Monday, December 14, 2009

Totally on Facebook

Dear all who used to read this with some regularity. I am pretty much posting everyday on Facebook rather than here. Facebook is easier and more convenient, and more folks are accessing church information there like never before. As a result, this blog will be sparse until the time when I make the difficult decision to end it altogether. If you would like to follow me on Facebook, simply befriend me at

And that's it!

This may be a late time for me to thank you all for reading this blog but, Thanks just the same.

See you Facebook!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Join me on Facebook

As you can see, I am seldom on my blog anymore. You can join me in daily conversations and read my rants and insights by befriending me on Facebook. To do so, go to and befriend me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What Truman Did

I found this post on Harvey Fierstein's Facebook update just now. It is as applicable today as when Truman issued his executive order back then:

Does anyone remember what Harry Truman did? He knew it was the right thing to integrate the armed forces. Congress threatened action against him. The Chiefs of Staff threatened to quit. He said, "I will see your resignations on my desk." And then he integrated the armed forces with an executive order. There were NO resignations. Congress did not act against him. And he changed the world by doing the right thing.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What the Bible says about Marriage

Here is some bona fide satire. Still, it's worth watching. And you just gotta love Ms. Betty Bowers. (smile)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another great video

The whole idea of voting by majority rule to take away someone's rights would be appalling to most if we were talking about anything except gay marriage. This video does a nice job in explaining that.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Orwellian Decision

"I feel it's a blow to families," he said. "It marginalizes the decisions that parents face every day in regard to their children's medical care. It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us."

Court appointed attorney Philip Elbert after a judge ordered a teenager to receive chemotherapy even though the teenager and his parents have chosen not to have it based on their religious beliefs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thinking of Closing this Blog

You know, I have been posting things on this blog for years now. I have had such a groovy affinity to it and have loved having a place where I can vent politically. Even though it's also caused me some pain (ne: when the search committee at my present church discovered and actually read older posts on here).

In another way, closing this blog may make me feel as if I'd be leaving a dear friend, saying goodbye too soon. I have enjoyed the comments, the debates, and the exchange of ideas. And yet, most of those things haven't happened in a long while. Blogging on here has lost a part of its charm and it's not as new and exciting as it once was.

Now that I am on Facebook, I find I have a place to vent or be fabulously political, if the mood hits. So, I have been thinking it's time to shut this thing down. I still have another blog (a church one) that'll keep me online and posting my thoughts and 'brain droppings' from time to time.

I'll make a decision soon, one way or the other.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Traditional Values Coalition: Dishonest or Dumb

I found this video on a friend's Facebook page and really deserves your viewing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Harry Potter Trailer

Holy Cow, this is incredible! You gotta see this trailer. I am psyched about this upcoming movie.

By the way, this trailer has one preview and another with behind the scenes commentary, so keep watching after the commercial at the end of the first trailer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

h/t Kenneth in the (212)

Making Sense of the Teabagging

I've been trying to understand the 'tea-bagging' phenom that's been happening all week. From my best guess, it's meant as a demonstration against Obama's proposed budget attempt to invigorate the economy through spending. While Obama is doing something akin to FDR who tried to reinvigorate America through the WPA and other building projects, many folks either don't remember that or think such an effort is patriotically unAmerican. Interestingly, while much money has been spent trying to reinvigorate Wall Street, those concerned feel that spending money on other projects may be detrimental to the health of our destabilized economy. Many fear such an attempt is akin to Socialization, something that is meant to sound Marxist (I guess) and not for patriotic Americans.

So, protests have risen up to challenge money being poured into State's pockets to provide more jobs, building projects, and social service agencies by using the early Colonies' Tea Party as an illustration of their protest.

Personally, I am amazed by the protests because they don't make any sense. However, I am also amazed by how the Republican 'trickle down economy' has been so ingrained in the mindsets of the poor, that they're willing to do whatever it takes to get it back. It's fine to pump trillions of dollars into Wall Street, but not for middle America. Put money in the coffers of those who ripped off America, but don't put a dime into programs that'll put people back to work. In so many ways, such a mindset is truly mindbloggling to me.

