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Friday, October 31, 2008

Quote of the Day!

by @ 10:19 pm. Filed under Quote of the Day

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. ~Robert Fulghum

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Fight Over Prop 8 Soon to Reach $100 Million

by @ 7:18 pm. Filed under Atheism, Ex-gays, hate speech, Joe's Rants

It shouldn’t need to be said that I am against Prop 8 and Prop 102, but I will say it for the sake of reinforcing it.  I am completely against Prop 8 in California and I am against Prop 102 in Arizona as these do not meet my needs for equality and fairness.   I am a married gay man who hopes to stay married in the eyes of my government.

With that out of the way, I can’t help but feel some anguish and disappointment over the numbers, the facts or lack of them and the misuse of science.   I realize both sides of this argument feel they are right and in my eyes one of them is right.   What disgusts me is the ignorance of most of those on the “Yes on 8” side of this argument when it comes to the science, the history and the real impact of the arguments.   One of the pieces of this that is embarrassing to us as a Country,  is that the average citizen in America doesn’t know the history of marriage.   They have blindly taken the word of their pastors or right wing leaders.   They have not pulled out the history books on Ancient Rome, long before the bible was even written or its fictional characters where even born, and learned marriage was a civil arrangement of property. Most marriages had little to do with love, but keeping property in the wealthy families.

The average citizen in this Country also doesn’t know all of the science concerning homosexuality.   Why would they?  Most red state Americans are against teaching science in the classroom unless it fits with their view of world through the lens of their bibles.   Sadly, most of the time, the science disagrees with religion and that has become dangerous for us as a Country.  The average American still believes (because of anti-gay hate speech) that homosexuality is some chosen lifestyle, gays all live the same lifestyle, and that we can become “ex-gay.” This writer wonders how we will ever stop global warming, HIV/AIDS or Avian Flu when we don’t even teach kids facts through science, we teach them social opinions.  We should be showing them the science as it is current and available in the age of information.

Prop 8 supporters will tell you the rhetoric that they are voting to “support traditional marriage”, but we all know that is bullshit.  The facts cannot be ignored this time.   They are not voting “for” anything, they are voting against gay people using fear and lies as their guide.   All the while, raising millions of dollars that could so easily have saved thousands of people from poverty, starvation, foreclosure and disease.   I am convinced that if you ask any average American who is losing their home, living in poverty whether or not they would like to protect marriage from the homo’s or find a way to keep their home, marriage would drop low on the list of priorities.

This for me, is about priorities and nonviolence.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well when he said we need to “gather all the information and then educate all involved” of the facts.   When we really look at the science of sexuality, the history of marriage and the facts the “yes on 8” campaign is using to raise money we see that facts are the furtherest thing from the argument.   In fact, the entire argument is void of facts all together.   Ask any reputable biologist what they think about their facts about sexual orientation, then ask any professor of ancient history of marriage then put the two together and watch all of the arguments fall apart for the entire anti-marriage campaign.

What bothers me most is the money we are being forced to spend to save gay marriage while the evidence and facts are ignored in favor of theocracy.   $100 million would save so many lives, buy lots of homes, feed lots of homeless.   Instead, we are using $100 million dollars to have a worthless discussion over nonexistent facts all the while ignoring the real facts and real history.   How frustrating it must be to be starving, losing your home or dying because you can’t afford medical care, to learn that Christians spent millions oppressing people in spite of the facts when they could have been treating the neighbors to life saving assistance.  Truly our priorities are severely out of sync with reality.

Video: NARTH Distorting Research on Ex-gay Therapy

by @ 1:42 pm. Filed under Ex-gays, Gay News, hate speech

Truth Wins Out has now another researcher on record explaining how their research has been used by the National Association for Research and Treatment  of Homosexuality to claim people can choose to change their sexual attractions when the research clearly says the opposite.  This is the abuse of science that leads to harm.

Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out notes:

Lisa M. Diamond, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. She has won a number of awards for her work. In 2000, Dr. Diamond published a study, “Sexual identity, attractions, and behavior among young sexual minority women over a 2 year period.” This study was distorted by NARTH. The anti-gay organization falsely claimed that Dr. Diamond’s work shows that sexual orientation is “amenable to change.”

