About mykesworld

musician, writer, photographer, spiritual humanist, foodie, coffee addict, neurotic.

in memoriam

To those who have passed afore me
I give remembrance.
Your sacrifices, your lives, your very being
I honour.

I can only hope that my actions
allow me to
stand as tall as you once did.
Inspiring, commanding.

Your spirits live in the hearts
of those who loved you.
Your memories echo in the minds
of those whom you touched.

May your rest aeternal grant you
the peace, knowing that
future generations continue to live, to love
all because of you.

I kneel before you and pay homage.
An act of supplication and submission.
Your wisdom continues to guide me.
Your memory rests its hand on my shoulder.

Today I remember.
Tomorrow I will never forget.
Until my time comes
and I join you in spirit.

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dear larry – a state of the union, four years later

Dear Larry,

Here I am four years after your passing.  I’m not sure if you’ve been following but it’s been a pretty busy year for me.

While I have a lot to feel accomplished and proud about, I still often feel I’m no further ahead than before.  I suspect this feeling of “Yeah but…what’s next?” will be continually present in my life for quite some time…but who knows?

I’m quite resolutely single.  There are special people in my life, however none of them have become someone to share my life with at this moment.  I know and feel love, but nothing even remotely close to what we had.  I’m content with that for the moment – despite the occasional pangs of almost crippling loneliness, Chloe and I are doing okay, facing the world together.

Chloe is doing well, she’s acclimatized to being an “only child” after Sunny passed and is enjoying the occasional visitor and trip to Grandmas!  She’s taking good care of me and continues to know instinctively when I need a little extra cuddle or quiet time.  Her seizures have diminished and only happen when things are really hot and she’s stressed out.

Mom’s doing okay, she’s coping with some issues with the house that Dad normally would have taken care of, but with the help of Stephen, Ivan, Jack Goldsmith and myself, I think she’s doing all right…despite the odd crowbar being thrown into plans.  Stephen, Dana and the girls are doing well – you’d be so proud of Hannah, she starts University in September and has decided to go to York.

Santa Bob is still in contact and we often chat together.  He and some of the other Santas have been a remarkable help and incredibly supportive of me as I heal, recover, learn and grow.  I suspect that Santa will be in my life in some form or another for quite some time.

After years of struggle, Bob and I finally had to call it a day with Santa Canada.  Too many people wanted to handle the visits and “glory work” but no one wanted to step up to the plate and handle the grunt work…it was a valiant effort by the Santas Bob and I but alas…

David is still my mentor, psychologist and “second dad” – it’s been a while since I’ve seen him in person, but we’re in regular contact to keep each other sane and laughing.  Doug, Dana and Mara are still amazing friends who keep me grounded and remind me that there will ALWAYS someone there “in case of emergency.”

Rev. Doug has become a great friend since you died.  His no-nonsense demeanour and solid grounding in faith is an anchor for me…you’d be so happy that Rev. Beyerl has taken me under his wing to ensure my studies that started with you have continued…I am blessed to be able to walk the fine line between Pagan and Christian.

While the Hamilton Gay Mens’ Chorus has disbanded, I still sing at St. Paul’s and my voice has grown stronger over the years.  It has helped me find my voice and strength in other areas of singing and I forever am thankful for Blair to have taken the chance on me as a singer.

I wish I could tell you how Cheryl, Melissa and the kids are doing, however they seem to be quite out of the picture and have not responded to attempts to contact them.  I guess I will now be “out of sight, out of mind.”

I suspect you know your cousin Elda has joined you on the other side of the veil and I hope you have had time to catch up and chat…

table for one. has been recorded and released.  It’s an audio document of my life while you were convalescing from cancer and then my recovery from the psychological and emotional devastation of your and Dad’s (and yes, Sunny’s) deaths.

I am happy to have it “out of me” and in the public eye and ear as it has allowed me to move on creatively.  It’s as if the stones blocking my pathway…

That being said, I’m still a basket case and unsure of what the future brings.  Work, despite being more peaceful now, seems to be up in the air and after almost 2 decades there, I am not sure of what I would desire for my future.  It’s very interesting as I know my future path is veering away from that direction but at the moment, I am unsure of where it will lead me.

Thank you for loving me when I was pretty near unlovable.  Thank you for believing in me when even I could not do so.  Thank you for picking up the broken pieces of my life and making me whole again.

