Saturday, August 1, 2009

Love is My Religion: Ordination in Sacred Truth Mission

Sam Smith has asked me some tricky questions about ordination.
How does ordination cross dogma lines? The requirements Tom laid out for your ordination certainly were not the same as his ordination. Seems this is a question that would be asked by those trying to determine a sincere practice if organizational evidence is required. Kitty, a Wiccan, ordained Tom of OUR CHURCH, but Tom used the authority of The First Church of the Magi to ordain you. A Catholic can't ordain a Methodist.
Seems strange to me.

My first answer is this: Rastafari is about one love. Jah never endorsed our various viewpoints. We are all one. One louve. Anything that denies this unity, Inity, is not of Jah. My own path went through theism, agnosticism, Christianity, humanism and Wicca on the way to Rastafari, which is Gnostic and for me encompasses all of the above except agnosticism and humanism. It took all of those steps for me to get overstanding of Rastafari. Old style religion was exclusive, if you're a Catholic you cannot be a Baptist. But why is this? Being mutually exclusive might serve the church organization, but it does not serve either Jah or the I and I. So when we were drawing up membership requirements for Sacred Truth Mission, Jah gave InI the I-spiration to make membership inclusive instead of exclusive. One need not resign memberships in other churches to join STM. Nor does membership in STM invalidate membership in any other church. Sacred Truth Mission sees no conflict.

On a deeper level, the InI means, in part, that each of us who join in communion has within the I a spark of the Divine. Each I is a King or a Queen, and brings his/her own divinity to the union of kings and queens. So once any I with any viewpoint of spirituality joins in this union, the perspective of this I is joined to the perspective of all InI. So Rastafarians tend to be accepting of many spiritual traditions. To quote another Rasta who was writing me while I was in the process of writing this, "The various religions make the Creator's words into a multi-verse...Rasta sees all Books as one Book...or UNI-verse...One Verse."

A shorter answer: Kitty who was Wiccan ordained Tom who was Christian and then Rastafarian within the all-denominational Our Church. Tom ordained Nancy who is Rastafarian within First Church of the Magi which is part of Our Church. Nancy went on to found Sacred Truth Mission (all-denominational, Rastafarian, and part of Our Church), which formed an ordination policy and placed it into bylaws in 2002.

The shortest answer: Love is my religion. (As Ziggy Marley says)

Okay, now for the nuts and bolts. To be ordained by Sacred Truth Mission, first you must be a member. Here is Sacred Truth Mission's membership policy, adopted in 2002:

**Membership in Sacred Truth Mission is inclusive, not exclusive. We welcome you to join us in our collective pursuit of Truth, and we see no conflict between membership in Sacred Truth Mission and membership in any other church. So a member of Sacred Truth Mission may join or retain membership in First Church of the Magi, the Native American Church, or University Baptist Church, as far as we are concerned. (University Baptist might have a dim view of this, but we don't!)

**Because of governmental persecution, you are welcome to join under an alias and/or use a fictitious address if you feel the need.

**We encourage you to develop an organic relationship with the universe around us. Use of all the God-given plants is authorized by God. Those who have a Biblical orientation date this to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible.

**We are a Gnostic congregation, believing that each human needs to learn directly about God/Goddess, and that no individual's ideas take precedence over those of any other individual. Each human being has the right and responsibility to develop and nurture his or her own relationship with the Creator. Ideas must be shared freely, and if they are, we believe that those ideas with the most universal merit will rise, like cream, to the top. Our one theological requirement is that each of us treat each other, and the ideas of each other, with respect.

**Membership requirements include a dedication of yourself. You will be asked on the membership application to explain how you can enhance Sacred Truth Mission.

**All members will have access to the lending library and will be members of the Operations Board.

**All members will be eligible for ordination.

**Membership includes a commitment to Truth, even when it is unpopular.

Now, our Ordination Policy, also from 2002:

All members are eligible for ordination. To be ordained, a member must:

**Have read one of the widely recognized major religious books, such as the Bible or the Koran.

**Be familiar with at least one of the less widely-known religious practices, such as Wicca, Paganism, Native American Church, Rastafari, or Zoroastrianism.

**Have an awareness of the wide panorama of world religions.

**Lead a prayer at one of our services.

**Be willing to speak out for Truth.

**Have a knowledge of entheogenic herbs, obtained through personal experience or academic research.

**Have a knowledge of substance abuse problems, obtained through personal experience or academic research.

**Be willing to strive for cultural relativism, and to work at the elimination of racism, sexism, and ethnocentrism from his or her thinking and vocabulary.

**Have some experience at peer counseling and be willing to work on the continual development of "people skills."

**Explain how these requirements have been met in a written document, to be kept on file by Sacred Truth Mission.

Once a member has met these requirements and has requested ordination, that member will be ordained in a timely manner by any previously ordained member.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Religious Use Statement

At the insistance of Rev. Tom Brown (RTB), who ordained me, I wrote out, in as briefly as possible, the story of my religious path. It was the hardest writing I ever did, because I had to review my entire life, sift through my experiences and choose those that were essential to describe my spiritual growth. Talking about my spiritual life meant doing an intense amount of self-examination. After I had struggled through the first draft, I sent what I thought was the finished product off to RTB. He said, "nice start. But what about ....?" I went back to my statement, answered his questions, and the thing got longer. This same conversation was replayed 5 or 6 times before he quit insisting on additions, and by then the story was 12 pages long. Then I gave the statement to Gary the lawyer. He had lawyer problems with almost everything I had written, but he too had questions. Answering them made putting in more stuff, making the statement even longer.