To read about other researchers who work has been misused by anti-gay groups, please visit Respect My Research

Video is here

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bible Contradictions and Other Religious Stuff

by @ 11:03 pm. Filed under Atheism, Ex-gays, hate speech

The Rev. Dl. Foster writes today in his mission to lead people “to” Christ:

“Saints should understand that it is our job to oppose evil and wickedness in the church and in the world. We are to speak out and use the tools God has given us to restrain the works of the devil until our removal. We are not here to make friends, fit in or promote false unity and inclusion. Our sole allegiance is to our King and his Kingdom.”

but Christ says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Go figure!  It is these contradictions that started my questioning of the bible.  Once one loses faith in the book, there is nothing left to validate a belief in Christianity.

Quote of the Day

by @ 10:47 pm. Filed under Quote of the Day

“Moral judgments of others are just the tragic expression of unmet needs.”

Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.d.

Whenever we judge someone, we are really expressing our unmet need for something.  For example:  “You are a reckless driver” is really an expression of the need for safety in one’s driving.   To say: “You’re like a brick wall” is an expression of the need for connection with another human.   So, I wonder, what needs of yours are not met and what judgments have come from that?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sign the Petition: Demand Comprehensive Hate Crime Legislation

by @ 8:16 pm. Filed under Gay News, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

I am proud and inspired to say this was sent to me by the newest member of the SC PFLAG, my sister!   That also inspires me to make it successful.   I offer my full support to Sean Kenndy’s family and to the members of PFLAG!

 

-Joe Brummer

 

SIGN ON TO THE PETITION:

 

Target: U.S. Senate

Sponsored by: Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays

On May 16, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a 20-year old gay man, was attacked on the streets of Greenville, South Carolina. He died of his injuries later that night. Yet, because of the lack of hate crimes legislation, his attacker will be eligible for parole in as little as 10 months.

Sean was a brave young man with a bright, infectious smile. But his life was cut short and justice left unserved.

As it stands now, 23 states, including South Carolina, do not have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation, but passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Action (LLEHCPA) would change that by strengthening existing laws and allowing the Department of Justice to assist local prosecutions, and where appropriate, investigate and prosecute cases.

Sean’s death shows that comprehensive hate crime legislation is urgently needed. Please support the LLEHCPA.

 

Painting with Broad Brushes

by @ 6:44 pm. Filed under hate speech

I am still surprised each time I see someone paint black and white pictures about blacks, gays, Latinos, jews or other persecuted groups of people.  My issue with these pictures is that they are void of humanity.   It is not possible to see the human qualities of a single person when you view them through a lens of group stereotypes.  While I respect and admire certain commonalities different groups have, I also understand the need to see the beauty of gray when looking at any group of people.

On the blog, Gay Christian Movement Watch written and hosted by the Rev. DL Foster, we see the dangers of stereotyping,  of painting people in black and white rather than seeing the beauty of gray.   This time, we see it from a new face in the anti-gay industry, Carolyn Groff.   You can read about Carolyn’s and her husband’s story on many websites, and I suggest you read as many as you can find to get a sense of balance in the story.   As Gandhi would say, each of us holds the truth and the untruth and it is when we strip all that away, we are left with the real story. I think we are going to see more and more of Mrs. Groff and what bothers me about that is that she isn’t speaking from a place of compassion but a place of deep pain.  If I could change anything, it would be that.

On a post written by DL Foster that calls Obama an aid to the anti-christ or the antichrist himself you decide, one would think that we should stop reading there.  I might agree as I think such talk is unproductive to solving the major issues we face todayl.   Talk that Obama’s birth certificate is fake and such made up myths get old and tired.  Sadly, DL Foster is still spewing these things as true.  You can read the post yourself and the comments the ensue to see the utter outskirts of reality people will travel to get their needs met.  I will say, the myths about Obama’s birth certificate have been debunked and proven false.  The fact that Foster is still spewing this is that he clearly has not done his homework.  Obama was born in the USA and the fact of that has been checked and double checked.   I can’t explain Foster’s reasons for posting that Obama is not a citizen, perhaps you should as him.

