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Blog of the Grateful Bear

ramblings of a freelance panentheist {"all things are in God, and God is in all things"} . . . musings on Emergent spirituality, powerlifting, LGBTQueer issues, contemplative prayer, mysticism, cats, music, healing, and more. I like my coffee and my existentialism dark-roasted.

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Location: Marietta, Georgia, United States

I'm an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), in private practice in Marietta, Georgia. My writings on queer spirituality have been published in Whosoever and several other magazines. I live in a house-in-the-woods (Bear's Hermitage) in Marietta with Leonidas (Lenny) and Guy, Mighty Warrior Cats, and way too many books.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned Books Week

This week (September 27 to October 4) is the American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week. Celebrate your freedom by reading a banned book! I plan to celebrate by re-reading Allen Ginsberg's Howl and re-watching François Truffaut's 1966 movie version of Fahrenheit 451 (available on DVD).

How about you? How do you plan to celebrate your freedom to read (a freedom not everyone on the planet can claim)?


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day of Prayer for the Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight goals agreed to in 2000 by 189 heads of state and government - including the United States - from around the world that address the deepest material brokenness in the world today.

A special session of the United Nations is being held today, September 25, to discuss the progress (or lack of progress) that has been made toward these goals.

We are invited to join in with people of faith around the globe on this day, to:

+ pray with special intention for the extreme poor throughout the world.
+ skip at least one meal in solidarity with the nearly 1 billion people who go to bed hungry each night.
+ participate in an online advocacy action promoting our government's fulfilling its promises to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information about these extremely important Millennium Development Goals, visit this page on the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation website. Here is a suggested form of prayer from the EGR:

Most loving God,
as your desire for mercy for the poor is unrelenting,
may we be unrelenting in our pursuit of mercy for all;
as your compassion for the suffering of the poor knows no limit,
may our hearts overflow with compassion for all;
as you long for justice for the poor, may we strive for justice for all.
Open our eyes to the structures of oppression from which we benefit,
and give us courage to accept our responsibility,
wisdom to chart a sound course amid complexity,
and perseverance to continue our work until it is finished.
Breathe your life-giving Spirit afresh into your Church
to free us from apathy and indifference;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Update on Dad: Continuing to Improve

My father, Lloyd Grizzle, is out of the ICU and has been transferred to the Long Term Acute Care (LTAC) unit at Windy Hill Hospital, which is much closer to my mom's home (as well as mine). He is still on occasional (not continuous) dialysis as his kidneys continue to improve. He is still being weaned off the ventilator; he is able to breathe on his own for up to 10 hours at a time now. He is still not talking but he recognizes us now - the other day he grabbed my hand as soon as I came in the room, and he is able to communicate with funny faces and other expressions.

Dad's recovery is slowly but surely taking place. Best case scenario: He remains in the LTAC until he is completely weaned off the ventilator and dialysis, then goes to a rehab facility for about a month (for physical therapy, etc.), then comes home.

I want to thank all of you who have called and emailed me, and to all who continue to hold my Dad in your prayers. Please join me in praying that the best case scenario is what will happen.

with much appreciation,
Grateful Bear

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Midnight Prayer

My prayer-poem, Midnight Prayer, is being used by the Human Rights Campaign as part of this Sunday's commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary (the Scripture passages used by many Christian churches in their Sunday services).

I'm really honored that the folks at Out in Scripture found my prayer on the web and asked my permission to use it. Check it out! And be sure to sign up to receive the Out in Scripture commentaries each week by email.

Out in Scripture: Remember, Once You Were Oppressed
Commentary for September 14, 2008


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cat Magick

Yesterday morning, very early, Kato the mystical cat jumped into my bed and began walking all the way around me - down my right side, crossing at my ankles, up my left side, crossing over my pillow and beginning the circumnavigation again. He walked completely around me three times, counter-clockwise ("widdershins"), all the while maintaining a low purr. Then, when he completed the third walk, he stopped and gazed directly into my eyes. I was suddenly seized with an inexplicable compulsion to get out of bed (which I didn't really want to do, that early in the morning) and open a can of tuna for Kato. Which I did, of course, against my own free will.

It took the walls of Jericho seven circumnavigations before they crumbled. It only took three to make me crumble.

I think in all the classical arguments about free will and determinism, the philosophers and theologians have overlooked one very crucial factor: the power of Cat Magick.



