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love un-conditioned, part 1

love un-conditioned, part 1

This post was written by candi dugas (sexNspirit) with contributions from I. Malik Saafir. To check out his commemoration of Juneteenth, visit his blog.

What does it really take to reclaim sexual and spiritual goodness? It takes unconditional love, which requires an inner freedom, which is true freedom that more of us ought to nurture. This year’s Juneteenth remembrance inspires me to encourage more of us to create and maintain inner freedom.

In her article that commemorates the two-year delay in our ancestors receiving word of the Emancipation Proclamation, Kelly Brown Douglas reflects on inner freedom. She believes inner freedom allowed our ancestors to endure the brutal realities of physical enslavement. That inner peace was comprised of the psychological and emotional strength to prevent imprisonment of their souls by the dread of chattel slavery and the stifling longing to be physically free.

Today, there is still a delay in our complete freedom from the trappings of white privilege, heterosexism, patriarchy

bills regulate womens's bodies, not men's

image from facebook.com

and global capitalism. We must remember that reclaiming sexual and spiritual goodness as a single woman (of faith) is not just about the freedom to get our freak on. We really are talking about a matter of social justice. Essentially we become social activists, awakened to the very personal consequential entrapments of greed, hostile fear and delusion that continue to plague Western Christianity and our society at-large. Yes, it reaches into our bedrooms (or wherever we choose to express love intimately). When white men legislate (control) via extreme limitations on women’s choices for unwanted pregnancies, we institutionalize the hostile ideologies of a few who fear losing power. Until we know that these men’s actions are motivated by greed (i.e., male-proclaimed ownership, male-indulged imaging and male-driven over-consumption of a womans sexuality and reproductive organs) and hostile fear (i.e., threat of losing the power and profit gained from defining and controlling an other’s [womans] body), we live as deluded women (i.e., seeing ourselves only through the lenses of gender stereotypes determined by men).

This kind of social activism is sacred; for, we know that a society can not sustain an outward, just revolution until the individuals within that society experience an inward revolution. The inward revolution happens when we become free from our personal greed, fear-driven hostility and delusion. Yes, we women are susceptible to internalizing the same privileged trappings that we fight against. Yet we can resist this kind of bondage (burden) by nurturing our true (inner) freedom, a change which happens and moves from the inside-out. Let’s stop participating in the delay of our own freedom to live fully into our sexual and spiritual goodness.

 This is my “Juneteenth” announcement to you:

You are free … and you have been for quite some time.

“When you reject something false which you have been carrying about with you for generations, when you throw off a burden of any kind, what takes place? You have more energy, haven’t you? You have more capacity, more drive, greater intensity and vitality. . . .

[W]hen you have thrown it off and have this energy in which there is no fear at all – no fear of making a mistake, no fear of doing right or wrong . . . That energy itself produces the radical inward revolution. You do not have to do a thing about it.

So you are left with yourself, and that is the actual state for a [woman] to be who is very serious about all this; and as you are no longer looking to anybody or anything for help, you are already free to discover. And when there is freedom, there is energy; and when there is freedom [with integrity], it can never do anything wrong. . . .

You are free and from that centre you act. And hence there is no fear, and a mind that has no fear is capable of great love. And when there is love it can do what it will.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, p. 18)

 

 Now, live into that freedom!

But, how? 😉 Well, that’s part two of this post which we’ll publish for our country’s 4th of July holiday – how to practice this freedom (goodness) by removing the conditions of love.

In the meantime, to read more about reclaiming our sexual and spiritual goodness as women of faith, click here to get your copy today of Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness. Only $14.99, paperback or $9.99, Kindle.

 To Read More:

NOTE: The featured image is from the internet, specific site unknown – please note the artist’s signature.

(c) 2013 candi dugas, llc

making a difference with Desire’s Kiss

making a difference with Desire’s Kiss

Making a difference . . .

Holidays 2012

I write today inviting all readers to help me raise money to film a trailer an independent film with a unique message of sexuality and spirituality, Desire’s Kiss.

Since childhood, I hold within me a compelling need to help make life better for more of us – free, just, and fair. When we talk about the war on women and hear the heart-wrenching stories of sexual abuse survivors, I hope we can begin to search for solutions at organic levels. With my whole heart I believe that when we are healed and better informed regarding our sexuality, our entire society will experience a greater sense of holistic health regarding our bodies and its various expressions.

