Monday, June 30, 2008

Get this woman a pastor, stat

I stayed up too late last night watching a recent rebroadcast of 30 Days on the FX channel. I'm a huuuuuuge fan of this show. For those who've never seen it: It follows the premise of "Walking a Mile in Someone Else's Skin" for 30 days, with the idea of, once you get to know someone intimately, you can no longer judge or hate them. So they took a Minuteman and had him live with an undocumented family, an anti-gay evangelical and had him live in the Castro District, a hunter with PETA activists, a born-again Christian with Muslims, etc. And if you think it's left-centered, that it's out to show that progressives have open minds and conservatives just need a crowbar, think again: One episode featured an atheist from Kansas living with an evangelical family in the Dallas area; the evangelical dad was completely defensive at first but really tried hard to make an effort to understand his houseguest and by the end of the 30 days had come to rearrange his thinking a bit; the atheist was a complete jerk who didn't budge a iota. 

So last night, the premise was "Put staunchly anti-same-sex-parenting person in a home with a same-sex family." And it was a terrible experience for everyone around. Kati, the woman undergoing the experience, came in feeling defensive, and so she felt attacked every time the conversation came up and dug in her heels around her beliefs so hard that she left dents in the hardwood floors. She cried after nearly every engagement and progressively looked as if she was falling to pieces as the days went by, as she struggled to stand up for her beliefs.

I was upset by Kati from the very beginning, because she started off with the statement, "I believe that children should be raised by a mother and father." Basically, the nuclear family is the only proper family. Well, I was raised in a non-nuclear family, without a dad, and I can tell  you that it wasn't Not Having a Dad that was the problem, it was world being snotty (and it still is being snotty, mind you) about Me Not Having a Dad that was the problem. 

Families do not fit in a single, narrowly defined box. What about extended families that help in raising kids? What about friends who live together and share responsibilities? Neighbors who help each other? Where are the boundaries of family? Does the raising of a child leave off at the parent(s)? Doesn't the efforts and work and love put in by grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, godparents, family friends count? Expand your mind to include all the possibilities, and you can't help but see that same-sex family is family, too.

But back to 30 Days. Kati held forth with her beliefs, blatantly telling the Patricks (the same-sex family hosting her) that she thought that their family was wrong, telling a child with lesbian moms that she was damaged, telling same-sex parents that what they were doing was against God and if they were hurting because the law didn't give them protective rights over their child, so sorry, it was their own fault for going against God and Law in the first place. And after nearly every encounter she was shown weeping at the unfairness of it, that why should she be punished for holding onto her beliefs?

I kept thinking, "Someone get this woman a pastor. Get her a pastor, NOW." This is interesting because a year ago I wouldn't have thought this, but ain't it funny how life is? There was no way Kati was going to be open to different ways of thinking as long as she felt like everyone was against her. As Kati was very religious (a devout Mormon), a supportive pastor would have helped guide her through her angst and used language Kati spoke to reassure her that turning over new and different ideas in her mind would not mean that God was going to smite her at any moment. Shown her biblical examples of the different kinds of families (and I tell ya, the Bible is NOT family-friendly). Read Ruth and see if that family arrangement is nuclear; it's Naomi who's left holding the kid by the end. Same-sex parenting, indeed. 

This is not to say a pastor would have helped Kati change her mind on the issue. That's not really what a pastor is for. But maybe she could have helped Kati clue into the fact that maybe one reason she was crying after these encounters because she was seeing the human collateral of her beliefs and her expression of them. And helped Kati pray on that. 

So I'm rather peeved at 30 Days for not giving her a session or four with a pastor to help her get through her crisis. 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Worst Worst Hard Time

Back in December, when Husband and I were taking an evening of refuge at the Barnes & Noble from our frigid house, courtesy of the ice storm that knocked down power lines and left us in the dark for three days, I picked up Tim Egan's The Worst Hard Time, a tale of the Dust Bowl and those who lived it. Not the Okies who fled to California, so immortalized by Steinbeck that we're still known by this idea, but the Oklahomans (And southeastern Coloradans and Texas Panhandlers) who remained in the black, choking dust, drought and despair. 

Born and raised an Oklahoman, I've always held that era with some morbid fascination, even though my kin lived in northeastern Oklahoma and, like most of the country, had some of the dust, but not its brunt. Egan's book is a real reader, a page turner (and it would be, he's a journalist, and we write the best stuff!). But it's also a rather frightening warning for us in this era of climate change. Because for all those who think that humans can't change the climate, think on this: We did it before. That's what the D
ust was, our stupid folly, incited by greed and ignorance, and a sheer naivete on what difference we really make on this planet.

