Coming Out As Gay in Kenya

Quaker Speak: Justimore Musombi talks about being a Gay Christian Pastor in Kenya, homosexuality in Africa, and coming out as gay in Kenya.

Quaker Speak: Justimore Musombi talks about being a Gay Christian Pastor in Kenya, homosexuality in Africa, and coming out as gay in Kenya.

[+ show transcript]

Hey there, thanks for watching! I made this video during my 6 years as director of the QuakerSpeak project. Now I’m discerning my next project, and I’d love to share the journey with you! Please enter your email below to be the first to know when it launches.

12 Pieces of Advice for Quakers on the Internet

I recently said in an interview with Friends Journal that I would like to challenge Friends to get clear about our relationship with the internet.

Getting clear would look like one of these two things:

A. We come together as Friends and find unity to FULLY REJECT casual use of the internet.
(If the idea makes you snort in disbelief, consider the precedence of our previous outward testimonies: rejection of war, alcohol, slavery)
or
B. We EMBRACE the internet as a powerful tool with which Friends can spread the word about our ministries, as the Early Quakers did with the printing press.

We are at a mighty crossroads in history. There is no excuse for us to be doing this half-in/half-out thing.
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Why You Should Listen to Eyedea

In the year 2000, when I was first getting into underground hip hop, I came across this rapper from Minneapolis who blew my mind.

Edit 12.12: Eyedea was from St. Paul

Eyedea was a master of his craft.

Eyedea was a musical prodigy, beginning to tour at just 16 years old, and already starting to develop his signature style of fast paced delivery with mind-bending lyrics. He released his first work of genius at age 20.


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Are YOU Ready for the Quaker Revival?

I have a confession to make: sometimes when I look at the state of our religious society today, what I see is bleak.

I see a lot of white, middle class Americans passing off white, middle class culture as essentially Quaker.

I see us catering heavily to Friends in their twilight years and losing the interest of young people who are excited and ready for transformation.
Continue reading “Are YOU Ready for the Quaker Revival?”

We Don’t Need A Holiday To Give Thanks!

As Quakers, we traditionally do not honor traditions such as Christmas, Halloween, the naming of weeks and months, swearing on the Bible.

Wait… what? Does anybody actually do this anymore?

Nobody that I know. The Quakers I know call the days of the week by their names, eat a giant turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and unwrap presents on Christmas morning.

The only difference between us and the rest of the culture is that we might participate in “Buy Nothing Day” rather than Black Friday (but then we go shopping all the same).

My question is: have we lost something?

By celebrating holidays (“holy” days?) with the rest of the culture, are we consolidating our worship of God? Are we trivializing it?

The answer, for me, is: absolutely.
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What is a Quaker Ministry? (What Isn’t?)

In 2006 I chose to turn to the model of Quaker ministry to inform my making music. Getting low. Being humble. Only writing songs that felt like a message from the Spirit. Knowing that the message is not my own. Attempting to be a vessel. Releasing my agenda, knowing my limited perspective. Letting go and letting God.

For the past 5 years, I have been writing songs about Quakers, blogging about Quakerism, making videos about Quakers, vlogging about Quakerism, and traveling amongst Friends, sharing my music and my thoughts.

Now I have arrived at a turning point. The original call that I felt to commit to music was for five years. I knew that I would then stand back and re-evaluate, ask the hard questions, and change course if I felt called to.
Continue reading “What is a Quaker Ministry? (What Isn’t?)”

Support a Minister. Sell Your Meetinghouse.

Vital ministry is essential to vitality. Vital ministry breaks us open, stirs us up, inspires conversations, exposes us, makes us uncomfortable, puts us through the refiners fire. Ministers activate people. In short, without vital ministry, we are lost.

Over the past month or so I have been engaging in a public clearness process about how I should move forward with my music and ministry. I have publicly revealed what is working well and what isn’t. (in short: broad spiritual life and success, financial shortfalls)

I think that my sharing this may be somewhat confusing to Friends. I have heard from many folks who are concerned about me, who wanted to offer emotional support through my tough times. And then there’s the opposite reaction to the same interpretation:

Buck up. Get a job. Quit whining about not getting to live your dream and passion, we all have to give that stuff up at some point and grow up.

“Following Passion” VS Servitude

While I’m grateful for such broad engagement, I find many of these responses to be fundamentally unhelpful.

I consider myself to be a servant and not a self-serving follower of my passion. My musical journey ceased to be my own when I committed to it as a ministry.
Continue reading “Support a Minister. Sell Your Meetinghouse.”

Is it Time to Strip Quakerism Naked?

Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was an intense spotlight, something distinctly uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.

