Sunday, June 30, 2024

Durrand Bernarr, “a Genre-bending Talent”

The Wild Reed’s 2024 Queer Appreciation series continues with the sharing of excerpts from Out magazine’s recent interview with out and proud R&B singer Durrand Bernarr.

But first, here’s the music video for Bernarr’s latest single release, “Unknown.”

Anyone who thinks that “R&B is dead” clearly hasn’t met Durand Bernarr. However, Bernarr isn’t only an R&B artist – he’s a genre-bending talent with stamps of approval from the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire and Erykah Badu, two legendary acts with whom he’s worked closely.

Beyond his immense talent, watching a performance by Bernarr will make you feel right at home – even referring to himself as our favorite cousin on our daddy’s side. His commanding energy showcases the theater roots that have crafted him into a skillful showman who isn’t afraid to give the girls a show.

Namely, there is Bernarr’s unforgettable 2023 Tiny Desk performance, in which he paid tribute to Disney Channel’s The Proud Family by dressing as the eccentric uncle Bobby Proud. The singer’s band and background vocalists followed suit and even dressed up as other characters from the series too.

“Looking back at [Tiny Desk], it was so much bigger than me. Because, when I look at it, I’m seeing not just myself, but I’m seeing other Black queer men who look and act like me and showing them that we can take up space. We can be sharp [and] we can be rehearsed if given that opportunity. We can really not only flip the table but set that ***** on fire,” Bernarr tells Out.

Bernarr has been on fire for a while now, and he’s not stopping any time soon. Following his last album, Wanderlust, in 2022, the singer is back with a new single, “Unknown.” Out chatted with Bernarr about his new song, the upcoming album, and a lot more!

“Unknown” is a very vulnerable song. Can you talk about the inspiration for it?

“Unknown” is about someone who has found themselves in love with a friend. The most maddening part about it is the friend feels the same way, but they’re just not in a position to take that next step. I’m kind of just venting about that and trying to find some middle ground. Because there’s fear involved, and healing, and opening up; especially if we’ve been disappointed or let down. It’s probably the most vulnerable record on the project.

What made you decide to make the most vulnerable track of the album your lead single?

Oh my god, that’s a good question. The main thing that we were going for was something that [people] hadn’t really heard from me. I don’t even think I was with [Erykah] Badu yet the last time I did a song that had the ¾ [time signature]. So I was like, “It’s time to give them a little bit of that.”

Tell me about the EP. What was the vibe that you were aiming for?

The main thing is that we’re going to have fun. I’m taking you guys on a little adventure. It takes you through a myriad of genres. We have the neo-soul R&B, and we have some upbeat funk. [It] takes us into jazz, and a little acoustic. I’m really proud of it, and the main reason is because of how quickly we had to put it together.

It seems like life has prepared you for where you are now and where you’re going. Can you tell me something that you’d really like to do in the future?

I would really love a show, and I’m thinking [of it as], like, a variety show. Something where I could really just showcase every myriad of my personality and my skills. I think it would be really, really fun. I also started DJ-ing last year. You gotta ask me what my DJ name is.

What’s your DJ name?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked! It’s DJ TBD, a.k.a. Bra Coley. No relation to the late great Daryl Coley. The TBD stands for The Best DJ. Not that there aren’t extraordinary DJs that have paved the way, it’s just that now that I am on the scene, and I’m the best, okay? Better than all the rest, okay? So come check on my breast and my Tiny Desk.

Your Tiny Desk performance was a huge milestone. How does that feel a year later? And now that you’re a judge for the Tiny Desk contest, is that a full circle moment?

It was happening so fast. We were in the middle of a tour. I’m so glad that I took Mel’s suggestion to do The Proud Family instead of Popeye. We had so many different costume ideas from The Mask, Carmen Sandiego, and Beetlejuice. You know, just really letting my inner child play on stage. But now I’m seeing people dressed up on Tiny Desk and I’m like, “Oh yes, they’re so inspired.” I love that for them.

That’s why Bobby [producer] made such a big deal about that performance being really special to him. I came ready. Usually, folks come there, and they’re stripping down their set. [I was] like, “I have 20 minutes. I’m about to show my entire ass and do everything that I can possibly do.” The only thing I didn’t do was probably hop on the piano and do, like, a backflip.

To read Out’s interview with Durand Bernarr in its entirety, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
Soulful Supernova Durand Bernarr Redefines R&B as Music’s Boldest “Bad B*tch” on the Rise – Alex Ford (Bossip, June 25, 2024).
Durrand Bernaar Is Revitalizing Black Music With His Latest EP – Tai Nichols (Because of Them We Can, June 11, 2024).
Rising Star: Durrand BernarrReconnecting With R&B (December 12, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Dyllón Burnside: “For Me, the Term Queer Just Opens Up Space”
Lil Nas X, the Latest Face of Pop’s Gay Sexual Revolution
In a Historic First, Country Music’s Latest Star Is a Queer Black Man
Nakhane Touré’s “Tortured Journey to Clarity”
Nakhane’s Hymn to Freedom
Rahsaan Patterson: Standing Within His True Light
Ocean Trip
Remembering Little Richard, 1932–2020
Remembering Prince, “Fabulous Freak, Defiant Outsider, Dark Dandy” – 1958-2016
David Bowie: Queer Messiah
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Adam Lamert Comes Out: It Shouldn’t Matter. Except it Does
Sam Sparro
Play It Again, Sam
Rules and Regulations – Rufus Style
Darren Hayes, Coming Out . . . Oh, and Time Travel
The Latest from Darren Hayes
Remembering Stephen Gately, Gay Pop Pioneer
No Matter What

Previously featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford | Vaudou Game | Yotha Yindi and The Treaty Project | Lil Nas X | Daby Touré | Sheku Kanneh-Mason | Susan Boyle | D’Angelo | Little Richard | Black Pumas | Mbemba Diebaté | Judie Tzuke | Seckou Keita | Rahsaan Patterson | Black | Ash Dargan | ABBA | The KLF and Tammy Wynette | Luke James and Samoht | Julee Cruise | Olivia Newton-John | Dyllón Burnside | Christine McVie | Rita Coolidge | Bettye LaVette | Burt Bacharach | Kimi Djabaté | Benjamin Booker | Tina Turner | Julie Covington | Midist/Wasim

Saturday, June 29, 2024

“Let Us Be the Incarnation of Inclusion”

Since 2009 I’ve shared at this time of year at The Wild Reed a series of what I call “Queer Appreciation” posts.

Each series is comprised of a number of informed and insightful writings to mark Gay Pride . . . or, as I’ve preferred to call it since 2011, Queer Appreciation.

I always try to include in each series a diverse range of writers and topics; and, in general, the writings I share are positive, proactive and celebratory.

I start this year’s Queer Appreciation series with “All Means All,” a beautiful prayer by poet Karen Kaiser (pictured at right), author of the recently published Beyond: Poetic Reflections of a Love Without Limits.

I love Kaiser’s “All Means All” prayer, though must admit I find myself substituting “Beloved One” for “Lord.” I do this as I appreciate and agree with Donna Zuroweste’s observation that “a male, dominating Divine image of power, i.e. ‘Lord’ . . . is not inclusive.”

Durrand Bernarr, “a Genre-bending Talent”

The Wild Reed’s 2023 Queer Appreciation series:
Angela Kade Goepferd on the “Manufactured Controversy” Targeting Gender-Affirming Care
The Bigger Box of Crayons We All Deserve
Transgender in America Today
Accounting for the Backlash
Celebrating Every Body
Three Radical (Religious) Ideas for Queer Liberation
In St. Paul Schools, “Trans Advocacy Is Always Advocacy for Everyone”

The Wild Reed’s 2022 Queer Appreciation series:
Cassandra Snow on Reclaiming the Word “Queer”
Tian Richards’ Message to Queer Youth: “Every Part of Your Identity Is a Superpower”
Gabbi Pierce on the “Evolution of Gender”
Afdhere Jama’s “Love Song to the Queer Somali”
“Creative Outsider, Determined Innovator”: Remembering Berto Pasuka
“Queer Love Is My Divine Companion”
Dyllón Burnside: “For Me, the Term Queer Just Opens Up Space”
Tarot: A Compass For Journeying Toward the Truth of Who We Are and Who We Can Be

The Wild Reed’s 2021 Queer Appreciation series:
“A Book About Revolutionary People That Feels Revolutionary Itself”
Remembering Dusty Springfield’s “Daring” 1979 Gay-Affirming Song
Zaylore Stout on the Meaning of Emancipation in 2021
Maebe A. Girl: A “Decidedly Progressive Candidate” for Congress
The Art of Tania Rivilis
Lil Nas X, the Latest Face of Pop’s Gay Sexual Revolution
Kuan Yin: “A Mirror of the Queer Experience”

