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In “The Grand Design,” by eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and U.S. physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking asserts that a new series of theories makes a creator of the universe redundant, according to the Times newspaper which published extracts on Thursday.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

He refers to the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our sun when discussing the possibility of a creator. “That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions — the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,”

These simple elegant statements are opening my mind up wide. I’m getting more and more Atheist by the minute! Hahaha Okay not exactly. But I am more and more comfortable letting go of the idea of a father/God figure, so similar to the Mormon God I was raised with.  And stated so simply, it is all so clear to me that there was no need for a God in the creation of the universe. I never bought the “created in 7 days/6000 year old universe” theory, and I never bought the premise that God zapped Adam & Eve into being like magic. I was always much more comfortable with the idea that God worked with the laws of science & nature to facilitate the creation of our world over time. But this was an unexamined premise that only lived vaguely in my mind. And when I do examine it more closely, things don’t fit together quite right. If God existed before anything, out in the ether of space, floating in the darkness, and God created all the universe…  well then we aren’t on the same evolutionary path and we’ll never progress to where God is now. And that just doesn’t feel true to me.  I don’t know, but I feel the rightness of our continuing evolution and progression.  There may or may not be a god in some form or another. I definitely don’t think there is an old man, clothed in white robes, watching over us all, keeping a tally of our good and bad choices every second of every day. And while it feels like my beliefs have been unconsciously drifting this way for some time, bringing these thoughts into the light now, I definitely agree more and more that is is unlikely a supreme being set the creation of the universe in motion. What do you think?
-Flora

Today we’ve got a new treat! A friend of ours, Steven H. Lee, recently wrote the book, Falling Into Life: A Gay Exmormon’s Journey and agreed to let us post an excerpt. One thing I think about very often is how, despite much good done in the world, organized religion has terribly slowed the progress of equal rights. I can’t imagine being a young homosexual, knowing I could never be myself because even my omniscient God disapproved of me. Not just knowing I could never be myself, but knowing my self was inherently wrong. I can’t stand it. This chapter touched me. It made me want to act. It made me want to call my Senators and the White House and anyone else who runs for public office and tell them it’s time for ENDA, it’s time to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and do anything else to make us all actually equal. Oooh, and it also made me want to read the rest of the book!!

From the chapter: Fighting Against the Knife

I use this analogy to describe my own growing homosexuality experience; I call it the “knife”. It was like all the prophets, all the speakers, my lifetime of every religious discussion, all the words, the scriptures, the counsel, and the doctrine became a terrible jagged knife that was being pushed right into my heart. And everyone I knew, my leaders, my family, all my close relationships, they were all pushing that knife into my heart, and I was the only one holding it back. All their hands on that knife handle pushing it in, and I could feel my hands on theirs trying to stop the pain.
The creation of the knife starts early. It is a curious thing that happens to a young innocent child, that moment when you realize that you are the enemy. For me it happened when I was quite young, probably twelve years of age. I saw myself as all the rest, in line for God’s love expecting great things, and feeling as loved and as impervious as the rest of my comrades. The moment was confusing to me, and I wasn’t sure if it was directed at me, but there it was, these scriptures in the bible that said that homosexuals were the enemy. An abomination. A horror in God’s eyes.
It was part of a Sunday School lesson and we were taught two scriptures in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; both of them have committed an abomination,” and “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Then it was followed with a handful of Prophetic teaching mirroring the same concept: Homosexual sin is next to murder.

The knife slowly sharpening.