It seems almost crazy to me to take this statement that really is an intimate account of my spiritual self and give copies to the court and the prosecutor. But that's what I did, because my sincerity is in question here, and the only thing to do when being accused of insincerity is to be so honest that no there is no longer any room for doubt. Having supplied copies to my enemies and they who sit in judgement of me has cured my shyness. Now I find that I want to share my story with my friends.
Rev. Nancy

Religious Declaration Affidavit

1. I, Rev. Nancy J. Waite Harris, the undersigned, solemnly affirm under penalty of perjury, on the date indicated below, that the following is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and ability, as indicated by my signature below.


2. I am a good and a moral person. My professional specialty is teaching college level mathematics to people with disabilities. My work at the University of Arkansas changed lives, and my life was comfortable, if not affluent. I was well loved by my students and my community. (See EXHIBIT "A"; Curriculum Vitae) In 2002, I inherited money and my life could have become even more comfortable. In this day and age, I could have quietly but usefully pursued my career while continuing to be a closet marijuana smoker. Many academics do. I, however, was called by Jah to give my money to Jah Church, Sacred Truth Mission, and devote my life to Jah Works, and my words to Jah Truth. One such Truth is this: Prohibition kills. It kills by omission—lack of medicine for the body, lack of healing for the spirit. It also kills by commission. Gang violence, police shootings, even cartel wars are artifacts of prohibition, and their casualties are directly attributable to prohibitionist policies. In contrast, marijuana has never killed anyone. My faith no longer permits me to be silent about this. The war on marijuana is evil. Although I am human and fallible, I have been given the honor and blessing of being selected to stand up to this evil. (See EXHIBIT "B"; church pamphlet) My most heartfelt prayer is that I do not fail to do my best at performing Jah work. If I do this, no matter the outcome, I will be blessed.

Spiritual Effects of Marijuana

3. When I partake of the sacrament marijuana, this is what happens. First, I feel a lightness, a lifting of myself above the mundane. All physical sensations seem heightened, and I become filled with a realization of oneness that we Rastafarians call One Love. My perception of my brothers and sisters shifts from seeing them as others to the over-standing that each of these is simply another I. To cause harm to another human would ordinarily be unpleasant and repellent to me; when I am high it becomes impossible, unthinkable, like harming myself. It is much easier to put myself in the place of another, as well, so I am much more aware of ways in which I might cause harm, hence I become kinder, because it is now easier to avoid the pain which I might, without the sacrament, inadvertently afflict. Mark 12:31, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” ceases to be an external commandment, and instead becomes a statement of fact. My neighbor is myself, through the connection we both have to our Maker, no matter what name each of us has for this “Higher Power.” This is a result of the concept of the “I and I” or "InI" as it is sometimes written, which refers to the union of the individual with the Creator. Each I, each person, has within himself or herself a spark of the divine, the “I,” the true, unsullied, spiritual self. When we speak of Haile Selassie I, who was crowned King of Kings of the line of Judah, and who is perceived by we Rastafarians as an ultimately significant and enlightened being who reminds each of us of our divine nature, and that we are all kings and queens in the eye of Jah. Each “I” has a spiritual purpose though limited as an individual human. Together, the “I and I” is great and powerful.

My History

4. I was born in 1955 in the hospital where my father spent his days in darkness developing x-rays. He was glad for the work; he was epileptic and mostly blind. My mother, also only “partially sighted” having trained as a teacher with dreams of being like Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, left her job at the School for the Blind to raise me.

5. On Thanksgiving Day 1957, my brother Stephen was born. I remember being disappointed that he couldn't play yet, and becoming very busy helping my mother with him. Although I was only two years old, since I was able to see, she depended on me a lot, and I was proud to help by finding the baby powder, picking up dropped diaper pins, telling her when Stevie had a rash. I knew that she depended on me, and I felt a strong sense of responsibility since I was able to see and she was not.

6. This responsibility led to the first, and probably most terrible, failure of my life. I remember clearly one morning, it must have been in January, when Stevie seemed different to me. “Stevie's blue,” I told my mother. She didn't understand me, and said that I could have my breakfast first, since Stevie was still sleeping. I was delighted to have her undivided attention for a while, and had a glorious time with my cereal and juice and my Mommy. But soon she decided to wake my baby brother up, and then, well, things got very strange. Mommy started screaming and crying and took Stevie and ran out of the house to the Doris's house next door, begging her to help warm up the baby, he was cold, he was so cold. After a long while, people came to my house and told me that Stevie had gone back to the angels.

7. At the time, his death was something of a mystery. Doctors ruled it pneumonia then, but later when the disease SIDS became publicized, we realized that that was probably what happened to Stevie.

8. Right after he died, though, my mother was so upset she was lost to me. I was sure that I had been responsible, at least in part. I was supposed to help my mother with the baby, that was the main thing, and I had not done enough. So I decided to try to go back to the angels too. I thought I would know the way since I had not been on earth very long.

