Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Law of Friendliness?

“Friendliness should come from inside,
not from Human Resources.”
This is what I heard the talking head on NBC news say after he reported on a story in the Wall Street Journal about a business that was requiring employees to be friendly. Here’s how it worked:  If employees came within ten feet of each other they were required to make eye contact.  If they came within five feet of each other, they had to greet each other. I forget the name of the company requiring this, but when I heard this, I laughed.
I could imagine the TYPE of eye contact that would be made between employees who did not like each other, but are forced to connect eyeball to eyeball.
(It is called "Mad-Dogging" in the gang world.) Oh, and the greeting at the five foot marker would probably include the same icy-ness.  Within a matter of seconds the whole office would freeze over, but the rules will have been followed!
I imagine a few people, instead of exchanging company required glares, would conjure up all their junior high school acting ability and sing out a falsetto, “Hellooooo Judy. How are you this fine day?” This greeting would be dripping with so much sarcasm that the office floors would be sticky for days after the exchange. But rules would have been followed!
I agree with the NBC reporter. Kind of. Friendliness should come from the inside, not from Human Resources. I agree in that I don’t think that HR should be telling us to greet each other and make eye contact.  I think they need to stick to the basics like:  “Employees must be respectful of each other while working.”  Or as they like to put it: “(Continued from page 435, section 14, part M) Employees within this organization, whether represented or unrepresented, are expected to conduct themselves with a high level of respect and regard for each other in order to create a work experience for all that is conducive to learning and productivity and cultivates an empowered and efficient…” Blah blah blah…You know how it goes. But nowhere in the employee handbook does it say HOW I have to be respectful.  It doesn't say I have to exchange eye contact, greetings, hugs or flowers with anyone I don’t like. I just have to be civil. Because friendliness comes from the inside, right?
Not sure about that one. Sure, I guess it does, but WHERE inside?  My gut? My heart? Or is it a little higher? Maybe that explains my angina? Indigestion? Heartburn? 
Or maybe it comes from somewhere else.
Friendliness comes from humility.
Humility comes from realizing that everyone is a child of God. From recognizing that everyone matters. From realizing that how I treat others is a direct reflection of whether or not I believe God loves them as much as he loves me. I am no better than anyone in God’s eyes. I am as loved by God as the guy with the snort laugh in the cubicle next to me. As much as the sweaty lady with the whiny voice and the high maintenance personality. Even the one I wouldn’t greet if we were the only two people left in the office on a Friday night and he had an XL pizza.
Unfortunately, pride, jealousy, and selfishness can stifle humility and limit or destroy friendliness.  Co-workers don’t say hello. We throw each other under the bus. A few “forget” to invite “Debbie Downer” out to lunch.  Again. We back stab in the hallways and lunch rooms. So Mr. Human Resources Guy in the 80’s tie has to step in for an 8 hour training. After he wrangles with his flickering laptop for forty-five minutes cursing under his breath, he turns to a room full of sleepy, resentful employees who want to go to lunch and says: 
“OK kids, it’s evident you don’t have enough friendliness inside of you so we are going to DEMAND friendliness. In fact, friendliness is so crucial to this company’s success that we are going to make it a LAW that you have to be friendly. Starting today, if you do not “meet and greet” as we require, you will be disciplined. If you cannot smile at each other from ten feet away, your evaluation will show that you are not complying with this company’s friendliness policy. If someone looks you in the eye, you must return the eye contact or you will be put on a work plan until you can demonstrate the proper amount of friendliness.”
Wow, that doesn’t sound very friendly. You mean, I have to be nice or else? Is that what it has come to? In some cases according to the Wall Street Journal, I guess so. Luckily, not at my work and hopefully not at yours. 
I think the “friendliness law” shows two things that have gone wrong with the world:
1) We have forgotten the Golden Rule.

