Monthly Archives: June 2012

Jesus, Rednecks, and Obamacare!

Was Jesus a redneck? Well, He probably spoke like one.

A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.” (Matthew 26:73)

Philip Yancey in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, wrote how Galileans had backwoods accents, which turned off the educated elite in Jerusalem. The accents were so disliked that Galileans were seldom allowed to read Hebrew in the Temple. Then, to top it off, Nazareth (Jesus’ hometown) was the boondocks of Galilee, sort of a trailer court with cars on cinder blocks type of town.

Wow! This blew my mind thinking about Jesus speaking like a redneck, and not like a Harvard educated Jew. This adds even more oomph to Paul’s words:

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

This in no way subtracts from Jesus’ gospel message or that His words had spiritual life in them. But it does confront our love for image over substance in our leaders, especially Christian ones.

Now, this post today came about because I had an eye-opening disagreement with a few believers on Facebook yesterday. A man who is a great guy and writes from a strong theological background about America’s political problems, wrote his views on the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare:

What to say? What to do? It is a time to despair for the future of our republic…I only know what the church must do now. It must join the fight…A new group of leaders must come to represent the public face of biblical faith..All of this is part of the mission of the twenty-first century church…We have a nation, a culture, a civilization to pull back from the abyss. This will take generations. It will not be done with light, half believers with their casual creeds. It is time to get serious.

The 900-word article was well-written and made many good points, but a heavy emphasis was placed on America’s need for new Christian leaders. I commented:

I do agree we need new leaders, but the ones I think we need are those who have spent days in prayer and fasting and have heard the word of the Lord for our generation. I don’t care if they’re young, old, literate, or illiterate, but what is God saying now?

Because I’m so naive, I just assumed everyone would agree with me and punch the “Like” button, but none did. They were polite and kind with their disagreements.  Yet I could tell they thought I was one of those weird guys walking down the street in a long robe, barefoot, and carrying a sign which read, “Repent. The world ends tomorrow.”

Their ideas leaned toward higher standards for our church leaders. Better education. Better training. Better speakers. Better grounded in conservative theology. Better this. And better that.

It’s not necessarily that I agreed with their thoughts on Obamacare or disagreed with their ideas on leadership. That actually had nothing to do with my final thinking. Not at all.

You see, this eye-opening revelation dawned on me: there is a wide chasm between what we American believers think Christian leaders should be and what the Bible shows them to be.

And it so saddened me to think believers might not hear what God is saying to them through His new leaders. Because after all, the new leaders might be a bunch of hicks and nobodies from Hootersville.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

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Is Revival the Answer for America’s Problems? (Part 2)

All of which seems to put the responsibility  directly upon each of us who has a personal relationship with our Saviour – much as we like to blame the immorality of others for the precipitous rate of decline. But the responsibility is ours, and it always has been. When Solomon Stoddard once challenged Increase Mather on this very point, pointing out that the covenanted Christians in seventeenth century New  England were only a fraction of the population, Mather retorted that, nevertheless, that fraction was sufficient to “stand for the entire land” and “redeem the whole.” (The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Revell Publishing, 1977, pp. 356)

In 605 BC, the teenager Daniel and his three teenage friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,  were taken as captives to Babylonia. There, because of their good looks and intelligence, the four were chosen to be advisers at the royal palace to  King Nebuchadnezzar

Sadly, according to the historian, Josephus, the four youths were castrated and made eunuchs. This was a Babylonian policy at the time to insure that Hebrew leaders had no offspring and could never set up a line of succession.

Ouch, huh? But even more than the pain and the loss of masculinity, another problem arose for Daniel.

He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:1)

Under the Law, Daniel could not enter the Temple in Jerusalem. He was an outcast, much like a leper. The Jewish priests in Babylonia would have known this fact about him and they would have shunned him and thought of him as unclean.

Yet, who did the Lord pick to be His chosen intercessor to end Israel’s Babylonian captivity? The nearly ninety year old eunuch: Daniel.

First, I believe part of the answer for America’s problems is:

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. (Daniel 9:3)

Like Daniel, we American believers need to bow down and mourn our sins. We need to quit pointing our fingers at politicians, gays, abortionists, atheists, the media, and whoever else, and weep over our own mistakes.

You see, we Christians have surrendered our prophetic roles and have  submitted ourselves under today’s culture in the name of tolerance and peace. We should be ashamed and unable to even look at ourselves in mirrors.

Then, I believe we need to pray like Daniel did:

O Lord, we American believers have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against You and scorned Your commands and regulations. We have refused to listen.

Lord, You are in the right; but as You see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us believers in America.

