My friend Sam shared with my yesterday about how his church recently did "Cardboard Testimonies" and today my friend Kelly from Summer Staff witih YoungLife updated her status with a link to the following YouTube video
What would my cardboard testimonies look like?
Ashamed of my love | Loved by the One
Trapped in secrecy | Freed in Christ
Treading water with my faith | Reignited with passion to follow the Lord
Disorienting darkness | Illuminating light
Ability to have meaningful relationships crippled by fear of being gay | God showed me that I am created by God and it is good
Filled my life with parties in college | Filling my life with God today
Always look for ways to make and store up money | Giving away more than ever and finding different sorts of treasures
What do yours look like?
A Brief Introduction
Thursday, July 31, 2008
My friend Sam shared with my yesterday about how his church recently did "Cardboard Testimonies" and today my friend Kelly from Summer Staff witih YoungLife updated her status with a link to the following YouTube video
Monday, July 28, 2008
At the Northeastern LGBT Conference, workshop leader Jessica Pettitt, while speaking about advocacy, made an analogy to her efforts to quit smoking. "At my peak, I was smoking sixty cigarettes. Sometimes I would quit for an hour, sometimes for a day. Ultimately what worked was when I found a buddy and when I started thinking from a place of power." Instead of viewing each cigarette as failure which would lead to a downward spiral only fueling further addiction, Pettitt learned to take stock of the positives in her life. "If I smoked a cigarette at noon, that was 29 cigarettes I didn't smoke. That is much more encouraging to help me get through the rest of the day. At the end of the day, I could say, look what I accomplished, Today, I did not smoke 59 cigarettes. That's something to be proud of.'"
Jessica's example is applicable in different areas in my life. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the effects of my behavior, specifically my consumption. What does it really cost for me to run the water, to buy new tshirts, to throw out plastic bags, to let food spoil, to run the air-conditioning, to eat meat, to consume non-local food. It sounds overwhelming. But rather than focus on the catastrophe of overconsumption, Jessica Pettitt's approach to quitting cigarettes provides a helpful way to view life: as a series of accomplishments.
I shared recently how, though I've adopted a vegetarian diet, recently, I've been eating meat. I also run the air-conditioner, buy snacks that I don't need, and search Uncrate for things to get myself. Without erasing the effects meat consumption, non-renewable energy, and selfish consumption, I am able to recognize the flip side of my actions. Every time I turn on the AC at night, I've gone all day leaving it off. For every indulgence, there are countless more acts of restraint.
So yes, I eat meat. But I also go stretches without eating meat. I run the after work some days, but I leave it off all day and usually all night. I'm probably going to buy an iPhone in December but I rarely drive. I'm finding simple victories every day and counting them all as cigarettes I did not smoke.
A month late reporting, but better late than never! With no fanfare, actors Jake Silberman and Van Hassis--who play the daytime "super couple" Noah and Luke on CBS's As The World Turns--present Ellen DeGenres with a Daytime Emmy. Luke and Noah are daytime's first gay male relationship and on-screen kiss. Actors portraying a holistic gay couple on daytime television presented an openly gay female daytime talk show host with an Emmy.
Look, there we are!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
It's been a hectic few days as I've been working with Mayra David, a straight young woman who will be coordinating this year's Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights events in New York City. She's been a supporter of Soulforce for years so she's been able to jump right in which makes my job even easier.
Mayra is cooking up some exciting ideas and if you would like to take a stand for LGBT equality during the Seven Straight Nights campaign, contact her by sending an email to 7SN@sfnyc.org!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tourists are the ones looking up. There's an adage which says you can identify the New Yorkers as the ones unconcerned with their surroundings; tourists are distracted by the lights, the smells, the sights, the sounds of New York City. For residents, this glamorous city is really rather ordinary. Or, perhaps, we are really rather fabulous.
I'm not sold. As I wandered through midtown tonight, making my way to the Times Square subway stop to catch the 7 train into Queens, I caught myself equally as mesmerized by the flashing lights as the tourists I pretend to begrudge. For as much as I consider myself at home in this city, I still find myself caught in awe every now and then. When tourists are posing for pictures, I offer to help take their pictures. It's my part to dispel the image of angry New Yorkers but it's also an opportunity to share in a carefree moment of happiness. Growing up in DC, going to school in Los Angeles, and now working in New York, I've bounced from one American metropolis to another. City life should be old hat but the lights still dazzle. I take for granted that I'm one or two degrees of separation from almost everyone in the entertainment industry, yet I still get excited when I walk past a Law & Order crew... even though I'm friends with the VP in charge!