2) We need silver & bronze rules to enforce the Golden one.
The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you-- is found in nearly every religion.  Simply put, it means to treat others the way you want to be treated.  It is supposed to help us play nicely with others. If you think about it, it sounds nice, but even this rule is a bit selfish. It’s all about me.
I don’t like to be left out.  So I shouldn’t leave you out.
I don’t like to be gossiped about.  So I won’t talk bad about you behind your back.
I like to be hugged therefore I will hug you. Oh sorry, didn't know you were one of those people with strict personal space boundaries. Please don't go to HR!
The Golden Rules starts with me thinking about myself and how I want to be treated. It works for the most part because I am really, really good at thinking about myself and how I want to be treated. I like eye contact and friendly greetings. Now if I could just treat you the same way...hmmmm….that is the hard part. I can't seem to do that as consistently as I like, especially with certain people. Looks like you're going to have to make it mandatory and tape up a "Golden Rule" sign in the break-room next to the poster about the United Way "Dancing with HR" fundraiser.
The Golden Rule starts with me.  But what if I start with YOU?
What if I think of YOU as a child of God, created by God and loved by God?  Yes, even you – the one who shows up late to work and complains about your endless health problems. Even YOU, the noisy person in the cubicle next to me who forces me to wear construction worker headphones just to finish my budget report.  Even YOU, the one whose evaluation should say: “DISMISSED!”
In this case, friendliness wouldn’t come from within, but it wouldn’t come from the HR either. Friendliness would come from even higher. (Sorry HR folks, I know you thought you were at the top.) Mother Teresa is quoted as saying that she saw God in every person. She said that if we have no peace it is because that we have forgotten we belong to each other. She got her friendliness from her devotion to God. She was friendly to dying lepers because she knew that as she wiped their wounds, she was loving them just as Christ did, in fact, she was loving Christ. God called them friend, why shouldn’t she? And if God can be friendly enough toward us to send his Son to ensure that our friendship with Him lasts forever, then I guess I can make eye contact with you if you come within ten feet of me.  Oh, and maybe even smile, too.  After all, Human Resources, uh-- I mean God, is watching.

-Hope A. Horner, 2013

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Stick Kick

Last weekend at the beach, I watched a child run up to a stick propped up in the sand and knock it over. Someone had taken the time to drag this large piece of driftwood up on to a flat part of the shore and stand it upright. It stood nearly six feet and would have taken two hands to lift it into that position. Now this six or seven year old, his family trudging ahead of him trying to find a place to sit, kicked it over with one swift kick, smiled over his work and then hopped ahead to catch up with his family as they planted their coolers and towels in the sand.Why in the world did he do that? I wondered out loud. 
As I sat in my beach chair, my brain immediately went to the easy answers:
Because he is a boy and he has to do something with all that testosterone. (Farrah Feminist)
Because he is a spoiled brat.  Probably allowed to do whatever he wants. (Sarah Cynical)
Because just like the rest of us, he has a fallen nature. (Sarah Cynical's older sister, Susie, who went to seminary.)
Because he can. (Rachel Realist)
I wasn't sure which answer I wanted to go with, but I was leaning toward Farrah's response.Then later on that week I heard something on the radio about why people cut themselves, you know people who drag a razor blade or other sharp object along their skin, making themselves bleed for no apparent reason, the ones we will typically call "cutters"?
The psychologist said because it helps them feel ALIVE.
The pain tells me I exist. 
I have control over this red line I am etching into my skin.
I am really here. See? Look at my arms.  
I bleed, therefore I am.
And I thought of that little boy on the beach.
And the graffiti taggers.
And the gangsters.
And the American Idol contestants.
And the obnoxious folks at work.
And me.
We all just want to matter.
We want our lives to count for something.
We want to show our strength, our vitality, our ability- even if it means we have to kick, scrape, tag, or be destructive...
To know we are alive.
Because we feel like in those moments, we can take just a little bit of the power back from what feels like fate.
We can assert our existence. Tell mother nature to back off. Play god.
Why is it so important to feel alive -to feel like our life matters? Why is there so much shooting, tagging, cutting, yelling, blogging, building, creating and stick-kicking going on?
Because we were created with a purpose. We DO matter. We just don't always know why or to who. So we flail about in our desperation to be loved and needed and to make our mark and sometimes, we get a little desperate and we hurt ourselves or others.
OK, so maybe that just sounds like psychobabble. Or way too simple. But I really believe it. I see it all around me and I feel it inside me as well.
That is why LEGACY is so powerful. People want to do something that is going to last, something that will matter past today. They want to create a piece of art that will be admired for generations.They want their name on a building. They want a foundation named after them. They want their music to be relevant to their great grand-children's grand children. They want to be in the history books. That's why we have Hall of Fames, Walk of Fames, Wax Museums, and Guinness World Record Books to record the tallest man that ever lived and the most hot-dogs eaten in one sitting. Who cares?
We do.
And so when I saw that little boy kick the stick - destroy someone else's work, even though there was really no harm in it, it made me a tad upset. Someone took the time to set that stick up, to make it look like a tree without leaves growing out of the sand. Junior had no appreciation for how cool that thing looked. He just wanted it gone. He asserted what little power he had in his toddler leg and took it out with one kick. His smile said, "I did that. Mom may have made me clean my room this morning, but gosh darn it, look what control I have over my own leg, my own life, that big, tall stick. I'm alive! I matter!" (OK, so he didn't exactly think that. If he had he would be in the Children's Hall of Fame for "Most Precociously Philosophical Boy Under Ten.") I wanted to chalk up his kick solely to testosterone or bad behavior, but now, I see it differently. 
I imagine this little boy is going to do a lot of things to try and "matter"--to carve out his own little space in the world. He is going to look to others for approval. He's going to want someone to notice that he has great eyes, or athletic ability, artistic talent or strength, and he is going to assert it over and over until someone does. If no one notices when he kicks the stick, he might try something else. Like disappearing. Not literally, but disappearing into his room, his own world, through a book or a bottle of alcohol,or maybe he'll try standing out - making a name for himself with the taggers or the bangers or maybe the college bound Ivy Leaguers, politicians or religious folks -- something, anyone - because he wants to know that he is not just one more person taking up space on this already overcrowded planet. He wants to know that even though there are many, many footprints in the sand on this beach, that his lead right up to this giant stick propped up in the sand and it was his foot, his tiny, but mighty foot that sent this stick back to the ground where it belonged.

