all of it.

Welcome, Brandon, a thousand times welcome.

His Facebook page is still up.


“Pie! Now!”


Santisima Muerte has a small altar at our Chapel. She works hard to protect those in danger and to guard and comfort those facing death, so she requests frequent food offerings.

When I began working with Santísima Muerte, I hit the ground running: I had a client who had been seriously jinxed and needed to be uncrossed and protected in a flaming hurry.

Well, they say Most Holy Death is kind and merciful when she isn’t grimly just, and so she stepped up and helped my client.

And then the orders began coming in — from her.  I’d see them in my mind’s eye — single words in block type: GINGER or FRUIT, mostly.  (She decided to move in after the first offering of crystallized ginger scones.)

Lately, when praying along with the Crystal Silence League, I’ve been offering her the miseries and pain of those who post prayer requests — inviting her to uproot those miseries and consume them to sustain Herself.  That seems to content her — there have been fewer demands for the material sweets of earthly life.

But tonight I made a Shaker-style Meyer lemon pie (a variation on this recipe), and She wasn’t going to miss that!


If you make this pie, by the way, be sure to let those thinly sliced lemons sit in sugar at room temperature as the recipe directs — but for more than the 6 hours specified. If you use them at once, it’s like a mouthful of perfume: not nice at all. Eighteen hours is about right. I also used a standard flaky pie crust recipe, and added an extra egg and some flour to the filling.  It’s rich and smooth, but too sweet.  Maybe one more lemon…?


“Console and strengthen the living; avenge the dead”


I’ve gone back to lighting good solidly built pull-out candles for GLBT folks who are still worn down and heavy laden by needless shame, bad preaching and teaching, bad laws and bigotry.  This one is tender pink, dressed with with all sorts of balmy blessing herbs — and then rolled in Fiery Wall of Protection and black wax. So, yes, a reversing candle.

The great civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin  — who was also a gay man — watches over the work.

Behind the flame is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; off screen is Frederick Douglass.

You will also note that there are two little pictures of Jesus nearby; and he had precisely bupkes to say about homosexuality.

I’ll be burning this for an hour or so each night — that way it will last for at least two weeks, maybe longer.  My nightly prayer is: Console and guard the living, and avenge the dead.  And it would be wonderful if I had some names, the names of real people, to put under this candle.

And it’s not just the civil rights movement that owes a huge debt of gratitude to LGBT people:

“It’s hard to have any conversation about this brilliant cultural production — gospel music — without affirming the prominent role that same-gender-loving people have played and continue to play.”

via Gospel Music Book Challenges Black Homophobia –

Sunday Jubilee Time (and Brain Candy Sampler): Study War No More


“If we believe that human misperceptions and misconceptions and incomplete and thus inaccurate comprehensions are mainly due to sin, then we’re tempted to conclude that anyone who is fallible is therefore evil”.

Fundamentalism thrives on isolation from and opposition to the world — isolation from and opposition to the rest of society, to other people, to The Other, to everyone else.”

And here’s a church that got welcoming right! — Click through on this one — you won’t regret it. I’ll wait.

Feel better?  Let’s finish with a glad jumping hymn from Sister Rosetta:

Halloween and/or Christmas!


Folks, I can’t decide whether it’s Halloween or Christmas here today! Two different conjure friends of mine sent me grave dirt from:

Caroline Dye … and Frederick Douglass!

Adam Smith and Butch Comer, thank you about a million times!

A feast day for angelic troublemakers


St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t get much play in the chapel. We celebrate Bayard Rustin Day instead —

Brother Outsider — ResourcesNow available on DVD for home viewing from our online store.Click here to buy the DVD Educators and educational institutions can order Brother Outsider through our educational distributor, California Newsreel. Click here for the Brother Outsider Discussion Guide:guide.pdf Download the discussion/curriculum guide produced in partnership with Frameline’s Youth In Motion program.

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via Rustin

How we celebrate Bayard Rustin Day

  • By all means get the DVD if you can — it’s wonderful.
  • Print and frame a picture of Brother Bayard and welcome him to your table with a vegetarian feast. I think we’re going with red curry noodles (no fish sauce, please) and Thai Corn Pancakes.
  • Then place him on your angelic troublemaker ancestor angelic troublemaker altar — if you don’t have one, you’ll start one tonight, I bet.

