Friday, February 25, 2011

God. . . again


I am possessed by the idea of God.  As much as I’d like to say I’m an atheist, I can’t honestly claim to be one.  The idea of God is too much a part of me.

When I was with the Franciscan Friars, I was privileged to know Brother Bruno (a Friar who was not a priest).  He was very prayerful and totally humble.  One day in 1964, we had a visit from a Friar–Priest, Fr. Reginald Redlan.  Fr. Reginald had a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University in England and was considered a fine scholar.  I asked Brother Bruno if he had had a chance to talk to Fr. Reginald in the Friary.  Brother said that he had spoken with him and that Fr. Reginald was a great man.  We talked some about studies and scholarship and theologians.  Brother said that he admired the men in our Order who studied and taught about God.  But, he said, he didn’t believe he could ever know God.  “God is a mystery,” he told me, “and all I can do is believe in Him and love Him.”

As I’ve grown older, I have come to agree with Brother Bruno.  I studied classical Greek and Roman philosophy.  I studied the German philosophers.  I studied modern thinking about God.  And I studied the Scriptures during my days with the Friars and for many years after I left them.  All this mind–work brought me to the conclusion that Brother Bruno reached by prayer alone.  God is unknowable.  I should write, if God exists, God is unknowable.  The human mind and spirit want to know God.  It is a passion of all humans.  Every culture seems to come up with a version of God that suits its circumstances and needs, but, aside from each version’s non–humanity, the many versions don’t have much in common.

Yesterday, somebody posted a video about the end–of–the–world–as–we–know–it happening in 2012.  The prediction was based on religion and science.  The religious portion of the prediction, of course, was based on that horror story, the Book of Revelations, a book that I am convinced was written by Stephen King on crack.  The science was based on anomalies in our electromagnetic field and other scary–sounding “facts.”  I don’t believe a word of such predictions.  Jesus himself said that not even he knew the day or the hour.  Such predictions, to me, are just another manifestation of the human need to know God and God’s mind.  What hubris, when you think about it.  If God exists, if there is an entity who is creator of all the universe, if there is a personality who knows and loves each and every one of us creatures, how can any human being believe that he or she is capable of understanding that Entity, or knowing that God?  It seems to me that all we can do is, as Brother Bruno said, believe in God as Creator and Nurturer, and love that God.

Having studied the Scriptures, and having believed tenaciously in the faith of my fathers for many years, I have to say that I now believe that both the Scriptures and the God–figure of the Christian Church are just vain attempts to bring God down to human size.  If God exists, then God is too big to be understood by the human mind because God’s nature is so “other” from that of humanity and God’s attributes are so beyond anything that human beings can comprehend.

So I will continue to be possessed by the idea of God, and happily so.  I want to believe, I really do, but it is very difficult for me.  I want to “live the contradiction” by believing solidly in a Being whose essence my intellect can’t contain.  I move toward the end of my life satisfied with the honesty of my approach to the idea of God.  The God my struggling soul senses would be a God who would understand and honor all human weaknesses, even mine.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Just-Plain-Nasty Republican in Georgia


I have been away for a while. . . in the South!  I enjoyed my trip and I especially enjoyed seeing my family.  My visit gave me a lot to think about, especially concerning my family and my life now and in the future.

But Justin Rosario hijacked my brain, and I have to write about his posting on AdictingInfo.org, Why Pretend that the GOP Actually Gives a Damn about you?  Or “Liberals Hate America?  Who Are You Kidding?”  http://www.addictinginfo.org/?page_id=1927

Justin does his usual articulate job in presenting the sickening discrepancies between what the republicans say and what they mean.  He says what needs to be said and read, and he says it well.

Another “older” fan (another Geezer?) writes this in reaction to what Justin posted today:

“Hey Justin, you know I agree with the substance of your articulate work, this article being no exception. You ring many bells of resonance for this old reader. The only thin...g I have trouble with, is your use of pejorative labels and name-calling. Isn't that really about being sucked into the same language dynamic, projective mire, and the public identity of the very political machine you critique? Or perhaps, you are comfortable with this as your journalistic persona --- with some goal, I'm too dull to see. I'm sure you'll explain it to me, and my fog will clear. Meanwhile, I am on a dead-end quest to embrace my own shadow, and find some new way to assimilate polarities. Sounds like nuclear fusion, eh?