9. Now I have no idea what I did to try to go back to heaven, but I became sick with such a high fever that my parents, frantic at the idea of losing both of their children, persuaded the doctor to make a house call. He said that I was not going to die if I took some nasty medicine. Once I tasted it, I knew he was right. No one could find their way to the angels with a taste like that in her mouth.

10. Then, in 1959, my beloved grandpa died. This time, I didn't try to go back to the angels, because this time I found out that all the adults were lying to me. They tried to tell me the story about heaven and the angels again, but I caught them crying and that told me what liars they were. If they really thought that grandpa was in heaven, what excuse did they have to be so upset? I didn't know where Grandpa was, and although the adults in my life said that he was in heaven, they didn't believe it themselves. I looked for Grandpa everywhere, in the back yard, at the corner store, and especially in every crowd of people. So many people, one of them just had to be him. Over time, hope faded.

11. I became an agnostic. Of course, at four years old, I didn't know what an agnostic was, but I was sure that nobody really knew what happened to people when they died, and that meant that the whole God business was suspicious.

12. I remained an agnostic for a few years. That is, I was skeptical of God, church, the Bible and in fact any supernatural thing, in the daytime. I went to church and learned the proper Psalms and prayers, but I didn't value them.

13. At night, things were completely different. I imagined horrors in the darkness, and I was terrified. I woke my parents so often, screaming in the night, that they lost patience. Finally, one night when I was nine years old, I prayed, “God, if you're out there, please help me. I'm so scared, but if I wake my parents, I'll be in trouble. Please help...” And suddenly I was not frightened anymore, but smiling because I felt the Presence of God the Father. The fear that had been so huge moments before was replaced by Jah's love. My fear turned to joy, humor, and then finally gratitude to have been so blessed by the answer to my prayer. The fact that God actually paid attention to, and cared about, small, insignificant, disobedient me was overwhelming.

14. This was in Columbus, Ohio, a city sharply divided between white and black. There were no other colors of people, it seemed. Riding on the city bus with my mother, I would see all pale faces through the window, then suddenly the bus would pass some invisible line and all the faces were dark. My mother, unable to see the faces, nonetheless was able to see the wrongs of racism. She really knew how stupid it was to let a thing like color of skin determine the worth of a person.

15. She herself was a victim of discrimination because of her blindness. She followed the Civil Rights movement and quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. She had so much respect for Haile Selassie I that she hushed me whenever she thought she heard his name on the radio, and she explained to me as a very young child who he was and why he was important. She explained that racism would always be present as long as the color of one's skin was more important to people than the color of one's eyes. (See EXHIBITS "C" AND "D"; Haile Selassie I speeches quoted by my mother)

16. My mom was the only person in my neighborhood who had black friends. One friend would ride the bus all the way from Dayton to visit her. They talked about the days when they had worked together in the Settlement House, about politics and discrimination and they always prayed together. The sincerity of these prayers was in sharp contrast to the stilted, anemic unfelt prayers of the church we arrived at after that bus ride through the divided city. That church, attended only by Caucasians, never even mentioned the others in our city, or the civil rights struggle that was going on, or any of the social problems faced by our society. And never once in that church did I feel the presence of God like I did in the answer to my fearful prayer in the night.

17. I had abandoned my agnosticism after my personal experience with God, and I read every Bible story book I could get my hands on, and prayed often.

18. When I was 12 I started attending the Fourth Avenue Christian Church. This church was located in a poor section of Columbus, its membership included a few black people, and it did minister to the poor in the community, so it seemed more sincere to me. Although I didn't actually feel the presence of God, I thought this was probably only a matter of joining, so I was baptized by its minister in an immersion ceremony in the summer of the year I turned 13. I was still a very religious child at this point. When my mother asked what I wanted for my 13th birthday, I told her that I wanted a Bible. She got me a King James Version with red letters. I still have it. (See EXHIBIT "E"; childhood Bible)

19. When I was baptized by the Christian Church, I became a member, which was fine with me, but there was a surprise. Although I did not feel the divine presence, I got a package in the mail addressed to me from the Church. In it were 52 dated envelopes for putting in the collection plate. They had a blank to fill in for income and a little formula for calculating 10% of it, and another blank for donation amount. I was surprised; was this what church membership meant? And I was embarrassed; I had no income and 10% of the money I made for doing chores and babysitting was pitifully small. I had always given $.50 or $1.00 every week, which was much more than 10%. I didn't know what I should do. Should I give less money than I had been? That seemed stingy. Should I fill in the blanks wrong so that I could continue giving the same amount? I tried that, but after I put my envelope in the collection plate I was miserable. I had filled out the envelope as if I had made $10.00 in the week, and that was a lie! I had lied to God. In church. What kind of a Christian did that make me? In agony, I started missing church, and leaving the envelopes in my dresser when I did attend. But either way, I felt guilty. And I still did not feel the presence of God. I soon drifted away from this church. For the next 30 years, I joined no more churches.

20. In 1970, as the courts were dealing with the de facto segregation of Columbus Public Schools, I began attending Linden McKinley High School. There white children from my elementary school were mixed, for the first time, with children from the predominantly black grade schools. When I entered the school as a sophomore in 1970, the split was about 50-50. I was thrilled. Popularity with the homogeneous group with which I had always gone to school had always seemed to me to be based on unspoken rules of sameness, which I had never mastered. Now there were these vibrant, loud, expressive kids going to my school who seemed to delight in individuality and teased everyone cheerfully without rancor. Friendships formed, but so did animosities. In the spring of my sophomore year, trouble broke out. There were incidents in the hallways. Rumors. Angry words. Some of the students polarized into white and black nationalism.