I did that! He will flex his bicep.
I do matter! He will jab his thumb into his chest.
I am alive! He will throw his arms up into the air.

And God will respond: 
Yes, you do, my son. 
You do matter. 
I made you, therefore you matter. 
And I have something very important for you to do:
Tell others they matter.
Tell them they are loved.Tell them they don't have to kick over a stick for me to notice them. I made them. I know them. I love them.
Tell them that all that talent, energy, and compulsion to do something that matters is natural. Perfectly natural. In fact, I put it there. Yes, the Creator created creators. I want you to do things that matter. I want you to build, to draw, to paint, to write, to lift, move, grow, run, lead, teach, laugh loudly and love passionately. I put all that desire to matter, to thrive, inside you because you will need it. You will need it as you go out into the world, as you move through it, in order to accomplish what I have put you here to do. You will need it to inspire others. To love others. To lead others to me so they, too, can understand why they are here, why they are alive.
Yes, you are alive. You matter.
Now put the stick back you little brat.

-Hope A. Horner, 2013
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

What Do You REALLY Want?

What do you really want? This is the question I have been asking myself after reading the book Crucial Conversations.
Get the Book Here!

The main point of the book is this:
When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, you have three choices: Avoid a crucial conversation and suffer the consequences; handle the conversation badly and suffer the consequences; or step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve the positive resolutions you want.

There are lots of tips in the book for handling crucial conversations, but my favorite is this one: Before you enter into a crucial conversation (like, for example with a family member who wants to rip your heard off or a co-worker you would like to banish to a deserted island) ask yourself: "What do you REALLY want?"

Most times, if you're like me, your answer will be:
And both of these answers mean you are about to enter an inflammatory conversation with lighter fluid. There is sure to be an explosion of hurt feelings, angry outbursts, and/or uncomfortable silence and nothing gained. Why? Because it's all about you. It's all about the short term gain. 
I want to teach you a lesson.
I want to be right.
I want to win and show you you're wrong.
I want to give you a piece of my mind.
I want to be heard.
I want
I want
Instead...this book has taught me to think bigger than that. Think more unselfishly. Think more long term.
What do I really want?
I want us to get along.
I want us to be able to talk to each other.
I want to preserve this relationship.
I want us to treat each other better.
I want us to be able to learn something from this and move on.
I want our team to motivated and feel appreciated.
I want our family to be closer.
I want there to be trust and respect between us.
I want to enjoy working with you.
I want to resolve this problem without hurting each other.