I had already become aware that Mormonism had clear rules and regulations for salvation, beginning as a young child in primary learning to give everything to God and to worship the prophet via cute songs. I was already collecting dimes and nickels for my tithing, and I knew that Satan was waiting in the wings for me, with his legions of demons tempting me to fall out of grace and into hell. I also knew that something was askew inside of me, although I was unable to put my finger on it…

…After we consummated our marriage, I knew I was doomed. The spark was not there. I was lost. I had been counseled that marriage would make me straight, and in that one moment, in my first thrust, I knew it was a lie. I wanted my heart to pound, I wanted this so bad, and it was not happening. It was not going to save me, it was not going to happen. She was a virgin who was saving herself for marriage, only to marry a gay man. I knew it was a tragedy of epic proportions.
I didn’t give up. Maybe God could still save me somehow. It was a sin, I was hell-bound, and she was going to be my salvation. Sixteen years later, after confessing to my wife I was gay in year four of our marriage, after twelve years in “conversion therapy”, years of heart ache, cheating, bargaining with God, three kids and absolute mental devastation, I felt suicidal.
I had remained active through it all, and it had not saved me. I had done everything God asked me to do, and I was still gay. So many hands were on the knife handle now, and now her hands were on the knife handle with everyone else’s. I couldn’t imagine myself making one of my own children suffer this way, and yet my Heavenly Father had stayed silent for twenty-six years through all of it, not once offering me any help. How could he be so terribly uncaring toward one of his own suffering children? I felt more isolated than at any time of my life, and I was doing everything right that I knew to do. I was being hung out to dry.
It felt as if I was fighting for my life. I was in such tremendous agony, and everyone had the words, “We love you…” falling from their lips as they pushed the knife harder and harder into my heart. I became so distraught that I was willing to let my spiritual life end to never feel that awful again. I became so emotionally detached and wounded, and something deep inside me snapped. I decided that I would stand up and face it! No matter how much push back I received, I would not back down. I owed myself a genuine life, and if the angels came to kill me, then so be it. I was done feeling shitty. No longer would I passively let my heart be threatened with violent ideas of destruction. I would turn that knife around and I would wield it at them. I would fight!
The visceral pain was so threatening to me that I began having severe panic attacks. I was already experiencing panic attacks due to my relationship with my parents, but when I decided to leave, the whole weight of the experience, the fear of all the years that had been programmed into my brain came rushing out. I dreamed angels came down from heaven and slashed my throat. I dreamed that I was lost forever, hell bound, never to be rescued. I felt valueless, adrift and alone even though I was surrounded by people.
I began an eighteen month journey of feeling as if I was falling. I literally felt as if I were freefalling helplessly to my doom while doing anything, sitting, walking, working, and sleeping. Although I stayed on my new course, my domestication was so great that it took over my ability to reason. My mental state put my physical state into absolute alarm.
I was able to fight this, but many men cannot fight this, and they commit suicide. And it is not their fault; they are sensitive men following the poisonous counsel of ignorant straight male leaders to their destruction. In my opinion, it is the fault of the Mormon Church and its untrained leadership. This happens in the Mormon Church to gay Mormon men and apostate family members. But they are whisked away to proper Mormon funerals by embarrassed Mormon families, never to be heard from again, their stories buried with them, the embarrassed families silenced by their belief. This is real, this is a terrible mental abuse.
All men in my situation are given a choice: You let the knife stop your own heart, or you take that knife, and you force it out of the hands threatening you, and you wield it against them. You save yourself. You begin your metamorphosis. You transcend.

Friday morning we sat sipping our coffee and came across this story in the LA Times. We were so happy we had cake to celebrate!!!
Thank You President Obama Cake!

President Obama late Thursday ordered most hospitals in the country to grant the same visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners that they do to married heterosexual couples. … Obama ordered the [Secretary of Health & Human Services] to ensure that all hospitals getting Medicare and Medicaid money honor all patients’ advance directives, including those designating who gets family visitation privileges.
The order also requires that documents granting power of attorney and healthcare proxies be honored, regardless of sexual orientation. The language could apply to unmarried heterosexual couples too.

The pen is mightier than the sword. We just want to say Thank you President Obama! Keep up the good work.