21. In March, there was an assembly for Black History Week with optional attendance. I was one of the few white students who went, so I there when a white boy with Nazi leanings dumped hate literature from the balcony into the heads of the students below. News reports of what happened next used words like “racial disturbance” and “riot,” but there was actually just a lot of confusion and unhappiness, as people wondered what had happened. I read enough of the abhorrent paper to be disgusted, but threw it down and was among the students quickly shepherded by teachers into a large classroom. After that, there were “undercover” police in the hallways. Their cover was not very good, though. I learned how to distinguish them from my black friends. The cops had little sense of style, and no matter what their clothes were, they wore black shoes with white socks. They couldn't fool us.

22. Later in the spring, the volunteers who had planned the Black History Assembly tried again to present it. The student body was too large for all of us to attend at the same time, and I was in the group that was to attend the second performance. Meanwhile, I went to French class on the third floor. We were anxiously waiting for the second assembly, but the wait dragged on and on. Eventually, we began to think that something was wrong. After about two hours, our fears were confirmed. Looking out of the third floor window, we saw an amazing and frightening sight. Parading toward our school was a rectangle of policemen, marching in step and wielding shields and clubs. Later, we found out that they had been called by the undercover officers who overreacted, but at the time we were terrified. Were they going to hit us with those sticks? Was there really a riot? If so, would there be a fire? Would we be trapped? We were all scared. The black kids were mostly afraid of the police, and the white kids were mostly afraid of rioting students. Even the teacher, herself a black woman, was frightened. Together, we devised a plan. It was not safe to stay on the third floor; we would leave. And we would link arms, alternating black and white, so that all could see we were peaceful and united. That is what we did, and on that terrible day we safely negotiated the halls full of screaming, angry people and tear gas. When we reached the street in front of the school, we hugged each other in relief, and our teacher told us to go home. That day, I learned the most important lesson of my whole school experience.

23. By the time I graduated in 1973, I was one of a handful of white students. I had learned a lot in high school, most of it not in the classroom. I had an idea of the extent and wrongness of racism. As a white student in an increasingly black school, I knew something of what it was to be a minority. But I also knew that by simply leaving the school and entering almost any district of America where power and affluence resided, things would reverse and I would be the recipient of privilege and favor. I had a much deeper understanding now of what His Imperial Majesty meant when he said that war was caused by “the philosophy that holds one race superior, and another inferior.” I had been to Hawaii, so I knew that this philosophy was not universal, and I had already seen the spiritual burden that it created among those who clung to it. At this time, I determined to spend my life fighting this evil, and also to contribute to the solution to this problem by living my own life in a consciously desegregated manner. I began hoping to have biracial children.

24. During this time, I smoked my first Cannabis. I had completely given up on religion at this point, and was largely just being rebellious when I took that first toke. I expected that I would experience something like alcohol, I suppose, so I was surprised at the reaction I had. I was filled with a sense of well-being, and the light, gentle touch, tinged with humor and joy. Once again, as when I was a desperately frightened child, I knew the presence of God. Of course, Jah is always present, ever faithful, ever sure. But I personally have only experienced his close presence in only two ways—in the despair of the most desperate circumstances, or with cannabis sacrament. This presence was so real to me, and continues to be so real today, that it is as if I were to see a neighbor. “I spoke to Jah this morning, and he said I should sprout some seeds...” is no more unusual to me than “I spoke to Mo this morning, and she told me we have to do something about the coqui frog we have been hearing in the neighborhood...”

25. In 1977, pregnant with my second (half-black) child, I was appalled to learn that the Ku Klux Klan was planning a rally at the Ohio Statehouse, in the center of Columbus. This was to me both a societal evil and a personal danger to my family. On the Fourth of July, with friends, I went to protest this horror. 8 ¾ months pregnant, I joined in the chanting and marching. I was so pregnant that I had trouble keeping up, and I remember repeatedly being exhorted by the leaders to “close the circle.” Close to the Statehouse steps, a fight broke out between protesters and Klansmen. The Columbus Police, still an all-white group, arrested only protesters. To aid them in their legal struggle, a group called “Defense Committee Against the Klan” was quickly formed, and I joined as soon as I heard of it. On Labor Day, the Klan had another Statehouse rally, and this time, because of my committee work, I was one of the leaders of the protest marchers. When the Columbus Police attacked one of the groups of protesters, I was leading another group and had a bullhorn in my hand. It seemed to me that my duty at this point was to try to ensure the safety of people, so I was giving instructions with the bullhorn, telling people to leave in an orderly manner, not to run, and to stay calm. Thus, I was the last of my group to leave and I watched four officers beating a protester. He was lying in a pool of blood, and saying “all right, all right,” as they continued to rain blows on him. He was arrested and charged with felonious assault; I was a witness in his trial. The Klansmen and the police sat together in the courtroom, and no one had any doubt that they were on the same side. From that time until I moved from Columbus, I was harassed. I believe the harassment came from both ordinary hoodlums and corrupt white nationalists within the police department. Blood was thrown on my windows. A dead cat was deposited on my front porch. I could not drive without getting tickets. The tickets were never for serious offenses, since I am a safe driver. They were for a “loud muffler” or “excessive smoke emissions” (In 1978, this was very unusual.). The windows of my car were smashed, and then, still parked, it was ticketed for safety violations due to the broken windows.

26. Although I joined no church in this period, I was constantly a seeker, visiting many churches and worshiping with people in many traditions. I did join a Wiccan group, and learned about the female side of the divine from that experience. I worshiped with them regularly for 2 years, and was initiated. We always smoked cannabis at our Circles, and I often felt the presence of God and Goddess.

27. I entered into a marriage that became very bad. I endured quite a bit of physical and emotional abuse. I tolerated the abuse, and even worked with a counselor and my husband to try to preserve the marriage, until in the spring of 1998 I found that he had sexually abused my daughter. When she told me about this, many years after it had stopped, I realized that I could no longer remain married to this man. However, it was the spring of the next year before I finally managed to get Bill out of the house. On Easter weekend of 1999, I drove him and his possessions from my home in Arkansas to Ohio.

28. The stress I was under, and my nature—monogamous but not sexually interested in my husband--had combined to give me no sex drive at all for quite some time. I thought that I would always feel that way. At the time, it seemed like this: I was 43 years old, had been through a lot, was in bad physical and emotional shape, so it made good sense that I wasn't interested in men any more. I believed this right up until the trip home from Ohio when I started noticing handsome men. Oh no! I thought I was free of this, and now here it was in spades! It was impossible to ignore them, they were everywhere. I immediately put myself on 60 days probation, which meant no sex but also no flirting or suggesting. Taking stock of myself, I didn’t think I had anything to worry about. I was fat, dumpy, wore matronly clothes, lived for my job at the math department. Staying uninvolved wasn’t going to be a problem. But, you never know, I reasoned, the most unlikely things did happen. Better be safe with probation.

29. Newly single, I needed the Divine in my life, so I decided to start celebrating Sabbats--the high holidays at least, and the full moon. I didn’t know any Wiccans in the area, and wasn’t strong enough in myself at the time to seek out new people to worship with. I decided that I would celebrate as a solitary. I felt competent to do so, since I had been initiated as a priestess by Circle of the Sacred Grove, had never ceased to learn about Wicca, and since I had never stopped thinking of myself as a Wiccan. In preparation, I purchased some marijuana.

30. On the night of the first full moon after Easter, I formally cast a circle, with cannabis sacrament, proper ritual tools, Athame and Chalice, candles for each of the Watchtowers and for the altar. During this ceremony I used an ancient divorce rite, and from that night felt spiritually divorced from Bill. It took over a year longer to get my civil divorce, but from that Full Moon Circle, I was spiritually free. Such a weight was lifted at that moment! I had survived, maybe not unscarred, but I was still here! What was I going to do with the time? I would live, live, LIVE. I didn’t ever have to have Bill or anyone like him in my life again. He was gone. And he hadn’t killed me. The odds of my survival, weren’t all that good when someone is as abusive as he was. Lots of women don't make it. Each of my knees had been broken, some teeth were missing and others were cracked, but I was alive. My children were nearly grown, I was now free, and I could choose what to do with my life. How to spend it.

31. I spent the next few weeks in state of awakening. I really wasn't happy with myself. Not pleased at all when I looked in the mirror, or in the psychological mirror either. Physically, my walking was still impaired, and I was very big. I didn't like to look at the scale readout, but I remember that it was wavering between 295-298 pounds, and I worried that it would go above 300 and I would weigh too much to measure on my bathroom scale. Psychologically too, I was a wreck. I had just had one of the greatest blows of my life. Spiritually, I felt that I had lost the path. And that really was the heart of the matter. I had not been actively involving God or Goddess in my life. At the time, I didn't thoroughly realize that, though. I felt the longing for a Higher Power, but I had lost the habit of prayer. Even before the family explosion, I had been busy with teenagers and work and school, and I had not been spending my carefully budgeted time on prayer or meditation. Nor had I been spending my carefully budgeted money on marijuana. During these years of near abstinence from cannabis, I had believed that it was a waste to spend a lot of time thinking about spiritual matters. But now I strongly felt the need, and I had the time and the freedom at last. I was waking up.

32. I decided not to worry about the hugeness of my body, but rather to fill the skin I was in. Fill my skin. Notice everything, feel everything, do whatever I could. Everything I could. You can't grow as a person, I reasoned, unless you first become wholly yourself. So I started to be. I started smoking marijuana daily and walking everywhere--to work, back home when I had a long enough break from work, to the store. I joined an activist group called Campus Democracy Collective, and started meeting people and socializing a bit. Now that Bill wasn't there, I could even invite friends over without the fear of a terrible scene in front of them.

33. By the time of the third full moon after Easter, I was surprised to discover that I had lost 35 pounds. Just living and filling my skin had lost me 35 pounds. Well, that and the way I was smoking cannabis more and eating less with Bill gone. I was more mobile than I had been for years. It still hurt to walk, and neither one of my knees would lock, but I was walking all over the place and even re-learning how to navigate stairs like a normal person, smoothly and only stepping once on each stair.