Notice the difference? There is "I" at the beginning of each sentence, but it isn't just about me--what I want includes YOU. And I want to do more than just win this current battle, I am thinking about the "war", or the bigger picture.
Here's the problem with this powerful little question - "What do I REALLY want?"
It is hard to ask.
It's especially hard to ask when you are pissed off because you've had your feelings hurt or your ego stomped on by a person that makes you wish you could retire.
Let me give you an example.
The other day I had a critical conversation with someone over the phone. This person was VERY upset and was basically unleashing multi-decades worth of vitriol all over me over something that in my mind was quite minor. The conversation did not go well. The next day, I had to call this person back. A friend of mine suggested that I call and tell this person to "go take a long walk off a short pier."  But I held the phone in my hand, pausing momentarily to ask myself: "What do I REALLY want?" And my answer was:
To kick her in the face.
Then I said, OK, now that I got that out, what do I REALLY, REALLY want?
I want to have a relationship with this person.
I want us to be able to communicate for the long term.
This changed my approach. It dialed me down a notch. My attitude changed. I picked up the phone and as the conversation started to heat up again, I did not allow it to rope me in and turn me into a ranting, raving angry fool. And it worked.It did not turn me into a door mat either. I stood up for myself several times, but I did so with a spirit of humility, not of, "Oh no you didn't!" I told this person that we both wanted the same thing, because it truth, we did. That helped. I also said that I was not interested in trying to BE right; I was interested in trying to DO what was right. This conversation ended much more amicably and productively. It didn't go perfectly, but it didn't turn into a scream-fest either. 
The book describes how most people will do one of two things during critical conversations. They will resort to silence or violence. Violence is when a conversation turns to outbursts, yelling, or even a physical altercation. Silence is where you shut down, shut off, refuse to talk to that person or turn passive-agressive. You might give them the cold shoulder, make snide comments under your breath, gossip behind their back or you may just stuff down your emotions and act friendly. Neither silence nor violence is healthy and that is why the authors provide a variety of tools for handling tough conversations assertively and effectively. There are lots of tools in the book, but even the authors admit that if you can grab just one tool out of the toolbox, grab the "What do you really want?" question.

I agree. I am finding the question helpful in a lot of situations.  I think of it as a "speed-bump" question. You know those things that slow you down before you race ahead and do something stupid? The question gives me pause. Forces me to think.  It gets me to examine my motives and come up with a goal that involves more than just "This is what I want RIGHT NOW!" It is not easy to do. But it's worth it if you want to preserve a healthy family, relationship or work environment. It feels good to be right, but not at the cost of an important relationship. What good is winning the conversation if you lose a friend? What good is making your point if you make an enemy of your family member at the same time? What do you gain by knocking a co-worker down a peg? What do you lose? 
Tough questions, but ones I try to ask myself before I pick up the phone, pop into an office or sit down on the couch with "that look on my face." You know, the one that says, "We're about to engage in a critical conversation and it's all I can do not to kick you in the face?"

-Hope A. Horner,
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote!
Email author at hopeh1122 on g-mail.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Special K

I just finished the book An Introduction to Kierkegaard by Dr. Peter Vardy.  This well-written, easy to understand and incredibly interesting book summarizes the writings and religious thought of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish Lutheran Theologian who lived in the early 1800's. I highly recommend it. Dr. Vardy writes in a clear and engaging style and doesn't bog you down with endless theology and "big words."  He tries to systematically and thoughtfully guide you through the mind and heart of Kierkegaard by reviewing his works and touching on the main points of his life.

Kierkegaard is fascinating. He lived out-loud. He challenged Christians to break out of their religiosity and regimens and "get real." He brought philosophy, psychology and theology together, but rejected the objectification of knowledge. So what if you're smart? How are you and God these days? He continually focused on the importance of a personal, life-changing relationship with God. He believed that faith meant something. It wasn't just a word. It was a radical life-changing word that meant your decisions--in fact your whole life was based on God, not on your own selfish desires. Either live for God or deny Him. In fact, he wished Christians would reject God rather than live simple, comfortable lives wearing only the mask of Christianity. Kierkegaard died in the street, collapsing outside of the Danish Lutheran Church just six months after his strongest rant against it. As he died, he thanked God for showing him what it truly meant to be a Christian.

I am still struggling to understand some of his theological points, and a few I am not sure I agree with, but he wouldn't care if I agreed with his theology or not. He would not want me to walk away from his ideas wanting to learn more about my faith, but walk away asking myself  "Do I REALLY have faith?" and then to seek a closer walk with the God. He sincere commitment to a personal relationship with God and his challenge to live a life that centers around God is both inspiring and convicting.

Here are a few excerpts from the book (some I have paraphrased based on my notes):

If Jesus is God, then.. 

  • He can reveal Eternal Truths.
  • His birth is the moment when God decisively entered creation. (Accepting this is not like acquiring one more piece of information. It will have a decisive impact on the individual that will affect the whole of his or her life.)
  • Jesus brings Truth that could not be known elsewhere or otherwise.
Error = Having only a human understanding of truth (reason)
Faith = A willingness to trust that God intervened in human history out of a love for human beings and to accept the message that Jesus brings--that God wants human beings to enter into a two-way love relationship with God.

