A New Book on Gay Spirituality

Gay is a Gift is a new book on Gay Spirituality from Salvatore Sapienza, the Lambda Literary award nominee for Seventy Times Seven

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gay Book Reading Event with Gay Men's Chorus

Here's the press release for a great upcoming event of which I will be a part. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I hope you'll attend:
On Wednesday, June 16, Literary Life bookstore in Grand Rapids will team up with home d├ęcor boutique Wealthy at Charles to present an evening of progressive entertainment featuring poetry, prose and music.

Starting at 7 pm at the bookstore, Grand Rapids author David J. Sterken will read from his new book of poetry, Out Of Chaos Brilliant Stars Are Born. Sterken is an award-winning nurse practitioner and reiki master currently working on a doctoral degree in New Thought and Metaphysics.

Following Sterken, author Salvatore Sapienza of Saugatuck will read from his books, Gay is a Gift and Seventy Times Seven, which was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards. Sapienza has appeared locally on NPR and PBS.

At 8 pm, the evening continues down the block at Wealthy at Charles for a reception and special musical performance by the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the grand rapids Red project .

Literary Life Bookstore is located 758 Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. For more information, call (616) 458-8418.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aramaic Lord's Prayer

I grew up - like many good Catholic boys - learning, memorizing and praying the "Our Father," the prayer that Jesus taught. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and I recently came across Neil Douglas-Klotz's translation of the prayer. As you can read below (and see on the video), the translation from the original Aramaic gives an entirely slant, one which touches my Spirit in a whole new Light. I hope it will do the same for you:

Lords Prayer, from the original Aramaic Translation by Neil Douglas-Klotz

from the book "Prayers of the Cosmos"

O Breathing Life, your Name shines everywhere!

May our future actions grow from here!

Release a space to plant your Presence here.

Envision your “I Can” now.

Embody your desire in every light and form.

Grow through us this moment’s bread and wisdom.

Untie the knots of failure binding us,

as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults.

Help us not forget our Source,

Yet free us from not being in the Present.

From you arises every Vision, Power and Song

from gathering to gathering.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh on Gay is a Gift

Thich Nhat Hanh: On Gay is a Gift

Thich Nhat Hanh, the noted Zen monk, poet, teacher who shares these words about the Buddhadharma’s view of “homosexuality” in the latest book, ANSWERS FROM THE HEART.

Q. What is the Buddhist view of homosexuality?

A. The spirit of Buddhism is inclusiveness. Looking deeply into the nature of a cloud, we see the cosmos. A flower is a flower, but if we look deeply into it, we see the cosmos. Everything has a place. The base-the foundation of everything-is the same. When you look at the ocean, you see different kinds of waves, many sizes and shapes, but all the waves have water as their foundation and substance. If you are born gay or lesbian, your ground of being in the same as mine. We are different, but we share the same ground of being. The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich said that God is the ground of being. You should be yourself. If God has created me as a rose, then I should accept myself as a rose. If you are a lesbian, then be a lesbian. Looking deeply into your nature, you will see yourself as you truly are. You will be able to touch the ground of your being and find peace.

If you’re a victim of discrimination, then your way to emancipation is not simply by crying out against injustice. Injustice cannot be repaired by recognition alone, but by your capacity to touch the ground of your being. Discrimination, intolerance, and suppression stem from lack of knowledge and lack of understanding. If you’re capable of touching the ground of your being, you can be released from the suffering that has been created in you through discrimination and oppression.

Someone who discriminates against you, because of your race or the color of your skin or your sexual orientation, is ignorant. He doesn’t know his own ground of being. He doesn’t realize that we all share the same ground of being; that is why he can discriminate against you.
Someone who discriminates against others and causes them to suffer is someone who is not happy with himself. Once you’ve touched the depth and the nature of your ground of being, you’ll be equipped with the kind of understanding that can give rise to compassion and tolerance, and you will be capable of forgiving even those who discriminate against you. Don’t believe that relief or justice will come through society alone. True emancipation lies in your capacity to look deeply.

When you suffer because of discrimination, there’s always an urge to speak out. But even if you spend a thousand years speaking out, your suffering won’t be relieved. Only through deep understanding and liberation from ignorance can you be liberated from your suffering.
When you break through to the truth, compassion springs up like a stream of water. With that compassion, you can embrace even the people who have persecuted you. When you’re motivated by desire to help those who are victims of ignorance, only then are you free from your suffering and feelings of violation. Don’t wait for things to change around you. You have to practice liberating yourself. Then you will be equipped with the power of compassion and understanding, the only kind of power that can help transform an environment full of injustice and discrimination. You have to become such a person-one who can embody tolerance, understanding, and compassion. You transform yourself into an instrument for social change and change in the collective consciousness of mankind.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses To Life’s Burning Questions (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2009), 119-122.
Salvatore Sapienza, Gay is a Gift (Tregatti Press, 2009)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Eureka Pride" Magazine Praises "Gay is a Gift"

This Book is a Gift in Itself by Amos Lassen, Eureka Pride Magazine

I first heard of Salvatore Sapienza when he published his first book "Seventy Times Seven" and I remember thinking to myself that this guy is someone to watch. He deals with gay spirituality in a way that it should be a part of each of our lives and as a deeply spiritual and religious Jewish gay man, I must agree.

