Billy Preston

Billy Preston isn’t a name you would have heard of and probably wouldn’t know what part he played in music history. 

I was mulling over some time today and listening to some Beatles songs and it got me thinking about their infamous roof top concert they played at the end of the 60s. I was reminding myself of how much I love the song their performed called ‘Don’t let me down’. It was during this performance I noticed a man playing keyboards and wanted to know who he was and what connecting he had to the band.

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My first reaction to him was that I loved the hair. But who was he and where did come from? His name was Billy Preston and he was born in Houston, Texas and his family eventually moved to Los Angeles where Billy was a renowned child prodigy as his keyboard skills had got him work with Little Richard as his keyboardist (their name not mine). It was while performing in Hamburg in the early 60s he met the Beatles.

Billy hooked up with the band again just as they were breaking up at the end of the decade and he played during the ‘Get Back sessions’ and kept the band together for what would be some of their final work.

He struggled all through his life with sexuality, knowing he was gay, which was in direct conflict with his strict evangelical Christianity. It must have been terrible of him knowing that who he was in a life which would have been fraught with guilt and self-loathing as homosexuality to those around him was a grave sin.

During the latter years of his life he struggled with drugs as it was a way of coping with the sexual abuse he suffered a child. It didn’t help his well-being that his mother did not believe him when he disclosed the abuse he had experienced.

Billy passed away in 2006 as a result of hypertension and pericarditis. He was 59.

In some ways the world has made great steps in LGBT inclusivity but still there remains pockets of hatred and ignorance when read of stories where people have been attack or worse killed because of their own sexuality.

Christian Institute

I got a pathetic response but hey at least it was a response. 

This week parents of a pupil removed their child from a school because a boy wanted to wear a dress and be known as a girl. In 2017 it might seem laughable and trivial but to a Christian couple it meant disrupting a child’s education.

I remember being hauled into the head’s office at school to help deal with a pupil who had been bullied. He wasn’t getting support or receiving praise for being different but my boss at the time was berating him for bringing in a school back that was different.

“Why can you bring something in that’s like everyone else?” She asked.

“Because I want to be me and this is who I am…” he replied.

There wasn’t a ‘Glee moment’ where the head teacher congratulates the pupil for their individuality and praises them for being who they are but tries to solve the intolerance and bullying by denying one person’s freedom of expression. All in a school bag.

My thoughts are clear on my former boss. She was a morally corrupt and bereft of humanity and empathy. She didn’t give a shit about her charges but was terrified that the  whole system would come down crashing at her feet.

My letter to the Christian Institute asking to speak about why their news feed was unbalanced was finally met with a response.

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Their opinion was that they just wouldn’t engage.

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Despite my years of experience dealing with church matters and education in this area.

The parents action which no doubt will be backed by the Christian Institute to further their growing sense of victimisation. But this is just the very reason why so many people now say that they have no religion. They are turning away from established religions in many parts of the world. The church and their non-sensical illogical beliefs have isolated themselves from the world. They will soon be made of mainly fanatical fringe belief systems. Where once the Church of England was the back bone of English society and culture soon it will become nothing more than Westboro Baptist lite.

 

 

50 Years ago (Chika Amadi update)

My previous post was to get the Christian Institute to talk to me. In the mean time, even more hatred appears. 

What is it about Christians that believe in the literal translation of the Bible? I know loads of people, who I’m happy to call good friends, who are committed Christians. I happy to tell people that have friends who work within in the Church England or have done. Nothing wrong with that. As openly gay man I am happy to tell others of my experience of the Christian church and how it has had a profound affect on me.

Enter in Chika Amadi, who appeared on my twitter timeline this afternoon, and I am reminded again why we have Pride festivals in the UK. You can read all about her and her distasteful views. She is a person who is also a labour councillor for Harrow Borough. She is supposed to be a public servant. Someone who is there for everyone.

Not only does she express her abhorrent and vile views but she also gives warning to those who dare to cross her opinions and religious beliefs.

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If you are prepared to take her on, then you are prepared to provoke God’s wrath. This is a pretty huge claim to make so I look forward to my house being visited upon by locusts, boils, gnats and whatever her god can throw at me, when I call her an ignorant, selfish, naive, cretinous twat.

As she claims on her twitter bio she is ‘a legal advisor’ and ‘TV personality’. She must then be aware of the legal implications of making public accusations that are without wholly any basis or truth.

I am sure that it will be the ‘horrible liberals’ and their wicked ways that would have caused her to be suspended from her role as a councillor. Let’s see if justice will prevail.

Church of England Stories

Oh, it pains me … Sometimes I just despair at the Church of England and their commentators. Why is it that, nearly half of transgendered people under the age of 26, have attempted suicide? Is it because they are happy that we live in a country that’s welcome and caring? Nope. Still, the ingrained prejudice attitudes that pervade our society.

A post on the Christian Today website by Baptist minister @RevMarkWoods looks at the discussion that took place at the recent meeting of Church of England’s Synod. In the article, he talks about people and how their ‘stories’ were heard during these discussions and their ‘stories’ were taken into consideration when planning changes to the liturgy. He explains at best that being gay ‘ … it is a disorder, with the sin residing in the act rather than the inclination.’ 

Woods continues to explain that these ‘stories’, in some eyes, are a deliberate attempt ‘a Trojan horse’ he calls it to promote certain agendas. There is no theology, just stories to get people to change their minds, about transgendered people.

“However, those stories were powerful – and conservatives fear that they will simply out-compete the story of Scripture. The Church of England will make new doctrines based on what feels good. (The) truth will be reduced to what makes people happy.”

Woods is implying that soon the stories will replace scripture. An alarmist and blatant attempt to stop trans people having their voices heard. During the article Woods doesn’t actually say what he thinks, he quotes the ‘collective conservative voice’. He doesn’t nail his colours to the mast and in conclusion, he believes that the Church of England hasn’t crossed the line as an answer to his article’s title.

Well, I am going to nail mine. This sort of uncaring, unsympathetic and dismissive attitude to transgendered people is the reason why those who are confused about their body’s and their sex. Their thoughts are a mix of coming to terms with who they really are and an acceptance that they are transgendered. I don’t admit to knowing everything there is about body dysmorphia, but I wouldn’t ever tell someone ‘they are disordered’ because they are LGBT.

No wonder we (LGBT) in the community have the highest rates of mental health struggles. A separate article on the site even argues that the sidelining of religion is a route to mental health illness. I wish I was making this up I really do. Maybe people need a spiritual element to their lives, as others have found meditation and certain relaxation techniques extremely helpful.

Conservative Evangelicals are OBSESSED with sex. Particularly if you think taking it up the arse is something you might be interested. Franklin Graham condemned Teen Vogue magazine for talking about it. Ignoring the fact that there are millions of articles on the internet that ANY teenager could find let alone ann a over-priced glossy magazine. Education about sex obviously leads someone try sex. It’s a pitiful belief.

You want to know why schools don’t teach about transgendered and gay people? Why the education about HIV and STIs is wilfully piss-poor? Look at the Church. In a recent article it was announced that the government were going to make sex education compulsory but others thought it was ‘opening a door to teach primary school children about pornography’

Take away the Religion

I was watching a clip on YouTube last night of Pat Robinson who, if you aren’t sure who he is, is a transphobic, homophobic and downright ridiculous man who spouts crazy bile in the name of Christianity.

Thoughts then turned to the people who had been killed by the gunman in Orlando and his crazed ideology that killing a group of LGBT people would be pleasing to his god.

As you know I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god, I used to be a church-goer but the belief and faith I had died a long time ago.

I thought if you take away the religion and look at how people act it proves a lot about who the person is in the beginning.  How is the person with their friends and family? What are they doing for the good of everyone?

Someone that causes harm and distress to others under the name of their religion should be ridiculed for what they are. If it’s some old irrelevant man who has no idea what true life is like and doesn’t realise the damage he causes isn’t a true follower of faith.

People assume that those who don’t have a religion to follow are bereft of morality and principles. This couldn’t be further from the case. Humanism is about treating everyone fairly as they are all beings that share the same planet.

Blame

There is always someone who will want to proportion blame other than the person who pulled the trigger on the guns. So far I have heard that the police at the nightclub were to blame, the lack of guns in the club and even the gay people who murdered should share the responsibility for their own deaths.

The appalling politicians and right-wing groups that latch on to what has happened and use if for their own gain. They proportion the blame to an entire religion which is wrong. Within most belief systems that there are the radical parts that will use this as an excuse to create mayhem and murder innocent victims. Many political parties have murdered in the name of their cause and under-pinned it with the belief that what they are doing is from god. It’s not. True religion does not kill.

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The key to getting to grips with this sort of violence has to be education and understanding. The Islamic faith does and has to condemn these sorts of atrocities that are undertaken in its name. The Muslim Advocates which speaks on behalf of Muslims in American has rightly condemned the killings of innocent LGBT victims. Something that does not get reported in the wider press and beyond.

There has to be a working together of ordinary people who will speak for all sides to condemn this violence. ISIS and its ideology are evil and that message should be broadcast throughout the world. Allowing the lunatics of the far-right and the homophobic part of the Christian church to use it for their gain should be stopped right at the beginning.

Ordination

In 1991 I completed three years Theological training. It was a difficult time of lessons, exams, term papers and physical duties around the college. I look back on it with fond memories as I met some very good friends at this time and it shaped the person I was back then.

An article on a Christian website discusses the current crisis in the Church of England. It addresses the problem that there aren’t enough people of a certain age coming forward for ordination. It does not surprise me at all. In returning from training I was asked to become part of the church youth group as a volunteer leader it was a certain member of the clergy that was switched on to the needs of the church. They needed to invest time and money in the large youth group it was an opportunity for the church to look at the next generation.

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(This CartoonChurch.com cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times)

There were some of my friends that did go for ordination. There were some that were unsuccessful in their application. The view of the church that I belonged to failed to embrace the new generation. The old guard of lay readers has barely changed in thirty years. This is unacceptable and should never have been allowed to happen. Now the Church of England as whole finds itself in crisis. The missed opportunities have passed and now they are left wondering if they will ever recover from this.

I am a different person that I was in the early 90s I have rejected the faith that I once had for a rational humanist view of the world. People expect me to be the same person championing the cause of Christianity and surprised when I tell them that it no longer holds any part of my life.

Leave it

There ‘s a cool breeze blowing throughout my house as I sit at my computer near to the front window. Something I know that would be very welcome to a lot of people who are stuck in offices with windows that open less than a cm due to health and safety rules. The irony is that it’s not okay to fall out of the window but practically a given that you should slowly cook confined in the space behind them.

What we desire, want and permissible are not usually things that we think about when we are content in life. To some it is money. To others, it could be the happiness in seeing your children and grandchildren grow up safely in a world of worry and hazards that are all too familiar once you look at the news each day.

I have had a privileged life in the fact that I have been able to get a decent education and afford to live in my own home. Now that both my parents have gone I feel I should be sensible and grown up in making life choices. After some thought and careful consideration, it is time to move on.

This decision I made was twenty years ago and not today or yesterday. I made it through hindsight and experiences I had in the years before. I gave up religion for good. I wasn’t a backslider anymore. Someone that may go back to church after a few weeks of absenteeism. I hadn’t had the spiritual flu or suffered a minor problem with my faith. It wasn’t there at all.

Each day I am reminded that the decision was the right one. Reading the updates about how a bakery in Northern Ireland has appealed a decision handed down by the courts in the fact that they discriminated against someone on the basis of their sexuality makes me realise I am better away from such organisations. I want nothing of them anymore. I have met my closest friends through church youth groups and I have some fantastic friends who would call themselves Christians. But your religion ends where my non-belief begins.

I have no problem with teaching religion. I did it for years in crappy school. But I taught it knowing that I would be talking about someone else’s religion someone else’s belief. If only there was more teaching of decent religious education would we have a more tolerant society? Less gullible in believing that if a handful of crazed idiots were to represent an entire religion then it would seem that everyone in that religion held the same views. I know and have met many Muslims who don’t think that ISIS is right just in the same way that the Christians in Northern Ireland don’t hold the same views as my Christian friends. I can distinguish between the two.

The faith that once I held has died. This means it cannot be revived by any means. I believe that once something is dead it’s dead. No amount of prayer, drugs or electronic stimulation will it allow it to live again. The story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to me is a story. Others might choose to believe it as a literal story. Others will see it as work of fiction.

I respect others and their faith. I have no problem in the talking about Islam or Taoism. I don’t see any problem in talking about it. I wouldn’t mind writing about or making a living discussing them it doesn’t break any rules. Even when I did have a faith I know that talking about others beliefs didn’t make a bad person.

Thank goodness I have left it behind. The petty arguments the church is having over two people of the same sex getting married is ridiculous. I do like talking and discussing religious and non-religious belief I have always been fascinated with belief systems. But to me they are stories. We will see more and more of these cases that I am sure. Where once the Church of England was a great moral bastion above reproach we will see more fundamentalist groups appear fighting their cause. The Church of England will become nothing more than a meeting group for the lonely. Something to wheel people into once a week and then wheel out again.

Open letter to Christian Institute

Dear Simon Calvert,

I write to you today with sadness after reading your article titled “3-year olds referred to transsexual clinic”.

You refer to the Victoria Derbyshire programme on the BBC that discusses the issues that young people have when they know that they are born into the incorrect body. Throughout the programme it is highlighted that this isn’t a phase and something that young people are going through as matter of teenage rebellion or something that they will do to wile away long summer holidays.

“Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute said the fact that children as young as three are being told they can ‘transition’ gender “proves this is to do with adult political ambitions and not with what is best for the children.”

I find this statement to be wholly inaccurate. You are suggesting that giving young people the support they need to cope with the fact that they are transgendered as some sort of underlining conspiracy to promote a cause or someones life long ambition.

You go on to say in your article that in years to come the person will somehow realise that it was a silly mistake and they have transitioned knowing that it is something they didn’t want in the first place. The level of ignorance and ungracious manner in the way that you discuss trans issues is astounding.

I am appalled that you could make the claim that someone life is used for political gain in the guise of ambition. What are the ends of this claim? How does the person you say use the transgendered as a political pawn?

I believe it is yourself that needs to look at the damage that you are causing not only to the trans community as a whole but to those who might seek solace and peace within Christianity only to find judgment and condemnation.

Your sincerely,

Philip Evans

 

The Catholic Church

I have always had a light for the catholic church. Don’t know why. I think it was to do with the fact that my mother didn’t like catholics and therefore anything that my mother hated I would automatically express my love for it. Those days have gone though as I think a tad more maturely at the things that I have come to like and dislike in the world.

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I have spoken before about the debate that took place between Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and members of the Catholic Church including the odious Anne Widdecombe on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. The debate lasts a couple of hours but there are clips on youtube which are of smaller content. The audience at the end is asked to chose their response in light of what they have heard from the speakers at the bench. It’s enlightening and entertaining in some parts but you get an overall sense of the immense damage the catholic church has caused in the past centuries. This still continues (as we all know too well) in today’s modern world.

The Pope issued his new guidance on the way priests treat their followers when is comes to Sex and Marriage in the church. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t see gay unions as being on the same level as those in heterosexual marriages “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”.

The Pope directs his sympathy to the relatives of those who have gay people in their family. Almost as if it is an illness that should bring empathy and love to those who are suffering the consequences of those who chose a ‘sinful lifestyle’. It is in irony that he also states that says the Church must avoid “every sign of unjust discrimination” towards homosexuals. It couldn’t get anymore unjust to describe someones marriage and relationship as second class.

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The way in which the Christian church conducts itself is under the microscope more than ever. I had commented on a youtube video where a ‘christian social media celebrity’ had recently got himself a tattoo on his arm. He had many comments saying that tattooing yourself was a sin. But there were a lot of people saying that it wasn’t. Taking the Levitical laws to condemn with one hand homosexuality then with another saying tattoos were a matter of conscience. Utterly hypocritical and damaging. It’s a pick and choose belief system that causes young people of today to turn away from Christianity. It damages those who are looking for the answers to life’s questions.

My view as a humanist is that all relationships are valid, gay or straight. Everyone is a human being and they should be on the same level and treated with dignity and respect. Women and men are equal they have different qualities and attributes but they are the same and again should be treated that way. I won’t condemn anyone based on their race or culture, on their sexuality or gender. To do so is morally wrong. The Christian church is proving itself to become more and more out of touch with the real world. Basing a belief system that it thousands of years old and has no place in deciding those who can or cannot marry.

Soon we will see the Christian church in the UK become nothing more than a crazy cult that pipes up every now and again with people who belief that blame can be pointed to sin in the world and cause localised flooding and down pours because someone has dared entered into a same sex partnership. It’s time to forget the church and leave it to die quietly.