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1These are excerpts of a discussion taking place on http://mindhub.org.

This is a listserve
that send communications submitted by member to the rest of the membership.

MindHub is probably a good reflection of thinking in the young creative community in the
Fresno/Clovis area.

This discussion (generated by the State Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage) is
an example of where God is in that community. It focuses on the writings of Eric Field who
is a prolific writer (the point of these communication) and an outspoken whiteness to God’s
Love.

I have included several articles before Eric’s for context. There are also several after that
completes this discussion to date. I’m sure there will be more to follow.

I have highlighted Eric’s writing in blue.

Bob Friesen
Message: 2
Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 11:08:11 -0700
From: Aaron Collins <aeronchase@hotmail.com>
Subject: [MindHub] COM: Gay Court Ruling and Fresno's Creative Class
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <BLU106-W4505AC8B5F29EB3386BD8BC4C10@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252"

No doubt most MindHubbers -- being much better informed than the average citizen --
heard last week's news of California's gay marriage ban being ruled unconstitutional.

If Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class happens to be right in its tripartite
analysis of the keys to creative class success (technology, talent, and tolerance, or "the gay
index" as Florida puts it), this pro-equality marriage ruling promises a boon to California's
massive multi-billion dollar creative industries of technology, entertainment and the arts, as
well as to tourism.

Unfortunately, Fresno appears yet again poised for last-to-benefit status, its already-
besmirched name coming up once more in an unflattering national spotlight, thanks to the
public comments of Mayor Autry.

I noticed MindHubbers, who are no doubt familiar with Florida's influential work, seem to
have let the historical moment slip without commentary on what could be a potential upside
for Fresno's own creative class. Florida makes the sound case that a tolerant social climate
parallels numerous factors that make a region flourish creatively and financially. So I
believe it's worth nothing that the marriage ruling is good for Fresno and the Valley in
important ways.

Conversely, Autry's public stance is bad for business, and his anti-equality crowing on the
gay marriage issue has earned Fresno yet more bad press. You might have seen it: In San
Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom's first public statement -- following the court successfully
striking down the ban as unconstitutional on equal protection grounds -- was nationally
televised. In it, he said the ruling would be good not just for San Francisco, but for San
Bernardino, as well as a variety of other Golden State cities, with mention of Fresno being
saved dead last on his list, presumably due in his mind to the Valley being the nadir of
ignorance and homophobia, and the generally retrograde and hospitable home for hillbillies.

Can someone explain how Autry's act of deliberately repelling an entire class of technology,
entertainment and arts-related businesses and their necessary workforce is a sound
strategy for countering our consistent worst-in-the-state poverty, unemployment, and
education statistics? Can anyone explain how Fresno came to be the worst possible place
for gays and the creative community to locate in the entire state of California, if Newsom's
perceptions hold any water?

Even if the explanations for the above are obvious, I think it's worth noting when Fresno
and the entire Valley take yet another bad hit in the national media. We get enough of
those from our bad air quality coverage -- more on that from today's Chronicle, showing the
Valley has the worst particle pollution in the state, resulting in a few thousand premature
deaths here a year. The promise of premature death must surely exceed open hostility to
gays as deterrents, but are either helpful for economic development or education recruiters,
the creative class, or anyone else for that matter?
I am going to say it, and this will not be popular, and I don't care: I am embarrassed.

I am ashamed to live among people seemingly incapable of drawing the simplest parallel
between '50s-era racism (as if that's over), offering flimsy legal basis for seating some in
the front of the bus, and others in the back, who support the treatment of an entire class of
citizens who are gay as undeserving of equal treatment under the law.

I am ashamed that the Valley has more in common socially with rural Texas or the deep
South, U.S. places where bigotry flourishes, eather than with our our own progressive
neighbors just north and south of us.

I am embarrassed that non-legal-scholarly people would disrespect the opinion of a


conservative California Supreme Court full of smart, accomplished Republican appointees
who grasp the need for equal protection, yet the mayors of Fresno and other Valley cities
cannot.

But hopefully, this embarrassment will be short-lived, and Fresno's next mayor and all the
next generation of Valley leaders will welcome and affirm workers of diverse backgrounds in
hopes of attracting business of all types. That would be very, very good for the Valley.

As for those toxic particles in the air, perhaps they have some use after all: The main
opposition to gay marriage remains among the old, the last gasp of majority intolerance
among those who are not long for this world. Younger generations soundly support gay
rights in general and gay marriage in particular, and they appear mostly unsusceptible to
the irrational public rantings of grandstanding, small-time political figures. The upcoming,
more accepting generations will change the Valley's political complexion in ways that will
benefit business and career options, as well as boost our general creative climate and
quality of life, provided people let go of their biases.

Sounds far-fetched?

Former Mayor Frank Ivancie of Portland (1980-1984) used to publicly label gays with the
epithet "faggatorians." He used the term mostly with impunity. A political figure in that
decade -- even in a progressive state like Oregon -- could still behave that way and get
away with it, except that Ivancie was not on the side of history. He was voted out in '84 for
a number of reasons, including that the times were changing even then. (Inconveniently,
Frank Ivancie, Jr. came out of the closet while the elder was still in office, his namesake
giving him a bit more than just a headache.) Ivancie now lingers in Portlanders' memories
as one of its least popular mayors.

Just this week on Tuesday, Portland elected the nation's first big-city mayor who happens to
be gay, Sam Adams. And it wasn't even close. He won in a landslide, having run against a
prominent and respected figure from the business community. If you were a corporation or
creative industry seeking relocating, would you like Fresno, or Portland? Because guess
what: Better-educated workforces are also more tolerant.

So a lot can change in 20 years. In 2028, Autry might just be the Frank Ivancie of Fresno.
Come to think of it .... he's that right now, isn't he.

But hopefully Fresno won't be more like Portland or the Bay Area in decades to come.
Hopefully it will be a much broader, more developed, more creative and authentic
expression of its own tolerant and inclusive selves, more focused on what really matters and
on that which we have in common, rather than turning the business community away due to
the humiliating and desperate public acts of division and played-out exclusionary devices
we've been witnessing from our own leaders.

