Am I a man?

Am I a man?
Am I a woman in a man’s body?
Am I non-binary?

I explore
I turn to the dark trail
into my own soul
I walk long
years maybe
minutes maybe
beyond time
and the other dimensions

Then I return
to the present

No
I am a man
happy to be so
But
I am not happy
with the Man Box
the corporate throne
the ladder to climb
no matter who I step on

I am a man
who lifts
who weaves networks
who needs silence
willing to be comforted
and to comfort
to get healing
and to heal
to break the Man Box
and rejoin the Wheel
of Time
and World

Pro-Life?

I have called myself pro-life for many years now. But I cannot support the “pro-life movement’s” tactics of ramming laws through state legislatures and raising judges who force their narrow interpretation of “pro-life” on our nation. Our democratic constitutional Republic was not designed to allow one person or group to be tyrants over others no matter how necessary we think it is. And that’s what this bundle of new laws and the recent decision by our Supreme Court restricting abortions is — tyranny.

These laws are deadly. An example is how laws in Texas, Ohio, Missouri and other states make no exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, which are never viable and must be stopped or it is very likely that the woman will suffer extreme complications up to and including death. And the Texas laws are having the additional result that medical professionals are denying necessary medicines to women who suffer miscarriages. How “pro-life” is that?

And even if we claim authority from the Bible for restricting abortions, a tyrannical claim in our multi-religious nation, we are not on good theological ground. No Bible passage condemns abortion specifically, and several passages appear to value a woman’s “fruit” in the womb less than the woman’s life. Jewish rabbis say that the Torah (what we Christians know as the Bible’s first five books) not only allows but commands abortion if pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or health.

There is also an issue of consistency. The same lawmakers who force anti-abortion laws on us insist that laws regulating firearms are ineffective despite evidence to the contrary. They say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!” Yet they insist that laws against abortion will prevent abortions even though historical records show they do not, but only result in desperate women using abortion methods that endanger their own lives.

No, the best way to reduce abortions is a remedy that these same lawmakers also deny: comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education and viable access to contraceptives.  (Abstinence-only “sex ed” has been found consistently ineffective, and is probably harmful to marital intimacy.)

So if we claim to be pro-life, we must leave the tactics of tyrants and return to the ways of compassion. We must start a new conversation, not based on dogma but on reason, justice and mercy for all who now suffer danger in life, health and poverty. Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic words apply here:

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

Sources:
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/05/10/1097734167/in-texas-abortion-laws-inhibit-care-for-miscarriages

Abortion and Judaism

https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/gun-violence-by-state

https://www.guttmacher.org/perspectives50/abortion-and-after-legalization

https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/abstinence-only-education-failure

Hot Jam

HOT JAM

The Art of Improvised Performance 

Some say improvisation

freestyling riffing jamming 

cannot be taught or learned

Sure it can

I did not think myself skilled in jamming

until I started doing it

until by small steps

I have become known for doing it

You ask How?

I do five things

I know my instruments 

I know my repertoire 

I give myself permission 

(even to fall flat on my face)

I listen to the moment 

I give my whole being

You can too

“You can do what I do 

if you do what I did”

(F. Matthias Alexander) 

As performance artist Frank Moore said

We will write this lesson together 

as you hear in your mind what is here said

and put it into playing

(There’s a reason we call it playing)

I. Know your instrument(s)

We must learn to walk

before we fly

But in a hot jam

there’s no time 

to hunt for where to put your fingers

or search for how to play the high notes

no time

to recall which notes go in the E flat minor scale

or the F sharp diminished chord

So practice

till your hands, lungs and lips know

and fly to the keys

by themselves 

Do those scales and chords

make a ritual of it

till thought and action are one

Only Now

will you fly like Bird

and roll like Trane

But

II. Know your repertoire

“Repertoire” is

the style of music you’re jamming 

If jazz

the modal scales

the standards

the extended harmonies of 7,9,11,13

and how Bix and Goodman and Miles and Bley 

made jazz evolve

If praise music in church

the hymns and praise songs

the Gospel and folk styles

If Baroque or Classical or Renaissance 

(yes there were hot jams in Classical music)

know your graces 

trills turns appogiaturas mordents and all

and that Bach loved organ battles

If avant-garde 

know your instrument’s extended techniques 

harmonics multiphonics col legno 

If electronica

practice your hardware and software 

like pianists practice scales and triads

We don’t want 

jazz licks in a Baroque cadenza

avant-garde techniques in praise music

even too much I-IV-V in avant-garde 

But you can sneak some in

if you listen

And

III. Give yourself permission

This is not a technique 

It is to let go

all the training you have suffered

that says

Play What’s Written 

All What’s Written 

Only What’s Written 

(there’s a time and place for that

but not Now)

It is to convince yourself 

I have as much right to create

as Wolfgang Mozart

or Charles Wesley

or Louis Armstrong 

or Bob Dylan

or Hans Zimmer

maybe more

since they’re not here Now

It is to let go

the woodshedding

(you should have done that already) 

the quest to make every note a masterpiece 

(you already got tone and phrasing) 

the belief that It Takes Time To Get Ready–

because Now is all you have

and Now is all you need

So give yourself permission 

to let go

and let Now 

be 

Now

IV. Listen to the moment

Now you know your horn or fiddle

Now you know your licks

Now you’ve let yourself let go

What Now?

