Archive for the ‘Storefront Theology’ 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!

Sunday Sermonette and Jubilee Time: Modern gospel dynamite


I have not a single word to add … except I wonder how many of his congregation walked out.  I’d have stayed, but you know that. (And maybe the majority of his congregation did, too; you can dimly hear shouts, but can’t really make out whether or not they’re Amens.  Shots of the congregation shows applause and smiles, mostly.

Embedly Powered

I found this on, of course.  The link leads to the video again — but the comments section is mostly intelligent and has some good links.

Now let’s cool off with some good gospel music … (warning: tastefully displayed titties at 1:40.)

Embedly Powered


“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:

Sermonette by John Shore: “Playing the kazoo at a requiem mass”


Once again, the work has been done for me.

Why this white Christian “leader” was silent about Trayvon Martin | JohnShore.comA question that’s lately been raised in the blogosphere (here; here; here) is why more white Christian leaders haven’t spoken out against the death of Trayvon Martin. Putting aside the question of whether or not I’m a Christian leader (I’m not), when the story broke of young Martin’s death I did receive a number of requests to write about it.

Embedly Powered

Sermonette: Christians Reclaim Embrace the Pagan


All right, so we’re having an evening service at the Chapel tonight 🙂

This is wonderful and edifying, as far as it goes:

Celebrating ‘Pagan Christianity’A few years ago Frank Viola and George Barna collaborated on a book called Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. In the book, readers learn about the “pagan roots” of many of the church’s long held traditions, practices, and resources.

Embedly Powered

The first Christians were defiers of convention; they were innovators (and that’s why your Bible is  a pile-o-pages surrounded by covers, and not a basket of scrolls). Some of them even had a keen appreciation for all the gifts and talents that the Love Supreme gave human beings. And that’s how these “pagan” things got into the church.

But I’ve been a universalist from childhood, so I want to go even farther than that.  I’ve always believed that  “There is truth in all religions,” as the saying went in my childhood. It follows, then, that God is not neglecting anybody.

It follows, then, that exclusionary commands and scriptures — “touch not the unclean thing,” and all that — need to be reclaimed themselves.

The Altar at Missionary Independent Spiritual Church in Forestville CA includes Catholic church and folk saints, African, Hindu and Chinese deities, and Buddhas

The “unclean thing” is not the carved statue from India or Africa, or the vévé drawn on the floor, but the idols we make of our own suspicion and self-righteousness.

Vévé of Maman Brigitte

O Love Supreme, may our beliefs, faith and/or religion not degenerate into spiky-fenced, bludgeon-wielding tribalism; remind us always that there are no Orcs of Righteousness. Instead, let us keep the eye of the Spirit open to recognize our brothers and sisters of the Golden Rule, wherever they worship (if they worship), by whatever name they know you.


Storefront Theology


A few weeks ago, I promised a new series on this blog: “Storefront Theology” — so we can have church, or Sunday School, or Scripture study. You may have noticed some posts placed in this category already.

Now, I’m not much of a preacher. And while I love to read, I don’t call myself a scholar.

What I’m going to be doing — whenever I get the chance — is asking questions of actual scholars on big, deep, wide-open subjects, like prayer and salvation.  I’ll start by posting here about what I learn, and maybe later we’ll have a Blogtalk Radio show or a podcast or something.

Meanwhile, there are so many wonderful open-hearted religious and spiritual blogs and books and webcasts out there, and I will point you to some of the best. (One of my favorites, Slacktivist, actually snuck into Jubilee Time a few weeks back.)

And occasionally, when I’m led to it, I’ll post a Sermonette of my own.

Sunday Jubilee Time: Golden Bells


Here’s a good glad tune — invitation, trust, and above all patience:

First the Mighty Clouds of Joy:

Embedly Powered


And we have to hear Miss Mahalia; come on now.

Embedly Powered

I’m not usually about Southern Gospel, but I do love a good bass voice.  I do like the way the honky-tonk/rockabilly piano comes in toward the end.

Embedly Powered


The full lyrics are here.  I don’t mean to carp or complain, but I do believe all three of these versions leave out the best part — the last two verses:

We shall know no sin or sorrow,
In that haven of tomorrow,
When our barque shall sail beyond the silver sea;
We shall only know the blessing
Of our Father’s sweet caressing,
When they ring the golden bells for you and me.


When our days shall know their number,
And in death we sweetly slumber,
When the King commands the spirit to be free;
Nevermore with anguish laden,
We shall reach that lovely Eden,
When they ring the golden bells for you and me.

Isn’t that kind of like getting up from Thanksgiving dinner before the pumpkin pie?

Once again, I was led to this tune by the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama, in their album “The Sermon.” Do you have your copy yet?


What is lust?


It doesn’t happen very often, but occasionally, at the Crystal Silence League, I see a prayer request to remove or cure homosexual desires.

Now, I was raised in the Western Scientific Tradition, in the far-out 1960s, in Hippie Town, USA, no less. So, despite a decades-long detour into conservative Christianity, it is fairly easy to understand why I would be unwilling to pray for these requests.

But I do. I do place them on my altar.

Whether you are “struggling with same-sex attraction” or celebrating it as a nourishing part of your personality and daily life, you are probably aware of the “liberal” interpretations of the Bible’s few verses that are commonly interpreted to forbid homosexuality. I will only list a few of the less theology-geeky links:

GLBT folks in conservative Christian churches are not the only people who are tied up in knots about sexual desire. That’s worth another series of posts in itself, but the work has been done for us:

How the Modesty Doctrine Hurts Men, Too

These folks are caught in a double-bind: on the one hand evolution — or the Creator — made us with seemingly unconquerable sexual desire and capacity for arousal. Even after we get old and start to dry up, we notice sexual signals constantly, even where they are not intended. 

The question that these guilt-ridden folks don’t get to ask is: How sinful is this, anyway?  And the larger question: what is lust?

Resorting to the dictionary is supposed to be a specious argument, but honestly, I really think the meaning of the word lust has drifted  farther than is accurate or useful. So:

lust  (lst), n.

1. Intense or unrestrained sexual craving.


a. An overwhelming desire or craving: a lust for power.
b. Intense eagerness or enthusiasm: a lust for life.
3. Obsolete Pleasure; relish.

intr.v. lust·edlust·inglusts

To have an intense or obsessive desire, especially one that is sexual.

[Middle English, from Old English, desire; see las- in Indo-European roots.]

The third definition, mere pleasure or relish, is obsolete. But, as near as I can make out from the Oxford English Dictionary, it is the original definition of the word, and was so innocent back then that it was applied to Jesus himself!

He [Jesus] is feyr and bryht on heowe…Of lufsum lost of truste treowe.

I’m having trouble finding a translation for this couplet, but I think it means something like: “Jesus is fair and bright on high [?] … Of lovely lust, of true trust.” (We could now digress into a fascinating discussion of Christ as the Ideal lover — and maybe we will, another day.)

You see the wiggle in her walk, or the fem in the black leather jacket, because you were made to express love and innocent pleasure in the flesh. It’s only when you lose your grip on the Golden Rule that corruption enters your world through lust the glamor of sexual pleasure.

So I will print out your prayer for release from evil desires, and I will pray for you.

I pray that your desires bring you only love, splendor, and abundant life.

I pray that these desires bring happiness to the others you encounter.

I pray that god heals you of needless shame.

I pray that the truth of the Love Supreme will set you free.

Weren’t you, after all, born in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

Embedly Powered