Aaron Collins

Message: 2
Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 20:38:50 -0700
From: "Brian C. Newman Jr." <bnewman23@hotmail.com>
Subject: [MindHub] COM: Gay Court Ruling and Fresno's Creative Class
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>, <aeronchase@hotmail.com>
Message-ID: <BLU130-W4723E8D800AE41453A1542B2C30@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Regarding:
Fri, 23 May 2008 11:08:11 -0700From: Aaron Collins
<aeronchase@hotmail.com>Subject: [MindHub] COM: Gay Court Ruling and Fresno's
Creative Class

Aaron,
While I appreciate your perspective and believe you plead your case quite eloquently, I
must disagree. I look at the Valley in quite a different view than you, and believe many
others share my love and appreciation of the values and beliefs of days gone. While our
society has grown through many wrongs and injustices we also seem to have lost our
value system and sense of moral rightesnous. Using San Francisco, Portland or any
other extreme left wing agenda as a example of what we would hope to be, will
probably not gain a ton of support for your argument. That is not being closed minded,
that is just a reflection of the influence of the Church in our communities. This is to be
applauded. I as many others accept one and all, and cannot judge anyone as I am a
sinner like everyone else. However, sin is a sin, whether it is lust, greed, alcohol abuse,
or homosexuality, this is the beliefs of many in the Valley. I would not call it
"Progressive" to encourage or allow any type of lifestyle that displays a sinful nature,
with no sin being above another-for the record I could do without the casinos in our
backyard, strip clubs,etc. I understand there will always be those elements in our
society, but why perpetuate and encourage it?
Mayor Autry right or wrong has his beliefs, his beliefs on this are shared by many, and
while I happen to agree with him on this I do not agree with him on everything, and
that is one if the many rights we have in the Greatest Country on Gods green earth, the
right to debate and disagree.
I fail to see how we discourage any type of person in the Valley. Off the top of my
head I can't name another more culturally diverse region. We have many different
events for many different people, including homosexuals. Forgive me if I don't see the
connection to discouraging the homosexuality life style in the Valley, with many friends
and family members being gay I cannot ever recall hearing anything even close to what
you are arguing. Again, perhaps it is a mind set of a more liberal area of that country
that your author Florida comes from or you gain your perspective from, but forgive me,
that is not a bad thing. With California looked at from many in other states as a "bunch
of idiots", I tend to agree with them and take solace in my tiny part of the world that
has not quite gone completely crazy with ridiculous anti-military parking, cities being
sued over cookie signs that smell offending the homeless, senators being recalled
because they don't want to vote for a bad budget that we can't afford,.... jeez.. the list
goes on.
I would be interested on your link to "creative class success", not saying I disagree
just not educated on it.
As far as you being embarrassed, I am sorry to here that. Truly I am. Our Valley has
so many wonderful aspects of it and is on the verge of becoming something really
great, I just feel it. There are a ton of really sharp, balanced, insightful and overall
really good people in the Valley. Is there bad apples, of course, we are not immune to
the close minded "old school" thinkers. But there is truly a great pride in the region with
many wonderful success stories.
Regarding the comparisons to Bigotry and racisms of the south, that is a stretch. First
I have lived back east have family in these regions and it is not nearly what it used to
be. And to make the comparison to the Valley is just silly, also for the record, if you
have not noticed LA is not really anything to be bragging on. I am trying to recall the
last time I heard, " I wish this place was more like LA". Outside of additional shopping
and maybe a beach (obviously) I would prefer to have another inspiration.
Regarding Mayor Newsome's opinion of Fresno...come on this guy is an idiot, I need
say no more.
I applaud your post, and respect your views, just had to let you know mine. I do not
speak for anyone other than myself, but I am of the younger generation, have been
born/bred here and found myself not really seeing the same region as you. I could be
wrong, maybe I don't get out enough, but I hunker down and work hard to support my
wife and children like many others in the Valley. I go to Church on Sunday, and cling to
my "gun and Bible" (sorry, had to get an Obama dig). I tend to believe we all want
whats best for where we live, the trick is figuring out what "best" is.... together we can
come up with something.
Brian.

Message: 3
Date: Sun, 25 May 2008 11:15:32 -0700
From: Aaron Collins <aeronchase@hotmail.com>
Subject: [MindHub] POL: Guns 'N Bibles and Marriage Equality
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <BLU106-W2714B4A6894AC4CFC23F35C4C30@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

////SNIP////
>
> Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 20:38:50 -0700
> From: "Brian C. Newman Jr."
> Subject: [MindHub] COM: Gay Court Ruling and Fresno's Creative Class
> To: ,
> Message-ID:
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> Regarding:
> Fri, 23 May 2008 11:08:11 -0700From: Aaron Collins Subject: [MindHub]
> COM: Gay Court Ruling and Fresno's Creative Class
>
> Aaron,
> While I appreciate your perspective and believe you plead your case quite eloquently,
I must disagree. I look at the Valley in quite a different view than you....

////SNIP////

Brian,

Thank you for your reply to my post on California's high court decision in favor of equal
rights for all. While clearly we disagree on most of the issues, I appreciated your taking
the time to express your thoughts.

If you want to educate yourself further as you indicate, the text I referenced is still
widely available and oft-quoted here on MindHub as well as in numerous national media
articles and news segments:

The Rise of the Creative Class


And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everday Life Richard Florida
?2002 Basic Books
ISBN 0-465-02476-9

This is familiar material to most MindHubbers so I won't expound much. But in a


nutshell since you expressed interest, Florida suggests -- based on Census and other
data -- that technology and other creative industries thrive most in the most highly
tolerant cities, because frequently workers in those industries are often diverse
immigrants or others who are more eccentric, unconventional, highly-educated and
intelligent, and/or free-thinking by nature. So naturally these businesses and workers
are more drawn to regions where they find the most compatible labor pool, best career
opportunities and accepting social channels, while they are least drwn to traditionally
moribund environments that do not suit their more inclusive world views. Those
industries and their inevitable spin-offs and startups thrive where such tolerant people
group. Florida points out that business growth in creative class industries is directly
pegged to the increasingly tolerant social mores and policies that attract them.

Conversely, he shows that the least tolerant regions also rank lowest in the new
economy that is increasingly based on new ideas, fresh ways of thinking, and
information technologies. Unsurprisingly, San Joaquin Valley cities ranked poorly
among U.S. cities for creative industry economic health, along with a number of Rust
Belt and Bible Belt cities, while cities like Austin, Eugene, Seattle, Boston and other
progressive cities all tracked the healthiest presence of technology and creative
industries.

So intolerance publicly expressed is anti-business. The creative class is disserved when


public policy is hostile to creative workers and therefore repels businesses that need
them. The interests of the creative class are harmed when the best and brightest are
sent or turned away -- not something the Valley needs more of (as recent posts on
"brain-drain" clearly outlined). California's pro-equality marriage ruling sends the right
message to the creative class and helps cast California firmly in a pro-creative industry
light. The high court's message could even help lift Fresno, the poster city of
intolerance and ignorance, as Mayor Newsom frames it. While you may dismiss him as
"an idiot," few here are unaware of Fresno as the pervasive butt of jokes all around the
country.