No one project can facilitate such significant shifts in our consciousness and perspectives, but we must continue to contribute to changes in our contemplation and conversations toward better ends. Desire’s Kiss is one such effort.

Desire's Kiss - The Short Film

Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film

Desire’s Kiss – The Short Film

a nontraditional Christian woman asserts her independence from conservative views on sex & G~d

As I report in my recent book Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness (available on Amazon.com and candidugas.com), the Black church traditionally teaches more about religion than spirituality and is virtually silent regarding sexuality. With my research and with Desire’s Kiss, I hope to change that.

 And I need your help.

On Nov. 13th at 1p EST we will launch an online crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.com to raise $13,000 in 33 days. We hope you will be a part of what some are calling a sexual and spiritual revolution.

All contributions help us reach our goal. (Please click here for a full range of giving options and perks.***) Please note that your support can remain completely anonymous and that all supporters receive quarterly financial and narrative updates. (J.D. Reese and Associates (CPA) serves as the accounting firm for this project.)

It is important that our unique message of freedom, justice, and fairness live through the powerful medium of film to reach as many people as possible. I once thought that my own struggles with sexuality were just mine . . . until I heard others’ stories. I realized then that they are all part of a larger picture of the human tendency to discriminate based on shallow differences. As I discuss in a recent interview:

“It’s being me and who I feel inside. When I am held back, I am not free. Where there is no freedom; there is no justice. And that’s not fair.” (We film January-March 2013.)

I hope, while this is on your mind, that you’ll set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar for 1p EST, Tues., Nov. 13th to contribute to Desire’s Kiss.

 Audiences laud Desire’s Kiss as being simply a really good story of substance: “rich characters,” “sensuality beyond the sex,” and “a curious mixture of sexuality and spirituality!” Our team simply can’t wait to get the full production before more audiences. We can do just that with your help.

 Always our team appreciates your prayers and good thoughts as we continue our work. To “meet” the team and learn more about Desire’s Kiss – The Movie, please visit our site.

Feel free to contact me personally with any questions via cdugas@candidugas.com or 404.287.0719. Also, please share this opportunity with others.

Thank you for making a real difference!

I look forward to seeing your contribution on November 13th.****

Truly yours,

Candi

Dr. Candi Dugas, Writer/Executive Producer

Desire’s Kiss – The Movie

Desire’s Kiss Site

P.S.Desire’s Kiss makes a meaningful difference by changing the conversation about sexuality in the context of faith so we all can be healthier people, but especially and particularly for our women.

P.S.S. – Desire’s Kiss also adds more voices of women and people of color to filmmaking (In 2012, only 5% of filmmakers are women, down from previous years and the percentage is even smaller for women of color – with women composing the majority of motion picture audiences.) Our production creates jobs and job training opportunities for Atlantans in film production.

*** – Perks are subject to change to comparable items and please note the estimated delivery dates on the attached list.

**** – Please note that Desire’s Kiss, LLC and candi dugas, llc are not 501(c)3 entities.

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

love & erotica in film: 10 of my favorites

love & erotica in film: 10 of my favorites

For the next five weeks or so I will share 10 of my favorite love and erotica films. (Not pornography – there is a difference.) I am not giving them any particular ranking. Nor am I declaring with this series of posts that these are my top 10 of all time. Yet, as we produce Desire’s Kiss, a film that celebrates feminine sexuality and spirituality, these films come to mind. (To learn more about Desire’s Kiss, click here.)

image

from celeb.com

I kick off the series this Tues., Oct 9th. Which favorite film will I share first? 😉 I hope you will share your favorite films with me as well, along with any thoughts on my list and responses to my comments. I’m enjoying this already! 😉

(You’ll know best when I post the next film by subscribing to sexNspirit. Check it out to your right or below.)

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

dating: the six-letter word for a single christian

dating: the six-letter word for a single christian

Dating after recommitting my life to Christ terrified me – ‘cause I didn’t know how I was gonna handle the sex question.

I was newly divorced and while I was not rushing to date again, I knew that I would eventually. I also knew that I had always had a healthy libido. What would I do now as I was just as excited about my fervent commitment to living out my faith with all of my decisions and actions? Well, I did what most of us do when we’re conflicted inside to the point of paralysis, I delayed a decision. I denied that I even had to make one. I pretended there was no issue . . .