And what's more, even some of the tea-bagging protestors are a bit clueless as to why their protesting. One wonders if they're just angry that Obama won the election.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Familiar Critique

I just now stumbled upon this cartoon and thought it appropriate to the conversation.

Vermont is so COOL!

I have had a rather busy day today. All told, I have put together two worship services (Maundy Thursday and finalized Easter), have gone to the bank, bought a belt at K-Mart, and stopped off at H&R Block to do my taxes. I am now back at work having more things to get done.

I went online after I returned to my office and discovered the headlines that Vermont has passed gay marriage by over-riding Gov. Douglas' veto to become the 4th state to allow gay marriage. I am so excited I can hardly sit still. This is wonderful news as New Jersey is set to vote on gay marriage this year (hopefully) and perhaps even New York by next year. It does make a heart swell with pride that gay marriage in the East has become a reality for so many. As I type this, I am looking at Jay's picture on my desk knowing that one day he and I will be able to get married too.

Anyways, I also logged onto Facebook to read my friends' reaction to the news. Just about all of them are as ecstatic as I am. One in particular had a funny post that I am going to post here. I may have posted this already in ages past (because it looks familiar) but am going to post it again for its funny irony.

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

h/t to Margaret Aymer Oget on Facebook for the joke

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jay Brannan has a New One

One of my fav all time new singers has a new video out. I just love his brash, tell it like it is, music. This one is titled, Can't Have It All. I hope you enjoy it.

h/t towleroad

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lord Take this Away

From Andrew Sullivan's Blog:

I went through this myself - being gay and Christian and struggling to reconcile the two. It is never easy, but the voices of gay Christians, especially the young, are changing the world and the church in ways that, in my view, Jesus would embrace and rejoice in. Here's a trailer from an upcoming DVD you can buy here, "Through My Eyes." Even those orthodox Christians who refuse to compromise on Biblical literalism would, I think, benefit from listening to the experiences and testimony of the people they are actually talking about:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gay Pride 2009

This video was recently released commemorating the 40th anniversary of Stonewall and honoring gay pride. It's a history of gay rights since then.

Bear Pole Dance

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Dan Band does Single Ladies

By now, you've prolly seen a ton of YouTube videos on Beyonce's Single Ladies. Some are hilarious, others are embarrassingly horrid. Still, it's a lot of fun, right? Below could be one of the best copycats of the song done by a mechanic and two communters. I simply loved it.

Go here to see another interpretation of it. Here another. Or here to see the Lady herself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some more Obscure Chuck Norris Facts

I don't know what it is about Texas and Oklahoma's love for all things Chuck Norris. It could be he kicks butt wonderfully well, that he was a world karate champion for a looooooong time, or because he's also a vocal and recognized Christian celebrity and is a regular contributer to World Net Daily, a Christian fundamentalist news source. Still, a friend posted on his Facebook page these interesting and obscure facts about ol' Chuck and found them hilarious. I hope you do too (even if he's scary conservative).

1. If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.
2. There is no “ctrl” button on Chuck Norris’s computer. Chuck Norris is always in control.
3. Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.
4. Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird
5. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
6. Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
7. “Chuck Norris has volunteered to remain on earth after the Rapture; he will spend his time fighting the Anti-Christ.”
8. Chuck Norris once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger, by yelling, "Bang!"
9. Chuck Norris can hit you so hard that he can actually alter your DNA. Decades from now your descendants will occasionally clutch their heads and yell "What The Hell was That?"
10. When Chuck Norris falls in water, Chuck Norris doesn't get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.

You can read more amazing "facts" by checking out Chuck Norris Facts.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Very Interestingly Insightful Interview with Frank Schaeffer

Former Evangelist Frank Schaeffer and Author of Crazy for God Smashes Religious Right, Republicans & Rush Limbaugh on CNN's D.L. Hughley - 03/07/09

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Milk Outta My Nose

For whatever reason, I laughed out loud at this cartoon. And, I know this isn't nearly as funny for the folks affected by Citibank. It does make me wonder, however, if I'll be able to get out of paying back my school loans (which are through Citibank) if something happens to them. Ahh, the moral conundrums I face.