And not only is that ruling good for business, it's fair to all because it honors equality,
one of the most basic and dear principles on which our country was founded. It is that
promise of equality and prosperity has attracted bright and talented people to America
from all over the world since its beginnings, and which will be necessary to restoring
our waning role in the world after eight years of intolerance expressed at the highest
levels or our government.

Aaron Collins

P.S. To those who wrote me off-list to articulate views both pro and con, thanks. But I
would encourage all to post to the forum. I'm a mere party of one; MindHub would
offer much greater exposure for what were some provocative and thoughtful replies.

Message: 5
Date: Sun, 25 May 2008 17:05:53 -0700
From: E Field <gswarthoute@hotmail.com>
Subject: [MindHub] (com-soc) re: gays, class, God, Fresno (of course
it's long.)
To: mindhub fresno <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <BLU146-W43A16A6E42498E75025F81A8C20@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252"

Aaron / All:

Good reads.
Good points.
At risk of alienating an entire city?
I can't say that I'm embarrassed or ashamed of what is an alarming trend here in the
'no.
Why?
I'm not from here.
I didn't make here.
I don't embrace the stuff that I don't like and don't agree with, I speak out against it
frequently, and have no extreme loyalty to the name of the town.
(Transplant: less than three years.)
I'm responsible for what I do from the moment I moved here forward, and see myself a
failure IF I cave into the pressure to NOT address issues as they come up.

It's funny.
There are sections I lived in back east where it would be like:
'...you come from WHERE?'
-I'd say the name of the area
-They'd make their comment
and I'd be like
'...yep, we got that issue too...' (followed by my explaining that
a.) not everybody was 'like that,' (that I was different and so were others.) or
b.) that the situation was that way, seemed to want to be that way, and that I had no
desire to beat my head against a wall, so I got out.

I'm different and get to pay for it in terms of (sometimes,) folks being very backed off
or reacting negatively when I bring this and other subjects up, it's had a negative
impact at times, -but I figure:
'This is a problem, I care about the people in this problem, I care about the people
affected, and this needs to be addressed.'

To my knowledge, I've never verbally nor physically attacked somebody for holding a
negative opinion about where I've lived.
Despite very deep love and caring for my stomping grounds back home, whatever
component it is that cause folks to freak when Fresno (or any town,) is spoken poorly
of, was left out of this 1963 427c.u. Jersey White boy.
It's not something I'm lookig for on Ebay or Pick-a-part, and I'm choosing to stay that
way, thank-you.

Is somebody pointing out a problem that is geographical and systemic?


Okayfine.
It means that the issue is held in strong enough regard (or disregard,) to be a concern
either way, and more folks are noticing it.
We're working on it, and we're either doing a sucky job or a great job of fixing it, ---but
either way sthings will not get any better by lying about it or covering it up.

--HOW to go about discussing the problem and bringing it up?


Whole different kettle of fish.
I also realize that there are some subjects that will remain 'knee-jerk,' reaction zones,
-whether folks can see this or not, and I strongly susupect that this suspect will remain
one of them.

In the conversations that I'm watching? There are a few areas that I think need to be
addressed, or this subject will stay a mess.

Religion vs. civil:


This may be hard for a lot of folks to understand. Afterall, there is very strong need on
some folks behalf to have elected officials that 'most support,' their own personal views.
In fact, -how one goes about that can be a real problem.
Look up some of the key reasons why the U.S. was started and developed, and went
from being a bunch of English colonies -over to independent of England, and one of the
key reasons was: England had essentially 'boxed,' the government, (with all regular life,
commerce, etc.--via an unstoppable blend of Church and State.) --It was not the first
time in history that this had been done.
In generations prior, it was not uncommon for a Pope who was hacked off at a political
leader to declare the people and land associated with that same 'opposition,' as damned
and put the whole bunch of them under interdict, (in one case, forcing a guy to wait on
his knees in the snow for dozens of hours, in repentance.)
One of the clear aspects of the founding of the US (which, I believe California is still a
part of,) is that there is not to be any one (or any,) Religious belief or church that
dictates the rights of a citizen.
---Where it gets sticky?
I dunno, perhaps when you have a religious view that endorses or allows abuse of
individuals (physical, psychological, sexual, gender restriction, etc.) ---but even then,
there are some things that are protected in the US under freedom of personal religions
which may involve things viewed as illegal in any other sense,
(reference: 'coining,' also the (recently done) practice of church leaders slapping minors
as part of a confirmation ceremony, and (most notably,) this whole issue with Mormon
seperatists who have quite severe, unorthodox, and possibly illegal practices with
women, young women, --and how the courts are deciding to handle that whole issue.)

The danger comes in when we (out of convenience,) look at our political leaders as
being 'what we want, God's choice, fully representational and worthy of our trust
because of (their) religious affiliations.'
-and NO LONGER based upon what their individual actions, behaviors, motives
TEMPERED by the ability to follow the very thing that put them in office: civil obedience
and the govt. system that they are a part of.

I have personally never met this city's mayor.


(Sent him a nice T Shirt once, as well as a really honest letter thanking him for his
character on In the Heat of the Night, -heard nothing back.) -But am told that he's a
nice guy.

I am also told that he's a (fellow) Christian, no folks who've been to the same church as
he, (etc. etc.) I suppose, if I'd like to, I myself could even wind up sitting next to him in
church, singing the same songs, reading the same Bible, shaking hands and talking
'bout whatever, (even praying together.) On THAT level, we're (the mayor and I)
considered equals in the eye of God, with (probable,) different views on theology and
life in general, but we're (supposed to be) governed by one being (God) via one thing
(Bible.) and drop all differences for (Gods / Bibles) perspective on the issue.
--Funny thing is: He and I could have totally different areas of sin in our lives that we're
wrestling with, --or the same, -yet we're instructed by God to pray for each other and
remember to extend grace and encouragement towards each other (regardless) of what
those areas are...

But Please note:


Based upon the huge differences between all the 'Christian,' churches here in Fresno
(very small town, for so many large churches, by the way,) Even among those of us
('born agains,') --How there are so many and how they are not really united?

Kick it up a knotch:
How many OTHER denoms, religions, non-religions, beliefs of all sorts, -comprise the
citizens of this town?
So, yeah, there are going to be differences.
What is noteworthy:
Where there are 'supposed,' to be differences (fundamental belief differences
(somebody who is athiest compared to somebody who is theist (believes that there is a
God,) or somebody who is Buddhist compared to somebody who is Islamic, --or even
somebody who is 'Christian,' compared to somebody who is 'not.') There has to be a
common respect and understanding that basic civil rights?
-are not to be violated, nor diminished for any group or individual, based upon ONE
groups codes (vs) another.
I think we're still (technically) a democracy.

Again, that goes back to the founding points of this country.

For anyone to say


'I'm of this persuasion, I believe this, --and based upon my beliefs, (so-and-so) (a
governor, a mayor, a people group,) are a bunch of idiots, rank sinners, cause of God's
wrath (etc. etc.) ---and then affect civil law and treatment of those people (based upon
any religious foundation?) is wrong.
We started the country with:
Freedom for religion for those who were so led, Freedom FROM religion for those who
wished NOT to be forced into it.

Now, sidenote?
What I find truly Ironic?
(As a Christian,)
it's really hard to find a church here in town that does not really play that single harp
string of 'Free Will.'
(Usually defined as: God does not want a bunch of robots following Him,) ---It also is
used as common boilerplate for '...you can turn from God, turn from God's perfect will,
walk away from Him, Loose your salvation,' (etc. etc.) -which does a wonderful job of
blasting 'Eternal Security,' to bits in a believers mind. (Causing tremendous insecurity,
AND pronounced religious fervor, piety, stress, and allegiance to churches and pastors...
(not what Christ had in mind, actually.)

But the whole


'...God gives us a choice, we're to choose, and He's not going to violate that choice....
= ...Don't Fence me innnnnn...'
is ingrained here, more than any other area I've seen.

----But notice the double standard.


-The Christians are allowed to choose or reject (even God,) ----yet, in other areas of
society?, those who are not 'on the team,' of 'that understanding of church,' are NOT
given choice.

Probably one of the shortest and most true sentences I'll ever write about this area?
People are self-serving and self-centered, -even when it comes to understanding and
following an all powerful Lord.
Again, it comes back to Christians in this area insisiting on their own (individual,) rights
on everything, ---even on what God has said, often not even reading what (we define,)
God to have written.
(This is essentially what happened, btw, when St. Peter had declared Christ to be the
Son of God, ---and then rebuked Christ for saying that he was about to go and be
crucified... (Christ's response? '...get behind me, Satan..) --kinda rough to call the first
Pope: 'Satan,' --but the point was WE do not put our will and opinion over God, and call
Him Lord... it's incompatable, and Christ was identifying this...)

This problem rides in further on the recent backs of:


'...Well, so and so is a believer, so I'm going to elect them into office.'
How so?
--In mathmatical perspectives:
---This means that
'...Since So and So is a believer, (and a member of X political party,) ---and most
members of X political party are claiming to be 'believers,'
---therefore X political party are acting in the will of God, and are God's choice for
leadership for the govt.)

Pretty funny, how for such a young country, we're back to the same situation that the
colonists faced in leaving England with Church of England / English govt. meld, (in a
very real sense,) -we're not running the country based upon solid (equally held) views
in govt. ----but the marketed 'faiths,' of those we choose.

This is not to say that Mayor Autry, nor Newsome are good NOR bad based upon their
own personal beliefs, (even if I hold the same beliefs.) It's to say that the beliefs, ---
though they may greatly influence why these people do what they do (which are
hopefully benevolent,) are to NOT be the deciding factor NOR challange NOR usurp and
overwrite what is the law of the land.

It's kind of startling, but the whole 'God-Christ-and the Govt. has had a pretty strong
divide from way back...

Strangely enough?
(If you read your Bible,) you'll find that it was not just the immed. Apostles, ---but
everybody standing there waiving palms on Palm Sunday at Christ, ---lauding him as
the 'new king,' and new political leader, ---and Christ's response was what?
Weeping.
He totally lost it.
The words used define his behavior as having become completely broken.
He then stood before (the city,) and said quite passionately, '...you don't get it, you
want me as one thing, and I've come to you as another, you just don't get it...'
---The push was on Christ (focus of my particular beliefs,) to BECOME the new Govt.
--and He made it very clear that His kingdom was not about local govt, (nor) National,
(nor) International govt, ----but an eternal kingdom, -and more directly?
The individual kingdom of each human heart and soul.
---He was far more intimate and far more long lasting than anything understood at that
time, ---and even the apostles didn't get it until after the Resurrection.

Somehow, our government and churches have completely forgotten this, and still want
to set up a govt. and cities, states, (etc. etc.) where the Govt. acts as 'God.' And we've
set up some sort of 'Godly Kingdom,' down here...

Problem with this?


First off, you cannot legislate 'morality.'
(Check out the failures of any of the great reformers over time, ---who was it
Constantine or Charlemagne? (I forget,) the guy who declared the national religion
'Christianity,' and had his Mom start renaming all the Biblical historical sites for yuks???
-All legislation of religious ideals does is reduce (what is supposed to be,) a very
intimate and humbling relationship with the Creator to:
-Crusades
-Persecutions against those who 'do not follow.'
-and that same relationship as being nothing more than going to the DMV to make sure
you're in the clear, paid up, and not in danger of being busted by heavenly police and
thrown into hell without parole.

Do you understand that?

The Govt. and Religious practice (any relgious) practice are to be separate and clearly
defined, ---as well as protected (in some very clear cases FROM each other and BY each
other.) ---and what we're faced with at this time is the extremely unhealthy scenario of
-people who don't know what that means.
-people who don't want that to be the case (deliberately,) and are manipulating the
situation -people who frankly, don't care... (They just want others to take care of the
situation for them.) ---which is what I think most of the US, and most churches are into
these days.

Marriage:

If this is looked at logically, the following things have to be said and made clear:

In the US, there are two (at least,) distinct aspects that call a person 'married.'
-their religious (or non religious) beliefs (...'yeah, we have a marriage license, but we're
married in the rites of our beliefs, so it's REAL marriage '(etc.) -their civil license
marriage: (...'yeah, we're married, we have a marriage license, and according to the
eyes of the state and country, we're legally married.')

It is a very strong case and arguement that two people who have not pursued BOTH of
these things are not 'truly married.'
(Even in the case of somebody who is 'not relgious,' ---their beliefs have been
thoroughly discussed, but they are no less 'fully married,' and are respected as such by
all (because of the license.)

