“Aurora” is dedicated to those who lost their lives and were affected by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I recorded this song in London in the days following the tragedy as a heartfelt tribute to the victims and their families. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Aurora Victim Relief organization. The track is available on iTunes and you can download and donate here.
Yes! You’re the first person to ask about my blog name. I love love love Mumford & Sons, but I’m actually quoting Macbeth. I feel the connotation is a bit different from both sources (although Mumford, I’m sure, is quoting it also).
I don’t claim to know a lot of Shakespeare, but in Macbeth the line goes:
"Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires;”
You may know this since you asked, but for other readers…There’s a duality, a play, on light/darkness in Macbeth. In this quote, Macbeth is showing how great his ambition is to become king, even if it requires evil deeds (like murder) to do so. He is asking the darkness to take over so no one, not even the stars (i.e. the heavens), will see his dark desires/thoughts.
I use it in a “tongue and cheek” sort of way. I created this blog to express my views on faith and politics…views I felt like I couldn’t express freely in real life. These views are seen by other Christians from my background as dark or deviant. As a result I use the reference as a sarcastic way of saying, “Turn your face away from me God, ‘cause you’re not going to like what I’m about to say.”
P.S. The URL I chose doesn’t exactly fit this meaning, but “starshideyourfires” was taken. So I chose something that sounded cool to me lol!
I listen to the haunting, yet beautiful, notes. The piano starting softly then building, then dying back down again.
It reminds me, of course, of you. The dancing and swaying; how elegant it was. The moments when we stared deep into each other’s eyes. Knowing what we were thinking. That uncanny way we just got each other. How different the world seemed compared to us.
I swam in your deep blue ocean eyes. Swayed among the waves and
deep into your soul.
Though the sun has long set on us, I’m beginning to see beauty in the night. I’m beginning to understand that the day isn’t everything. That there still can be life and meaning under the stars. I can’t swim in your eyes anymore, but maybe, if I reach high enough, I can grab the moon and dive into the starry night sky. Just floating up there, looking down at the world, then dropping like stars and becoming one with the
Tempted to take on this Father Angel guy on Tumblr, but part of me just wants to stay out of it. What a disrespectful pric..errr priest.
No, you should! He always picks on women! But I can’t force you LOL.
He does go on the offensive against feminists specifically. Then he claims he can’t be misogynistic because he grew up with 4 sisters and had to learn to wait for the bathroom and while they shopped. Yeah, because that makes you an excellent proponent of equality for all. Can we say denial?
Warren is wrong about what evolution and other elements of modern biology say. We are animals, but no biologist I know of says that we are no different from the others. Indeed, the very act of biologists writing about us as animals sets our species apart from all other animals.
But Warren is also wrong about other things.
He is wrong to suggest a correlation between the teaching of evolution and mass murder. As Paul Braterman pointed out in a comment on Facebook, the United States is weaker on the teaching of evolution, both in terms of the number of people who deny it and the number of biology teachers who skip it to avoid controversy, than any other major industrialized nation. We are, on the other hand, the leaders when it comes to the number of shooting deaths and mass murders that take place each year. There may be no actual connection between science education and shooting sprees, but if there were, it would presumably have to be due to our relative failure to teach evolution, rather than with our teaching it.
Warren is also wrong to try to put the blame on teaching about our origins from a scientific perspective. The stories in Genesis 3-4 blame the first murder, and much else that is wrong with human society, on human misuse of our free will, on jealousy, and on the breakdown of human relationships with God and one another. That has nothing to do with whether we are modified mud or modified primates. And this very shifting of blame away from individual personal responsibility that Warren engages in is depicted in Genesis 3 as a consequence of humanity’s alienation from God. And so there is a profound irony in the way Warren’s tweet sets him at odds with precisely the part of the Bible that features most prominently in the controversies over creationism and evolution.
After everyone is introduced, a few announcements are made. They talk about the Episcopalian Church blessing same sex unions at their annual convention, and celebrate the victory. However, it’s a bitter sweet victory because the bishop of their particular diocese will not allow his churches to use the blessing. Carl gave an announcement that the PRIDE group from a local college was going to protest Chick-Fil-A the next day. The infamous restaurant chain was having a promotion: dress up as a cow, get a free chicken sandwich. The PRIDE group was going dressed as cows, getting the free sandwiches, and then donating them to the homeless. For the rest of the meeting, Steven is asked to give a talk on The Family Tree; upcoming events, its new location, how we can get involved as volunteers, etc.
