I’m tired

My best friend is a transgender man and the recent bathroom bill idiocy has made me lose all hope in humanity, even my own.

You see, when I see people, even some of my own, less welcoming, friends publicly support these asinine laws, my inner Sicilian takes over and I go into a scorched earth attack that eventually leaves my with a few less friends.

And I’m not sorry to lose them as friends.  Fuck ’em.  But what I am sorry about is that my anger is not letting me be a good advocate for my trans friends.

I’ve had a few thoughts over these past few days:

1a) Does support of a bigoted law make someone bigoted?  Am I right in calling out people as bigots?  They really don’t like it when I do that.

1b) Is my question above a result of tone policing?  I’m angry and I think I’m legitimately angry – if my trans friends are the ones that are being harmed, why is it up to me to be “reasonable”.

1c)  Are the people freaking out about “PENIS IN THE WOMAN’S ROOM” being reasonable?  I don’t think so, especially because we have places that have had non-trans exclusionary rules in place for years.  There have been no issues reported with transgender woman (or people pretending to be trans woman).  Who’s being unreasonable?

2.  My own anger has surprised me.

2a.  My own anger has surprised me to the point where I think that I’m part of the problem of people screaming at each other and not listening.  Of course, I think my own anger is reasonable.  But….

3.  I’m really, really tired of my friends rights being used as a politician’s stump speech.  These are real people, Mr. Ted Cruz.  Not political pawns to be used by you and those who follow you.

I’ve exiled myself from facebook until I can get a hold of my anger about this.



I don’t understand Republicans Anymore

Growing up in 1980’s Louisiana, in a Catholic, pro-life household, it was axiomatic that the Republicans were the party of responsible government, of fiscal responsibility, and moral accountability.  Even though I was a registered Independent, I voted almost a straight republican ticket, until about 2005.

Leaving aside the question of Donald Trump, I don’t understand why republicans are backing Cruz and Rubio.  Both of them voted and encouraged the brinksmanship politics over the debt ceiling debate which directly lead to the the United States credit rating being downgraded.

These candidate’s actions adversely affected the “faith and credit” of the US government.  The republicans, in that one action, shed any pretext of being a party of responsible government or fiscal responsibility.  I cannot understand an electorate that supports these candidates, or their actions.



Some of y’all will remember my 5 week fight with suicidal ideation last year.  Well, it got bad again last week.  It was almost like my mood fell off a cliff.

The problem with language is that by saying “my mood fell off a cliff” – it sounds like “I’m *just* in a bad mood”.  But a bad mood doesn’t mean you fantasize about shooting yourself.

As best I can remember, that day was pretty bad, and I had flashes of suicidal ideation.  It’s funny, language.  We like to use language to hide ugliness sometimes.  I remember somebody, probably George Carlin, talking about the shift in language over “shell shock”.  Back in the First World War, troops were shell shocked.  Then they had “Battle Fatigue” in World War II.  Then later, it was “Combat Exhaustion”.  And then, during the aftermath of Vietnam, the language was made very clinical:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Which we now just shorten to “PTSD”.  It’s a nice clean word that hides all the ugliness that accompanies the reality.

I feel the same way about the word “suicidal ideation”.  It’s a nice clean word that hides a lot of ugliness.  What suicidal ideation really is something like this….

Hey, I’m kinda hungry, I think I’ll choose go eat something.

Except it’s more like “I’m pretty fucking worthless right now and taking my pistol, standing at that dock over there, blowing my brains out, and then falling backwards into the water seems like the thing I want to do right now. It’s pretty dark and no one would be able to stop me.”

And it’s as matter of fact as choosing to eat a sandwich for lunch or General Tso’s chicken.

Language.  Sometimes it hides the ugliness.

Don’t dismiss depression as “just a bad mood”.  My guns aren’t locked up out of my reach because of a bad mood.

Unitarian Musings, Part 2

From the last post, there were a couple of themes that emerged.  Don’t blame me, this shit almost stream of consciousness.

God as unknowable.

People use God to win arguments and get what they want.  