Again, it is profoundly self-centered that:


me, a group, or a belief system
should look at somebody elses 'rights,' to approach the state and nation and wish to be
in compliance with the civil structure ---and me say '...No, based upon 'my' 'our' beliefs,
--you are not allowed to do so.'
---Again, it would be a matter of (personal) religious persuasion overtaking civil
liberties.
Again, we (as Christians,) don't run around saying to people who are (not) Christians
(of other faith,) or who have gotten married by a JOP '....you're not married, I don't see
you as married, this is not your spouse...' --and nobody would defend such lunacy.
(Yet, the two people could be complete athiests, satanists, (whatever,) ----they are still
'married,' and respected as such in every civil sense.) ---Though the time frame varies
from state to state, ---even folks who 'live together,' after a period of time are
considered 'common law,' married and are respected as such.
Yet, nobody goes after '..that breaking of the law...'
---Is the church going to now look to remove the rights of those people as 'married.'
(Considering that the Church and the Govt. became the same?) ---It goes even wilder.
---Don't the beliefs of each individual church (individual enough to the point that they
are NOT the same as the church next to it,,, (meaning '...we think our way of going to
God is correct, and others are incorrect...' ---Which is radical enough for these separate
churches to exist to begin with, ----wouldn't all marriages performed in these individual
churches be considered 'null,' by the others?
-After all, what Roman Catholics believe is not the same as Lutherans, not the same as
Baptists, not the same as Penticostals, Not the same as Presbyterians, not the same as
Methodists... -not the same as Jews...
(And you really want to have fun? Check out the differences between the different
subgroups within THOSE understandings.) ---Each is saying that they have a more
'correct,' and 'Biblical,' relationship with God, (when you really get down to it.)

So the whole '...Marriage is to be recognized by God/Faith.' box is (at the same time) so
big that it either includes everybody, or so small that only the people of your church will
fit in it.. ----and I bet if you pressed every individual at your church, you'd find a
panorama of understandings as well.

'...Oh but it's Sin..'


--Again, a relgious angle to it...

(Now, this may be a bit graphic for some folks, so I apologize for the easily offended.)

Do you realize that, even among heterosexual 'Christian,' marriage (most) of the
practices done by most couples today have been considered 'illegal,' in a lot of states,
---still are in fact, yet those laws are often disregarded?
--And that's what everybody's usually up in arms about... the physical interraction.
'...It's sodomy.'
ahuh.

Do you realize that the only 'recognized,' position for intercourse between two people
(legally,) for quite some time was 'missionary,' position, and considered allowed only for
procreation, and only at times of the month where the female was most fertile.
Foreplay? Sin and Illegal. (considered partly to be sodomy) Oral? Sin and Illegal.
(sodomy) Anal? Sin and Illegal. (...oh yeah, that's REALLY sodomy.)

In otherwords, in a lot of states (up to, and including recent times,) you could be locked
up for doing whatever you and your spouse wished to do in private, ---because it was
considered 'sodomy,' and illegal.
This was very closely related to (predominant,) religious practice, ---and sometimes
you still hear of it coming up when the whole issue of (some aspects of the church,)
allowing or not allowing various types of contraception.
-Again, do we respect each individuals 'rights,' to do what they wish to do?, (so long as
nobody is being abused, degraded, (against their will,) --so long as certain ages are
observed?
We HAVE to.
Masturbation by the way?
Considered illegal in the eyes of lots of states and (nearly all) churches (in most
conservative churches: still.)

So you tell me? Where does it stop.

Is there anybody left without their hand up on this???

'Sins.'

Even in a 'Church Run State,'


---If gluttonly is a sin,
---are we going to start closing down Entennmans, icecream parlours, donut shops,
hauling their employees off to jail, and start banishing fat people from the village?
---Self abusers who don't take care of the 'temple.' (whups, there goes the anorexics,
the over-exercisers, smokers, drinkers, those who drink soda and coffee, AND anybody
with a tattoo...) ---How about disrespect to parents? (They used to stone the little
bastards...)
---PS: no 'bastards,' allowed either,,, In fact, divorce under almost any circumstance
was seen as 'sin and illegal.'
---And slavery was still allowed (so long as you were good to your slaves.)

---Lying and deceit: -Sin.


---Vanity: Sin.
---Pride: Sin.
---Gossip: Sin.
---Triming facial hair (men or women) Sin.
---Wearing a bathing suit (men or women) Sin.
---Travelling, Cooking, Working, causing anyone else to work, (on 'sabbath.') Sin.
---Various medical conditions? Sin.
---A woman leaving the house (or) touching another human being during 'that time of
the month.' Sin ---Not loving your wife as Christ loved the Church. Sin.
---Not being obedient to your husband. Sin (there goes 51% percent of the pop. huh...)

-And these things are all punishible, usually by 'death,' or barring the offender from
civilization or having any sort of job.
(If you want to go really religious, ---pick a religion.)

Lets not get started with the whole 'woman with her head uncovered in the presence of
men, walking behind them, showing too much 'ankle,' or even being seen in the
presence of a man unchaperoned (much less any western understanding of 'dating.')

Where does it stop???

Biblically,
If you look up the word 'sin,' --what you will find is an old English Archery 'scoring,'
term that defines an arrow that simply 'has not hit the mark,'
(wide, low, high, short, -don't matter.)
It's assumed that all best efforts were intended.
And if you look up the Biblical understanding of 'sin,'
---it says all people have, and constantly do, 'sin.'

---And, by the way, what is:


God's response to all Sinners?
'...I love you,
I designed you,
I know you got issues,
I know what you want and what you need,
and I have a way to take care of them,
My kid -who is perfect and who has never sinned, will BECOME it, and will take that ALL
on,
---then wipe it out,
---so that we can be together, and those issues All be worked out, and sin no longer
equal death, and have no effect,
---but regardless, I'm crazy about you, want you close to me, and love you...'

---Christians response to Sinners?


'...Hey, You, NOT LIKE US... Yes, You, Stand Still for a Minute, (obvious 'Pink Floyd:Wall
ref.)
-Want to get saved?,
repent, and be like us and be a Christian (like us?)
No?
Go to Hell then...'
(And out come the flame-throwers.)

This may sound extreme to some folks,


--but when you look at the profound LACK of compassion and desire to love others that
Christians have,
----when compared to the very God that we're supposed to be emulating, becoming
more like,
---and carring out God's desires?
Scarey.
(Couple that up with the 'Me first -gimme-gimme,' attitude of California? ---you have a
monster.)

But so much of this is discussing a religious perspective, and how it interplays with
municipal ones.
The truth of the situation is:
If we're going to look at one situation as 'illegal,
-we need to look at ALLof them as.
-This means you wind up under a pile of rocks if you're found in your car on lovers lane.
-This means that we get to pummel your sister with rocks if she's no longer a virgin and
is unmarried.
-And if you ever disrespect your folks (even by simply 'not doing what they want you to
do at that time?)
---more rocks.