And take a look. The first picture is from the '30s. The second picture is recent

 ground is moving again. While Iowa and Missouri drowns, the Panhandles burn and wither, and the ground is movin
g again. Not all of it, thanks to soil conservation practices taught to the sodbuster farmers (t
hat is, farmers by economic opportunity, not by heritage) by the government. 

I recommend that you read Egan's book. And pray.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reading in tongues: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

(A few of my favorite blogs are doing poetry Fridays. I thought that instead of poetry, I would try to do a translation of one of my lectionary readings each Friday.)

Your mercy, YHWH, 
I will sing forever,
From generation to generation I will 
shout out 
your truth 
with my mouth.
Because you said, 
Mercy will be built 
From the heavens I will establish 
your truth;
I made a covenant with my chosen,
I swore to my servant 
So forever I will
your seed
and I will build up 
from generation to generation
your throne.

διάψαλμα (selah)

are the people who have heard 
the joyful sound;
by the light of  your face 
they walked,
and in your name
they will be happy 
all day,
And by your justness 
they will be raised up 
and praised;
Because the boasting of their strength 
is you, 
and in your pleasure, 
our horn will be raised up 
and praised;
Because our help is 
of the Lord,
of holy Israel, 
our king.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Personal pronouns to believe in

Last summer I took a class called Religion & Politics. Great class, wherein we primarily learned about neoplatonic and enlightenment worldview structures and how they are involved in political framing, and we analyzed political speeches for use of biblical and civil religion references and metaphors. I know I say this about almost every class I take, but this was one of those classes that you can really use for the rest of your life. Maybe all learning is that way. 
So armed with the knowledge from this class, I entered the endless 2007-08 political season with an eye and ear trained for certain key words. And I noticed something right off the bat about Barack Obama's slogans. Not just that he's smart enough to take a page fro
GOP's campaign playbook strategy (read Drew Westen's The Political Brain) and plaster his message across anywhere that he might be speaking, but that he crafted it in such a way to draw us in. Note that it's "Change That We Can Believe In" not "Change That You Can Believe In." "Yes We Can," not "Yes You Can" or "Yes I Can." If Hillary Clinton had been thinking, maybe she could have said "Our Solutions for America" instead of just "Solutions for America" with the implied "My" as the prefix.

What Obama is doing, see, is (technical language alert!) presenting a message of participatory eschatology. He is inviting us all to take part in the re-making of the new Eden, the new (beloved) community, to have a hand in the re-creation of American society, to save it from the powers of the universe that have sullied it. This is within the framework of the American civil religion that rose up most mightily with Kennedy (in Camelot, when the nation was "purer"), not of any particular Christian stripe (but still, mind you, very Christian. The Founders, though Deists, were still culturally Christian), and its telos is the renewal of the promise of America. I actually don't think this is a particularly Christian technique, renewal is a call in every religion. But I can see it through my christian lens, and compare it with Paul's work, which he was knocking around the Roman Empire. Christ, he said, died and we die with him, so that we are in- Christ, a renewed and now unbroken body of Christ. We take part, we invest, we feel like part of the family.

Take a gander at Bill Clinton's 1992 convention nomination speech and hunt for those important Wes and Uses. He does use "I" quite a bit ("George Bush doesn't care about you, but I will,") but one of his refrains is "Join us." Be part of an us. Take part. Participate in the new America.

Then take a look at John Kerry's 2004 convention nomination speech. Lots of Is and implied messiahship -- "Help is on the way." John Kerry will save us.

Vs. Bill Clinton's we'll save ourselves together. 

So when I hear Barack Obama use the We pronoun, I get excited. I understand why people are backing him, why he's getting support in droves. Because he's asked us for it. He's asked us to help him so we can help ourselves instead of asking us to let him help us. We're Americans, for phuque's sake, and above all, we help ourselves and others who need it. We don't cotton to people who try to do for us. 

Bob Burnett over at the HuffPo blogged along these lines today, comparing Obama to Lincoln and McCain to Rambo. McCain, he points out, is a fan of the I.

I'll stand with the We.