Jesus is either God or he is not.  Proof cannot be supplied either way. However, lack of proof does not mean that a claim is not true. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Modern speculative philosophy mocks faith and makes it out as something of no consequence which is held on to by the naive and the ignorant. This Kierkegaard refused to accept. If faith is the highest, then reason has no right to cheat people out of faith. It is not possible to go farther than faith. Faith is the highest and most difficult demand. It is not something that one can achieve and then move on.It has to be lived out hour by hour, day by day, month by month and year by year for one's whole life. It is totally demanding, challenging, uncomfortable and lonely.

"Depart from me damned assurance! Save me,O God, from ever becoming absolutely certain. Preserve me in the hinterland of uncertainty so that it may always be absolutely certain if I attain salvation I receive it by grace." - Kierkegaard

Faith requires individuals to stake their life on a claim (the incarnation) that may or may not be true. Faith therefore is an existential act." (Like when Indiana Jones stepped out on to the bridge that spanned the cavern in the Last Crusade movie. Remember the one that he couldn't see?)

The task of the Christian is not to strive for social equality so that everyone is equal in a worldly sense, but rather to recognize that everyone is equal irrespective of worldly differences...everyone must be loved equally as children of God. 

One artist travels around the world looking for someone to paint and never finds anyone adequate to his skill. The other artist stays home and finds something beautiful to paint in every person he encounters.
"Which," Kierkegaard asks, "is the true artist?" (He used this story to illustrate how Christians should love all.)

Kierkegaard attacked the church for its complacency and for focusing on buildings, sacraments and creeds instead of on loving others, obeying God and seeking a deep relationship with Him. He chastises Christians for sanitizing and diluting the New Testament:
The priests make a good living and acquire respect and admiration by talking in lofty terms on Sundays, but what they talk about is intended to bring comfort to their flock and security to themselves--they do not talk about Christ's message because it is too challenging and uncomfortable.

Religion is an individual living out a love relationship with God.

Faith is trusting one's whole life to God.

Kierkegaard wrote at length about the 3 stages of life (The three ways in which we "center" our lives.)

AESTHETIC STAGE - Focused on pleasure, ego. Decisions based on our desires. Self-centered and avoids commitment. Seeks to be loved, but not to love.  

ETHICAL STAGE - Seeks to belong to community, church, family, country. Wants conformation and confirmation. Community focused and driven to "be known" and to please.

Both the Aesthetic and Ethical stages ultimately fall short of giving us real satisfaction and lead to despair. Despair to Kierkegaard meant "not being conscious of my spiritual self. God is irrelevant."

RELIGIOUS STAGE - Focused on a personal relationship with God. We subordinate our worldly concerns and focus on the Eternal (God as the absolute/most important.) Only when we recognize our despair can we relate to God.

A person in the AESTHETIC STAGE does not see Jesus.
A person in the ETHICAL STAGE sees Jesus as a prototype. 
A person in the RELIGIOUS STAGE sees Jesus as Savior.

Christians are simple people who know they are sinners, believe God loves them anyway and put God first.

As you have lived, so you have believed.

-Hope A. Horner
Follow on Twitter @HopeNote
Email author on gmail at hopeh1122.
Order the book mentioned here on Amazon:   Introduction to Kierkegaard by Peter Vardy

Friday, August 2, 2013

Who is This God You Love?

New York playwright Bill Cain came to Los Angeles to spend time with Father Greg Boyle, a Catholic Priest and founder of the Los Angeles gang intervention program Homeboy Industries.  He wanted material for a screenplay. He meant to stay for only a few weeks, but ended up staying for 10 years. Here is what he said about the experience:
"It was a great pleasure talking to him (Father Boyle) discover the infinity and lushness of the God he believes in." Isn't that beautiful? That makes a great prayer:

Dear God,
May the way I act and speak 
draw others 
to your infinity and lushness.

I am starting to figure out that drawing people to God is really what it is all about. I was raised to believe people needed to be "converted" "saved" or  "led to Christ. " There are many ways I can do this:
Go up to random strangers to tell them they need God.
Lure them to church by promising them BBQ hot dogs.
Hold up a sign in an intersection that says "Do you know where you'll spend eternity?"
Stand on a corner, worn Bible in hand and yell through a megaphone: "You need Jesus!"
You've probably seen and heard them all. They rarely work.  And to me, they feel more like dragging than drawing.
I read a stat the other day that unless you find God before you turn 18, your chances of conversion are about 15%. Wow. That seems to say that unless someone grows up in a Christian home or has a Christian friend early on their chances of finding God are slim to none. So how do I "share the Gospel" with someone who is over 18...or anyone for that matter? 

