Jesus and the Torah Teach about Immigration

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Jesus said, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For. . .  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. . .”  (Matt 25/41 & 43)

The Torah says:  “Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.  Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.  When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.”   (Deut 24/17–22)

People are debating about our immigration policy.  Many of the most vocal voices are those of U.S. Christians who believe that “illegal immigrants” should be rounded up and deported.  No human being is illegal to the God of Christianity.  More specifically, the stranger, the foreigner, is someone God, in both Covenants, commands us to treat with justice and generosity.  My prayer for the conversion of those Christians whose desired treatment of the foreigner, the stranger, is based on racial discrimination, fear, and ignorance:  Lord, replace their stony hearts with hearts of flesh. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezek 36/26)

Wishy-Washy

Wishy-Washy

I’m of two minds. . . often. You would think that, at my age, I’d know what I want to do, what I want to say. Not so. I am now, and I always have been, wishy-washy.

Twice in the past week I have posted pieces on this blog and, after an hour or so, deleted them. One was about divorce (not mine), the other about abortion (again, not mine or ours).

In both cases, I wanted to write about intense feelings that I have, or have had, about these things. The pieces I wrote were honest and revealing. The “honest and revealing” part is just why I deleted them. Although my family and friends don’t know about this blog (so that I can be “honest and revealing”), one never knows what Google will do, does one?

One of my many faults: I want to please everyone at the same time, all the time. I’ve met other gay men with this same trait, and all of us have had a rough time in life because of it. When I was in school (seminary), I lived 24/7 with my classmates. We all got to know one another really well over the period of ten years when we were together. My classmates told me hundreds of times that I was “wishy-washy.” What they saw that prompted this characterization is the same trait that made me delete these two posts. I can’t make up my mind because I can’t figure out how to do something without – possibly – offending someone who is important to me. My classmates also characterized me as “nice,” by the way. This characterization was another result of the same please-everybody obsession that caused “wishy-washy.” I have come to detest the adjective “nice” when it is applied to me, possibly because I know it is the result of a trait that isn’t helpful to me.

Enough of this.

Pax et bonum.

Ed

Good morning

Good morning

Tuesday, 1/28/2014
Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Wow! It’s a beautiful and cold new day! Mornings remind me, as Pope Francis preaches, that God never gets tired of being merciful to me. I always have a fresh start with God.

Mornings also remind me how important light is. Humans are like flowers, turning sunlight into vitamin D, without sufficient amounts of which we all would get sick and die.

I saw the film, Gravity,” last night. How amazing a film it is! I loved Sandra Bullock’s performance – who knew she had that in her! But the message I take away from the movie is, as usual, a weird one. When she is in danger of dying, she says that she never learned to pray and she realizes that she has no one to pray for her after she dies. As of now, I’m adding to my prayer list those people who have died whom no one will remember or pray for.

It’s gonna be a good day!

Peace and love,

Ed

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

γνῶθι σεαυτόν” (gnothi seauton written in Latin-based sounds) is Greek for “know thyself.” I just checked on Wikipedia to remind myself of the author of this advice. No help there. I believe I was taught that the author was Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher before Socrates, But my memory is not what it used to be, so who knows? I was trained in the pre–Vatican II seminary discipline. Four years of Greek: two of classical Greek (Homer, for us) and two in koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament. All in preparation for philosophy and theology in college and grad school. What little Greek I remember does help—mostly with crossword puzzles—but sometimes even with Scripture.

I digressed.

“Know thyself.” Good advice. Essential even. I have tried to follow it since I was in my teens. When I was in my 30’s, I went to a management course where they gave the Myers–Briggs Personality Inventory (I’m INFP). The instructor, Dr. Norma Barr, explained the various categories to the class and asked each of us to predict our results. Of the 60 or so people in the class, I was the only one who predicted my results correctly. Nifty, huh? For years afterwards, I had an obnoxious self–knowledge smugness. Of all the big shots in my class, I was the only one who knew myself! After 37 years of life, I knew myself. My agonized self–examination paid off. On to the next challenge.

Pride does goeth before the fall.

The first major event that showed my self–ignorance was, after falling for a third guy in the 10 years between 27 and 37, I had to come out. I no longer had the energy to stay in the closet. I had finally acknowledged the obvious to myself in my early 30’s but, being married with four daughters, I thought the better part of valor was to stay way behind the trousers and shirts. You can imagine how much fun that was! A real hoot. Several years after coming out, I finally was able to start integrating being out with the rest of my life history. I may have aced Myers–Briggs, but I had completely fucked up in real life, self–knowledge wise.

Other attacks on my smugness followed. In 1989, there was a major congressional investigation of the federal agency where I spent my career. The result that most affected me was the firing of the top administration. I was one of the three who were “sent to the minors,” as Congressman John Murtha (D–PA) so quaintly put it. I saw myself as a dedicated, super–competent manager and civil servant. But, as I was told, a civil servant at the level at which I worked also has to be a politician, and I sucked at politics. . . I still do. Again, my Myers–Briggs accomplishment didn’t mean shit.