34. Another thing that was different now was my sex drive. It was giving me trouble all the time. I think I noticed every single male in a 10 mile radius. Noticed? I over-noticed them. I could have been a private investigator specializing in attractive older men. Anyone who had a question about one of those in my vicinity wouldn’t have to wait for results. I already had a mental dossier on each of them. Like this: The mid-campus bench sitter? Nice body, definitely single, friendly but not outgoing, no sign of ever wearing a wedding ring, majoring in some social science field, made good grades, politically slightly left of center. He was a "maybe." My self-imposed probation was over, and there was one man, a friend from the math department, that I considered a realistic possibility for a gentleman friend. I certainly wasn’t interested in more than that, not so soon after my 17-year disaster of a marriage, but I was getting better, and the unwanted side-effect of libido was hard to ignore. Even for a superficial relationship like I was desiring, I thought it was a good idea to be careful. So I decided to take my question to a Higher Power.

35. The Midsummer full moon found me once again setting up my altar with sacred ritual tools. I paid careful attention to each detail, because I had this urgent question about the mathematician, and I really needed the answer. I cast the circle, and recited the Charge of the Goddess to draw down the Goddess. Alone with the Goddess, I partook of cannabis sacrament. And then I asked my question, “Blessed Goddess, should I become involved with this man?”

36. There have been many times in my life when I have asked for things in prayer, and sometimes I do get answers. Actually, I think that my God and Goddess always answer; I don’t always have the ears to hear. This time, though, I certainly did have ears, because this time I heard words. There was no sound, yet in my head, like walking from a soundproof room into a belfry where a huge bell has just pealed, were these words, “No, he is not for you. I have someone else in mind.” At that time, a picture of sorts appeared in my head. A picture of a relationship. It was as if I were thinking about an old friend, with all the complexities that a momentary memory of someone with whom you had shared years would yield, but this memory picture was of someone I had never met. I was intrigued, and I was hooked.

37. The relationship was beautiful and desirable, but not simply that. I didn’t sense that it was all pure euphoria, but rather that it had developed depth that can only come from joint struggle over time. It was a loving, helping relationship. The ideas of superiority, inferiority and equality had no meaning, because each of us were striving for the happiness, success, and goals of the other. And now flooded into my mind more of those after-bell tone words. “You will kneel together at my altar, and you will march side by side for ME.” Then I got a sense of joint victory with this person. In the "vision," I had memories of him and of events over a span of time that culminated in this "march" and I was so proud of him and of myself, and so surrounded by love, that I was filled with joy--powerful joy.

38. The picture I had been given was clear, complex and detailed, but it wasn’t in a very usable form. Not like a name or an address, or a photo or even a voice recording. It was the picture of a relationship with a person that might someday be very familiar, but who I had no actual details about. I couldn’t deny it, as this was one of the most intimate moments I have ever had with my Goddess, but I couldn’t use it either. I could wait and anticipate, and meanwhile I could continue in my quest for becoming. Also, I could start flirting. And I did.

39. For the next few weeks, I was so excited. It was as if I were a child waiting for Christmas, with the total confidence that Santa Claus will bring wonderful, expected yet surprising presents. Immediately the fellow that I had had my eye on dropped from my mind. I had already been trying to live completely, enjoying and using every moment, and this further energized me in that endeavor.

40. I kept walking places, and started playing a Bob Marley CD every morning, and dancing to it. In the evenings when I smoked ganja, I was likely to end up dancing to reggae again. When my friends at work started noticing that I was losing weight and remarking on it, that gave me the warm feeling of success in progress. When they asked me how I was doing it, I would say, "Two things. I completely stopped eating fast food, and every time I hear Reggae music, I dance."

41. At the time, I was not yet aware of the deep spiritual lessons I was exposing myself to, in the form of Reggae music. I lived in Arkansas, where there was little or no reggae music to be found on the radio, and not very many fans, so the only time I really heard it was when I played it myself, or occasionally when one of my kids played it. I had always been moved Reggae, the music of royalty, and I thought I knew why. I liked the social message. What I was yet to learn was that the social message, although true and righteous, was just one layer of the truth communicated by prophets like Bob Marley.

42. In August of 1999, I went to a party. This was at a beautiful rock house in rural Arkansas. There was much marijuana, of which I partook, and beer, of which I abstained. Some reggae musicians, Jerry and Anne Criner, who called themselves “Cryout” played music outside in the night. Since I was not drinking, I was able to dance all night it seemed. In this house in the woods, Jah seemed so close. I introduced myself to the musicians. They were new to the area, so I promised to go wherever they were going to play music.

Rev Tom Brown and my Rastafarian Training

43. In the next few weeks, I went to listen and to dance wherever Cryout played, always at small venues, sometimes at dingy bars that sold alcohol. At one such place, Anne Criner introduced me to this grizzled, wild-eyed and silver-haired man. “May I present the Reverend Tom Brown,” she said and I realized that I was in the company of the infamous pot preacher. What I knew of him was this: A few years before, he had founded “Our Church” and had been on the local TV news claiming to have a religious right to use marijuana in church. I had not attended fast enough, and soon the TV news turned to tales of Rev. Brown's arrest and very quick conviction. Then, for several years, I heard nothing of him. I had been too slow to be part of Our Church. This time I was not going to pass up the chance.

