Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Rev is a Satanic Asshole



Yesterday, a FaceBook friend posted a video showing a fundamentalist/pentacostal preacher in Arizona, Pastor Steve Anderson.  The video presents two separate diatribes by this ignoramus:  the first is a virulent, hate-filled, hysterical diatribe against “faggots,” a word he uses purposefully.  Among other things, this dangerous man says that gay people should be put to death because God hates them and God’s word (in Leviticus) calls for that punishment.  He also says that all gay men (he doesn’t seem interested in Lesbians) are pedophiles and recruiters for the gay cause.  As proof of his recruitment theory, he notes that every day there are more and more people announcing that they are gay.  Coming out, then, has its downside, apparently:  every time some gay person has the immense courage to leave the closet, this satan uses that courage against us.  He says we are sick and spreaders of sickness.

The second diatribe is against the President.  He hates President Obama almost as much as he hates gay people.  He says that he prays that President Obama either will be killed or will get brain cancer and die.

At first, I didn’t listen to the entire video.  I was so upset by the first few minutes that I just stopped it and went on my friend’s FB page and ranted.  After a few minutes, I deleted my rant and went back to listen to the entire filthy mess.  If you have the stomach for it, and if you – like me – suffer from self-destructive impulses, then you can find the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_im7wh2Hz7U&feature=youtu.be.

I was awake until about 5 am this morning, tossing and turning and thinking about that man and this question:  Why does this man upset me so much?  Other gay men listened to the video and saw the hate and the man for what they are:  irrelevant, hate–filled, and obsessed.  One or two believe that the depth of this man’s hatred hints at the possibility that the asshole himself is gay.  So why was I so upset?

These are the images that flooded my mind after listening to this bucket of sleaze:

I remembered being 4 or 5 years old and at the home of the woman who watched my brother and me after school.  Her husband came home from work and emptied his lunch pail.  He hadn’t eaten his banana.  He gave the banana to my brother.  I asked if I could have part of it, because I loved (and still love) bananas.  The man told me that he wasn’t going to give anything to a sissy.

I remembered my good childhood friend, Roberta.  She and I shared a love of books and dolls.  She used to invite me to her house to play dolls with her, something I really enjoyed.  One day, when I was about 8 or 9, we were playing dolls and her father came in the back door and walked through to the living room where we were playing.  I looked up and greeted him, as did Roberta.  He said hello to Roberta and then gave me a mean look, which he held for what seemed like 5 minutes, and then shook his head and left the room.  I remember Roberta said that her father didn’t like it that I played with her dolls.

I remember being 11 or 12, and walking down the street to a friend’s house after dark one night.  The man who lived across the street from us was working in his yard as I walked on the sidewalk next to his yard.  He called my name, and I stopped.  He said, “You know, Eddie, you’re turning out to be a goddamned queer.”  I didn’t say anything back to him.  Instead, I walked around the block and back to my house.  I told my mother what the man had said, and she said, “You shouldn’t be such a sissy.  That’s why he said what he said.  He just wants to help you.”

I remember being 12 or 13.  During the summer, we visited my mother’s family in Western Pennsylvania near Erie.  My cousin, Carol, and I were in her bedroom listening to and lip-synching with “Cry Me a River,” by Julie London, and our performances were full of drama.  Carol’s father, my mother’s brother, came into the room to tell us it was time to go to bed.  He then told me that I should be outside playing with the boys, not in the house playing around with “girlie music.”  He said I was a big sissy and that, when I got to high school, the other boys were going to beat the shit out of me.  I had learned by this time not to tell my mother when people, even her own brother, said these things to me.

Throughout my young years, I don’t remember really caring what adults thought about me.  My brother, my playmates in the neighborhood, and my cousins, seem to accept me as I was, and I had a good old flamboyant time of it.  When I got to be 12 or 13, however, and started to have sexual thoughts about boys, what other people said bothered me a lot.  I remember looking forward every week to going to Mass on Sunday.  Kids were supposed to go to the kids’ Mass at 8:15.  That was a High Mass, with beautiful music, chanting, pretty vestments, Latin, and God.  As I became more and more convinced that there was something about me that made people not like me, I came more and more to rely on God as my “shelter and refuge.”  At Mass on Sunday, and when I said my rosary at night, I was fine, and loved, and accepted for what I was.  Sexuality wasn’t preached about in my parish.  No one said to me that God hates fags.  God remained my best friend until. . .

I had to confess “sins” having to do with other boys.  Then, I found out from the confessors that God also didn’t like what I was.  I remember the day and the hour when I made up my mind that I hated what I was and wanted not to be that way any more.  It was during the 8:15 Mass on January 1, 1961.  I made a vow that I kept for a long, long time:  I promised God after Communion that I would try always to be like the other boys and that I wouldn’t “do those things” anymore.  I went into my closet, and didn’t come out for almost 30 years.

When I heard that asshole preacher yesterday, I remembered all that.  These memories flooded my mind as they do now and then when I encounter anti-gay hatred.  I’m not sure why this particular asshole made a stronger impression on me than other assholes like Fred Phelps and Pope Benedict.  But he did.  It hurt to hear that hatred.

Can you imagine a young gay boy in that pastor’s church?  He doesn’t have a choice about being there; his parents choose the church and make him go.  He sits in the pew and hears this man’s rabid hatred of faggots, and he knows that the “Reverend” is talking about him.  He hears the preacher say that God hates gay people and that God’s instructions are that gay people should be killed.  He hears the pastor say all those horrible things about gay people – about him – and his hope of a loving, accepting God vanishes.

This “pastor” is evil.  He is endangering the lives of kids who are supposed to be under his “pastoral care.”  He is giving the parents of gay kids ammunition to use when they want to scare their kids straight.  This “pastor” is sick, but far worse, he is a serious danger to others.  If God exists, I hope God will deal with the pastor who does such horrible things in God’s name.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Religious Superstition and Blame


WARNING: The following is a RANT filled with OBSCENITY!!!!

I HAVE HAD IT!!!!  Hurricane Katrina caused by tolerance of gays.  Disney World’s Gay Days will cause hurricanes and destruction.  9/11 caused not by insane zealots but by tolerance of gays.  Now comes a post on FaceBook—with instructions to pass the post along—that attributes Hurricane Irene, the Virginia earthquake, the drought and heat in Texas, and–probably–every night spent tending to a baby with colic to this:   “. . .people are fighting to take God out of everything, [and] seems to me God is sending an awfully loud message!!!!!”

FUCKING BULLSHIT.

IF those who believe this nonsense also believe that they are Christians, then I refer them to 1 John 4/16: “God is love.”  Period.  Love.

I don’t agree with Richard Dawkins on some issues, but I do agree with him on this: the cruel god described in the Jewish scripture, and in Paul’s letters, is a monster, an evil and sadistic monster who is the antithesis of love.

Any parent who loves her or his children will know that this attribution of mass destruction to a loving parental god is false.  Any lover who cherishes a beloved will know that no part of love wishes death, destruction, and misery for the beloved.

What are these people thinking?  How full of ignorance are they?  What makes them attribute to god what, in my opinion, would have to be attributed to an evil spirit—i.e., Satan—IF all these things were caused by some spiritual power.

As it happens, none of these things is a spiritual phenomenon.  All of them are natural phenomena.  Some of them are demonstrably caused by global warming, a FACT that these same religionists deny.  Global warming makes the oceans hotter and hot water in the oceans is one of the prime causes of hurricanes.  Global warming causes hotter weather and disrupts rain patterns.  Nothing mystical is going on here.  Scientists have warned us that such things would happen and—guess what?—they’re happening.  In the face of this REALITY, these idiots continue to drive their SUV’s, continue to insist that global warming is a liberal/socialist fantasy meant to ruin their comfort levels, and blame all the RESULTS of global warming on a failure to be superstitious enough, a failure to be homophobic enough, a failure to be intolerant enough.

I was an extremely challenged science student in high school and college.  I worked my ass off for B’s and C’s in my science classes.  But I learned enough to understand the discipline of science and the scientific method.  Did all these religious idiots not take science in their home–schools?  Or is it just easier for them to blame gay people and keep on doing those things that ruin the planet?

Fuck them all.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Different Love Story



My friend, Jamie Petello, told me about a movie that I should watch, Bear City-The Movie.  Jamie, a man whose patience is as large as his waistline, suggested the movie about two years ago.  In an email to me last Sunday, he asked if I had yet watched it.  I hadn't.  He found it for me on Amazon Instant Video, and sent me another email with the link on Thursday.  Being home alone (sob!) tonight, I decided to watch it, thinking that I can always turn the TV off.  I couldn't imagine a story about bears (hairy, large-ish gay men) that would hold my interest for 90 minutes.

I was so wrong!  This is a beautiful movie.  Not a soft-porn flick, as I imagined, nor a vacuous bit of fluff as are so many gay-themed movies, Bear City-The Movie has a heart and soul, along with a cast, that captured me in the first few minutes and held me til the end.  It's an old-fashioned love story. . . not just one love story, actually, but a whole bunch, all peopled by men whose physical types are so out of the mainstream that it took me a while to adjust.

