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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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Update on Dad: Rehab Center

Many thanks to those of you continuing to ask about my Dad, Lloyd Grizzle. He was moved last Thursday from the hospital to a residential rehabilitation center. He is getting physical therapy and occupational therapy on a daily basis, with the eventual goal of being able to go home again. He is still not able to walk but can stand for short periods of time, which is a great development after being bedridden since his medical problems started last July.

I am grateful for all of my friends, blogfriends, and Facebook friends who continue to keep Dad in your prayers. I deeply appreciate your prayers and support.

Grateful Bear



Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Random Things

OK, I’ve been tagged by several friends with this Facebook meme, so here goes. I’m posting it here for those of you who are not on Facebook:

25 Random Things About Darrell:

1. I’m a bit of a coffee snob, unable to drink inferior coffee. I’m lucky because there’s a wonderful coffeehouse, Cool Beans on Marietta Square (within walking distance of my office), that sells my favorite coffee by the pound: organic fair-trade Sumatra coffee, fresh-roasted on their own roaster. That’s what I usually buy for morning consumption at home. The baristas at Cool Beans know me by name, and they know I like a double-shot of espresso in a big cup of their coffee of the day.

2. To a large extent I have built my whole career as a counselor on a fictional character: Dr. Berger, the therapist played by Judd Hirsch in the movie Ordinary People.

3. My favorite living artist is Brian MacGregor, who incorporates dreamwork into his art.

4. I’m still mourning the loss of my favorite restaurant, Three Bears Cafe on Marietta Square, which closed in December.

5. My favorite restaurants, now that Three Bears Cafe has closed, are The Vortex in Little 5 Points and The Flying Biscuit (the original one, in Candler Park).

6. When I was a little boy I wanted to be Perry Mason, and I wanted to have my law office on Marietta Square. I did not become a lawyer, but I do have my office on Marietta Square and I do work in the court system. (I’ve been told by two different attorneys that I am “an imposing presence” in the courtroom – I’m not sure I believe them!)

7. I collect Perry Mason and Frasier on DVD. I have all 11 seasons of Frasier, and I’m collecting Perry Mason as each season is released (currently up to Season 3). I’ve read about 40 of the 82 Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner.

8. If I had to live anywhere other than Marietta, I'd live in Savannah or Asheville.

9. I love trail-walking on Civil War battlefields, and sometimes I’ll have a sandwich for lunch at the Confederate Cemetery near Marietta Square.

10. I’m fascinated by the life of Leonidas Polk (1806-1864), an Episcopal bishop who was also a Confederate General. He fought in the battle of Picketts Mill, one of the battlefields where I love to go trail-walking.

11. I get most of my news from the two NPR stations in Atlanta, WABE (Classical) and WCLK (Jazz and Gospel).

12. I spend way too much money on books: not just regular books but antiquarian books and limited editions from the Easton Press, the Folio Society, and other specialty presses. If you’d like to see my collection, stop by my office sometime. Call me first, to make sure I’m not with a client.

13. I have “action figures” of Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Shakespeare.

14. The oldest book I own is a 1783 edition of Poems Upon Several Occasions, by one of the “Graveyard Poets,” Thomas Parnell, published by Alexander Pope.

15. I once defended myself and disarmed a mugger in Washington DC who was trying to take my wallet at knifepoint. When he came at me with the knife I broke his thumb, causing him to scream, drop his knife, and run away.

16. I love the compilation CD’s Starbucks sells (especially the jazz and indie-rock CD’s), although my commitment to independent coffeehouses dictates that I only go to a Starbucks when there is no locally-owned coffeehouse nearby.

17. I will sometimes read “cozy” mystery novels with my cat, but this does NOT mean (as my roommate sometimes claims) that I am turning into a cat lady.

18. I also love reading Hard Case Crime novels. I plan to write a Hard Case-style novel someday, loosely based on my experiences as a Probation Officer and Parole Officer. Working title: First Offender.

19. I love Turner Classic Movies, especially film noir and old Barbara Stanwyck movies.

20. I am ready for the new season of Holly Hunter’s TV show, Saving Grace, and the new season of True Blood.

21. I recently bought a leather-bound edition of my “desert island book” – the Book of Common Prayer and the NRSV Bible, together in one volume. My cat Kato appreciates that the deutero-canonical books are included, but he wishes some of the Gnostic gospels had been included, especially the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene.

22. My favorite holy days are Ash Wednesday (the most existentialist of holy days) and Easter Sunday.

23. I identify with much of the Emergent Christian movement, and I claim the label “Anglimergent” (although no one can really define what “Emergent” means), but I think I’m too much of an existentialist to truly be postmodern.

24. I sometimes think seriously about memorizing a book the way the rebels did in Fahrenheit 451. If I do, the book I memorize will be the same one Guy Montag memorized in the novel (but not the 1966 movie): the Book of Ecclesiastes.

25. I would love to learn Hebrew so I could read (and maybe memorize) Ecclesiastes in its original language.



Saturday, January 24, 2009

More About Rick Warren’s Inaugural Prayer

Surfing the blogosphere in this week following Obama’s inauguration, I’ve been intrigued by the passionately emotional responses to the inaugural prayer offered by the Rev. Rick Warren. It’s amazing how different people can hear the same prayer and have such drastically different responses to it.