I miss you.  I hope to continue to honour your memory.  I love you.

m.

expectations of privacy in public places

Over the past few days, I’ve had a series of interesting conversations with people about privacy and their rights.  Particularly with regard to having photographs or videos taken in public areas.

This is something that is interesting to me as I often work as a public figure (musician, family entertainer, clown and “cosplayer”) and control of how my public personae are presented is an important concept for me.

Rocky1

These days where everyone who has a phone has a camera and almost instant access to publishing the videos or photos they take, controlling one’s public image is becoming more and more difficult.  It has made me even more aware of how I behave and act in public and a lot of my focus when I’m “in character” is about how I am perceived.

One thing that IS clear is this:  In the modern age, if you are in a public area and dressed in what can be considered a “costume,” “getup” or “drag,” you should EXPECT to be photographed or stopped.

PEN Canada’s formal statement on photography in public places sums this issue succinctly:

“People are welcome to take pictures or film in malls, transportation centres, and the like, unless posted signs specifically prohibit it, or until they are requested to desist by a representative of the owners of the property.  In such an instance, though the owners or their representatives (such as a security guard) are within their right to request a halt to any further photographic activities, they have no legal right to force the deletion or destruction of photos that have already been taken.  The publication of these photos is a separate issue and may be affected by other applicable laws.”

Photography blog, Ambient Light, has a great guide to public photography laws which includes what one’s individual rights on privacy entail:

“You cannot photograph a person who has a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy‘. This is someone who believes that they are in a private location and no-one is watching them, such as a person in a bathroom.”

The key words here are “private location.”  On public property, like side walks and city streets.  Photographers can photograph anything that a normal person could see from public property.

In other words:  if you are in public, photographers are legally allowed to capture your image.  If you are at a public event or street fair and in some form of “costume” that makes you stand out from the crowd, you should expect to be photographed.  Yes, it would be preferable if they asked your permission, but it is not necessary for them to do so.

Where it can become an issue for you is if they use that photograph for commercial purposes.

On property that is privately owned, but open to the public, like malls, galleries, etc. Although you should ask before taking photos, if there aren’t any “no photography” signs, photos can be taken unless the photographer is told otherwise by the owner, property manager, security guard, or other representative of the owner.

This is why a number of events or conventions have recently added signs that state “cosplay does not equal consent.”  Most conventions have signs posted that state that people MUST ask for permission to take photographs of others, particularly cosplayers. With the recent boom in cosplay popularity, it became quite typical for people to “ambush” cosplayers and take pictures that were often less than flattering.  Prior to this a lack of rules around photography created the potential for cosplayers to be subject to unwanted physical contact and even abuse.

Many “adult-themed” events and locations now have a no-cameras rule to allow attendees a level of privacy.  Often only “sanctioned” photographers are allowed.

Theme parks like Disney actually have locations where one can get photographed with costumed characters.  This allows more “one-on-one” time for folks with their favourite characters and allows Disney to control the behaviour of the guests getting the pictures and video.

As someone who is often in the public eye and is acutely aware of their image, having an unflattering or even just an unwelcome photograph taken can be an annoyance, but is part and parcel of having an unusual public persona.  I have found that an unwelcome photographer can be at least paused with an “I’d prefer that you not take my picture at the moment.” (usually while the clown is setting up or eating lunch), most do pause and allow me time to compose myself for a photograph at least.

However if they do not, I cannot stop them if I am visible from public property.  If it is on private property or in a controlled access event, I can report the photographer.  If they are peering through a window or over a fence, I call the police…

Every time I step out of the house in my performance clothes, either as Myke Hutchings, musician, Rocky the Clown, or in my Steampunk clothing, I leave the house with the expectation that I will be photographed or filmed.   When Rocky used to take the GO Train into Toronto for gigs, I had a sign that read “Clown at Work” on a plunger that I stuck to the window beside me, in case I napped…there are a few cute photos of a sleepy clown floating around…

If you are presenting a public persona beyond yourself, you should expect to be photographed.  Try to be polite and gracious at all times, even if you are saying “please don’t.”

table for one. a finale.

Thanks to my friends for attending the table for one. CD release “event” on February 20, 2017. It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad to share the music that I have created with everyone. Special thanks to Shannon Munn for opening Cannon Coffee Co. especially for the event and also to Douglas Steckle for shepherding me to and from the event and helping out. Both of you are amazing!