(I think we just found the answer to all of our problems with pollution, resource
depletion, and overpopulation, folks.)

The astonishing thing for me?,


when it comes to 'civil marriage between same-sex couples?,'
is how 'civil marriage,' has been allowed to everybody else, -and nobody says boo.
It's been protected for generations.

-Then the tables flip completely around,


---all for the understanding of (basically,) ONE theological stance,
---in a country where ONE religious belief system is NEVER supposed to call the shots.

These people who are desiring to be married to each other in the eyes of the state and
nation are NOT looking to do such in your church.
They're not trying to 'sway anybody.'
They pose no known threat that we can find, under any circumstances.
(They may NOT even want to live in your neighborhood.)
They probably aren't going to walk up to you at Trader Joes and say:
'...excuse me, yes, I'm gay, and want you to move over, because I'm GAY, so I can get
to the turkey-meatloaf that you're blocking...'
They're simply trying to exist under the same rules as anyone else.
(...and honestly, most of the one's I've known really aren't into turkey meatloaf,
either...)

What's truly scarey is how the game is being played, and nobody seems to care.

Don't think for a minute that when this starts to happen to one people group that it will
not broadcast, and that dark times are not due.

-The Third Reich called for extermination of Gays, Gypsies, various nationalities, Jews,
other religious sub-groups, and the developmentally or physically disabled,
---and cited Christianity as its urging.

-Martin Luther had extremely destructive views about the Jews in his later years.

-John Calvin (Presbyterian --actually father of Calvinism which is a major componenent


in most of the protestant faiths) had a guy killed for not agreeing with his philosophy.

-Various 'pro-race' groups have stood on the premise of not allowing equality of blacks,
Jews, (nor) Catholics.

ALL of these groups, by the way, cite Christianity as their justification.

(This is not to say that other religious beliefs, nor other tribes and nations have not
brutalized and nearly exterminated each other throughout time, ---and continue to try
to do so to this day.)

This may sound strange coming from a Christian, but IN FACT we are to be a people of
love.
This is not to say that we no longer know right from wrong, ---but that we are to, even
if we have a common understanding of 'right and wrong,' --see all things through grace
and nurture.
Check your Bibles: God seems to be most angry (Jesus himself making a whip of chords
and single handedly clearing out a temple courtyard (picture a midway at a country
fair,) by thrashing them to which they fled
Why?
The very simple and constant desire of He and the Father '...no matter who you are,
come to me,' --was being derailed and turned into profiteering, making the whole thing
a ritual, financial exercise, and exclusive situation that caused resentment...
You want to see him really go off on the apostles?
Check the time where the women of the community just brought their kids by for Him
to bless them, and the apostles said, '...sorry Lady, He doesn't have the time.'
-Where those rich kids, poor kids, devout kids, devoid kids, straight kids, gay kids, ---
did their parents fit the criteria?

We forget that Jesus was followed (and lauded,) by thousands who simply looked at
him as entertainment (not even a political figure.)
-Yet He fed them, and understood why they were there, hungry and empty, --and tried
to reach them.

What I find most remarkable, about this area in particular is how Christians will so
passively aggressively choose NOT to deal with this, an either (quietly) or with much
bravado, ---not show love, not be graceful, ---and choose not to say anything.
Christians are in effect, terrified of other Christians, the Church, Conservatives, etc, ,
(thinking: If I say anything AGAINST what this group is saying,
my business will fail,
I'll be ostracized, and I'll be branded some heretic.)
That's great...
The one group that claims to be all about a perfect love that casts out all fear
(now,)
stifled by, bridled by, pressuring in?
Fear...

Think about it:


IF you are a Christian, and IF you view 'gayness,' as a sin, ---and you are instructed to
love sinners,
---Where does this view of homosexuals as 'some sort of disease,' come from?
-Does your Bible stop at your one understanding of the Old Testament story of Sodom
and Gomorrah?
-have you ever heard of Grace?
Of Forgiveness?
Of Christ and his commands to His followers?

This hatred of ANYONE is in fact, the complete OPPOSITE of Christianity.


We're the people who believe we have 'the truth.'
We're told by our God to be a part of this world, and love others, showing the love of
God to them with every opportunity.
We're to be demonstrating God's unconditional and far reaching love to all who we
know and come acrossed.
We're the people who have admitted 'we've blown it, we've been forgiven, God loves
us, and that brought us in (not) our own selves, (therefore, we need, in all humility to
love others more, ---because God love and forgave US.)

-Yet, we've turned it into a series of clubs that we put others through hurdles and hoops
to join,
---and then vaunt 'that club' as the exclusive way to hear God, and grow in that love.

(The very opposite of Christ who was so common and plain,


that even in the height of his public ministry, those who were after him had to pay
somebody to identify him, and was a person really only recognizable by the degree of
crowds who were coming to Him in hope, (and frequently mistook His apostles for Him.)
The guy had no real 'home,' so to speak once revealed as the Messiah, and had to pull
a coin out of a fish, to pay his taxes...
(Oddly, Jesus did not drive a tricked out Hummer, despite the possibility that it would
be one of the few times in history that one of them actually was used off road.)

IN other words, God Himself was frequently a nobody who was easily lost in crowds,
and was most often found by those who simply had needs, were rejected, and who
were about to go under after years of 'religion,'
---to which he sought out (usually,) those who nobody wanted to be with and who had
been rejected and outlawed for generations,
and convinced them that He not only knew them and loved them for who they were,
---but that there was a hope and a future for them.

Hey, Fresno Christians?


How WE doin' with that???
Huh?

I could go on with this, but I think the points have been made.

If we withold 'civil' classification from one particular group that is not breaking the law
in being identified this way, ----yet provide it and protect it for others?
We're hypocrites as a governmental system.

If we let any religious belief take over our civil understanding, ---we've turned our
backs on what our founding fathers,
---and all builders and defenders of this country thought, fought, and died to do.

If we (as Christians,) treat other people as a disease and a threat (when they are in
fact, brothers and sisters also seeking love, hope, forgiveness and nurture?
We step into the place of God Himself, -put our rules and stance over His?
-and are doing the same thing that felled Lucifer.

(I bet you never thought of it that way, huh.)

There are so many levels that this has taken wrong turns on.

My biggest fear?
That folks will not even care to think about it, really understand the double standard
and how they're missrepresenting the very things that they are claiming to be defined
by,
-and THAT diminishing hope further.

Well, that and taking an untold number of human beings,


defining their unique disposition of who they fall in love with as 'disease,'
and denying them the basic rights, love, respect and hope that is afforded to anyone
else.
That's just wrong.

