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a bishop’s legacy

What bothered me most when the story broke in 2010 that accused Bishop Eddie Long of forcing young men into sexual relationships was his arrogant response and misappropriation of the biblical story of David and Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)

While he was clearly the one in power, with emboldened arrogance rather than contrition or even compassion, he attempted to place himself in the victim’s position, the weaker party under attack. And the most loyal members of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church congregation wildly supported him there. Quite troubling, but not surprising.

On the occasions when I visited New Birth, I was always struck, saddened and deeply concerned by how that community had created an environment that worshipped Long. I do mean every literal bit of that word, worship. In ethics classes and with so many other opportunities, as we are educated, trained and otherwise prepared for professional ministry, we are warned against ever becoming an idol or a god for the people. I do not doubt that Long moved some mountains for folks, that some can credit him for literally saving their lives – but we are called to worship One that is greater than we are, not one who is just as flawed and susceptible to mistakes.

ocean_ripple-1680x1050

image: wallpapers.brothersoft.com

The thing is, though, given his power and position, Long’s mistakes caused deeper harm with a reach beyond any average parishioner.

Now, he certainly wasn’t the first clergyperson to abuse his power and never apologize for it. Unfortunately, he will not be the last either. And the issues around the allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct do not live outside of the context of the larger issue of the Church’s woefully anemic approach to sexuality and spirituality. When the Church does not educate responsibly, authentically and truthfully around this intersection – along with promoting doctrines and practices that exclude people based on their sexual identities, orientations and behavior – it creates a rich environment for leaders to hide their true selves and harm others, as well as themselves.

Then one day, it all ends in a tragic death, of one kind or another.

So, today the man called by God to preach the Gospel and to heal the souls of his community leaves behind a legacy that is forever compromised by accusations that he settled out of court with a huge sum of money. It’s all quite sad. My heart continues to grieve for all the various kinds of pain folks are feeling now with the news of Long’s death. My prayer is that we may recognize, sense and commune with G~d’s all-knowing, merciful and gracious presence – always, in this and all matters that involve and affect humanity.

hope-and-happiness-1024x418

image: positivepsychologyprogram.com

The silver lining? Well, the Church could determine that enough is enough. The Church could take this opportunity to address human sexuality with at least some common sense, if not critical and spiritual scriptural (re)interpretation. The Church could renounce its own arrogance, apologize and repent. But it won’t, no more than Long did under pressure and threat to his empire.

Next steps? We, the people, the other church, must continue to create our own safe, relevant and truthful spaces that feed our holistic well-being. The greatest thing about the Gospel is that it is and makes G~d accessible to us all. And there are enlightened faith communities around that will do for us what the Church never will. Such un- or under-traveled paths require a bit more effort and work on our part, but I think G~d is pleased with this reality. I think G~d has been waiting on us to be more (pro)active with our spirituality and relationships with ourselves, G~d and others.

Could this, then, be Bishop Eddie Long’s legacy???

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

all the voices

all the voices

 

No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image: joy105.com.

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

sexuality + spirituality

sexuality and spirituality: doing it differently

Each Sunday in October – live in person and online

Impact’s 2015 “Sexuality + Spirituality Experience Series” builds upon the wildly successful one that we produced in 2010. Five years ago we shared that God created sex to be good for creation and that we will not prescribe to anyone how they choose to engage or not in sexual activity. So, how do we make these decisions, the kinds of choices that help us to live with integrity within ourselves, before God and with others? Impact helps us all make these determinations by providing the tools for each person to make her/his own informed, educated and spiritual decision(s).

For further understanding, we invite you to join us this October as we unpack, affirm and celebrate what it means to be a whole, integrated person in God, one who is simultaneously and beautifully sexual and spiritual.

We are excited to share the good news of God’s love for all with our community – where all means ALL. Impact always endeavors to create safe and relevant space for worship of God and service to the world. We look forward to your joining us every Sunday in October – 8am, 10am, 12noon – in person or online (http://www.impactdoingchurchdifferently.org/live/)!

*Some content may not be suitable for all audiences.

your thoughts: feminine sexuality & spirituality

the women of black history month 2014

the women of black history month 2014

At sexNspirit you may always share your thoughts regarding feminine sexuality and spirituality. Yet, today you may share them with a chance to win a $25 gift card to the retailer of your choice*!  Visit here to complete a brief survey and enter the drawing.  (NOTE: The survey is for adults only – 18+ years old.)

You may also want to check out our latest newsletter that features a collage of all the women highlighted on our SoulSpace blog during February’s Black History Month.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

best,
candi

*The gift card must be available to purchase in Atlanta, GA or online.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

love un-conditioned, part 2

love un-conditioned, part 2

You know you’re free. So, now what? How do you live as a free woman of faith, reclaiming your sexual and spiritual goodness in the context of un-conditioned love?

Simply, but not easily, we remove the conditions of love – conditions which tend to reflect our fears.

Many of our fears about our romantic relationships are rooted in two places – past hurts and social/religious ideals. We may move on after a break-up, but often, we carry with us its baggage. Once we engage with someone new, we hope our current lover will redeem all that the former ones screwed up. When we perceive that he’s showing signs of veering into that potentially hurtful lane, we react, usually before anything actually happens. So, we impose all kinds of conditions (i.e., rules and regulations) that we believe will keep him in the safe lane – safe for us, not him. This kind of feminine safety net feeds into the prescriptive rhetoric which society and religion promulgate to women. We women buy into their recipes (i.e., laws, doctrine and dogma) for virtue, respect and goodness because we believe doing so will garner the kinds of affirmation, esteem and status we seek. This belief has a public value for which we look to a private situation, our romantic relationships, to provide. Seeking public validation from something quite private is inherently problematic, setting up a condition in which true love (i.e., orthoeros) will never flow. (Orthoeros is great erotic love. To read more, please see “we gotta cum 2! feminine orgasm doesn’t think like a lady … or act like a man (nsfw).”)

Removing the conditions of love means that we truly know who we are as women in this moment. We name and own what we want and why we want it. (e.g., We do not look for a man to provide that which should come from ourselves or G~d.) We create mutually safe space in communication with and connection to our lovers for orthoeros to flow. In this kind of space, our bliss can thrive and there is no need for conditions because there is no fear. Un-conditioned love can operate from an inner freedom and a fearlessness (See “love un-conditioned, part 1.”) that allows a great, magnanimous love to abound between lovers, almost effortlessly.

love is unconditional quote from love is facebook page

“love is . . . unconditional!” Image source: Love Is Facebook Page

But these rules and regulations have kept us safe and secure all this time, right? Yes and no. Let’s consider a couple of realities about rules and regulations. One reality is that even with conditions we sometimes still get hurt, because with pleasure comes pain. No law, doctrine or dogma can prevent pain. They don’t necessarily minimize the risk either. So, therefore if the fruitless avoidance of pain is our goal with the use of conditions, then, there must be a better way to love and be loved. We must seek a more authentic, lasting path to emotional and psychological security than the logic of pre-determined, cookie-cutter boundaries that break when pushed too far like weak levees in a hurricane.

Another reality about what we believe has kept us safe is that what works for one season of our lives doesn’t necessarily work for or is even required in another. Once we heal from an injury, do we still need the crutches to help us walk without falling? Are training wheels still necessary to keep us on our bicycles? Do we still need safety latches for ourselves in our adult homes to prevent us from getting into something that we don’t know how to use properly? As we heal and as we grow and mature, we need fewer and fewer conditions to keep us safe. Healed and whole, grown and mature – we now have agency, autonomy and an increase in our authority to love and be loved in ways that work for us – even if these ways work for no one else but ourselves and our lovers.

usa's declaration of independence

USA’s Declaration of Independence. Image source: founding.com

Un-conditioned love requires a kind of independence that, unfortunately, is deemed radical. Perhaps this is why I’ve chosen this post to be our 4th of July offering. (albeit 20 days after the holiday) Radicals dared to tell a world superpower, as their right, that they were no longer required to act according to the institution’s authority because the institution had become unjust. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed this right, explained why and listed the institution’s violations of justice. (Simultaneously, these radicals oppressed our ancestors, but that’s a path of discussion for another post.)

If you were to pen your own declaration of independence, what would you proclaim, justify and charge?

Mine would be something like:

As I live I realize the necessity to sever ties with social and religious ideals and to accept my agency, autonomy and authority as a daughter of this world, completely equal to every other creation in worthiness to assert my needs and desires to live a blissful life, full of sexual and spiritual goodness. … The history of my people, and therefore of me, is one of incessant afflictions and abductions, all with the clear disdain for and connected goal of solidifying a control over my body and its activities. To prove this, let the record show to an unbiased universe: (in my Claire Hanks Huxtable voice)

– Failure to allow me to be anything other than a stereotyped myth as evidenced by the percentage of black women in leadership positions and the roles available to black actors. I am profiled either a Jezebel (sexually immoral), a Mammy (asexual and familial) or a Sapphire (perpetually angry).

– Refusal to appreciate, learn and maintain the knowledge about my aesthetic as evidenced by the incessant questions about my hair length and texture, ridicule of the beauty processes and products I use, lack of faces and bodies that look like me to be  upheld as an epitome of beauty and lack of fashionista clothing that easily fit my body types.

– Annihilation of the vitality of my black brothers as evidenced by the disproportionately low high school graduation rates, high incarceration rates and low percentages of black males in leadership positions. Most of us want romantic relationships with our brothers, but without their freedom and vitality this desire becomes impossible to realize, leaving us without the good lovin’ that every human needs to thrive.

Declaring independence invites some sort of risk. However, “I prefer a dangerous freedom over peaceful

slavery.” (~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Page) Are those our only two options – dangerous freedom or peaceful slavery? As a proponent of “the third way,” I declare that there is another option – being somewhere in between the two extremes. However, I find this 3rd option to be unacceptable; I liken it to Yeshua’s description of what it means to be lukewarm. (Revelation 3:15-16) I also believe in balance and continua, but regarding the foundational aspects of who we are and how we live our lives, we must make definitive choices in order to live with vitality and relevance, hallmarks of sexual and spiritual goodness.

The greatest risk yields the greatest return on our investment. And it is ours to make, from a sense of inner freedom. Reliance on outer freedom is often illusory, focusing on others – namely our lovers – to provide the kind of return we seek (e.g., emotional and psychological security). This focus is actually counterproductive as it strangles our inner freedom and clogs our romantic flow, preventing us from being fully present in our romantic relationships. We must come to a point of relying less on another person for our inner senses of security so that we can love unconditionally.

“[Y]ou cannot depend upon anybody. There is only you – your relationship with others and with the world. . . . When you realise this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else are responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, p. 15)

Is this post sucking the rose colored tint from your glasses? Actually, I hope it is … and replacing it with an organic appreciation of reality that includes the beauty of social- and religious-deemed imperfections that only clear glasses can bring. You know, we kinda get off on bragging about the trustworthiness of our partners, setting them on high pedestals as if such loftiness is a badge of honor for ourselves. We become great because another finds us so worthy and special that their love for us overrides any human frailty within their being. Has this badge of honor become our love-goal in relationships? I hope not. I hope that we’re brave enough to love radically as I’ve described because on the other side will be a freer love than we’ve ever known. On the other side of this incredible risk, with our lovers, we will be present, supportive, caring – we will love fully, not out of obligation, but out of choice.

beauty of fearless love quote from candidugas.com

“The beauty of fearless love is in allowing it to unfold . . . & to become its unique essence, just for these lovers, just for right now.”
© 2013 candidugas.com

Love is the absence of fear, conditions and obligation.

 Love is the presence of confidence, requests and choice.

When we love freely by letting go of our fear, conditions and obligations – we experience the tremendous energy of un-conditioned love.

“We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp. 9-10)

Don’t we owe more to the beauty and mystery of love and sexuality than mechanics and automation?

Inspiring Quotes:

  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “Abandonment. In my search for emotional peace [after experiencing abandonment], I have learned that many choices we make are based on our capacity. I came to the conclusion that my stepfather cut ties with me, not because he was a bad man or that I was unloveable, it just meant he was limited. He made a choice that fit his capacity. This experience taught me how love MUST take weight, and love is about working with the complexities relationships sometimes deliver. … People may be limited, but we are still…lovable. ~Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Post, 19 June 2013
  • “She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear.  . . .  She didn’t ask anyone for advice.  . . .  She didn’t promise to let go.  . . .  She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.  . . .  No one was around when it happened.  . . .  There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.” ~Rev. Safire Rose

To Read More:

(c) 2013 candi dugas, llc

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

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