Thanks also to Cindy Schnaithmann for making the Cannon work as a venue and making the arranging of it so easy, despite the construction the cafe is undergoing this week!

As I came down from last night’s performance, I reflected on the journey that has been the table for one. experience.

Life is a constant evolution. table for one. documents a 7 year period in life where I dealt with my husband’s cancer, his transplant surgery, and then his death, followed by my father’s death one year later and the ensuing nervous break down…the past three years have been of reflection, healing and moving forward…and the songs in the table for one. cycle reflect that.

I realized after performing certain songs that I can no longer go back into the particular headspace and “heartspace” that they represent any further. While they are my creations and I’m proud of them in their own right, sometimes they need to be set free and exist on their own…as a marker of a particular moment in time.

being human. is one such song as is patient. Both have had their chance to be shared and the emotions therein expressed but my heart, mind and spirit are just not in them any more.

I’m happy that these songs can still resonate with people and that they will listen to them and gain strength and whatever joy they from them, however they are not for me any further. These compositions and recording belong to the world at this point. I will protect and guard them, however I will not revisit them as a performer.

I’ve also been able to use the table for one. experience to reflect on the writing for a CD, recording it and releasing it as a single project/object and realized that at this point in my career, it is not a sound artistic and financial prospect.

You may have noticed my Patreon page being mentioned earlier last week. This represents the next step in my career and musician and will focus on the release of musical items as they are created. We shall chat about this at a later date.

That being said, I still have a small stock of CDs left, so if you’d like one, please let me know and we’ll work it out!

Thanks for your continued support and patience!

why i can’t just “get over it”

At age 13, I was raped by a member of my church.

The “molestation” (oh how I HATE that euphemism!) was covered up by the clergy with one well worded threat to me regarding my future.

I had my first crush at age 14 and would repeatedly punch myself in the groin when my hormonal body showed the effects of being in the presence of that person.

I started drinking at age 15 – rum and coke eased the confusion, anger and self-loathing I felt.

At age 18, I began conversion therapy in order to heal me of troubling sensations and desires that went against my Anglican upbringing. At the end of my second year, the good “Christian” counselor told me that the therapy wasn’t working and that as I was going to hell anyways, ending my life might be the best thing for me.

The government pulled the funding for the therapy because it was misguided and actually making things worse.

From 19 to 21, while attending university, I was more often than not found propping up the bar at Mr. Greenjeans in the Eaton Center. Being so close to Toronto’s gay village while attending Ryerson and denying who I was was confusing and painful – it was easier to be numb than see the handsome bears and get THOSE feelings.

At age 22, while working weekend nights at an electronics company, the company doctor provided me with a medication to help keep me awake on my night shifts while being able to attend midweek management meetings during the daytime. At the end of my shift, I needed to counteract the effects of the medications, so I turned to rye whiskey.

For two months in a row, I was employee of the month at the Jack Astor’s near my employer – I was there so often it seemed I worked there.

At age 23, I met the man of my dreams who patiently talked me through my issues as I accepted my homosexuality. I began to pick up the pieces, while medicating.

At age 26, I quit the electronics company and started at my current work. My prescription for amphetamines ran out so I medicated with coffee and bourbon to ease the withdrawal.

I continued eating as if I were on the diet pills however. I was always a husky child, portly or big – I soon ballooned to fat and morbidly obese.

My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer and had to sign a contract regarding alcohol intake before being put on the transplant list. He rarely had more than a beer with a meal so that wasn’t a problem for him.

The morning after my 30th birthday, I could not recall the two days prior and felt like shit. I vomited the contents of my stomach and a fair amount of blood.

I booked the week off work and with my husband’s help kicked EVERYTHING, dealing with the withdrawal by locking myself in the guest room and going through the physical agony.

I turned to food to ease my pain. Eating a large bag of Doritos and a 6 pack of cola if things got tough at work or I struggled with my sexuality.

Just before Christmas of my 35th year, my husband received the gift of life. After nearly dying due to an infection, he rallied and I realized that he needed me healthy to care for him.

While going for therapy to help me deal with our marital issues after the transplant, I began working on my food issues. I started by giving up sodas and lost 45lb almost immediately. I signed up for bariatric surgery and began to work with a dietitian, my doctor a psychologist and a trainer. I went from almost 400lb to the high 100’s. I’m hovering around 200 and am comfortable and happily active.