Go here to see the cartoon at the Town Called Dobson website.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Christian Bashing?

Seriously, there are some Christians who are appropriating this term, once used by gay, lesbian, and transgender persons who've been physically attacked and put in the hospital. They use it to mean that people don't like them or are criticizing them. We use it to when we've been attacked. Check out this video and see if being Christian-bashed is the same as being gay-bashed.

h/t the bilerico project

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oklahoma Passes Sovereignty Bill

I found this post today at I am wondering if I am misunderstanding something--is my homestate's bigotry so outlandish that it'd leave the union over immigration, gay, and other social rights, if the federal government mandated them?

Sometimes it's embarrassing coming from what I was raised to believe was the greatest state in the Union, where the buffalo roam, where deer and antelope play..where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day. Heck, if you asked me, that old song doesn't mean crap nowadays.

Now I am even wondering if Klan membership is increasing there.

Perhaps I am misreading something. Here, you read it:

Spurred by President Obama's stimulus package, today the Oklahoma House passed a bill declaring the state sovereign from any rule of the federal government not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, the first shot in a growing national movement intended to give states the power to defy federal laws on a broad range of issues from abortion to gun control to hate crimes.

Via the Christianist site WorldNetDaily:

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 1003 Feb. 18 by a wide margin, 83 to 13, resolving, "That the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. "The language of HJR 1003 further serves notice to the federal government "to cease and desist, effectively immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers." The sponsor of the resolution, state Rep. Charles Key, told WND the measure was a 'big step toward addressing the biggest problem we have in this country – the federal government violating the supreme law of the land." "The Constitution either means what it says, or it doesn't mean anything at all," Key said. "The federal government must honor and obey the Constitution, just like the states and this citizens of this country are obligated to do, or our system of government begins to fall apart."
Eight other states have sovereignty bills pending, another twelve have bills on the way. Some legal sources call the bills merely symbolic, saying that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution renders such efforts moot. Others are calling the sovereignty movement the thin wedge of a coming secessionist effort largely driven by disagreements over social policy issues such as gay rights, immigration, and freedom of religion.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something Funny

An elderly woman decided to prepare her will and told her preacher she had two final requests: First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Wal-Mart.

"Wal-Mart?" the preacher exclaimed. "Why Wal-Mart?"

"Then I'll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week."

Here's another t-shirt

Time Travel t-shirt @
Time Travel t-shirt design @ ©

Go here for other cool t-shirts and look around, you can find them for $15.

Know a Geek or Nerd?

Then buy them this t-shirt, they'll really love you.

Particle Physics t-shirt @
Particle Physics t-shirt design @ ©

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Vision of Students Today

This is insightful and fun to watch. I wonder how a parent might respond.

I found this on Facebook posted by my friends Jane Ann Groom and Susan Gibson.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Cheeseburger like No Other

Here is an honest to goodness cheeseburger to make you either cringe in fear or fall down and worship.

Technically it is a bacon cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme glazed donut.

Seriously. You have got to check out this post about all things bacon.

Lego Pics

The NY Times published a great story about a man with his lego blocks and all the images are about NYC. If you live there, have lived there, or want to live there, you'll enjoy the story.

h/t Anne C.'s Facebook page

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This is Just Dang Funny (and Sad)

Check out the dog's totally feel for him, right?

Here's the context of the picture in the video:

h/t Towleroad

If I Were Straight

Here is an interestingly motivating and insightfully positive way to look at being gay:

h/t Queerty

1.5 Gigapixel Picture

I cannot even upload this photo on my blogger account, it's too BIG! So follow the link and then zoom in wherever to see one heck of an amazing photograph in great detail. This photo was taken at Obama's inauguration.

A True to Life 'Prayers for Bobby' Story

In the event you watched Prayers for Bobby last night (on Saturday), you may feel that the drama in the story was hard to understand. Sure, Bobby had endured a lot of pressure and religious bigotry from his family but there came a time when he left home, lived in a big city, and found a handsome lover. And yet, in the middle of his success, he committed suicide. What kind of emotional baggage would there be that would follow someone once they left the abuse situation?