I also like to give him a vegetarian treat every Saturday, and listen for any directions he might have for me.

So Happy Bayard Rustin Day, everybody — and do feel free to post any good links you find!



Sunday Jubilee Time: Spiritland


During her wonderful show last night, Momma Starr of Old Style Conjure played several numbers by the late Coco Robicheaux — whom I had never heard of until he died.

Anyway, this was one of them — and I had to say Amen to every word.

Embedly doesn’t know what to do with this link, so click here to listen to “Spiritland.”

Sunday Sermonette: God Bless the Child


Have you ever heard someone say a song or Scripture is “ministering” to them? I had that experience yesterday:

Like everyone else, people active in progressive politics consciously desire health and happiness in their work, and strive to achieve their mission while enjoying the fruits of health, love, pride, and joy. At a less conscious level, our normal desires for health are at war with less healthy beliefs and fears that we’re not really supposed to have good things or take care of ourselves.

This conflict is extremely common. Our hope is at war with our fear, our optimism with our pessimism, and our aspirations with our cynicism. We consciously seek the light but unconsciously default to a belief in the darkness.

One of the fundamental discoveries gained from studying child development is that children regard the reality in which they find themselves as equivalent to what is supposed to be. In our childhood minds, minds not yet steeped in left-brain adult reasoning and the rational logic of cause-and-effect, we experience our emotional and social worlds as the way things are supposed to be. If our families are unhappy, stressed, dysfunctional, or neglectful, we don’t think: “Boy, are they screwed up! I’m sure glad I’m happy and safe and not part of that culture!” Instead, by osmosis, the awesome authority of our parents and families to define reality and morality leads us to take their story, the one unfolding around us, as the only real story, despite what is said or consciously intended.

This universal fact of psychology has an extremely important consequence. When we violate, reject, or otherwise leave behind the unspoken norms and patterns governing our family lives, we feel conflict. Sometimes it takes the form of guilt; other times, anxiety. Both tend to operate behind our backs, affecting our choices and behavior in ways that are not conscious. For example, maybe your parents aspired to provide you with a better life than they had. And you have always been consciously determined to do just that. But when you separate from people to whom you are attached, and on whom you’ve been dependent for survival, your healthy conscious intentions have to contend with what it means to reject or surpass them.

via Being Progressive Shouldn’t Be Hazardous to Your Health: Here’s How to Avoid Our Culture of Overwork | | AlterNet.

This article isn’t just for progressive activists: this is a condition that afflicts everyone except — maybe — the One Percent. This is what the New Thought people are talking about when they tell you to visualize, to “name and claim it,” when they tell you that “all you have to do is want it.”

It’s more complicated than that — and at the same time, it’s simpler than that.

One of the conceptions of magic that’s floating around is that you should be able to do it all with one magical word and a bulge flash of your eyes. I have a sneaking suspicion that that kind of manifestation appears only in fairy tales and dreams. Almost everybody, when they try to do in waking life, in one leap, exhausts themselves and ends up having to white-knuckle it.

It’s much easier to do it incrementally — step-by-step. Begin where you are, where this article begins: with one little improvement in your situation that you can believe in. Don’t just say you deserve a living wage, sufficient food, sufficient rest, strength, joy in your work. Do whatever it takes, perform whatever thought experiments you require, to prove it to yourself.

Now, I may be straying afield from the original intent of this article. But I believe all the greatest hopes and all the greatest movements began in just this way. In our country, in the 1950s and ’60s, the great hopes of Martin Luther King and all his allies were expressed by high school and college kids at drugstore lunch counters. Yes, there was sacrifice; yes, there were martyrs; but whether in the political struggles of the present, or the world-spanning evangelism of old, it was never meant that everybody should be a martyr. Nor was it ever meant it every martyr should be a martyr every day.

God gave us the gifts of music, laughter and bad puns for a reason.

I thought of this good old, weary song while I was reading this article, and I am still not sure how they are connected.

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