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The Summer Series – “The Wizard of Oz” We’re not in Kansas anymore

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!!

The Summer Series – “The Wizard of Oz” We’re not in Kansas anymore

This summer we are taking a trip to Oz! This is the 50th anniversary of the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”! The movie was based on the book written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. It was possibly about a strong and adventurous heroine at a time when women were finding their voices after being repressed for so long. Remember, we finally got the right to vote in 1920.
L. Frank Baum, was a member of the Theosophical Society. Few have recognized that his great American fairy tale is also a Theosophical allegory.

Theosophical Society calls themselves “an unsectarian body of seekers after Truth, who endeavor to promote Brotherhood and strive to serve humanity.”
the Society’s objectives evolved to be:
1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and science.
3. To investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man.

I wonder if Charles studied this group when he was researching Unity?

Some things you might not have known about the movie’s making…the suit for the ‘cowardly lion’ was actually made from real lion skin….yuck…it was very heavy, weighing almost 100 pounds!
The snow in the poppy scene was made of asbestos, a bit dangerous by today’s standards. Toto’s real name was Terry and Judy Garland wanted to adopt him because she fell in love with him, but his owner wouldn’t permit it.
And Terry aka, Toto was paid more than the Munchkins! $50 vs $125.
In the book, the color of the now Ruby slippers was ——- silver!

In the weeks that follow, I invite you to be open to the story and make it yours. The Big Unity theme for this year is One Humanity, Many Stories. This story is our story….yours and mine. And just like the Bible, every character in this story represents an aspect of ourselves.

Yes, this is our story. Yours and mine. The story of our spiritual journey, as we adopt the yellow brick road as the road to our innate divinity, our Christ Consciousness, God.

Most of us have watched this film throughout our childhood. And watching it again in preparing for this series, I have different eyes as I watch the characters go from Kansas to Oz and back to Kansas.
I was keeping the image of Dorothy and Toto in my mind as I traveled to Kansas last week and back. I kept looking over my shoulder for a tornado to strike!

The storyline of The Wizard of Oz is as old as time. It is the story of one on the quest to find a treasure, of sorts. The Wizard of Oz fits into what mythologist Joseph Campbell called a hero’s journey. The hero’s journey begins with divine discontent and ends with the return home. Along the way there are lessons to be learned, challenges to overcome, friends to be made, enemies to be vanquished, and a remembering to be achieved.

Dorothy certainly was experiencing some divine discontent! She was about to lose her precious dog, Toto. Throughout the movie, Dorothy has conversations with Toto, who symbolizes her inner intuitive self.
In this movie, Toto was never wrong. When he barks at the scarecrow, Dorothy ignores the warning. “Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.” But scarecrows do talk in Oz. Toto also barks at the little man behind the curtain and reveals that the Wizard is a fraud. At the Gale Farm and again at the castle, the Witch tries to put Toto into a basket. In both cases, Toto jumps out of the basket and escapes. The lesson here is to listen to the Toto within.

Dorothy is wondering if there is something over the Rainbow. Somewhere over the rainbow is our yearning to move out of where we are to a “perceived” better place. For us the question might be, Is there something more? Can I be something more? How to I attain fulfillment? This is our Divine Discontent.

Rainbows symbolize hope and renewal, and as Dorothy sings, she wants to go way up high above the chimney tops – indicating her unconscious desire to rise up in consciousness to the place where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Dorothy and Toto are whisked away on the winds of a tornado and land in the land of Oz.
The Twister represents those unbidden, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes frightening events in our lives that move us to seek a higher consciousness.

When she returns by the magic of her now Ruby Slippers, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry try to tell her that it was all in her head. She insists that it’s not, “It’s a place!”
Remember Harry asking Professor Dumbledore if his experience of death was all in his head, and Dumbledore responded, “Of course it’s all in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
Is it possible that Oz is much like our idea of Heaven, a state of mind?