This afternoon I found this story on The Bilerico Project about a Trevor Project helpline (a teen suicide prevention hotline). Reading the story, you are left wondering about the situation, what turmoil the kid must have endured, and ultimately, as the story ends, so does our knowledge of what happened next. For some kids, this is a resonating story. What a tragedy!


Editor's Note: "Stories from the Helpline" is a recurring feature on The Bilerico Project, bringing in the personal accounts of Helpline counselors from The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. This installment comes from Kenny Ballinger, a volunteer Helpline counselor on The Trevor Helpline. He volunteers at The Randy Stone West Coast Call Center in Los Angeles. Thumbnail image for Kenny.jpg

I wanted to share with you about an experience that changed my life, the day I realized that my problems seemed to hold no value compared to those in need or the youth who call The Trevor Helpline.

On January 1, 2009 I arrived at the Randy Stone Call Center in Los Angeles, aka The Trevor Project, West Coast Call Center. Over the past few weeks I had worked roughly 4 prior shifts, all in which superseded another; in call volume and true help line calls.

The phone rang, and knowing that we've learned to expect the unexpected- I answered, "The Trevor Helpline, this is Kenny- what's going on?" My caller, in a calm, confident, juvenile tone replied with a simple question: "What's this line for?" I casually replied with a paraphrased mission-like statement of what The Trevor Project was: "Well, we're the only nationwide LGBTQ Youth Suicide Prevention/Crisis Hotline" I quickly added "What's your name buddy?" He quickly said "I'm Marcus."

Marcus was 16 years old living in the great state of Texas - Houston to be exact. During the first 5 minutes of casual talk with Marcus, he didn't sound distraught; he didn't sound like he was in a crisis - and what I mean by that is that his breathing was well-paced, no emotions were evident, nor was his talking irrationally. When I asked Marcus why he was calling the helpline, he calmly stated he was just checking it out.

It seemed the call was moving at a slow pace, as Marcus did not allow me much opportunity to project the direction of his call, as his thoughts and emotions were very much neutral. I casually reminded Marcus that he was calling a crisis suicide prevention hotline and was curious to know if he was in a crisis. "No," he replied. "Did something happen tonight that you needed to talk about?" I asked. "Nothing in particular," he stated. "Have you ever thought about killing yourself, Marcus?" I asked. "All the time," he said. "Are you thinking about taking your life tonight, Marcus?" I asked. He said ever so casually, "Yes, I've come to peace and I called looking for permission to take my life."

I had to ask myself, "Did I hear him right? He just asked for permission to kill himself, but yet he didn't hesitate in his breath, his sentence, not a tear, no sign of emotion."

I allowed a moment for silence, so he and I could both comprehend his comment. I then allowed an additional moment for him to perhaps clarify his comment. However Marcus said nothing, he was confident in his gesture. I replied in a tone as if he'd asked for a drink of water, and said "Well, Marcus, I unfortunately cannot give you permission to kill yourself, but why don't you tell me about these thoughts you have and where or what they come from?" His simple remark was that "I've had enough- that it was time for me to die." I've worked many shifts, but no caller has ever captured me in a call with very little emotion, let alone none at all, as Marcus was easily portraying.

I truly believed that Marcus needed a shoulder to cry on, a person to talk to, a friend to listen, but more importantly not to be judged. I assured Marcus that he could talk to me about what was bothering him so much, but he quickly declined stating that "there's nothing more to talk about," that he was the happiest he had been in such a long time.

Marcus's story was that of years of pain, suffering, neglect, tears, and hate. He felt that he was a stranger in his home with his parents and four younger siblings. He was told on a regular basis that he had demons inside his soul because he was gay. His step-father encouraged his siblings to spit on him, as if he was scum and did not deserve to be treated as a person. His mother treated him as an inconvenience to her life, telling him that she wished he would just go away. Marcus even had the clarity to tell me that they were supposedly a religious family, but he believed they were hypocrites, as they denied him acceptance and he was a child of God, as they are.

