Thursday, August 30, 2012


No judgment can be just or wise, but that which is built on the conviction of the paramount worth and importance of duty. This is the fundamental truth, the supreme law of reason; and the mind which does not start from this, in its inquiries into human affairs, is doomed to great, perhaps fatal error. The right is the supreme good, and includes all other goods. In seeking and adhering to it, we secure our true and only happiness. All prosperity, not founded on it, is built on sand.

- William Ellery Channing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Paragraph 175

Most people don't know that Gay people were the first group officially targeted by the Nazis. The test case for their regime of hate. Most people don't know that Gay people were the only group officially targeted by the West German Government as well as the Nazi regime.
Most people didn't care before.
But now they do, and this documentary exists so that we as individuals living in community understand the reason why we are responsible for the quality, content and context for our beliefs.
Because one day, someone may decide to live by them.

Roma Boys - The Love Story (Gay Themed)

Wesley Hill on Marilynne Robinson


When I Was a Child I Read Books

A new collection of essays from Marilynne Robinson.
Anyone who cares about dismantling tired theological prejudices and religious stereotypes could do a lot worse than to linger over a conversation about the doctrine of predestination that takes place between John Ames and Jack Boughton. The scene is told twice, first in Marilynne Robinson's 2006 novel Gilead, then again in the follow-up novel Home, the second panel in Robinson's diptych about two families in a small Iowa town coping with the upending of an uneasy peace.
Ames, a Congregationalist minister and reader of Reformed theology, is seated on his old friend Robert Boughton's front porch. Boughton is a fellow minister, a Presbyterian, whose estranged son has recently turned up again, raking his fingers across old wounds. Jack, the son, puts the question to Ames, "Do you think some people are intentionally and irretrievably consigned to perdition?"
As the conversation unfolds, it becomes clear, if it wasn't clear from the outset, that Jack is asking about himself. Knowing how he has hurt his family, he has come back to the town where he grew up to seek—what? absolution? atonement? He wonders if people can change. Ames dodges the question, not only for its theological intractability—"I have spent a great part of my life hearing that doctrine talked up and down, and no one's understanding ever advanced one iota"—but also because giving a negative answer would mean forgiving Jack for the way he has hurt old Rev. Boughton, as well as Ames himself. And that's not something Ames, for all his wisdom and sensitivity, is quite prepared to do yet.
It's a memorable scene, delicate in its evocation of character and the subtleties of barely suppressed anguish, all in the economy of three pages. More than that, it displays how theological or religious language works—its self-involving character, its demand for patient self-scrutiny and self-commitment. The scene eschews, on the one hand, cynicism about religion (the claim, for instance, that Calvinism leads only to fatalistic despair) and, on the other, a Pollyanna-like view of religion's role in human life (in this case, the false comfort of the "good man," Ames, being right and the "bad man," Jack, being wrong). In these ways, the scene showcases a recurring theme in all of Robinson's books: the unraveling of the dichotomy between religion and humane, ennobling forms of individual and social life.
In her new collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Robinson examines that unfortunate dichotomy from all angles. On one side, the "new atheists" and their ilk badly caricature religion as an explanation of the world that competes with other explanations from disciplines of physics, biology, psychology, and so on. Viewed from another vantage point, religion itself often colludes with this ill-conceived critique, betraying its highest vision with sound-bite answers to genuinely open questions and hitching its wagon to dubious causes (like the defense of a historically novel "capitalism"). Science is equally misunderstood when its practitioners and its fundamentalist detractors alike view it as a way of understanding that can dispense with religion, as if the latter were a veneer obscuring a more persuasive, secularized explanation of life. In this spiral of mutual misunderstanding, the humanist ideal of deepening appreciation for the awe and "depth dimension" of human existence is curtailed.
Robinson offers her essays in the face of this confusion, as "night thoughts of a baffled humanist," which is how she referred to her musings in a recent Internet excerpt from the book. She aims to defend both religion and humanism from their not-quite-so cultured despisers, many of whom may be found self-identifying as "religious" or as "humanists."
Religion, at least in many of its current American conservative forms, has, in Robinson's eyes, largely abandoned its task of eliciting wonder and cultivating an appreciation of the human capacity to surprise:
In contemporary religious circles, souls, if they are mentioned at all, tend to be spoken of as saved or lost, having answered some set of divine expectations or failed to answer them, having arrived at some crucial realization or failed to arrive at it. So the soul, the masterpiece of creation, is more or less reduced to a token signifying cosmic acceptance or rejection, having little or nothing to do with that miraculous thing, the felt experience of life, except insofar as life offers distractions or temptations.
One reads this and recalls the sharp either-or Jack Boughton poses to Ames.
But humanism—that worshipful acknowledgment of the unplumbed mystery of human personhood, an acknowledgment Robinson wants to see religion recover—has sold its own birthright as well, repeating the nostrums of an overweening scientism that, rather than elucidating mystery, forecloses it. Reading popular accounts of evolutionary psychology, Robinson finds it to be "characteristic of these queries into human nature that everything exceptional about us and about the situation in the world we have created for ourselves is excluded from consideration." Such pseudo-science assures us that altruism, artistry, and other humane pursuits are inessential to our true being, since they're better described as hardwired survival mechanisms: they're not pleasantries we'd wish to live without, to be sure, but nor are they markers of human uniqueness and glory. Reductionist though it is, this pronouncement is worth taking seriously "because versions of it are everywhere and because, whatever else it is, it is almost always presented as learned hypothesis if not outright 'information' about our kind."
For Robinson, the antidotes to these twin abandonments of wonder are to be found in purified forms of religion and humanism themselves. She isn't interested in "progression" but ressourcement. Accordingly, this collection of essays attempts both critical and constructive tasks. Robinson takes aim, only occasionally exhibiting an off-putting polemical sneer, at those who would diminish the human person. But she does so by way of a retrieval of some thinkers whom she regards—testing the limits of plausibility, in a couple of cases—as fellow humanists: the authors of Leviticus, John Calvin, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, and certain 19th-century hymn writers. (Whether Jefferson and Emerson really are as compatible with Calvin as Robinson implies is a question many of Robinson's evangelical readers will want to ask, suspecting that her open preference for "liberal Protestantism" is a misreading of the trajectory of her beloved Calvin's thought.)
At their best, the humanist pursuit of scientific learning and the religious quest to give expression to the awe that learning evokes are ways of honoring our irreducibly mysterious nature.
If we are to consider the heavens, how much more are we to consider the magnificent energies of consciousness that make whomever we pass on the street a far grander marvel than our galaxy? At this point of dynamic convergence, call it self or call it soul, questions of right and wrong are weighed, love is felt, guilt and loss are suffered. And, over time, formation occurs, for weal or woe, governed in large part by that unaccountable capacity for self-awareness.
Here the scientific exploration of the apophatic—the dizzying study of "dark matter, dark energy, the unexpressed dimensions proposed by string theory, the imponderable strangeness described by quantum theory"—is seen as a partner of religious devotion. After all, "to say that the universe is extremely large, and that the forces that eventuate in star clusters and galaxies are very formidable indeed, seems deficient—qualitatively and aesthetically inadequate to its subject." The stronger language of "God" and "the soul" and "the miraculous" is required.
Along these lines, Robinson offers some notes on a theory of fiction, a poetics. Fiction, done well, is an effort to participate in this religious attention to "the integrity and mystery of other lives." Among other things, it is "an exercise in the capacity for imaginative love, or sympathy, or identification." And here we may return to John Ames and Jack Boughton inGilead and Home. Near the conclusion of his talk with Jack, Ames is candid: "I'm just trying to find a slightly useful way of saying there are things I don't understand. I'm not going to force some theory on a mystery and make foolishness of it, just because that is what people who talk about it normally do." Here Ames speaks for Robinson, surely. Whatever else these new essays are—and they are many wonderful and interesting things—they are Robinson's determination not to diminish mystery, not to make foolishness of the world or the human person by forcing theories to limit our wonder at God, the human brain and mind, the cosmos. The essays are tonic for our adoration-starved religious and scientific cultures, bracing in their critique and hope-giving in the alternative way of seeing that they open up for us.