I’m using the book, “The Zen of Oz, Spiritual Lessons from Over the Rainbow” by Joey Green for some ideas for these Lessons, but also looking from a metaphysical point of view too.
We start out with Dorothy making some questionable choices as she is reacting instead of responding to the crisis of Miss Gulch threatening to have Toto removed and put down for running in her garden and biting her on the leg.
But Auntie EM and Uncle Henry aren’t interested, they have chicks to save from a broken incubator to worry about. Dorothy is ignored and we see very little love there.
The film starts out, not in bright and clear black and white, but rather a grayscale, making Kansas even more bleak looking.
She dreams of flying over a rainbow to escape her troubles like a little bird. The rainbow can represent that “love she seeks to color her world.”
The only love and companionship she has, is with Toto, who she chats with all the time. And trying to get the love and attention she craves by letting Toto run through the garden belonging to mean-spirited, power-hungry old maid Miss Gulch, who carries her emotional baggage in a basket strapped to the back of her bicycle is a question we all must ask?
Dorothy certainly makes some questionable choices, but how often do we do the very same?
According to Green, these actions affect our karma and “when we choose to take actions that torment others and sow the seeds of unhappiness, the consequences of our karma is our own misery and failure. But, when we choose to take actions that nourish joy and love, then the fruit of our karma is your own fulfillment and happiness.”

He states the only way to rise above karma is to become aware of our unconscious choices. Whenever we impulsively react to something, we are actually choosing to respond that way. “Our decision to react impulsively is simply an unconscious choice.”

Green asks, “If you get caught in a cyclone because you ran away from home to save your dog from being destroyed because you let the dog run through a mean old maid’s garden, you might want to stop and ask yourself, ‘what is the universe trying to tell me?’”
Some questions for Dorothy might be:
• why are you letting your dog, that you love so much, run through a mean old maid’s garden in the first place?
• Are you subconsciously afraid that your own loveless environment will turn you into a bitter old maid?
• Why is she so desperate for Auntie Em’s love?
• Is she setting herself up for rejection to punish herself for her parent’s death? (we do not know how they died)
The cyclone becomes a physical manifestation of Dorothy’s inner struggles for self-awareness. Her last name “Gale” after all!
The famous statement: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” introduces us to Oz, but also Dorothy is again to experience another angry wicked individual. To break this pattern of trusting “wizards” whether in the guise of a fake carnival Professor Marvel or a fake Wizard of Oz; she must rise above her karma, and understand why she is obsessively seeking Auntie Em’s love and resolve the subconscious conflict that prompted her to risk Toto’s life.
She, like each one of us, need to align ourselves with our true Self. Then we can reach the Zen experience of awakening.
The lesson for us all: you can avoid a nightmarish trip over the rainbow if you are consciously aware of your choices in Kansas. All you have to do is step back and observe the choices you make every moment.
Your choices mirror how deeply you know your true Self. Dorothy’s choices are stemming from her insecurities with her Auntie Em. An abundance of love from Auntie Em will not make her whole. Only an intimate understanding of her true Self will align her with Oneness and the infinite creative power of the universe.

The moral for this week is: when making a choice, consider the consequences: does it nourish happiness, create good karma?
Dorothy has been functioning within the law of mind action – as we all do –
The law of mind action is the third principle in our five basic Unity principles, which says that we create our lives and our world by what we hold in mind. Dorothy is reaping the fruit of her chaotic thoughts and her choices. Up to this point she’s been impulsive and reactive and has now found herself in greater trouble.

So, Dorothy could have made better choices like: not unnecessarily walking past Miss Gulch’s house, not refusing to cope with Kansas, and not running away from her problems.

Happy Father’s Day – The Sacred Masculine

GREAT Morning Beloved!

Happy Father’s Day!

Honoring the Sacred Masculine.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, stepfathers and those who wish they could be fathers. And to those who have stepped up to be a father figure when needed.
We all are aware of the importance of father’s in the lives of children as they grow. It is my hope that you all have had a positive father figure in your lives, and I pray that we all continue to be positive examples for the youth who share time with us.
I know some of us have issues with our Fathers and I pray that we have forgiven ourselves and them, so we all are able to move forward. If we have not reached that level of forgiveness and understanding yet, let us affirm that we are moving forward and that it will come.

