Let's just say that despite all the negativity that I've encountered in the church, I still have a burning desire in my soul as it relates to spiritual matters. I've said before that if it weren't for that whole period of being sequestered in the church, I might not be alive now. I am grateful, but I finally walked away from my church for my own health and sanity. I also walked away with a God consciousness that I cannot deny. I think the biggest lament that I have to this day is not fully being able to be a part of a community of folk who are likeminded, living, loving and growing. However, in the ensuing years, I've been able to experience a progressive spiritual development in the local chapter of the New Thought Unity Church organization. The diversity, inclusiveness, the mix of spirit, the metaphysical and philosophical was a Godsend to send me, helped heal my wounded spirit and expanded my knowledge of God. Alas, I've also learned that no church is perfect, but there are those that are more affirming than others. Today, I take what I can get when I can get it, and if it don't fit, I don't force it. Only recently have I decided (or felt it safe) to start visiting the more mainstream communities again. I will never do organized religion again. At the risk of sounding arrogant (or maybe ignorant) I'll go so far as to say unless it's a really special place, I'll never do totally African American churches again. I will never sit under another oppressive ministry that devalues my life as a child of God. I will not pay offerings to be insulted or beat up with the bible by small-minded African American preachers in the black church. Even though much work still needs to be done, I've had a taste of the diversity & the progressiveness elsewhere and I like it! I want to backtrack just a moment and acknowledge the possibility that I may have made ALL of my former fellow church members sound nasty & hypocritical in my Churchqueen Confessional posts. They weren't. There were a few beautiful people that enriched my life and tried to keep it solid. (Like I normally do) I basically vibed with all the preachers to some degree like Min. Jacqueline C., who kept me sane, grounded & became my spiritual big sister, Min. Vincent C., who struggled with his own different issues and who may have had it worse than I did, Deacon Carl R., who was distant but always supportive, and the elderly Mother's Board, where I always enjoyed a special respite. I never meant to style my pastor as a total orgre. He wasn't. As odd as it may seem, I think he loved me in his own way but it was a conditional love. Regardless, truth is truth! Most of the brothers who stayed around stuck by me without judgement, a few of the young kids (who are now adults) occasionally visit Corey @ I'll Keep You Posted! Speaking of blogs, please stop by masculinecurves.typepad.com . Aaron Douglass is the blog author and photographer of the awesome photo that accompanies this post!
I can say that my spirit rests more easy now. I'm still learning to reassess the scriptures, and I most definitely have a better understanding than I did previously. I'm not locked into somebody else's interpretation and I think I'm less judgemental. I LOVE TO RECEIVE THE THINGS OF SPIRIT THAT HELP ME LIVE MY BEST LIFE RIGHT NOW!
I get help, inspiration (and occasionally get jacked-up) from my cyberspace pastor-friend Elder Kevin E. Taylor, pastor of the Unity Fellowship Church in New Brunswick, NJ., which is affiliated with the Unity Fellowship Church Movement started by Bishop Carl Bean. Note: This is the kind of special that I mentioned above! It might be funny to some, but I can testify that Oprah Winfrey's Change Your Life series from a few years ago which featured spritual author/teachers Gary Zukav, Caroline Myss and Iyanla Vanzant changed my life, indeed, and her shows with Bishop Michael Beckwith on the Law Of Attraction gave me a testimony! Very recently, I tried to hang on to every word that was uttered in Winfrey's shows on Spirituality that featured Beckwith and Bishop Ed Bacon; they turned me on and turned me out and elevated me to write two of the posts on this blog that I am most proud of. See My Best Life Will Not Be Televised! and A GIFT FROM GOD? INDEED! here. There are books that have helped (and are continuing to help) me mature like Elder Kevin E. Taylor's Uncluttered: Cleanse Your Spirit/Claim Your Stuff, Harvard Minister Peter J. Gomes's The Scandalous Gospel Of Jesus, Daniel A. Helminiak's What The Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, and Bishop Carlton Pearson's The Gospel Of Inclusion. Pearson's book is life changing, life saving and is not to be /cannot be read as quickly as one might read a novel. Please do not mistake all this talk of pastors, and this and that book to mean that I've arrived and walking on cloud nine. I am not! I forget and need to be reminded so much it's not funny, but I cannot tell you how much I love the growth and enjoy it when I'm able to just soak it all in and flow with it. It's almost like a high.
The earlier posts that were recently remixed about sex, kink and stink were fun. They have their place, and I hope I'm inspired to do another one, but the fact is that most of the posts that have appeared here have been about my spiritual and personal growth as a black gay man. I've written about various related subjects such as my experiences with lusty preachers during church conventions, enlightenment through dreams, the possible sexuality of the Ethiopian Enuch and enuchs in general as Jesus described them in Matthew 18 (which elicited a glowing comment from a black father struggling to accept his gay son). I've posted sermons from Elder Taylor (and I'll post a new one this Sunday). In fact, I look forward to including a few new voices for future sunday posts but I'd like to end here with a snippet from a post that originally appeared last year on May 4th., called Saved! which defines a more evolved definition of the word as I now see it......