One thing I did not relate well in the previous post was the experience of the transcendent.  People who have experienced it know the impossibility of language to capture that moment.  We are reduced to using parables and metaphor and maybe poetry.  But in the end, all of that is meaningless.

Buddha once pointed to a flower and asked each of his disciples to say something about it.

One pronounced a lecture.
Another a poem.
Yet another a parable.
Each outdid the other in depth and erudition.

Mahakashyap smiled and held his tongue. Only he had seen the flower.

And, like Thomas Aquinas from last post, once someone experiences God as transcendent, all that has been written and said both before and after is just dust.

For years now, I have avoided God language.  I’ve seen the hurt and harm that it does to my friends and I know the havoc it has wreaked in my own life.  I’ve seen the evil that that people do in the name of God. I want no part of that, even linguistically.


And yet.  Have I ceded the battlefield to those that would manipulate Divinity?  Is the voice of authentic mystic necessary to offset the blustering politicians, pundits, and fundamentalists?  And how the hell do you find an “authentic mystic”?  What does that even mean?

THE TRUTH SHOP (From The Song of the Bird)

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the name of the shop: THE TRUTH SHOP.

The salesgirl was very polite: What type of truth did I wish to purchase, partial or whole? The whole truth, of course. No deceptions for me, no defences, norationalizations. I wanted my truth plain and unadulterated. She waved me on to another side of the store.

The salesman there pointed to the price tag. “The price is very high, sir,” he said. “What is it?” I asked, determined to get the whole truth, no matter what it cost. “Your security, sir,” he answered.

I came away with a heavy heart. I still need the safety of my unquestioned beliefs.

Unitarian Musings, Part 1

There is an apocryphal story about St. Thomas Aquinas detailed in the book “The Song of the Bird”, by Anthony De Mello:

The story goes that one of the world’s ablest theologians. Thomas Aquinas suddenly stopped writing. When his secretary complained about his unfinished works, Thomas replied: ‘Brother Reginald, some months ago I experienced something of the Absolute, so all I have ever written of God seems to me now to be like straw.’

How could it be otherwise when the scholar becomes a seer?

When the mystic came down from the mountain he was accosted by the atheist who said, sarcastically, “What did you bring us from that garden of delights you were in?”

The mystic replied, “I had every intention of filling my skirt with flowers and giving them to my friends on my return. But while I was there I became so intoxicated with the fragrance of the garden that I let go of the skirt.”

The Zen Masters put it succinctly: “The one who knows, does not say. The one who says, does not know.”


When I first read this story, it resonated with my experiences of Divinity while in seminary and afterward.

Picture a person that used to pray upwards of 3 hours a day:  we’d have common morning prayer for about 30 minutes, then I’d get to the church 15-30 minutes before Mass to pray a rosary and contemplate, Mass, then we’d have evening prayer for 30 minutes, and finally I’d spend an hour in the chapel in front of the tabernacle.

For those non-Catholics out there, the tabernacle houses the Eucharist and praying before the tabernacle is just about as close as you can get to God on Earth, aside from when the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrous.  Just smile and nod.  It’s a Catholic thing.  Bottom line is that, while in the presence of the Eucharist, you’re in the presence of God Itself.  Herself.  His self.  Whatever.  So I’d sit in the chapel and sometimes read from the writings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church, or I’d just contemplate, or sometimes I’d bring my guitar and play.

And I’d do this, day after day, for nearly 4 years.  Sitting with God.

If you’re wondering what contemplation is, the best definition comes from a story of a farmer who’d come to the church and just sit their for awhile.  The priest asked “What are you doing”.  “Oh, I just come in here and I sit down and I look at God.  And He looks at me.”

The act of contemplation was for me, just that – sitting in front of God and we’d look at each other for awhile.

After you do that for many, many hours, you start to come to some understandings of things.  Eventually, I stood naked before God (figuratively).  When you sit alone with God, you really can’t hide anything.  You know what you’ve done, and to whom.  You know your sins and failings, and you know that God knows.  There’s no hiding it.