In addition to showing the love these men have for one another, the movie has a huge message of acceptance:  acceptance of self  and acceptance of others.  It shows large men who not only are comfortable with their bodies, but whose bodies are desired just as they are.  It shows a man who is fighting to reconcile the reality of his body with the fantasy of mainstream straight and gay expectations of beauty.  It shows young gay men having deeply to examine the prejudices all us gay men seem to have that make us look to the toned, handsome, and young among us as our models.

I'm not sure how wide an audience this movie would have.  I doubt that straight people of either sex will find in it the messages I did.  I'm not sure that even some gay men will like it.  But I liked it very much.  I have it for seven days, and I certainly will watch it again.  It is an unexpectedly beautiful movie that has done damage to my long-held real definition of beauty (my real, deep-down definition, not the politically correct definition I show to others).  It also gave an electric shock to the way I look at my own body at my age.

Who would have thought?

Jamie thought.  Now I know why he's been on my case about this movie.  He wants me to love myself better.  Thank you, Jamie, and huge luvin, my friend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sister Saint Anthony




Sister and I, Dallas, July, 1963
My great aunt (my mother’s aunt), Margaret Kennedy, was born in Buffalo, New York on July 3, 1890.  Her mother and father were first–generation Americans, both children of immigrants who came here from Ireland during the “potato famine” in the mid–1800's.  She was one of five children; she had two brothers and two sisters, including my grandmother, Mary.

In 1906, when Margaret was 16 years old, she entered the convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur, a Belgian religious congregation of women.  The Eastern Province of the Congregation had its motherhouse at Mount Saint Mary in Buffalo, so Margaret was at least geographically close to her family during her time as a postulant and novice.  When she entered the Congregation as a novice in about 1908, she was given the religious name, Sister Saint Anthony, after the Franciscan Saint Anthony of Padua.  After she made her profession of temporary vows around 1911, she went back to school for two years to prepare to be an elementary school teacher.   She made her perpetual vows in the Buffalo motherhouse about 1916, after which she was sent to the Congregation’s Western Province, whose motherhouse was Our Lady of Victory Convent in Fort Worth, Texas.  The Sisters had been in Texas since the 1870's when Texas was considered a mission territory.  They followed the railroad as it was built through the Northern part of the State, building convents and schools along the way.

The habit Sister wore when she went to Texas
When Sister Saint Anthony got to Fort Worth, she found a large and busy convent that not only was the Provincial motherhouse, but also the residence for Sisters who taught at Our Lady of Victory Academy, a high school for girls that the Sisters still run.  Sister Saint Anthony wasn’t qualified or prepared to teach at the high school level, so she was assigned to work in the laundry of the large house.  Sister told me that this was her very first experience of life outside of Buffalo.  She felt as if she were a world away from her family and all that was familiar to her.  The weather in Texas was so hot and humid during the summer that, for the first several years there, Sister suffered greatly from the heat.  Born and raised in Buffalo, her experience of summer was that a heat wave was two or three days of 80–degree weather, so the long, hot  Texas summers were a shock to her.  She told me that the habit that the Sisters wore at the time (see photo) was extremely uncomfortable in the heat, and that she and some of the other Sisters suffered from frequent headaches because of the tight–fitting bonnet they wore at the time.  Sister suffered also from homesickness and had a generally difficult time adjusting to life as a laundress in the large house.  I asked her if, during that adjustment period, she ever thought about chucking it all and leaving the convent to return home.  She said that she never thought that.  For one thing, she had made perpetual vows, and those vows were the central focus of her life.  For another thing, she said, Sisters in 1920 just never thought about “abandoning” their vocation.  So Sister sweated and missed her family and the cool Buffalo summers and went about her washing and ironing.

In 1926, the Sisters were asked to staff a school in Saint Anne’s Parish in Porterville, California, a town in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Sister Saint Anthony was chosen as a member of the founding faculty and, during the Summer of 1926, traveled to Porterville to establish the convent and the school.  Sister taught first, second and third grades at various times during her years in Porterville, and discovered to her delight that she loved teaching and loved her pupils.

In the 1930's, Sister was ordered back to Texas, where she spent the rest of her life.  She was assigned to teach third grade at Our Lady of Good Counsel School in Dallas.  The convent for that school at the time she was assigned there was a great mansion that the Marsellis family had donated to the Church.  In the 1930's it was one of the grandest homes in Dallas.  Sister taught third grade at that school through the early 1960's.  She retired from teaching when she was about 75 years old.  She stayed at Our Lady of Good Counsel after her retirement until her deteriorating vision (she had severe cataracts in both eyes in the days before cataract surgery) made it impossible for her to get around.  She then moved back to the house where her life in Texas had begun, Our Lady of Victory motherhouse in Fort Worth.  Sister lived there, lovingly cared for by her Sisters, until her death on January 18, 1993.  Sister was 103 years old at the time of her death, and less than six months away from her 104th birthday.