44. “Reverend Brown,” I said, “you need to be my reverend.” He replied in a mechanical and distant voice, “Church is at 10:00 on Sunday in Wilson Park.” After that, I had a bit of chance for conversation with him, and he seemed friendlier in ordinary conversation than he had in his invitation to church. Is he trying to discourage me? I wondered. But I was excited about the prospect of attending a marijuana church, very happy at the idea of being able to share the feeling of Jah's presence that marijuana gave me with others, in an actual church service, so the next Sunday I dressed up and went to Wilson Park to meet with the others in the marijuana church.

45. To my surprise, when I arrived at the park, Rev. Brown was there alone, singing from a hymnal that he had put together in prison. I almost didn't join him, it was so strange and unlike what I had imagined But I finally screwed up my courage and joined him at the picnic table. He handed me a hymnal, and began talking about marijuana and about the Bible. We spoke at length; I was fascinated. Finally, he went back to singing, and invited me to sing along, which I did, although poorly. At the end of the service, we visited more, talking about the Bible, the Herb and why it was sacred, and how the musician Bob Marley had in fact been so much more than a musician, that he was in fact a prophet. My Rastafarian education had begun.

46. I started attending church in Wilson Park every week, and often after church Rev. Brown would come to my house to show me an educational video. I heard Bob Marley answer the question, “How long have you been Rastafarian?” His answer was, “It is not how long I have been Rasta. It is how long did it take I to grow. Because what ya is, is what ya is from beginning to end.” Then I realized that I, too, had always been Rastafarian, and that all my life experiences, good and bad, and all of my spiritual experiences had been directing the I to the path of Ras Tafari.

47. There was much to learn about Ras Tafari. Rev. Tom Brown led me in this learning. (See EXHIBIT "F"; Rastafarian Information) I also became involved with him in a partnership relationship. Although the partnership was not to last, it was important because it accelerated my education. Rev. Tom was a demanding teacher. He filled my hours with biographical and cannabis videos, required me to read the Bible, and introduced me to other books. Some of the most important were Marijuana the Bible (See EXHIBIT "G"; Marijuana and the Bible), Green Gold, and the works of Marcus Garvey. He turned my front yard into a vegetable garden that we both tended, and helped me set up my first indoor cannabis garden—a living altar in my bedroom. He also emphasized the importance of combining the sacrament of marijuana with spoken prayer. Either alone is good, but the combination of the two is greater than the parts, and is needed to truly focus on Jah.

48. Rev. Tom Brown also taught me that it was part of spiritual practice to minister to the sick, especially if marijuana would help their illnesses. Once I was tutoring this lady named Linda who had an ailment named Crohn's disease. She was very sick with this, and Tom and I went to her apartment and prepared some marijuana butter for her to eat. For the first time in months, she had some relief from her condition. The least pleasant part of my training was the requirement to read case law. I have never had any inclination to study law, but Rev. Tom said that it was mandatory if I was to be ordained. So I studied the case law, but my understanding, or over-standing was poor. In 2000 I was ordained. (See EXHIBITS "H" and "I"; Rev. Brown's affidavit, ordination certificate, respectively)

49. In 2002, my partnership with Rev. Tom Brown a thing of the past, I founded Sacred Truth Mission, along with three of my children. In 2004, I moved to Hawaii, and we initiated a second branch. In February of 2005, Sacred Truth Mission bought a 3-acre plot in Hawaiian Acres. (See Exhibits "J", "K", and "L"; Incorporation Document, Certificate of Good Standing, Membership Booklet)

Religious Overstanding

50. From my studies of the Bible and other works, from my use of marijuana sacrament, and from reasoning with other Rastafarians, I have come to an over-standing of some Truths.

51. The holy cannabis hemp plant is the sacrament of my religion. As a Rastafarian, the cultivation and use of this plant is mandatory and essential to my mode of worship. This is not my personal choice; it is a mandate of my sincere religious belief, association and practice. I cannot help this any more than a Catholic can help the fact that alcohol is the sacrament of his church, or a Native American Church member can help the fact that peyote is the sacrament of her church, or O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal or Santo Daime members can help the fact that Hoasca is the sacrament of their respective churches.

52. The Holy Herb, known as Ganja, Marijuana, Cannabis, and many other names is mentioned throughout the King James Bible, from the first chapter of Genesis (Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed--Gen 1:29) to the last book of Revelations (...on either side of the river, was there the tree of life--Rev. 22:2) Holy Cannabis was the main ingredient of the incense that was brought to the baby Jesus, and one of the ingredients of the Holy Anointing Oil in Exodus 30:23-25. (See EXHIBITS "E" and "M"; Bible p. 68, p. 322 and Torah p. 441-443 respectively)

53. I know that the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon to test his wisdom. I know that she brought many gifts, including incense made of cannabis, which she presented to him when he proved his wisdom to her by the answering of certain questions. It is my overstanding that she took back to her country, now known as Ethiopia, the early Old Testament writings of the Hebrew people, as well as a son who became Menelik I, the first king of the Menelik dynasty, who brought the Ark of the Covenant to Addis Ababa, where it resides to this day. Ras Tafari, known also as Haile Selassie, was a descendant of Sheba and Solomon through Menelik. Through Solomon, he is also the descendant of David, who slew Goliath, which is prophetic of the struggle our small church has with the Goliath of Babylon, the unnatural element contained in "civilization." I know that Haile Selassie is of great importance to the entire world because he was the first modern head of state to call upon the world to answer aggression with morality. These matters are historical fact, and further constitute an essential part of the theology of Rastafari.

