My Theology

ExPluribusUnum, or "one from many", is the Shortest Way to Describe My Theology.

I believe that we are all mere human beings trying to make sense of our existence; so we should keep that in mind when we interact with one another. We are one people, composed of many persons. "God" is found in the love we share. The only way to get to that holy place is to practice more love!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Resolutions 20:15

It's 2015 now, and a question that's asked over and over this time of year is "what are your new year's resolutions?" Generally, my response has been something along the lines of, "I don't make new year's resolutions". This year, however, I decided to set several goals for the year and so I have shared those with people instead of resolutions. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how foolish I'm being. What good is a goal if you don't have the resolve to strive to attain it? So to any of you who received my self-righteous answer, I apologize! And I resolve to make a decent effort to achieve the following goals in the year ahead:

  1. Health. My management of my own health has been half-assed and reactive for several years now. I have pretty much been coasting along and only addressing issues as they've arisen. In 2015 I will be more proactive and manage my physical and mental health in better ways. Now that I'm approaching 36 — which is not that old! — I can't really afford to take my fitness for granted.
  2. Education. I have been telling myself for almost half my life now (!) that I will return to school to finish the undergraduate degree that I began but never completed. Once again, there have been half-ass attempts in the past to do this, but it's time to hunker down and git-r-done! (sorry...couldn't help it.) I also want to attend seminary and explore the possibility of becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister of some sort. That'll be easier with the undergraduate experience.
  3. Redacted*.
  4. Family. I am very liberal, progressive, and open in just about every way you can imagine. But there are still areas where I have more traditionally-minded opinions. Last year, my partner and I became husbands by legally marrying in a beautiful ceremony at our church. See? Traditional. This year, I would like to do the research needed for us to lay the roots we would like for our family. Will we buy a house? Will we have children? Will I finally take a class in personal finance and become a real grown-up? 
  5. Relationships. I have admitted more than once that I have not been the best friend for the past several years, and I have not done much to sustain loving relationships with family members either. I can come up with many reasons why this has become the case, but I don't want to make excuses. I can and will do better! I will send cards, write letters, make phone calls, and visit more often. This is absolutely necessary.
  6. Spirituality. I will pay more attention to my spiritual life, and will do the things that bring me peace, joy, happiness, and edification. Some of these are playing music, attending performances, reading, writing, studying, hiking, praying, speaking French, being mindful, being grateful, going to church regularly, and making my husband happy.
  7. Purpose. I will be more purposeful about my life. One way I will do this, for now, is by adding more structure to my days so that I can actually pay attention to the goals I have set for myself for the year. I will review my goals periodically to make sure that I am working toward their attainment, and I will add/subtract goals as they are needed or met.
So, there they are. My new year's resolutions as of today, January 6, 2015. Your prayers and support will be greatly appreciated for the next twelve months. I got this, y'all! Thank you.

I'll link related posts below as they are written. Happy New Year!

*Goal #3 will be revealed when appropriate.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do Black lives really matter in America?

If, God forbid, I were to be killed by an officer of the law, I wonder what types of things would be alleged about me in public conversation.

I wonder what sorts of opinions would be shared by the public at large. How would my character be maligned? What misjudgment would I have made that would turn out to be the ultimate cause of my justified killing? How would everyone come to believe that it was my fault? Because, of course, it would be my fault.

Some parents advise their children just to be themselves and act naturally if they have an encounter with the police. Other parents, black parents, have to teach their children that acting naturally is dangerous and can get them killed. Black youth have to learn to be character actors in order to survive. Literally.

“But A – you don’t have anything to worry about. You aren't in a gang, you aren't a thug, you don’t commit crimes. You’re respectable, you’re well-liked, you don’t get into trouble.”

Does it matter? No. Black skin is threatening. Black speech is threatening. Black culture is threatening. Shoot first, ask questions later. If I ever found myself “in a situation”, would I live long enough to play The Part? Would I live long enough to play that role that we – Black children – are all taught, and convince a scared cop that I am not in fact dangerous?

You see, all Americans grow up in a racist society. You may think that you are not a racist. Indeed, you may not be a bigot with overt racial prejudices spilling from your lips; but the institution of racism is alive, well and thoroughly embedded in our society and culture. Each of us is taught to fear The Black Man. The Black Man is a savage beast. The Black Man is a wanton criminal. The Black Man must be kept in check. The Black Man is a menace to society – his number must be closely managed. We are all taught to fear The Black Man.

We have all been raised in a society that has taught me to fear my own reflection. I watch you cross the street when walking toward me on the sidewalk at night. I watch you women clutch your purses a little closer. I watch you stare straight ahead and walk sternly forward, ignoring my “hello, good evening”. But it’s OK, I understand. I’m dangerous, and you’re just using common sense – the sense of self-preservation that every good American has. I do the same thing if I’m approached by two or more black men that I don’t know. Obviously, they are up to no good. Otherwise, they wouldn't be walking together, right? What business do two or more black men have prowling around like that? It’s unseemly. Obviously, their “hello, good evening” is a pretense to get my attention so they can taunt me, rob me, or beat me, or tauntmerobmebeatme all at once. Right? Obviously. What in the world could a random Black Man that I don't know –  a stranger – have to say to me on the street? Nothing good, obviously. Black culture glorifies violence, right? I mean, there's so much else for the average Black Man to focus on, right? So much sunshine and rainbows...right?