Sister Saint Anthony's 100th Birthday, July, 1990
Sister had various health problems in her later life.  In the 1940's and 50's, she suffered from bleeding ulcers and was hospitalized four or five times.  Twice she was thought to be near death and was given Extreme Unction, “the last rites.”  She recovered both times and outlived her ulcers.  In the 1970's and 80's, she was found to have breast cancer in two separate instances.  She had radical mastectomies in both cases and recovered well after both.  In the mid-1970's, she found an ophthomologist who was able to restore some of her sight by doing an early version of cataract surgery on both her eyes.  Sister had to wear thick darkened lenses, but she was able to read and watch television, and she was able clearly to see the people and things around her.

I met Sister Saint Anthony only twice: in July of 1963, on a family vacation, we visited with her for several days in Our Lady of Good Counsel convent in Dallas.  In 1975, I flew to Fort Worth and spent a week with her in Our Lady of Victory motherhouse.  Throughout my growing–up years, into my life as a husband and father, Sister and I exchanged long and fascinating letters.  I learned about her life from these letters and from my visits.  I also got to know the woman who was the Sister.  She was an indescribably gentle person.  She also had the gift of simplicity, a trait much valued in religious life.  Having taught first, second, and third grades for almost fifty years, her manner of speech was child–like, but her thoughts and sentiments were anything but child–like.  She was a woman of prayer and of faith.  She and I talked a lot about prayer and she gave me a few “tips” that I found especially helpful when I was learning to pray as a Franciscan.  She told me always to remember that the Jesus to whom I prayed loves me more than anyone else ever could, that He understands all my problems without my having to bore Him with the details, and that, like all men (she said this with a smile), He likes to hear how great He is!  I loved this woman!

I lived most of my life in and around Washington, D. C.  Whenever any of Sister’s fellow Sisters, former students, or friends would come to the D. C. area, Sister would ask me to get in touch with them.  I met a dozen or so of her former students, all of them priests or Sisters themselves.  They all spent the time of my visits with them telling me about the “real” Sister Saint Anthony.  I think all the people I met had her as their third grade teacher, but her impact on them was lasting.  All of them talked about her impish sense of humor.  She loved to play practical jokes on her Sisters and on her students.  She got in trouble frequently with her superiors for playing such jokes.  One time, during the Second World War, it was her turn to answer the convent telephone in the house in Dallas.  One night, the phone rang, and a soldier asked to speak with his sister, who was a Sister just recently assigned to the Dallas convent.  Sister Saint Anthony went into the recreation room, where all the Sisters were listening to the radio, reading, sewing, or playing board games.  She called out that Sister So–and–So had a phone call from a man claiming to be her husband.  The whole room—about 25 Sisters—erupted in confusion and concern.  Poor Sister So–and–So almost fainted.  She protested to Sister Saint Anthony that she had never been married.  Sister Saint Anthony said, “Oh, did I say husband?  I’m so sorry, Sister, it’s your brother on the line.”  This is one of the times that Sister was reprimanded by the superior.

Her former students also told me what a great teacher she was.  One of them, a Sister herself, told me that her second grade teacher, another Sister, had been a holy terror, cuffing students when they gave the wrong answer, using her ruler to get a day–dreaming student’s attention, and frequently screaming at the class.  When this Sister started third grade with Sister Saint Anthony, she was shell–shocked and lived in fear of Sister Saint Anthony’s first temper tantrum.  That tantrum never happened.  This former student told me that, of all the Sisters with whom she had studied, Sister Saint Anthony was the kindest, the most light–hearted, and the most effective.

Sister Saint Anthony has always been one of my heroes.  She lived her life for others.  She gave or herself to a cause greater than her own comfort.  She walked the walk of religious life as a woman of faith and, most importantly, prayer.  When I was getting ready to enter the novitiate, Sister sent me a book of Gospel meditations.  In her letter that came with the gift, she wished me well, told me to leave if ever I came to know I shouldn’t be in religious life, and said her only rule for me was that I was to pray all the time.  She wrote on June 13, 1966 (her feast day):  “Don’t use other people’s words when you pray, Eddie.  God will know they’re not your words.  Use your own words, and go through your day just telling God how much you love Him.  Tell Him how grateful you are for the life He has given you as a Franciscan.  Tell Him how beautiful His world is.  Just talk to Him, but do it all the time.”

I come from some really good people, and Sister Saint Anthony was at the top of the list!