Monday, September 08, 2008

BookLog: Red Letters

The idea behind Tom Davis’ book Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds is simple: What if we took seriously the words of Jesus (printed in many Bibles in red letters)? You know, all those red-letter words about loving our neighbors, caring for “the least of these,” bringing healing to those who are suffering...

The recurring theme of Red Letters is that Jesus lived a life of compassion, and if we are truly following Jesus, we too will respond with compassion to the “lepers” and “Samaritans” of our day: the victims of HIV/AIDS – especially the children who have been orphaned by the disease. Tom Davis (shown below) is the president of Children’s HopeChest, a child-advocacy group that helps children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa, Russia, and other parts of the world. In Red Letters, he tells us about the extent of the disease around the world (the soon-to-be 50 million people living with the disease) and he also offers concrete ideas about how we as individuals can help. For example, just buying the book – or buying one pound of Saints Coffee (I recommend St. George the Dragonslayer, a delicious dark-roast blend) – will feed an orphan for a month, through the network of food suppliers Davis works with through Children’s HopeChest.

Red Letters has a lot in common with other books that have come out of the emergent Christian conversation:

1. The book is unflinchingly honest. It can be hard to read at times, like when Davis talks about young girls in Africa being brutally raped by HIV-positive men because of a widespread belief that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS.

2. The book calls us to move beyond the words of Scripture, to actually do the words of Jesus, not just read them or talk about them.

3. The book emphasizes the biblical vision of justice, which in Davis’ words means “making wrongs right, bringing blessing instead of curse, and giving our lives to serve others in need” (page 114).

4. The book calls us to a real-world faith, to see Jesus in the world around us. Davis invites us “to live a faith that is so real, you bleed Jesus. Here’s how to start: Look for Jesus every morning in the eyes of the people you meet. And then look for him in the mirror” (page 28).

5. The book quotes Bono (of U2) a lot. Ten times, in fact, which seems to be about average for an emergent book. :o)

Red Letters calls us to move beyond the “blame-the-victim” mentality (an attitude I’ve seen not just in Christian circles but among New Agers as well): “Yes, the majority of people with HIV got it through sexual contact or because of drug use. But does that make them less worthy of compassion?” (page 77). Davis quotes Kay Warren, “Jesus never asked how someone got sick,” and adds: “We shouldn’t either” (page 159).

Davis ends Red Letters with an invitation to join Five for 50, to make a commitment to stand in solidarity with the soon-to-be 50 million people living with HIV:

1. Give 5 minutes a day to pray for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
2. Give 5 hours a week to fast for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
3. Give 5 dollars a month to the Five for 50 Fund to support worthy causes.
4. Give 5 days a year to travel overseas to help alleviate poverty and suffering (or to help those in our own communities).
5. Give 5 people an opportunity to join you on your journey.

If you’re on Facebook, you can join Five for 50 using the “Causes” application. There are also Facebook groups for Children’s HopeChest and Saints Coffee.

Red Letters includes a great quote from Richard Rohr (page 105):

I would say that if you only think about Jesus, “believe” Jesus and believe things about Jesus, not much new is going to happen. It is the risk of “acting” like Jesus acted that reconfigures your soul. We are converted by new circumstances much more than by new ideas. Or as I like to say, we do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.

Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds is a challenging and compassionate call to “reconfigure our souls,” to become more like Jesus by taking seriously his “red letter” words – to act like Jesus, not just “believe” in him.

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Update on Dad: Prognosis Good (Again)

I want to thank everyone who has called me or emailed me, asking about the condition of my father, Lloyd Grizzle, who remains in ICU at Atlanta Medical Center. It has been over a week since I posted an update here. Here's a quick update:

Dad is beginning to open his eyes and be responsive to those around him. He is still under a lot of sedation, but he is able to move his arms and legs when asked by the doctor to do so. He is able to move his head in the direction of whoever is speaking to him. He appears to recognize us again.

A scan on Friday confirms that Dad did not suffer brain damage during his cardiac episode a few weeks ago.

Today (Monday 9/8), the doctors are planning to do a tracheotomy, to assist Dad in breathing on his own. He has been on the ventilator for several weeks now.

His primary doctor (a wonderful surgeon named Dr. Vu) is planning a second surgery, probably this week, to repair the damage sustained by Dad's liver during all these recent medical problems.

The doctors are hopeful that Dad will pull through all these difficulties, although his recovery may require long-term care. Once again I want to express how thankful I am to all of you who are continuing to hold Dad in your thoughts and prayers.

Grateful Bear

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