The Wild Reed’s 2020 Queer Appreciation series:
Zaylore Stout on Pride 2020: “What Do We Have to Be Proud Of?”
Francis DeBernardo on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Title VII: “A Reason for All Catholics to Celebrate”
Mia Birdsong on the “Queering of Friendship”
The Distinguished Rhone Fraser: Cultural Critic, Bibliophile, and Dramatist
“To Walk the World Without Masks”
What We Are Hoping and Fighting For

The Wild Reed’s 2019 Queer Appreciation series:
Raquel Willis: Quote of the Day – May 31, 2019
James Baldwin’s Potent Interweavings of Race, Homoeroticism, and the Spiritual
John Gehring on Why Catholics Should Participate in LGBTQ Pride Parades
A Dance of Queer Love
The Queer Liberation March: Bringing Back the Spirit of Stonewall
Barbara Smith on Why She Left the Mainstream LGBTQI Movement
Remembering the Stonewall Uprising on Its 50th Anniversary
In a Historic First, Country Music’s Latest Star Is a Queer Black Man
Historian Martin Duberman on the Rightward Shift of the Gay Movement
Queer Black Panther

The Wild Reed’s 2018 Queer Appreciation series:
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Liberating Paris: Exploring the Meaning of Liberation in Paris Is Burning
Stephanie Beatriz on the Truth of Being Bi
Queer Native Americans, Colonialism, and the Fourth of July

The Wild Reed’s 2017 Queer Appreciation series:
Our Lives as LGBTQI People: “Garments Grown in Love”
On the First Anniversary of the Pulse Gay Nightclub Massacre, Orlando Martyrs Commemorated in Artist Tony O'Connell’s “Triptych for the 49”
Tony Enos on Understanding the Two Spirit Community
Making the Connections

The Wild Reed’s 2016 Queer Appreciation post of solace, inspiration and hope:
“I Will Dance”

The Wild Reed’s 2015 Queer Appreciation series:
Vittorio Lingiardi on the Limits of the Hetero/Homo Dichotomy
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride
Standing with Jennicet Gutiérrez, “the Mother of Our Newest Stonewall Movement”
Questions for Archbishop Kurtz re. the U.S. Bishops' Response to the Supreme Court's Marriage Equality Ruling
Clyde Hall: “All Gay People, in One Form or Another, Have Something to Give to This World, Something Rich and Very Wonderful”
The (Same-Love) Dance Goes On

The Wild Reed’s 2014 Queer Appreciation series:
Michael Bayly’s “The Kiss” Wins the People's Choice Award at This Year's Twin Cities Pride Art Exhibition
Same-Sex Desires: “Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture”
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Steven W. Thrasher on the Bland and Misleading “Gay Inc” Treatment of the Struggle to Overturn Prop 8
Test: A Film that “Illuminates Why Queer Cinema Still Matters”
Sister Teresa Forcades on Queer Theology
Omar Akersim: Muslim and Gay
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues

The Wild Reed’s 2013 Queer Appreciation series:
Doing Papa Proud
Jesse Bering: “It’s Time to Throw 'Sexual Preference' into the Vernacular Trash”
Dan Savage on How Leather Guys, Dykes on Bikes, Go-Go Boys, and Drag Queens Have Helped the LGBT Movement
On Brokeback Mountain: Remembering Queer Lives and Loves Never Fully Realized
Manly Love

The Wild Reed’s 2012 Queer Appreciation series:
The Theology of Gay Pride
Bi God, Somebody Listen
North America: Perhaps Once the “Queerest Continent on the Planet”
Gay Men and Modern Dance
A Spirit of Defiance

The Wild Reed’s 2011 Gay Pride/Queer Appreciation series:
Gay Pride: A Celebration of True Humility
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Gay Pioneer Malcolm Boyd on Survival – and Victory – with Grace
Senator Scott Dibble’s Message of Hope and Optimism
Parvez Sharma on Islam and Homosexuality

The Wild Reed’s 2010 Gay Pride series:
Standing Strong
Growing Strong
Jesus and Homosexuality
It Is Not Good To Be Alone
The Bisexual: “Living Consciously in the Place Where the Twain Meet”
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage

The Wild Reed’s 2009 Gay Pride series:
A Mother’s Request to President Obama: Full Equality for My Gay Son
Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Five Years On
It Shouldn’t Matter. Except It Does
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Not Just Another Political Special Interest Group
Can You Hear Me, Yet, My Friend?

Friday, June 28, 2024

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
Dems Freak Out Over Biden’s Debate Performance: “Biden is Toast” – Lisa Kashinsky, Adam Cancryn and Eugene Daniels (Politico, June 28, 2024).
In the First Presidential Debate, Biden Boasts of Israel Support in Gaza Assault as Trump Uses “Palestinian” as Slur Against BidenDemocracy Now! (June 28, 2024).
The Night Won’t End: New Film Investigates Civilian Killings in Gaza and U.S. Backing of Israeli AssaultDemocracy Now! (June 21, 2024).
“The Plan Is Genocide”: Palestine’s U.K. Ambassador Decries Israel’s Attack on Gaza and U.S. ComplicityDemocracy Now! (May 13, 2024).
“I’m Jewish, and I’ve Covered Wars. I Know War Crimes When I See Them”: Reporter Peter Maass on GazaDemocracy Now! (April 16, 2024).
“We’re Responsible for This”: American Surgeons Return from Gaza, Call for End of U.S. Culpability in GenocideDemocracy Now! (April 11, 2024).
“Genocidal Machine”: Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah on Israel’s Destruction of Gaza’s HospitalsDemocracy Now! (April 11, 2024).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Kyle Kulinski: Quote of the Day – May 23, 2024
Judith Butler on the Ongoing Student Protests Against the Gaza Genocide
Naomi Klein’s Powerful Words on Israel’s and the West’s Ongoing Gaza Genocide
Outrage and Despair
“This Is a Genocidal Project”
“A Genocide Has Been Normalized”
Voices of Reason and Compassion on the Crisis in Israel and Gaza
More Voices of Reason and Compassion on the Crisis in Israel and Gaza

Quote of the Day

What happened last night was a tremendous disaster for efforts to defeat Donald Trump. What happened was a complete catastrophe that was self-inflicted by Joe Biden. We should be super clear about this. Biden showed, without any doubt, that he is clearly impaired. He is in no way up to the job of defeating Donald Trump. And in the history of presidential debates, no performance has ever come near being as disastrous as what Biden turned in. It was a gift to the extreme right wing, an enormous present to the neofascist Republican Party.

And what I think we have to look at now is the response from the Democratic Party establishment. We had, for instance, in the spin room last night after this disastrous debate, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, saying that Democrats are united fully behind President Biden. That’s preposterous. And it would be political suicide for the Democratic Party to proceed that way.

I think what we need to look at now is the imperative of a grassroots uprising from liberals, from progressives, from so-called moderates, who don’t want a return to four horrific years of Donald Trump, that show all signs of being far worse than the previous four years with Trump. What is necessary is something called democracy – lower case “d” – democratic activity, where people all around this country, starting today, calling upon anybody they have elected with a “D” after their name, a senator, a representative, demanding that they get real about where we are right now.

Where we are right now is that unless, very quickly, we’ve got Joe Biden no longer at the top of this ticket or on the ticket of the Democratic Party, it is a gold-plated invitation to a victory not only for Trump, but an entire extreme right-wing agenda.

So, I think we have to now organize swiftly. The crisis of the moment is extreme. And that calls upon us to end this pattern of Democrats in Congress serving as enablers for a president who absolutely is impaired and unable to get the job done to stop a fascist wave in this country.

. . . [T]o solve this problem, we would need an immediate and drastic change for implanting backbones into the Democrats in the House and the Senate. It would be an extraordinary effort that would be necessary, most importantly, to get Biden to finally agree that he’s not up to the job and to say that he’s voluntarily going to be a one-term president. That is the clearest glide path to getting Biden out of the way so we have a chance to get an actual strong candidate in there to save the country and the world from Trump.

If Biden isn’t willing to do that – and I’ve got to say, he’s been surrounded by sycophants and flunkies, not only in the White House and the Democratic National Committee, but, in effect, in Congress – if Biden is not willing to do that, then we need to have an enormous uprising. And as usual, it would start with and depend on organizing at the grassroots and insisting that power comes from the base of the Democratic Party, from people rather than elites deciding to do X, Y, Z.

Related Off-site Links:
Joe Biden Is Now Democracy’s Greatest Liability – Jeffrey C. Isaac (Common Dreams, June 28, 2024).
Trump Was Terrible. But Biden Was Worse – Jeet Heer (The Nation, June 28, 2024).
Dems Freak Out Over Biden’s Debate Performance: “Biden is Toast” – Lisa Kashinsky, Adam Cancryn and Eugene Daniels (Politico, June 28, 2024).
This Debate Was an Unmitigated Disaster for BidenThe Young Turks (June 27, 2024).
CNN Defends Decision to Not Fact-Check Debate Live: “It Is Up to the Candidates to Challenge One Another” – Todd Spangler (Variety, June 28, 2024).
It’s Not Too Late. Biden Should Step Aside – William Kristol and Andrew Egger (The Bulwark, June 28, 2024).
The Democrats Must Dump Biden. Here’s How – Harold Meyerson (The American Prospect, June 28, 2024).
Who Could Replace Joe Biden? Here Are Six Possibilities – Martin Belam (The Guardian, June 28, 2024).

UPDATES: Calls for Biden to Step Aside Grow as Major Donors Threaten to Withhold Funds – Sharon Zhang (TruthOut, July 5, 2024).
Biden Faces Rising Pressure from Dems To Drop Out But Insists: “I’m Not Going Anywhere”Rising (July 5, 2024).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Damon Linker on the Democrats’ Need to Replace Biden
Marianne Williamson, the Cassandra of U.S. Politics, on the “True State of the Union”
AOC Falls in Line
Sabrina Salvati: Quote of the Day – January 2, 2024
“Let the People Decide”: Marianne Williamson on the DNC's Efforts to Deny and Suppress the Democratic Process
Thoughts on Cornel West’s Presidential Run
Voters, Not the DNC, Should Choose the Nominee
Norman Solomon and the Speech That Biden Should Give
Norman Solomon: Quote of the Day – July 14, 2022
Inauguration Eve Musings
“As Much the Sounding of An Alarm As a Time for Self-Congratulations”
Election Day USA, 2020
Progressive Perspectives on the Biden-Harris Ticket (2020)
Beto, Biden and Buttigieg: “Empty Suits and Poll-Tested Brands”
Progressive Perspectives on Joe Biden’s Presidential Run (2019)

Image: Former President Donald Trump (left) and President Joe Biden clash during the first presidential debate of the 2024 election season. (Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Saaxiib Qurux Badan

And the emptiness you can’t seem to fill
Beauty fades & pleasures cannot take away the chill
And the glamour lures you down into a lie
Oh, but the cup of kindness never will run dry

You hear the vandals howlin’ down your walls
And arm yourself against the ones
Who want to see you fall
’Til some Holy Grail reveals the grand design
Well, it was in a cup of kindness all the time

– “Cup of Kindness
by Emmylou Harris
(from her 2003 album,
Stumble Into Grace)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – March 1, 2024
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – February 21, 2024
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – February 7, 2024
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – December 3, 2023
October Afternoon
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – October 1, 2023
September Garden
Like a Lotus Flower
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – June 4, 2023
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – February 14, 2023
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – January 16, 2023
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – August 25, 2022
In the Stillness and Silence of This Present Moment
I Need Do Nothing . . . I Am Open to the Living Light
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – November 25, 2021
Blue Yonder
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – June 29, 2021
What We Crave
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – January 30, 2021
November Musings
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – November 18, 2020
The Landscape Is a Mirror
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – April 16, 2019
Saaxiib Qurux Badan – March 29, 2019

Image: Saaxiib Qurux Badan (“Beautiful Friend”), Saint Paul, MN – Michael J. Bayly (6/27/24).

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

I Surrender to You . . .

I dedicate this post to all who are struggling to let go of things in their lives that are holding them back and keeping them down.

I also dedicate it to all who struggle to start (or continue) both the inner and outer work of healing, be it from addiction, trauma, any and all forms of abuse, false expectations, the effects of poor choices, past mistakes that haunt and debilitate, and/or the scourge of low self-esteem.

May strength, peace, and healing flow from this post to all who need them.

. . . My heart is so open,
and my soul is out there
in the most vulnerable state,
so true and so pure.

I give myself to you, sweating my tears
and offering my wounds for you to heal.

My Beloved, I am all ready for you,
body and soul, past and present,
accepting your transforming love
and embracing it.

Song “Ya Malikan” written and performed by Midist/Wasim. Dance choreographed and performed by Ahmad Joudeh.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sweet Surrender
The Art of Surrender
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Jesus and the Art of Letting Go
Resting in the Presence of the Beloved
The Longing for Love: God’s Primal Beatitude
The Holy Pleasure of Intimacy
In the Garden of Spirituality – Diarmuid Ó Murchú
Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri
The Purpose of Art
Art and Resistance
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
Not Whether We Dance, But How
The Dancer and the Dance
The Soul of a Dancer
Ahmad Joudeh: Dancing for Peace

Related Off-site Links:
Ahmad Joudeh’s Official Website.
“Dance or Die”: Stateless Syrian Ballet Dancer Ahmad Joudeh Shines on Stage – Nazeeha Saeed (The New Arab, May 12, 2023).
Ahmad Joudeh, Stateless Refugee and Dancer, Finds Hope, Home and Success in BalletPR Newswire (September 23, 2021).
“Dance Is My Passport”: Syrian Ballet Dancer Ahmad Joudeh on Dancing as Home – Sven Töniges (DW, April 29, 2019).
This Syrian Refugee Is Using Dance to Defy Terrorism – Katherine Beard (Dance Magazine, July 30, 2017).
“It’s Dance or Die”: The Ballet Dancer Forbidden to Perform by Islamic State – Renate van der Zee (The Guardian, March 13, 2017).

Opening image: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Mystic Jesus: “A Name for the Unalterable Love That All of Us Share”

Image:Mystic Christ” by Dana Lynn Andersen

It’s been noted twice now at The Wild Reed that author, activist, and former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has a new book out (see here and here).

It’s called The Mystic Jesus: The Mind of Love, and Tom Rapsas, author of Wake Up Call, recently reviewed it over at Patheos.

Following with added images and links is Tom’s review in its entirety.


The Jesus People Are Waiting For?
Maybe He’s Already Here

A review of Marianne Williamson’s
The Mystic Jesus

By Tom Rapsas

June 7, 2024

In her new book The Mystic Jesus, Marianne Williamson sees Jesus as a living presence, as alive as you and me. Forget the dusty Jesus of the Bible. This Jesus is more a state of mind, with the power to shape and influence our lives today.

Unless you follow politics, Williamson is probably best known for her writings on A Course in Miracles. A mysterious 1,300-page text that appeared in the 1960s, Williamson calls it “a self-study program based on universal spiritual themes, employing traditional Christian concepts.” It is one tough read.

I first read parts of A Course in Miracles decades ago and could not get past its ornate prose. So, you might think of Williamson as sort of a Course whisperer, a valuable guide that can pull out some of the essential messages from the texts. While The Mystic Jesus is informed by the Course, it stands on its own. It paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to live with the consciousness of Christ.

What is “Christ Consciousness”? I first saw the phrase coined by the author and spiritual sage Richard Rohr who says simply that when we see the world with Christ Consciousness, we see God in all things. Rohr explains, you are “enlivened by a force larger than yourself . . . you are never separate from God, nor can you be, except in your mind.” Like Jesus, God permeates every fiber of your being.

Jesus can serve as a conduit to God

Williamson does not believe in the stuffy religion of the church who wants to “oversee and guide our relationship to God.” Her beliefs are more akin to the religion of Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich and the Gnostic Gospels. It’s about finding God through direct experience, without the need for a middleman.

The mystic Jesus is an aspect of ourselves that lives within us. “He was present as a man on the earth two thousand years ago, and he is present as a spirit within our psyches even now. He is a name for the unalterable love that all of us share.” Through him, we can forge an intimate relationship with God.

One of Williamson's core teachings in The Mystic Jesus is that there’s a profound disconnect between the love in our hearts and how we live on earth. We feel one way internally – but when we are out in the world, we act another way. Williamson’s message: “Move toward love and thrive. Move toward fear and slowly, or at least metaphorically, perish.” Jesus moves us toward love.

Five key themes from The Mystic Jesus

I have rearranged and lightly edited some of the key points in The Mystic Jesus in a loose narrative. I’ll write more on this book in the future, as it’s crammed with thought-provoking ideas.

1. We Forget Our Relationship with God

We are like children of the wealthiest, most powerful father who have forgotten our identity and the inheritance that comes with it. We wander endlessly in search of something that cannot be found but only realized.

The world as we know it perpetuates our forgetfulness, constantly disrupting our relationship to God by disrupting our relationship to each other. The only thing that separates us is an illusion of the mind . . . the misperception that we are separate.

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. The mystic Jesus is exactly that. Think of him as a better way. He is like someone who helps us cross the river when we’re too tired to go on.

2. We Are All One

The Mind of God is an infinite ocean of loving thought, and when we think with love we are thinking with God. The purpose of our lives is to learn to think as God thinks.

We’re like waves in the ocean thinking we are separate from other waves. There is no place where one wave stops and another wave starts. If I think of myself as one with other waves, how could I not feel safe and powerful?

3. We Must Rise Above the Ego

When we align our minds with the Mind of God, we rise above the ego. The thinking of the world is no longer like quicksand that sucks us into it. We are invulnerable to the chaos that dominates the world.

The ego’s kingdom is the low road of negativity and anger, limitation and fear. But there is a high road, a path of peace and positivity, abundance and love. We don’t need to create the high road; we need merely to follow it.

The mystic Jesus has the power to override the ego’s dictates, to save us from our chronic temptation to withhold our love. Choosing to align with him, we co-create with God a different kind of world.

4. What We Seek is Already Here

The world blinds us to who we are and why we’re here. The world as we know it is not home to the true self, and we cannot find ourselves within its walls.

The light we seek is not something to be found but something to be chosen. It is already there waiting to be realized.

The mystic Messiah won’t be coming down from outside but from the inside. He’s not coming from the sky; he’s coming from our higher mind.

5. We Must Bring Our Own Light to the World

Even the tiniest candle casts out the darkness. Even the tiniest thought of forgiveness, of mercy, of love, can change the trajectory of our lives.

Without our willingness, the miracle cannot occur. When we are willing to forgive, be merciful, be gentle, be kind, we are allowing our lives to be channels for his appearance. The light Jesus brings to the world is the light he brings to your world.

– Tom Rapsas
June 7, 2024

Image: Michael J. Bayly

Related Off-site Link:
What Marianne Williamson Believes About Jesus – Bill Elliott (BeliefNet, February 2003).
The Mysical Body of Christ: Heaven Now – Cynthia Bourgeault (Center for Action and Contemplation, May 3, 2019).

For more on A Course in Miracles at The Wild Reed, see:
Be in My Mind, Beloved One
Your Peace Is With Me, Beloved One
You Are My Goal, Beloved One
The Beauty and Challenge of Being Present in the Moment
Resting in the Presence of the Beloved
I Need Do Nothing . . . I Am Open to the Living Light
Returning the Mind to God
Being the Light
Stepping Out of Time and Resting Your Mind
In the Stillness and Silence of This Present Moment
Pollyanna, “Miracle Worker”
In the Midst of the “Great Unraveling,” a Visit to the Prayer Tree

For more of Marianne Williamson at The Wild Reed, see:
“What I Want to Remember Are the Moments of Love”
For Marianne Williamson, One Season Passes and Another Begins
Marianne Williamson, the Cassandra of U.S. Politics, on the “True State of the Union”
Marianne Williamson: “Repairing Our Hearts Is Essential to Repairing Our Country”
“Two of the Most Dedicated and Enlightened Heroes of Present Day America”
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking American Democracy
Cultivating Stillness
Cultivating Peace
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 11, 2021
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Deep Gratitude
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Easter for Mystics
Christmas for Mystics

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jesus: Prophet and Mystic
Why Jesus Is My Man
Jesus: The Revelation of Oneness
Jesus: Our Guide to Mystical Love in Action – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Thursday, June 20, 2024

On This Summer Solstice, A Call for Unity Through the Divine Fire Within

In celebration of the Summer Solstice, I share an excerpt from the book, The Circle of Life: The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

I’ve previously shared this excerpt but have decided to do so again as its imagery of the “great illuminating energy” of the “lights of the cosmos” unifying “all people on the planet in a great oneness” seems both appropriate and timely given the especially fractious current state of our world.

I also appreciate how the writers connect this cosmic light with the “unquenchable fire shining within each person, a light that is strong, deep, and enduring.” I don't know about you, but during these turbulent, often disheartening times I need reminding of this “divine fire within us” and its “energizing and healing light.”


We proclaim that the lights of the cosmos unite all people on the planet in a great oneness. As the fiery stars, the intense sun, and the reflective moonlight shine on us, so they bathe each one who dwells on this beautiful sphere of life with a great illuminating energy.

We proclaim that there is an unquenchable fire shining within each person, a light that is strong, deep, and enduring. It is the vigilant fire in the hearth of the soul, maintaining hope and truth amid life’s many ups and downs.

We proclaim that the fire of those who have gone before us has never left this earth. We are heartened by the truth that their sacred fire has become an eternal light that leads us on, a fire continually blessing us, encouraging us, affirming us to live our life to the fullest for our own benefit as well as for the good of all humankind.

We proclaim that the fire within cannot be contained. It seeks to move out, to permeate, to enter into every place that lacks passion and vitality. When the inmost self is opened with love, trust, and confidence, an energizing and healing light shines forth to fill the corners of the world.

We proclaim that there is a divine fire within us that is immeasurably loving, inconceivably caring, consistently non-judgmental, and enormously passionate. This light will never give up on us. It will cherish us into eternity.

We proclaim that the light within us is beautiful, precious, and wild. We urge everyone to do all they can to tend this fire, to care for it with courage and kindness. Let the inner light shine forth radiantly so all will benefit from the power of this immense warmth and goodness.

– Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
Excerpted from The Circle of Life:
The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons

(Sorin Books, 2005)

Related Off-site Links:
Love and Divine Fire – William Keepin (OMTimes Magazine, December 2018).
This Year’s Summer Solstice Is the Earliest Since 1796 – Rachel Treisman (NPR News, June 209, 2024).
Summer Solstice 2024 Marks the Longest Day in the Northern Hemisphere – Daisy Dobrijevic (, June 20, 2024).
A Summer BlessingThe Leveret (June 21, 2019).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Aligning With the Living Light
Being the Light
The Light Within
Balancing the Fire
Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action
Keeping the Spark Alive
Thoughts on Christian Meditation: Fire and Light
A Summer Solstice Reflection
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
A Summer Sunset Psalm
In Summer Light
Summer Blooms
Summer Boy
Beltane and the Fire Within
The Sun Is All Around You
The Source Is Within You
Like the Sun

Image: Artist unknown.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Australian Sojourn – April-May 2024

Part 6: Last Days in Australia

Well, I’ve been back now from Australia for almost three weeks. High time to conclude my “Australian Sojourn – April-May 2024” series of posts with this last installment. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Returning from my time on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I spent a day-and-a-half with members of the McGowan family in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales.

Above and below: At Brooms Head with friends Bernie and Mim – Monday, May 20, 2024.

Above and below: Due to a delay with the train that was to take me from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales to Port Macquarie, I had an unexpected few hours in Grafton on Tuesday, May 21. I made the most of this time by taking in the sights and vibe of this river town with my friends Mike and Collette.

Above: Back in Guruk (Port Macquarie) with my brother Tim – Wednesday, May 22, 2024.

Above and below: Guruk landscapes.

Above: The rock platform at the south end of Port Macquarie’s Town Beach which is a very special place for me – Friday, May 24, 2024.

Above: With Mum and my cousin (Mum’s niece) Sharon and Sharon’s spouse Ross – Port Macquarie, Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Above: Mum and Sharon with the beautiful bouquet of flowers that Sharon and Ross gifted to Mum.

Above: May’s full Flower Moon over Port Macquarie’s Lighthouse Beach – Thursday, May 23, 2024.

Above: With Mum and her friend and neighbor Glynis – Port Macquarie, Friday, May 24, 2024.

Above: Mum, taking in the sights at Town Beach on my last day in Guruk – Friday, May 24, 2024.

Above: An Australian Sojourn 2024 self-portrait – Guruk, May 24, 2024.

Above, right, and below: On my last night in Australia (Saturday, May 25), my friend Garth introduced me to the annual Vivid Sydney spectacle. And this was after a delicious home-barbecued meal with his lovely family. . . . Thanks, Garth!

Australia Sojourn – April-May 2024
Farewell Minnesota Spring
Hello Australia Autumn!
Bundanoon, Batemans Bay, Braidwood and Goulburn
Hanging Rock
Family Time in Melbourne, Guruk, and Gunnedah
Happy Birthday, Bernie!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Last Days in Australia (2023)
Last Daysin Australia (2019)
In Northern Rivers Country
Rising Waters
“Flooded-In But Loving Life”
In Maclean, an End to the “Siege”
Yaegl Country
Guruk (2023)
Guruk (2019)
Flower Moon Rising (2019)
A Walk Along Lighthouse Beach (2019)
Guruk Seascapes, from Dawn to Dusk
On Sacred Ground
Port Macquarie (2016)
Town Beach (2010)
Lighthouse Beach
Flynns Beach (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly and friends.