Foster writes:

Am I calling Obama the antichrist? Not at all. But  he does represent, with chilling accuracy, a portrayal of the antichrist and as such is a glaring sign that what the Bible told us about the last days and the entrance of the antichrist onto the world scene is much closer than we think.

I do want to address the “broad brush” that Carolyn Groff is using to paint gays and lesbians as all having the same lifestyle.  Sadly, I have addressed this issue time and time again, yet it comes up again and again.   I feel so frsutrated because I need and value seeing people as humans, not groups.   Clearly, the only way one can see a whole group of people as one stereotypical group is to ignore their humanity.  That is exactly what is happening in the comments of this post by Foster and the commenter is Carolyn Groff.   I also see Rev. Foster has said nothing about it, so one might assume he either doesn’t understand it, or is fine with it.   I will let others make up their mind of that.

Mrs. Groff writes (or paints with a broad brush):

The brutal destruction of human body from unatural use. The diseases that are facing all of us, because of the things passed on by the horrible lifestyle. The homosexual not only destroys his life, and he destroys the family unit, (especially if they don’t condone the liestyle of sin). As the wide spread acceptance of the sin of homosexuality, that is being embraced, what is our grandchildren, and their children going to face? The world as our ancestors have known it will be devastating to them, it will be destroyed by homosexuality….We need to live like God wants, and not like we want. You stand for the trurth, as many do, but I have never known anyone willing to stand up against the gay activists like you have, and be willing to face the lies head on.

The lines here that gays are out to destroy the family unit or that gays are all diseased are sadly like something out of the Eternal Jew from Nazi Germany.  Gays are out to “destroy the world as we know it?  Such comments frighten most of us, but are the source of sadness for those of us who are gay.   If we were to change the word homosexual in the above paragraph to “Jew” we would have a Nazi article in the newspaper from 1939.   I DOUBT THAT IS THE INTENTION of the Groffs.    I would stress that I don’t think that Carolyn Groff is saying gays are destroying the world.  While those may be the words she used, I don’t think it is the needs or feelings she is really expressing.

Either way, it is not helping the cultural war to paint enemy images of each other like Ms. Groff is doing.   I think what we are reading is her pain, but it doesn’t ignore the fact that in order to see GLBT folks as just a group who all live the same lifestyle, one must ignore completely our humanity.

It would be my notion that much of the hate speech we read doesn’t come from a place of compassion but a place of deep pain.  I would suspect that is true for much of the anti-gay right wing, but it is apparent of clear with Mrs. Groff.  I hope she finds peace, but I hope it is not at the expense of GLBT folks.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I have “Skype” don’t mess with me!

by @ 6:05 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

For fun and giggles, I have loaded skype.  My Skype name is joebrummer.  Feel free to give me a shout.   I might turn down your call or I might not.  Give it a go!

Demo – Nonviolent Communication in the Workplace

by @ 4:35 pm. Filed under Nonviolent Communication

What I like about this demo is that it shows what happens when we try to connect with what is going on with someone rather than just assuming they are “demanding” or “unreasonable.”  We could easily make a bunch of moral judgments, evaluations of the woman asking for the work to be done like she is lazy, why doesn’t she do this herself if it really needs to be done.   We could conclude she is “power hungry” as she tries to make people do what she won’t do herself.

Watch and see what evaluations and judgments you come up with for this women before you learn of her needs and feelings.

Without connecting with her need to spend time with her sister, it is unlikely we would have had compassion or empathy for her request.   We might have deducted that she is needy or lazy.  When we instead connect with her needs and feelings, we see that she values family.  She isn’t at all trying to control anyone, she isn’t lazy, she just wants to spend time with her sister.

I also like how in the second try, connecting opened the options of solving the conflict.   Instead of debating whose time was more important or who had the power, they focused on each others needs and strategies to meet the needs.   Options were explored rather than demands being made.

Tell me your thoughts?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quote of the Day!

by @ 9:53 am. Filed under Quote of the Day

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Four D’s of Disconnection Language

by @ 10:08 pm. Filed under hate speech, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

The concept of the Four D’s of Disconnection was first introduced by a writer named Lucy Leu in the book, Nonviolent Communication: Companion Workbook to describe the various ways our choices of words and language disconnect us from others and ourselves.   I have been working on these in the past few weeks as I really resonate with the philosophy and teaching behind them and want to really use them in my life to better connect with those with whom I speak.   Below is my take on the “four D’s” and their meaning.

These talk about how we use language in ways that disconnect us from ourselves and others:

1. Diagnosis (including evaluation, judgment, analysis, criticism and making comparisons):

We disconnect ourselves when we use language as a diagnosis of others or ourselves.  We say things like “you are so lazy” or “I think you are slow” rather than telling people what we need to make life more wonderful for ourselves or others.   Perhaps in a heated moment, rather than connecting with someone’s feelings and needs, we choose to diagnose them by saying, “oh, Your angry” when in reality, they are not angry at all, they are hurt.

The issue with diagnosis is that it isn’t effective to tell people what they are when we could be telling them what we need or what we really feel in the moment.   If we are wanting someone to show up on time, telling then “they don’t care about our feelings” isn’t likely to motivate them to meet our need for punctuality.  If we tell someone “your just lazy”, it is unlikely they are going to feel motivated to help us clean up the dishes.

Such language is ineffective at getting our needs met.   One of the core concepts of NVC is that all behavior is in the service of needs.  The creator of NVC notes that “Moralistic judgments are the tragic expressions of unmet needs.”    When someone says, “You’re so insensitive”, I would bet they are needing emotional connection.   When someone says, “You’re just a liar”, I bet their need is for honesty or transparency.  When someone states, “You talk just too much”, I am betting they have a need to be heard. Either way, moral judgments, evaluation and diagnosis are not connecting us with the energy or needs that will get our needs met regardless what those needs may be.

2. Denial of Responsibility for our feelings and actions:

Keeping in mind that one of the core concept of NVC is that all behavior is in the service of needs, our feelings act as an indicator that our needs are met or not met.   We are happy when are needs are met and we are unhappy when our needs are not met.   It is always our needs and not other people that are responsible for our feelings.  In the book, Being Genuine by French writer, Thomas D’Ansembourg, he uses the metaphor of a dashboard on a car.  The oil light goes on to tell you that you “need” oil.  The service engine soon light comes on to remind you that you “need” to take the car in for a check up and maintenance.   Our feelings do the same thing for us but for our needs.   If we are feeling hungry, we are needing sustenance.  If we are feeling tired, it is an indication we are needing rest.   If we feel lonely, it is the light going off telling us we need connection with others.

Whenever we use language in ways that blame others for our feelings, we are disconnected from the true source of our feelings, our needs.   It is unlikely we can get our needs met when we blame others for our feelings.  “YOU MAKE ME SO MAD” or the ever popular, “You make me feel…..”  It takes the responsibility of our feelings and dumps onto others.    While this is an expression of our needs, it isn’t a clear request, so it is unlike our needs will be met.

There is also the denial of responsibility for our actions.   Our current language allows us to blame our actions on all sorts of reasons outside ourselves.  Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication, writes in his book these 8 ways we deny responsibility for our actions.  He notes how we deny responsibility for our actions when we attribute their causes to

a) Vague, impersonal forces:  “I just had to to it”

b) Our condition, diagnosis, personal or psychological history: “I smoke because I am addicted”

c) The actions of others: “I had to beat him up, he hit on me”

d) The dictates of authority:  “The higher ups made me fire her”

e.) Group Pressure: “I teased her because everyone else was doing it”

f.) Institutional Policies, rules and regulations: “I have to do it because we have a zero tolerance policy”

g.) Gender roles, Social roles, or Age roles:  “I don’t want to cook, but I am a wife and mother”

h.) Uncontrollable impulses: “I just couldn’t help myself”