How much deeper the fear for someone who doesn't look anything like me at all? How much more afraid must someone be who doesn't have an insider’s knowledge, who doesn't know any “good” Black Men (what are those?).

None of this makes any sense. Am I just rambling? How do we make sense of race in America? How do I make sense of my existence? Do you have to make sense of your existence? Do you have to think of excuses to explain why you are? Do I have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Am I still only 3/5 a person?

Do you ever have to ask yourselves these questions? Where do the answers come from? Are there any answers?

You, America, you brought me here against my will. I have played by your rules. I have been a slave. I have been a servant. I have been every sort of subservient, impoverished, groveling not-quite-a-man (in your eyes, yes...in my eyes, hmm...in reality?), and I can’t win. And now you don’t want me here. Where can I go? Where is home? Who am I? When I stand up for myself, you beat me down. I beat myself down, because I have been taught that it is too dangerous to speak when I haven’t been spoken to. When I stand up for myself, I am playing the race card, because after you've suffered injustice for long enough, is it still injustice?

Or is it just Life?

Even when I am successful, I cannot win. “That’s pretty impressive, for a Black Man! You're so well-spoken! So articulate!” Sounds like, “Wow, I didn't know monkeys could talk!” Yes, the successful Black Man is a trained monkey. Right? When will I be allowed to be fully human? When will you respect me, America? When will I be able to stop looking over my shoulder? When can I stop carefully monitoring what I can say, what I can do, how I can move in the world? Because the world was made for You, and I’m an ingrate of a guest in your house. Of all the possible outcomes to this game, is there any where The Black Man can win?

I’d settle for a draw.

But still, I wonder what America would say about me if I were to be cut down before my time. Do you ever wonder about such things? When will I stop fearing my own reflection? How will you help me? What more must I do to help you?

Do Black lives matter? How can you tell?

Monday, June 9, 2014

#tigers4love

During the work week, I usually set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. My commute is a rather long one, generally lasting at least 90 minutes, but more often than not around 2 hours or more. Each way. I try to use all of this travel time productively—by reading, listening to interesting podcasts, meditating, writing, learning new languages...it's time well spent! And I love my job, so it's all good. In any case, I usually hit snooze several times before I actually drag myself out of bed and get going. But today was different.

Last night, I went ahead and set my alarm for 5:30 and realized that I would really have to get up when it went off. Why? Because I was made aware that members of the Westboro Baptist Church would be traveling to Tenleytown to protest at Wilson High School, a school that I pass almost every day on my way to work in nearby Chevy Chase, and I wanted to show up in support of them in their loving counter-protest. So at 5:30 this morning I forced myself out of bed, showered and dressed, and headed to DC.

I had intended to wear one of my yellow "Standing On the Side of Love" t-shirts because the student organizers asked that people representing others groups and organizations wear identifiable (and hopefully colorful!) clothing, and also because it's become sort of a habit for us Unitarian Universalists to wear this uniform when demonstrating for a cause. However, my brain was not quite awake when I left the house, and I left the t-shirt at home. Oops. Once I finally arrived in Tenleytown I did indeed see some "love people", and I went over to them and introduced myself. I was happy to note that there were other people of different faiths present as well, witnessing to the reality that love really is greater and broader than the hate espoused by the WBC.

But the most amazing thing of all, and the most inspiring, and the most hopeful, is that this significant event was organized by and realized through the efforts of students at the high school. The high school version of me from the mid-90s could not possibly have imagined a world in which not only would it be possible to be out about my sexuality, but that I would have the support of my school, my neighborhood, and my broader community as a gay young man deserving of respect and of love. But this is the reality for the teenagers who attend Wilson High School (and their principal!), and for students in others schools with GSAs—including my alma mater, which I hear has begun a group in the past few years. When I recall the dark depressive moods I would endure, obsessed with thoughts of suicide but never willing to attempt it (thank God), my inner teenager weeps with joy for the possibilities available to high school students these days. That younger me didn't think I would ever make it past the age of 20, much less that I would grow into a happy, loved adult, and that I would be able to marry the love of my life legally. These kids don't have to wonder as much. For them, the possibility of future and present happiness is very real, and they know it. It truly is amazing how much the world has changed in this relatively short time.

And in the midst of all the chanting and the cheering and the general merry-making, there was one young lady with a simple sign that read "Christian values equal LOVE!" So simple. And so not the message of vitriolic hatefulness promoted by the Westboro Baptist Church. I'd choose the message of the students at Wilson over the WBC any day. These students get it. They can teach the world a thing or two.

#tigers4love


"Christian values equal Love!"