“Today on this Father’s Day, we will honor the Sacred Masculine by calling forth twelve ‘holy’ men of the Bible, each with a particular quality that helped them to effectively serve God.”
This presentation was developed by another LUT that I have been working with over these last few months as we design the fall conference for the eastern region. She was kind to share it and I thought it was a great way to honor the intent of Father’s Day, a step away from traditional celebrations.
So, our characters, and I say that with no malice intended (!), will come forth and state who they are representing and read their Sacred Masculine statement.
Let’s see what they have to say:

ADAM:

“I am ADAM and I am the first man of the human race. I represent the first movement of mind in its contact with life and substance. In my original creation I was in spiritual illumination and Spirit breathed into me continually the necessary inspiration and knowledge to give me superior understanding. However, when I began eating or appropriating ideas of two powers – God and not God, or good and evil, the result was that I doubted and fell away from the spiritual life and all it involves. I represent the soul’s struggle to adhere to wisdom faithfully and create harmonious consciousness and the expression of the divine idea out of that wisdom.

“I am ADAM. I light the candle of WISDOM.”

NOAH:

“I am NOAH, the son of Lamech. My journey represents when the faculties of mind have been used in wrong relation to Truth, certain destructive processes set in and the ‘earth’ or man-made realm of thought, is in a state of corruption. Through my obedience to the guidance of God’s direction I built the ark and took into it all the ideas inherent in true Being (two by two). My family and the family of man rested in the ark as the flood or baptism of Spirit, equalized and brought forth fertile ground for spiritual realities. Through my willingness to accept God’s will, I became a vessel for the expression of the cleansing of the earth and the planting of the seeds for a new state of consciousness.

“I obeyed what God directed me to do and was willing to accept God’s will even when all those about me doubted.”

“I NOAH, light the candle of WILLINGNESS.”

ABRAHAM :

“I am ABRAHAM, but I was originally called Abram. When I was told by Jehovah that I was henceforth to be Abraham, I was also told I was to be the father of a multitude. I understood this to mean that my life journey would be one of bringing the expression of faith into the multitude of manifested thoughts and acts. Inspired by the Lord, I went forth into another country, where my progeny, or manifestations, increased tremendously. You do not have to change your residence in order to enter into a new country, however, my faith in the unseen God and in divine guidance may have seemed like blind faith to others. My faith in the unseen and in divine guidance became part of my consciousness and my dependence on that truth worked out beautifully in my life and in the lives of those who are true to it.

“I am ABRAHAM. I light the candle of FAITH.”

ELIJAH, A Great Prophet of Israel:

“I am Elijah, A Great Prophet of Israel. I championed the cause of God with such zeal that at one point I became violent and destructive. This was the Jezebel side of my character. But I was willing to be instructed and I learned from my experiences that I must receive the kingdom of God as a little child. I started out with the roar of the whirlwind and ended with the whisper of the ‘still small voice.’ My journey is one that signifies the changes of consciousness in the individual from unfettered unbalanced power to one of peaceful and harmonious use of power.

“I am Elijah. I light the candle of POWER.”

JOB:

“I am JOB. My life on the level of appearances seemed to be about persecution, affliction and adversity. My journey represents transition from a personal self-righteousness and fear of outer circumstances into the real Christ righteousness and a focus on innermost consciousness. In my self-righteousness my fear of evil came upon me and I obsessed with the details of outer appearances. God sent three friends to both comfort me and challenge my deeply held self-justifications. When I finally truly listened to the Holy Spirit, turned to God and experienced an awakened state of forgiveness, my captivity to outer circumstances was put away and Jehovah gave me twice as much as I had before.

“The message of my life is that the cleansing power of forgiveness creates true peace, joy and abundance.”

“I am JOB. I light the candle of FORGIVENESS.”

