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Have you ever been talking to someone who obviously wasn't listening to you? Have you ever been formulating what you're going to say next while someone is telling you a story? Or worse, seen the other person as part of an enemy group with which to compete, correct, judge, even demolish? Listening to others, really hearing them, makes them feel like they matter. We all want to be heard, after all, and know that our life matters to someone. Hearing another person's story might even teach us something important and make us better people. It would certainly make our world just a tad bit more humane. 

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Our stories make us who we are and unite us as humans. Listen to the stories of two Catholic men. They are gay, in love and married. You will hear strength and pain, faith in God and a deep longing for a Church and Christians who will love and want them. Let's enter each other's stories: the joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, dreams and disappointments. This is how we connect human to human, heart to heart. 

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LGBT people are among many groups who have often been de- or sub-humanized. This episode is a re-play of one of our first, "Getting Humanity Right." Why replay it? Why listen again? It is vitally important in this conversation, in every discussion involving human beings, to first recognize and acknowledge that every human being is fully human and deserves dignity and respect. Period. From this starting point, we can have civilized and respectful conversations where heart meets heart. Each of us is the protagonist (maybe sometimes the antagonist!) of our own story. Our stories are stories of people seeking after, and growing in, the deepest longings of every human heart. 

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There is a huge disconnect between traditional faith communities and LGBTQ persons. A major problem is not being able to speak with one another because of lack of common understandings. Often, the traditional faith communities fail to hear the stories and acknowledge the life experiences of gay, lesbian and transgender persons. We need a framework to begin a conversation. 

January 16, 2019

How Then Shall We Love?

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Who are the "new lepers" in some of today's faith communities? They are there, being ignored, feeling unloved, unwanted and invisible. Controversy often surrounds their delicate relationship with religion. In Season 2 we will share stories, enter into the sorrows and joys of these new lepers. We will ask questions, tough questions, of those on all sides of the issues. We need to talk. 

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In this special edition episode, Patrick Smith, singer, songwriter and producer, discusses songs to be featured on his upcoming debut EP (short feature album). If you've ever longed to express your suffering and joys, ever wrestled with your demons, you don't want to miss this incredible conversation and inspiring music. 

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These heroes will make your jaw drop! They have indomitable spirits, in surviving and forgiving, persevering despite danger or giving totally of oneself, they are examples of being fully alive human beings. 

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More than 215 million Christians in the world are under serious threat of being persecuted for nothing more than what they believe and the practice of their faith. They frequently suffer harassment, kidnapping, rape, church bombings, arrest and even the threat of receiving state-sanctioned death penalty. Why talk about such a dark topic so near Christmas? Most of us are not worried about being bombed at Christmas Mass or service. They are.  Part 1 an introduction of the topic of freedom and some examples. Part 2 will be more in-depth with real life stories. 

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What are the hidden costs of some of the gifts we buy? For some workers, including children, our purchases might be costing them their health, education, freedom, dignity, even lives. We can give twice through thoughtful shopping. It's easier than you think, and the good we do makes gift-giving more meaningful. 

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Too often, gay persons in churches feel invisible, unwanted, even marginalized. This is particularly true in more traditional churches. The message seems to be "shut up and go away." Our guest, Bridget Eileen, a committed Christian and celibate lesbian, lends her perspective to this problem. How can churches help facilitate gay persons feeling more fully a part of their communities? Should gay Christians "come out?" These are just a couple of the questions we discuss. To learn more about Bridget and her writing, go to her blog at www.meditationsofatravelingnun.com

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What do you get when a nun gathers 90 transgender women around her? (No, this isn't a joke!) You draw close to what it means to be a fully alive human being. We feature Sr. Monica, a nun in Argentina, who loves and serves transgender women, helping them know they have great value and are worth loving. Listen to this truly inspiring story, share, and give us your feedback wherever you listen or at @merrymortal on Twitter. 

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Human resilience, even amidst intense hatred and violence, is nothing short of amazing. Although the suffering and oppression is real for those who identify as transgender in many countries, their determination to survive and thrive is clear. We feature two countries, Jamaica and India, where transgender persons are often victims of horrific violence and discrimination. Yet despite the obstacles, they form community with each other and fight for the right to exist in peace and equality in their homelands. They want us to see their humanity. 

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The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh was abhorrent and tragic with 11 dead and 6 injured. We interview Rabbi Leonard Sarko of the Congregation Achduth Vesholom in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who shares with us the pain, but also an inspiring and hopeful message on how the Jewish people are united with one another and seek to remain focused on life and peace even during dark times.   

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There are many heroes fighting for the safety and freedom of gay persons in countries that criminalize being gay. Unfortunately, most of them must remain hidden for fear of arrest, beatings, torture and imprisonment. In this episode you will meet a couple of heroes and organizations trying to be a voice for a brutalized minority. (Listen to our previous episode for a more in depth look at the persecution itself).

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Being LGBT is criminal in 72 countries. Yes, you can be imprisoned, tortured, even executed, for being gay. As though human rights abuses by states is not enough, LGBT persons are often rejected by their families and communities. They are frequently physically abused, denied jobs, homes and normal lives. They live in fear. Ultimately, they are too often dehumanized. Let's work to change this injustice. We can make a difference.

*[This is part one of a six-part series featuring LGBT persecution and the heroes who love and help them] 

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