. . . until one evening in Bible study when a classmate shared her testimony with us along with beautifully vivid color copies of a Celibacy Covenant. “G~d, you’re kidding, right?” The timing couldn’t have been more . . . providential. Thankfully, neither she nor our facilitators led us into any kind of public declaration of abstinence. As I tucked my copy into the inner pocket of my vinyl binder I hoped that my distress wasn’t showing on my face. Again, I attempted to dodge the entire issue . . .

dating. . . until I realized that I had x-ray vision. No, really. Each time I looked at the binder I could see the covenant clearly through the opaque vinyl cover. Everything inside me compelled me to sign it. But I desperately did not want to sign it and then break faith with G~d. My newly recommitted faith walk was soooo precious to me. I feared that I would destroy it by making a promise I’d never been able to keep in 12 years or so of sexual activity.

I became paranoid each week in class, thinking that everyone else was looking at me, wondering if I had signed my covenant or not. LOL. Eventually and willingly I signed it. Then I broke it, repented, and tried again. From that point I maintained a commitment of celibacy for a number of years, like 12. (After so long, I do not know if the actual number matters.)

My season of celibacy was challenging and rewarding, but a year or so before it ended I learned that it was indeed a season – and not one that would necessarily only end once I married again. I realized that celibacy is not the only ethically acceptable sexual choice available to single Christians who are passionate about remaining faithful to G~d. Furthermore, choosing sex in singleness while being saved is not a matter of being tired of waiting or settling or giving up – or even breaking faith. The availability of more choices is all about agency, autonomy, and authority. These issues are directly connected to issues of freedom and justice and this perspective propels us into realms of greater importance than doctrine, dogma, ritual, and rhetoric.

I am totally aware that such assertions completely conflict with the Church’s traditional teachings about sex and sexuality – and I am excited about that! After listening to the cries of women who trusted me with some of their most intimate struggles with love and dating, I cherish the opportunity to help provide meaningful information and tools so that they may make their own decisions in this area – not just settle for outdated and out-of-context guidance that has been passed down over generations. Dating no longer has to be a Christian’s six-letter word!

who told you that you were naked front cover

Who Told You That You Were Naked? by dr. candi dugas

Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness, recently released, provides this information and these tools. I write with women in mind because we have a particularly difficult time reconciling our sexuality and spirituality. Now, we can get off that incessant merry-go-round of desire, guilt and shame. We can live fully into our whole selves and enjoy life more completely.

And me? Loving G~d just gets sweeter and more potent each and every day! Yeah, it can be a bit scary at first, to be so consciously naked before G~d, but there is no greater freedom. I am fully me and fully free, the highest form of reverence and worship, huh?

Who Told You That You Were Naked? is available on Kindle (only $9.99) and paperback (only $14.99). Get your copy TODAY!

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

a definition of abuse: perpetual desire – always wanting & never getting

a definition of abuse: perpetual desire – always wanting & never getting

Too often when we talk about sexual desire, especially in the context of faith, the conversation is skewed toward control and it’s laced with fear of innumerable dangers. Too often we neglect or lose altogether the vibrancy that makes desire engaging, pleasurable, and . . . well, desirable. This kind of energy fuels everything that we do. Ultimately we do whatever we do because we want to, right? You may disagree because there are some actions we take because we must. True. I submit that we commit required deeds rather than their alternatives because our desire to do so outweighs other options. We want to do what we must. We don’t want to leave necessary matters unattended. We wanted to.

So rather than futilely suppress or flee from desire, let’s embrace and direct it.

“Do you love life;
do you relish the chance
to enjoy good things?” ~Psalm 34:12 (CEB)

This rhetorical question is within a passage that instructs its readers to honor G~d and to avoid evil. If the reader accepts this instruction, she must then seek what it means to honor G~d. She must then indeed identify actual evil in order to avoid it. Where we contemporary humans trip up is ascribing for ourselves others’ ways of honor and ancient notions of evil. Even a cursory recollection of history reminds us that we don’t approach decisions or behavior the way humanity did thousands of years ago – nor do we view evil the same way. We ladies joke about it today, but we truly don’t believe that our monthly menstrual flow is a curse of any kind. As I told a bible study group, “It may be icky, but it’s not evil.”