During all of this, I peeled back the layers psychologically until we got to the rape and my subsequent struggles with my sexuality. I did all of this with NO medications due to my history of chemical dependency and two suicide attempts while on anti-depressants.

At age 38, I was working for a person who had made off color comments about my husband and I, refused to let me work from an office close to the hospital where he was receiving treatment. Her reasoning was that our marriage didn’t count – when I and coworkers pressed her to clarify her statement, she began a two year campaign to make my life as miserable as possible. I had to leave the office and faced Human Resources more than once because of this individual’s attempts to impugn me.

In my 39th year, my husband succumbed to cancer after the third round. Let’s add grief counseling to my psychological treatment. After years of struggling with my faith, I found a spiritual home who accepted me for who I was – flaws and sexuality intact.

On my 40th birthday I rented a dumpster and purged the house, starting the ongoing journey to reclaim my home and establish Myke as a “me” instead of one half of a “we.”

My Dad died unexpectedly in November of that year. The minister who threatened me at age 13 was there as he passed. I tried to be strong but the cracks began forming.

One month later, after Dad’s funeral, I had a nervous breakdown and let a man I respect and admire greatly down as I couldn’t even do something that usually came to me as easily as breathing. That night, if it weren’t for Michael Morin keeping me talking, I would have killed myself – everything that made me Myke was gone.

After 27 years, at least 15 of which in some form of counseling, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Again I refused medications because I was already suicidal enough, and started Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining.

So here I am – the remains of almost 30 years spent covering up my past, trying to deny or destroy who I was.

Grief is difficult enough – losing my husband was hard, losing my Dad reopened old wounds that had temporarily scabbed over – but losing my voice and ability to express myself was devastating.

It’s been a difficult couple of years as I work through what I’ve gone through – I know it hasn’t been easy for many who are close – I hurt my brother and his family after a panic attack during Christmas 2015, I’ve made my Mom cry more than once.

But I’m trying. It doesn’t excuse my behavior and I AM trying to mitigate my anger, fear and rage.

However over 30 years of pain, confusion, rage, self-loathing and repeated attempts to medicate, cover up, change or destroy who I am isn’t something that a person can get over in a few weeks, months or perhaps years.

My mental and emotional health is a work in progress. Yes I have bad days and I wear my heart on my sleeve – after decades of bottling things or filtering them through a pill or liquor bottle…they need to be aired out and released.

So I’m working on getting over things – it may not be as quick as you and I prefer, but it is a work in progress. If you can’t handle that…get over it!

i read the news today, oh boy

Each time I hear of a new hate crime being perpetrated in Canada or the US, it’s quite clear that the level of discontent and anger throughout all races, orientation, creeds and faiths is no longer bubbling under the lid but reaching a boiling point.

Seeing a friend’s church vandalized yesterday leaves me with a sinking feeling. The church, which practices radical inclusion, has been victim of these kinds of attacks and worse before.

Seeing Jewish graves and menorahs being desecrated with graffiti and Swastikas, leaves me frightened for my friends of that faith. Seeing a disabled man, kidnapped, beaten and tortured by four individuals and livestreamed on Facebook makes me angry that people can be so cruel and callous to another human being.

I liked to have thought we might be getting past this kind of stuff but apparently not. We will do what we have always done. Clean up the mess, carry on and continue reaching out to the world with peace and hope.

The increase in bigotry and hate crimes surfacing and coming to light is one reason why i never cottoned to the “it gets better” movement. Because actions ALWAYS speak louder than words. And clearly things are NOT getting better.

Many of the people in those videos are in them for political and personal gain. When David Sweet – the former president of an organization who published several books on Reparation Therapy and Praying the Gay Away – appeared in the video, his hypocrisy angered me.

So much so that I wrote a song about it:

“I see you on the screen telling me it’s going to get better;
that there will be a happier fate.
But as I recall, just a few years ago it was you spewing the hate.
I’d like to think you’ve turned over a new leaf
but your history and politics have me wondering
what truly caused this change of heart?

People like you
are the root of the problem.
People like you
don’t always live like you should.
People like you
are blinded by your faith.
People like you
cause more harm than good”

I’d like to think the people who spew such hatred and anger are broken. Their souls must be in great pain. I only try to prevent allowing their hatred create more hatred within myself. I can hope they will either be brought to justice or see the error of their ways. However, in truth, I know that the forces driving them are bigotry and ignorance. And for these folks I can do nothing but pity and try to forgive them.