54. I know that use of the Cannabis Plant is required in order to understand Jah's plans for us, and for getting along with each other. I know that Jah designed the human brain with cannabinoid receptors, so that when we consume the plant, we enter into inspired thought and meditation to receive Jah's words to us, and can then join others in inspired communication, known as "reasoning" in our religious gatherings.

55. I know that Cannabis is the safest therapeutically active substance know to man, that no human has ever ingested a lethal dosage of cannabis. (See EXHIBIT "N"; Judge Young's Opinion)

56. I know that my use of Cannabis has already extended my lifespan, enhanced my health, and enabled me to function despite severe health problems.

57. I know that Cannabis can indeed be the Healing of the Nations, that, in fact, it is the only thing in Jah's creation that may still do this. (See EXHIBIT "E"; childhood Bible, p. 322)

58. I know that every part of cannabis cultivation and preparation is prayer:

59. When I plant a seed, I pray. Planting a seed is always a prayer. Entrusting this capsule of potential life into the womb of Mother Earth to be warmed by Jah sun is prayer in the most physical, practical, emotional and spiritual of ways. Gardening is fundamental prayer.

60. A garden's call to prayer is so deep and powerful on the human psyche that it cannot be ignored. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. I don't know about this because I have never been in a foxhole. But I believe there are no atheists in gardens.

61. Planting flowers is a prayer for the sun's beauty to be reflected back toward the skies. Planting tomatoes is a prayer for big red fruit, for food. Planting Koa trees is a prayer for the forests, and for nitrogen to enrich the soil. Planting cannabis seeds is a prayer for the healing of the nations, in body and spirit. Transplanting is a prayer for growth, for health, and is a checkup at the same time. Making cuttings is a prayer for roots, for stability. Pruning is a prayer for improvement. Watering and tending plants is meditation time, forced upon the gardener by the needs of the plants, and welcomed by the gardener as time to spend with Jah. I pray for our dear departed. Adding peat moss and earthworms are prayers for my father. Adding cinder and neem cake are prayers for my grandfather. Greensand is a prayer for our Rasta brethren. Compost is a prayer for the future, for my children and grandchildren. Fertilizing plants with fish bone meal is the very act of resurrection, as the fish, an ancient symbol for Jesus, is transformed into a marijuana plant, the modern symbol for Jah's love, the crucified plant that now is our Saviour. A plant ready for harvest is a rosary waiting to be said, one prayer for each leaf we pluck. Harvest is thanksgiving, praise and gratitude to Jah.

62. Sharing Herb with my brethren and sistren is communion. Sharing with those still in Babylon is showing them Jah's unconditional love. I know that this communicative activity is my right as a human and a citizen.

63. I recognize the existence of Babylon. Some might call Babylon the "Forces of Evil", "Satan," or "Hell." Babylon represents those things, both physical and idealogical, that are not natural and Godly, or of Jah. Historically, Babylon enslaved the people of the Old Testament, so Babylon signifies that which would enslave us, the philosophy that would enable to place other considerations above the righteous, that which "rejoiceth in iniquity." Babylon is both the external manifestation which allows a human to cause harm to another, to behave in a manner destructive of Jah's creation, or to benefit at another's expense, and the internal Babylon which we must each overcome in order to truly experience our own true abilities and the greatness of Jah.

64. I know that I and other members of my church have property rights to our real property and belongings and we object to any deprivation of these rights. We particularly continue to object to any interference with our Church and religious practice that is done without prior legal due process, which we believe must entail strict scrutiny, including proof that there is some compelling governmental interest that must be served by this interference and proof that this interference is the least restrictive means of serving this interest. We currently strenuously object to the wrongful confiscation of our Holy Sacrament, Sacred Chalices, photographs of personal and religious import, signs, and other church property. We further deplore the wrongful and pointless destruction that was visited upon our Garden Temple.

65. I respect and assert all my state and federal constitutional and unalienable rights including but not limited to: property, the right to be secure in effects and papers; due process; religious free exercise and establishment rights; equal protection; inspired speech, thought and assembly; property and privacy rights. These rights are protected by, among other provisions, the Hawaii State Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, RFRA, RLUIPA, and International Human Rights Treaties. I further recognize that according to the Article I, Sections 1 and 2 of the Hawaii Constitution, I am free by nature and have the obligation and responsibility to use my power as a citizen to direct the State in its exercise of power.

POLITICAL POWER Section 1. All political power of this State is inherent in the people and the responsibility for the exercise thereof rests with the people. All government is founded on this authority. [Am Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]

RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS Section 2. All persons are free by nature and are equal in their inherent and inalienable rights. Among these rights are the enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the acquiring and possessing of property. These rights cannot endure unless the people recognize their corresponding obligations and responsibilities. --Hawaii State Constitution, Article I §§ 1-2.

19. Accordingly, and consistent with my fundamental and unalienable rights, I am requesting and respectfully demanding this Honorable Court require the State cease and desist from further impairment.

Dated this 26th day of May, 2009


Nancy Waite Harris, Reverend,

Sacred Truth Mission