Perhaps this is the case with everyone, a life that is simultaneously extravagant and ordinary. I still remember the first time I saw myself on the news. Equality Ride training was wrapping up in Austin, TX and we went out dancing after a fundraiser when news coverage of our event appeared on the television screens. It was surreal.
I was asked to pose for picture at almost every stop during the Equality Ride. I remember walking to the grocery store in Rexburg, ID when a young lady ran from her job at a fast food restaurant jumping and waving, calling our attention. I was often told "I'm so impressed with the work you do," "I could never do this," "What you do so important." I've been asked to speak at Carnegie Mellon University and Marble Church and even still I get messages on social networking sites wanting to say hello, to talk with an Equality Rider.
And yet I can't escape the feeling of ordinariness. Only a month before Equality Ride I was sitting in my apartment eating Papa John's pizza and singing along to Comcast karaoke with my roommate Ryan and our friend Carolyn. I didn't do much, I just showed up. Of course, I don't intend to discount the incredible work the Equality Ride does. It is an exhausting, time consuming, agonizing, taxing, rewarding, and surreal experience. It took a great deal of training and preparation and an equal amount of debriefing. But at the same time, at the end of the day, I'm a young man who saw an opportunity to make a difference and took it.
And that's where I find myself today. A rather ordinary person doing rather extraordinary things. Serving the young adults community at my church, steering Soulforce NYC, working at a national television network, and traveling all over the country to do so; but living every day guided by small and simple decisions. Practicing non-violence, choosing to love, searching for faith, taking small steps towards justice, find beauty and value in the smallest of opportunities.
I'm a New Yorker now, the buzz of the Big Apple has become routine, but I still look up.
What to make of yesterday's Congressional hearings on Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
Last year, the Army gave moral waivers to 106 applicants convicted of burglary, 15 of felonious break-ins, 11 of grand-theft-auto, and 8 of arson. It also admitted five rape/sexual-assault convicts, two felony child molesters, two manslaughter convicts, and two felons condemned for "terrorist threats including bomb threats."Also, check out Dana Milbank's take on the hearings in The Washington Post
"The Army seems to be lowering standards in training to accommodate lower-quality recruits," RAND Corporation researcher Beth Asch observed at a May 12 Heritage Foundation defense-policy seminar in Colorado Springs.
Conversely, expelled military personnel include Arabic linguists and intelligence specialists who help crush America's foes in the War on Terror. "Don't Ask" has ousted at least 58 soldiers who speak Arabic, 50 Korean, 42 Russian, 20 Chinese, nine Farsi, and eight Serbo-Croatian—all trained at the prestigious Defense Language Institute. Al-Qaeda intercepts need translation, and Uncle Sam may need people who can walk around Tehran with open ears. Yet these dedicated gay citizens now are ex-GIs.
Read the full article
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I may no longer be a teen, but I'm not even going to pretend that I'm not supremely excited about the upcoming third installment in the High School Musical franchise.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Once, I posted the trailer to my movie AFTER I posted the completed video. I'm doing things in a round-about way again. I wrote this post a few days ago but kept it in the Drafts folder because I wasn't sure if I really wanted to post it. It seems now that I've already answered my own question. Still, I learned something about myself in the process of writing this and so I imagine there is value in it, even as I've begun to answer the questions.
I eat meat. I understand meat production in America as not only violent to those directly involved in the process but as selfishly deflecting resources away from the country's and the world's hungry. I understand all of that and yet tonight I ate a chicken sandwich from Quizno's.
Were the occasional, self-satisfying meat consumption my only shortcoming. As I work to model the life of Jesus, I become painfully aware of how short I've come.
My first time attending The Haven, we remarked that non-Christians and Christians have no noticeable differences when it comes to “being good people.” I serve a holy, strong, merciful, bold, just, courageous, loving, and sacrificing God and yet my atheist friends embody these characteristics just as much as I. When others look at me, do they see a self-obsessed, self-righteous, arrogant young man who views himself and the world through the lens of his own piety? In the tension between freedom and works, do I prefer the latter, have I lost sight of faith? Do I remember Paul's words to the Galatians? “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Is faith-guided activism simply an attempt at self-justification, through not only action but through profession of faith?