How do you step off that cliff and soar

without crashing?

Three words:

Open Your Ears

Let go one more layer

that heart-deep knowledge 

of How It Should Go

that deafens you to how it goes Now

This is why

you know your keys

know your licks

and let go

so sounds come in your ears

and sounds go out your hands, lungs and lips

with no slow thought

So you can play 

Now

and Now

and Now

and it all jives

all notes

chords

phrases

and silences

for you’re open

your ears

your mind

your core

You

V. Give your whole being

Some say music is a right-brain thing

all instinct and intuition 

Jammers know better

Our left and right brains work as one

at top speed

And not just mind

Body too

for music is very much in and from our bodies

Now body and mind (left and right) are one

Now spirit 

that power we talk about but can’t define 

somewhere outside gravity electromagnetism weak strong

joins in

and becomes the light and heat 

and we soar

and when we touch earth again 

we find we’ve passed more time than we knew

Yet it takes a knowing choice

to give our whole body/mind/spirit/soul 

not just once

not even once per jam

but again

and again 

Now

and Now

and Now

So

Know your instruments

Know your repertoire 

Give yourself permission 

Listen to the moment 

and

Give your whole being 

Now

Go out and Jam!

BREAKING NAKED

Reconditioning Our View of Nudity

Many people have become aware of nudism or naturism in recent years. They have lots of questions about it, and many objections, but there are two objections that I see over and over; the words vary, but the common “threads” run like this:

•Our religion or laws or founding documents forbid it.

•It’s just a prelude or excuse for sexual activity. 

The first objection can be answered by study, logic and reasoning. But the second one is harder to dismiss since it’s many people’s life experience. 

Can humans in fact be naked together with other humans without always doing or thinking about sex? Even asking the question seems foolish to many people. Many men who have yet to experience nudism wonder how we nudists control that semi-involuntary bodily reaction known as erection. But as many nudists have discovered, we can be naked together with no more arousal or wish to do sex than if we were at work, or a concert, or any social gathering.

How do we do this?

Before I became a naturist or nudist (the terms are interchangeable but have slightly different connotations), I developed a simple reconditioning program for myself. At first I wasn’t sure this program would change my thoughts about nudity, but it did. Now it’s time — long past time, maybe! — to tell others how they also can change thought patterns that seem to be unchangeable. 

By restudying our sacred texts, seeking out non-erotic nude imagery, and going naked by ourselves and with others, we can break societal mindsets and recondition our minds and bodies to experience nakedness not as erotic or shameful but as normal.

Restudy our sacred texts

In late 2000, one evening as I was browsing the Internet, I stumbled onto a Christian Naturist web page.

Despite my Evangelical Christian upbringing, nudity had fascinated me from at least my teen years on. I must confess that that evening, not for the first time, I was browsing for nude photography, not pornography but nudist and naturist photos. As I searched, I felt as usual a mixture of thrill at doing something “forbidden” and shame at going against what Christian leaders had continuously emphasized, that to like nakedness was to be “immodest” and to “fall into lust.” So it stunned me to learn that some Christians believed it was okay to be naked among other naked people. But I found a statement of faith on this Christian Naturist web page that, in every detail except one, matched what I had been taught and personally believed about the Trinity and the Bible and the Christian way. Therefore I had to accept these people, naked or not, as brothers and sisters in Jesus. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God…” (I John 4:2)

The one detail in their statement that didn’t match what I had been conditioned to think was that they believed nudity was good, non-erotic and normal.

So I got out my old complete concordance and looked up every Bible passage containing the words “naked” or “nakedness”. Reading these verses, I slowly realized that none of them condemned nudity in all circumstances. Two passages in Exodus forbid nudity for priests performing priestly services. But balancing these passages are the stories of King Saul, King David, and the prophet Isaiah all going naked with God’s approval and even God’s explicit command to Isaiah.

A little further study revealed that Jesus Himself was naked at several key points in His ministry. At His birth, of course; but by Jewish tradition He would also have been naked at His baptism. The Gospel of John details how He took off all His clothes to wash the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. The Roman soldiers took off all His clothes to crucify Him; they had no interest in preserving the “dignity” of a condemned criminal. And by the Gospel accounts, it’s likely He walked out of the Garden Tomb clothed only in His resurrected flesh.