“The Light”

Growing up in Liberal FGC Quakerism, I would often hear reference to “the light” as something warm and comforting. I felt comforted when someone said that they were going to hold me in the Light, and I felt comforted when I heard Friends profess to honor the Light within everyone.

After reading Early Quaker writings though, I wonder if I didn’t grow up with a Disney-esque version of “the Light”.

Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was more like a spotlight, intense and uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.

The Early Friends believed that we must all go through the refiner’s fire before we are healed, before we are whole and before we step back from our greed, our oppression, our brokenness. We must let go of the ways that we are hiding, the things that we are using to shield ourselves. We must become naked.
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Stop Robbing Us of Your Gifts.

But here is my point: we spend too much of our lives feeling insignificant, feeling not-powerful, waiting for someone to tell us that its okay to use our voice now.
Stop waiting for cultural credentials to write your book. Write it now. Stop holding back from singing in the streets. Stop waiting for an “appropriate” message to stand up with in Meeting for Worship. Stop robbing us of your gifts.

Back in the 17th century, our ancestors risked a great deal to try to prove the point that God didn’t speak more or more clearly to educated clergy, that every person had equal access to Truth. In an age where church and state were the same, it was a dangerous idea. A radical idea. A revolutionary idea.

Some might say that a lot has changed since then.

I would argue that the 17th century concept of “educated clergy” is still alive and well, but has been internalized and manifests in different manners.

  • Culturally, we give more potence to someone with letters behind their name, if they are wealthy, or speak in an educated manner.
  • We relegate our gifts into one professional specialty that then becomes so strongly linked with our identity that we cease to experiment with other forms of expression.
  • We as Quakers often present ourselves based on “Quaker credentials” (what committees we’ve clerked, where we have membership, etc).

Sing with Me!!!

One aspect of my musical ministry is improvisation. I love to make music in the moment, using whatever is available. I find that it allows for a kind of playfulness and communication amongst Friends that silent worship or verbal dialogue does not.
Continue reading “Stop Robbing Us of Your Gifts.”

Websites that Feature “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”

I have been a bit too busy working on video editing to continually update the “press” section of my website on the fly, as coverage comes in. Most of the attention so far has come from blogs, which (luckily) leave the posts up forever. Here are some of the blogs mentioning my project since its release:

I have been a bit too busy working on video editing to always post when my work gets mentioned on another website. Most of the attention so far has come from blogs, which (luckily) leave the posts up forever. Here are some of the blogs mentioning my project since its release:
Continue reading “Websites that Feature “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness””

Why Being Told I Wasn’t a Quaker Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Yesterday my co-minister and partner in crime Maggie posted a blog entry entitled “YOU’RE NOT A QUAKER (so please stop calling yourself one)”

The post has provoked some great discussion and obviously real feelings from some of the (many) visitors to the post in the past 24 hours. As you might imagine, some of the reaction is indignance at the suggestion that one Quaker can judge another’s Quaker-y-ness. Didn’t we do away with all those elders and the practice of writing Friends out of Meetings?
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Video Songs: An Emerging Genre of Internet Art

Rather than passively sitting back and being entertained, we now interact with whatever we are watching… we share it on facebook, we comment on it, and we even make response videos. It is definitely a new world of media, sharing and entertainment.

The Changing Face of Art

Listen! Can you hear it?

That’s the sound of people all over the world uploading videos to Youtube. 48 hours of footage every minute.

While that number represents an unwatchable (and perhaps unfathomable!) amount of video, what it says to me is that we are interacting online in a new way. Video has become a standard and casual medium.

Involving Ourselves in the Conversation

Rather than passively sitting back and being entertained, we now interact with whatever we are watching… we share it on facebook, we comment on it, and we even make response videos. It is definitely a new world of media, sharing and entertainment.
Continue reading “Video Songs: An Emerging Genre of Internet Art”

How to Heal from 9/11

“What’s important is not your emotional reaction to something, but how you hold and interact with that emotion”

It will continue to become clear that 9/11 was a turning point for our country. Not because we were attacked. Because of the way we responded to being attacked, which was far more damaging (to us) than the attacks themselves.
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Announcing: “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”

Announcing the release date for Clothe Yourself in Righteousness, a multimedia project about Quakers and nakedness.

The time has arrived!

After months and months of praying, not knowing, wrestling, the moment has arrived. If you’re the type to pray, great… all of us involved with the project would be very appreciative.

Also, tour dates:

  • 9/23 – Richmond, VA – 4500 Kensington Avenue – 7 PM
  • 9/24 – Philadelphia, PA – Time and place TBA
  • 10/1 – Greensboro, NC – Guilford College – Time and place TBA
  • other times and locations TBA

…And I’m spent. If you love to read, you’re out of luck. 🙂 I just spent my last waking clarity on that video. Hit play. Just sayin’.