DAVID, the beloved, son of Jesse the Bethlehemite:

“I am David, the beloved youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. I was the anointed king of Israel and succeeded Saul as king. My journey was one of the withdrawing of the head or will represented by King Saul and the transference to the heart, or love. I was spiritually anointed long before I assumed the reins of government. When Saul was still king and sick with melancholia and insanity, my skill with poetry and the harp soothed him so effectively that I was called for often. This proved to me the power of love to harmonize the discords of the willful consciousness. God is love and his kingdom is within and I served as King with the heart as the center through which I ruled.”

“I, DAVID light the candle of LOVE.”

JOHN THE BAPTIST:

“I am John the Baptist also called the forerunner of Jesus Christ. When my parents were old, an angel foretold that my mother Elizabeth would bear a child and I was born six months before Jesus. I was raised to serve God and was told from an early age that I was to be a harbinger for Jesus, to make the way ready for him. Jesus was my cousin and we often played together as children. My journey was one of the release or letting go of the initial overzealous enthusiasm for transformation in service to the greater or higher good of the one who comes after.

“I, JOHN THE BAPTIST, light the candle of SERVICE.”

ANDREW:
“I am Andrew, a beloved disciple of Jesus Christ and brother of Simon Peter who represented faith. Although in my life journey I experienced some very adverse experiences, through my strength and the support of my brother Peter’s faith, I found the inexhaustible Source of all in service to Jesus and exclaimed “We have found the Messiah.” When my strength found faith and realized they are brothers consciously in the mind and heart, a bond of unity was established that carries each one along no matter the outer circumstances. This brotherly love was a demonstration of the strength we are capable of when we come together.

“I, Andrew, beloved disciple, light the candle of STRENGTH.”

BARTHLOMEW:

I am Barthlomew, son of Tolmai and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I was originally called Nathaniel. When Jesus saw me under a fig tree, he discerned that my faculty of imagination was present before either I or others perceived it. He told me I would furthermore be called Barthlomew and that my imagination ability is a vision beyond appearances and would give shape and form to unformed mental energy. In my service to the ministry to Jesus, I learned that there are no limitations or boundaries in life except those of our own imagination.

“I, Bartholomew, beloved disciple, light the candle of IMAGINATION.”


JUDAS:

“I am JUDAS Iscariot, disciple of Jesus. Many reviled me but Jesus loved and trusted me to assist in the fulfillment of the prophecy of his life. He called me the custodian of life and said I was very loyal and courageous to take on such a difficult task. Although I had caught the higher vision of life, I was often confused and didn’t understand that Jesus would overcome death but not in the traditional physical sense. I did everything I could to help Jesus in his ministry and although I was loyal, my misguided lack of understanding of the bigger picture was my own undoing.”

“I, JUDAS, light the candle of LOYALTY.”

JESUS of Nazareth:

“I am Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and according to many, the Savior. Through my early studies I came to understand my journey was one of the representation of God’s idea of man in expression. In order to move into the absolute of this idea it was necessary for me put away the old way of lack and limitation and accept the truth of my being. Then through understanding, I began diligently to live this Truth in thought, word and deed. It was necessary to demonstrate that this attainment is possible to all, for it was not my mission to impress my Divinity upon others, but to remind them of their own indwelling divine potential. So my life is about passing through all the trials, temptations and mental variations each of us experience but not falling under the dominion of evil thoughts. It was necessary that my physical body should die during the crucifixion so I might make the demonstration that it was the consciousness of a perishable body that died. The overcoming of the resurrection was not so much a physical experience but a demonstration of the ability to transcend the literal physical experience and lift one’s consciousness to this ideal of God’s idea of man in perfect expression. This demonstration that ‘the Father and I are one,’ was the core of my ministry.