There are other Bible passages that mention nudity, but nowhere is there any condemnation. All the teachings the churches have developed are based on interpretations, commentaries and assumptions. Change the assumptions, and the whole “religious” prohibition falls like a house of cards.

So much for the conventional Judeo-Christian teachings on nudity. While I cannot speak about the Koran, the Vedas or the sacred texts of other major religions, I suspect that there are no broad condemnations of simple nudity in them either, or none that would hold up against proper exegesis. 

This is the first step in Breaking Naked: to restudy our most foundational writings without assumptions and with good scholarship to find out what they say, and especially what they don’t say, about nakedness.

Seek non-erotic nude imagery

The other major objection against nudism is that humankind, especially men, are supposedly hardwired to see all nakedness as inescapably erotic. But the testimony of artists, medical professionals and nudists themselves is that they soon became so accustomed to nudity that they don’t see it as particularly sexy. As I continued to study and dialogue with nudists online, I saw that there were three possibilities: they were either lying, or in denial about their reactions, or telling the “naked” truth. If they were telling the truth, then instead of being hardwired, all our typical responses to seeing another naked human, particularly one of the opposite sex, must have been conditioned into us, perhaps when we were too young to understand the conditioning process.

So, before going to a naturist event, I decided to see if I could recondition myself. 

I began to seek out naturist and art websites that featured photographs of naked people in non-erotic settings, such as doing housework or hiking in nature. But my search was different now. Before, there had always been the mix of thrill and shame I have described; but now I intended to bypass these reactions and see nudity as normal, not shameful or erotic. If my body became aroused, I neither encouraged its response nor denied it. And I refused to self-pleasure while I looked, or afterwards. I do not believe masturbation is necessarily wrong or harmful, yet I knew that then it would have reinforced the cultural mindset I intended to break.

In less than a month, I could look at nude images for more than an hour with no physical arousal and no more intent to self-pleasure than if I were at a church fellowship dinner. I was surprised at how easy it was to break the mindset I had had drummed into me. I began to believe this was how God intended for us to live.

And this is the second step in Breaking Naked: to retrain our minds to see nudity as normal. Once we are thoroughly convinced of this, our emotions and physical reactions follow.

Free our bodies

While I was retraining my mind in this way, I also began to retrain my body by going naked in my home. Our society has conditioned us to believe that our bodies are so sensitive to air on our unclothed skin that men will become erect and women moisten at its touch. But this too is a conditioned reaction, and I soon found that I had no more physical reaction to nudity than to being clothed. In fact, clothing, especially if it were tight around my groin, made me more aware of my penis and testicles than nakedness! 

Once late at night, I went to the outdoor swimming pool in my apartment building and swam both clothed and (briefly) nude. I found that I greatly preferred the smoothness of nudity. But because I feared discovery, I couldn’t relax into the experience as I hoped to.

By now I was entirely comfortable with being naked and seeing images of nudity in privacy. One more question remained in my mind: Could I be as comfortable around others? Were nudists indeed as matter-of-fact in their activities as they presented online? There was only one way to find out. 

I found a naturist group that met every month at a local athletic club, and secured an invitation to attend their next club swim.

It was as comfortable and free as I had been led to expect. From the first, there was neither discomfort nor arousal at being naked among other naked men, women and children. And my first real skinny-dip was life-changing! I no longer felt like a collection of body parts with some parts destined to be forever hidden. I was one body. Before the evening ended I was encouraging other first-timers as if I were myself a nudist veteran.

That evening, when I brought my reconditioning to the outer world, was the final step in Breaking Naked.

The Reconditioning Program 

So it is not only possible but easy, by studying texts, looking at nude imagery, and going naked by ourselves and with others, to break the mindset that most of us have suffered most of our lives.

This is my program to Break Naked:

•Restudy your sacred texts.

•Seek out non-erotic nude imagery.

•Free your body, first at home, then in social settings.

I cannot tell you how long to expect this reconditioning program to take. It may take months or years of focused study, or it may just go “click” in an instant. Yet I sense that if many humans, not even a majority but a “critical mass” of us, transform our fear of nakedness into joy, we will be well on our way to heal ourselves, our society and our worlds.

So take as long as you need. There’s no set timetable to break our clothes-minded patterns and stand free at last.

What Scares People About Nudity

What scares people about nudity

is that it can be for everyone

all you need do is

take off your clothes

Skin color is fixed at conception

Religions have seminaries

Masons have 33 degrees

And trades have certifications

But we’ve all got bodies

and under all our coats, cloaks, veils, corsets

WE’RE ALL NAKED!

This scares many

but is joy for many

like little children

fresh from a bath

running through house and yard

all our conditioning dropped in a hamper

naked and shining

laughing at fear and shame

And you can all join us!

Does this scare you?

My Wish

Two things I wish to see the world learn
Three things before I move to my next life
To be naked with no fear
To make love with no shame or violence
To create with no limits