LOVE in a way that draws them to the lushness and infinity of God.
SPEAK in a way that makes them curious: "Who is this God you love?"
LIVE in a way that compels them to ask: "Where does your peace/love/joy/kindness/compassion come from?"
Sounds easy, but as we all know, saying it and living it are two different things.  It is so much easier to just make a fancy sign, hand out a pamphlet or fire up the church BBQ.

I just finished Jeff Chu's book Does Jesus Really Love Me?  
I can summarize the book in one word:
I honestly think it put me in a "funk" and in some ways, I wish I hadn't read it. Prize winning writer and Harvard Divinity School fellow, Jeff Chu travels around the United States visiting various Christian churches to ask pastors, priests and congregants about their beliefs about God as it relates to homosexuality. Jeff is a gay Christian so the book is part memoir, part investigative analysis. Why does Pastor A believe God hates me? Why does Pastor B say God loves me? Jeff interviews everyone from liberal pastors in the Metropolitan Community Church to Pastor Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church (of God Hates Fags fame). The book includes stories of those who have been told by pastors and other Christians that God doesn't love them--gay Christians who have been cast out, counseled and corralled into therapies, prayer sessions and treatments of all sorts to relieve them of the one thing they were told stood between them and God: Homosexuality. In other words, God is not infinite and lush enough to love gay people. God's love does not extend to them. At least not unless they change. It is meant only for those who are "living right."
I am not drawn to that God.
That god seems very small.
I am drawn to the God of Father Greg Boyle. The God who loves the tattooed, baggy pant bad-asses of the Los Angeles streets. The God who motivates Father Boyle to get up every day and dedicate his life to reaching out to their families with love. The lush God he serves compels him to give out meals, jobs and hugs to turn them from guns, jail and funerals. The God he loves heals, forgives and offers hope. No wonder so many find God through Father Boyle. He is like the shepherd in Matthew 18 -- he goes out to "find the one" who wandered away. He doesn't shout, "Get out of here! And don't come back until you've changed!" Nope, he loves each one as is and that love drives them to change their lives and wonder, "Who is this God Father Boyle loves?" That's when they see beyond the pain and violence to a peace that passes understanding. That's when they find Jesus.
Many of the people in Jeff Chu's book have had the opposite experience. They have been cast out. Told to leave. Judged. Rejected. This makes them believe: Jesus can only love me when I love the "right" (opposite sex) person.  I can't do that, therefore, Jesus doesn't love me.
Wow. That's not a small God. That is a TINY god. Whether or not that God loves, depends on me.
Isn't that depressing? This is why Jeff's book, as interesting as it was, was a real drain for me.
There were a few bright spots. One of the gay-friendly pastors Jeff interviewed said he wants to help the gay Christians in his congregation  "remember the pain" (of being cast out) without "reliving it." He wants them to be so full of confidence that God loves them that thinking of past rejection is like remembering a bad family vacation. It's disappointing, but it doesn't reduce you to tears and make clouds of depression and self hate roll in like beach fog. That is a great goal.
The other bright spot of the book was the author, Jeff. What I like about Jeff is that he really loves God and wants to please Him. He is God-focused, not Gay-focused. He is not satisfied going to a "gay church" in fact, I get the impression that while he thinks they are great for some, he kind of wishes they didn't exist. I agree. Why do we need a gay church (Like the Metropolitan Community Church)? Because other churches exclude. It is proof that Christians are not as Jesus prayed we would be in John 17:  United. 
Jeff says, "...while I don't want alienation or exclusion when I'm in the pews, I'm also not there to celebrate other people. I thought the whole point was to celebrate God."
Amen, Jeff.  Let's celebrate our lush, infinite God. Let's celebrate Him by living in such a way that ALL people are drawn to him. Like Father Boyle, let's show them how BIG our God is. How forgiving. How loving. How gracious. 

-Hope A. Horner, 2013
Twitter @HopeNote
Contact author on gmail using hopeh1122

I Thessalonians 2:6-7Our attitude among you was one of tenderness, like that of a devoted nurse among her babies. Because we loved you, it was a joy for us to give you not only the Gospel of God, but our very hearts—so dear did you become to us. (JB Philips Translation)
Link to the article about Father Boyle in L.A. Magazine: