Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Words that are no comfort

Some words that will not comfort
but the words that might sustain.
Rachel is weeping for her child
and cannot be comforted.
The loss may be transformed
but the loss will still remain
The slave may be redeemed
but the slavery is not erased
a life, our lives will still go on
but without the presence.
"They" may say you are grieving well
or may think you're doing badly.
But it is o. k. to grieve badly and well in your own way
it is o. k. to make others uncomfortable
You don't have to cry (or not) so that they can say
"How well you are doing."
You must grieve as you grieve
and move through the pain
You must cry - or not - as you will
for there is no comfort.
there is only hope

copyright Roger Victoria, 1998

Male or female

I was androgynous when I took this test on whether your brain responds in a more typically male or female question. And you are?

And the news is where?

I say a 'breaking news story' on Anna Nichole Smith as I was flipping through the channels today. I didn't stay to watch what it was. Rather I thought, how about the ex-ex-gays on Montel Williams talking about a breach of trust, how about the ex-aide to Ney - one of our elected officials - pleading guilty to bribery, Gore's response to accusations from the Drudge, some person (Randy Thompson) from an ex-gay ministry suggesting gays haven't suffered enough (see Box Turtle Bulletin for some history), Congressman Dan Young misquoting Lincoln, a principle censoring an article that called for tolerance because kids shouldn't be exposed to the idea that some kids are gay, that Republicans are keeping money from a supporter of terrorism, an editorial on why all kids should be enabled to attend prom with the partner of their choice, how people can disagree with respect for their differences, Andrew Sullivan's quote of the day, and while many of these may not interest everyone aren't they more important than one person's dirty laundry.

Daniel Burnham

"Make no little plans; they no magic to stir men's blood. Make big plans, remembering that a noble, logical diagram, once recorded will never die,but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency."

Daniel Burnham as cited by Habitat for Humanity's Millard Fuller

When in the dark

When in the dark of night I fear
and what I fear draws near, draws near.
Nearer still, yes nearer still,
God's love is yet nearer still.

When in the heat of noon I quiver
and I am prey that shivers, shivers;
where shall I go or travel
save, flee to God, God's love will still

When in the frenzied tasks I lose
lose sight of what to do, to will
I will then, truly then I will,
turn to God, will do God's will

copyright Roger Victoria 1999

A Prayer

Oh Light that lights up all my life,
illumining the darkest shadows.
Oh Light that shines through all the years
and gives the years their meanings.
Come to my heart and all my life
illuminate in every part.
That I may see what I have been
and look to what I yet may be.

Oh Love that loves the loveless ones.
Love loving those who cannot love.
Oh Love that cares through all the years
and gives the years their meanings.
Come to my heart and all my life.
Come cast your love in every part.
That I may see what I have been
and look to what I yet may be.

Oh Life that lives in every day.
Come breathing through endless, lifeless days.
Oh Life that lives through all the years
and gives the years their meanings.
Come to my heart and give my life
Come to my heart that I may light
the breath of love in every part.
Till I may see what I have been
and become what I may yet be.

copyright Roger Victoria 2001

Monday, February 26, 2007

Marriage counts

From the Petrelis Files I heard about a Republican standing up for the rights of all to marry. Given the recent history of the Republican Party this is good news. And it comes from Wyoming which isn't really noted for being at the forefront of civil rights for GLBT folk. But Rep. Dan Zwonitzer stood up when it counted. Thanks.

Oh by the way, though it shouldn't be of interest, the guy is straight.

Alphonse Karr

"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses."

Alphonse Karr

A war on terror or supporting terror?

I thought the war on terrorism was supposed to be a hallmark of the Republicans, but Afarensis points to a CBS article indicating that the Republican party is being supported (a major donor) by someone with actual ties and donations to support terrorist activity. I'm still waiting to hear that those donations are being returned.

Shame

The former president of the Virginia chapter of the ACLU has been arrested for possessing child pornography. This is a shame. It is not about two consenting adults. It is about abuse of someone who should be protected. Who will guard the guardians? In this case the wolf was caught and good riddance. I get on the fundamentalists and evangelicals for this sort of hypocrisy especially when it seems they are protecting their own, but it is equally despicable no matter from which area of the political spectrum it comes. While I don't believe in the death penalty - it's too irrevocable when mistakes are made - child abuse is the time I start thinking about making an exception.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars pointed me to ABC news on this.

Eleanor Roosevelt

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Inconsistencies

We Christians (or rather those who call ourselves Christian) are sometimes inconsistent. When we have power we talk of building a Christian realm and out of power we talk of being strangers in the land. But we should constantly be of both mindsets. We are building a Christian realm and a part of the birth pangs of the new creation. We are strangers in this land though we may rest here for a while. We are Christians and are never at home in this world and yet we follow the one who came to save this world.

We are a mass of inconsistency. We live in the both/and rather than the either/or. We are saved and yet in the middle of being transformed. We walk with faith in the midst of our doubts. We say that we believe and can offer no proof. We talk of one who died over 2,000 years ago as living forever. We read scriptures that say God became human to save us. And this is stuff that isn’t rational. It is stuff that just doesn’t fit. And so we Christians are a mass of inconsistency.

We have made attempts to become more consistent. When we formed the Greek part of our scriptures (commonly called the New Testament) we could have taken one gospel. There were arguments for that. We could have combined the gospels into one version. There are extant versions of such attempts. But we left ourselves open to contradiction and chose four gospels out of the gospels used by different congregations and different locales to form the beginning of our testament in Greek.

Still we are a mass of inconsistencies. Our scriptures are in two or three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Our scriptures have places that contradict each other – a Sermon on the Mount and a Sermon on the Plain that are almost, but not, identical. Our scriptures have holy people arguing with each other – Paul condemning Peter. Certainly if God had wanted consistency the scriptures could have been more clear, but it seems God wants us to use our minds and hearts rather than respond unthinkingly.

In scripture itself we have passages about a lying spirit being put in the mouths of prophets and warnings to test the spirit. God doesn’t want to make things easy for us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” And that is in the same vein, though not the same thing, as what I’m discussing. A God that did not leave us to act by faith would be a tyrant.

We are a mass of inconsistencies for God has set us free.

Watch out for the spirit I timothy 4

It’s strange how this passage from I Timothy 4 is often used to condemn others, without the one who condemns really explaining why. It is used to say others have followed a false spirit while imposing the same sort of burdens that the passage condemns.

This is, in my understanding, one of the gay friendly passages. Why? Because it says the ones who are in the wrong are those who forbid marriage. Now Timothy was probably not thinking of gay men and lesbians or any other variation of human sexuality, yet… and yet it is clear. Everything created by God is good and as long as we receive it in thankfulness we are using it correctly.

I’ve heard the arguments that homosexuality is unnatural. I’ve read the psychiatry books that claim it is a diversion of the sexual drive or lack of good parenting or a number of other things. And all of the above fail because they don’t look at what actually happens in nature. In the natural world sex is not just about procreation and homosexuality occurs just as does heterosexuality. While the majority of gendered animals, along with the majority of humans, may not have an interest in same-sex sexualities, the lack of a majority preference doesn’t make something abnormal.

Certainly the writer of this epistle to Timothy had in mind heterosexual marriage. But there is fairly clear evidence that marriages between men happened in the Roman Empire. In fact one of the emperors married another man and that man was taken into the households of several other emperors after the death of his husband. (Caligula and the three emperors in one year) The satires were about the emperor dressing as a subordinate rather than the same-sex marriage. So there was certainly information about same gendered marriages for Timothy to confront if necessary.

While this letter may not clearly give evidence in support of marriage for all people irrespective of the genders of the couple, it still is a warning to those who want to set up barriers between the Christian and celebrating the way they are created.

1 Timothy 4:1-5
[1] Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, [2] through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. [3] They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. [4] For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; [5] for it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer.

Shakespeare

"The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed-
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes."
Shakespeare

Myth Directions / Hit or Myth

I recently returned to a series that I thoroughly enjoyed by Robert Asprin. It's the adventures of Skeeve and Aahz in a fantasy world where demons are dimension travellers and magic exists. If you don't like puns and wordplay avoid this series like a plague, but otherwise come in for a good time with sly allusions and the assurance that through many problems all well end well.

Tear drops fall

The tears drip down
There is no cause
They come as drops
Drop down as mist
Theree is no cause
The tear drops fall

I say it's nothing
It's just pollen
It is, the pain
It is depression
It isn't pollen
I say it's naught

But it is something
I wake before the morning sun
with dreams of pain and ruin
and as I go through daily tasks
my laughter is a mask


The tears drip down
with hurt and aches
They come like drops
of torrents poured
There is a cause
The tear drops fall.

copyright Roger Victoria 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Frederick Buechner

A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside.

Frederick Buechner

Even the dogs - Mark 7:24ff

The story of Mark 7:24-37 is one of my favorites. Jesus learns more of his mission from a Syro-phoenican woman. And that willingness to be corrected by one that Jesus first denies is one of the reasons, I believe, that he is called, among other things, one who always walked in righteousness.

Jesus, the one who is the Christ, was fully human and fully divine. Too many times we want to make the Savior of the world only one or only the other. Yet to be fully human means to learn and grow in knowledge and in strength. Yet to be fully human means that we need to correct ourselves on occasion. And the fully divine is linked with the emptying of self so that the 2nd person of the Trinity would be as the ones whom the 2nd person saves.

When we are talking about Jesus we are talking about the divine immanence and we are talking about humanity and that is a concept that no one, save God alone, can completely grasp. And that is a concept that allows us to recognize that God would want to save us as we are and has the power to actually save us.

Today we sometimes have preachers who concentrate on the healing power of Jesus, on the miracles of grace and similar wishes. And they shouldn’t be forgotten, but they are not the whole of the story. One of my Christology professors made that very clear when he said that the reason the church lost in Northern Africa with the rise of Islam was that with a God that wasn’t fully human the people had no way to relate to God. The gift of Jesus as fully human and fully divine is what was needed to reconcile us to God.

We humans can relate to one who learns and makes mistakes – even while remaining completely righteous – as we can not relate to one who is perfect in every way or only God. The reconciling work is that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. When we, as did the church in North Africa, leave out the fully human dimension of what God has done in Jesus Christ, then we ignore the reconciliation. We are reconciled in God’s own self.

The divine is not less important, but it is not of sole importance. The work of reconciliation is in the life and death of the one who saves us. The work and reconciliation is in knowing that God emptied self, as the 2nd person, to come to us as fully human. The work of reconciliation puts together the power of God with one who is one of us.

Now this isn’t all there is to God and Jesus Christ. It is only a small portion of what I could spend my days in praise. But it is a part that seems to me to be forgotten today in our talk of how God is all-powerful. And that part is the person who heard a woman debate him, listened, responded, changed and taught us all how we are to be as humans.
Mark 7:24-37 [24] From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, [25] but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. [26] Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenican origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. [27] He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." [28] But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs." [29] Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter." [30] So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. [31] Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. [32] They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. [33] He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. [34] Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." [35] And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. [36] Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [37] They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Sexual Conversion Therapy

Sexual Conversion Therapy edited by Shidlo, Schroeder and Drescher is a collection of articles on Reparative and similar therapies. It gives a scientific perspective on both the religious and psychological programs. One of the major problems with all reparative therapies is the lack of clinical studies. While there are many anecdotal accounts of cures and clear evidence that for some those attempts to change were harmful, there are no clear evidences of change that happens as part of clinical or religious therapies. There is evidence that some people change in sexual orientation through their life-time, but this is not the same thing is clear evidence that any of these programs can bring about such change.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is worthy of careful reading and thought.

P.S.
A final note from one of the articles...
"I don't for a moment doubt that Irving Bieber regarded me with affection and
wanted only the best for me. Unfortunately, and tragically, that does not
alter the dominant reality that his intended good did me in fact literally
irreparable harm"


The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And I don't doubt for a moment the sincerity of many in the change movements, but it's not just whether someone wants to change their sexual orientation that is important. More important is will they be harmed by the attempt to change especially when the success rate - even with the most positive of reports - is so low and with that possibility of harm should something with a low success rate be attempted?

What defiles a person - Mark 7

When reading the gospels it is clear that Jesus ignored many of the commands, the laws, of the Hebrew Testament. One is defiled if they don’t wash their hands and, yet, for Jesus that isn’t important. The old categories of ritual purity and impurity, of abomination and purification, of offerings to become cleansed are thrown away. The one sacrifice is being made in the birth, life and death of the one who tells the Pharisees that it is more important to note what comes from within the heart than which ritual is performed.

The question to ask ourselves today is who are the Christians who are like the Pharisees and some of the scribes? Are we those people who concentrate on the defiled hands rather than the heart? I hear more and more TV shows where the pastor(s) seem to concentrate on how others ought to live rather than how the he and the people for whom he is pastor ought to live. If we Christians are not correcting our own problems, we cannot and should not speak to the world.

We are as Christians to be a light to the world, but that light shines more brightly when we speak to our own problems as well as to the problems of the world. We are the mantle and the light is from Christ. We need to polish that glass mantle so that the light of Christ can shine through us.

Saying the right things, e.g. I have a personal relationship with Christ, the Scriptures are inerrant, and more from all sides, is about honoring with our lips. But if our actions are a rejection of other people then we are not honoring with our hearts. If our actions are forcing others to believe (or mouth the words) even if what we believe is correct, then are dishonoring the one we claim to serve.

The harshest words in scripture are not for prostitutes and adulterers – those sexual sins, for tax collectors – betrayers of their country, or those ritually unclean. No, the harshest words are for the religious leaders of the day. And we who are religious leaders in our day should be careful that we are not like those Pharisees and scribes who knew the letter of the law but could not find the heart.

Mark 7:1-23

[1] Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, [2] they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. [3] (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; [4] and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) [5] So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" [6] He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; [7] in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.

“[8] You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."

[9] Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! [10] For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' [11] But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God)--[12] then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, [13] thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."

[14] Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: [15] there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."

[17] When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. [18] He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, [19] since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) [20] And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. [21] For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, [22] adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.

[23] All these evil things come from within, and
they defile a person."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Frederick Buechner

The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner... that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sees is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure,but also bled for. That is the comedy. And yet, so what? So what if even in his sin the slob is loved and forgiven when the very mark and substance of his sin and of his slobbery is that he keeps turning down the love and forgiveness because he either doesn't; believe them or doesn't; want them or just doesn't give a damn? In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen to him just as in fairy tales extraordinary things happen. That is the fairy tale. All together they are the truth.

Frederick Buechner "The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, & Fairy Tale"

If another, then I

I came a cross a quote from an early Christian today that reminded me of what Martin Luther King Jr. said, "If one person is oppressed then all are oppressed." Jerome said, "The one whom we lok down upon, whom we cannot bear to see, the very sight of whom causes us to vomit, is the same as we are, formed with us from the self-same clay, compacted of the same elements. Whatever another suffers, we also can suffer."

We, as Paul says, are parts of one body. We cannot be whole apart from the rest of humanity. When we pretend that we need to withdraw as a community from the sins of the world to avoid contact with all that is immoral or otherwise distressing, then we miss our call as Christians to work in and along side of each other helping the birth of the new creation.

God is bringing into being something that is new, a world that has not yet been seen. And we are in the midst of the birth. The water has broken and we are the midwives or Lamaze partners supporting and encouraging what is already happening. And we are connected.

We cannot get there by ourselves thinking that is 'my' experience that saves me. Even if it is an experience of God that 'I' have had - an overwhelming happening that causes 'me' to recognize God's presence in my life - it is not the 'one' who is being saved, but the whole world. And that is what Jerome, Martin Luther King Jr., scripture and saint through the ages have called people in the church to recognize. We are not alone. We are not saved by ourself. We are called forth as a people of God and we minister to those around us.

Who is the neighbor is the question in the story of the Good Samaritan. And how will we answer?

She's No Faerie Princess

I enjoyed the fantasy "She's No Faerie Princess" from Christine Warren. It gives a different slant to down below and demons as well as the courts of the faerie. What happens when a princess - who doesn't want to be a princess - takes a vacation right into the middle of some political machinations? That's the question in this fantasy and romance.

Marriages

Reality isn't moral or immoral and teaching about real issues isn't saying they're moral or immoral. But one family seems to think so. They filed suit saying something along the lines of because the school is teaching that families have different makeups e.g. some may have two parents of the same gender, then the school is teaching morality. This is the same as filing suit because the school mentions there are some polygamous marriages and while the vast majority of those are one man with several women there are societies where several men have married one woman. Reality just is. Certainly children need to be taught religious values and morality. But teaching what is in fact happening just doesn't rise to the level of taking that teaching of religion and morals out of the individual and their family

Micah - Anita Blake

Micah is the most romantic of the Anita Blake series. There's a break from the foreshadowing conflicts to just have time with one of her boyfriends. Yes, there's plenty of blood and gore and a realistic assessement of the problems women have in a male dominated field - those appeal to my testosterone and my feminism - but some just plain romance. Thanks Laurell K Hamilton for a series that I can and will keep on reading.

Decider Status?

Don't take away Bush's decider status says a report from the White House. I'd be more inclined to listen if Bush was a little closer to the President who said, "The Buck Stops Here." Actually Bush has said that, but it just never seems he means it. Who got in trouble from the White House when Bush said something about anybody who's leaked the status of the CIA operative Valerie Plume? I'm still waiting for the White House to do something. And that's not the only time.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm not getting tested.

I saw this at fundies say the darndest things.

"I'm not getting tested for anything at this point. My boyfriend and I have both prayed seprately and together, asking God to free us from any pregnancy right now. If I were to take a pregnancy test, I would be doubting God and that to me
is wrong."
IwishIknew, Faith Community Network


Guess why I'm in favor of sex ed that goes beyond abstinence only? If you're having sex, prayers alone won't keep you from getting pregnant. As in God will answer every prayer, but that doesn't mean that the answer is what you're praying for.

It's not money for sex

I don't approve of sex outside a life-long committed relationship. I'm not in favor of soliciting sex at a bar or anyplace else. I despise people who preach against something and then go out and do it. But none of that is pertinent to free speech. If you want to preach against homosexuality and then solicit sex that's something that may be immoral but not illegal. That's what Rev. Lonnie W. Latham did. He shouldn't be up on charges for illegal sexual activity. If that's the case many of the couples who check into my motel after the bars close on Friday should be arrested since they don't really know each other's last name. The fact that almost without exception they're heterosexual couples shouldn't make a difference, they and Latham should be treated in the same fashion. And that means that soliciting sex just isn't illegal, nor should it be. Asking for sex just isn't prostitution.

Another english quiz

It's been awhile since I included an english quiz or 'how do you speak' is more accurate. I came across this one which may be more accurate than the last I took.

Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern


Hmmm.... I grew up in Kansas. We called that the midwest. But then I've also lived in Missouri, California, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, so... I'm not sure what that says about my accent.

Roger
Victoria

Love at First Bite

Love at First Bite is a collection of Novellas and as such they have different levels of interest, but they are all sound, interesting pieces of fantasy about love and the supernatural. How long does it take for two people who love each other to finally acknowledge it is the question of the first novella by Sherrilyn Kenyon and that is my favorite, but I suspect other readers will differ with me. And that's fine since this is a good collection to find out which author will be your favorite supernatural romance.

William James

The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life.

William James

Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor

What happened after Arthur's fall is the answer in the book Knight of Darkness. And while the plot is finding true love their is plenty of fighting and magic for those who want sword and sorcery. Is love about the form or the heart is the question with which the character's struggle. A good read.

Frederick Douglas

Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own conservation ... Custom, manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South; and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road. This, of course, cannot be done, and ought not even if it could. The true way and the easiest way is to make our government entirely consistent with itself, and give to every loyal citizen the elective franchise — a right and power which will be ever present, and will form a wall of fire for his protection.

Frederick Douglas

with thanks to Andrew Sullivan.

Ghost of the White Nights

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to discover a new set of novels in an alternate reality where the Dutch have more influence in the settling of the New World. The attraction for me was not just in the story, but also in the music and meals. As a musciian finding an author who recognizes how much work goes into a performance was wonderful. As a cook finding someone who could describe the meals was delectable. In other words Modesitt allows us to form a picture of the characters as they go through the day, they're not just shadows to push the plot but their skills are integral to the story.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

S. A D.

I can never remember what the initials stand for but SAD is the winter condition where with shorter days you head down towards depression and longer days you begin to come out of it. I normally compensate by finding myself overworking, not the thing to do in depression whether it comes from a particular incident as my first bout, or is a seasonal thing as seems to happen now.

But the problem for me is not when I'm heading down, but when I finally start coming up again. Going down is a gentle slide, but coming up is a real roller-coaster. Which is why when people talk about the risk of suicide for some anti-depressants I go - it's probably because they finally start to have the energy. That is just the perspective of one who's studied from the inside and done some light reading from the outside, but perhaps should be looked at.

And I mention SAD with that because, while I probably experienced some of it before my bout of depression that required medicine, therapy and a lot of pray, since my depression I notice it every winter. I go down and then as the days are long have a roller-coaster on up.

I suspect that some of my readers have experienced depression or have someone in their family who is going through depression. It's not just in the mind, but has repercussions for the whole of the person. And family and friends will be affected. Help the depressed person get some help and spend a little time in a support group. Recovery is sometimes harder than just living with the depression so... just a word of thought

What I've described is some of my own experience. There are a number of other ways people can eexperience depression and recovery. Check with the person rather than assume I have thngs correct for you (or someone else). But as spring is coming (and my mother's birthday has just passed with the memories of her death and the start of her depression) my thoughts and prayers turn to those who are still in the depths.

There is hope. There is a way out. It's not easy, but it is worth it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jack Kornfield

To live fully is to let go and die with each passing moment, and to be reborn in each new one. Jack Kornfield

Practicing our faith

Practicing Our Faith by Dorothy C. Bass is the book I'm using for my Lenten devotions studies. When I was growing up all I heard about lenten practices was giving up something. I find it more helpful to begin something. And to begin something that will carry on past the lenten season. So this year, as I've done for several years, I joined an onlin discussion group at ecunet.org and have begun talking with others about this book and how I'm using it. What works for me, may not work for you, but the idea of starting something positive - achieving my ideal weight, reading scripture, helping another person, finding a new prayer pattern, making time for family and friends or .... - is something I hope everyone does. It doesn't have to be a big change, just something new and improved

Incubus Dreams - Anita Blake

In this continuation of the series Blake's life grows even more complicated with four - no five - boyfriends. It's a pleasure to see the usual expectation that a heterosexual threesome is with two women turned on its head. The attacks and mayhem in this novel are more psychic than the usual guns and fists of the Anita Blake series, but still remains interesting. And there's always a nugget of truth. My pleasure this time was the comment.

"People want to make saints of the dead as if their v ery goodness should
have protected them. Purity was not a shiled against violence, in fact
sometimes ignorance got you killed faster."

Since this is a very Christian viewpoint - especially some of the early desert mothers and fathers - and Blake was Roman Catholic and currently Episcopalian I enjoyed it. Certainly not everything Blake does or what is done in the book is Christian, but there's only one who actually followed the way of the Christ without making mistakes and that one was/is the Christ.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Scientist?

How does one tell a scientist from a non-scientist. Well a degree isn't enough. There a pleny of people who have degrees in science, but just aren't scientists. A scientist actually does research and publishes it. And by research I mean looking for what is happening in the natural world, examining the experiments to see if there are false reading or happenings that can be misconstrued andmore. But one doesn't just take a degree in a scientific field and become an authority on all things scientific. For a nice little rant about this from a medical doctor go to Respectful Insolence.

Customer Service

I've complained about customers, but my pet peeves are bad customer service. For tips on ways to get past automatic phone systems and other ways of improving customer service go to gethuman.com.

Male or female

I found a site called the gender genie courtesy of J0hn Scalzi's Whatever. I tried a couple of pieces I wrote - the fiction called 'Depression' and non-fiction - some hotel stories I've shared. The fiction piece came across as female. And so did the non-fiction piece. I guess I'm just gay, since I'm certainly happy to be a man no matter what the gender genie says.

Malcolm Forbes

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

Malcolm Forbes

Cerulean Sins - Anita Blake

As always Laurell K. Hamilton is a good read, lots of character development and plenty of action sequences. For Blake the changing of her abilities becomes more evident and takes up more of her life - especially the ardeur - and that means a lot more sex. While I wouldn't want that as a mixture in my own life I do enjoy reading about it. So if you like sex, violence and a good read this is a series to continue, if not then you've been warned.

Snow removal

The snow that has been here for the last few weeks - weekend after weekend after weekend - is finally disappearing. And some of what it leaves behind looks glorious. But then there's my parking lot. About every day this week I've gone out and found new items to remove. The bags of food and cigarette butts are normal. But two unopened cans of beer? And other things less savory... And also finding more cracks in the curb. I wonder if I could manage something inbetween - where the snow covered everything that was trash and broken and nothing else - but I think I'll have to put up with the damage that is winter leaving and spring not yet here. At least my fingers aren't freezing everytime I pick up trash in the parking lot. At least for this week

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Creationism's Trojan Horse by Forrest and Gross

Barbara Forrest was one of the experts at the trial over evolution Katzmiller vs. Dover. This book which traces the rise of Intelligent Design was one of the reasons. Alone this would have been enough to show that Intelligent Design is creationism dressed up, but with the documents produced for the trial the relationship between creationism and Intelligent Design was shown beyond a shadow of a doubt. The fact that school board members from Dover lied under oath would have been enough, but this book shows the rest of the story.

Narcissus in chains - Anita Blake

The hard questions, "What do you do to save someone you love?" "What would you do for those under your care?" are asked in this book by Laurell K. Hamilton. While I don't always agree with the answers that Anita Blake does, I do believe in asking those questions. And helping people know that those questions are there to be asked in a fun and entertaining style makes this book a continuation of the good read that is Anita Blake

Too many boxes

Today I was reviewing our complaint file and found one from about two years ago. We were replacing all of our mattresses. We went from regular to pillow top mattresses. I can't say I'm sorry, but there were a couple of frustrations.

Just little things like trying to have the mattresses arrive in two separate shipments a week apart. We took out 92 mattresses, changed some of our rooms with two queens into single kings, then brought in 82 pillow top mattresses. It was a good change, but neither shipment arrived when scheduled but they did manage to arrive on the same day.

We hired extra help, but it was still a lot of work. And anyone with eyes could see that this was a project like road construction. It's a mess, but if they don't do it the roads will soon be in terrible shape. But not everyone thought the mess was worthwhile. I received a complaint that we had too many boxes in the hallway. I'd agree. We had too many boxes in the hallway, under our canopy and some were left unprotected while I prayed that it didn't rain. Evidently the fact that over the course of their stay they could see boxes of mattresses being moved in and out.

However that complaint didn't irritate me as much as our experience with the headboards. We replaced our headboards and other furniture the month after we did the mattresses. Our headboards would have been moved up anyway to deal with the new height of the pillow top mattresses and so the owner decided to do it all. The new headboards were lovely rectangles with two hooks on the back to hang them. And the hooks were in different places on each headboard. And so we measured 85 headboards in order to make sure they were all hung straight.

The headboards really were a lot less work than the mattresses, but it's the little thing of having to measure each headboard that got to us. Also with the rest of the furniture the handles were in the drawer, not on the drawer so we had to attach each and every knob and handle. It doesn't seem like much, but with fifty rooms to go it took more than a little time. It's not always the big things that really are irritating, sometimes small things - under an inch in diameter - like knobs and hooks can really get through our equanimity.

Harry Potter

I love the Harry Potter books and movies. I've watched them all and read all the books and thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Harry Potter. Daniel Radcliffe has now shown that he's not just Harry Potter. He played the lead in Equus. And that's not a play for children, but it is a great play and a demanding part. I'm certain there will be protests about how he'd no longer a role model and such drivel. But he's shown himself a true role model by showing that he can play different roles as an actor. So, though I haven't seen the play, congratulations Daniel Radcliffe - you're no longer Harry Potter.

Romney and Christians

If I'm sometimes down on Christians it's because I take to heart looking at the log in our own eyes before looking at the grain in another. And booing Romney for being Mormon is one of those things that Christians need to examine. I doubt that I'll vote for Romney - his record shows to many inconsistencies that he seems to try to hide rather than explain - but what happened was not Christian as I understand our faith.

Blind belief

It's not just Christians who have their blind believers and fundamentalists - from fundies say the darndest things -

We Should show Christians that their religion shall not be tolerated. They
should all be put in extermination camps and they shall die. And then they'll
realize they have no soul and the bible is a bunch of crud."
Jtaylor1, Youtube [Comments
(36)
] [2006-Nov-17]


It's a despicable attitude no matter who says it.

A Christian's journey

I saw this post at Fundies say the darndest things -
"I am a preacher's daughter who has raised 4 great kids... only something went
wrong the day after Christmas. My 21 year old son sat me down to tell me he is
gay. This has been the worst week of my life. I have raised all my children in
church... I just don't know what went wrong or what I did wrong. He currently
attends Saint Louis University (a very liberal university)... and although he
says he still loves the Lord and has a personal relationship with Jesus, he says
in his opinion... it ok to be a "gay Christian"... What am I suppose to do? I am
normally the one who fixes everything... I have a very influential and demanding
job... I'm always in control... but this last week, I thought about suicide and
I have to take sleeping pills at night to sleep. I can't eat, sleep... I can't even breathe... I feel like I am dieing and I think his death would have been easier on me than walking through this valley. Is there ANY hope?"
BrokenMomTina, Be Broken [Comments
(56)
] [2006-Dec-12]

-and thought about it. I suspect my post would not get a hearing at the original site, but...


Let’s see none of the ten commandments mention homosexuality, Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality, but this preacher’s daughter who has done everything right has a gay son who believes in Jesus is thinking about suicide and his death would have been easier on her than finding out he’s gay.

Is there any hope? Well, lots for him. But for her? She needs to break down her ideas of what the Bible says and actually read Scripture and pray. What’s more important, for her, in this note is all the works she has done rather than the one for whom she said she was doing them. What’s more important in this note is her image of what her son should be rather than loving him as he is. She wants to fix everything rather than trust in God.

And yes, these are very understandable attitudes and they are related to Christianity, though not of the best. But she’s forgetting that the most important thing is to love her son. Jesus boiled all of the commandments down for us. Not into a set of rules. They were love God and neighbor. Paul talked about living under the law as leading to death and that if we judge another even for the worst of things then, we too are equally guilty or worse.

The questions we should be asking are not about how sinful is the other person or where did they go wrong, but how can we love that other person. This woman hasn’t done a bad job. Her son is open and honest – clearly trying to let his mother into his life. As Galatians 3 says: “[25] But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, [26] for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” The son is faithful still and that is a gift that the mother has passed on.

The crisis of faith is because this mother has made who her son in greater than the one who is her God. And this is not an uncommon mistake. I’ve made my problems greater than God and I suspect every Christian has done so on occasion. But the most important question is not whether her son is gay, but whether she loves her son. The expressions of Jesus to the tax collectors and prostitutes started with love and care, they did not start with what have I done wrong.

And the other thing this woman has done is mistake who is in control. “I’m the always in control.” I thought God was supposed to be in control and we are supposed to trust in God. And I sympathize with the feeling as I’m a recovering perfectionist, but sympathy is not the same as believing that attitude should be allowed to go by without objection. Yes, this woman is in a crisis of faith, but that should bring about an examination of what she believes and what she should believe. Has she been getting by with quick answers and easy solutions? Does she need to return to reading scripture with the question of who is she in the stories – the believer, the Pharisee, the poor, the outcast – and what is she being called to do? Who is the one in which she actually places her trust – her own understanding or in God?

I’m not saying that this is a bad woman. She is probably a very nice person. But being nice, having a good family, being well thought of are not Christian callings. They are worldly. For all that we are called to care for family even honor our mother and father, we also have the call to make God the center of our life.

And I worry when this woman describes herself in terms of her roles as mother and daughter, but not in terms of who she is. Who is this woman that will not change with the death of her father or the growth of her children? If she is only a preacher’s daughter, that’s a life lived in the shadow of her father. If she’s only a mother, then what happens if her children die before she does? Her roles should not be the whole of her life. The roles of mother and daughter are not bad, but they shouldn’t be all that she thinks of as herself. Is she a prayer warrior, a musician, a preacher, a dancer, a golfer, a comedian, or something else? Again the question is “What is she when her father is dead and her children are gone?” I firmly believe that God gave this woman gifts that are apart from her relationships.

The problem this woman describes is not with her gay Christian son. The problem this woman should examine is her own faith and understanding. The problem this women needs to attack is how to love herself and how to lover her son. Those are the tasks which she is given – not the one of changing her son to be heterosexual or homosexual. Her son is called to be as God created him to be rather than as this mother wants him to be.

I do wish this mother and son the best and will continue to keep them in my prayers. My answers may not be the correct ones, but I suspect my questions are the start of any journey this woman needs to do.

The Sanctity of Marriage

The Sanctity of Marriage Handbook is a quick little read on hypocrisy. What is happening in the lives of some of those who preach most about the sanctity of marriage? Well a lot of the same things against which they vociferate. It's not a satire so much as heality. What's it called when you want others to follow rules that you cannot follow yourself?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Before we were, we are chosen

Every once in awhile I hear the passage from Jeremiah 1:4-10 used in the pro-life/pro-choice argument. I think that’s a misuse of the passage. The passage doesn’t talk about when a child becomes human or when a fetus becomes human or anything close to that. This passage is about God knowing us before we knew ourselves. The passage is about God calling us to work before we could understand work. This passage is about foreknowledge and predestination (at least for those the reformed traditions), but it is not about when a collection of cells becomes human.

This is a passage of wonder at God’s power. God calls us and supports us. It is not that we are a boy – we cannot use our lack of power as an excuse – for God calls us as we are. We speak a word in or out of season to those who are powerful. The weak are lifted up and the mighty fall from their thrones. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every man [sic] I meet is in some way my superior.” An appropriate sense of wonder allows us to find that way in which every one we meet is our superior.

We are chosen and we are a royal priesthood yet we are also called to be with the humble and weak. That we have been lifted up should be a sign that we have taken up our cross daily. That we were known before we are born is a call to live faithful lives. If we use this passage to condemn others, then we condemn ourselves along with those others.

The one in whose name we are lifted up, called from the cross “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” And because the one without sin took the road to the condemnation of the cross, we who are with sin should avoid casting the first stone or any stone of judgment towards another.

The passage from Jeremiah is not one that should lead us to one side or the other with the issue of abortion. Rather it should lead us to a celebration of God’s gracious gift in choosing us before we were born and before the worlds began. And it should be a call to live our faith no matter how young or old we are, no matter our life condition, no matter our status. This passage is not one from which we should exalt ourselves as better, but to call ourselves to service of each other in the name of the One who created us.
Jeremiah 1:4-10 [4] Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, [5]
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I
consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." [6] Then I said,
"Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." [7] But
the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to
whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, [8] Do not be
afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD." [9] Then the
LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth. [10] See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build
and to plant."

Steel Magnolias

I'd rather have a moment of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

Steel Magnolias

Too much or too late

I really wonder sometimes at whether we're getting too much information. Or, perhaps, the same information repeated too many times. As in, today, I received two pieces of paper about guest reservations. It's not just that it repeated information that was on the computer screen nor just that it is information I can look up several different ways, but the printout came through after the people had already checked out. Really, if the information is to, as it says, help me with the guests then it should arrive before the guest has checked out.

They really do want the best.

Box Turtle Bulletin has a series about a visit to one of the change ministries. It's illuminating and fascinating. And recalls that most of the people working with and in those ministries really do want the best. But the problem is they base their change on what they want to have happen. They base their conclusions on the way they want the world to be. And, in the end, they will have to accept homosexuality as the cross-cultural and cross-species natural phenomenon that it is or they will end up so entranced by their own lie that they will be unable to find the truth anyplace that it is.

When I read the article I went back to the day I found out that my visit to the psychologist hadn't been about testing my intelligence, but because my parents thought I might be gay. I was about five at the time of the visit and found out the real reason about thirty years later. I don't have a problem with the visit nor do I remember my parents lying to me about it. And I do know that they wanted the best. Yet the results of that visit sent me into many years of dating women and looking for the right woman and I wonder, I wonder, if I'd found my sexuality accepted would I be with a partner right now. Would I be with someone to love and cherish and have the laugh my parents had together? I have no regrets about being gay, but I do regret that it took so long for me to recognize it and I regret the missed opportunities.

And I give thanks that our culture is more open today and that gays are growing up in a world where they can see that they're not alone.

Lincoln didn't say it.

There are many things I admire about classical conservatism that don't seem to be happening in today's world. One of them is the abhorrence of a lie - something they shared with classical liberalism. But, as Andrew Sullivan points out, reusing a quote that is clearly not Lincoln as something Lincoln said is a lie.

No touch, no abuse, no foul

Andrew Sullivan has a few posts on why we need to get over the fear that someone might look if we're showering together. But it boils down to just get over it. And while my memory of group showers is far from recent I do seem to remember that straight guys check out the other guys packages in the showers. At least there were some comments made during the shower time. So, the fear of gay men showering with straight men seems to be more about the insecurity of the straight man - and certainly not all straight men - rather than anything to do with sexual orientation.

I, too, can change says the heterosexual

The San Francisco Gate has an editorial on Haggard's change. From straight liberal to closeted bigot - what a change. Once you read the editorial you'll understand.

Presidents Day

I'm showing my age when I say I remember having separate holidays for Lincoln and Washington. And in many ways I would like to still keep them. In very different ways they led the country I love through difficult times and transitions. It just seems a shame to lump their gifts to this country.

The Man Jesus Loved

The Man Jesus Loved is more academic than the rest of the books I've been reading this week. It is still acessible to most people. Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. explores a number of texts in the New Testament for their homoerotic narrative. It is clear that they are more prevalent than is usually assumed. There are positive messages for the gay reader in both Greek and Hebrew Testament, Jennings does a good job of liming out the presence in a manner that shows the biblical scholarship without making the non-scholar work through the technical language.

Phule's Errand

It's been awhile since I read Robert Asprin but Phule's Errand is like much of his work, fun and escapist fantasy. It''s written jointly with Peter J. Heck, but continues the same appeal. A good read for a lazy afternoon.

Shocked, no. Disappointed, yes.

David Stern wasn't shocked at Hardaway's remarks. Nor should he. I expect better from those who should be our role models, but shocked. No one needs to be shocked with our culture the way it is. Disappointed, yes. Asking people to clean up their language, yes. But shocked, why?

Shock to the System

Chad Allen and Sebastian Spence as a couple. A movie only needs both of them to get me to watch. But the topic of reparative therapy is portrayed sensitively in this film noir. And the couple is shown, with flaws and successes, to really care for each other. And there is mystery and romance and gunfire and suspense all of which make a good detective movie.

Dream Warrior

Dream Warrior is a straight to DVD movie. But I liked it. I can't give it a resounding endorsement because there were a lot of flaws - script, acting, directing, continuity. What can I say in favor - I liked it. Maybe it's because I like Daniel Goddard from the TV show Beastmaster, but since he kept his clothes on it's not just because I'm attracted to his body. So... watch or don't watch. It's probably going to be a favorite for a very few people and their friends will just be asking "Why?"

Obsidian Butterfly - Anita Blake

From the book Obsidian Butterfly Laurell K Hamilton makes an observation that is so true. "She was lying to herself, and thus she could not see a lie in someone else. She didn't understand what the truth was, so she couldn't recognize that either."

Those who live a lie cannot recognize a lie. Those who are unwilling to change their perceptions of who they are become unable to see what is happening before their eyes. To live for God, to live in truth one has to be willing to give up everything, every conception, every belief to examination. One has to step forward in faith that no matter what preconceptions may fall, God is faithful still.

The truth will set us free, but that doesn't mean that the truth will make us happy. One of the things I had to do to get out of depression was to look at the truth of who I was. And it was different from what I had imagined. I did not feel guilt over my mother's death as some people tried to tell me that I did or should. I am not a man who should ever marry a woman, though I love many women I will never love a woman in the same fashion as husband and wife should. Now depression is not the same thing as telling yourself lies about who you are, but the way out is the same. And that is to be willing to accept the truth whereever it may lead. And that is to be willing to tear down all of what you believe about yourself in order to see who you really are.

Awhile back I was writing a book called "To be as God created us to be" And it was one of my preliminary efforts and it would have made a decent paper, but not a book. yet that title remains good. We are to be, not as we think ourselves to be, but as God created us to be. We are not to impose our ideas of what is natural on ourselves, but to see ourselves as we really are.

And this is where fundamentalism of any sort - right or left, liberal or conservative, fascist, communist, feminist, christian, and more - goes wrong. Fundamentalism tries to protect faith by making precepts more important than truth. Because a fundamentalist cannot question, they cannot see the truth set before them. And the frustration is not because they're wrong, but because they are so close to being right and they stop before the final step. It is not enough to say you have the truth, what must happen is a continual examination to see if you have the truth.

Without a willingness to give all that we are and all that we believe, the truth will elude us no matter how nice, no matter how many rules we follow, the truth will continue to escape us until we make it more important than any precept that we claim to be truth.

Yoda

"Try not! Do, or do not! There is no try!"

Empire Strikes Back

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Smart or Stupid

Today's a day for finding quizes. Try this timed one. Smartorstoopid.

Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure

If you want to know one reason for the fourth amendment read Citizen Crain on what happens, sometimes, without it. There are many freedoms we have taken for granted in this country. But letting them go without a fight is the wrong message. Secret courts, untraceable warrents, those are the actions of a police state. When we do them as a part of our war on terror we become the very thing we say we're fighting.

Galileo's Birthday

One of the people upon whose work the greats of today stand was born today. Happy Birthday Galileo!

Bible Quiz

This claims to be the Ultimate Bible Quiz. After taking the English Bible Exam as one of the Standard Ordination Exams for men and women seeking to become ministers in the Presbyterian Church USA, I doubt that. But nonetheless it's a fun little quiz.

Should I mention pass/fail rates for the Standard Ords are similar to that of passing the Bar. The PCUSA does believe in their ministers having some education. Though, as with other professions, education isn't all there is to the practice.

And ... Oh... you want to know how I did?


You know the Bible 100%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Woody Allen

If Jesus Christ came back today and saw what was being done in his name he'd never stop throwing up.

Hannah and her sisters

Woody Allen

Obsidian Butterfly - Anita Blake

Strong women remind me of my mother and my aunts. In other words strong maternal images. And this is what I get reading Anita Blake along with a lot of gunfire, mayhem and other images of life better read than lived. Blake takes a break from her two boyfriends and fly to help another friend solve a mystery. This time Aztec mythology comes into play, a turn I appreciate. It's longer than some of the other books, but well worth the read - if all you want to do is relax and escape the world. And since I do sometimes want just to escape it is worth the few dollars for a paperback edition.

First do no harm

One of those kind people who mean well sent me a brochure about changing my sexual orientation. And while the brochure was all very medical and religious it seemed to me to have forgotten a basic tenet of medicine - First, do no harm. And while I'm sure they meant well, I have no doubts as to their sincerity it seems that when all the major medical and psychological bodies have statements about the risk of harm when trying to change sexual orientation and doubts as to whether it is possible to do so without harm and there is no independent study of success rates (though there is the Spitzer one that he has clearly said was misused that indicates some change is possible for highly committed and highly religious people - all of whom are making a living by being ex-gay), it just seems reidiculous to promote the idea that people can change their sexual orientation.

Certainly there are times when one might undergo a risky medical procedure. My dad's last heart operation was quite risky, but.... there were mitigating factors. All the risks were explained up front (didn't happen in this brochure). The quality of life was certain to be improved by the operation (without the operation he would remain in the hospital until death vs. with the operation he could return home). But while the brochure spoke of the evil in 'the' gay lifestyle, the lifestyle portrayed was not remotely similar to mine. And the peace it said would happen is something that I already have. The relationship with God that was promised is something I already live. And so I wonder what did the people who so kindly want me to change have to offer. It seems that I already have what they are promising, so why should I change? Why would I want to spend the money, the time, the effort to get what is already present in my life, just to make a change that they say is needed to get those things.

First do no harm, but also make sure that there will be some benefit.

Bebe Moore Campbell

"As I grow older, part of my emotional survival plan must be to actively seek inspiration instead of passively waiting for it to find me."

--Bebe Moore Campbell

And God has not divorced us - Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50 is one of the passages that talks about why we have faith. And we have faith because of God’s faithfulness. No matter what we do God will not divorce us. No matter what happens God will not abandon us. We may be rebuked and chastised, but that will not be forever. We are chosen; we are saved, we are children of God and will be so forever. And so the rough times will not be forever.

And we will go through times that are problematic. Whether it is the Babylonian exile or a depression; whether it is serious illness or loss of people one loves; what ever happens we will be in some turmoil during our lives. What Isaiah reminds us of is that we are never abandoned by God even in the roughest patches. We aren’t promised a life of ease. We are told that God is there with us through all that happens.

There is no bill of divorce from God. God with us is the Emmanuel promise of the Greek Testament and the hope of the Hebrew people through the matriarchs and patriarchs, the prophets and priests, through long generations of hope unseen. As Hebrews 121so eloquently puts it, by faith all these people moved to follow where God led.

And as Isaiah says, in so many words, don’t worry God has not left any of us behind.

.
Isaiah 50:1-11 [1] Thus says the LORD: Where is your mother's bill of
divorce with which I put her away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have
sold you? No, because of your sins you were sold, and for your transgressions
your mother was put away. [2] Why was no one there when I came? Why did no one
answer when I called? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no
power to deliver? By my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert;
their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst. [3] I clothe the heavens
with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering. [4] The Lord GOD
has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary
with a word. Morning by morning he wakens--wakens my ear to listen as those who
are taught. [5] The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did
not turn backward. [6] I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to
those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
[7] The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore
I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; [8]
he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up
together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. [9] It is the Lord GOD
who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a
garment; the moth will eat them up. [10] Who among you fears the LORD and
obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet
trusts in the name of theLORD and relies upon his God? [11] But all of you are
kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and
among the brands that you have kindled! This is what you shall have from my
hand: you shall lie down in torment.

Rebukes and condemnations

Yes, some athelete said he hated gays. Yawn. If he uses physical violence I'd be more offended, but is this a surprise? And he's rebuked by the
How can we help those around us learn respect - I know a very old-fashioned attitude - for each other? That's a more important question than focusing on who said what to whom.

Dealing with customers

Am I complaining? Yes. But hopefully not in a boring manner. It's just that if you ask me to give something to someone else I'd like you to give me the name.

A guest asks me to give something to his supervisor. I asked for the name. He said 'He's in room..." And I said, "I need to do this by name." He said, "He's with this company." And I said, "Yes I realize that and so are you, but I need the name." He said, "He's F... but I don't know the last name, but it's money so I need you to give it to him." And I sighed.

Is it really to much for me to ask that you give me the name of the person rather than just telling me the room number, the company or that he's your boss?

Evidently so.

And I'm not trying to make trouble, but I've had a number of people with this company change rooms on me. I'm not trying to make problems, but we try to, for security and privacy, direct things to people by name rather than room number. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I ask the questions that I need to do my job and if you answer a different question I can't help you."

And frankly I've experienced bad customer service on the other side. I'm less tolerant of it than I used to be. Things I used to let go just bother me, since I've been on the side of giving good customer service and I know that it's not difficult to greet the customer as they come in. It's not hard to ask, "How can I help?" Telling the person on the phone that you've got so many customers ahead and asking whether they want to wait is simple.

But when I'm on the other side, I know the information I need to start looking for your lost item, or your receipt or whatever. If you don't answer the question I have, then please don't be surprised when it takes me longer to find what you need. The infromation you think I need first, may not be so. Please just answer the question that I asked - not the question you think I should have asked.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Young Earth Creationism

A young earth creationist is getting his Ph.D. and I think I was right to be disturbed. But as Uncertain Principles makes clear the degree is about completing the requirements and he has done that. Actually working as a scientist is the next step and publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals, presenting concepts and possible theories that are falsifiable and more are the next steps. I'm not sure where this case will go from here. We'll have to wait and see. But if he's done the work he should get the Ph.D. A degree, using the products of science, doesn't make one an actual scientist. A scientist does a bit more. And one of the things is looking at the facts rather than twisting them to suit some pre-conceived beliefs.

P.S. and I know all of us at times do twist the facts to suit our beliefs, but the attitude we have should be of looking for the truth no matter where it leads rather than looking at what we believe and cherry-picking only the facts that support our beliefs.

Parenting - it's not about gender

Pam's House Blend alerted me to another study, in the continuing trend of actual academic studies, that points out gay, lesbian couples make perfectly good parents. Wait for the load of something or other trying to explain away this study.

Pelosi Smear

The Pelosi smear campaign continues. A request by her security - same sort of request as previous speakers of the house - becomes a smear that she wants something more than the rest of us, like the generals and executive branch. More at Huffington Post.

Perfectionism and music

I’m a musician. I play a couple of instruments, but mostly I am a vocalist. And one of the things that happened from when I first began to learn is requests to perform. It may have been from my father saying, “Roger, you’re not doing anything this afternoon, come with me and do something at the nursing home.” And as I got older I’d start saying, “Dad you need to give me some warning so that I can prepare.” And dad would go, “But you’ll do a good job and they’ll enjoy it no matter what.” I like to perform, but I want some notice before I’m asked.

I do like to prepare. I want to do my best when I perform, whether it is in worship and I’m helping the whole congregation sing with me or as a soloist before an audience. And that takes time in prayer, study, rehearsal, thought and more. And that sense of always working on preparation whether in music or preaching or other things is something that God uses to inspire in my performance.

Yet music in worship does bring me to one of the issues with which I contend. And that is I'm not always satisfied when I bring my best to worship or to God. It's the flip side of the Calvinist work for the glory of God. It's when we begin to be perfectionists. And we're not asked to be perfect though we are asked to bring our best.

I can, acting as a musician/soloist, perform a piece that brings people to tears and go back and examine what I've done and find points to criticize. And that's what makes fundamentalism so attractive to me. In fundamentalism I find standards to meet and I can meet them. They are simple standards - do this and that and it will show that you are saved or say this and speak such and it will show what you believe. And that's not all wrong - James speaks to that show me your faith and I will show you my works. Works are not unrelated to faith.

Yet works are not the faith, but only signs. And making works more important than the one for whom they are done, as when I let my perfectionist streak run rampant, is futile. And it's less than futile for making works important is putting myself again under the law. And we've been ransomed from the slavery we to which we were condemned.

And yet the attractions of that slavery are still there. As a child, as slaves, life is easier. We don't have to make decisions; they're all made for us. But we are called to grow up. Instead of just understanding that the stove is hot - don't touch; we grow to understand how to feel if the stove is hot or cold and, perhaps, even realize that when the pot of hot water is spilling towards a child we will burn ourselves deliberately for another.

There are rules for a child or for a slave that don't work for grown-ups. Or, more accurately, they work differently. The decisions and actions aren't quite so simple as we become more mature.

Leviticus: the JPS Torah Commentary

I appreciate anything that introduces itself by quoting Micah 6:6-8 (p. xi) but the worth of this book is recognizable on every page. Don't let the Hebrew scare you away. There is an english translation alongside and the insights in the commentary are acessible to those without the Hebrew language at their command.

Leviticus is not a book that recieves much attention from Christians. But Baruch A Levine brings clarity to the commentary and allows us to see the coherence within the Levitical rules and regulations that seem less than coherent to our cultures within the U.S.A. And reading it make4s me think I'm going to have to spend more money - buying more in the JPS commentary series. If this book is any example the money will be well spent.

Blue Moon - Anita Blake

I continue to enjoy the series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Some of the plot threads start to resolve as in which man is she going to end with? And more continue to unfold. Anita Blake becomes responsible for more than herself and while there's murder and mayhem to keep the story moving there are also touching moments. It's not likely to get on a list of the 100 greatest books in world history, but has no pretensions to that. The book is a good read and relaxation and pretends to nothing more and certainly is nothing less that a welcome read after a long day.

Gods of Olympia

After watching Travelling to Olympia I had to watch Gods of Olympia just to see if the second was the same train wreck. It had the same appeal as watching a film by Ed Woods. One wonders why any money would be spent on such wooden acting, ponderous dialogue and preachy script. Certainly I agree that people should get more schooling, but a herd of rampaging elephants would be more subtle than the way this was inserted into an uninteresting plot. I like good diction but the actors came across as sounding out each word from cue cards rather than clearly pronouncing the words. Line such as 'He didn't like the politics, one of the partners was Baptist" show that the author doesn't know the difference between religion and politics or that there are a number of varieties of Baptist denominations. I could go on, but I won't consider watching this film as one of those by Ed Woods - an experiment in finding the ways perfectly good ideas can be ruined.

The Heart of the Desert and passion

Heart of the Desert is a book I'm returning to. The latest chapter that has me thinking is about the early Christian idea of the passions. Most of us look at passions as separating us as in the seven deadly sins, but the early fathers and mothers talked about all passions as gifts. Certainly those gifts can misused. And in our fallen nature passions like anger are likely to be misused, but instead of denying them we should be looking at how to use them correctly.

Can anger fuel our passion for doing the right thing? Instead of using anger to get into a fistfight or war, perhaps we should be using that same anger to drive a reconciliation or to bring a creative act of protest or for working on correcting the problems that led to the nager. The passions can be destructive or constructive - the difference is in how we use those passions. Instead of denying that they're present let's work on using them correctly

Monday, February 12, 2007

Darwin and Lincoln

Two people of note were born today. Both changed the world for the better. Need I say more?

Gay Straight Alliance - one more

Congratulations - this time a Gay Straight Alliance seems to have been established without any of the brouhaha and false allegations that can happen. Gay-Straight Alliances aren't about hooking up or having sex, but providing a safe place to talk about sexual orientation.

Gender blind rooms

When I was in college there was a little scandel when some friends of mine switched room. The non-platonic male and female were tired of being chased out of their room for the other couple. When the college found out the rules were such that the only thing that happened was a fine for an unauthorized room change (at least as I remember). It seems that we were ahead of our time. And frankly the time has come for us to stop assuming that every man, even every straight man, is after every woman or vice versa. By the time people reach college they should be able to make up their own minds as to who is or isn't a good roommate. So I was pleased with this story from the Portland Press Herald. Welcome to the real world.

Death and our reaction

I've posted links to several news articles in the last days. In part it's to avoid the overabundance of articles on the death of someone who was famous for being famous. And yes a death is a tragedy, but making the life and death of someone into a side-show attraction is even more of a tragedy. Sure I have somewhat of a prurient interest in finding out what happened when and who is the baby's father and how will this affect the case from her rich husband's death and more. But I just don't think it is news. It's entertainment and let's leave it at that.

And if you hadn't yet guessed I'm talking about Anna Nicole Smith and the fact that I suspect everyone knew this before I mentioned her name is a sad reflection on public and private discourse.

C.E. Montague

"A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet, strangely andbeautifully, rapture possesses you when you have taken the scrape and leftout the lie."

-- C.E. Montague.

Quoted by PHIL HARRIS Dec. 9, 1996, inEcunet meeting QUOTATIONS, note #36.

Even the dogs

The story of Mark 7:24-37 is one of my favorites. Jesus learns more of his mission from a Syro-phoenican woman. And that willingness to be corrected by one that Jesus first denies is one of the reasons, I believe, that he is called, among other things, one who always walked in righteousness.

Jesus, the one who is the Christ, was fully human and fully divine. Too many times we want to make the Savior of the world only one or only the other. Yet to be fully human means to learn and grow in knowledge and in strength. Yet to be fully human means that we need to correct ourselves on occasion. And the fully divine is linked with the emptying of self so that the 2nd person of the Trinity would be as the ones whom the 2nd person saves.

When we are talking about Jesus we are talking about the divine immanence and we are talking about humanity and that is a concept that no one, save God alone, can completely grasp. And that is a concept that allows us to recognize that God would want to save us as we are and has the power to actually save us.

Today we sometimes have preachers who concentrate on the healing power of Jesus, on the miracles of grace and similar wishes. And they shouldn’t be forgotten, but they are not the whole of the story. One of my Christology professors made that very clear when he said that the reason the church lost in Northern Africa with the rise of Islam was that with a God that wasn’t fully human the people had no way to relate to God. The gift of Jesus as fully human and fully divine is what was needed to reconcile us to God.

We humans can relate to one who learns and makes mistakes – even while remaining completely righteous – as we can not relate to one who is perfect in every way or only God. The reconciling work is that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. When we, as did the church in North Africa, leave out the fully human dimension of what God has done in Jesus Christ, then we ignore the reconciliation. We are reconciled in God’s own self.

The divine is not less important, but it is not of sole importance. The work of reconciliation is in the life and death of the one who saves us. The work and reconciliation is in knowing that God emptied self, as the 2nd person, to come to us as fully human. The work of reconciliation puts together the power of God with one who is one of us.

Now this isn’t all there is to God and Jesus Christ. It is only a small portion of what I could spend my days in praise. But it is a part that seems to me to be forgotten today in our talk of how God is all-powerful. And that part is the person who heard a woman debate him, listened, responded, changed and taught us all how we are to be as humans.


Mark 7:24-37 [24] From there he set out and went away to the region of
Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he
could not escape notice, [25] but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean
spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.
[26] Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenican origin. She begged him to
cast the demon out of her daughter. [27] He said to her, "Let the children be
fed first, for it is not fair to take the children=92s food and throw it to the
dogs." [28] But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the
children’s crumbs." [29] Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go—the
demon has left your daughter." [30] So she went home, found the child lying on
the bed, and the demon gone.

[31] Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. [32] They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. [33] He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. [34] Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." [35] And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. [36] Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. [37] They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

The Stranger

There are many reasons to love reading theStranger. And this skewering of Mary Cheney - who seems to want to be left alone, or not as she chooses is one. And this blasting of one of their columnists is another. You've gotta love people who are as tough on themselves as someone else.

Secure?

So where are the funds going for Homeland Security? A town requests a fire truck and gets more than there annual budget in funds that can't be used to buy a fire truck. I feel so much safer and secure.... Not! Perhaps this should be one of the places our legislature investigates.

American Torture

Torture is abhorrent. And yet it goes on. For a website that keeps current info on what we ourselves are doing try looking at American Torture. It may be true that there will always be those who cross the boundary, but there should always be willing to step up and protest against torture or the threat of torture. The site is a first step and together perhaps we can take more.

Who has time for this?

I guess I have time for it since I'm blogging about it. But is it really worth spending time to find the worst college courses in America and give them dishonorable status? Really spend time with family and friends, talk about your faith, go take a walk, but leave poring over course descriptions and catalogs to the students who want to take the course.

Burnt Offering - Anita Blake

One of the things I appreciated in this novel about Anita Blake was the interweaving of gun safety in the story. And while this is a minor matter, it is important. I don't remember a particular lecture on gun safety as I was growing up. It was always a given. Guns were a tool on the farm. They were used to hunt for food, to kill stray dogs that might run the cattle, but were not toys. Guns were around as tools to help and like all the other tools cared for appropriately. Just as keys weren't kept in a vehicle; just as gates were left as they were; so too guns were locked up until they were used. And when they were in use they weren't pointed at anything that wasn't going to be shot.

The character's development is more important than the gun safety. Blake takes on resposibility for more people (or creatures) and deals with having more than one man, works to get governing bodies to act responsibly and causes a lot of shoot them, duke it out mayhem along with having a sex life. Enjoyable as always.

Intelligent Design - deceptions o.k.

At Stranger Fruit there are some pertinent comments about someone who lied his way through graduate school to get credentials. I guess I just don't get the idea that anything is more important than being true to self. I spent a number of years denying my sexual orientation, but I was lying to myself at the same time as others. Knowingly going in and lying about your beliefs. Well that just seems to be the game of scammers. Pharyngula has some information and there's also an article in the New York Times. The thing that puzzles me is why would you claim to follow the One who is the Truth and say something different from what you believe to be the truth? I don't get it.

Valentine's Day and memories



I do like some things about Valentine's Day, including this photo of my mother and her twin sister. But most of the time my twin and I weren't dressed alike and could choose or not whether we were dressed the same. I think it may have had something to do with the number of times my mother and her sister were. Including dresses with hearts for a birthday (I think) photo.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Killing Dance - Anita Blake

I do enjoy the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. In the Killing Dance we see Anita Blake dating two men while coping with an assasin. The assasin is after her. how she copes with the stresses of shifting relationships, healing and killing makes for a fun read.