Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hitler restaurant in Bombay



This story, about a Bombay restauranteur who wanted to name his establishment "Hitler's Cross", and decorated it with swastikas and Nazi memorabilia, seems to have resolved itself. He's going to rename it "The Cross Cafe" (hopefully not "The Iron Cross Cafe").

The owner claimed that there were lots of things named after Hitler, and he was being unfairly picked on. No examples were given, and I have to say that this seems pretty far-fetched to me. I don't remember any Hitler-themed places when I lived there, and nobody has come up with any during this fracas. I suspect the guy was referring to things like "Golden Eagle" beer - well, yeah, Hitler did use eagles, but it's hardly an exclusive Nazi thing.

That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't some strange cultural differences between India and the West. Dean saved this interesting ad from the Hindustan Times of February 22, 1994:


The text is a little hard to read, so I'll type it out:
Heil Hitler!
This would have been the salutation across the globe. But for the lack of sophisticated communication arsenal in the dicator's [sic] forte.
Fortunately today, corporate wars can be won in a matter of seconds.
It does not call for Patriot or Scud Missiles. All that is required is KILBURN FAX to complete the mission.

As I recall, this caused a fair bit of controversy and scandal at the time, so it's not as if people in India love Hitler or anything. There's just a different point of view there, and Hitler was never THEIR demon the way he was ours, so you can sometimes get these rather...weird...incidents.

Braxton's Lear III - The Rainbow Warrior

Here comes another chapter in the endless serial melodrama being played out every Sunday morning in churches across the land. This time the setting is a small church near Atlanta. The protagonist is a lonely crusader against the tyrannical power of that infamous purveyor of sinister potlucks, the United Methodist Church. Her only weapon – the breastplate of righteousness, aka the Rainbow Ribbon.

The writer had been attending the UMC parish for a year before she discovered that all was not well – to her horror, she discovered that The Book of Discipline of this denomination declared that homosexual practice was ‘incompatible with Christian teaching’…in 1972. And it’s been consistently upheld every 4 years since at each General Convention. With characteristic keenness, she sees through all the bunk about the “sacred worth” of GLBT human beings; why, these so-called Christians are actually calling them SINNERS! And unworthy of God’s love! And they expect people to just take that sort of insult lying down; well, not our girl.

When a UMC pastor was tried for homosexual activity, she offered prayers for the lady, but the other parishioners remained annoyingly uninterested. They didn’t tell her to stop, or anything, but they preferred to keep on praying for their sick grandmas and their mother’s breast cancer and their children in the army instead of rallying around this great progressive cause. Not to worry – she and her friend came up with the great idea of wearing rainbow ribbons in church and distributing them to anyone else who wanted one.

Now, Pam and I are hardly radicals, and I would never call either of us activists. We just thought it would be a neat idea, a symbol of support for a pastor and about a subject no one wanted to discuss.

Since they wouldn’t do what WE wanted them to do, they’d have to be forced, and what could be better for that than hijacking a church service with a nice captive audience sitting right there. It was for their own good, after all. It didn’t go down too well, but what can you expect?

It is much easier to listen to the “help the poor” sermons without ever doing anything about it, or the “justice for your neighbor” sermons and drive your Mercedes home to your half-million dollar house.

Yes, I’m talking about YOU, you “wonderful, good-hearted and well-meaning people” I love so deeply and who welcomed and included me so readily.

Do read the whole thing, noting in particular how often “potluck” turns up as a term of abuse.

Thus, I was branded as a “troublemaker.” I think what has come to be known as the “Rainbow Ribbon Incident” was the beginning of the end for me there. If it is a terrible wrong to voice support for a lesbian pastor, then I am guilty of that. And I’m damn proud of it. And I’d do it again.

I relived this experience recently as I discussed it with a friend who was there at the time. His advice?

“Thumb your nose at ‘em, Susan. You care too much, and that’s what compels you to break the silence. It may make others uncomfortable, but hold your head high and keep speaking.”

I will. But I must also brace myself for the inevitable pain and backlash that occurs when you stand up for what is right.




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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Mahabharata - Shakuni

Yesterday was Mahabharata day, of course. I found a website that lists all 94 episodes of this series, with a little synopsis for each. It turns out we are up to episode 52, and to my great surprise, I discovered that we didn't really miss very much at the beginning, only 4 or 5 episodes. We didn't see the early story of Bishma, and came in just as Pandu was married and cursed. I guess we've been watching it for about a year now, though it doesn't seem that long.

Anyway, yesterday's episode had Shakuni (Uncle Sneaky) in it. Any episode with him is a good one - he's an interesting character, and we like the actor playing him. Dean also likes Vidur, the Prime Minister - so many of the figures are half-gods or related to the gods, it's nice to find some downright human people. Personally, I think the actor who plays Vidur is a dead ringer for Eugene Levy. IMDb has a very incomplete cast list; next week I'll have to write down the names of the actors in the end credits and do some updating.

This episode had a great scene where the Sage Duravasa is visiting Hastinapura with his entourage of holy men, and Shakuni has roped Duryodhana into helping him serve them rice. Of course, Duryodhana has all the patience of a boiling kettle, so he grabs his uncle and tells him, "Listen, get rid of these sages or I'll..." and Shakuni quickly tries to shut him up, but it's too late. Duravasa has heard the complaints, and is on the point of leaving in a huff when Shakuni manages to smooth things over.

I love this character, because he's so recognizable. He isn't a religious man - he doesn't really honour the sages for their enlightenment. In fact, he thinks it's pretty much bunk. But he doesn't believe in unnecessarily alienating them. In a past episode, when Duryodhana was complaining about the holy men and their influence on his father, Shakuni quickly told him off. "You're wrong! They're simple folk - honour them, be respectful, listen to what they advise. You don't have to DO it." He reminds me a bit of Thomas Jefferson; HE can see through all this religion nonsense, but he recognizes that it's useful for keeping order in society, and it doesn't pay to make enemies among the believers. Just pay lip service, and go ahead and do whatever you want to do.

At the same time, he's a touch superstitious - he's worried that if Duravasa is offended, he'll curse Duryodhana, and that's a risk he doesn't want to take. Just in case; you never know, it's just good policy to keep these holy men sweet, because they might surprise you. Anyway, it's delightful to see him cringing and flattering this cranky old rishi, pretending that it's a great honour to be serving him and his followers rice, while Duryodhana fumes at the indignity.

In this episode, we also saw Krishna telling the Pandavas that war is inevitable, and the should start preparing. If you try, you can relate this to what's happening today; Dhritarashtra had many chances to defuse the hostility between his son and the Pandavas, but he was weak, and shrunk from outright conflict because he wanted to protect Duryodhana. Because he forbade war earlier on, now there will be a much worse war, that will involve everyone and threaten to destroy the world. And now even the gods are becoming involved. This reminds me of the way the West keeps shrinking from the battle with Islam, and settles for unsatisfactory deals and settlements because we want peace at all costs. The result is that war will be inevitable, and it will be much worse than it would have been had things been stopped at an earlier stage. It's not a new story.

Even the disgrace of Draupadi is like the rise of anti-Semitism in the world; all the great men, the wise ones, the enlightened, are standing by silent, passive and embarrassed, like Bhisma, Drona and Kripa, as evil tramples good. Afterwards, they torment themselves with the questions, "Why did we just sit there? Why didn't we act? How could we let something so terrible happen right before us and do nothing?" But they did. And that failure at the moment of test brings terrible consequences.

As they say, Whatever is not in the Mahabharata does not exist in this world.

Mass at Holy Cross yesterday

Interesting little thing happened at 8:00 AM mass yesterday - as the consecration began, at least HALF the congregation knelt down! That is a big change - just one year ago, there were only 4 or 6 people kneeling. And I wasn't one of them, either; I was too shy, in a parish I'd just joined (and I wasn't even a Catholic yet!) to seem to show off greater piety than the people around me, so I remained uneasily standing. It wasn't until my RCIA class, when in discussion it turned out that all of us newbies really WANTED to kneel, that I had the guts to do it, along with my fellow-students (and one of the teachers).

The last priest of this parish was a fanatical modernizer, and *insisted* that people stand during consecration. He didn't like the spotty effect of some kneeling and some standing, and was dead keen about "the people" expressing their unity with each other, etc. etc. I'm glad I wasn't there to experience it. Anyway, he browbeat the congregation into doing it his way, and only a few lonely holdouts still insisted upon kneeling. Well, things are turning around a bit; I was astonished to see all these people very decisively going down on their knees, no hesitation or worry, and I expect that gave courage to others.

The other thing is we have a new deacon. He was there before, some years ago, and must be in his 60s, so his Catholic thinking must have been formed during an unfortunate time. We had the usual, "Let's show what a jolly good time we can have giving each other the peace of Christ" but I just put up with that, because anyone who improvises the words always seems to do it in a silly way. BUT, there was one thing that troubled me. At the very end, I swear to God it sounded to me like he said, "Go in peace, to love and serve the World." My response was "Thanks be...to...uhhhhh..." That sounded really wrong. I'll have to listen carefully next week; maybe I was just mistaken. But I draw the line at that kind of thing - I can tolerate clumsy folksiness, but this is a shift in meaning that I won't go along with.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

'The Family Olympics'

So far the return to Weight Watchers is progressing well; I've lost about 20 lbs since May, and feel much better. I'd gotten to the point where my old clothes were wearing out. I figured that I could either take several hundred dollars to go buy a new set of "fat" clothes, or I could take the same money and give it to Weight Watchers, and get back to a size where I can once again wear the "thin" clothes still hanging in my closet. This seemed like the best option, as I really do like those clothes I bought 6 years ago.

When I was at my heaviest, Dean and I worked out a plan for "The Family Olympics", a competition for ordinary people, not specialist athletes. One of our events was "wife-tossing". In this competition, a husband would have to toss his wife as far as he could - the furthest throw would win, of course. But there was a twist to it.

In some Olympic sports, like weightlifting, an athlete can cut to the chase and simply declare the weight he intends to lift - instead of going up by increments, if he thinks he can lift, say, 375 lbs, he'll just announce it, and the competition moves up to that level. You can see the sense of it; at one blow, he might be able to knock out weaker competitors, and only the very best will be left. Also, I suppose that each "bout" takes energy, and maybe it's better to save your stuff for the big finale, rather than tire yourself out with lots of lesser weights.

Anyway, in our competition, the husband has to publicly declare the weight of the wife he's going to toss - with her standing beside him, of course. A heavier weight will be awarded some handicap points, so you'd get the dilemma of the husband trying to figure out if it's better to be truthful and actually try to WIN, or be diplomatic and save his life. In our case, Dean would surely announce my weight as, oh, 135 lbs, because he'd be dead if he tried to do anything else. And of course, he'd then have to THROW me, which would lead to certain hernia on his part, and bitter recriminations from me, such as, "Dean! How can you not even throw 135 lbs! This very weakling husband..." (in my best Punjabi accent). Meanwhile someone with a dainty little wife would probably be able to throw her a good 10 feet or so, and Dean would be embarrassed at only throwing me 18 inches.

We never got to the point of really working out how the point count would work, we were always laughing too much. There were other events, but this one was by far the most sadistic.

Friday, August 25, 2006

ECUSA's bête noire

I refer, of course, to the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola. The Episcopal Majority has a new post up griping about Akinola's consecration of Martyn Minns as bishop to the new Anglican missionary territory of the United States. Among their many complaints is this one:
He continues to insist (1) that the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was "traumatic" (when in fact it was the Archbishop who belatedly chose to be offended)
So the Archbishop CHOSE to be offended! So we don't have to take him seriously! Now, even such a hard-bitten, insensitive case as myself never thought of that wheeze. All that wailing and lamenting by homosexuals after General Convention - pay no attention. They just CHOSE to be upset. Let's not get into the matter of all those other situations where "choice" is an unassailable right and mark of integrity. And what's with the "belatedly"? On June 19, when the Fort Worth delegation announced on the convention floor that they were seeking APO, they were criticized for being too prompt and precipitate; good thing they didn't bother waiting a few weeks, or they'd have been criticized for acting "belatedly".

Another complaint is
that the Episcopal Church had failed to "turn back" to the Windsor Report (when in fact our church made every effort at our General Convention to establish a moratorium as asked by the report)
I'm used to the "good effort" category when it comes to my children's report cards. But in important matters, among adults, it doesn't seem to turn up that often. "Really, I made every effort to get that runner out at home base; it's very unfair of you to count that as a run against our side." These are essentially unserious people.

The final flourish of malice is almost hallucinatory:
Archbishop Akinola and his cohorts may continue to pursue this radical campaign to remake the Anglican Communion into their own image. This ideologically motivated campaign so redolent of Paul's description of the "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 6:12) must be resisted; we must uphold the gospel in the face of these threats.
That passage, with the one before it, reads "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." So Archbishop Akinola is allied with the Devil, it seems. I know liberals who are so exquisitely sensitive, they worry that confessing a liking for watermelon could somehow be construed as anti-black, and yet here are wealthy, white Episcopalians who aren't ashamed to label an African clergyman as one of "the rulers of the darkness of this world."

Through all the seething I hear the cry, "Will no one rid us of this uppity ni--- uh, Nigerian?"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Estrogen Woodstock

StandFirm posted a very funny article from the Daily Mail entitled 'The Golden Middle-Aged Goddesses'. It's a description of the Glastonbury Goddess Festival. It's as self-consciously twee as one would expect, filled with the usual sort of incense-burning, Mother Gaia-worshipping bunk.

But Americans are not the sort of people to be left behind in any kind of fad. On this side of the pond, there is the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I found this reverie describing a week at the festival:

Then Monday morning K and I leave for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. It's hard to describe what the Festival is and what it means to us. I'm not sure we really knew until we didn't go last year. We missed something that summer, something crucial in our souls. It's like a cleansing for the whole year, enabling you to go on with "real life".

The Festival isn't really about the music, surprisingly. We would go no matter who was playing. It's about community. It's about 5,000 women of all ages, shapes, sizes, sexual orientations. We come together on 650 acres of private land in Michigan. For weeks before the actual festival, a couple of hundred of our sisters go and get it ready for us. They run electricity from generators where needed, set up common tents (kitchen, workshops), make the woodchip paths for us to navigate, and set up the three stages. These "workers" are very highly regarded and continue to be the staff of the festival as it runs during the second week in August. It's been going on every year, for 31 years now.

The festival is often referred to just as "Michigan". As in, "Are you going to Michigan this year?" It's also common to say to other festival-goers, "See you in August." Everyone who goes to Michigan knows what this means.

When you arrive at the gate (usually after waiting in line for a while), someone will say, "Welcome home." Oddly, that's just what it feels like. Suddenly, you're in a whole different space, mentally and physically. You're safe, embraced by the land, your sisters and that amazing feminine energy seems to shift the universe. You can feel it. It's in the air, the trees, the food, the women, the very land itself.

Women walk around in various states of comfortable dress and undress. Some are topless, some are nearly naked. Hardly anyone wears a bra. It's safe, safe, safe. You leave your stuff wherever you want, come back hours later and it's still there. Inhibitions fade, slowly for some, quickly for others. Women who have never danced or drummed or sung, dance and drum and sing as if their very lives depended on it.

Everyone has to do workshifts, to help defray the cost, so you work with women from all over the world and you get to hear their stories. Some days we go to workshops, some days we don't. Some days we go drum late at night at the gathering spot known as Triangle, sometimes we don't. Some days we sleep late in the tent, some days we wake up early. We never miss a meal. We always go down to the kitchen to get in line for the great vegetarian meals prepared in the firepits. Recipes don't vary much from year to year, and people talk about their favorites. Pasta puttanesca and nut loaf (not really a loaf) are two of mine.

In the evenings we always gather at Night Stage, with almost everyone else. Afterwards, as we make our way back to our tent in the dark, we can hear music coming from the dances, drumming, women talking. All this, with the sounds of the woods, is the perfect soundtrack for falling asleep ... or whatever.

Michigan is where I most truly and fully meet the Feminine side of God. She and I commune here in ways that are more real than most of the religious experiences I have in church.

And did I mention what the writer does? Aww, you guessed it already! Yup, according to her bio, "Postulant for Holy Orders in the ECUSA".

There are pictures here, if you're anxious to see what this jamboree looked like.

The home page for the festival has some interesting information, particularly as regards childcare:

Childcare is available in three different areas. Sprouts Family Campground provides a day camp and family campground for moms and all children through four years old. Gaia Girls Camp offers daily activities and supervision through the evening concerts for girls five and over. Brother Sun Boys Camp operates from 8am-midnight with a program of outings, crafts, cookouts, music and sports for boys aged five through ten. Located in a mix of forest and meadow, the camp offers a fun, welcoming and secluded area for boys while preserving womyn's space in all other Festival areas. Please respect that all boys five and over, and their families, camp in Brother Sun for the week.


So males become "the enemy" at age FIVE, it seems. On the one hand, I think this is stupid and outrageous. On the other, I'm glad they make it impossibly difficult to bring boys into this mob of bovine hysterics, because I can't imagine anything that would bore or embarrass them more (the boys, that is.)

The "always" of liberalism

An interesting sideline to the summer meltdown of the Episcopal Church has been the way language itself has been pressed into combat. It isn’t just the attempt by both sides to get “their” terminology adopted: “reappraisers”, “reasserters”, “enduring”, “innovating” – take your pick. Like the terminology of the abortion fight, each side struggles against any word that seems to give the enemy an advantage, and refuses to acknowledge the other viewpoint even to the extent of allowing people to describe themselves.

More interesting to me is the way language already in use is being conscripted in this battle. Katherine Jefferts-Schori started things off with her controversial blood-sweat-and-afterbirth sermon on June 21. When the inevitable outrage sprang up in conservative circles, she blandly announced that this was "straight-down-the-middle orthodox thinking,” This managed to doubly antagonize her opponents: not only were they shocked by the initial image, they were then informed that their shock stemmed from ignorance of the standard repertoire of their own religion. In the past, it would have been enough to intone “Julian of Norwich” to silence objections, but no longer. The Internet not only allowed anyone who wanted to do research and discover just how minor and obscure the original source was, it also reassured objectors that they were not alone.

The progress of liberal innovation has also been too rapid to be able to pull off this faux-orthodox pose. A mere 30 years ago, the Episcopal Church looked and sounded very different, and considering the average age of your typical Episcopalian, the majority of Episcopalians have very clear memories of what things were like “before”. They cannot be bamboozled by bland reassurances that this is the way things have always been done – their own senses tell them differently. “If nothing has changed, then why is everything different?” is not a question that will be answered by murmuring the name of an obscure medieval mystic known, if at all, for a few pious riddles.

Of course, this assertion of the impeccable pedigree of liberal fancies manages to trot along comfortably with a mania for the “new things” that the Holy Spirit is perpetually doing. But it is interesting that for once, “newness” is not a selling point, and this time the liberals are taking pains to lay claim to the long heritage of Anglicanism for all their innovations, at least in public. Thus, we no longer hear much about how benighted our ancestors were, with their all-male priesthood and their disdain for sodomy. Instead, we are told that having female priests and bishops is no big deal at all – why, in the first century, there were female deacons and that means that nobody would have ever objected to making a woman the head of the church. Nor is brazen homosexuality something to be rejected; homosexuals have always been priests, it’s just that now they don’t have to hide it. Nothing new, though.

The one thing that is genuinely not new is this liberal tactic of trying to tranquillize and lull to sleep the opposition by pretending that this is just “business as usual”. I’ve heard it all my life, to explain away any particularly glaring depravity that makes the Brave New World of liberalism look shabby. Promiscuity? Abortion? Child abuse? An increasingly crude and vulgar public culture? Oh, nothing to worry about – it’s ALWAYS been like this. It’s just that now we have better statistics.

A sign of the detachment from reality afflicting liberals in the Episcopal Church is their increasing tendency to try to redefine words to suit themselves. Thus, the liberal wife of a liberal bishop in Californiafeels bold enough to write an essay informing conservatives of her requirements for those who wish to call themselves by that descriptive term. Not surprisingly, high on her list is docility in the presence of liberalism. Indeed, some liberals go so far as to imply that they are the REAL conservatives, as this essay demonstrates. A sudden fondness for Renaissance realpolitik and royal despotism is the hallmark of this sort of “new” Orthodoxy. It is never explained how the arbitrary decree of a monarch could prove to be so salutary for Anglicanism in the 16th century, and yet the mild remonstrance of an English archbishop is such an intolerable infringement on independence and liberty in the 20th. But then, liberals have never been embarrassed to hold a number of contradictory ideas at the same time.

It is worth asking why liberals feel compelled to put on this clumsy charade, especially as it fools no one. Of course, they could be doing it just to be annoying. But I think there is a deeper impulse at work. In Orwell’s ‘1984’ language and history were rewritten not just to clean up contradictions, but to render subversive thoughts literally unthinkable. It only works in a totalitarian society, where the individual has no independent access to information, and the widespread communication and access to information provided by the Internet quickly sabotages this attempt to control the debate. But the totalitarian impulse is not far from the surface in the Left; we see it erupting almost daily now, in demands to force compliance at almost any price from dissidents. The attempt to wrest words from conservatives is an attempt not only to silence their annoying protests, but to make protest itself impossible by locking away the very language that could articulate it.

Thus, Christians have ALWAYS thought of Jesus as feminine; women have ALWAYS been rulers and governors in the Church; homosexuality has ALWAYS been innocent; and Oceania has ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Something Canadians do better than Americans

Sucking up to Castro.

I know Mark Steyn will get around to this in a day or two, and then the whole world will know just what kind of morons are big names in the Liberal Party of Canada. This Alexandre Trudeau is the son of our most famous and worthless Prime Minister, and obviously the banana didn't fall far from the tree. I guess the Trudeau boys are the rinkydink Canadian version of the Kennedys, only starting with an even shoddier founder, the results are even more embarrassing. I'm at a loss to think of any American with a name who would have the shameless gall to publish this birthday blowjob of old Uncle Fidel. Here are some excerpts:

A few years later, when Michel was around 8 years old, I remember him complaining to my mother that my older brother and I both had more friends than he did. My mother told him that, unlike us, he had the greatest friend of all: he had Fidel.

Indeed, like my father, in private, Fidel is not a politician. He is more in the vein of a great adventurer or a great scientific mind. Fidel doesn't really do politics. He is a revolutionary.

His intellect is one of the most broad and complete that can be found. He is an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything. Combined with a Herculean physique and extraordinary personal courage, this monumental intellect makes Fidel the giant that he is. He is something of a superman. My father once told us how he had expressed to Fidel his desire to do some diving in Cuba. Fidel took him to the most enchanting spot on the island and set him up with equipment and a tank. He stood back as my father geared up and began to dive alone. When my father had reached a depth of around 60 feet, he realized that Fidel was down there with him, that he had descended without a tank and that there he was with a knife in hand prying sea urchins off the ocean floor, grinning. Back on the surface, they feasted on the raw sea urchins, seasoned with lime juice.

OK, that's all I can do. It gets worse, as he goes on to talk about how beloved Castro is, and the great benevolence of his rule over Cuba.

When I read this, all I could think of was that A. Trudeau is constantly thinking, "MY father was an intellectual bigshot, a Philosopher King, a revolutionary dreamer. If only WE lived in Cuba, then I'd be Crown Prince right now, and I'd be about to inherit the power to direct all the ignorant peons and tell them how to live every second of their lives. But no, we had to live in stupid CANADA, where little nobodies get to pick the government and think they should be allowed to live and think any way they want."

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just in case anyone thinks that only Anglicans can be idiots...

...this LA Times article is a timely reminder of the vast reservoirs of stupidity to be found among Catholics.

15 Women Who Took Up Priestly RobesRoles Face Excommunication

Fifteen Roman Catholic women in the United States, including some Californians, (what a surprise!) face excommunication after taking up priestly duties following their "ordination" in recent ceremonies designed to challenge the all-male priesthood. (Well! Scare quotes for once in the correct place! Enjoy them while you can, though, this is the last time you'll see them.)

On Thursday, Jane Via of San Diego, who was ordained in June and planned to say her second Mass on Sunday, met for two hours with the local bishop, who laid out the ramifications of her actions. (Two hours! Dear Jane must be hard of hearing.) Three women in other states have received letters from diocese officials warning that they chose to excommunicate themselves when they participated in an illicit ordination near Pittsburgh on July 31. In San Jose, diocese officials warned that a woman priest there was not properly ordained. (Well, I suppose they might have put it that way, though it's a bit like saying, "Excuse me, sir, but you and that doberman weren't properly married.")

...Dozens more women, generally in their 50s and 60s, are preparing to be ordained in the future, said Aisha Taylor, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, which became a nonprofit organization in Fairfax, Va., in June after advocating for female priests for 31 years. (Wow, I sure hope I can make it through menopause with a little more decorum.)

All of the ceremonies were conducted on chartered boats — theoretically beyond the jurisdiction of the local diocese — amid the medieval pomp of the traditional rite. (Yeah, because nothing says "medieval pomp" like a rainbow-coloured polyester stole.)

...Presiding over some of the ordinations were three European women recently consecrated as bishops in secret ceremonies allegedly led by five bishops who remain in good standing with the church. The identities of the male bishops, who wish to remain anonymous to avoid excommunication, were notarized and then placed in a bank vault, the women priests said. (But there's a painting of the Last Supper where the Apostle John looks just like Sr. Joan Chittester, and it contains a secret code that will lead you straight to the hidden vault.)

Though the first seven European women to claim the priesthood were swiftly excommunicated by the Vatican four years ago, church officials in the United States have so far only threatened to cut American women off from the sacraments, which would, according to Catholic doctrine, place their souls in peril. (Well, then, just tell me where to go to pay the overdue fee or whatever it is, and get reconnected, so I can get outta here!)

Legally, church officials say, they are in violation of Roman Catholic canon 1024, which says only baptized men can receive ordination. The women priests reject that law as unjust.

The Most Rev. Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of Milwaukee, disagrees and issued a stern letter to Kathy Sullivan Vandenberg, a member of his community who was among those in what he called the "simulated and invalid ceremony" July 31. (So this is one of those 'he said, she said' deals, right?)

...The women replicate the traditional role of priests in most ways, except that they have regular jobs and omit the promise of obedience to the bishop and the vow of celibacy.

They also forgo the criminal and financial background checks and battery of psychological tests required of traditional priests.

In addition, their formal preparation for the priesthood is learned from former priests and an online program available from Roman Catholic Womenpriests. (In fact, some men have decided that, rather than spend 6 years in seminary, it would be cheaper and quicker just to become women and then get ordained on a boat somewhere.)

Creeping out the Dominicans


The Shrine of the Holy Whapping has a funny little piece explaining this engraving. (Can't find a direct link to the story, but if you scroll down their page, you'll find it.) It honours a Renaissance professor at the Roman College, who was always playing practical jokes. He used to fly a dragon-shaped kite emblazoned with the words FUGITE DIVINA IRA to rattle the Dominicans down the street.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Hurt, Therefore I Am

My first Braxton’s Lear was based on a post by Lisa, a lady upset about the resolution B033 passed on the last day of ECUSA’s General Convention. She has followed it up with two clarifications, here, and here.

It’s hard to know just what to say about this sort of confessional literature. The original post was over-the-top and melodramatic, and was mocked accordingly. Now the writer has upped the ante – ‘THIS is why I wrote what I wrote!” she seems to be saying, “What do you have to say for yourself NOW?”

What I have to say is that this is clearly a damaged person. It’s terrible to be damaged like this. Of course, there are many examples of sounds or smells vividly bringing back past experiences; war veterans have often had to suffer such things. But it has always been considered a handicap, and something to be overcome, if possible. Furthermore, Lisa is extending her reaction from the understandable (hearing a familiar sound that was once the prelude to a beating) to the completely unconnected – a parliamentary procedure by an organization during a general convention. If in 1945, a woman said of her husband who had just gotten back from the war “Joe heard a car backfire, and took cover behind the couch,” everyone would understand that he was suffering a reaction from the sound of warfare, and sympathize. If two years later, she said “When Joe hears static on the radio, or the wind in the trees, he takes cover behind the couch,” people would say, “Hmm, it sounds like he’s getting worse. Maybe he ought to see a doctor?”

This kind of purely emotional reaction is impervious to any kind of argument, because it has nothing to do with reason. Lisa herself announces “I’ll freely admit: These reactions are not rational! They are visceral. Hear that? I’m openly confessing: It’s visceral! I hear the crack of the belt, and I assume it’s coming at me.“ Well, then, she is voluntarily removing herself from the argument. Do I have to state this? The viscera is not the part of a human being that thinks!

There are other visceral, irrational reactions that human beings experience – phobias, for example. In some cases, phobias result from a trauma. If you like, this “explains” the phobia, just as Lisa’s childhood experience “explains” her present reaction. But does it even matter? A therapist might find it useful to know where the root of the problem lies, in order better to cure it, but what difference does it really make to the rest of the world? It doesn’t change the fact that the reaction is irrational, and that the patient would be healthier without it. Irrationality should be fought as an enemy wherever it is found, not coddled and accommodated out of misplaced sympathy or pity.

Lisa’s reactions are irrational – her friend WASN’T about to hit her, even though she heard that sound. Nobody at the General Convention injured her, and furthermore, there wasn’t even any sound to trigger the emotion. These are just facts, no matter how she feels to the contrary. Her feelings are wrong, and in a sane world, she would be advised to seek professional help to correct them.

But that is not the advice she will receive. Instead, she will be flattered in her distorted view of reality, and she will be told that she should cherish her irrationality. The comments received so far confirm this:

I got the same chills when I read this, Lisa. I know the whoosh and crack! that you mean, and that's what B033 did to me and my partner too.

It does not get easier for us with time, but it most certainly gets easier for the abuser with time. Each successive beating comes easier (and faster) than the last.

How quickly will the beating that is to follow B033 come? And how much harder will the blows be?

And how much more self-satisfied will the abusers be when they find how easily they get away with it?

What a courageous piece of writing, Lisa. There's a saying in pastoral care that "pain touches pain." I have found that to be true. I pray that others who read this will understand that dynamic and stop claiming that some of us are "over reacting" to B033. That simply makes it hurt all the more.

Lisa, I only hope this will reach some beaters, both the physical abusers and the spiritual and emotional abusers.

Far from drawing back in dismay from this woman’s illogical, completely personalized response to what was a political decision by an organization (accomplished with a lot of typical haggling and pressure tactics), her supporters want to encourage her in her hysterical self-dramatization. “Feeling” is all – if it’s felt, it’s real, and cannot be disputed. To even argue the point “simply makes it hurt all the more”. And this just brings us full circle – since feelings trumped reality in the initial incident, going on to “make it hurt” automatically negates whatever the disputant can assert, no matter how firmly based on reality.

This tactic elevates the most needy and damaged among us to the level of unassailable authority. Of course, the law has always recognized that the most injured cannot be trusted to honestly and rationally evaluate an event, which is why victims and their families aren’t allowed to sit on a jury. They’re entitled to sympathy and support, but their state of mind is not normal, and they can’t be allowed to have a hand in establishing what is truth.

The disconnect between feeling and reality is explicit throughout Lisa’s explanations. Plenty of supportive, liberal Deputies & Bishops have tried to tell me that “manner of life” isn’t a slam. They insist it is not a betrayal. They assure me it is not a weapon.” But she feels that it is. So…which is true? They can’t both be. Are her loving, sympathetic friends lying? She never resolves that conundrum, nor does she seem to realize that it even needs to be resolved. But we are dealing with the nature of reality here – who is the best judge of what really happened? The people who were involved and voted and know their own minds, or the person who is having a visceral reaction, evoked by personal events completely unconnected with the present activity? The popular opinion seems to be that the emotional reaction wins out. “Understanding” this reaction does not mean what it should mean – recognizing that the person is damaged and has a faulty perception of reality. That would mean sidelining the person until she is healthier, because her perceptions cannot be trusted. Instead, it means pretending that the feeling can never lie, and so reality must step aside, and make way for the impervious-to-argument emotional sensibility.

In the great combat between the world as it is and the world as it feels, support is being given to the latter. Just keep feeling what you’re feeling, seems to be the theory, and what IS will eventually conform itself to you. And even if it doesn’t, you can just keep stubbornly contradicting reality and preventing it from being. But reality is deaf to our feelings – she does not hear the songs and rhymes that we’ve composed to replace her, and she can only be kept at a distance for so long.

(Anyone interested in reading about the problems of disentangling emotional reactions from reality should read Dr. Sanity's essay entitled "Feelings, Countertransferrence and Reality" from July 19, 2006.)

Putting problems into perspective

Nasty, Brutish and Short has posted a mesmerizingly bad news article about a local couple caught up in the chaos resulting from the busted terrorist airplane plot. I keep reading it again and again, there's just so much in there that illustrates the trivial approach to a serious matter that seems typical of the West. Instead of realizing what a momentous event they've been caught up in, this mother and daughter kvetch about having to walk across the tarmac and not being informed about what was happening. They obviously make it safely to their destination (a cruise ship) but they feel no gratitude about how easily they got off, compared to the thousands of people stranded at airports, feeling the threat of terrorists hiding among them. The final line is the clincher - talk about lazy reporting!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, deconstructed

The thing about autistic kids is that they never seem to get tired of the things they like. Not for a long, long time, anyway. Thomas will find a spot in a videotape he enjoys (it’s usually loud, with shouting or crying) and will happily rewind the tape over and over, listening to it with the same enjoyment. I think once I counted over 30 repetitions of one particularly annoying segment, before I finally cracked and ejected the tape.

G.K. Chesterton noticed this enjoyment of repetition in kids, too:

All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still….The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.

I can’t pretend to have this same divine gift of infinite enjoyment. Seeing and hearing the same movie over and over usually just gives me very keen insights into all its flaws and irritants. In fact, I get so bored I begin to find annoyances that nobody else would dream of. One movie that I have been doomed to relive all year long (my kids don’t have any sense of appropriate seasons) is ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’(1964).

There is a fabulous site on this TV special at http://www.tvparty.com/xmasrudolph.html, for anyone who wants to read all about how the animation was accomplished and the score written. I, however, having spent hundreds of hours watching and listening to this movie, have had to deconstruct the whole thing just to keep my sanity.

Andrew Sullivan once wrote that he saw Disney’s ‘Pinocchio’ as a parable of adolescent homosexual coming-out. “Oh, isn’t everything?” was my response. I don’t agree with him about ‘Pinocchio’, but I think that that interpretation would much better fit RTRNR.

First of all, the portrayal of masculinity in this movie is overwhelmingly negative. Just look at the male authority figures:


SUPPORTING MALE CHARACTERS

Rudolph’s father, Donner, is a brutal, insensitive conformist, ashamed of his son’s “peculiarity”, who tries to get him to “pass” as normal in the community. When Rudolph complains that his fake nose is uncomfortable, Donner just shouts him down: “You’ll wear it and like it!” He’s a complete egoist, seeing his son as a mere extension of himself – “He’s a chip off the old antler!” “Remember, you’re MY little buck!” He’s a pushy, macho father who insists upon driving his son down the same path he’s followed – “Santa’s right – he’ll never make the sleigh team!” The movie isn’t too clear about what reindeers who don’t get chosen for sleigh duty do with themselves; after all, there are only 8 needed, and a lot more reindeers than that around. But Donner would see it as a big disgrace if his son didn’t become a sleigh reindeer like himself. He’s impatient with his docile, submissive wife, overriding her when she suggests that they should just accept Rudolph the way he is – this is only the first of many times that the females are shown to be superior in sensitivity to the coarse, brutal males. But of course, it’s the powerful, aggressive male who dominates and crushes the well-meaning but weak female.


The next male who enters the scene is Santa, who arrives shortly after Rudolph’s birth. You’d think he’s all cheery and ho-ho-ho, but don’t be fooled. There’s a streak of nastiness in him, too. Look at the way he just dismisses the choir’s performance – and of a song in honour of HIM, too! Typically, a woman has to come along and clean up his mess – Mrs. Claus gives the choir the appropriate compliments. To be fair, though, Mrs. Claus is not such a doormat as Mrs. Donner; she’s quite prepared to argue with Santa when he isn’t getting fat quickly enough, and he clearly has more respect for her than Donner does for his wife. Anyway, he’s as obsessed as Donner with what is the “proper” role for a reindeer, and shows himself to be another narrow-minded conformist. Despite Rudolph’s obvious talent for flying, Santa brusquely rejects him because he doesn’t LOOK like all the other reindeers, and humiliates his father into the bargain!

Another authority figure is the Elf Foreman, and he’s a real piece of work – a bellowing, sarcastic bully, who also indulges in public humiliation of Hermie, the non-conformist elf. The overwhelming theme of this story is that everyone should do what they’ve always done, and anything different is to be feared and stamped out.

King Moonraiser is a male authority figure, not as menacing as the others, because his kingdom is so remote and unimportant. It’s basically a toy dump, let’s face it. He’s not cruel, and actually does display some understanding of the world, but he’s distant and unengaged. He allows the travelers to spend the night, but offers them no help.

Yukon Cornelius is the one typical male character who’s portrayed in a positive light. He’s as loud and boisterous as the Elf Foreman, but he’s open to these “misfits”, with their non-conformist tendencies. Maybe it’s because he’s an outsider himself – he’s not a resident of Christmas Town, after all, he’s a wild outdoorsman who roams the wild looking for silver and gold (and peppermint). Also, his attempts to exert authority tend to be comically incompetent – just look at how his sledge dogs refuse to obey him. So it seems that this is a “safe” male character; he looks and sounds like the others, but he’s enough of an outsider to fall on the side of the good guys.

The other males in the story aren’t much to admire; Fireball is willing to be Rudolph’s friend until he discovers that he’s “different”. He’s snotty even when Rudolph returns: “I thought you’d gone for good! Hey, look everyone, it’s old Neon Nozz!” (At this point, I always mentally add, “Thereupon, Rudolph gored Fireball to death.”) Sam the Snowman, as the narrator, isn’t really a character IN the story, though he does say that he was the one who sent Hermie and Yukon Cornelius after Rudolph. He’s nice enough, but he doesn’t have any influence on how the story develops. He also seems a bit nonchalant about the problems of the characters he describes, as if he’s not really involved. “Ah, well, such is the life of an elf,” he comments sententiously, although that’s easy for HIM to say – he’s not the one who has to spend his life painting wagons when he’d rather be fixing teeth.

to be continued...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Don't buy this movie

The Land Before Time II:The Great Valley Adventure. I had to get it because Thomas has lately discovered the Land Before Time movies, and doesn't care which one he watches. I think he really just likes the screaming and the singing. At the moment we have this one and #6, 'The Secret of Saurus Rock'. I expect I'll have to get them all eventually, but at least I buy them second-hand. I can't believe that there are 11 in this series - this is only the second one, and it's so lame, I can hardly stand it. This is the plot:

"Where's Chomper? We have to find him!"
"Littlefoot, come back!"
"You meddling kids!"
"RRRRAAAAWWWWRRRRR!"
"Eeeeeeeeek!"

Repeat until the 69 minute mark, then add, "At last, he's back with his own kind!"

The End.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A new Pilgrimage of Grace?

Seven Network dioceses have joined together to appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternative primatial oversight.
A single request for alternate primatial oversight consolidating the requests of the dioceses of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Central Florida, South Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Springfield has been forwarded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Living Church has learned.

Overseen by the Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, the 14-page petition for relief was sent to Lambeth Palace last month after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams requested the dioceses to consolidate their requests for assistance.

I hope this Pilgrimage of Grace ends better than the last one:

[T]he king was truly informed that there was a new insurrection made by the northern men, who had assembled themselves into a huge and great army of warlike men, well appointed with captains, horse, armour and artillery, to the number of 40,000 men, who had encamped themselves in Yorkshire. And these men had bound themselves to each other by their oath to be faithful and obedient to their captain.

The also declared, by their proclamation solemnly made, that their insurrection should extend no further than to the maintenance and defence of the faith of Christ and the deliverance of holy church, sore decayed and oppressed, and to the furtherance also of private and public matters in the realm concerning the wealth of all the king's poor subjects. They called this, their seditious and traitorous voyage, a holy and blessed pilgrimage; they also had certain banners in the field whereon was painted Christ hanging on the cross on one side, and a chalice with a painted cake in it on the other side, with various other banners of similar hypocrisy and feigned sanctity. The soldiers also had a certain cognizance or badge embroidered or set upon the sleeves of their coats which was a representation of the five wounds of Christ, and in the midst thereof was written the name of Our Lord, and thus the rebellious garrison of Satan set forth and decked themselves with his false and counterfeited signs of holiness, only to delude and deceive the simple and ignorant people.

After the king's highness was informed of this newly arisen insurrection he, making no delay in so weighty a matter, caused with all speed the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the marquis of Exeter, the earl of Shrewsbury and others, accompanied by his mighty and royal army which was of great power and strength, immediately to set upon the rebels. But when these noble captains and counsellors approached the rebels and saw their number and how they were determined on battle, they worked with great prudence to pacify all without shedding blood.

But the northern men were so stiff-necked that they would in no way stoop, but stoutly stood and maintained their wicked enterprise. Therefore the abovesaid nobles, perceiving and seeing no other was to pacify these wretched rebels, agreed upon a battle; ... but the night before the day appointed for the battle a little rain fell, nothing to speak of, but yet as if by a great miracle of God the water, which was a very small ford which the day before men might have gone over dry shod, suddenly rose to such a height depth and breadth that no man who lived there had ever seen before, so that on the day, even when the hour of battle should have some, it was impossible for one army to get at the other.

After this appointment made between both the armies, disappointed, as it is to be thought, only by God who extended his great mercy and had compassion on the great number of innocent persons who in that deadly slaughter would have been likely to have been murdered, could not take place. Then... a consultation was held and a pardon obtained from the king's majesty for all the captains and chief movers of this insurrection, and they promised that such things as they found themselves aggrieved by, all would be gently heard and their reasonable petitions granted, and that their articles should be presented to the king, so that by his highness' authority and the wisdom of his council all things should be brought to good order and conclusion. And with this order every man quietly departed, and those who before were bent as hot as fire on fighting, being presented by God, went now peaceably to their houses, and were as cold as water.
(Edward Hall)

As the modern-day historian concludes the story:

The king negotiated peace through Norfolk, conceding their demands and promising a free pardon to all rebels who dispersed. Monastic lands would be restored and a new parliament called to address their concerns. The rebels accordingly dispersed. And then, on the slightest pretext, Henry broke his word; martial law was declared, rebel leaders were indicted and put on trial (many faced a jury of their peers.) Several hundred rebels, including Aske, were executed.

Braxton's Lear II

Oh man, I am spending WAY too much time following links to out-of-the-way blogs! This piece is a bit old, I admit, dating from Ms Schori's election in June, but it would be a pity for such a performance to be lost to posterity. It is rare that I come across a dramatic performance that actually provides its own stage directions!:

Grain by grain, the moments dripped by as the crowd inched closer to the edge of their seats. My mind was on nothing else - I hung on every word, waiting for two of them to be, "And now..."

"And now..." began the President of the House. We all suddenly realized that the time had come. A profound gravity took hold of the room as 3,000 anxious Episcopalians interrupted their breathing. The President introduced the Chair of the Committee on Bishops, who was responsible for verifying the results. The Chair walked slowly to the podium and greeted us, his transfixed captives. My jaw was already open.

"The committee has received the results of the election by the House of Bishops..."

History raised its eyebrow.

"...and moves consent for the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church..."

History turned its head.

"...the Right Reverend..."

History waited.

"...Katharine..."

Quite literally, a windy gasp rippled throughout the assembly. I looked at my friends sitting around me, both women, eyes bigger than their faces.

"...Jefferts Schori."

The deed was done. The entire chamber erupted into wild shouts of joy and roaring applause.

History smiled.


Exit, stage left.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Books for a journey

A friend is taking a trip to the north of England this weekend, and unexpectedly asked me to recommend some books to take along. She had already chosen a few, but wasn't too sure if she'd enjoy them - the first of Pullman's "His Dark Materials" books, and 2 Agatha Christies - 'They Came To Baghdad' and another one - maybe 'Sad Cypress'. Anyway, she wasn't too thrilled with the Christies, and I agreed that they weren't her best. As for the Pullman, I haven't read any of his stuff, but it's much talked about and is being made into a movie, so it might be worth looking at, though she said that it seemed to start off very slowly. She needed paperback books that might be good to take along on hikes on the moors.

It's not often that I'm stuck for recommendations, but I drew a complete blank when she asked me what I'd suggest. On my last trip, I took along a volume of Chesterton, Chris Johnson's 'Frank and I' (very funny) and a book of ghost stories. I think she wanted something a little less otherworldly, though, so I went down to the basement when I got home and looked through my Christie collection.

I really only like Poirots, and we got a lot of them when we were in India. These are the 3 I picked out for her: "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", "Three-Act Murder", and "The ABC Murders". It's a funny thing about Agatha Christie novels; I've read them all, but I find that I can re-read the same mystery, and STILL not know how it ends. The details of the plot go right out of my head, so I can read them over and over and enjoy them just the same. Must be because they're so formulaic; I'm really reading the same book, just with different names and props, and those changes are so minor, I just can't keep them straight.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pirate Jenny

I could only watch this once. Kevin Cosgrove's 911 call from the World Trade Center. "Proportional response", anyone? "Just war theory"? Does anyone else have any other choice tidbits of candied piety to add?

Now
You gentlemen can wipe off that smile off your face
Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin' place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound
And you yell, "Why do they spare that one?"
Yes.
That's what you say.
"Why do they spare that one?"

All the night through, through the noise and to-do
You wonder who is that person that lives up there?
And you see me stepping out in the morning
Looking nice with a ribbon in my hair

And the ship
The Black Freighter
runs a flag up its masthead
and a cheer rings the air

By noontime the dock
is a-swarmin' with men
comin' out from the ghostly freighter
They move in the shadows
where no one can see
And they're chainin' up people
and they're bringin' em to me
askin' me,
"Kill them NOW, or LATER?"
Askin' ME!
"Kill them now, or later?"

Noon by the clock
and so still by the dock
You can hear a foghorn miles away
And in that quiet of death
I'll say, "Right now.
Right now!"

Then they'll pile up the bodies
And I'll say,
"That'll learn ya!"

And the ship
The Black Freighter
disappears out to sea
And
on
it
is
me

(dall'Opera da Tre soldi, 1928)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Braxton's Lear


This is an old, old cartoon Dean clipped out of a magazine years ago. I think it was part of his collection before we even met, so it must be a quarter-century old, and judging from its style, it might have come from the New Yorker, or perhaps The Spectator. “Braxton’s Lear” has become a shorthand term in our house for hammy overacting of every kind. Other blogs have their special categories: “Derbyshire Award Winner” (Andrew Sullivan) and “And now…idiots” (MCJ), so in that spirit I am introducing a special category to highlight self-dramatizing hyperbole and melodrama. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Braxton’s Lear.

The following piece of performance art took place at a Starbucks in St. Louis, MO.

Coming from a most powerful time in the Eucharist and coffee-hour conversations at Trinity on Sunday -- which had helped me to see that I must come back to TEC, whatever the hurt -- this encounter was a sobering, tear-sparking one.

After Columbus, and because of Columbus, I took a sabbatical from TEC. But I found myself in the city after a month, in which was a marvelous Spirit-filled church (and Oasis parish) I had visited a couple of times before. I thought this might be just the moment to return to TEC, and I did -- but wearing my brand-spanking new t-shirt that says, "My manner of life is a challenge to the wider church." It was a good day.

Then I stopped in at a Starbucks, before starting the 2+ hour drive home, and the young man (college-age, I'd guess) at the register saw my shirt as I approached the counter. He didn't even greet me as he obviously, slowly read my t-shirt.

Then he looked up to my face, greeted me, and sadly said, "Episcopalian?" Yes, I returned with similar sadness.

"I had never gone to church, but I just found the Episcopal Church a year ago," he told me quietly. "I thought I'd found a home. But I don't go anymore, after Columbus."

After Columbus.

And I stood there with tears welling up. As was he. But I needed to say something, to encourage him that it is our home. But I couldn't do it with much firm conviction. I simply said, "I know. Today was my first day back. I had to wear this shirt for armor. But it's hard. It's hard."

Then we shook off the tears, he got my latte, and as I left, I said again, "But please try to come back."

This is the way the gays leave.
This is the way the gays leave.
Not with a bang, but a wimper.

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The fisk to end all fisks

Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It! has posted a brilliant fisk of the 51st Psalm. Inspired by some unimpressed responses to Mel Gibson's apology for his recent drunken tirade against the Jews. Gibson made a good, manly apology, but many people think it's not enough. Mark gives us an idea of how they would have greeted King David's apology after the Bathsheba Incident. My favourite part:

7 True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.

So much for "taking full responsibility". Now he blames his mother for his sins. The guy has no shame at all. Can anyone here say with a straight face that David didn't deliberately intend every last detail of what he did when he stole Uriah's wife, got her pregnant, tried to figure out a way to make it look like Uriah's kid, and failing that, deliberately ordered his abandonment on the battlefield in order to murder him? But because he's the great *David* and not some loser like Saul, some people actually defend this "apology" instead of facing up to what kind of man he *really* is and admitting what is *really* in his heart. How's the Kool-Aid, guys?