So have you seen this story yet? Mike Huckabee gets philosophical about gay marriage. I’m impressed with the profundity of his comments: Children aren’t puppies. Wow. Impressive Mike. Let’s all think about that one for a minute… Yeah I know, it’s a ridiculous statement and doesn’t need much reflection at all. So lets move on to other statements he made. Last week he was in Ewing N.J. at The College of New Jersey, speaking to the Student Government Association. He also gave an interview to campus news magazine The Perspective, for a Friday article. So this isn’t new news, and further, his opinions aren’t news – he’s been saying this stuff for a while. What that tells me is that Huckabee has had time to attempt to apply a little spin to his comments, but I’m not seeing any backpedaling: Huckabee really is just a genuine bigot I’m afraid. He labeled the gay lifestyle “outside the ideal” and compared it to incest, polygamy and even bestiality! Wow am I offended! And the jaw-dropping ignorance doesn’t end there…

“I don’t have to prove that marriage is a man and a woman in a relationship for life,” he said. “They have to prove that two men can have an equally definable relationship called marriage, and somehow that that can mean the same thing.”

I can’t believe he thinks homosexual couples haven’t already proved the success of their relationships! I can tell you this: homo and hetero are not so different at all! The “committed relationships” we enter into can be just as successful between two men or two women who are equally committed to that relationship. Further, having worked in the club scene for many many years, I can tell you the heterosexual dating scene has just as much promiscuity and desperation as any other. There are successful and failed relationships on both sides. I think it’s time to stop making sides and start celebrating our common humanity!
Toward the end of the article I’ve linked to at the top, there is a Huckabee quote regarding AIDS patients and I’m not going to repeat the fear filled hateful comments he made but let me just say it brought WWII concentration camps to my mind and I nearly cried. I’m horrified this man is thinking he should run for President in 2012 and I hope you all know the kind of man he really is.

Go Home Huckabee!
Some things I found online about Huckabee and his political platform:
He does NOT support gay marriage obviously
He doe NOT support a woman’s right to choose abortion
He does NOT support the Kyoto protocol (environmental treaty)
He does NOT support an assault weapons ban
He supports the Patriot Act
He supports an immigration border fence on the US/Mexican border
He supports the war in Iraq

Constance McMillen
Do you remember Constance McMillen? She made the news a couple months ago when she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to bring a female date to her high school prom in Mississippi. When she tried to sue the school they simply canceled the prom. The school essentially told the entire world they would rather their kids are deprived of any good times at their Senior Prom than allow them to share the dance floor with a lesbian couple. Well the ACLU was as offended as we were and immediately stepped in with a new lawsuit on behalf of Constance: put on a prom for these kids – all of them. So a group of parents came to the game and announced they would host a private prom for the kids. They implied this would solve Constance’ problem of being unable to bring a same-sex date to the public school event. They implied this was a solution for her. They didn’t tell the court this was really a solution for them.
Constance was given the run around, told the event was canceled, and finally told the school-sponsored prom was back on and she could bring her date. But who was at this “school sponsored” prom? Seven misfit students. The parent organized event was still on and they made sure Constance and her girlfriend weren’t invited and kept in the dark.
We have a couple of questions: What are they hoping to accomplish? And what message are they trying to send to the world? Because we’re hearing hate. Lots of hate and discrimination. And we’re wondering how on earth any of those parents think this was okay.
We’re so sorry you were deprived of your prom Constance!

-Flora

Gregory & Jonathan
We found this page through a facebook post from the SAGE (Straight Americans for Gay Equality) fan page and we just LOVED the thought that this cute couple is so close to winning their ultimate dream wedding from Crate & Barrel! You should really go to the page, read their story and do a little voting! Merriweather and I immediately voted from our personal email addresses and then from our coffeeandcontroversy address. I think we’ve voted 7 times now. It’s so easy! Just click the VOTE button and a new window will ask you to enter your email and a password. Next, go to your email and click the link they send you. Done! And after we voted we found that we are friends of friends of this couple. Is that one or two degrees of separation? LOL Not only do we think this cute couple deserves the win today, we would love to see this contest shout out to the world that “We LOVE gay marriage!” There are barely over 12 hours left to vote so don’t delay!!