Does it get better – so far I haven’t seen it happen in my 40+ years. However it’s not going to stop me from trying to make MY corner of the world a better place.

a tale of more than two churches

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

As I sat in work church on Christmas morning, the minister said something that horrified me more than usual during his sermon on the shepherds that visited Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

“The shepherds were not men you’d want to be around – they were ruffians, wild men and often unpleasant – not to mention the smell of unclean men who were regularly around sheep.  Elitists like myself simply would NOT want them around.  It was certainly a moment of grace that Mary and Joseph, who was a skilled tradesman, would have these people around their newborn son.”

This coming from a minister of an inner city church, that is across the street from the largest men’s and women’s shelters in a city of over half a million.

As the grandson of an Anglican Minister, baptised, confirmed and raised in the Anglican Church, I’ve had Christianity as part of my life as long as I can remember.  I’ve also struggled with my belief and faith in mainstream Christianity since my sexual abuse at age 13 by a church elder was covered up by the minister.  How can people who purport to represent G*d’s will and Jesus’ message do such harm to a young person?

My ability to support my faith was further tested when a friend who was recently ordained as a Presbyterian Minister lived with Larry and I for over 6 months while he searched for an apartment that was accessible for his wife, who was wheelchair bound after a severe stroke.  I felt that he was different, and could set aside the doctrines of his teaching and accept Larry and I as a couple, celebrating our love in peace and faith.

I helped him plant roots in the community, connected him with community leaders and organizations and after 20 years of agnosticism, joined his church and became involved in growing the congregation.

When Larry got sick, had his transplant and nearly died, I had to pull back from church activities.  During this time period, I emailed my friend multiple times, providing him information about Larry’s progress and my emotional/spiritual state.

At no point during this time period did he reply.  The only message I received from the church was that while I could not attend, they would gratefully accept my collection envelopes in the mail.  I withdrew from the church, returning the collection envelopes and any materials given to me through the mail slot.

I wrote my “friend” a letter expressing my dismay and sadness that he was unable to see through his prejudices and could not minister to me as a member of his congregation or a friend.

No reply.

Against my better judgement, a friend asked me to audition for a paid chorister at my “work church,” I was hesitant but I auditioned and found a beautiful building, an astoundingly gorgeous instrument to sing to and a choirmaster that would and has continued to challenge my abilities as a singer.

However I found a conservative church who is more focused on the building rather than the community, shoring up their class boundaries rather than preaching Jesus’ gospel and a minister whose prejudices and elitism were clearly and seemingly proudly displayed in his messages.

It is consistently clear to me that I am little more than “the hired help” at this church and, as an openly gay man, would never be accepted (this was pretty much communicated to me in those exact words by a member of their Session).  To this date, the treasurer, despite signing my monthly cheque for almost four years does not know who I am and several parishioners have actually turned their backs on me when we meet in public.

Hardly living up to Jesus’ message.

At the same time, a number of good friends are devoted Christians, who actually live up to the message and practice his teachings throughout their day to day life.  A retired minister even visits with me regularly to help me navigate my need to balance faith with empirical evidence and fact.  His being a geologist before attending the calling certainly helps.

Before Larry died, he took over the role of Santa for a local United Church, whose minister had recently lost his wife to a similar cancer that Larry had fought for the last seven years of his life.  He accepted that Larry was an openly gay man and also that Larry was Wiccan in faith without batting an eye.  He also welcomed me into the “family.”

When Larry got the terminal diagnosis, Rev. Moore was the first person to reach out and made several visits to our home.  When Larry went palliative, Rev. Moore visited me at home and also helped drive me up to the hospital, where he attended to Larry’s and my spiritual and emotional needs with care, dignity, humour and respect.

When Larry passed, it was a given that his memorial would be at Laidlaw Memorial United Church.  Larry’s Wiccan faith was welcomed and he worked with a local Wiccan Priestess and Priest to ensure that Larry’s spiritual values were included in the service.

I was happily surprised and the congregation welcomed this then shattered soul with open arms and loving hearts.  After a few services in the summer and a Christmas Eve service where I fought my desire to end my life and just sat and wept the entire time, I petitioned the church to join.