I’ve never been a fan of Rick Warren. I haven’t read his books, I’ve never heard him preach, and I strongly disliked his recent comments against gay marriage. But I found myself deeply moved by his prayer as I watched it on TV on Tuesday. I thought it was very beautiful and very inspiring. It moved me to the point of tears, and those tears kept flowing through Aretha Franklin’s song and into the swearing-in itself.

My friend Candace Chellew-Hodge (whose new book Bulletproof Faith I highly recommend) found Rick Warren’s prayer too “aggressively Christian.” I respectfully disagree. To me, being “aggressively Christian” means imposing one’s beliefs on others. Praying a Christian prayer at the invitation of a Christian president-elect is not, in my mind, an aggressive act. If Rick Warren had prayed in the name of Jesus “our only Savior” or “the only name whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), then yes, that would have been exclusionary and offensive to some non-Christians. But he didn’t. Rick Warren prayed in the name of Jesus, but only after emphasizing that Jesus is, in his words, “the one who changed my life” – making it personal, not imposing his belief in Jesus on others.

And when Rick Warren prayed the name of Jesus in four different languages, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, and English, I saw that as being inclusive – emphasizing that many others have also had life-changing experiences with Jesus, in differing languages and cultures. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Rick Warren “gave his words a multi-faith hue by invoking the Christian figure as he is referred to in other faiths.” Doing so shows that Warren “is appreciative of, or at least courteous to, people who don’t share his particular faith,” said William Martin, senior fellow at the Baker Institute at Rice University. “He is trying to be as inclusive as he can be.”

I’ve read more than a few comments on the internet this week from Jews, Buddhists, Neo-Pagans, and other non-Christians who have written positive reactions to Rick Warren’s prayer. The majority of comments I’ve seen against Warren’s prayer have been from Christians: liberal Christians who thought the prayer was offensive to non-Christians, and evangelical Christians upset that Warren used the Arabic name of Jesus, Isa. This week I’ve seen a lot of evangelical bloggers identify Isa as “the false god of Islam.” When conservatives talk about “false gods” it makes me wonder how many gods they think exist. Who knew evangelical Christianity could be so polytheistic?

And when liberal Christians get upset when a Christian minister prays a Christian prayer, it makes me wonder if they’re truly comfortable with their faith. Within the gay community there is a phenomenon called “internalized homophobia” – when a GLBT person has not fully reached a point of self-acceptance and continues to internalize our culture’s homophobia. Maybe there’s a similar phenomenon among liberal Christians who feel some sense of embarrassment or discomfort about their faith: “internalized Christophobia,” perhaps? I do NOT think this is the case with my friend Candace, but I’ve read others in the blogosphere this week that make me wonder.

As my friend Jon Zuck so wonderfully put it, “It’s time for ‘liberals’ to actually be liberal in the fullness of that word, open-handed, open-minded, tolerant, generous, forgiving.” To that, and to Rick Warren’s beautiful and inspiring inaugural prayer, I say Amen.


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Friday, January 23, 2009

Lost Gospels: “Secret Mark”

The Nation magazine has an interesting article this week about “secret” passages allegedly deleted from the canonical Gospel of Mark. We may never know for sure if these passages were authentic or an elaborate hoax. My fellow theology geeks will enjoy the article, Gospel Secrets: The Biblical Controversies of Morton Smith, by Anthony Grafton.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change: Part 1

For the first time ever, the official White House website includes a section titled "Support for the LGBT Community." Check it out, on the Civil Rights page of whitehouse.gov.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rick Warren's Inaugural Prayer

AMEN to Rick Warren's beautiful and moving prayer.

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Bishop Robinson's Prayer

Here is the full text of Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer for Barack Obama, a prayer that was excluded from the HBO broadcast of the pre-inaugural concert but will reportedly be re-aired today as part of the Inauguration Day events.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Connections @ LinkedIn

I just joined the professional networking site LinkedIn, at the invitation of an attorney friend who has been gracious enough to refer clients to me for court-ordered evaluations and counseling. Here's my profile.

If any of my Blog of the Grateful Bear friends are also on LinkedIn, please feel free to send me a "Connection" invitation!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dad in Hospital (Again)

My father, Lloyd Grizzle, was re-admitted to Kennestone Hospital on Tuesday evening, January 13th. He had been home for exactly one week, being cared for by my mother and receiving regular visits from home health care workers. We took Dad to the doctor's office on Tuesday morning, and he was sent back home with new prescriptions for his flu-like symptoms. When those symptoms persisted into the evening, the doctor told Mother to call an ambulance and have Dad taken to the hospital.

We're not sure how long Dad will be in the hospital this time. I updated my Facebook status bar as I was waiting in the emergency waiting room and already had several responses before I got home that night, from friends and cyberfriends who are praying for Dad and wishing him well. I deeply appreciate everyone who continues to hold my Dad and my family in their prayers.

Grateful Bear

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sun Cat

Kato in his rocking chair, enjoying the sunshine on a January afternoon