Once the Methodist/United Methodist Church was viewed as "America's Church." We boasted that Methodism was present in every County seat town. Those of us who are not Dallas Cowboys ("America's Team") fans despite their success this year, believed that we as a Church were more "American" than the Cowboys. But today in a distortion of the meaning of "Globality", we sacrifice the inclusivity, although not yet perfected, of the USA, in order to "use" the biases taught by missionaries, to justify discrimination in the UMC.Read More
SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK: Although we have not mentioned it in our film title, Marilyn and I have, in our thinking, reflecting, and being, traveled to and through Seneca Falls, New York. This site of the first Women’s Convention held in July 1848 has the importance to women that Selma has to African Americans, and that Stonewall has to LGBTQ persons. Thus it is "there" in our film, even if it has not been named as Selma and Stonewall have.
I, an 82 year old man as I write this, know that because of my mother, my sisters, my wife, my granddaughter, my "Younger Sister" and colleague in this effort, Marilyn, and all of the women who have been involved in the production of this film, I must say and share what they need not share: sexism has been, is, and tragically will be with us until Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions cease treating girls and women as "The Other”, as beings created to stroke the fragile egos of boys and men, and to become physical vessels that, upon penetration by men, serve the sexual needs of men and provide wombs for the children of the world.
Sojourner Truth, in an effort to declare her worth as a woman and as a Black person, asked the question, "Ain't I A Woman?," after she described in detail all that she had done and suffered.
May the boys and men who watch this film, regardless of their sexual orientation or race, begin to be "bold, brave, and bodacious" and strong enough to say it loud and clear: "I, as a boy or man, declare that neither my genitalia, my physical strength, or the consistency of my ability to make more than women makes me superior. I will seek to, each day of my life, be an advocate and ally of girls and women, and will challenge any boy or man, who through his words and actions, is not!"
"SEXUAL HEALING": This song, sung by the late singer Marvin Gaye, prompted these words: "(It) reveals something...about the secular world that the church has neglected to address in a concrete way: for millions of contemporary Americans sex is an opiate and a "balm in Gilead" capable of healing their souls from the sins of the world..."Sexual Healing" was and remains, a frightfully realistic form of idolatry in contemporary American society."
The Theology of "Sexual Healing" by Orea Jones, The Theology Of American Popular Music; A Special Issue of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology, Fall 1989, published by Duke University Press
My journey "From Selma to Stonewall" has encouraged, enabled, and empowered me to share this observation: blacks and gays threaten the order and control of religion because both groups of persons have sought to free themselves from the tyranny of religion. In its effort to control what is thought of as "decent behavior", religion has demeaned and thereby diminished the profound meanings of sex, sexual activity, and sexuality.
I am convinced that my denomination, the United Methodist Church, justifies its anti-gay language and legislation by the words, "...the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." It is in reality saying: "The practice of ‘sexual activity' is incompatible with Christian teaching." The United Methodist Church is embarrassed by the fact that the parents of every United Methodist, "did it” – engaged in sexual activity – to create and birth them.
"There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul," so says the Spiritual. And Orea Jones writes that, "for millions of Americans," the act of, the search for "sexual healing" is a "balm in Gilead". From the very "git go", the music of Blacks, whether Jazz or Rhythm and Blues, was suspect by the Church because it affirmed the sensual/sexual as being vital to what it means to be human. It was in the Black Church that I learned the depth of themeaning of "Let go and let God". It meant that all of me, not part of me, belonged to the God who created me.
And the challenge for the Church is that, "the audacity, the openness" of LGBTQ persons about their sexuality and sexual activity has frightened the Church into making sexuality, sexual activity, and, "the practice of it" something to fear and avoid. A colleague of mine has, with tongue-in-cheek, suggested that when it comes to the church and sex, sex is only valid when it is about procreation and practices: "the missionary position." Same-gender sexual activity challenges both of these church perspectives.
Whether we are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual, we hope our film will enable the viewer to break free of the chains that religion and society have created to control us rather than to liberate us, to find Healing of all kinds, sexual and more.
"HAMILTON"; I have not seen the play, but as I have read about it and seen an interview of its creator/writer on 60 Minutes, I have wished that “From Selma to Stonewall" could evoke in the minds, hearts and spirits of those who view it all that "Hamilton" evokes. It is said that the play, "is rooted in hip-hop, jazz, R & B, pop, Tin Pan Alley, and the choral strains of Broadway."
Our son Dalehas written about the importance of understanding what influenced us and others to be, do, and like what we do; We must remember what influenced us. He says that the music that is most important to us is the music we first heard and embraced when we were children and teenagers.
May the viewers and those who discuss "From Selma to Stonewall" bring to their viewing and discussing of it that which is uniquely theirs, rather than leaving that portion of themselves outside. I have, in my retirement from active ministry in 2001, spent much time in the pews, rather than the pulpits of churches, listening to sermons and music. I admit that when I have sat there passively, waiting for the sermon or the music to "turn me on", I have been disappointed. I have become more aware of how many of my sermons, when listened to by passive listeners, failed to energize, empower and excite them.
But, I have learned to be an "active listener;" paraphrasing, circumventing, and deleting that that does not "speak" to who I am. Ihave sung and listened to hymns, as well as choral/instrumental music, and mentally introduced to myself other church music or my beloved Jazz. I have found that “nothing is boring" when I bring to it myself, all of myself, rather than waiting for others to inspire me. Life is too short and valuable to live it passively,
Thus, Marilyn and I want, "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?”, for viewers and those who discuss it, to be "BBB" (you know what I mean) and within your mind, heart, and spirit, create thoughts, reflections, aspirations, and plans to be that have never been front-and-center before. Say AMEN, regardless of your faith perspective!
Not only Marilyn's "Elder Brother"; let me be yours as well
Dear Dale, I am writing you about my concern that the Bible and its significance is being diminished by those who believe they are honoring it.Read More
This morning I find myself fascinated that my critics are adamant about only one kind of faith-based "traditional marriage", but they accept, uncritically, the diversity that is present in the ecclesiological expressions of the Christian Church! The book of Acts and the Epistles address the beginnings of the Church and give hints of how and what the Church should be in form and function, but there is no agreed upon uniformity of Church ecclesiology. Thus for my critics, the Church can be un-uniform in its diversity of expressions, but marriage dare not be?Read More
Jimmy Creech is a pioneer and leader in the fight for marriage equality and social justice. Ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church in 1970, he served as a pastor until 1999 when a jury declared Creech guilty of “disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church” and withdrew his credentials of ordination. Charges had been brought against him because he celebrated the holy union of two men in Chapel Hill, N.C.. He is co-founder of Faith in America and the author of Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor's Calling to Defy The Church's Persecution of Lesbians and Gays. Thank you, Jimmy, for your steady witness and work for justice for all persons!
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Love is expressed in many ways, but to express it in justice, is to take seriously, the making of all humanity; "The Beloved Community"Read More
Gil, how could a simple majority not decisively vote to end the suffering? It was after their vote that the second group that you were a part of was arrested from the stage where you stood between the delegates and the bishops, taken away by officers of the Cleveland police. Later, as I signed the papers for each of the 28 of you to get out on bail, the clerk said to me, “The Klan was here a few months ago. No one arrested them.” I believe Jesus would have wept at this sorrow.Read More
Is the United Methodist Church going to continue to be in partnership with Uganda in its language and legislation regarding homosexuality, or will it soon partner with South Africa? On December 23, 2013, the Ugandan Parliament passed legislation that punishes certain acts of homosexuality with life in prison. (At this writing, the President of Uganda has not signed the bill.) South Africa on the other hand, guarantees in its Constitution gay and lesbian rights and same sex marriage.Read More
The U.S Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and 17 states and the District of Columbia have made legal same sex marriage and there is growing support for marriage equality in the USA. Will the United Methodist Church continue to support legislation that is at variance with the equality and equal access ideals and practices that are essential to the United States of America?Read More
So, for what it’s worth, I’m just “over it” when it comes to anything related to charges and trials... It’s just all so 20th century….kind of like shoulder pads in women’s suit jackets. It’s time to clean the UMC closet. It’s embarrassing every time we wear one of those things out in public. Should someone file a complaint against me I think I’ll just ignore it. Should my bishop call me in to account for my actions (in so far as it relates to performing same-gender weddings) I have a hunch I just won’t go. Should a trial be scheduled, I’ll be hard pressed to participate...Read More
While were in New York City, Truth in Progress dropped by St. Mark's Harlem United Methodist Church, an African American church established in 1871. Gil was pastor there in 1994-1997. We arrived just when a lunch meeting was breaking up. Gil was warmly welcomed back: it was a reunion that prompted a spontaneous and very open discussion about gay inclusion in the church. This type of conversation had never been held in the church before.Read More
Marilyn and I share with Anderson Cooper, Andrew Sullivan, our supporters and the nation, these words from Ralph Ellison. No one of us, on this July 4th, for any reason should be expected to make themselves invisible as a response to the bias, bigotry and prejudice of others.Read More
Some of the greatest threats to justice are our short memories, our amnesia and our acts of revisionism as a way to conceal the awfulness of the many ways we as humans harm and hurt each other. If we remembered more clearly the history of the mistreatment of women, people of color and poor people of all races and genders, we might now, not be mistreating LGBTQ persons. We engage in "serial isms" because we have become expert in forgetting earlier isms.Read More
But, when I sing, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so..." my grandddaughter joins me in singing with a smile on her face. Could it be that she knows there is something special about Jesus, different from the specialness of a duck?Read More
"I would not agree that the United Church of Christ has been ‘ripped apart’ by our discussion about LGBT inclusion. That's partly because the conversation has never been about "homosexuality"..."Read More
Each time I read and hear our declaration that "all persons are of sacred worth" and at the same time recognize how differently we respond to persons of "sacred worth" when they are same gender loving, I remember more than one "racial moment" in my history...Read More
In response to Newt Gingrich comment, "What the president said is disgraceful. It's not a question of what the young man looked like. At some point we need to talk about being Americans." Gil writes, "There is a strangeness about these still early days of the 21st century, when there are those who believe that their definition and description of "American" is THE definition and description of what it means."Read More
The discussion on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion is a key element of the national work as well as church and clergy organizing.Read More
We've had a few videos from the Fair is Fair in Montana Tour of Gil and Ninia describing their tour cohorts. I want to take this opportunity to describe Gil, his strategic work on the tour, some behind the scenes incidents, and his amazing unflagging commitment to the LGBT equality movement.Read More
Your compassion was formed in the crucible of lawful violent acts meant to demean, demoralize, and defeat, even unto death. You know the reality of such evil and out of that knowing you can imagine what that beating-down does to others. But you offer your hand anyway without knowing if there is mutual respect and commitment.Read More