I understand there are those out there reading this rolling their eyes and saying, that there are just somethings you “have to” do.  I would say name one…..and then try this simple sentence to change the focus of responsibility from one of the above back to you (also adapted from Marshall Rosenberg):

“I choose to [fill in blank] because I need [fill in blank]”

3. Demands: 

We all remember our mothers saying to us, “You stop that crying or I will give you a reason to cry.”  That was a demand.  Demands give the receiver just two choices, either submit or rebel.  If we submit, it is likely out of fear, guilt, shame or manipulation rather than a genuine desire to make others lives more wonderful.  If we rebel, we are walking into the face of conflict for both ourselves and others.    It is unlikely anyone “wants” out of the goodness of their heart to meet a “demand.”  By their nature demands invoke either fear or anger.   On the other hand, when someone makes a request of us, the natural joy of giving and fulfilling others needs comes up.   It reminds me of the holidays or birthdays where we have bought a present for someone.   We can hardly keep ourselves from exploding until we give the person the gift we have prepared for them.   That is the difference between requests and demands.

When we make demands on others, we are disconnected from them but also ourselves.  It is unlikely we will connect with life serving needs if we are making demands.   If we add a degree of “choice” into our requests, they will have a sense of choice.   An example would be, “Would you be willing to stop crying so we can talk about this?”

4.  “Deserve” – oriented language:

We were taught from an early age that bad people deserve punishment and that good people deserve reward.  Sadly, this has been used to control and manipulate us for centuries.   It has been reinforced even in cartoons where the hero, Superman or Spiderman, managed to beat up the bad guy as a sign that justice has been served.   I know as I was growing up this form of justice was propagated with cartoons like the “Justice League” where the team of good guys went searching for ways to stop the bad guys by beating them up.  The hero, of course, was given the reward like a key to the city city.   Such language does more than disconnect us, it helps to maintain the culture of violence against anyone we deem “bad.”

Much like #1 at the top of this list, deserve language consists of  moralistic judgments that determine who should get what.  We call others, good, bad, right, wrong, sinful, righteous, or even holy.   I am reminded of the famous quote by the philosopher, Rumi which says, “Out beyond the fields of wrongness and rightness there is a place, I’ll meet you there.”   When we are only telling people what we think they deserve, it is unlikely we will have connected with them on a needs level that gets our needs met.  It is also unlikely we will be able to help meet their needs.

I hope that this is a good start at getting you to think about the different words you use to connect with others.   If you are speaking or writing and hoping you will motivate others into action, these are some things to consider!   Especially, as we approach the holidays and many of us will spend time with our families.   It might be better to rethink telling Aunt Miriam how she is “too needy” or telling Uncle Frank how is he “has to sit” at the kid’s table.    It is amazing how language changes the connection we try to make with others.   We have choices, we can choose language that connects us or language the builds walls between us and the needs that met, would make life more wonderful for all of us.

 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Evolution: The True Story of Man

by @ 3:06 pm. Filed under Atheism, Evolution

One piece of literal readings of the bible that get me is the idea that the earth was created, including man, in just 6 days.   The idea that in the year 2008, anyone still believes this to be true shocks me every time I hear it.  ABC news is running this great series about the fossil records of man.  I would urge you to take a look as just the record shows that this 6 day, 10,000 year old earth story is outlandish.

The story walks you through much of the evidence for the evolution of man.  I think one of the reasons that religious folks don’t want to accept this evidence is that it means they need to reject a part of the bible.  In their eyes, if one piece of the bible is wrong, it is all wrong.

ABC NEWS

Photo: Frank Franklin II / AP file

The Basics of Nonviolent Communication

by @ 9:56 am. Filed under Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

Those of you who visit this site often know that I have taken a life journey into the philosophy of nonviolence.  I have studied the theory as it has been presented by Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh.  As of late, my journey has led me to learn and now what to teach others the process known as Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

Yesterday, I was made aware of a great tool for others to learn NVC online, for free.   Of course, being the bookworm that I am, I would suggest you read the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life or the book, Speak Peace both by the creator of Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, but this online course is a good start for beginners and certainly won’t take long to read through the basics.