“I, Jesus, light the candle of ONENESS.”
SAUL/PAUL:

“I am Paul, formerly called Saul, originally a Jewish man. In my early life history I was directed solely by the human will. I was intellectually educated in the ways of my forefathers and inherited my religious bias against Christians. As a result, I had no spiritual understanding of the teachings of Jesus and persecuted Christians. My conversion was by means of a great light of spiritual understanding which took my physical sight for a time but provided me with an inner vision. After my discovery that there is a wisdom greater than the personal will, my name is changed to Paul which represents the conversion from the violent and oppressive persecutor to the devout and obedient champion of the Christ Consciousness, the spiritual I AM. Many gave different symbolisms and shades of meaning to my life, but I saw my ministry as a testament to the important work of overcoming in the individual.

“I, Paul, light the candle of OVERCOMING.”

Adam – Leroy; Noah – Cate; Abraham – Matt; Elijah – Greg; Job – Bronwen:
David – Andrea; John the Baptist – Jim W; Andrew – Esther; Bartholomew –
Judas – Dan; Jesus – Celeste; Paul – Jeanne

I hope you noticed that what many would call the traditional characteristics of masculinity were not part of those we just heard.
Standards of masculinity vary across different cultures and historical periods, I’d like to think that our society is becoming more accepting of variations of those standards. In fact, maybe even having less emphasis on standards period. We still have some work to do…
And we know both males and females can exhibit masculine traits and behavior just as both can exhibit feminine traits. It’s what makes them who they are, no matter the make of their character.
So, today we called forth the wisdom of Adam, the willingness of Noah, the faith of Abraham, the balanced power of Elijah, the forgiveness of Job, the love of David , the service of John the Baptist, the strength of Andrew, the imagination of Bartholomew, the loyalty of Judas, the Oneness of Jesus and the overcoming of Paul.

Each one of us has within us the qualities that are represented here this morning in this ceremony of Honoring the Sacred Masculine. Some are reminiscent of our 12 Powers, while others are a large part of the Unity philosophy.
We need only to call them forth, get in touch with them and claim them as our own. Did you feel any of the traits pulling towards you? Did any seem to fit? Did you react to any?
Lets ALL work on our spiritual powers, all of our characteristics that take us closer to the truth of who we are.

“How to be the best possible version of our self.”

GREAT Morning Beloved!!

“How to be the best possible version of our self.”

Psychologist Carl Jung said, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

And isn’t that what we have been working for all these years? To be who we truly are….to be our authentic self?

We might ask our self; how do I do that? How can I be my authentic self?

Does that mean, we have lived a good life, if we are authentic?

Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t need to be better than anyone else. You just need to be better than you used to be.”
And that is a good life.

That quote by Wayne Dyer points us in the right direction. To have lived a good life has nothing to do with comparing our possessions or our accomplishments with anyone else. It’s all about comparing where we started (as adults) and where we wound up.

Now pay attention to that statement: it’s all about comparing where we started and where we wound up. It has nothing to do with anyone else or where they are or what they have or don’t have.

Think about that a minute because I know most if not ALL of us have done that, compared ourselves to another for what? Most likely, to belittle ourselves as to where we AREN’T instead of looking at where we are.

Instead of comparing all the time, look at our own journey….

Yes, we may stumble along the way, but we want to be able to honestly say we made slow but steady progress from point A to point, to the next point, to the next point. That means continually striving to be better than we were last decade, last year, last month, last week—even a better person than we were yesterday.
We all want to be the best possible version of our self. But how?

Thomas Rapsas wrote a blog summarizing a book by David Brooks, “The Road to Character.” In the book, the author presented several examples of people who lived lives of moral strength and honor, many overcoming difficult challenges to become the best person they could possibly be.

And he offered some life tips, some standards to live by.

They may not change your life immediately, but if you incorporate them into your life, they will put you on the right path. They can help you live a life of meaning and character.

7 ways to become the best version of yourself.

1. Nourish your soul daily. At least once each day, we need to break away from our work or home routine and take a little time to feed our soul. This may involve a walk out in nature, reading a spiritual text, taking a yoga class or spending 15 minutes in quiet contemplation.