Coming Together

Saturday, August 18, 2012

12 - Speaking Unto Nations (Beethoven Symphony no 7 - II ) - The King's ...


A bit of fact.

I've realized that I haven't written any in depth personal things in this blog yet. I find that to be an interesting thing. So I'd like to take the time to write a few things about myself and my thought.

My Name is Daniel Steven Francis. The name of this blog is derived from my name.

I'm a 22 year old attempting to complete a double major in religion and sociology, in my attempt to complete a Masters in Community and International Development with an emphasis in Human Rights and Advocacy.
I'd like to a Human Rights Activist and a Theologian. I'm not sure how I will accomplish both of these goals but I'm determined to try.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. This is important.

I'm African American of Caribbean descent. Also very important.

And I'm Gay. Again very important.

I believe that history is the most important subject other than basic reading skills. If you don't understand the past you can't understand the present. And if you misconstrue obfuscate or forget the past you are doomed to repeat it.

I love sci-fi and fantasy.
I love a good love story.
I used to be obsessed with war and conflict, but my love of tis has waned as I've gotten older.

Philosophically I am a Christian Humanist. I'm a humanist because I believe that any moral or ethical system is good and/or useful only insofar as it determines that which is good through the prism of human needs and experience. Any other form of moral or ethical basis, no matter how pious sounding or high minded, will ultimately justify harm. I'm a Christian because I believe that this faith and its main object Jesus Christ is the most conducive to the advancement of the life and happiness of human beings.
Emphasis on the word MOST. Christianity isn't near to being perfect on any level in any form. As you'll see from my blog posts.

My greatest desire is to be and do good. And I define that as loving people unconditionally, and seeking to recognize everything of value and worth that my fellow humans might have or that they might do and affirm it and encourage it.

And that is enough for now.

Beautiful Thing (1996)

Love this film!!!!!!!!!!!!
One of the best gay films ever created!

Get Real - Gay Classic. 16yo Comes Out In HS & Gets Beaten By Jock Boyfr...

One of my Favorite gay-themed films.

John Denver - Rhymes And Reasons

John Denver - Poems, Prayers & Promises (with lyrics)

John Denver - "The Eagle and the Hawk"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Follow me - John Denver

The Ultimate Mitt Romney Flip-Flop Collection

LOVE & FEAR (Part 1) - Jewish Food For Thought, The Animated Series, by ...

I liked this video, but I'm not fully in agreement with it. Or rather this type of love, this selfless giving, is not a good foundation. Because what happens when you are abused or when injustice is done to you by someone you love? Relationships cannot be based on Ahava love alone. There must be mutual consent and there must be mutual compatibility. And you cannot reach that place until you have first loved yourself.

But once to people have chosen to commit to one another, Ahava is the type of love that makes the relationship last. Its the type of love that carries you through the hard times and makes the mundane moments a joy. It is a beautiful kind of love and it is foundational. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


"Love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it."
                                                    -Rainer Marie Rilke

Saturday, August 4, 2012

only way out


"Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about."
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore