I am a Patriot

I woke up in November to a country
that wasn’t what I was promised
by my parents
by school
by Plymouth Rock and
Strawberry Bank.

No more Lady Liberty,
no more freedom of Religion,
no more melting pot,
no more School House Rock America.

And yes, this was the Beautiful Dream.
A dream that wasn’t true for many,
but we could dream it,
All of Us

But there is no more love for Patriots.
(No, not the football team, or what the GOP
calls as Patriot.)
I’m talking about Patriots:
Those who love our country enough to march in the streets,
throw tea over the sides of boats,
to conscientiously object to their government,
the ones who say,
“NO!” one more time
because they wake up one morning to an America that isn’t their’s anymore.

I want to be a Patriot
It’s there in my heart
I want to free this country from an ideology and theology that kills people
and help it find it’s compassion again.

But it’s hard to be a Patriot
when half the country wants you dead because of who you love
or the color of your skin
or because of the religion that you practice.
It’s hard to be a Patriot when half the country believes that true patriotism
is bigotry and xenophobia.
It’s hard to be a Patriot when members of my own family believe that true patriotism is
bigotry, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.

I want to be a Patriot.
I really do.
But how can I be a Patriot,
how can I even say the Pledge of Allegiance,
when the dream of America,
the Great Experiment,
is dead?

Samhain Thoughts: A Conversation with Jesus

“No, no…pleases don’t fall asleep! I’d like to have this conversation.” He said, as I was typing in my bed. I was tempted to nap right then, but I did want to write. I turned on my Hated Bands playlist and invited Him to have a seat.

He laughed. “It’s easy for people to hate what they don’t understand, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “Definitely. Or to think someone is evil because they like something you don’t.”

He gave me that look.

“Okay, Okay! Guilty. But, seriously, how can people like Trump and say they believe in You? How can they say they believe in You, when they are generally being discriminatory, racist, white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic and more? I mean, people really believe that they need to take up weapons to fight these things in Your name!”

He grinned, but His eyes were sad.

“My words have become Rome. They are not what I taught then, but I can’t help what My words and My actions became. Humanity has used what I’ve taught for their own ends. There is only so much I can do as an Ancestor and Deity. You all have to own your own mistakes and find the compassion to forgive them…eventually. Humans are good at torturing themselves and hurting themselves. You should know that by now.”

I nodded. “Yes, we tend to do ourselves in quite handily.”

We sat in silence for a bit.

“There is hope, though.” he said.

“Is there?”

“Oh yes! It’s in your art and film. There are stories of humanity’s great awakening by more than one author. There is, somewhere in the human psyche, a need to believe that some day we’ll move past our hatred and violence, or at least make it so that the violence and oppression are unacceptable and that learning, art, music, compassion, love are normal instead of the exception.”

I nodded. Yes, we have a lot of that, and a lot of the art I consume is of that. “But we’re far from that place,” I said.

“Yes, that’s true. It’s like any wound: you have to go through a lot of pain and discomfort until it goes away. The unfortunate thing is that you were born in the middle of the pain, so it seems like things will never get better.”

“Really? You mean it will get better?”

He smiled sadly. “Eventually.”

That didn’t really inspire hope, but I have always had at least a little in my heart.

“That’s the spirit!” He said, as he stood up to leave. “I have hope that you will continue to spread the teachings of love and hope. It doesn’t even have to be in My name. I’ll tell you a secret: My hope was always to make people see others as human beings, to see themselves in others. It was never any more than that, really. The religion isn’t important, but that is.”

He left the room while “Sympathy for the Devil” was playing…

This Is Where We Are Now

The world is a very weird place right now. This morning I woke up to my British friends, and my British wife, angry and freaking out about their country. I don’t blame them. They woke up this morning to see just how far bigotry and xenophobia is entrenched in their country. What’s hard for me is that I try to be hopeful, and in this…

It’s hard to find hope when we’re facing a similar situation here.

I’m not talking about the leaving the EU part of the equation here, but the bigotry and xenophobia part. I keep thinking about whether I’m going to wake up on November 9th either having to make plans to leave the country for my wife’s safety, or will I be able to breathe a sigh of relief? Will I have to worry about those we’d have to leave behind being killed because they’re queer and/or people of color?