2. Be grateful. Find something to be thankful for each day, even if it’s just to give thanks for the food in your refrigerator or the roof over your head or the fact you lived to see another day. I like to say a prayer of gratitude each evening, giving thanks for the day and then anything else that needs to be said.

3. Be humble. In Brooks words, “Humility reminds you that you are not the center of the universe, but you serve a larger order.” This also means keeping your ego and pride in check. We talked about the different kinds of pride last week. “Because of pride we try to prove we are better than those around us. It makes us more certain and close-minded than we should be.” Be willing to hear out others. Be open-minded.

4. Don’t be led astray. This may seem obvious, but avoid the big four sins of lust, fear, vanity and gluttony. This means: Stay away from temptation. Be brave when the situation calls for it. Don’t look down on others. Try not to overindulge in food or drink. We Unitics would look at this as not having idols…only God should take that #1 spot in our lives.

5. Trust in a force greater than yourself. The world can be a tough place and we need all the help we can get. Whether you believe in the God of the Bible, a greater life force or a set of moral principles, we all need someone or something to lean on. I had the example of this the past week as my Tuesday Group gathered together to take charge when I needed help.

6. Know how to quiet the inner self. In Brooks words, “Only by quieting the self can you be open to the external sources of strengths you will need. Only by muting the sound of your own ego can you see the world clearly.” That means engaging in a regular practice of meditation, contemplation or centering prayer.
PIC
7. Determine what life is asking of you. We spend much of life focused on what we want—but we also need to discover what the world wants from us. That means finding a need in the world, one you have the skills or passion to address, and serving it. This is a hard one, but a question you should ponder daily—the answer may take weeks or even years to arrive, but it eventually will.

We’ve touched on this several times already…what is your gift? Some of you have discovered it, others are tweaking it and still others are searching. Listen to the silence.

The book goes on to discuss what it means to have character. We have seen examples of character in our news stories like the young people who are standing up for gun control and the environment; and we have seen instances of lack of character too. I won’t mention any examples.

We often see people of character filling the void when leaders don’t lead, when those in positions of power and responsibility seem more interested in their own self-interests than the greater good?

What can you and I do in our everyday lives that would be of character? On our own local level, plenty. You and I are the ones who can lead by example, showing our children, our family, our friends, our peers, our community, what it means to be a woman or man of character.

David Brooks’ defines what makes a person of character and what it means to live your life by a code of what is right and just. These values have nothing to do with your political affiliation or religion. We all know there is good and bad on both sides of the political divide and that just because you attend church does not make you a better person than the non-church goer. We all know this too.

This code I call integrity.

People of character:
• They possess an inner cohesion.

• They are calm, settled and rooted.

• They are not blown off course by storms.

• They don’t crumble in adversity.

• Their minds are consistent, and their hearts are dependable.

• They answer softly when challenged. They are silent when unfairly criticized…restrained when others try to provoke them.

• They get things done. They recognize what needs doing and they do it.

• They make you feel funnier and smarter when you speak with them.

• They move through different social classes not even aware they are doing so.

• You’ve never heard them boast, you never seen them self-righteous or doggedly certain.

• They aren’t dropping little hints of their own distinctiveness and accomplishments.

The flip side of character, those who lack it “never develop inner constancy, the integrity that can withstand popular disapproval or a serious blow. They find themselves doing things that other people approve of, whether these things are right for you or not. They foolishly judge other people by their abilities, not by their worth.”

The person with character has a different set of priorities. They have surrendered “the climb to success” and instead have decided to “deepen the soul.” (Character over career.) They have learned to suppress the ego, or to “quit the self,” and find it is better to give than receive.

The person with character is humble. They are open to the idea that they don’t know everything—and are open to finding answers from anyone at any time. This is important: When you think you know everything you stop learning, and growing, as a person.

The act of being humble may require some effort on our part, especially in a world where boasting and self-congratulation seem baked into our culture, as evidenced everywhere from the White House to the NFL. That means we need to become “strong in the weak places” by magnifying what is best in ourselves and suppressing what is unpleasant, including any hints of arrogance or pretentiousness.