I could go on and on. I had not the faintest clue about: my inability to flirt; my lack of understanding of my sexuality—what I wanted to do with men, not my orientation; my inability to see love in other people as they cared for me and appreciated me; the very limited usefulness of my particular intelligence. And, most of all, my cowardice and laziness in making every–day decisions. Needless to say, these (and other self–knowledge faux pas that I won’t mention) pretty much rid me of the notion that I had any self–knowledge whatsoever.

God is good, though. God gave me the past 20 years to reexamine my life and my understanding of it. After my mother died—in August, 2012—I went back to the practice I had earlier in my life. As I was taught when I was a Franciscan, I knew I had to spend time alone with God. I had to meditate so that I could deal with the many strong emotions my Mom’s death brought out in me. In the past 18 months, I’ve come to believe that true self–knowledge is to some extent impossible. Honest and real self–knowledge is possible for me, but it isn’t an intellectual puzzle to be solved. For me, it’s a relationship with God in which I see my life and my self a little bit as God sees me. Rather than being an introvert or a judge, or an intuiting man, I am someone who is loved. I’m loved not only by God, but my a good number of human beings. I also am a person who loves. I love God, my family, my friends, and others. For me, self–knowledge isn’t judgmental or harsh. It’s honest, though, but honesty mixed with affection, with love.. “. . . Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4/15 NIV). Every day, I try to sit quietly for thirty minutes or so and try to see with God’s eyes. It makes a BIG difference, using those eyes.

At age 67, therefore, I confess to anybody who’s interested that I have very little self–knowledge. But I’m working on it, as with everything else in my life.

Pax et bonum,

Ed

GMCLA: “He Ain’t Heavy”

Is it cheating to use a video for a blog entry? Regardless. . .

I’ve been thinking a lot today about my friend, Myron Maye. He and I were musical partners (and pretty good together, in my prejudiced opinion). . . Myron on piano, I on organ. He was a great musician, and a great friend. He also taught me a lot about music. He died in 2004 of brain problems directly caused by AIDS. I think of him every day. I miss him. He was my brother in so many ways. He cared about me. He was as honest with me as one human being can be with another. He was brave as he got weaker and weaker. I never heard him say anything remotely self-pitying. He loved God and thanked God every day for the men who had been in his life, for his talents, for his friends, and for his family.

This rendition of “He Ain’t Heavy” is by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, many of whose members had friends and lovers very much like Myron. You can see the loss in some of the faces.

I felt like a little cry this evening after remembering Myron for so much of the day, so I watched this video. I hope you enjoy. . . if anyone reads this!

Pax et bonum,

Ed

Desire

Desire

This is a photo of the British actor, Christian Cooke. I saw him the other day in a 2012 film, *Unconditional Love.* It is a gay-themed story about Liam (played by Mr. Cooke), a confused man in his twenties, who almost certainly is gay but who can’t admit that he is gay, even to himself. Liam is a loan shark who meets a 17-year-old boy, Owen, while negotiating a loan for Owen’s sister. Liam is attracted to Owen and seems to fall immediately in love with Owen. One problem: Liam can express his affection and desire only when Owen lets Liam dress him as a woman. Liam sees Kristen (his name for Owen when Owen is in drag) as the most beautiful woman in the world. Owen, as Kristen, is the epitome of beauty for Liam. The movie tells the story of the doomed relationship between these two needy men. The story, and the movie, are both sexy and very sad. Liam finds out that what he most wants in this world is impossible for him to have.

I have been in Liam’s shoes. Once in my life I fell in love (lust?) with a guy who , for several reasons, was out of my reach. The experience lasted for about 5 years. Five years of pain and misery. Making the experience worse was the fact that the guy over whom I obsessed for so long knew what I desired in him and from him (I was graphically honest with him), but still loved me. . . only as a friend. I ended the relationship, causing lasting hurt to both of us. For me, there was nothing else I could do. Like Liam in the movie, I wanted what I just could not have. The pain of that desire was almost unbearable at times. So that I could get on with my “real” life, I had to get away from the guy whom, by the way, I still love.

All these years later, I live in peace and I am a fairly happy man. But I’ll never forget those five years and the desire that nearly destroyed me. When I watched this movie, I felt a little of that awful pain all over again.

As I told the guy whom I desired, nothing in life is worse than wanting what you cannot have. For me, the experience of this guy was both beautiful and deadly. I survived, by the grace of God, but it was close. The experience allows me to understand people, like Liam, who, in one way or another, go crazy when fulfillment of desire is not possible. I see it all around me, and I feel for the people going through it. Some never make it through the ordeal. I pray today that God will heal the hearts and the minds of people, especially of gay men, who want what they cannot have. I pray that God will teach them as God has taught me, that peace isn’t in the absence of such desire, but in finding the proper object for it. For me, that has been a saving – literally a saving – grace.

Pax et bonum,

Ed