Perhaps worse still, do I use freedom as a Get Out Of Jail Free card? Have I allowed Paul's reminder that “Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you don't get tied up again in slavery to the law,” to excuse my own shortcomings? For as much as I talk about creating change in my own life, I see an awful lot of the status quo.
In the end, tofu will not be enough. I count on the One who did more than I will accomplish and now it is time, as Jay put it, to Put Up or Shut Up.
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with action and in truth. - 1 John 3:18What will my love look like?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Filmmaker and missionary Seth Chase created a video to be used at fundraisers and awareness building events in London for the Pilgrim program, it's been adapted to challenge people all over the world. Take a look at A Starfish Called Enoch
Whether it's microlending, participating with the ONE campaign, supporting reconciliation work in Africa or something else entirely, please share in the comments what you'll do to help change the world?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
When I began this blog, I imagined that it would follow me as I navigated my way through life. I came up with the name of All Points In Between. This blog is about not only the major events in my life, but all points in between. When I started the blog, I was about about to embark on the 2007 Equality Ride. That was my current point. Since then I've gone through graduation, Right to Marry, a move across the country, and now life in The Big Apple. It feels like I'm on about to breakthrough to another point in my life's journey. I've decided to look back to where I've come.
Training for the 2008 Equality Ride concluded in Minneapolis only four days ago. As I look back on my own training experience, it is unbelievable to imagine a time without my fellow Riders in my life.
On our first day, we rolled a piece of paper on the hotel floor for an ice-breaker. You can see me pictured below, among a sea of young adults who were at the time strangers. I'm across from Vince Cervantes and Vince Pancucci, who I met up with in Southern California after the ride at the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference. I grabbed breakfast in NYC with Cervantes and his mom when he was in town for an appearance on a TV show.
Next to the Vinces is Jillian Nye. I would grow to love Jillian as we worked to plan a stop at Pepperdine University. After the ride, she introduced me to La Verne Church of the Brethern, a church I still call home every time I'm back in So Cal.
Aaron is drawing next to her, I stayed with him in Nebraska during the Epic Journey Into Adulthood. I also went to visit him at his seminary in Minneapolis recently. He is a constant source of stimulation in my spiritual journey and I think over 50% of my reading list comes from his shelves or recommendations.
At the left side of the photo you'll see Brandy Daniels. She's a student at Duke Divinity now and one of the inspiring contributors to (Not So) Straight From Seminary.
Next to her sits Dan Seda, a fellow West Buser who lives in New York City where I've since moved. He just bought a dog and I recently caught up with him over yoga and Mexican food.
Bram Wispelwey serves on the SFNYC Board of Directors and works closely with me to continue the work of Soulforce here in New York.
Not in this picture are Micah Matthias--who lived on my couch for close to three months and has become a brother to me--and Casey Chandler-Alexander--another wonderful Equality Rider. Josh Polycarpe rounds out the No Photo Available crowd as fixtures in my life now.
That's not to mention the staff of Soulforce Q, whom I talk to weekly for fun and for advice. Matt Comer whom I blog with over at InterstateQ, the talented Adam Britt who's about to go on tour with Of Montreal, Philly-based Jess Kalup with whom I talk (and plan) almost every day, Angel Collie who's visited me at least three times in the past two months, or the many other Equality Riders who are infused with my life daily.
Before training started, these people were strangers; after our first training they became co-workers; and now they are more like family. In my post at the end of Austin training, I wrote:
We spent our last evening together sharing where we were before Austin, where we are now, and where we're going. There was LOTS of sharing and it took us a solid 3 hours to wrap everything up but doing so really gave us a sense of who we were as a group. These people are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They come from all around the country and they bring them open minds and loving hearts. I cannot wait to share them with the world and grow to know them even better.Today, I am sharing the world with them and it is a beautiful world. I thought, at the time, that Equality Ride was simply the first point I would chronicle in this blog, it seems that in many ways it was the starting point for an exciting new direction in my life. In my mind the ride would be two months--I would check in and check out. Little did I know the bonds and lasting relationships I'd be creating. The 2008 Equality Ride begins in October and I'm sure it will inspire some more reflections. Feel free to check out other other Equality Ride posts in the meantime.