O Lord, our leaders are covered with shame because we believers have sinned against You. Therefore, the Lord has brought upon us disasters You prepared for us. The Lord our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey You.

O my God, lean down and listen to us American believers. Open Your eyes and see our despair. We make this plea, not because we deserve Your help, but because of Your mercy. (Daniel 9:5-18 paraphrased)

No one can guarantee that God will send revival to America. At best, this is an iffy hope, one which we believers have clutched with iron like grips for thirty years. If revival comes to America, great! But what if it doesn’t, then what?

All through the Bible, the one act which has tugged on God’s heart and changed His mind about judgment for nations, has been repentance. Can we afford to do anything less than this right now?

Consider joining with us on Tuesdays as we fast, pray, and mourn for America’s sins.

(Conclusion)

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Is Revival the Answer for America’s Problems?

A great conflict loomed on the national horizon in 1857 because of slavery issues. Yet, unlike other times when America faced dangers, people did not flock to churches. God no longer seemed relevant, especially to businessmen.

But then, without warning and almost overnight, an unexplained financial panic hit America. Banks closed. Railroads declared bankruptcy. Thousands of workers were laid off. Many families faced starvation.

In New York City, where 30,000 men were out of work, Jeremiah Lamphier felt God wanted him to begin a noon-time prayer meeting for businessmen. The forty-six year old businessman printed a pamphlet entitled, How Often Shall I Pray, handed them out to the local businessmen, and invited them to prayer meetings.

The first meeting was held on September 23, 1857. Lamphier prayed alone for the first half hour, but six men joined him for the second thirty minutes. On the following Wednesday, twenty men showed up for prayer. One week later, forty showed up. By October 14, 1857, more than one hundred attended the meetings.

It was soon decided that weekly assemblages were not enough. So, they met on a daily basis. Pastors who visited the gatherings opened their own churches for prayer times. Before long, young, old, rich, and poor crowded into prayer meetings.

Within six months, ten thousand businessmen attended over one hundred and fifty different prayer meetings in New York City on a daily basis. Across the nation, similar gatherings sprang up in Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Louisville, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Memphis,  St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and countless other cities.

The prayer meetings were quite simple in structure. A leader started the hour by announcing a hymn. All stood and sang one or two verses. Then, the leader said a brief prayer, and the service was then turned over to the assembled members. Any person was free to speak or pray for no longer than five minutes. The leader rang a bell if any man overextended his time so that others  could have a turn.

Prayer requests were made for family members and others. Many just asked prayer for themselves. Still others exhorted the men to pray more fervently and to live holy lives. Over the weeks, testimonies were given on answered prayers and all praised the Lord for them.

Promptly, at the end of one hour, the leader rose and ended the meeting with a closing prayer. The members filed quietly out of the buildings.

This move of the Holy Spirit is known as the Businessman’s Prayer Revival,  the Prayer Revival of 1857, or the Third Great Awakening. Few have heard of it today because there were no famous preachers or great preaching involved with it. It was strictly filled with earnest prayer by nameless men.

Yet, the results were greater than those of the First Great Awakening with John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Johnathan Edwards or the Second Great Awakening with Charles Finney and Lyman Beecher.

It is estimated that 6.6% of America converted to Christianity in the wake of this revival. Dwight L. Moody, the noted evangelist, and Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn composer, were two of the more notable converts.

A powerful revival, right? Somewhere between 1.5 million and 2 million were saved.

But yet this great revival did not detour America from plunging itself into a bloody Civil War which began in April, 1861. Total casualties of the war: 1,030,000 with 620, 000 dead soldiers. Based on 1860 census: 8% of all white males between the ages of 13 and 43 died in the war.

Did the war stop the revival?

Actually, no. The revival continued in army camps, especially in the Confederate Army where it was estimated that 150,000 soldiers were converted. They fought during the day and held prayer meetings at night.

If you check other revivals, you will soon discover that revivals seldom settled a nation’s problems. It changed people and they were enthused about God once again, but the nation’s problems still had to be worked out in one way or another.

So, if revival is not the total answer for America, what is?

(Continued in Part 2)

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San Francisco: God Loves You, But… (Part 3)

Why does God often send an outsider to an area to help deliver the oppressed people?

God said to Abraham, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13)

Three hundred and fifty years into the prophetic words of Genesis 15:12, a baby boy was born to a Levite couple living in Egypt. The couple already had a three year old son (Aaron) and an older daughter (Miriam), but this child was unique. He was the chosen one, the one who would be the deliverer of the Hebrews out of the iron furnace, Egypt.

How did God prepare His chosen deliverer?