“ever a fan of your scurrilous blogs –

“Write-on!”

Justin doesn’t need me to explain his rhetoric, and I wouldn’t even try.  I have to write about this comment for my own reasons. 

As a Geezer raised during the time of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, I grew up with an understanding of the clear boundaries for political and civil discourse.  People were polite to one another, even when they hated one another’s guts.  Even Nixon, as Vice President, never said “Fuck you!” to one of his many enemies in the Senate, as Dick Cheney said to Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor.

Times have changed, though, and republicans like Cheney changed them.  Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, et al., have accelerated and intensified this change.  Anyone with whom they disagree is attacked viciously and personally.  Ideas no longer are paramount in our discourse, it seems to me.  Personality assassination rules.

My brother and his family took me to lunch at a restaurant in Unicoi State Park, a gorgeous state park in Georgia.  The lunch menu was a buffet of traditional Southern fare, including fried catfish and hush puppies.  My father’s family is from the South, and I grew up relishing this kind of food, prepared with a lot of love and a lot of lard by my grandmother.  The food on the buffet table was authentic and absolutely delicious.

As we were walking to the restaurant, the local Red Hat Society arrived for lunch in a Mercedes Benz bus.  I spoke with some of these women, and I was treated to a feast of true Georgia accents and true Southern charm.  It was all I could do not to ask them if I could eat at their table.  These women were Southern to the core, and, judging by their clothes and jewelry, not poor.  Probably republican, I thought, but still so appealing to me that I wanted to sit down and soak up their conversation.  Several of the women chatted with me all the way to the buffet table.

When we went into the restaurant, we had to get in a short line to serve ourselves from the buffet.  One of the Red Hat ladies, totally immersed in our chat, didn’t get the protocol.  She absent–mindedly grabbed her plate and started filling it with food.  At the head of the line were two men in scruffy suits, bellies bigger than I can describe.  One of them actually had a red neck.  The red neck said, loud enough for everybody to hear, “She must be a Democrat.  They all think that they should be the first to get what’s being given out.”  The ladies with whom I was chatting went silent, as did I.  I had no idea what to say to such rudeness.  The lady filling her plate wasn’t so intimidated, however.  She looked at the red–necked one and said, “Sir, the last Democrat for whom I voted was my Daddy’s friend, Herman Talmadge.”

Justin writes, “I’ve been asked why I constantly call conservatives “idiots', 'morons', 'imbeciles', 'suckers', 'retarded', 'stupid', 'dumb', oh you get the point and I usually point to stuff like this. For some reason, it’s never enough to prove my point.”

There is an axiom in the art of rhetoric that tells practitioners of that art always to use language that the audience understands.  Jason’s language probably falls short of that dictum.  He is much too thoughtful, educated, caring, and civil to reach the depths of gratuitous insult that is the discourse of people like the red–necked, ignorant, rude, uncaring, and just–plain–nasty republican at that buffet table in Georgia.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Off to Florida!!!

I'll be in Florida for the next week or so.  I'll be visiting my Mom.  I'm stopping to pick up my brother along the way.  I'm not taking my laptop, so, unless bro brings his and lets me use it, I'll be away from here for a week or two.  Annie and Roz, I have my phone, of course, so e-mail me if you want!  Auf Wiedersehen!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Justin Rosario, Thinker and Writer


It’s Wednesday again!  That means that my heartthrob, Justin Rosario, has written another brilliant piece on addictinginfo.org.  This time, he takes on the recently–designated hate group, the Family Research Council, and its “arguments. . . against same sex marriage (and homosexuals in general)” and suggests ways “to dissect and debunk the propaganda.”  Please read the article at http://addictinginfo.org/new/?page_id=1459.

Justin’s work doesn’t need an exegesis or an amplification.  He is clear and to the point.  The only comment I want to make on the arguments of the Family Research Council et al., against gay marriage is most of their arguments are based on religious bigotry.  Marriage in this country is basically a civil institution.  A couple can be legitimately married as long as they have a civil license to marry.  A civil officer (judge, justice of the peace, mayor, ship’s captain) can legally witness a marriage and that marriage is completely valid.  A religious official also can witness a marriage but, without a civil license, the marriage isn’t worth squat.  I get so sick of people talking about faithfulness, commitment, etc., that come from a religious, not civil, understanding of marriage.  Gay people aren’t asking the courts to allow religious marriage.  We’re asking the courts to give us the same civil right to marriage that straight people have!

Enough about marriage.  I’m not that big a fan of marriage anyway, even though I strongly support the right of all people to marry the person they love.

What I really want to talk about is Justin Rosario.

I honestly don’t know this man at all.  Yesterday, he published a piece about how he has had to deal with conservative friends on FaceBook (read it, if you haven’t already, at http://addictinginfo.org/new/?page_id=1320).  He deals there with a problem similar to the one I wrote about last December (http://geezerthoughts.blogspot.com/2010/12/merry-fuckin-xmas.html).  In yesterday’s piece, he talks a little about his own life, specifically that he and his wife have decided that he will be a stay–at–home dad for the greater good of the whole family.  One of his so–called friends gave him some nasty shit about that decision.  Justin dealt with the shit and the shit–maker appropriately.

This guy is a terrific writer, clearly of professional quality, and each of his essays bears witness to his talent.  As a professor of mine in college once noted, however, just because you can write well doesn’t mean you have something to say.  Justin doesn’t have that problem!!!  More important than Justin’s great writing ability is his ability to think: his mind works logically, clearly, and with good analytical insight.  The combination of an unusually fine writing skill with a well–developed intellect is rare and a delight to find.   Justin writes while he takes care of his family.  It’s his “hobby,” so to speak.  My wish for him is that he will be noticed by someone who will be able to turn that second job into a real job, with pay.  So much badly–written and badly–thought bullshit is on line and in the papers.  Justin needs a bigger audience, a proper reward for his work, and a decent platform to explore the important ideas about which he writes.  I wish all those things for this decent young man!

Justin, you are the MAN!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This is Megan McGlover

This is Megan McGlover.  She lives in Atlanta and reports the weather from there on WMLM.  She properly refrains from predicting the weather, knowing full well that anticipating weather is actually impossible.  Instead, she lets us know how to deal with the weather once it gets here  She's also a personal trainer/physical fitness guru and sometimes talks about those things.  Whenever I get sick of the weather or whenever I feel a little down, I check out Megan's YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/mcgloverful and I always feel new and improved.  This woman is one of the wisest/funniest people I've come across in real life, in books, on the web. . . anywhere.  About the only reason I'd ever consider moving to Atlanta is Megan.  It would be so cool to live near her!!!  The report below is from last Thursday, February 3rd.  Give her a listen.  She also has a fan page on FaceBook.  Megan, I love you long, and I love you strong, and I do my best never to be stupid.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Rite


I saw the movie, The Rite, last week.  I enjoyed it.  It made me think, it made me remember, and it made me want to talk about it with other people who had seen it.

Film critics don’t seem to have liked the movie much.  The several that I’ve read after seeing the movie discount it because it isn’t scary enough or believable enough in its depiction of events.  I disagree.  I think they may have missed the whole point of the movie.

The story is that of a Roman Catholic deacon, a year away from priestly ordination, who doubts his faith and considers leaving the seminary.  His seminary advisor, hearing of the young man’s crisis of faith, decides to send him to Rome to study at a Vatican “exorcist’s school.”  The young man goes off to Rome where his doubts are, if anything, increased as he listens to lectures about the devil and demonic possession.  So that his doubts might be overcome once and for all, the instructor at the school decides to send him to a real practicing exorcist in Rome.

The young man and the exorcist meet and, almost right away, go out on a “house call.”  The exorcist is working with a young woman in Rome who the exorcist believes is possessed.  The young man works with the exorcist in trying to help the young woman, even though his disbelief persists and he recommends psychiatric help for the girl.

There are two other cases of presumed possession in which the seminarian becomes involved.  The movies shows the young man’s gradual increase of faith as the reality of evil reveals itself to him.  We see him finally as an ordained priest going about the routine of parish life.

Some reviews I read said there is no horror in this horror movie.  I think that judgment is all wet.  This isn’t meant to be a horror movie; it isn’t meant to be another Exorcist, with turning heads, pea soup vomiting, etc.  It’s a story about faith and the lack thereof.  Having myself gone from true believer and a Roman Catholic seminarian to my current status as a doubter/non–believer, I may see in the movie what I want to see rather than what the movie–makers intended.  I did talk with my oldest daughter, however, after I had seen the movie.  She also had seen it.  I asked her what she saw as the point of the movie’s story.  She immediately said, “faith.”  She said parts of the movie reminded her of when she was a young kid in religious ed.  Her strong child’s belief in God, she said, always made her feel good, and she remembered that “feel good” experience while she was watching the movie.  I told her that my reaction to the movie was much the same: faith did make me feel safe and secure, or safer and securer, and I miss that feeling.

The movie shows faith as a difficult state to maintain, and I know that such is the case.  I think of what Mother Teresa wrote in her diary about her life–long struggle with doubt.  But the movie also shows faith as a strong and real force in the life of the believer, as a protection against the nastiness of evil in the world, and as a comfort when faced with life’s difficult times.  I accept all that as true.

When I left the movie, I honestly wanted to return to belief.  I wanted to have something to turn to when I am weak, when life gets to be too shitty, when I’m scared.  I wanted that “feel good” experience again.  I really did.  I thought of what somebody said in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air: “I have more doubts about my faith than I have faith.  But I continue to go through the motions of belief because I feel better with the idea of God in my life.”   It’s tempting to talk about “the opiate of the people,” but I think the issue of faith is more complicated than that.

I haven’t entirely given up on believing; I just can’t believe.  It’s that simple.  I feel like the first 40 years of my life, when I was more–or–less a believer, were spent participating in some kind of huge mass self–delusion.  In the seminary, for example, I studied the common Middle Eastern “nativity myths” that were developed for heroes in ancient times.  All the elements of the older myths are present in the relatively recent nativity accounts in the Gospels.  In the seminary I also learned about the frequency with which resurrection was ascribed to heroic figures in eras way before the Christian era.  I learned these things as if they had no bearing on my faith in Jesus’ birth and resurrection as recorded in the Gospel.  They didn’t affect my belief at all; I didn’t believe they applied to Jesus.  Then, in my 40's, dealing with scripture and my gayness, I started to look at things with a more critical mind.  I wrote in my journal on October 16, 1990: “What the fuck have I been thinking all these years?  How could I have been so dense?”  From that time until today, I have seen my old faith as a false comfort and a dangerous self–delusion.  While it may make me feel better not to think but to believe, such an approach to life—for me—is harmful and ultimately deadly.  I am open to the belief of others, but I no longer believe.

The Rite has lots of inaccuracies.  No seminary would send someone with weak faith to an “exorcist school”!!!  No deacon would be allowed to engage in an exorcism, even if that deacon had faith that could move mountains.  No exorcist would allow a man with profound doubts to assist in an actual exorcism.  The movie makes its point, or it did for me anyway, even with all that bullshit in it.

I liked this movie.  It REALLY made me think.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Snip or Not to Snip. . . That is the Question

A friend sent me this an hour or so ago.  I couldn't agree more with this guy!



Not Thinking About Reagan


I want to remember just a few people who I’ve known who have died of AIDS since 1981.  I want to remember them today because today a lot of people are celebrating Reagan’s birthday.  I can’t honor that man.

I can and do honor the following people whom I loved and who are gone:

Myron, 1956–2004.  One of my closest friends ever.  A great musician, a great teacher, a wonderful friend and always a very, very brave man.

José, 1943–1985.  A friend.  A U.S. Air Force NCO who worked in medical research.  His AIDS diagnosis was only about a year before his death in the early days of AIDS.  He suffered badly.  There was little treatment available, even treatment to help with some of his pain.  He wasted away to nothing.  From the time of his diagnosis to the day of his death, Reagan said nothing about HIV or AIDS.  José was a wonderful, bright Hispanic man whose family found out he was gay only about a week before his death.

Martin, 1966–1989.  A beautiful young man who was not yet 23 when he died.  His family didn’t have enough money to bury him, so his friends chipped in to pay for the funeral, one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed.

Luke, 1963–1991.  Luke was a great singer and guitar player.  I knew him only for a few months before he died.  He was probably the most handsome man I ever knew, even in his last illness.