For those interesting, Soulforce Q is a grass-roots organization and operates through the continuing support of concerned individuals, you can support the Equality Ride financially here.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Patricia has been divorced from her husband for some time. She receives a pension, but, like many mothers in this country, she wants to give a better life to her 4 small ones. She believes that, if she is a strong and hard-working woman, her children will follow her example.
I invested $25 in Patricia's business and 16 other investors contributed similar amounts. Together, we've invested $500 dollars so that Patricia can buy more display racks and lighting for her store. Over the next 6 months, she'll repay the loan and I can either get my money back or invest in someone else. Stay tuned for updates on Patricia's expanding business!
She started her business 2 years ago. First she helped another woman work, but, since a year ago, she has had her own business selling clothing and novelties.
If you're inspired by Patricia's story and would like to help other business owners of the world's working poor, visit Kiva.org today.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Yesterday I wrote about the tension between freedom in Christ and the presence of (and even need for?) works in life. This isn't going to be a long post as I'm rushing off for yet another birthday dinner (gotta love Birth Week) but I think it hits at the heart of the tension.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. - Ephesians 2:8We were created for good works and thankfully have the grace to perform them. I don't work toward righteousness for the sake of my salvation or even self-purification. I've come short too many times for that. Rather, someone else has already done the heavy lifting, I just have to show up and do what I can. And if I can't make the world a better place, that's OK, but that doesn't mean I can't try.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I fashion myself a progressive. I like to see myself as thinking of others but I rarely buy food for beggars I pass on the street. I see the problems with consumerism but I have a PDA. I take the train—not the bus—when I travel to and from DC. I think about freedom in Christ but I've got a savings account, a 9-5 job, health insurance, and family who would be a safety net should I ever need it. The truth of the matter is, I'm human and that's OK. Nay, it is good.
There is cause for celebration in the little victories. Last night, I needed to stop by a friend's after work to pick up some belongings that I was storing at his place. I'd just finished a hearty birthday dinner with Micah and Casey and my things were in a strapless bag and a bit heavy. With post-eating lethargy setting in, the thought of walking a few blocks, making a subway transfer, and walking a few more blocks all the while totting my clunker of a bag was not appealing. “It's my birthday, I'm hailing a cab.” I probably could have, it is my birthday and I would have recognized it as an indulgence and not something I should come to expect. Surely I don't take cabs everywhere. I don't believe that the subway is beneath me. I could get away with this expense.
I live in comfort, I can afford everything I need and most things I want. And I've taken my share of cabs. The truth of the matter, the walk would be quick, the subway would be air conditioned, and the trip would be almost as fast. As I walked with my bag slung over my shoulder, I thought about children who must carry similarly heavy containers full of water every day. Of men and women who must endure the humidity without relief of air condition. Whose travels are always by foot and never involved sitting on a subway. I decided to take the $15 I would have spent on a cab and invest it through micro-lending.
Sure, I will take a cab at some point soon. I'm sipping on cold tap water as I compose this entry on my laptop computer. Tomorrow I'll wake up and go to job in entertainment. But today, right now, I am realizing just how much privilege I have, how much I take it for granted, and how easy it makes my life. And it makes that $15 investment a no-brainer. Sometimes radical changes come through ordinary individuals. Will you invest with me?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
As I mull over things to write about, I realize that every post doesn't need to be a masterpiece. And so with that, I will leave you with this thought.
For freedom in Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1Free indeed. Free to live a life not driven by animalistic urges of violence, domination, revenge, and even unchecked sexuality--as Randy Thomas & Alan Chambers often remind us. But free from the slavery of the world. Free to stand firm against pseudo-religious demands which would have some deny their ability to love, commit, and foster family. Freedom to resist economic and political systems which subject us to the slavery of being a slaveholder. "Come and follow me" can be a scary call, but is liberating in its simplicity. What would Jesus do? Do thus.
My friends look at me and see that I'm a vegetarian, that I give money to my church, that I try to volunteer with non-profits, and other "demands" in my life. They sometimes ask if I'm not operating out of obligation. I had a similar conversation with my mother recently in which I said "I don't have to do anything, if I had to do everything it would be overwhelming, in fact I can't do everything. I get to do what I can do, what I feel called to do, what I see needs to be done. And I can trust that is enough." I once heard it said "Reconciliation is easy. Christ did the hard part, all we have to do is enter into it."
Life is good.