I was able to find my own way but others are not so lucky and for them, Sapienza has written this beautiful little book. I say "little book" because there are just over one hundred pages in it but each page has something important to say. I understand that the idea for the book came from an Oprah Winfrey television show on gay spirituality and if that show has not affected anything or anyone else, we are so lucky that it brought Sapienza to write this wonderfully concise handbook on spirituality.

We learn that in raising our gay consciousness, we also find that we have a need for spirituality. Much too often gay people leave religions because they feel there is no place for them or that they are not wanted or welcome. Leaving religion does not mean that spirituality need be left behind with in. It does not take much to uncover each person's inner gifts and in doing so finding the spirit.

Whether we want to accept it or not, we must understand that we are part of a larger society and therefore we have to find a way to exist in it. Using our own natural spirituality makes it that much easier. Understanding our past also helps us come to terms with our spirituality and there's been gay spirituality as long as there have been gay people and that means forever. We just need to find out how to tap into it and the author here shows us just how.

I am not going to tell you anything that he says to do because to do so would ruin a wonderful reading experience for you. Let it be enough to say that Salvatore Sapienza writes like a master and uses words and ideas that are easily understood. To me, he is like a nurturer or mother hen showing us how easy it is top come to terms with ourselves and that is the first step we must take. We must accept ourselves before anything else.

The book makes it seem so easy and, believe me, it is. Use "Gay is a Gift" as a guide and you will find yourself more at peace not just with yourself but with everyone. I loved Sapienza's first book but now it will have to move over to make a place for my new favorite book, "Gay is a Gift".

It is written so beautifully and says so much that, if you are like me, may find yourself reading it with tears in your eyes. That is the first step on the way to finding your spirituality.

Gay Spirituality: Rainbow Wristband

About the Wrist Band (excerpt from the book, Gay is a Gift by Salvatore Sapienza)

I hope that looking at the gift box you created -whether it sits atop your desk or on your nightstand or in some other prominent spot in your home or office - will be a gentle reminder for you to reconnect with your Spirit each time you look at it.
I realize, however, that there will be moments when you’ll be stuck in traffic, or waiting in line at the grocery store, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or at the flight gate of an airport where your gift box won’t be in sight.
And, it can be during these sometimes stressful moments when we need to be reminded of our Spirits more than ever. I began to think what I could do to create a visual that would always be in my sight; a visual that would remind me to shift my negative thinking and remain in the present Now moment every time I looked at it.
I thought about tattooing “Be Here Now” (after Ram Dass’s famous book) on my forearm - to remember that this peace was always “at hand.” Luckily, (to the relief of my partner, Gregg) I, instead, was inspired to create the “Gay is a GIFT” Wristband.
It’s just like those charity yellow wristbands that were popularized a few years back by cyclist and Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, for the fight against cancer, and more recently, by Unity minister and writer, Will Bowen, who created the Complaint-free wristband as a reminder to stay positive.
The “Gay is a GIFT” wristband is rainbow-colored, of course, and is embossed with the words “Gay is a GIFT” on it. It’s available for purchase Here
It is my hope that by wearing this wristband each day, you’ll be reminded of all the wisdom you’ve gleaned from this book (though, really, it’s wisdom you’ve gleaned from inside yourself, right?), and that it will assist in keeping you grounded in the present moment (which is where Spirit lives) each time you look at it. May the wristband on your arm also inspire others to do the same. Wearing it, I’m sure friends, colleagues, family members and strangers will ask you for an explanation as to what the wristband symbolizes, providing you with a blessed opportunity to pass on your wisdom, pass on your Light, pass on your Gift.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Howard Jones was New Thought Back in the '80's

I loved Howard Jones, the British pop star, back in the '80's. His songs were always so upbeat and positive.

Recently, I listened to his Greatest Hits CD on a car trip, and I came to realize how New Thought his songs are! Long before Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer, Jones was advising: "Say goodbye to longstanding fears," "Bend your brains" and "Throw off your mental chains" and not to be "laden down by the doom crew."

Here are the lyrics to his "New Song"

I've been waiting for so long/ To come here now and sing this song/ Don't be fooled by what you see/ Don't be fooled by what you hear/ This is a song to all my friends/ They take the challenge to their hearts/ Challenging preconceived ideas/ Saying goodbye to long standing fears/ Don't crack up/ Bend your brain/ See both sides/ Throw off your mental chains/ I don't wanna be hip and cool/ I don't wanna play by the rules/ Not under the thumb of the cynical few/ Or laden down by the doom crew

You can hear these New Thought principles on Jones' other songs, too, like "Pearl in the Shell," "The Prisoner," "Things Can Only Get Better," and "Why Look for the Key."

Above is a fun video a group of young people did to Jones' "New Song." Enjoy.