The song that is at the top of this posting is Jonathan Wesley Oliver, Jr.  Mr. Oliver died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 33.  The singer is Tom Brown (1958–1992) who also died of AIDS.  Please listen to it and look at the panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I admit it. . . I like Prince Poppycock!




John Quale aka Prince Poppycock




The King's Speech



I feel decadent today.  I’ve seen two movies in two days: The Rite today, and The King’s Speech yesterday.  I enjoyed both of them.

The King’s Speech tells the story of how King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II, came to the throne struggling with a stutter.  Colin Firth gives an outstanding performance as the King, and Geoffrey Rush an equally good performance as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist without credentials who helped the King with his impediment.  In the background are at least two other stories: the lead–up to, and the beginning of, World War II; and the selfishness and immaturity of the King’s older brother who abdicated to marry Wallace Simpson.  An admitted Anglophile with irrepressible tendencies to romanticize human existence, I loved the movie.

I have to note that the movie has been accused of historical inaccuracy by, among others, the iconoclast Christopher Hitchens (see http://www.slate.com/id/2282194/).  His principal problem was with the depiction of Winston Churchill’s support of the King’s brother and the King’s support for Neville Chamberlin’s policy of appeasement with the Third Reich.

The story of the stutter and the work done by the King and Mr. Logue to repair it is, as far as I can tell, accurate.  It’s that story that makes the movie a good one, in my book at least, and it is the purpose of the movie to tell that story.

Yesterday was the second time I saw The King’s Speech.  I’ve been thinking about it off–and–on for several weeks.  Some thoughts:

1.  The movie shows that all people basically are created equal.  The roles we all play may be different, the circumstances of our lives may be comfortable or horrible, and the way we live our lives may be incomprehensible to people in other circumstances.  But each one of us is human.  All of us are born, love, eat, drink, have sex, pee, poop, get sick, make mistakes, hurt others, achieve, fail, learn, embrace ignorance, have hopes, and die.  Every one of us.  Prince Charles and I share this common humanity, even if we share precious little else.

2.  Friendship heals.  As I saw the movie, Mr, Logue’s therapy worked when all other therapies failed because he insisted that the King treat him as an equal.  As the King slowly comes around to seeing Logue as a friend, he cooperates more with Logue in the therapy, and his stutter improves.  Logue insisted on friendship and that friendship led to the King’s improvement.  In my own life, over and over again, I have resisted help from doctors and others who I considered to be remote and uninvolved.  Over and over again, I have been made more whole by friends who love me as I am and who, out of love for me, tell me the truth about myself and stick by me as I deal with the truth.

3.  Duty is a big part of everybody’s life.  This concept seems so out–of–date to me, but I know it really isn’t.  George VI started work on his stutter so that he could fulfill his duties as the Duke of York.  The movie shows just how difficult his work on the stutter was, and how difficult for him and his wife were the responsibilities of being so close to the throne.  George VI put aside his personal needs and preferences in favor of the responsibilities that came to him as Duke and, eventually, King.  His sense of duty is contrasted with that of his abdicating brother whose primary duty apparently was to Mrs. Simpson and his dick.  I know that every parent and every good employee recognizes and appreciates this contrast.  It’s always tempting for me to shirk responsibility and to do what I want.  The example of George VI is that there are some things that are bigger than we are and that deserve our commitment to duty and responsibility.

I enjoyed The King’s Speech.  It’s a well–made and thoughtful movie.

Maybe some other day I’ll write about The Rite.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another PS22 Vid








Men and Abortion, a Rant


It looks like Representative  Chris Smith has changed his mind, or what passes for his mind.  The Hyde Amendment, passed first in 1976, limits the use of certain federal funds, primarily Medicare funds, to pay for abortions.  Exempt from this limitation have been pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.  The Smith bill initially was going to eliminate all but forcible rape from the exemption.  Among other things, this change would not allow Medicare to pay for abortions resulting from statutory rape.  Even Republicans thought this change was going too far.  Smith today announced that he would retain the Hyde exemptions.

Good news, if today’s report is to be believed.

What has interested me about this horror, aside from the horror itself, is something which I’ve wondered about for years.  Why is it that the principal opponents of abortion all seem to be male?  In this case, Smith was joined in his idiocy by the lachrymose House Speaker, John Boehner.  These two men, joined by other men of their party, were attempting further to limit the rights of women to control their own lives.

Last week, I read an interesting book by Frank Schaeffer, Crazy for God.  The author is the son of the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, an evangelical theologian and founder of L’Abri, the evangelical community in Switzerland.  Father and son were big anti–abortion activists in the early days after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973.  What prompts me to mention Frank Schaeffer is something he wrote in his book after describing the birth of his first son.  He wrote that he finally had proved himself as a man.  He apparently felt the need to offer such proof to his father and to himself, and maybe to the world at large.

Maybe the reason men are the leaders of so many anti–abortion movements is just that.  Failing to procreate leaves them without proof of their manhood.  Women who act so as to deny men that opportunity, then, would be denying men the one thing that proves beyond a doubt that they are straight heterosexual men whose seed is strong and effective.  Such women, if all this is true, would have to be stopped.  Every abortion would prevent some man from manifesting to the world the certain evidence of his masculinity.

When it comes to making babies, men really are the weaker link.  Their contribution is necessary, obviously, but once they have deposited their sperm, there really is no further need for them in the reproductive process.  The woman takes it from there.  She carries the fetus, she nurses the baby, and she traditionally rears the child.  Men are nice to have around if they play their proper part: support of the pregnant and nursing mother and of the young children.  Men who see themselves as rulers of the world—and I am convinced this is how many men see their masculine “prerogative”—are fooling themselves.  In the most basic and most important area of life, the transmission of life, they are bit players with little or no control whatsoever.  I think that this lack of power and control infuriates men whose view of their maleness is built on a presumption of entitlement.

I further think that men who oppose abortion aren’t really concerned with the fifth commandment or law or science.  They are concerned about women: “who do they think they are?”.  For a woman to have control over her life and body means that men have no control over either and that, obviously, is as it should be.  As citizens of the earth, women and men are equal.  One sex can’t control the other.  One person can’t control another.  This is the most basic of the “human rights” everybody worries about when we talk about China or Burma or Cuba.

Men who want to control women and their bodies act from the same sense of entitlement that leads us into wars, that refuses to see the need for universal health care, that seeks to prevent aliens from getting a fair hearing, that persecutes gay men and women, and that believes some god has ordained that men are superior to women.

Men lead most anti–abortion movements not because they believe abortion is bad for the fetus or the mother, but because they believe that a woman’s right to an abortion threatens the status quo that lets them believe they are somehow in charge.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PS22 Chorus-Three Songs from these Amazing 5th Graders

 Let there Be Peace on Earth


Imagine


You Raise Me Up



Gregg Breinberg (Mr.B), Director
 
It was really hard to pick just a few.  See Mr. B's YouTube page,
http://www.youtube.com/user/agreggofsociety

Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (Willie Nelson)



At my advanced age, I’ve fallen in love!!!  His name is Justin Rosario.  I think he’s in his 30's, so he’s just a kid, but what makes me love him is his mind. . . and his ability eloquently to write about what’s on his mind.

Today, as on most Wednesdays, he’s posted a piece on AddictingInfo. org.  Today’s piece is, “Culture Wars:  Episode One –The Gay Menace Or ‘Why are conservatives so afraid of homosexuality?’” (http://addictinginfo.org/new/?page_id=1110)  Please read it!!!  His understanding is right on.  It’s great to see that a straight man understands!

I’ve written here several times about conservatives, their “Christianity,” and how they have fucked up my life as a gay man.  I could write a book about that topic.  There is so much wrong with what religious zealots think about being gay.  Justin points out several of the major problems in today’s piece.  If I never heard the phrase “gay lifestyle” again it would be too soon, and Justin deals with that and with other “Christian” idiocies  that frost my ass.

Just this week, I wrote about a friend who is a fundamentalist Baptist.  Divorced and remarried, he nonetheless believes every word he’s read in the Bible about homosexuality and, as close as we are and as much as I know he cares about me, he still considers any sexual expression of my gay nature an “abomination.”  For this man, my only choice in life is to try to have straight sex, or to have no sex at all.

I know the Bible.  I was a Franciscan candidate for the priesthood and studied scripture as part of my preparation for ministry.  Later on in my life, I spent seven years as part of a group that read and studied scripture constantly and seriously.  My Baptist friend says that I am the only Roman Catholic he has ever met who really knows the scripture.

One day, my Baptist friend and I were “discussing” the scriptures related to being gay.  I asked him, a man divorced and remarried,  how he deals with the following scripture, Mark 10/2-12:

>>>And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"  He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"  They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away."  But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'  'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."  And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”<<<

He couldn’t deal with it.  He called it one of the “hard sayings of Jesus.”  He told me that he believes that his life is “righteous” and that he was justified in divorcing his first wife and, some years later, marrying again.  I agreed with him.  In my eyes, my friend is righteous, moral, and had good reason both for the divorce and remarriage.  I told him his only problem was his intellectual dishonesty in maintaining the infallibility of the scripture while living his life as a good, moral, decent, and divorced man.  I pointed out that gay men and women take the same view of the scriptural prohibitions on gay sex as my Baptist friend takes on Jesus’ prohibition of divorce and remarriage: noted and disregarded as inapplicable to modern life.  I also pointed out to him that his lord and savior, Jesus, never said one word about being gay or about gay sex, unlike Jesus’ clear statement about divorce and remarriage.

We agreed to disagree.

This intellectual dishonesty, what Justin calls “cognitive dissonance,” is what makes it impossible to deal with these rabid gay–haters.  They are willing to make any necessary accommodation in their belief system to justify the way they live their lives.  At the same time, they refuse to listen to what people who are gay are telling them.  I didn’t choose to be gay.  I tried my best not to be gay.  It didn’t work.  Their god created me gay.  Does their god, having made me gay, then offer me the choice between a loveless inhuman life on the one hand, and eternal hell–fire on the other?  If that’s their god, then it’s a very sick god, and they are just as sick when they believe in such a being.

Thanks, Justin, for getting it right and for writing it so well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contented


“I am NOT a morning person!”  That statement has always been so true for me.  I am not able to function at 5, 6, or 7 am.  I’m just not geared to seeing the sun come up, beautiful as the sight may be.  I seem to get myself together by mid– afternoon and then, when 9 pm rolls around, I’m ready to do some business.

I went to the seminary when I was 14 years old.  For the first 5 years of my life with the Franciscans, we were awakened at 5:20 am Monday through Saturday. . . awakened by a priest (the Prefect of Discipline) ringing a manual bell.  On Sundays, we got to sleep until 6 am.

In the novitiate, my sixth year with the friars, we were awakened by an electronic bell at 5 am.  Once a month, we had midnight Office, Matins, sung literally at midnight, after which we’d go back to bed and sleep until 5 am.  Twice during my novitiate year I slept through the bell and missed the Office.  After my second trespass, I was punished by having to be in bed with lights out at 7:30 pm for a month.

My first job for the Government was at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico.  Work there started at 8 am.  Unfortunately, I lived about 75 miles away, so I had to get up and leave the house by 5:30 am.  My second job with the Government was with the Navy.  The workday with them started at 7 am, so I had to be up again at 5:30.  My 27 years with the Uniformed Services University started with a workday that began at 7 am, get-up time at 5:00 am.  After about 20 years, however, in the early 2000's, I was able to arrange at start time of 9 am and, for the first time in my life, I was partly human at the start of the workday.

Now I’m retired.  Since retiring last May, I’ve slowly started to relax.  Lately, the relaxation is showing itself in my bedtimes and rising times.  I almost never get to sleep before 3 am, and, depending on the book I’m reading, I may stay up until 4 or 5 am.  That means that I don’t get out of bed in the morning until 10 or 11 am, or sometimes noon or even 1 pm.  I feel decadent!!!  And I also feel more relaxed and generally happy than I have ever felt in my life before.

Earlier today, I was thinking about how generally happy I am, and I started to look around for something to make me feel less satisfied with my life.  Money sprang to mind.  Living this year on roughly half of what we had last year isn’t easy, but Beni and I are getting used to it and have adjusted our spending and expectations to accommodate our smaller bank balance.  So even money doesn’t ruin things for me.  How lucky is that???  I spend my days doing what I want when I want to do it, and I feel so blessed.

I’ll keep on reading to the small hours.  I’ll keep on sleeping until late morning.  I’ll keep on doing those things that I enjoy.  I wonder how long this contentment will last!  I am a very lucky duck!