This new site I discovered yesterday via a listserv I am on for NVC supporters was created by a man named, Mark Ravitz and I like the young, hip feel he has given NVC.   I invite you to take some time and give the basic course in NVC a try.  Try it and see if it resonates with you.   I would also request that after looking at the process, if you would return to this forum and tell me what your thoughts are on the process.

You can find the basic course here.

In December, I will have the pleasure of spending 9 days in New Mexico doing a residential, International Intensive training in Nonviolent Communication led by Marshall Rosenberg.  I am excited to do this as I truly believe this philosophy can help change the way people connect with each other.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Speaking Truth in Love or Just Spewing Hate?

by @ 10:45 am. Filed under Ex-gays, hate speech, Nonviolence

Pastor Daryl Foster of the blog, Gay Christian Watch has posted an interesting article of the same title on his site asking those of us that accuse him of spewing  hate to justify our accusation under his terms.   Foster writes:

If you are going to qualify your accusations of hate, you’ll have to demonstrate that in real terms and with discoverable evidence. Otherwise, I will continue believing what I have previously believed: your accusations are without merit. I’ll continue to believe your accusations are little more than childish gripes because our writings don’t affirm homosexual conduct or your affinities for homosexual sin. That’s simply a pov that I reject as valid.

He then goes on to list eight questions to be answered in his terms that will answer whether or not he is speaking hate or truth.   The questions are carefully crafted and completely biased to favor his side of the argument, the first of which is the notion that homosexuality is just a conduct and not an emotional state of being.  Something there is loads of science to contradict and even plain logic would show that being homosexual is more than just conduct.  Regardless of how one ended up being gay, the fact of the matter is that science agrees this is about a state of being, not one’s actions.

I do find it amusing he wants real terms and discoverable evidence to determine if he is hateful, but doesn’t need those things to prove the existence of the god he is using to justify his actions in the first place.  That is a completely different article and I will restrain myself from going there.

My issue with Foster’s challenge, aside from its biased slant, is that I don’t believe the intention is genuine.  From an emotional connection stand point, Foster’s questions are loaded.  It is obvious to anyone reading the questions and the tone of the paragraphs precluding them, that Foster isn’t interested in learning the truth, empathizing or understanding his adversary’s point of view.   So, the questions are just a debate, not a discussion.  The goal of a discussion is to learn and get to the truth where the purpose of a debate is to win.  Pastor Foster’s goal is to back the reader into a corner and say “I told you so”, but that isn’t how human connections and understanding happen.  If he was truly after a better understanding of why pro-gay folks like myself truly believe he is spewing hate, he would have taken a more empathetic and disarming approach to seeking the answers.  When your questions are designed to make you “right” then you are not looking for the real answers, you just want the answers that make it appear you are right, even if you are not.

Now let’s look at, and even perhaps answer a few of his eight questions:

1. What exactly has this site [Gay Christian Movement Watch (GCW)] done that can be qualified as hate or hateful against homosexuals, religious or political?

My answer would be “misinform” the public on the facts about homosexuality.   One cannot address the issues of sexuality clearly by just reading the bible.   There is at least 75 years of science regarding homosexuality that Foster ignores, misrepresents or just just disregards.  While there is much about the science that is debated, there is also many answers generally agreed upon by the scientific community when we talk about homosexuality.  Foster and his site, generally misinform the public about the details and facts of homosexuality.

Next, I would say, it isn’t the message but how the message is delivered.   Foster tends to over-simplify the issue of sexuality as just something like a switch that one can turn off and on as long as one believes in god.   This again, ignores the science, it also ignores the stories of folks like Peterson Toscano who spent decades of prayer and thousands of dollars trying to change his sexuality only to be brought to the brink of suicide.   When you add this to Foster’s “I am right, you are wrong” approach to the issue, it is the misinformation and presentation that is really the hateful part of your message.  I might suggest that the same messages could be delivered without the hate, but it requires a change of approach.