There’s a tension with all talk of God.  There is a tension between the Transcendent (the omniscient, omnipotent, completely Other) nature of God and the immanent (the loving, personal) nature.  As I sat in the chapel, hour after hour, I felt like I became more and more aware the Transcendent reality of the Divine.

God was the Unknowable.  Darkness.  Other.  Silence.

The words of the Tao Te Ching rang true for me in that dark place.

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

As soon as you name God god, you’ve lost God.


My youth group, way back in high school, put a lot of emphasis on “discernment”.  We were encouraged to constantly discern what God wanted, in all situations.  Who to date?  Where to work?  What to do with your free time?  Should you turn left or right?  Should you tell this random person about Jesus?

We were exhorted to try to figure out the will of God in everything.

Well, as I prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  I noticed a decidedly acute silence from God in this area.  God wasn’t telling me anything.  And the more I prayed and listened…. still nothing.  Should I stay in seminary?  Leave seminary?  What was God’s will for me?


And, somewhere around my junior year in seminary, I gave up.  I decided that I was going to just decide what to do and if it was God wanted, then cool.  If it wasn’t, well…. she wasn’t giving me any answers anyway.

And then.  The other really important thing happened.  I started to look at all these people who were saying “God wants *insert political agenda here*!”  Or “God wants *insert religious agenda here*!”  And I looked at them and thought to myself, “You know, I’ve prayed a whole lot.  I mean, a lot and God isn’t telling me shit.  What are these guys doing differently that they know the will of God?”

And the more I pondered and watched and observed, the more I realized that God wasn’t talking to them, they were just using God as an rhetorical device.  A logical fallacy.  It was the best “Appeal to Authority” possible because it couldn’t be refuted. “God told me!” wins all sorts of arguments in some circles, including the circles I was raised in.

I promise, I’m going to tie this back to the UU Church.  Maybe with the next post…..


Of Paris, Immigrants, and Refugees

For years, those of us on fighting for gay rights have heard the refrain from our opposition “We are a Christian nation!  We have to follow God’s laws!”.  We’d counter with “We are a nation of laws!  And we have to protect the rights of all our citizens under the constitution!”

And the Supreme Court agreed with us.  For the good.

And Syria happened, and some people didn’t really want to let refugees into America.  And those of us who wanted to let refugees into our country thought, “Hey, this is place were we can all agree – secular humanist principles with Christian ideals of treating people are congruent here.

But then people, the same people who were most vocal about “God’s laws!!” when it came to gay marriage are now the voice of “Kick them all out! Don’t let them in!”  And the rest of us kinda scratched our collective heads, looked at the Christian scriptures and we got this funny look on our faces and we said, “Huh.  This doesn’t make any sense.”

One of things that gets me is that there are churches that have done some really fucked up things.  To the point of staging fake attacks on youth groups.  Think about it.  The message is that “You have to stay strong in your faith, even when faced with death”.

Well, Christians – now’s your chance to show your stuff.

Because to the rest of us, it looks like you have no problem taking on (in your mind), little girly men and lesbians, but as soon as someone with a beard and gun come around, you turn chicken.

Paris and Stuff

Hey y’all.  Been awhile, and I have thoughts.

We can begin with the obvious and not so obvious.  The obvious…. Conservative Christians really don’t act like Christians sometimes.  I’m honestly dismayed at how cold hearted, selfish, and callous they’ve acted in the past few days when it comes to refugees.  There are hundreds of rebuttals to their insanity, so I’m not going into all of that.

On the other hand, you know how all us non-Christians want the Christians to stop forcing their religiosity on the rest of us?  Well, they’ve stopped.  We’ve got what we wanted.  And now we are blasting the shit out of them for it.

I think it’s time to stop pretending that any of us care about religion.  We just care about winning points in the massive cultural debate that’s going on in America right now.  Maybe the sooner we do that, the sooner we can learn to live together in peace.



And maybe pigs will fly out my ass.


I have two extraordinarily clear memories of my his first communion.  The first was the sacramental preparation – I remember that we got to eat bread dipped in honey in most, if not all, of the classes.  It was to remind us of the mana from Heaven, I think.  I just remember eating it and it was fun and I always tried to snag seconds.