-Flora

I originally planned to post a note about a ‘Technology Sabbath’. I am strongly considering participating. It would be interesting to see how I respond to a day away from so much technology. I might get more work done in the garden. I might connect to people on a real level as opposed to electronically. Ideally the trend spreads and is observed by many. I feel like participating in large positive group events/movements, sends out a very powerful positive intention and energy. I like being a part of that. I guess because it feels empowering.

But after reading the latest news about Lieutenant Dan Choi, we all felt we should write something about his situation.
Lt. Dan Choi
Lt. Choi was discharged from the military one year ago for coming out as being gay after serving honorably under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for ten years. Yesterday he handcuffed himself to the fence in front of The White House in peaceful protest. Today he’s being held under arrest with Jim Pietrangelo and until recently, 5 others as well. A good place to get quick updates on developments in the case is the getEQUAL facebook page. Their latest post says:

GetEQUAL Breaking!! Offered $100 fine, Dan & Jim plead NOT GUILTY and demand a jury trial. We do not plead guilty for equality. Trial set for April. More to come.

This morning over coffee, all three of us called both our US Senators and submitted our comments to the White House contact page We would urge you to voice your concerns over the treatment of Lt. Choi as well.
This is how we feel. We’re appalled that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy exists to begin with. How degrading and insulting to expect an entire arm of the organization to pretend to be something else and hide their reality from their peers, denying them the full self expression and equality of choice afforded everyone else in this country! We’re appalled that people are being treated this way. Men and women who’ve served us and protected our country and our freedom, are being ostracized, dismissed and worse. That makes us wonder what century we’re in. And to see Lt. Choi arrested & mistreated because he staged a peaceful protest on the sidewalk just makes us shake our heads! Why is this even an issue?! Why does this man have to handcuff himself to the fence and get attention and be noticed? Our country has had one group or another fighting for equality since it’s birth! And equality always wins! Make no mistake, equality will win in this case too. Those who oppose equal rights for LGBT people are on the wrong side of history and soon, time will catch up with them. Just as it did for those against the lowly colonists first, then those against the slaves gaining equality, and those against the rights of women… That’s how we feel.
So why did Lt. Choi handcuff himself to the fence one year after his discharge? If I were guessing, I would guess his answer might be something like this: Because people can only affect change when they know a problem exists. Well hello everyone, Dan Choi is asking for your attention for just a moment. He would like to tell you this is a problem. He would like his equal rights now please. Just like we’ve been proclaiming since Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence! Are we really a nation still refusing to recognize that hypocrisy? These discriminatory policies may not have been instituted by us, but as a nation, these policies stand in our name and reflect on us as a group. Since I’m a part of that group, I’d like these policies changed! Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a specific example with a clear answer: Repeal. But it’s not the only issue of equality the LGBT community faces. Issues like California’s Proposition 8 abound all over the nation and these are more examples of things that need to change!
We hope you’ll write to the white house about repealing DADT, as well as about fair treatment for Lt. Choi. We also hope you’ll take a moment to call your representatives. It’s so easy. This morning we called and said we were constituents of the senator etc, we heard of the Lt Choi arrest and didn’t think this was just, also we wanted to urge the Senator to work toward repealing DADT immediately etc. It’s a very quick phone call to a sweet-voiced young lady taking messages. To get the number to call your Senators, click here. To find a number for your US House Representative click here, enter your zip+4 in a box near the top left and you will get a link to your Representative. Mine had his contact numbers and addresses listed at the bottom of his page – I called the Washington DC office number. And I did all of it while I sipped my coffee. I don’t think that’s too much to do to further the cause of equality in a country which claims that as one of it’s founding principles.

-Flora