Marcus told me that at a young age he felt that he was different. That around the age of 9 he knew he was different, but didn't know how to identify these feelings. When he finally recognized himself and identified as gay, he was only 13. When Marcus told me this, I instantly commended him for being so brave and powerful in the ability to identify who he was and sharing that with others. Marcus felt that his self-revelation had caused more grief and pain than feeling good about himself.

After Marcus had felt that he could trust me, nearly an hour into the call, he continued with his vision of death, his story of why he had no tears left within his soul - his prior suicide attempts with pills and a knife and his experiences with cutting himself for pleasure. I quickly realized that he was truly seeking closure or "permission" to end his life. This was the fine line of determining whether or not this was a high-risk or a rescue call. Marcus was 16 years old and had enough with it all - he didn't need a reason to live, he needed a reason not to die. He had this vision of his afterlife; this life that would consist of happiness- no gods or goddesses, but purity and equality.

I could not believe how rational Marcus was sounding. He was so sure that this was the only option left. He told me that he had tried everything. In fact, January 1, 2008 he made the decision that he'd wait one more year, to fight on. To fight for being treated better than being spat on, or being told he was full of demons, or just to be loved by his own family. Unfortunately, that year had approached; he had planned for this day, he knew that nothing was going to change; he knew that his time had come to take his own life.

I called for rescue support an hour and a half into the call. It took just as long for them to arrive at Marcus's doorstep. I was working with two other Trevor Counselors, who showed that The Trevor Project isn't a one man team. Together they supported me in my every effort and action, and my direction of the conversation, with creative ideas on how to identify the caller's apartment number.

Roughly during the second hour of our conversation, Marcus asked me what I would do if he would kill himself shortly after we spoke. He asked how I would feel if he attempted to kill himself with me on the phone. Could I continue to do the work that I do, knowing that he killed himself?

I was not prepared to answer such questions. But then I felt that I was. I suddenly told Marcus, that yes in fact I could continue the work that The Trevor Helpline is known for. That if he had killed himself, that I would be hurt. That I would be devastated, because it would tell me that we still live a world where families can neglect children because of ignorance and selfishness. I told him that no matter what happened, that I would never forget him. That he had left a mark on my soul- that he changed my life. That it was calls like his that are the reasons I volunteer with The Trevor Helpline.

At that moment I got a message from my co-counselor that Houston Police Department should be there any minute. Then I heard someone knocking on his bedroom door. Marcus asked if I could wait a moment, so that he could check who was at the door. I heard talking in the background asking, "Who are you talking to?" He honestly replied, "The Trevor Project." There was a pause, then "The Police are here and want to talk to you." Marcus came back on the line. He said with the only emotion he'd shown over three hours of talking "Kenny, the police are here and they want to talk to me." At that very moment I told Marcus that I was worried for him, that I cared for his safety and that I wanted him to talk to the police and tell them what he had told me.

Marcus's story is all too familiar with the LGBTQ youth. However, the lack of emotion proved he was tired of fighting, that he wanted to give up at 16 years of age. Marcus used the metaphor during our conversation that some people get the easy road, while others get the hard road. He had felt he got the hard road. He knew perhaps not as hard as some, but he was too weak to keep fighting. I attempted to assure Marcus that with the support of The Trevor Project, we could keep fighting together. A great peer that I have befriended at The Trevor Project has, in my opinion, the two most powerful words that we stand for on the closing of every e-mail: Fight On.

The words "Fight On" are symbolic in the work that we do, the life that we live, the tragedies of today's equality movement. "Fight On" means more than fighting for what we believe in, but to never give up and to never settle; to encourage others to do the same. That each road we may be presented with is only hard when we do it alone. If we Fight On together with the support of each other; together we can make a difference.

Fight On.

Rosa Sat

Written and performed by Amy Dixon-Kolar (c) 2008 Asharta Music/ASCAP. This was written a few days after November 4, 2008 and was inspired by the quote used as the chorus and the celebrations and photos of this historic day.

h/t Jeanny House

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prayers for Bobby Airs Tonight

You may have read my earlier post about the made-for-tv movie Prayers for Bobby. The movie is based on Leroy Adam's book by the same name. If you get this in time, the movie airs tonight on Lifetime (channel 45 on Cablevision in Bergen County, NJ) at 9:00 PM.