They welcomed me, even though I could only attend during the summer months and a few select services during the year.  They welcomed an openly gay community organization I was a part of, providing us a home and a venue for our performances.  They were not pretentious, welcoming and offered loving hearts to all who entered with an open heart and loving spirit.

When I sing at work church, I miss the spirit and warm nature of Laidlaw’s congregation and Rev. Moore’s guidance.  He is a friend, a spiritual rock and mentor to me.

Case in point – two services on Christmas Eve:  At Laidlaw, the pews were filled to overflowing with people in the balcony and chairs being brought up from the basement to seat the extra.  During the children’s lesson, 46 children came up to the front and Rev. Moore led them in a rousing rendition of “Jesus Our Brother, Kind and Good” (aka the Friendly Beasts).   At work church, 35 people attended, mostly not of the congregation and there were no children.

John Pavolvitz wrote:

“For far too many people, being a Christian no longer means you need to be humble or forgiving. It no longer means you need a heart to serve or bring healing. It no longer requires compassion or mercy or benevolence. It no longer requires you to turn the other cheek or to love your enemies or to take the lowest place or to love your neighbour as yourself.

It no longer requires Jesus.”

This is most represented by work church, and contrasted by Laidlaw, which is welcoming, open and accepts people for who they are, as long as they are there to share in spreading the message of peace.

During the time after Larry’s death, I began revisiting my faith and what I believed in.  At the same time, one of Larry’s mentors reached out and provided a space of solace in turbulent emotional times.  Rev. Beyerl is the founder of the Rowan Tree Church which, best explained, is an interfaith group based in traditional Wiccan values.

The Rowan Tree Church did not demand that I turn my back on my Christian upbringing, however strengthens the basic teachings and philosophies of humbleness, peace, living simply and being attuned to the planet around us – protecting it and loving it as an aspect of the divine.

The minister who lived with Larry and I, found this troubling and decided to “disown” as a friend and exited my life without a single word.  When I discovered this, I pressed him on what happened and he confirmed that he found my writings troubling and in disconnect with his Christian faith.  He suggested I change and stop this path or risk losing him forever.  I still love Rev. Dickson, I have been able to forgive him as his actions are products of his upbringing and teachings.  I will welcome him with open arms and a wary heart if he chooses to enter my life again.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

Rev. Dickson and several other friends were devoted members of a church, who invited them to join the ranks of the clergy.  That is, until other factors became problematic for this church.  Oddly enough, this church welcomed the devoted members with open arms, until loved ones became ill, requiring long-term care and attention.

In all of these cases, these potential clergy were told to turn their backs, institutionalize or leave the loved ones behind in order to pursue the path of the clergy.  A choice that thankfully none of them were willing to make.  Being told that you are welcome but your infirm family members would not be was too much for these individuals.

How they remain faithful after such treatment is testament to their belief in the message.  They have all moved on and pursue their ministry elsewhere.

As have I.

My work with the Rowan Tree Church does not demand that I turn my back on my Christian upbringing, however strengthens it with asking me to explore other faiths as both an intellectual and philosophical manner.  It asks me to examine my faith and my actions in that faith as a denizen of this planet and also an aspect of the divine spirit – as we ALL were crafted in the image of the divine, regardless of religion, sexuality, gender or skin colour.

My work with Laidlaw United Church does not demand that I turn my back on my spiritual explorations and studies in the Rowan Tree Church, as those studies have moved me closer to the direction of Rev. Moore and the church’s mission statement – in acceptance, faith and welcoming all.  I was considering studying towards my M. Div as a United Church, however the divinity schools are now filled with politicians and administrators and do not seem concerned in turning out preachers and ministers.

I am not a religious man, but I am a man of faith.  I have faith that I will follow the lessons of Yeshua ben Joseph AND the other prophets, priests and ascended souls whom we all should listen to and learn from.  I have faith that simple living and good deeds will be rewarded, not by the promise of paradise after I die, but of the knowledge that I have lived simply and done my best to spread peace and love in the world.  I have faith that a pretty building and opulent spending does not indicate that a person is better than any other, when an ugly heart is concealed within.

I have faith that there are good Christians out there, there are good Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Pagans, Buddhists.  Being a good person is not based out of one’s beliefs in scriptures from a  book, but out of one’s actions towards others.

Peace.  Blessed be.  Amen.