Even if I had not been blessed (personally,) by the countless people that I've known,
family, friends, mentors, co-workers, fellow congregants (some openly gay, some I had
no idea until decades later,)
I could STILL not myself in the mirror, nor look at my God and thank Him for loving me,
---and NOT love them.

And I cannot, nor will I ever,


say that rejecting these people, nor treating them as second class citizens, because of
their sexual identity is right nor defendable.

As a Chrisitan, in particular, I feel it exceedingly wrong to join the chorus of my


brothers and sisters who hate these people (which is what it is, if they'd be honest,)
and choose (instead) to actually maintain a spine that both:
-allows me to bow to the desire of my Lord, (which is to love them,)
-then calls me to stand against the disrespecting of them as people,
(with something other than the usual 'Christian Liberal,' dumb silence, wishy-washyness
and fear of being rejected by my own kind.)

What we're dealing with here is NOT sound civil structure NOR sound civil behavior.
What we're daling with here is NOT sound love of each other.

This is 'convenient, selective, and easy to rally behind' hate and rejection of what 'we
don't understand, don't like, and don't see as being 'just like us.'
Wrapped in churchy labels.
Not at all the first time it's been done, and it's becoming (sadly,) the earmark of
Christianity.

Again, it's affecting (infecting,) municipal code.

It was wrong then.


It's wrong now.

We know better, we've been taught better for thousands of years,


We've been saved by better.
We have no excuse.

This 'My God follows My rules and My understanding (IE) My Choice,' thing,
which we cling to like miserable, overtired, spoiled little brats, planning their birthday-
pony-parties,
who refuse to grow up
and see somebody else as having worth and value, for a change.
(You realize the Church and the Town just ganged up on a bunch of gay folks, right???
-Is Fresno actually proud of this?)

The church really has to ask itself:


If God were to judge us all tonight?
Who's more deserving of hell?
-Those who were different and rejected?
-Or those who were told to love and reach to the rejected, ---yet chose to withold,
instead, because of their own judgmental attitudes?

(I guess, as a relief?, OUR misbehavior has been judged, paid for on the cross,
and we are given (as usual, undeserved,)
forgiveness.)

We need to be this way towards others,


And grow up.
And if not aspire to becoming 'saintly,' here in the Bible Belt?
-at least by trying to be 'human.'

-Eric Field

Message: 6
Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 19:23:26 -0400
From: mintzworks@aol.com
Subject: [MindHub] Eric Field
To: mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org
Message-ID: <8CA8D9EA1CC3FE3-C2C-34B@webmail-nd03.sysops.aol.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Eric-

I love you bubbeleh.

But 5700 words in reply to a mindhub post of about 250 words??

Good God, Man.? I would like to hear from other hubbers...do YOU take the time to
read what Eric writes??

I haven't that kind of time.? I'm wondering, with all seriousness, if Eric's posts don't
become a bit of mental/wordsmith masturbation, a party of one.? ie, if no one reads
your work, was it worth all that effort?

Just wondering...
Stephen Mintz
559-360-9515

Message: 6
Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 13:20:21 -0700
From: Aaron Collins <aeronchase@hotmail.com>
Subject: [MindHub] Stephen's Question on "Lefty" Field
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <BLU106-W438FE36ACDFE1F628D332FC4BD0@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Stephen,

One does not so much read a typical E. "Lefty" Field post; god no. One beholds a
scrolling screen full of highly unusual punctuation. One marvels at curiously-arranged
clauses that are often part prose, part poetry. One digests wholesale the pleonastics in
order to glean what are actually some pretty edifying thoughts. It's worth it to absorb
his posts because they are are full of genuine compassion, sincerity, and what appears
to be true concern for anyone who is "other" (the poor, the gays, the hot-hot married
women who are unattainable, etc.). You don't usually witness such transparency
among self-describing Christians, who more often seem preoccupied with concealing
their humanity. More typically, the church's purpose seems thwarted by shrill
demagogues trying to manipulate people into social conformity for political gain,
terrified beyond rationality that two same-sex people might love each other and expect
the constitutionally equal freedom to marry. Field, well, he's not typical.

I try to imbibe Lefty's posts not so much by skimming as more by osmosis in one big
chunk: a single, monolithic work of diaristic text art exposing the complexities of one
man's inner life via unusual mass, born of atypical thinking, rendered from what
appears to be an unconventional history. I know they're long (god they're long). And
like many of us posters, Lefty has a few writer's tics such as digressing completely off-
topic several times while not always letting those detours reach the main road again, or
boomerang back to the essence of the post at closing. Occasionally I've ribbed the guy
for this. But since I myself have occasionally meandered on-forum like a deluxe
windbag on a gusty day, I felt the need to write in solidarity with my fellow deluxe
windb ...er, fellow writer.

I mainly and always "read" Lefty's posts because if it weren't for him, I personally
wouldn't have an example of a self-proclaimed Christian who engages in many actual
Christian behaviors! Lefty exudes Christian values that Jesus seemed to say were
essential to spiritual transcendence, and he applies them to any and every compelling
area of contemporary thought and life -- not just the convenient ones. While a lot of
Christians mostly wear the Christian brand on their Sunday designer handbag, Lefty
carries his burden in a burlap bag. Now I'm not saying no others conduct themselves
his way; I'm just saying, personally, he's the only person I see who seems interested in
living his Christian faith authentically and openly in his life and on the forum. And he
seems willing to pay the cost of being real, processing his life through a spiritual frame,
not a politically-expedient, pre-approved right wing one. He seems like someone who is
not just using church for social advancement or the other dubious reasons that
motivate people to display their piety. He seems disappointed that a narrow political
faction has commandeered the expansive metaphysical vision that Jesus brought to the
world. I'm not a Christian at least in any typical sense, but if I were to consider myself
one, I would probably want to be one more like Mr. Field, or to emulate the guy that
Deepak Chopra describes in "The Third Jesus."

So the above is my Fieldian answer to your yes/no question. The short answer:

"Yes. I always read E. Field's posts."

Aaron Collins

Message: 11
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 12:50:26 -0700
From: "Info" <info@garnertree.com>
Subject: Re: [MindHub] Eric Field
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <04e601c8c0fc$1395b8d0$3ac12a70$@com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I for one do read Eric's posts when I have the chance. I do not often have
the free time to devote to Mindhub in general. But when I do log on - I
check the "Today's Topics" section and see who's writing. He's one of the
writers I gravitate to because he speaks from the heart.

Yes - sometimes it's long.