We Can Believe in Us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reading in tongues -- Genesis 22:1-14

And it came after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham, Abraham." And Abraham said, "See me." And God said, "Take your beloved son, the whom you love, Isaac, and go into the high land, and offer him there as a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains that I will tell you. And after Abraham rose in the morning, he saddled his donkey. And he took with him two servants and Isaac his son, and after he cut wood for the burnt-offering, he got up and went and on the third day came to the place which God had told him about. And Abraham raised his eyes and saw the distant land. And Abraham said to his servants, "Sit here with the donkey. The child and I will go ahead together, and after we worship we will return to you all." And Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And with his hands he took the fire and the dagger the two of them went together. And Isaac said to Abraham his father, "Father." And Abraham answered, "What is it, child?" And Isaac said, "Look, here is the fire and the wood, where is the sheep for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God personally will see to the sheep for the burnt offering, child." After going on together, they came to the place, which God had told Abraham. And there Abraham built the altar and laid upon it the wood. And after he bound the feet of Isaac his son, he laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the dagger to murder his son. And the Angel of YHWH cried out to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham." And Abraham said, "See me." And the angel said, "Do not lay a hand on the child, and do not do a thing to him. For now I know that you fear your God and for me would not withhold your beloved son from me." And Abraham raised his eyes and saw, and look -- a ram caught by his horns in the plant of Sabec. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered him as a burnt offering instead of Isaac his son. 
And Abraham called the name of the place there "YHWH Saw" in order that they might say today in the mountain YHWH was seen. 

I am attempting to keep up with my Greek by reading the lectionary passages for the week. So last night I read the Isaac story out of my Septuagint. This is kind of tough, as I don't have all the words in the Septuagint in my lexicons, but I make do. So yes, that's my translation of the passage, in all it's roughness. I rather prefer the rough translation than the pretty, cleaned-up, modern version, it reminds me that this is not a story from my world. And it's rather interesting reading a familiar story in another language, it makes you pay attention to pacing and the weight of the words and puts the story in another way. 

I always though that God was a bully and a thug in this story. Go sacrifice your beloved son to prove how much you love me. Ugh. But after translating this, I started to think again. I think the villain here was more Abraham than God. God was challenging Abraham to not sacrifice Isaac, to go against the practices of the day, waiting for Abraham to love his child more than he loved his convention. But because Abraham doesn't, God (rather, YHWH, because the word changes there in that last part, sign of redaction) intervenes. Yes, you love me. Don't hurt that boy. I know you would do it, but you don't have to. So just stop. Note that God was seen in the moment where violence was avoided through love.

In class, the professor pointed out that after this story, we never see Sarah again, leading some scholars to think that she died of a broken heart because she thought her husband killed her  only son. So even intention can have terrible results. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Barack Obama is AWESOME

So Barack Obama's campaign has started a Web site that people can go to to "fight the smears": You know, those irritating e-mails you get about Barack Obama not being eligible to be president because he's not a natural-born citizen. Yeah, I know. I really don't know why he needed to start a Web site, all he had to do was send everyone to, and people who believe that shit and pass it on aren't going to believe his Web site anyway. That, and you deal with rumors the same way you deal with trolls: Ignore them and they go away. 

He's really got enough to deal with without having to deal with Internet rumor shit, like repairing his cred with America's Muslims (tell your volunteers to stop moving hijabis out of your photo ops! but thanks for the apology ...), because being a Muslim ain't a "smear" you know. The answer shouldn't be, "Barack Obama is not a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim and is a committed Christian," but rather "Barack Obama isn't a Muslim, but thanks for thinking so, he takes that as a high compliment. Because isn't it great if ANYONE of ANY religious faith, or none at all, can be president? Isn't that what makes this country so freakin' great? That's what FREEDOM is all about, folks! And the day we start denying people their full rights because of their religious affiliation is the day that this country stops being free."

Anyway, I found this great post on Slate on the rumors Obama shouldn't correct. Here's the ones that cracked me right up. Enjoy.

Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.

Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.

Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.

Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.
Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.

Barack Obama's skin is the color of AMERICAN SOIL.

Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

I bet everyone knew this already ...

I had this little realization yesterday that I've been studying Bible in such a way in order to prove that it doesn't suck and is going to piss me off in every way. That is, I've had it in the back of my brain that I've been lied to about it all along, that it's not a perfect tool for rationalizing hateful and divisive behavior, and if we could just learn how to read it properly, we'd be cool.

It's dawning upon me that learning how to read the Bible is just confirming that it really does support the divisive shit better than the justice shit, and that was kind of Jesus' point (well, Jesus by way of the the Jesi that were the creations of the gospel writers) all along. There's this shit that was written down, and then there's people. Err on the side of people. Err on the side of love. Feed my stupid sheep.

Maybe it's that we're Christians in spite of the Bible, not because of.

And maybe it really is time to switch from hermeneutics to theology.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Being unfunny is more offensive than being offensive

I haven't seen Mike Meyers' The Love Guru, and I really didn't have any plans to. The posters and ads didn't thrill me, not only because it looked like one of those "Last Samurai"-type movies where you drop a Neocolonial guy into a different culture and he proves that he can do their culture better than they can -- and proves that we only care about other places when we can watch a Neocolonial interacting with it -- but it looked like he was out to offend everyone he possibly. Mostly Vern Troyer (whom I actually came to love after his stint on The Surreal Life), but also various facets of Hinduism -- rather, a stereotype of Hinduism.

Back when Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan came out, I avoided it because I thought it would be so offensive I wouldn't be able to sit through it. Lacking HBO, I hadn't seen Da Ali G Show but I 'd seen Borat from his visit to 
the Oklahoma City Traffic Commission where he put out a very long rambling speech in which he apologized that our food made him create a terrible smell and said he wanted to make romance with one of the women in the room -- not by force, of course (and also made me very proud of my city officials for being so beyond-the-call-of-duty polite to him). When I heard he was an "equal-opportunity offender," I really didn't want to see it. "Equal-opportunity offenders" use humor like a blunt tool instead of a scalpel, whacking indiscriminately at anyone and everyone when they could be excising injustice and oppressive elements of society through satire.

I was wrong, Borat was very satirical and very good, and there was a moment where I almost cried because the offensive, awful, anti-Semitic character of Borat was the only one who treated a prostitute with respect. But he was also very very funny. Freakin' funny, actually. And funny makes up for offensiveness most of the time. I know that funny is very subjective, but it seems to me that when you're really funny, you make us laugh at ourselves, not other people, and you make us have sympathy with the clown who's pointing out our foibles, who also has sympathy with us. 

I don't know if Mike Meyers does that, but it doesn't seem like it. There's been a lot of uproar over The Love Guru (check out The Washington Post's On Faith blog's blogs on The Love Guru), but it seems like the controversy can't save it. The reviews are out, and it's just not funny. I'm not actually surprised, I think that Mike Meyers hit his high point with So I Married an Axe Murderer and the first Wayne's World movie. So I won't even get to see if it was offensive or stereotypical. It just doesn't seem worth the $5 to go decide.

If you want funny, go watch the Borat link above. That's pretty funny.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Connubial fusion

I am reading Sex and the Single Savior by Dale B. Martin, a really fascinating look at how our gender and sexuality -- and our hangups with both -- play a role in biblical interpretation. I just finished his chapter last night on what Paul says about marriage and it really put me in the mood for a ham sandwich. 

Back at the turn of the century when Husband and I got married, we, like most young, christian-raised folks, we looked around for the right "Bible verses" to include in our ceremony. Of course 1 Corinthians 13 got in there (and then got knocked right out by the Unitarian preacher we'd hired to do the ceremony, which eventually led to us un-hiring him, but that's a story for another day). Pity we hadn't really read the whole epistle, specifically 1 Cor 7:9, the bit about how it's "better to marry than to burn." Being biblically illiterate at the time, I think I knew that was in there, but I don't know if I really knew what it meant; I think I probably drew on my Catholic upbringing and thought that if you had sex without being married it was off to Hell for you. And since I specifically left the Catholic Church for that reason -- to have sex without sinning (in my adolescent mind, and still to some degree in my adult one, sin is relational in that if your group thinks something you're doing is wrong but you're sure it's right, get a new group). 

Turns out, that's only partially what Paul's talking about. The burning part has nothing to do with the fires of Hell and everything to do with the burning feeling of passion, that sensation of desire/lust that just takes you over and distracts you to no end. (Hah, like being married takes care of that! I love that feeling!) But for Paul, marriage was, essentially, a prophylactic for lust. ¿Qué romantico, no? Paul saw desire as something that would pollute the ekklesia, the community of Jesus followers, just like tainted meat-- idolatry-tainted, that is, and to only weak people, but still. Marriage and avoiding meat are for the weak. But be nice to them. (Why can't people take that away from Paul? He essentially keeps saying that, please be nice to each other.)

Thankfully, what we believe, follow and participate in now really doesn't have much to do with the "fundamentals." But it got me wondering about christian marriage and what the Bible "says" about it. Keep in mind that I don't think the Bible "says" anything; if it speaks, it's only through us. Reading is interpretive. But here's the words on two types of marriage that the Bible has been used historically to forbid or prohibit: inter-racial and same-sex. Thanks to for doing the heavy lifting for me.

Inter-racial: Verses usually used to prop up anti-miscegenation laws come from Genesis 28:1 (Isaac tells Jacob not to take a wife from Canaan); Leviticus 19:19 (don't let your cattle breed with other different types of cattle); Deuteronomy 7:2-3 (don't marry the Canaanites); Deut 22:9 (don't mix your seeds together in the same field); Deut 23:2 (don't let the bastards into the congregation); Jeremiah 13:23 (Leopards don't change their spots) and Acts 17:24-26 (God put different people on different parts of the world and determined when and where they would live).

(I think this list leaves out Ezra 10 where the Israelites who stayed in Israel during the Exile are forced to give up their foreign wives and their kids, and Nehemiah 13:23+, which recounts the same thing).

Same-sex marriage: Nothing! Not one thing in the Bible specifically forbids same-sex marriage. The Bible does mention polygamous marriage, Levirite marriage, forcing women to marry their rapists, slaves, but it doesn't say anything about same-sex marriage. It talks about homosexuality (kind of, at some points) at Genesis 1:27 & 28 (Be fruitful and multiply); Gen 2:23-24 (Marriage unites men and women as one flesh); Gen 19 (Sodom and Gemorra); Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (lying down with men is "an abomination"); Deuteronomy 23:17 (no sodomites in the house of Israel); Romans 1:26-27 (unnatural passions; and Sex and the Single Savior gives this a good going over, too! unnatural passions? more like, if you really follow the Greek, excessive lust, as in you're so horny you'll do anything); 1 Corinthinans 6 (effeminate men and "abusers of mankind," along with a long list of other bad people, won't go to Heaven; SatSS talks about this one, too. C'mon, do we really shun effeminate men in our churches?); 1 Timothy 1 ("abusers of mankind" are still bad people);  and Jude 1:7 (sodomites like "strange flesh"). 

The point of this exercise is, well, rather ridiculous, except to point at the ways we not only interpret but also how we grow. We don't point to the Bible to justify keeping people of different races apart in marriage. Eventually, we won't point to the Bible to justify keeping people of the same gender apart in marriage. I think Paul really was wrong about marriage being a prophylactic against desire; marriage, when you do it right, makes that desire for that other person burn even stronger. Someday, we'll all burn together. What a flame that'll be.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Super Yes we can! ... with attitude!

Even better! Gawd bless the Internets.

I (shhhhhh!) volunteered for politician today. Technically, I'm not supposed to, as in theory it causes an objectivity/impartiality issue. But as I'm about six weeks (again, shhhhhh! plans to be detailed when the time approaches) away from this not being an issue anymore, and since this business has changed so much, I'm thinking it's better to wear my subjectivity out there while at the same time I'm doing my best to make sure each side gets a fair shake. 

Here's the dealy-o: I began working as a professional journalist in 1994, year of the Republican Revolution that, as far as I can see it, was the path toward all that damn near has ruined everything. I saw Inhofe introduce Charlton Heston at a fundraiser as his "Good friend Carlton," I did my very first professional article about how Coburn thinks condoms have no effect on preventing AIDS and followed him around the 2nd District as he rode into office on that big GOP wave. 

I have spent every election night since 1994 in a newsroom, awaiting results with one ear on NPR through the little transistor in my ear and the other eye on the AP wire. In 200o and 2004, I left the office after 2 a.m. not knowing who the next president would be and dreading the next day (or in the case of 2000, the next weeks) because I could see the way the wind was blowing. I cried my eyes out the day after the 2004 election day while watching The West Wing because then-candidate Jed Bartlett apologized to a dairy farmer for keeping subsidies low because "I just couldn't stand the idea of poor kids not getting milk." Break my heart, why don't you, why can't we have that kind of world?

I walked into this candidate's office on a whim, ready to help out, ready to get involved, knowing full well that there's a good chance that I will get my heart broken on every level possible come this November. It's easier to sit in my living room, just observing and never getting connected so that you never get disappointed. And yet, there I went, doing this humble little task as well as I could because it was work that needed doing and there was the small chance that yes we can believe in change. 

Change is worth the risk. Living is worth the risk. Life for everyone is worth any risk. 

I would not have done this three years ago, before seminary and the UCC church and the various religiously linked groups that I've been hanging with and being changed by. I can honestly say I probably will never get the personal Jesus thing, but I think I'm really getting an idea on the christian thing. 

Super Yes we can!

My new favorite picture! Hat tip to Mixed Race America

Rescue the frog. Or, have some frog legs

I blame Al Gore. Yeah, Al Gore gets a lot of blame for a lot of things (thanks for the Internets, buddy. As if I needed more things to suck my life away, I was doing fine in 1994 with my time wasting. Now look at me, 14 years later and I can't go five minutes without getting online!). Anyway, in the movie about his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, there is this little cartoon clip about the frog in the water. You know the thing: you put the frog in a pan of cold water, the frog floats around in the water, happy as a ... I guess, a frog in water ... and then you put the pan on the stove and start to heat it up. The water gets warmer and warmer and the frog gets a nice warm, then hot, bath, until finally it just cooks to death without realizing it.

In the movie, a hand reaches in and pulls the frog out of the water, and Gore son
orously yet cheerfully informs us, "It's important to rescue the frog." 

He said that in earlier versions of the slideshow, he let the frog die, but people got upset. Al Gore, saviour of cartoon frogs. I bet they didn't mention that in his Nobel Prize.

But anyway, yes, it's important to rescue the frog, literal and metaphorical. That was the first time I'd ever heard the frog-in-the-water story. Now I heard it everywhere. Apparently this story has been around for more than a century, rooted (according to Wikipedia) in psychological experiments in the nineteenth century. It means, either, that bad things will happen because you're not paying attention, or, conversely, good things will happen because you were slow and steady in your approach. 

And, according to Internet rumour-checker, it's completely wrong. Gawd love the frog, they're smarter than the people telling the story, they will try to get out of the pan when the water gets too hot. 

So I'm browsing the Internets this morning when I came across this story at the L.A. Times about people in Virginia freaking out over all the happiness in California with the same-sex weddings. Seeing George Takei get married to his partner of 21 years just might make some Trekkers in Richmond catch the gay, apparently. The frog might catch it, too, come to think of it ...

Moore and Lux had never heard of West Hollywood. From their startled stares, it appeared they would have preferred never to have heard of it. Only Takei was a familiar face -- but a notion that Mr. Sulu was now something of a gay activist just made matters worse.

"You watch this celebration and I honestly worry about indoctrination," Lux said.

"It's like the frog-in-the-water syndrome," Moore added in agreement. "You know, the frog doesn't realize the water around it is heating up until it's boiled. I worry that Americans will get used to these images and they'll throw up their hands and say, 'Who cares?'"

Why is it that we never worry about lobsters and crab? We throw those in boiling water and no one seems to be upset about them boiling to death. I bet you could even boil them slowly like the frog and no one would care. Sometimes, the frog's supposed to boil. Aren't frog legs supposed to be tasty? I can't eat them thanks to The Muppet Movie, but still. Herb and Diana up there just haven't realized that frog legs are now on the menu, and they don't have to order them if they don't want to, but someone else might like some.  

What I'm reading: Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation by Dale B. Martin. It upholds reader-response biblical interpretation over sociohistorical criticism and pinpoints instances of homophobia in biblical interpretation, especially in liberal/progressive interpretations.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If I were in California today ...

... I'd be crashing weddings, all day. I would have taken the day off and wedding-hopped, from church to church, registry office to registry office. Cake? Why thank you, I'd love some, and some champagne or alcoholic beverage of your choice that you happen to be serving.

Of course, I would have had to planned ahead. First, I would have either had to take the day off or call in sick.  It's worth it. I'd have had to buy a wedding-guest outfit that would be fabulous enough to be seen at all the weddings that are humanely possible to crash, yet not prone to wrinkling. Shoes, also, of the "looks to die for yet are gellin' in comfort" variety that can stand up to a lot of walking and cab and bus/trolly rides to get from one event of connubial bliss to another. And I'd have to not only buy and festively wrap a sufficient number of toasters to take as wedding gifts, but also take a large amount of money-stuffed envelopes, in case I ran out of toasters. 