2. According to the Bible, how is hate defined?

This is again, another loaded question.   Foster is out to say, if the bible says it isn’t hate then it is not hate.   I have seen people use the bible to justify just about anything.  Over the course the last 1000 years we have seen amazing injustices, justified by someone saying they could do it because the bible said they could.   Here, one can only assume that Foster is going to claim any interpretation of the bible’s definition of hate is incorrect and then give some lame excuse as to why.   Problem again, we have seen this method of justification used for 100 years.  It doesn’t make injustice any more moral when you can find a way to use the bible to justify it.

If you truly want to answer the overall question at hand, all parties looking to determine hate vs. truth would need to agree on a definition of hate and then examine Foster’s site in light of the agreed upon definition, unless all parties agree that the bible’s definition is acceptable to the discussion.

3. What neutral criteria do you use to determine if a person is speaking in hate and not in love? Be specific.

Question number 3 is crafty.   What neutral criteria exists?  Is there a secret “hate-ometer I am unaware of?   How about history.   We have 1000 years of study in communication and messaging.  We can look back at the different types of messages and propaganda and determine what affect they had on societies.    We know what types of message invoke what types of responses from the public for the last 100 years or so.   It is the same type  of crafty messaging that makes people believe all sorts of crazy stuff, like they need a pet rock or that electromagnetic headbands can cure cancer.  When we compare Foster’s messaging to what we know from history are tactics of propaganda that lead to violence, we can see a trend.    Sadly, this has been pointed out to Foster many times.  I must admit, his messaging has gotten better over the last several years, but has a long, long way to go before this writer would stop calling it hate. (I would suggest you start by changing your tone from condescending preacher who knows everything and has the perfect interpretation of the bible to one of a humble, compassionate servant who wished to understand and then apply scripture to others pain)

4.  Explain how can a nonbiased [sic] person can determine that someone is hateful against homosexuals?

Perhaps it is my own personal mistrust of Foster but this too seems like a loaded question.  “Nonbiased?”  I have yet to meet someone “unbiased” on the issues of abortion, homosexuality or the death penalty.   If Foster really wants to answer this question, I would think the question should ask, “What criteria can we agree on, regardless what side of this argument you are on, to determine if something is hateful against a certain group?”  Once the criteria is defined and agreed upon by both parties having the “discussion,” a more careful and objective look could be taken at Foster’s own website and messages.   For me, I don’t think Foster wants a “discussion” about hate vs. truth, I think he wants a debate.   Debates are about winning and proving you are right regardless of truth.   Discussion is when you truly want to understand your opponents interests and positions and perhaps make change in that thinking.

5. Is strong, vocal opposition to an idea, person or organization hateful?

This is a tricky question.   There are three questions here, not one. To start,  I think there have been great leaders in this area of strong, vocal opposition over the past few centuries.   Gandhi was a strong, vocal opposition to the class system, British rule in India, poverty and living past your means.   He advocated to people to live simply, so others could simply live.   Martin Luther King, Jr. was another great example of being vocal and strong against war and violence, but as he stated in paper called, My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence, “we must fight the forces of evil not the people doing the evil.”

One can be a strong and vocal opposition to an idea like slavery, oppression, separate but equal living, but one CANNOT be opposed to a person or organization.  We could be opposed to ideas held by a person or an organization, but not to a person or organization.   To be opposed to a person or organization is to be more than hateful, it is to be violent and to advocate violence.   One can be opposed to actions, ideas, philosophies, even religions but not people or the organizations made up of people.   One can be opposed to the idea of guns.  One can be opposed to the action of owning or carrying a gun.   One should never be opposed to people who carry guns.  One should never be opposed to an organization opposed to guns, they should be opposed to the “idea” against guns because the organization is made of people, not ideas.   I may be opposed to the tactics of the NRA, I may be opposed to the message of the NRA, I may be opposed to the ideas of the NRA, but like any person or group of persons, I believe in their potential to change.