I Pledge

I found this on Facebook this morning but couldn't post it here until I found it on YouTube. It's pretty inspiring.

The Dangers of the Closet

A post has been brewing in my head since I read this morning that disgraced former pastor Ted Haggard had other gay relationships. One relationship in particular involved a volunteer at the church he pastored. As the story goes, the relationship lasted "a long time" but when it came to light after Haggard's sordid prostitution story broke, the church paid the man's counseling bills and COLLEGE TUITION (what's up with that?!) to keep things quiet. Also, the church seems confident that the young man was over 18 when the relationship with Haggard occurred (but they not entirely certain).

The thoughts in my head isn't over Haggard, per say, but over the power of the closet and what happens when a person allows themselves to justify the need for it.

When I attended a prominent Southern Baptist seminary (before I eventually left and transfered to a prominent liberal seminary in the East), I was both closeted and out, but in a variety of ways. My family knew I was gay and I was part of the unofficial 'gay underground' at the school; however, the school and church I served did not know. I was terrified at the thought of the school finding out because I knew I would be immediately expelled. When I was outed by another student (in a way that I should have expected), I consulted a close friend (who I had dated previously) who used to serve as the secretary to the Vice President of Student Affairs about how to handle the situation. He gave me incredible advice that caused some strain but ultimately didn't get me expelled (as the result of a lesser known stipulation in the disciplinary rules). My friend told me my situation wasn't unique and that nearly 100 students per year were kicked out of the school for being gay. That's a lot of students, even for one of the the largest seminaries in the world.

Anyways, my rant is somewhat directed at myself and what would have happened if I was not seen cavorting in a known gay neighborhood in a nearby city by a student spy sent there to discover students of the seminary? What would have happened to me if I made it past the radar, having graduated and served a growing congregation somewhere in the South to Midwest? What if I married and had children? Would the gay experiences and feeling have gone away upon marrying and serving a church? Haggard's story illustrates that marriage and servitude doesn't make the 'homo go away'. Haggard's story also illustrates that 'praying away the gay' won't make it go away either.

Next week, Haggard will be starring in an upcoming documentary called, The Trials of Ted Haggard, which begins airing on HBO. Interestingly Haggard will be promoting this documentary with guest appearance on Larry King Live and the Oprah Winfrey show. I am guessing those appearances will garner dynmite ratings (admittedly I plan to watch them too). What interests me about the documentary is the presumed acknowledgement that inspite of counseling after his affair was exposed, he still maintains that his same-sex feelings are still there and need to be managed accordingly. He also lamblasts his former church for treating him so badly after his fall and, a bit unexpectedly, endoreses same-sex legal and unions while also explaining that "marriage" belongs to a man and woman (which, in my opinion, changes the tune of the documentary from self-promotion to self-revelation, which can be a good thing).

Now, I am not the kind of minister who could ever found a mega-church or interest large numbers of Christians to come here me preach. But in some ways, when I look at Haggard, I wonder to myself what would have happened if I wasn't outed and left the Southern Baptist church. Would I have been eventually discovered? Outed? Shamed? Would the situation have been my fault for deceiving myself and others? Would I have publically condemned homosexuality but privately engaged in it? My questions are surely rheortical.

And yet I know that I wasn't alone. I know of many, many seminary students who are going into a situation just like Haggard's. While I was so angry over being outed, today I am somewhat grateful for the experience--although I do wish it had gone a bit smoother. For all the conservative forces to expunge its gay folks from its institutions, it may seem cruel and harsh. The fact is, while those institutions are primarily covering their tails, the experience actually benefits the students more. It gets them out of there and from the situation that justifies their closetedness.