Because of the harsh edicts of Pharaoh who wanted to kill all male Hebrew babies, the baby boy was placed in a water tight basket and set adrift in reeds along the Nile River. The baby boy’s sister, Miriam, stood nearby, watching on.

Pharaoh’s daughter then walked by the reeds, checked out the basket and fell in love with the Hebrew baby. Miriam showed up and asked if Pharaoh’s daughter needed a nurse for the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and paid the baby’s Levite mother to nurse her own baby. Interestingly enough, it was Pharaoh’s daughter who named the child Moses, not his Hebrew parents.

Can you imagine the conversation that  must have happened when Pharaoh’s daughter brought Moses into the palace? Her father wanted to kill Hebrew male babies and his daughter had one in her possession. There had to be a few tense moments and arguments over Moses, but in the end, Pharaoh’s daughter raised Moses as an Egyptian. He was taught by the best teachers, learned the ways of Egypt, and became a powerful minister of state.

Three hundred and ninety years into the prophetic words of Genesis 15:12Moses felt like visiting the Hebrew slaves. He intervened in a fight between a slave and an Egyptian, and then killed the Egyptian.

And Moses supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. (Acts 7:25)

Because of killing the Egyptian and the misunderstanding of the Hebrews, Moses fled to the desert where he tended sheep for forty years and worked for his father-in-law.

Not quite four hundred and thirty years into the prophetic words of Genesis 15:12Moses had his burning bush experience with the Angel of the Lord. God revealed His name, I Am, told Moses to return to Egypt and gave him specific signs for the Hebrews. Moses argued about his inability to speak and God eventually agreed to allow his brother, Aaron, to do some speaking for Moses.

The Lord also gave Moses a future event:

“…Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently.And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. (Exodus 4:14)

While Moses was heading back to Egypt, God spoke to Aaron:

…Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. (Exodus 4:27)

Both Moses and Aaron were prophets. And as these two scriptures reveal, both men heard the voice of the Lord. So, why did the Hebrews even need a prophet like Moses to deliver them? After all, Aaron was a prophet and, as a part of the prophet’s calling, he was also a deliverer.

First, let’s look at Aaron who was born and raised as a slave in Egypt. His normal mental state had to be based on fear. Fear of reprisals. Fear of death. Fear of starvation. Fear for his loved ones. Fear. Fear. Fear. It had to govern every part of his life, even part of his prophet’s calling.

For instance, what did Aaron do when Moses delayed coming down from the mountain and the people asked for a new god to lead themHe caved in to the people’s demands and carved a golden calf. That Egyptian god-like idol must have represented authority and power to Aaron which he thought had empowered his slave masters. Yet, no matter what his actual reason was, it was based on fear and not faith in the I Am.

Moses did not have Aaron’s fear problems. He was raised by the Egyptians who were the slave masters. He understood the Egyptian gods and knew they were powerless and dumb. Then, after Moses’ eyes were opened to his calling and had killed the Egyptian man, he probably felt fear for the first time. So, he fled to Egypt.

For forty years, Moses spent his time in a nomadic existence, far from a life of daily fear. It was during this period, he learned the ways of the Lord and understood His goodness.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption, as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)

But also, for those forty years, Moses was not under the religious principality, which governed Egypt’s spirit realm and which used the spirit of slavery to rule over the Hebrews. Like David, Moses most likely had to fight some bears and lions along the way as a part of his training, but he was not in a constant conflict with a demonic principality like the one over Egypt.

When he was finally ready and prepared to face his Goliath, the religious principality over Egypt, God sent him as a deliverer to the Hebrews.

Yet remember this: it took a long time to prepare Moses for his calling of deliverer.

San Francisco can expect numerous outsiders who have no reputations, short resumes and long preparation times in deserts to show up as deliverers for the city. Their arrival is not a reflection on the San Francisco saints who have suffered under the spirit of depravity for years, but rather it is God’s plan for the city.

**This series is a rerun from July, 2011.**

(Continued in Part 4)

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Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 8)

If I were a photographer, an apartment owner, or just an ordinary businessman, and two gays wanted to do business with me, I’d say, “Okay, will that be cash or credit card?”

I believe sound business sense dictates that my services or products  should be available to as many people as possible without ever attempting to exclude any particular groups. This is how I believe the marketplace works best.

My personal responsibility as a businessman is to walk in integrity and offer good values to customers for fair prices. This means that each customer, no matter who he is, must receive equal treatment and service. Period.

Now, if two gays lived next door to me, I’d obey scripture by loving them as I love myself. I’d be their friends. I’d help them. I’d defend them. I’d pray for them. I’d drink coffee and eat with them. Most likely, unless they asked me, they’d never know how I actually felt about homosexuality.

This is how I normally live the gospel of the kingdom of God in the world around me.

But there is another side of me, which is filled with red-hot anger.

The anger is a result of being sick and tired of seeing Satan lie and deceive 2-3% or more of America’s population into thinking a gay life style is acceptable before God and man. It is not! This lifestyle was created by Satan and his kingdom of darkness to mock the Creator and destroy men and women.

So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

God created man in His own image…what does that mean?

First, because God is Spirit, He created Adam and Eve to have a God-like spirit within them which was alive to God. Both communicated and fellowshipped in their spirits with Him without any problems.

Secondly, man’s spirit was wrapped in a physical body. But wait, how can flesh and blood possibly be created in God’s image?

The answer lies in four words: Be fruitful and multiply.”

You see, the Creator designed man to be a creator. Sperm from a man joined with an egg from a woman creates life… another human being. This creation process is to be carried out within a marriage between a husband and a wife through sexual activity. And as creators, the two spouses decide for themselves whether or not to create life.

Satan eventually threw a wrench into God’s plans by deceiving Eve and causing Adam to sin with a boldface lie.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Adam and Eve were already created in the likeness of God! Yet, Satan’s cunning words somehow caused the two to disbelieve the One who created them and instead believe Satan. After all, the  forbidden fruit looked pleasant to the eyes and was desirable.

This rebellion by Adam and Eve caused sin to enter the world and man spiritually died and was separated from God. Satan then became the god of this world.

Yet, the father of lies, Satan, was not satisfied with just a spiritual separation between God and and the apple of His eye – man. His ultimate goal was to mock God and destroy men. And what better way to accomplish this task than to get mankind to rebel against God’s first command to men:

Be fruitful and multiply… (Genesis 1: 28)

The Bible refers to sexual activity orchestrated by Satan between two men or two women as the unfruitful deeds of darkness. Unfruitful?  No life can ever be created from this activity. It mocks the Creator’s plan for men and women.

Okay, who killed Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978? The obvious answer is Dan White. But who helped push White into committing the murder?

The spirit of depravity.

(Continued in Part 9)

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San Francisco: God Loves You, But… (Part 2)

At 9 p.m., my studying was completed. So, I stood up and walked into the kitchen for a drink of water. Turning on the recessed ceiling lights, I stopped dead in my tracks. A grotesque creature was sitting on a stool at the island counter. If the angel was the epitome of the Kingdom of Light, then this being was the dark side’s counterpart. Its gloomy eyes glared at me and its lips formed a sneer. Oozing sores plastered the being’s face and neck. A filthy robe covered its torso. The air was charged with a stench of decay.

“Listen up Chuck,” the creature said in a raspy voice.

Fear struck my chest like a baseball bat. I had trouble breathing. Confusion settled over me like a morning fog. Two and two did not add up at that moment.

“If you go to businessmen and tell them to leave churches and no longer give money to ministries and churches, some bad things will happen to your family. Your two sons will die in an auto accident and your wife will go insane. Do you hear me?”

I could not speak.

The creature drummed its dirty two-inch long fingernails on the granite counter. The beat reminded me of a funeral march.

“I said – do you hear me?” the creature hissed out the words.

I nodded.

“And I can do it. It will be easy, just as easy as it was for me to come into your home. No one can protect you from me! Not even God!”

The creature bared its brownish-yellowish teeth with a hideous grin as it stood up. “Don’t you ever forget what I told you – okay?”

The being walked over to the door leading out to the deck. Then without opening the door, he stepped through it, and left.

I collapsed on the floor and wept. My body convulsed in fear.

“Oh God! What have I done to my family?” I screamed.

Afterward, I pulled myself together and wandered into the family room, collapsing on the sofa. What is happening? I thought. Everything is hitting me at once. What can I do? My mind raced in circles searching for answers, but I found none. Finally, I fell asleep.

As I slept, a voice visited me. Was it a dream or a vision? It was like both, but different at the same time. I was awake, but asleep.

“Chuck,” the voice said.

Looking up, I saw myself standing in front of a stage in what looked like a large auditorium. It was black. None of the spot lights were turned on. The red velvet curtains were drawn apart. The voice seemed to be flowing out of the darkness blanketing the stage. I felt no fear, but in fact, was comforted by the voice.

“Yes,” I answered.

“Do you have some questions?”

“Yes.”

“Go ahead.”

“What was that being in my kitchen?”

“What do you think it was?”

“A demon.”

“Yes. That was a demon power sent to frighten you by the religious ruling spirit over America.”

“But how did that happen?” I asked. “I always pray for angelic protection over me.”

“Yes, you do,” the voice said. “For just a few moments, the angels who protect you backed off their posts. When they did that, the demon power slipped into your realm.”

It hit me like a hammer between the eyes. The Lord set me up and used me as ambush bait.

“But – ” I said, trying to put my thoughts into words.

The voice interrupted me. “You have been chosen to have insight into spiritual warfare so that you can teach others. Spiritual warfare is not played on a Game Boy. It is played out in real life scenarios where lives and destinies are at stake.”

The voice paused for a moment and then added, “Satan and his army want to kill Christians and their families, and destroy their destinies on the earth.”

I cringed. “But what can I do to protect my family?”

“What does scripture say?”

Once again, the voice bounced my question back to me.

I thought for a moment before answering. “Cast my cares on the Lord for He cares for me.”

“Yes. And don’t forget that Jesus rebuked demons. He refused to allow them to speak because they are all liars. You can do the same in Jesus’ name.”

I was silent, not wanting to ask my next question.

“Can Satan and his forces really hurt my children or Dusty?” I finally asked.

“Yes. Your rebellion and sin can open the gates for Satan’s army to come into your family’s lives. But by the same token, a causeless curse will not alight on you or your family. So, walk with God and avoid sin.” The voice was silent for a moment. “Any more questions?

“What about my problems with Dusty?”

“She is not the problem – you are. Dusty is like most women in that she desires to see her husband as a sold-out man of God, not a half-hearted pew-sitter. You obey God, follow His instructions, and she will be happy to walk by your side.”

With that answer, the voice left and I returned to my sleep.

The above scene is from my novel, Deceived, Dead and Delivered, which will be released in 2012.   

**This series is a rerun from July, 2011.**

(Continued in Part 3)

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Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 7)

The movie, Milk (2008), was nominated for eight Academy Award nominations and ended up winning two: Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Lance Black).

Milk tells the story of the struggles Harvey Milk endured in the last eight years of his life as a gay rights activist and politician. The high point of the film shows Milk (Sean Penn) being elected to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, which made him the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. But sadly, the movie ends with Milk and Mayor George Moscone being assassinated by Dan White on November 27, 1978.

Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie at 94%. And even though R rated, most Christian reviewers stated the movie was well acted and well done.

The film’s release was tied to the 2008 California voter referendum on gay marriage, Proposition 8, as its premiere was held in San Francisco two weeks before election day, November 4, 2008.

Although always considered an icon by the San Francisco gay community, the movie catapulted Harvey Milk into martyrdom status. President Obama posthumously awarded Milk a Presidential Medal of Freedom (August, 2009). Desmond Tutu supported the founding of the Harvey Milk Foundation (2009).

But then, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 572 on October 11, 2009. This bill designated May 22 as Harvey Milk Day and encouraged California public schools, K-12, to commemorate the life and values of Milk.

Was Harvey Milk a martyr, someone to be admired by school children? 

If you only watch the movie and listen to politicians and gay rights activists, the answer is “yes.” But if you do a little research, a different side of Harvey Milk can be seen.

The script for the movie, Milk, was adapted from Randy Shilt’s biography of Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street (St. Martins Press, 1982). Shilts wrote the book while struggling to find full-time employment as an openly gay reporter.

Later, Randy Shilt’s explained why he chose to write on Milk’s life:

At the time, for those of us who lived in San Francisco, it felt like it was life changing, that all the eyes of the world were upon us, but in fact most of the world outside of San Francisco had no idea. It was just a really brief, provincial, localized current events story that the mayor and a city council member in San Francisco were killed. It didn’t have much reverberation.” (Quartini, Joelle (June 20, 2008). “Harvey Milk Returns”, The New York Blade12 (25), p. 18.)

Here’s some quotes from Randy Shilt’s book, not portrayed in the movie, Milk:

“…sixteen-year-old McKinley was looking for some kind of father figure…At 33, Milk was launching a new life, though he could hardly have imagined the unlikely direction toward which his new lover would pull him.” (pages 30-31)

“It would be to boyish-looking men in their late teens and early 20’s that Milk would be attracted for the rest of his life.” (page 24)

“Harvey always had a penchant for young waifs with substance abuse problems.” (page 180)

“As homosexuals, we can’t depend on the heterosexual model…We grow up with the heterosexual model, but we don’t have to follow it. We should be developing our own life-style. There’s no reason why you can’t love more than one person at a time. You don’t have to love them all the same. You love some less, love some more — and always be honest with everybody about where you’re at. They in turn can do the same thing and it can open up a bigger sphere.” (pages 237-238)

Why in the world would politicians and educators hang their reputations on Harvey Milk?

(Continued in Part 8)

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