6. How do you interpret Ephesians 4:15?

I think, if we are truly looking for truth about what Foster is accomplishing with his site whether or not it is hate or truth, we will need objective and concrete tools and measurements that everyone at the table agrees are the guidelines of the discussion.   We cannot build a square house if we all interpret an “inch” as something different.   Centuries have taught us we all do not interpret the scripture in the same way.   Especially when you are talking about one line of the bible taken out of context of the other sentences around it.  So my answer to this question should be taken in context of the conversation just like this line of scripture should be read in context of a letter from a man named, Paul and how he made the statement and to whom.  As a side not, I am not even sure how that scripture could be applied here, but that is a completely different conversation and I am not sure I care about the answer that much.

7. By whose definition and interpretation of love is the Christian church to adhere to?

Depends on what you are talking about here.  If this question is in context to whether or not GCW is spewing hate or speaking truth, again I think my mediation skills come out to play.   If the goal here is to determine concretely that GCW is spewing hate or speaking truth then we also need concrete definitions that everyone at the table agrees on before moving to the next step.   I have learned as a mediator that things cannot be left to interpretation.  The way to come to definite, concrete agreements is to be clear.  So for the sake of this context, it is not relevant how Christian’s define love when determining the answer to the questions of hate vs. truth.   What matters is that everyone agrees on a definition of love and a definition of hate and then see if GCW fits one or the other.  Of course, I don’t believe the world is that black and white.  I would think that, as Gandhi said nicely, each of holds a piece of the truth and a piece of the untruth.  When we all sit at the table and strip away what we agree is untruth, all that is left for all of us, is the truth.  With that said, I would say Foster has a piece of the truth and a piece of the untruth, just like all of us.

8. Are you willing to admit that it might be your personal involvement with homosexuality or your personal views that have shaped your criticisms and not any actual acts of hate?

Any question that starts with “are you willing to admit…” is the same as saying “see I told you I am right.”  I could just as easily have made the same statement right back at Foster in reverse, but that isn’t the real issue at hand.   Of course our personal views and involvement shape our views about anything, but you have to admit there are many heterosexuals who share my views without the involvement and they still think you are spewing hate.   I would have to say, to be as honest as possible that my most likely a little of both is in play here for both myself and Foster.   First define what you mean by involvement.  Are we talking people who are gay but not having sex or dating? Are we talking about involvement in ministry to those who are same sex attracted? By that definition you could answer the same question.

Of course both mine and Foster’s involvement in and around homosexuality shape our criticism of what is and isn’t hate that is what puts us on opposite sides of the table.   The question goes both ways, but Foster is only looking for the question to be answered in one way.  That is why it is a loaded question designed to provoke the answer Foster wants, not the one that is the truth.  If Foster truly wants the truth, one would need to sit at the table with an unbiased mediator and come to some terms and agreements about what is and isn’t hate, what are the definitions of truth, love and such and then look at the messaging of both sides and see who is spewing hate and who is talking truth in love.   Either way, these questions are not going to provoke honest discussion or honest answers because they are designed to provoke only the answers Foster wants and not what needs to be addressed.   My suggestion to Pastor Foster is that you would need an independent source for the criteria of a hate.  Only a third party could develop those questions independent of the parties involved.

UPDATE:  I will most likely update and alter this article as the day goes on.  Check back for updates.   My first is that I wonder if Foster is feeling tired of being accused of hate message because he would like to be seen as doing the right thing?  I wonder what is going on for him and what is coming up for him that cause him to choose to write this article.

UPDATE: Foster didn’t get the answer he had hoped for, so he has taken down and then reposted the same article.  I have updated my link.

Friday, October 10, 2008

BREAKING NEWS! CT Supreme Court Says Gays Have a Right To Marry!

by @ 10:59 am. Filed under Gay News

The Connecticut Supreme Court announced at 11:30am this morning that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry.  In a 4-3 decision the court ruled that civil unions do not provided the same protections of marriage and that marriage laws only applied to heterosexuals, thus not affording rights to all.

From the ruling:

“Although we acknowledge that many legislators and
many of their constituents hold strong personal convictions
with respect to preserving the traditional concept
of marriage as a heterosexual institution, such beliefs,
no matter how deeply held, do not constitute the
exceedingly persuasive justification required to sustain
a statute that discriminates on the basis of a quasisuspect
classification.”

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