Throughout the meeting, and then talking with some of them afterwards, I began to make some revelations. I looked around at the people there who were gay, bi, or lesbian and one word popped into my mind. Normal. These people were like me. They genuinely wanted me to be there, to listen to what I had to say. And, did you catch that? “These people.” They’re not “these people,” they’re us. They are you and me. We have more similarities than we do differences. Why are so many people threatened by this community? What are they scared of? As we were mingling, their sexuality didn’t matter to me anymore. I wasn’t getting to know gays and lesbians, I was just getting to know new people.
I find that almost every single one of them is a self-proclaiming Christian. I don’t think I was expecting this. Even though this was being held in a church, I still wasn’t sure what the faith make-up would be. But these people were Christians. They don’t express bitterness about the church and other Christians, or how they’ve been mistreated; even though I’m sure they have. They genuinely want to see change in the church, not run from it – as we’re so apt to do.
Here’s the thing…I have a really hard time when someone asks me how I became a Christian. I don’t know how to answer the question.
I mean, I do know the answer, but I don’t know if I should actually give the answer.
There was something that happened to me that was huge. It was like it was…
I can see how that can be hard. I’m not sure if you are referring to a miracle or a vision or something like that, but I am pretty open to hearing people’s stories about conversion or receiving something special from God. I am convinced that people do experience real things that can be hard to believe or explain. This may not apply to your case, but I believe God allows amazing and unexplainable things to happen to certain people because they need it. Others may not need a spiritual/supernatural intervention from God in order to see Him clearly or follow Him.
I’m not saying you have to tell me or anyone else, but here’s some encouragement. It could be that God allowed this to happen to you not just for your benefit, but for the benefit of others as well. Also, in John 15:18ff, Jesus tells his disciples that if the world hates them, they must remember it hated Jesus first. He also says in the next chapter that in this world we will face tribulation, but he has overcome the world. What I’m trying to say is, you can’t expect every person (even other “Christians”) to accept that what you experienced was very real, very valid, and very much from God. But that isn’t an excuse to keep what God gave you to yourself.
Now I’m not saying you should just tell everyone on Tumblr! But rather continue to prayerfully consider, with discernment, who you can tell and when. But don’t give up altogether. I can see how much of a struggle that can be though, not trying to belittle anything about it.
I just found your blog and wanted to say I really admire you:D your writing is amazing! And so is your blog, but I love the way you write:) lol anyways my name is Alex and hi I guess! It'll be nice to see you on my dash...
Thank you so much! You have no idea how much that means! I’ve really just begun to apply myself when it comes to writing. I’ve always enjoyed it, but never thought I was good enough to do it to be a “writer.” Haha! But it is great to meet you, Alex! And thanks for following!
There’s a girl already seated, but she doesn’t seem interested in talking, so I walk past her and sit on the opposite side of the circle. I open my journal, hoping to take notes about what I’m experiencing. I’m also writing down names because I’m horrible at remembering names. I write “PFLAG” at the top of the page, then put Sandi and Susan’s names underneath.
Finally, more people start to file in and are helping themselves to the rainbow Goldfish. I really should get up and go talk to them, but instead I’m glued to my chair. I decide to just stare at my journal instead and –
Shit! You idiot! You forgot to put the “L” in PFLAG! Oh, my God. I knew you would blow this. They’re going to run you off with pitch forks, you moron! I didn’t mean to! What do I do?! Fix it before someone sees! Try to squeeze in the “L”! Quick! Umm…. Nope! That still doesn’t work! Scratch it out!Hurry, someone’s comi… “Hi! I’m Carl!”
I snap the journal shut and look up. Did he see the profanity written in my journal? I can feel the blood of embarrassment oozing into my cheeks. Oh, no. He’s going to think I’m blushing at him. I’m just staring at him with my mouth half-open.
Well, say “hi” before he thinks you have a crush on him. “Oh, yeah! Hey there! I’m Matt! Nice meet you!” I say. He saw, he definitely saw. Had to of seen. He thinks I’m a homophobe. He’s going to yell. He sits down next to me. “You mind if I sit here? Those other chairs are uncomfortable,” he says. “Sure! No problem!” I say, a little too nervously.
I’m doing everything wrong here. Nooooo. You’re doing fiiiine! They only think you’re a judgmental homophobe that wants to spy on them.Great job there, buddy!