When considering the dangers of desire today we must realize we live in a time when “our pleasures have become commodities.” (Walsh) Any good salesperson wants to know what motivates us, what we desire, so that she can appeal to that to encourage and influence our purchases. We have to be savvy consumers and distinguish the marketplace’s strategies from the goodness of our inherent, embodied desires. In this case we do well to mimic the life-approach of ancient humanity. They didn’t separate their passion for the Divine from that for each other or their work. Worship, sex, and labor were all fueled by the same energy. In all cases we do well to objectively view and understand our life-dynamics and seek balance in our perspectives, beliefs, decisions, and actions.

Desire is not the same for all of us.

“Desire is about wanting more than it is about getting. It is the hunger that highlights the food; the patience that highlights the faith; the arousal that anticipates the sex. It commands a shift in perspective. The salt of a lover’s lips or the sweet juice of grapes is not just pleasurable anymore; with desire, they become exquisite. Desire is the discipline to live on that edge between wanting and satisfaction. It is not for the timid or the fickle. . . .

A desire . . . is feasible in historical time, but missing in the here and now of life. . . . Desire has content, and therefore pain to it, in the acute knowledge of just what is missing. . . .

Yearning itself may even come to be experienced as a pleasure. The Song [of Songs] is concerned with the provocative question of whether the exquisite sensation of wanting another could surpass in any realistic sense the pleasure of sexual consummation. The surprising claim that it can does seem to be the premise of the Song, which stays focused on the experience of yearning, not its relief.” (Walsh)

For oppressed and/or marginalized people, Dr. Walsh’s insight into desire is problematic because the very essence of such life is about always wanting and never getting. Unfulfilled desire becomes oppressive; it is abusive. And so we never experience anything exquisite when love is not consummated. Rather we experience neglect.

I do understand her point. I do. It’s like being sure to enjoy the journey for that is where the true value of traveling lives. We miss just about everything when we fixate solely on the destination. Yet if we never arrive, we’re always missing this unidentifiable thing that we can’t quite put our fingers on. It forever remains just on the tips of our tongues. We all know how frustrating that is.

Desire and yearning are pleasurable. It is not all about gratification. But I cannot smell good food cooking all the time without ever eating. And I’m not meant to. The fullness of pleasure lives in desire and consummation.

It seems, then, in our world today that full pleasure is attached to privilege. So, I suppose when I yearn for my marginalized sisters to live and love with an inextricable sense of goodness about their bodies and embodied expression, what I really want for us is utter freedom. Only in complete liberation can we even approach Dr. Walsh’s sense of the value of desire, an ultimate, exquisite pleasure derived from yearning rather than its relief.

NOTE: Besides I believe the lovers in the Song do consummate their desire. Their highly sensual descriptions of each other can only come from a place of intimate, actual knowing of the other. It’s more than imagination, dreams, and conjuring.

Walsh citations – Carey Ellen Walsh, Exquisite Desire: Religion, the Erotic, and the Song of Songs – the Preface and first chapter, “A Question of Desire: Is There Some Accounting for Biblical Taste?”

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

a possible answer: are we being selfish and manipulative?

a possible answer: are we being selfish and manipulative?

There’s a certain comfort in following the rules. We believe rules keep us safe. And to an extent they do. As more people join the conversation about alternative and authentic faith-based approaches to sex and sexuality, one concern continues to rise to the surface. What if we’re just making all of these (alternatives) up to suit our own selfish desires?

We have the same freedom and authority as others who have gone before us to approach the Divine with questions and declarations regarding how we’d like our lives to be. The stories of these others are what we read in our sacred texts. I read somewhere recently, I think on Facebook, that these texts become scripture only once we adopt them as guidelines for our thoughts, beliefs, faith, and choices.

How can we embrace and activate our freedom and authority?

The selfish fabrication/justification question seems to be particularly troublesome regarding sex and sexuality. This question persists even in the presence of acknowledging that there is an inexhaustible list of things we don’t do that were done in ancient eras. There’s a host of beliefs to which we no longer subscribe. And we have indisputable data that following antiquated ideologies doesn’t guarantee happiness and fidelity and salvation and G~d-intimacy any more than doing so in days gone by – well, when we can look at the past without our romanticized, rose-colored glasses.

How many tried-and-true isms have you successfully determined worked better for your ancestors?

Not only do we live in the present, we were designed and made alive to co-create with G~d. Really, it’s not beyond our place as human beings. It’s not sacrilegious, blasphemous, or disrespectful. There are times and seasons to rely heavily on G~d. Then there are times to grow and then times to act on all that we’ve learned. Like our children, if we’ve done our part as parents, they become independent and self-sufficient. This simile works with our relationship with the Divine as adult human beings.

If G~d has done G~d’s part, what keeps us from being spiritual adults?

Rules ought to be called boundaries, a better word that conveys structure, yet allows for flexibility as contexts and circumstances change or shift over time. As they modify, we can reallocate the boundaries to be more or less of what’s needed. Then maybe as we grow we won’t feel so damned guilty for “breaking the rules.” Instead it’ll be more about shifting the boundaries. Isn’t that better?

hedges

intricate hedges

“Planted in neat, straight lines,
designed to keep divinity in
or the world at bay?
Who can say?
They are thick and intricately tangled,
exquisitely manicured
by God’s officials
who have had long training
in the finer arts of hedging.

. . .

So engrossed are they
in their tending of theological topiary,
they fail to notice
God popping on her walking gear
and slipping out the back garden gate,
heading for the hills,
quietly whistling.”

~Nicola Slee, “Ecclesiastical Hedges,” in Praying Like a Woman

© 2012 candi dugas, llc

sexuality in the news: down ass chick, gay marriage & catholic censure

sexuality in the news: down ass chick, gay marriage & catholic censure

Over the last week a number of articles and blog posts have crossed my desk that make wonderful contributions to our sexuality and spirituality discussions. I share them with you in this edition of sexNspirit.

What are your thoughts on these perspectives?

 The Evolution of a Down Ass Chick ~Crunk Feminist Collective

“Down Ass Chick: a woman who is a lady but she can hang with thugs. She will lie for you but still love you. She will die for you but cry for you. Most importantly she will kill for you like she’ll comfort you. She is a ride or die bitch who will do whatever it takes to be by your side. She’ll be your Bonnie if  you are her Clyde. Thugs love these bitches and they show this by showering them with stacks of cash, flashy jewels and rides. (Urban Dictionary)

I taught a class on black masculinity during the pre-summer session and the course covered everything from black man stereotypes, and the patriarchal requirements of black masculinity to big black penis myths, homophobia, and hip hop.  One of our most recent classes on romantic relationships between heterosexual black men and women inspired an interesting conversation that stayed for days. Forgive me for a quick (perhaps academic) summary.” Read more.

Baptists on Gay Marriage ~Tom Sabulis, Moderator, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“When President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay marriage, it set off another lively debate, some of which was captured on our pages last week. Today, two Baptist ministers on opposite sides of the issue hold sway.

. . .

By Randall C. Bailey – The basic understanding of marriage in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is one man with many women. Polygamy is the norm for marriage in both Testaments. The only ones to be limited to monogamy in the Bible are bishops and deacons, according to 1 Tim 3:2, 12. We in the church today have evolved from the biblical view of polygamy and embraced monogamy for all, not just for bishops and deacons.

. . .

By Bryant Wright – When President Barack Obama came out for same-sex marriage last month, it was greeted with pure elation by gay rights advocates. It was just 43 years ago that homosexuals fought back against the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, in New York, marking the beginning of the gay rights movement.” Read more.

hiding to make love and being violent in broad daylight, john lennon

image from k. ballinger’s facebook photos

Then after the Dr. Bailey posted the AJC blog post, he reposted an article from 2006.

Sanctified Hatred: Why Amending the Constitution to Ban Same-Sex Marriage Is Wrong ~Randall C. Bailey, Center for American Progress

“When I first heard of the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, I opposed it with heart and mind as an ordained Baptist minister who holds a Ph.D. in Biblical studies and as the brother of a gay Black man, Mark Aaron, who died of AIDS-related complications. My training and tradition helped form my theological beliefs and perspectives. My brother helped me with my spiritual journey and my understanding of culture.” Read more.

Vatican Censures US Nun Over Sexuality Book ~Ms. Magazine

“The Vatican censured a US nun, Sister Margaret Farley, on Monday because she wrote a book on sexuality. The book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” focused on sexuality and veered from the Church’s teachings on masturbation, homosexuality, remarriage after divorce, and gay marriage. According to CBS News, Farley said that she had hoped to study sexuality through a variety of theologies, religious traditions, and the human experience. She stated that the book was not intended to be a reflection of the views of the Catholic Church.” Read more.

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candi’s words – © 2012 candi dugas, llc

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