Today I am pastoring a congregation in New Jersey as an openly gay and partnered man. The seminary I ultimately transfered to, away from my Baptist one, accepted me as an openly gay man and allowed me to write my Master's thesis on developing a new gay theology. I say all this to say that what Haggard and others need to know, once they come to terms with their sexual orientation, is that if you feel called to ministry, there are options outside of your current faith traditions that will honor and affirm your place in ministry. And for gawd sakes, get out while you still can before you cause yourself, a future family, and a church a world of abuse, hurt, and shame.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finley Tinnin, Rest in Peace

Today I learned from a post on the Baptist Temple Facebook page that my childhood pastor, the Rev. Dr. Finley Tinnin, died yesterday. Tears have welt up in my eyes as I think back on such a wonderful and loving pastor--one who was both a sympathetic leader and one who was also a bit aloof to a 15-year old kid curious about what life in the ministry would look like, as I first knew him.

I have these images in my head of his pastor's study. In it, books on walnut stained bookshelves surrounded the office. His dark wooden desk met any visitor as they entered his space, his place. The study was what you'd imagine a 1950's era study would look like (even though it was the early 80's). It was warm, neat, and organized (unlike my study). Sitting behind the desk but rising as I would come in, I was scared witless (for whatever reason, I felt like I was talking with a prophet whenever I spoke with him). He would extend a hand, gester for me to sit down with a smile gently which would put me at ease (somewhat).

I began going to see him after my Christian conversion. Afterall, it was he who baptized me. And, I felt a unique bond to him after the baptismal episode where, once immersed beneath the water, he tried to lift me up (all 6'9" of me) and me, upon his direction, moving my back leg so that I helped raise me up from the waters. The only thing, when I tried to do this, my foot slipped and we both fell back into the water, arms flaying, water spewing, and laughter erupting from the entire congregation.

Following my baptism, I immersed myself into the life of the church. I went to Sunday school, Sunday morning church and Sunday evening church. I went to Wednesday night youth night and Friday night prayer time. I attended Falls Creek Baptist Assembly and any and all church-related activities. And I did it because I wanted to do so. I loved Baptist Temple, Dr. Tinnin and my youth pastor, Steve McNeil.

Within a year, I began to have a sense that I belonged in ministry. As a result, Dr. Tinnin and I spoke often about my interpretation of this "call to ministry"--sometimes he'd refer me to my youth pastor, at other times, he'd quiz me about my intentions. When I turned 16 and I was still coming to see him, and somewhat convinced that this wasn't a passing phase, he led to me teach. Believing that an ability and love of teaching were always the confirmation that a person has been called to ministry, he directed me to teach Sunday school. From then on, I demonstrated a love and an ability for teaching that confirmed for him my place in ministry. And that began my lifelong journey in ministry.

Many years later, when I attended college after a stint in the US Air Force, Dr. Tinnin was my reference to a job where I was the Assistant Chaplain at the local Baptist Nursing Home, where I led worship and visited the residents. It was a ministry I held for 3-years and loved every minute of it. When Dr. Tinnin recommended me to the position, he told me what he wrote. He said, "If Bo wants to do this, he'll do a super job. You'll be glad you have him." I remember thinking how interesting a recommendation that was and how true I felt it represented me.

Since that time, much of my life and faith have changed. I doubt Dr. Tinnin would have recognized me today, had we kept in touch. Years and life experiences led me away from home and yet a part of home has always remained with me. I have thought of Dr. Tinnin when I have preached a long sermon (he tended to do that often) or when some crisis needs availing, I ask myself how he would have handled it (he was the consumate peacemaker).

I will miss Dr. Tinnin as will countless others who have been inspired by him. Many will remember his gentle ways, his deep convictions, and his faithfulness in ministry. As just about anyone who knew will tell you, there was something warm and amazing about him. And yet, for as long as I knew him, I didn't really ever know him well. But I think of him and know that he affected me in ways that no other person has done. He was kind and really good at what he did--and he did what he did for a loooooooong time. I hope that my ministry will be as long as fruitful as his was.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Favorite Movie Quotes

Can you name the movie?

"Mawage... Mawage is what bwings us togther today. Mawage... that bwessed awangement... that dweam within a dweam! Wove, twue wove..."