"So, this your first time? It’s okay to be nervous," says Carl. Ha! You have no idea, bud. “Excuse me?” I ask. “Is this your first time at PFLAG?” he clarifies. “Oh yeah, yeah! I’m excited about it!” I say.
We talk for a bit and I find out that Carl and I are both twenty-five and we both recently got out of a relationship with a girl, but he’s quick to say he’s bisexual. Of course, he then asks me the question I was expecting before I arrived.
To be honest, I am by and large ignorant of the Orthodox Church. I have never been to one or really know anyone who is Orthodox. I have never seriously considered it, but it is something I want to know more about.
I’ve reached a point in my spiritual journey where I am trying to find my place. Going to different churches that I’ve never been to before is a goal of mine, and I have looked into visiting an Orthodox church. Everything about it seems so much different than Protestant or Catholic faiths. And I think there is a reason for that. What I do know about the Orthodox Church is that it is more of an Eastern expression of Christianity than Protestantism or Catholicism - which are more Western perspectives. That fact alone shows that Orthodoxy is working, at times, from a different paradigm than Western Christianity.
I recently attended an Episcopalian service for the first time this past Sunday, and I felt very much out of my comfort zone - though I really enjoyed it. I don’t know how an Orthodox Church would make me feel right now :)
So yeah lol! To answer your question, the Orthodox Church is very foreign to me, but I do plan on learning more about it and visiting one soon.
“We are made for each other. Yet making relationships work, let alone making them flourish, is often remarkably difficult…. We all know that we belong in communities, that we were made to be social creatures. Yet there are many times when we are tempted to slam the door and stomp off into the night by ourselves, simultaneously making the statement that we don’t belong anymore and that we want someone to take pity on us, to come to the rescue and comfort us. We all know we belong in relationships, but we can’t quite work out how to get them right. The voice we hear echoing in our heads and our hearts keeps reminding us of both parts of this paradox, and it’s worth pondering why.”—N.T. Wright, Simply Christian, pg. 30 (via shiningstarshiddenfires)
I’m looking at a website with a list of community events around town and notice that there is a PFLAG meeting this Thursday night. I click on the event and discover that it’s a support/educational group for Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays. I have never really heard of them before. This sounds interesting, but I’m not sure.
Well, you wanted to step out of your comfort zone, this is it!
Yeah, but it’s so dramatic; kind of like taking a dive with a blindfold on. I mean, five years ago I believed you couldn’t be gay and go to heaven. You couldn’t be gay and be a faithful, obedient Christian. That was back when I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay or lesbian. I heard the stereotypes, “All thosequeers are just a bunch perverted child molesters.” Not that I necessarily agreed with that back then, but apathy doesn’t make you innocent either. It’s so easy to believe in stereotypes when you don’t have a face to go along with the myth. It’s easy to hate a faceless group of people – you have no personal or emotional attachment. Sure, my Baptist church never proactively and outspokenly bashed gays and lesbians, but you’re kidding yourself if you think they were actually welcomed.
It is two hours before the meeting starts. I’m beginning to have doubts about going.
Chicken. You always do this. Just get your ass out of the door. You need to do this. Fine, I’ll go. Good. Wait, I’m going to miss Big Bang Theory. It starts at… GO! Alright, alright!
The meeting is going to be held in the library at Saint John’s Episcopal Church. I’ve never been to an Episcopal church before.I’m wondering if the people at the meeting are actually members of this church or if the church was just kind enough to offer their library to use as a meeting place. This should be interesting considering that the Episcopal Church just decided to bless same-sex unions at their annual convention. I wonder if that will be mentioned at the meeting.
At this point I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. I’m thinking there will be at least 30 people at this place. I’ll be able to blend in and just be a silent observer. I get to the church about 15 minutes early. I park across the street, enter the church, follow the directions to the library, and find myself alone with one other person. So much for blending in.
Break it up into more parts, maybe? I tend to read long posts if the topic interests me, but like you said, Tumblr+long posts don’t usually go together well.
I thought about that, but it would be hard. I’m writing it in kind of a memoir-type style. I guess I’m practicing my creative writing as well. I’m hoping the flow of it will keep readers interested. But it’s not like hundreds of people will read this anyway :P
Douthat points out that the Episcopal Church has declined 23% in the last decade, identifying the loss as a sign of its theological infidelity. In the last decade, however, as conservative denominations lost members, their leaders have not equated the loss with unfaithfulness. Instead, they refer to declines as demographic “blips,” waning evangelism, or the impact of secular culture. Membership decline has no inherent theological meaning for either liberals or conservatives. Decline only means, as Gallup pointed out in a just-released survey, that Americans have lost confidence in all forms of institutional religion.