“No person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. We all need assistance from the outside—from family, friends, role models, rules, traditions, institutions, and, for believers, from God.”

It is an on-going process, one that starts at home and extends to the relationships at our workplace and in our community. It involves striving to improve ourselves each day by emulating those we respect and strengthening our moral core which for many of us means reading the wise words of others or engaging in a regular spiritual practice, at home or through a religious institution. It means digging deep to be the best possible person we can be, each and every day.

And that leads to acceptance

Lao Tzu said, “When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you.”

Meditation question:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)

PRIDE – Yours, Mine, and Ours

GREAT Morning Beloved!

PRIDE – Mine, Yours, Ours
DO you have PRIDE? Not the kind of pride that is part of the 7 Deadly Sins….
Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, & Pride.
No, this PRIDE is the feeling we all have when we feel good, even GREAT about ourselves or something we are associated with.

Like I’m proud to be a Unitic and I’m proud of my Italian heritage.

Pride is defined as: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Pride is consciousness of one’s own dignity.

We are talking about self-esteem, dignity, honor, self-respect, self-worth, self-image.
A consciousness of one’s own dignity

Do you have pride in yourself? How do you know? What have you done to establish your pride?

What are you proud of? One of the things I was always proud of is getting to and through college pretty much on my own. In a way it was a good thing that we were poor enough to qualify for some scholarships and grants! And I worked as I was able. I am grateful for the assistance I did receive. And so, I was the first in the family to receive a college degree.

What are you proud of?

June is the month that the LGBT Community celebrates the strides they have made for equality. Some may ask why a month is needed? Or even why any celebration is needed?

And that same question could be asked about Black History Month. Or Native American Month in November. Or Hispanic Heritage Month mid-September to mid-October. Or Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May and Irish-American Heritage Month in March. We should probably have a WOMAN’S Rights Month!!!

Why do all these minorities want or need a time in the year to celebrate themselves?

If you consider the history of these United States, they have been, and unfortunately, still are in many ways, dominated by white males….government that dictates what we do and why we do it is and has been determined by a minority of our nation.

If you think about our history, each minority that came to America received some harsh words and actions as they settled in and tried to make a home for themselves. It didn’t matter what country they came from, they had to face discrimination in one way or another.

The Irish were called Micks, the Italians, wops, the Germans, krauts …you get the picture. And each minority served the same discrimination on each other! No kindness there.

So many of these ‘minorities’ have used these celebrations to say, Hey, we’re here and we are proud of who we are, where we came from and what we have become!

Unfortunately, some have had to fight their battle for equality longer than others. Women obtained the right to vote in 1920, but women were still fighting for equality in the 1960’s and 1970’s and still are today.

The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, yet we have seen multiple incidences of inequality for Black and Brown Americans.

Martin Luther King Jr told us, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

Knowing what we as a nation have done to the Native American people, to women, to Black and Brown Americans, …to anyone not white and male, and, in many cases, protestant! maybe we can understand why we need PRIDE, and all the different Heritage Months, and why we continue to this day to work for equality on ALL levels.

LGBT Pride goes back 50 years to June 28, 1969, as members of the Gay Community and their allies fought back against police brutality after raids at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York.

Gay pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.
Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements throughout the world. The organizers took a page of the non-violent book to bring their cause forward.

Growing up gay back in the day…was difficult. There were always threats of harassment and beatings and jail. You had to be careful if you wanted to ‘be you.’

Imagine if you are able, of not be able to express who you were, really, because people told you, you were wrong, bad, dirty….an abomination. This was someone you trusted, who was supposed to love you, telling you that people like you do not belong.

How does that feel?

I could go further but let me just say that my own father considered my lifestyle ‘dirty’ and when I came out, I was kicked out of the home that I knew and loved. And denied access to my sister and youngest brother. You must understand, I considered the two of them ‘my kids,’ I practically raised them for the first 7 and 6 years of their lives before I went to college.
So, I was not happy….