I’m not joking. This is something we’ve discussed in the event of a Trump presidency. The legislated xenophobia won’t happen right away, but it will happen. Trump is endorsed by the KKK, anti-LGBT evangelicals, and other radical Christianist and nationalist groups. I don’t doubt that if Trump held the presidency, many of these groups will take it as a sign that their godly mandate is approved. Before we know it, we’ll be seeing people saying, “OMG! I voted for Trump, but I didn’t expect THIS!” while people of color, LGBTQA are either deported or shot.

What’s harder is that I have family members who support Trump who don’t see the implications of Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia. Which is the same bigotry and xenophobia that was behind the Brexit vote. Seriously, my wife and I have had to discuss a Plan B in the event of a Trump presidency for our personal safety.

Think about that before you pull the Trump lever on November 8th.

 

I’m Wiccan and Christian. Does that bother you?

In the last few days I’ve seen a lot people in several forums say things like “you can’t call yourself a Christian and practice witchcraft” or “you can’t call yourself a Christian and practice traditions from other religion’s holidays.” The typical reason given is that it’s somehow evil if you do. I’ve heard similar things from the pagan end of the spectrum as well, although usually it’s more of a “consorting with the enemy” type of approach. There have been well known pagans who went back to Christianity and were called opportunists because they didn’t stay in a path that wasn’t speaking to them anymore. The typical reason from this end is that “Christians do bad things.” I can confirm from my own experiences with an abusive leader that pagans do bad things as well. Believe me, Christianity doesn’t corner the market on church burn.

If religions have both good and bad people in them that also do good and bad things, then what reasons are we left with? The main one that I see is fear: fear of the unknown, the other, of things we don’t understand. Fear that maybe we might be wrong about our faith. That if someone doesn’t practice their tradition like you do and are content in it, then there must be something wrong with them. Or, maybe they’re delusional? Maybe they’re in denial of the Truth and just need someone to tell them that Truth so that they can believe the Right Way. Maybe it’s that they learned from the wrong teacher, or all they did was read a book and self-initiated themselves, so they’re not a proper witch? Isn’t it too confusing? These sentiments are so common when multi-faith practice comes up, I need to remind progressive communities that there are people who have multi-faith practices in their own community.

My questions for those who want to condemn multi-faith practice, or even just practices that are different from their own, are these:

  • Is your faith in your own religion, your own tradition, and your connection with Spirit so fragile that you can’t handle someone doing something different from you and having just as strong of a faith and belief?
  • Do you feel that your faith necessitates you be right, even if it means bullying someone else?
  • Are people who are different from you such a threat to your own sense of self you feel the need to act violently in words and actions towards others?
  • Are you so afraid of looking outside your comfortable bubble that you can’t accept that other people do things differently than you?
  • Are you so sure about your own practice that you can claim that it is the One True Practice?

I am Wiccan and Christian. Both sets of rituals and deities feed my spirit and give me joy, comfort, and, because of my calling, purpose. I am a priest of both traditions because I have been called by my Wiccan deities and Jesus to do the work of a priest. I work to build bridges between the pagan and Christian communities and facilitate healing. I don’t always get it right, but I try my best. This is my path and I walk it with agreement between me and the Deities I serve.

Let me explain it another way. Let’s look at when Jesus came before Pilate:

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

(from Biblegateway, John 18:33-37 NIV)

When Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews, Jesus asks him if he came up with that idea, or was it something he learned from others. Jesus never claimed anything other than someone to speaking His truth. He was charged, by God and Spirit, to bring a certain truth to this world. In most of the Gospels he never fully admits to being a Messiah, either. He is a man and he had a mission. He cared for the sick, fed the poor, and did the work that God had set for him to do.

He didn’t ask for the label of “King” nor did He ever force anyone to follow Him, or call them traitor for not believing like He did. He preached, people listened, then made up their own minds to follow Him. Jesus never asked anyone to give up their sense of selves in order to follow Him. In short: He never claimed to be other than He was. He was a Jew. He also practiced this new Way of Love, which frightened the establishment. He never claimed to be anything He wasn’t.

Just like those of us who have multi-faith practices.

I am a witch and I am Christian. That is who I am. If it bothers you, is that your own idea, or did others tell you what to think of me? I was born to be who I am and this is my truth.