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!

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.

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Sunday Jubilee Time: “Thank you for being my water, Jesus”


Sometimes it’s the theology that grabs me, and sometimes it’s the sound.
It was the deep chords of the chorus that attracted me to this song … but “It don’t do no harm to mourn sometimes.”

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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.”

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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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?

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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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