The real question is not “Can liberal Christianity be saved?” The real question is: Can Christianity be saved?
Liberal Christians experienced this decline sooner than their conservative kin, thus giving them a longer, more sustained opportunity to explore what faith might mean to twenty-first century people. Introspective liberal churchgoers returned to the core of the Christian vision: Jesus’ command to “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” As a result, a sort of neo-liberal Christianity has quietly taken root across the old Protestant denominations—a form of faith that cares for one’s neighbor, the common good, and fosters equality, but is, at the same time, a transformative personal faith that is warm, experiential, generous, and thoughtful. This new expression of Christianity maintains the historic liberal passion for serving others but embraces Jesus’ injunction that a vibrant love for God is the basis for a meaningful life. These Christians link spirituality with social justice as a path of peace and biblical faith.
Unexpectedly, liberal Christianity is—in some congregations at least—undergoing renewal. A grass-roots affair to be sure, sputtering along in local churches, prompted by good pastors doing hard work and theologians mostly unknown to the larger culture. Some local congregations are growing, having seriously re-engaged practices of theological reflection, hospitality, prayer, worship, doing justice, and Christian formation. A recent study from Hartford Institute for Religion Research discovered that liberal congregations actually display higher levels of spiritual vitality than do conservative ones, noting that these findings were “counter-intuitive” to the usual narrative of American church life.
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
One of the hardest things I’ve ever been able to do is to get out and live. You sit behind a screen long enough and you really begin to feel something within you straining to break free. I’ve felt that way for awhile now. It’s so easy to be apathetic and lazy. It’s so easy to stay at home alone, which, don’t get me wrong, can be absolutely wonderful. However, I do too much of it. I don’t have many friends…oh, but I do. I’m just horrible at maintaining friendships, keeping in touch with people, taking the initiative. But as I sit at home each night, I feel my bones yearning for something so much more.
So to remedy this problem, I’ve begun a journey, an adventure. One that will take me out of my comfort zone to places I haven’t been before, or meeting people I’ve never met, or doing things I’ve never done. Getting out and doing great things, heroic things. I’ll be on the news, in the paper; people will know who I am. I’ll rescue dogs, women and children in distress, and homeless men getting beat up by gangs. They’ll create a nick name for me…a superhero name. Awesome Matt, no, no, no, Super Awesome Matt, no, Captain Mattman, yes! Politicians will seek my support. Scientists will ask me questions concerning the subatomic particles that make up our universe. Religious scholars will beg me to write a book on the vast knowledge I’ve obtained about the greatest theological question of all time, “Will my pet go to heaven?” I will live a life without regret, I will conquer this town, I will conquer our social problems, I… honestly have no idea what I’m doing, or where to begin.
In fact, it took me a good month before I began to be proactive in this little quest. That’s because I didn’t know where to begin. Before I continue it may help to give a brief background on what got me to this point. Not too long ago I was a college minister at a Southern Baptist church. I grew up pretty conservatively, went to college and got a B.A. in Ministry, knew for certain I was going to do this forever, and planned my life accordingly. I got this position as a part time college minister making about $10,000 a year, but I ended up getting burned out quickly. There are many reasons why this happened: 1) it was a Southern Baptist church, 2) I was a college minister at church with a median age of 65+, 3) I got paid in peanuts, and 4) it was a Southern Baptist church. For the last few years my faith has evolved (gasp!). I began to no longer align myself with the faith I was raised in, the faith that I always knew was flawless (oh, how naïve). But like most twenty-somethings, things were beginning to change for me – how I viewed God, people, faith, social issues, sexuality…and I began to wonder if I’m still “called” to do this church ministry thing. So, I resigned. That was three weeks ago as of this writing.
I was tired of being constrained, held back. I wanted to experience more for myself. I needed to do something that would shake up my world. I needed something that connected me to the rest of world – in whatever capacity that would be. I need to know if God is truly out there, if He cares; but where to begin? Of course, taking that first step is always the scary part. As my friend Lao-tzu (yeah, we’re bros) would say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Apparently that first step brought me to a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting.