Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let’s Talk Story - Be a Witness to Climate Change

By Robert Westover

On our way into work this morning my husband, Tom, was reading an article in The Atlantic about Microsoft founder Bill Gate’s perspective on climate change when Tom abruptly turned to me and said: I hear so much about the science of climate change but I rarely hear people tell how it has affected them...on an individual level. I want to hear about their personal experiences.

Tom enjoying New Zealand's great outdoors
I was astounded that I hadn’t thought to promote this type of anecdotal climate change awareness on a more focused level in the ten years I’ve been writing about global warming. (Full disclosure: for many years I’ve been a “true believer” in the effects of climate change, as a man-made phenomenon. Tom has always been a keen observer and skeptic of political/environmental trends but he now agrees wholeheartedly with me that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing mankind and we need to do something about it.)

Well, I got to work—immediately (as in today).  And here's the start.

I’ve launched a Facebook page called Witness to Climate Change to capture in one location as many personal storied of how climate change has affected You and Me—all of us on an individual level. This is how the story needs to be told. This is how people learn. Anecdotes of this-is-what-happened-to-me have guided humanity for millennia and I now feel this should be the focus of a worldwide climate change awareness campaign I’m calling (like the Facebook handle) Witness to Climate Change.  

Shortly after meeting Prince Charles
 (I'm snapping a picture in the background)
Back a few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet one of the great climate change spokespersons (if you will) in the world. I shook hands with Prince Charles and told him I worked on climate change issues to which he responded, “But is anyone listening?" to which I replied, "We're making progress. They will listen..."

I hope the Witness to Climate Change grassroots awareness campaign is an answer so that many more will start “listening”.

Please go to the new Witness to Climate Change Facebook page and share your own experiences of what you've seen, lived or how you’ve been affected by climate change. I’ll choose stories to be promoted on this blog and my Twitter site @MrClimateChange.

Let’s fight Climate Change one story at a time!

Friday, October 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Gay Marriage

“In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” – Christ Jesus

Dear Pope Francis:

As a baptized and loving Catholic I have worked to thread my Catholic upbringing into daily living as I have sought to lead a life with integrity, dignity, and personal success as a natural gay man created by God as Gay.  I have a wonderful loving husband named Robert who, although not Catholic (I’m working on it), loves God with such profundity that it was one of the reasons I married him.

My often difficult but blessed personal journey has occurred while at the same time, throughout the advanced world we all have witnessed, as part of each generation’s spiritual revelation, a deeper understanding of same-sex attraction within the human race, as well as the animal kingdom. And are not animals in their simplistic innocent creatures of God? If same sex attraction was not natural, why did God instill it in a small percentage of his lessor creation?

My Husband and me after the US Supreme ruled that our
marriage, our devotion and love for each other, was
equal to every other married couple in America.
This picture was the lead photo on the Huffington Post's
website and was picked up all over the world
I, and others like me, seek to demonstrate that values such as wholesome living, honor, love and fidelity can be lived while having a spouse of the same-sex. Millions of us seek to live a life in Christ.  As with all people, this walk is often a challenge, but made unnecessarily difficult by unloving, uniformed, or less spiritually developed forces which attack and demonize Gay people. 

And, we as LGBT Catholics have an additional cross put upon our shoulders by our own church. Many of us turn in despair to anti-spiritual fronts, often exemplified by popular culture which often elevates and glorifies baser ways of living, which many do know, through often tragic personal experience, leads to a spiritual dead end--yet even as this “front” has offered us refuge when the Church has turned against us! 

Indeed, this is a challenge calling for great gifts of discernment.

I too have a concern for the “family”, Pope Francis, which I agree can be greatly healed by individuals committing to living lives far more focused on self-less love, and service. Please pray to understand, though, that physical expressions, depending upon body parts, DO NOT, Pope Francis, change “fundamental relationships” that you expressed concern about in the marriage covenant.  Rather sexuality, including Gay sexuality, is truly a mysterious wonder which according to God’s plan, when property used, can lead to a deeper, richer life in every way. 

With our natural sexuality intact we can develop towards a deeper life in Christ.  Many things threaten all types of family life today, I agree: a culture which too often degrades or ridicules wholesome values, rather than the transformational power of love for another. Or others: worldwide economic pressures, self-centeredness, declining discipline, delaying gratification, a changing socialization which focuses on short-term versus long-term goals, and many many other challenges. 

This ostracized community of Gay people, especially middle-age elders, can actually offer tremendous insight into how to counter these corrosive visions within the flock. Holy Father, you can seize this opportunity and actually help by understanding and speaking compassionately about our rightful place within the body of Christ!  

You can speak forth that our dreams too reflect the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. had that men and women should be judged by the content of their character, and people who are LGBT should not in any way be discriminated within the public realm, and this must be clearly stated in federal law, and throughout the world. 

Robert and me at home.
Your Holiness you are actually in concert with another fellow Catholic, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy.  Yes, in removing the splinter from the Church’s eye, you may see symmetry, mathematical beauty.  You reiterated the importance, above all, of the richness and the beauty of family life, likewise through the movement of the Holy Spirit, Justice Kennedy affirmed in his ruling regarding marriage equality that no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, and sacrifice, and FAMILY.  In forming a marital union two people (regardless of body parts which soon enough turn to dust) become something greater than they once were.

Marriage embodies a love that may endure even beyond death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. We in the LGBT community respect it so much that we want to be part of it, find fulfillment in it for themselves and proclaim its great value to others. 

The loving and equal affirmation of LGBT people, Holy Father, is human dignity. It is this generation’s spiritual revelation, that I deeply pray every night that your will ultimately proclaim during your Papacy. 

I know in this life I will never meet with you, Holy Father, to sit down together and share in the spirit of Christ's Love, but in heaven when all is clearly seen, I pray we will see eye-to-eye as brothers of the faith in the most holy council of Our Lord. 

I’d like to end this letter with another mention of my husband. Holy Father you took the name of my most admired saint. Fifteen years ago when I showed Robert, the film Brother Son, Sister Moon by Franco Zeffirelli’s he cried. Two weeks before your ascendancy to the Throne of Saint Peter, Robert told a friend, who had hardened their heart toward our one true and Apostolic Church, they should watch the film because “Saint Francis of Assisi was what being a Christian and Catholic means…”

With Great Love in Christ Our Savior,

Thomas Eugene Fulton,
Washington, DC