The other memory I have is after Mass, walking across Hwy 171 to the old religious ed building (it’s been since torn down) where there was a reception.  My cousin, Olivia, was walking with me, for some reason – maybe I was the last one in line of my class.  I remember stopping in my tracks and being overcome with a strange feeling and tears came to my eyes.  I didn’t quite understand it at the time – how could I?  I was 8.

In my later years, I’d alternatively recognize it as a mystical experience or as a psychological reaction, depending on my level of skepticism in my life at the time.

For whatever value you put on it, that day had a profound meaning for me.  When my nieces and nephews and my daughter had their first communion, I tried to reinforce the good of that sacrament – I usually say something like “You know how they say ‘You are what you eat?’ well, God is becoming your very food so that you can become more like Him.  As you take communion, try to become more humble, forgiving, understanding, merciful… etc.”

And I’m sincere.  The ritual of Eucharist can be a powerful symbol and experience of the Divine.  There’s a reason it’s lasted 2000 years when other rituals have fallen by the wayside.

I have an extraordinarily clear memory of my induction into the Catholic Charismatic renewal.

I remember going to the church once a week for six or seven weeks to listen to talks in the side chapel.  My brother and I were the only children there – I think I was a freshman in high school at the time, but I may have been in 8th grade.  I remember the night we were supposed to “receive the Holy Spirit” and pray in tongues.  They had told us that sometimes people did all kinds of crazy things when they received the Holy Spirit – they might run around, pass out, laugh, cry, or dance, or whatever.

I remember I was terrified.  Petrified.  I couldn’t back out – my mother was running the show and all her friends were the ones who were doing the preying.  I mean, praying.  When they called my name to be prayed over, I remember walking into a room in the sacristy of the church.  I don’t quite remember which room it was – it may have been were they kept the altar boy robes, but it could have been the priest’s office.  My clear memory is of two things – pure, unadulterated terror and that I decided, no matter what, I was going to laugh.  I wasn’t gonna dance or cry or whatever strange thing that they had said could happen.  I was going to laugh.

And they commenced to preying over me.  And I didn’t feel anything, and I wanted to feel something, and the minutes passed by and nothing and I got scared.  “What if the devil is in me?  And God can’t get in?”  “What if I’m too bad of a sinner and God won’t do this?”  And I started to giggle and then laugh.  It was enough.  I was still terrified.  In those terrifying minutes between when they started preying over me and when I started laughing, I don’t know what I learned.  Maybe that’s where I learned, that if I’m going to survive, I was going to have to become completely inauthentic to myself.  I learned that lesson really well.

So that is my story of contrasts.  A profoundly peaceful experience with the Eucharist, and an absolutely terrifying, soul shattering experience with the charismatic renewal.

No wonder I’m such a fucking mess, eh?

Cough Cough

You know how there are some things that just stick with you?  One of those things that has stuck with me all my life is something my mother said.

“You know why people cough during the consecration at Mass?  It’s because they don’t know how to handle all the power in that moment.  They don’t know how to pray and so you’ll hear people coughing.”

Pretty fucking judgmental, right?  Yeah.  Of course it is, but that’s life with an Italian, Catholic, Fundamentalist, Charismatic home.  It’s all about the judgment, baby.

So fast forward about 30 years.  And I’m sitting in Mass, playing guitar for my daughter’s children’s choir and I haven’t been to a Mass in years and there are people I used to see twice a week in the 10am Mass choir and they’re coming up to me and smiling and then I look into the congregation and there are my parents.

Fuck. My. Life.


And the Mass goes on, and it actually feels good to be playing again and be in a groove with other musicians.

And they come to the Eucharistic Prayer and the moment of consecration and all I can think about is “Don’t you fucking cough”.

And I don’t know if I can properly describe what I’m feeling right now – I’m so angry.  My breath is rapid and shallow.  My heart rate is elevated, and I’m so angry.  I want to lash out.  How dare she be that judgmental and self-righteous?

Yeah.  Shit stays with you.