Victor Hugo was long winded too. I'm not necessarily saying they are of the
same cloth - but perhaps there is a reason his name came to mind just now.
When I read the unabridged version of Les Miserables - a massive undertaking
- I remember going through one particular section that felt very long - and
I was on the verge of skipping to the end when I remembered who I was
reading. He weaves things into his story - and to miss a beautiful point for
the sake of brevity would be incredibly sad. I made my way through the long
part - and was rewarded with the tidbit that made the whole story work -
without it - and I'm sure there were folks who skipped to the end and missed
this tidbit - much of the story is lost, much of the beauty of it is lost.
He is a master story-teller - and everything is there for a reason.

I have found the same to be true of Eric Field. Let me back up and say that
I do not read Every Single Day. I might run out of time for my daily work if
I did. However - when I do have time - and I commit to reading through to
the end of an Eric Field post - I am greatly rewarded. He crafts a good tale
- he usually makes me think - sometimes he so challenges me to think that I
have to review how I look at things, and come to a better conclusion than a
long-held hand-me-down belief of my upbringing. I am happy to say that Eric
Field has helped me come to think for myself on subjects of politics and
religion, and I think I am a better person for that.

And you know what else? Eric Field respects women, which I greatly
appreciate. He respects the fact that I am married - almost always mentions
my hubby and children when he reviews my work - and has never made me feel
that he would ever hit on me. He's too much of a gentleman.

So - yeah - I read Eric Field. I hope he writes a book someday - because I


would gladly buy it!

Liesl Garner

Message: 15
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 21:00:39 -0700
From: "Liesl Garner" <liesl@garnertree.com>
Subject: Re: [MindHub] gays, class, God, Fresno by Eric Field
To: <mindhub-list@list.mindhub.org>
Message-ID: <057901c8c140$8f6cd080$ae467180$@com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Okay - I did it - I printed it out - and while I was feeding a fussy baby
who wanted nothing to do with any cooing I tried to offer - I read it. I
finished feeding said fussy baby - and was sitting on the floor with him
while he gnawed on various chew toys designed to help him teethe and numb
his aching little mouth. I sat with my legs around him so if he fell, he
wouldn't hurt himself - and I read. I devoured this missive as if it were a
lifeline - truly - that is what it felt like.

I too am a believer in the God of the Bible - the God so beautifully


described by Eric Field - and I have felt wildly unrepresented by the
judgementalism that comes out of some churches - intentionally or otherwise.
I have found myself more and more at odds with the established "Christian =
Republican" stance - "Go War - Fight those Bad Guys and send our boys to
battle - because that's the American Way" lunacy that seems to be so
prevalent. The more I read about the battles going on - the more I am
convinced that our boys are being damaged mentally beyond anyone's ability
to help them, beyond what a human brain is capable of bearing - they are
being destroyed by conflicting policies that give money to both sides and
keep our boys in the middle not knowing what they heck they're doing. And
the government and Rah-Rah Republican Christians say they're protecting
America. God save us from this kind of protection!

The "Christian" stance being touted recently is that we should oppose gay
marriage because it defiles the sanctity of marriage. Let me see... I think
what defiles the sanctity of marriage is the fact that so many people go
into it so lightheartedly presuming that if it doesn't work, they can always
get a new one. The fact that divorce is more common these days than a
long-term marriage - EVEN WITHIN the Church!!! And here are groups of people
that have been fighting for years for the Right - the Privelege to be
married within the eyes of the courts and our laws - and Churches are lining
the streets to protest - as Eric said - as if these people have a disease
they're afraid might spread.

Unbelievable!

What I believe Jesus would do? Hang out with gay people - and love them like
crazy - not physically as in sexually - but probably very physically as in
meeting their needs, giving them the hugs and acceptance they so desperately
need. And I don't mean that as in singling gays out as desperately being in
need of acceptance. I believe we all are. We all have a hunger for love and
acceptance and a desire to belong and feel a part of something. I see it in
the teenagers all around here who get caught up in risky behavior because
they just want to belong. We all want to be seen by someone as the Coolest
Thing ever. And when we don't get that - when we aren't given the strokes
and encouragement we need - we seek them anywhere we can find them.

I think Jesus Christ on this earth had the most interesting group of
followers you can imagine. People from all walks of life - the gifted and
educated, as well as the people who didn't fit in - people who were hated
for something that was who they were - either their profession or the way
they looked or believed - and by joining with Jesus - they all began to
develop - they stood taller and found ways to help others because they
themselves were being fed on a level that is rare in our world - someone was
looking into their soul and saying that they mattered and that they were
important - very important - important enough to die for. They became some
of the most beautiful people around - people who knew they were truly,
madly, deeply loved - not for what could be gotten from them or their bodies
- but simply because of who they were.

If more people could find this kind of acceptance and love from the Church
today - we would have a very different landscape. As it stands - churches
are some of the most judgemental places around - and people with everyday,
ordinary, run-of-the-mill issues or problems tend to shy away because they
think churches won't accept them. Is that the saddest thing ever? I stayed
away from churches for a long time because of the same thing. It wasn't
until I looked past the churches into the eyes of Jesus Himself - and God
the Father, through the Word of God - that I realized God wanted to love the
daylights out of me - not bash me up against a wall for not being good
enough.

What I appreciated the most about Eric's post - was how he maintained an
attitude of love and tolerance - not only for people of varying beliefs -
but also for people who statedly believe in his same God - yet act contrary
to everything Jesus taught. I wish I could be so calm. I rarely talk about
these things in a public forum because I'm afraid of being just as
judgemental of judgemental people as they are being of others - and where
does that get anyone? I have to steady myself and remember that I belong to
a God of Love - a God who desires relationship with us humans on a
monumental scale, and I have to remember all the flaws He continually
overlooks in order to keep loving me - all the flaws that are nulified by
what Christ did for me... and then I can remember to be gracious and
tolerant and remember that we are all in process. We are not finished yet.
We have more rough edges to be softened, or sharpened as the case may be.
And I praise God that there are people like Eric who can be so eloquent - so
outspoken - so adamant, and yet so genuinely concerned and caring. I hope he
starts a revolution. I wish a copy of his letter could be sent to every
pastor in America - and see what kind of dialogue we could get started then!

Thank you - Eric - for once again sharing from the heart and challenging me
to think. On this one, I was already on your side - you just challenged me
to voice it more boldly!!

Take care,
Liesl Garner

Sorry to say nothing for so long - and then come on here and say so much in
such a short amount of time. This is actually my busiest work week in a long
time. I have no time for this kind of internet stuff - and yet - it seems so
important to stand up for what I believe right now!!