I would hug, kiss, congratulate and shower love upon people who finally get to do what I did eight years ago, that is, get married to the person they love, with all the joys and frustrations that entails.

Hopefully, if I were in California, I'd know enough same-sex couples who would be taking the plunge and they'd invite me and my new fabulous, wedding-guest outfit. All my GLBT friends and family aren't in that stage yet. But someday ...

I found this video while I was wandering about the Internets this morning, Ron Zimmerman's "Defenders of Marriage." It's hilarious. Go watch.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Loving Day

Today is Loving Day! No, not the day where we all get to be all smoochy with each other ... wait, that's exactly what it is, that we all get to be smoochy with each other! Loving Day is the commemoration of the June 12, 1967, Supreme Court ruling that struck down the U.S. anti-miscegenation laws that prevented whites and other races from marrying. 

The day is named after Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple at the center of the case who saw that love was more than skin deep. I could give the entire history of the case here
, but the Loving Day site has done a great job of laying out the history, so you can read it there. But this is one of my favorite parts of the case: According to a New York Times story, when Mr. Loving's lawyer was explaining to them all the legal strategies involve with the case, Mr. Loving said: "Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia." 

 Mrs. Loving died in May, and throughout her life she remained a private person who rarely gave interviews about her courageous act. Throughout her life, she didn't think what she did was extraordinary. Rather, she said, "It wasn't my doing. It was God's work." However, last year on the 40th anniversary of Loving Day, she issued this statement, which moves me to tears every time I read it:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.

California begins  marrying lesbians and gays on Tuesday. How cool it is that both of these days of loving are marked in the same week. Hopefully this is the event that finally normalizes love for everyone.

Now here's some disclosure: As you all well know, I'm biracial. But even though the state where I was born and still live had the anti-miscegenation laws on the books until they were struck down by the Loving case, that law specifically addressed black/white marriages, so I'm not sure that anyone would have had a fit by my parents' marriage. Not only that, but the U.S. legalized marriages between U.S. military and Japanese nationals in 1952, so again, I'm not actually affected. 

But you know, none of us have our civil rights unless we all have our civil rights. We can't love freely until we all love freely. 

Loving for everyone. Loving for all. 

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hope changes everything

If you haven't checked out the Yes We Can site at DipDive lately, head on over and watch the other awesome videos people have been creating and posting based on the song. I especially liked the John McCain No We Can't vid. Sí podemos!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I heart Gov. David Patterson

First off, I thought it was awesome to see a man with the same disability as my mom, rise to a position of power with such grace. Being blind, even being legally blind, is tough, and this world does not make it any easier on you.

Then, after getting the governor spot in a sex scandal, he normalized human sexuality by talking openly about various incidents in his sex life that might be considered fodder for gossips. Was savvy enough, essentially, to keep the media out of his private life by showing them he had control of it.

And now, New York Gov. David Patterson is working for gay rights in New York state.

“In many respects, people in our society, we only recognize our own struggles,” Mr. Paterson said. “I’ve wanted to be someone in the African-American community who recognizes the new civil rights struggle that is being undertaken by gay and lesbian and transgendered people.”

New York, in case y'all didn't know, is going to start recognizing all marriages performed in other states. Like California and Massachusetts.


So, outside of this governor-love, I'm on summer break (just got grades yesterday, and thankfully passed all classes with the grades I needed. Which I was worried about, because I'm not so hot in the preaching classes, you know), which really doesn't mean much for me. I have no classes, but I've got quite the to-do list and a reading list that would scare just about anyone. I'm doing independent research this fall on literary and critical theory and theology, which entails doing a lot of prep reading this summer. Right now, I'm reading selected writings by Michel Foucault, theologies by David Tracy (The Analogical Imagination and Blessed Rage for Order), Laurel Schneider (Beyond Monotheism) and Catherine Keller (God and Power), and postcolonial heremeneutics.

Also, I ended my study of biblical Greek for the time being, so I've got to try and keep up with it on my own lest I forget it. So I'm slowly, painfully reading my way through the Second Testament in Greek. Yesterday I read the whole paragraph in Matthew about the magi showing up to Herrod without having to look at the dictionary more than twice, so that's something, maybe I did learn something. Aaand, I also need to keep up my Spanish literacy (I need reading ability in two modern languages for doctoral studies), so I'm reading my way through various Spanish novels I've bought over the years and never read. Right now I'm reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

So I'm pretty busy in a parked-on-the-couch sort of way.