But enough of me, maybe you can get some idea of why it was important to stand up for your life, your beliefs. And this standing proud is what we all must do, if we wish to be who we truly are.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, who walked the path to freedom, who stood up and spoke up about what was the right thing to do.

And in some ways, saying you are a Unitic is doing something of the same thing…. depending upon who you are saying it to.

Being gay is not a sin. The Bible never claims that it is. The word homosexuality does not appear in the Bible.

It’s not a choice. When you are born this way, it’s hard to ‘not be gay’. Try it sometime…try not being who you are….

Christians, anyone! should stop saying it’s a sin, because it’s killing people.

The suicide rate amongst the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community is much higher than any other sub-group.
Studies show that LGBT teens are between 30 and 40 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers but a lot of psychologists believe this figure to be higher

So, saying being gay is a sin is really a misuse of religion. We are made in the image of God.

Those who say being gay is a sin use highly selective Biblical text to make a point but leave out a myriad verses that present another whole list of issues that Christians and others choose to ignore…like selling your daughter, mixing fabrics together for clothing, stoning to death a disrespectful teen or someone caught in an extramarital affair. Just spend some time in Leviticus.

And they’ll throw around the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, as supposed proof of God’s wrath against the gay community—when in fact, in the book of Ezekiel 16:49 declares the former was destroyed because of its greed and disregard for the poor.

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

And there is nothing in the words of Jesus that opposes the LGBT community, he never once corrects, cautions, or condemns anyone based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Rev. John Pavlovitz has this view of Genesis: the creation story quotes God as saying, “let us make mankind in our image”, and this God then ultimately creates both men and women. If we are to take these words at face value, we need to ask the question:
Which ones were created in God’s image, the males or the females?

If our answer is both (which it must be), then God is decidedly non-binary, God transcends a single gender identity, God is by nature trans-gender. We cannot have God be a He and also make women in His image—and we can’t have a God capable of creating men and women, unless God is equally made of both.

Interesting thought….

Here’s another Biblical argument laid to rest: People like to say the Bible declares that marriage is strictly between one man and one women, while the Old Testament, as early as Genesis’ fourth chapter is teeming with bigamy, polygamy, and extra-martial sex practiced by the lauded pillars and Patriarchs of the faith (Abraham, Gideon, Solomon, David)—not as cautionary tale, and not with rebuke, but simply as the story of God’s people.

The claim that the term homosexual refers simply to people who have sex with same gender partners yet will also admit that their own heterosexuality refers to far more than just their sexual activity, but to their inclinations to love, where they seek affection, intimacy, relationship. They can’t have these words work both ways.

People who are gay are just like every other person. They eat, sleep, work, play and love…

At the end of the day, the Bible is not clear on these matters. It is cloudy and even contradictory at times. There is no consistent sexual ethic in the Scriptures, no one image of marriage—and no specific condemnation from Jesus or Paul of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender simply because of their identity and orientation. If we can admit that LGBT people have the same capacity for love, commitment, and monogamy in a mutually beneficial relationship that heterosexuals do—then all the Biblical text becomes impossible to weaponize as it has been.

Ultimately it is the fear, the prejudice, the lack of knowledge that causes anyone to lash out in hurtful words, violent rhetoric, and abject cruelty.

More and more we are beginning to understand that our faith tradition has gotten it wrong regarding sexuality, the same way it has regarding the worth of women, the plague of slavery, interracial marriage, the violence against non-Christians, and on and on. We are seeing that being LGBT and being Christian are not mutually exclusive. We’re seeing that a Church that honors God will welcome
all people.

We’ve wasted so much time, so many resources, and so many beautiful, God-reflecting lives, because we’ve made our fear our idol and tried to retrofit God into that image. The sooner we can let go of this misplaced fervor and this fruitless fight, the sooner we can live out Jesus’ clear and unmistakable commands, that we love God and all those who share this space with us.

No, being gay is not a sin.

The sin is the hatred that refuses to let go of that notion when evidence requires it is released