Monday, February 28, 2005

His Grandma Whupped Him

His Grandma Whupped Him
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Jamie Foxx, you were great in "Ray." I just wish your Oscar acceptance speech (which I liked better the first time, as your Golden Globe acceptance speech) wasn't such a celebration of corporal punishment. I know you love your grandma, and I know she whipped you. Apparently a lot. I'm glad it worked for you, because it sounds really awful to me.

Two Teenie Weenie Suggestions, Miss B

Eye Cream Alert
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
To adorable Drew Barrymore: I have two bits of advice for you. (1) You're an American acting legacy, dear heart. Time to hire a voice coach to help rid you of that lingering Valley Girl dialect that so limits your choice of roles. "Rrround tones, Miss Lamont, round tones!"
(2)Philosophy makes a wonderful eye cream called "Eye Believe." Eye believe you need some. Heavens, you're so wealthy you can afford Caudelie, which has grape seed extract in it. Send your assistant out for some, dear. Until you achieve the acting chops of an Annette Bening or an Imelda Staunton, we're counting on you to be smashingly adorable at all times. Crow's feet just won't do.

Sartorial TMI

pelvic bones
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration: two gorgeous stars of the silver screen in high fashion for the Oscars 2005, but sharing just a little bit too much information about the exact state of their physiques for my comfort level. Miss Berry, I should not be able to see your pelvic bones jut out -- one after the other in undulating regularity- when you walk onstage. And Miz Swank, swanky as you are, you are nevertheless coming so dangerously close to sporting derriere cleavage as to give me a case of the vapors.

Sartorial TMI, Exhibit 2

Oh mi gawd
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

77th Annual Oscars

The. Worst. Ever.

Chris Rock: well, he said "s^&s" and "a**" in the first three minutes of his opening monologue, and I couldn't agree more. I'm too much of a lady to say it, but I appreciate that he said it for me.
He was a disastrously bad host. Out of place, stiff, terrible material, nothing witty about him. See you back at HBO where you belong, Chris.

Technical errors and ill-conceived directorial decisions abounded. This wasn't a case of "somebody's gonna lose their job." This was more like, "None of the people involved in this travesty should ever work again." WHOSE idea was it to drag all the nominees onto the stage like a black tie version of "The Weakest Link" again? Fire him first.

Worst gowns ever. It was the year of Zombie Skin Grey. Did you see yummy young thing Natalie Portman looking like something off the side of a Grecian urn, only more stiff? The color scheme was beyond dreary, and Beyonce's glittery black eyeshadow would scare even Celine Dion (she of the perpetually Black Buttered Eyelids). And ladies, no more yellow, I beg you. PLEASE. Renee Zellwegger got away with it a few years ago because it was a cheery vintage shade. That should have been the end of that. I'm telling you, it's not doing any of you any favors. Not even you, Miss Cate Blanchett, but you looked beautiful anyway.

You can blame Jennifer Lopez for the ubiquitous "flesh-colored lips" shade of lipstick that washes out even the likes of Selma Hayek (in ridiculous choppy bangs) and Penelope Cruz (Ay, Dios! Not a beehive!!) Let me make it really clear, girls, since you obviously weren't listening to me last year: You can only wear that color lipstick if you're blessed with the dewiest skin and your make-up artist has given you petal pink cheeks. You cannot rock that look if you're haggard and emaciated, and you really shouldn't attempt it if you're over 50, no matter how good your facialist is. Helen Mirren, I'm talking to you, luv. Elegant and stunning at any age, but m'lady, rouge and lipstick are your friends.

Vanessa Paradis just sat there with her dishy French self, smirking in her bright red lipstick. Vanessa is Womanhood Personified. She lives with Johnny Depp and bears his love children. You wouldn't *catch* her in flesh-colored lipstick. He, on the other hand, was so badly dressed as to cause my mother to keep murmuring "Oh, just look at that." Peacebang and her mother always watch the Oscars together on the phone.

Annette Benning, darling, they already cast "Finding Neverland" and you didn't get the part of Peter Pan. That spiky quasi-punk boyish haircut is so out, honey. Please. It's more OUT than Barbra Streisand's molto grande tummy, which La Babs vainly tried to cover with "creative" chiffon sleeves. Isn't it good to see La Babs chunky and happy?

And I don't care... I'm still not interested in seeing "Million Dollar Baby." I feel so sorry for Martin Scorcese I can hardly stand it.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Little "Flava"

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I was saying to R. that I haven't found much new music that really rocked my world lately, and asking her if she had any favorites she thought I might like (I am doing this with everyone lately -- H. and R. came through with Madeleine Peyroux so I'm taking more suggestions). She said, in all seriousness, "Let me put some flava in your ear."


This from a diminutive feminist Catholic urban goddess theologian who walks around in this crazy Hobbit hat we got some years ago from a Tibetan lady on the Upper West Side. God, I wish you'd been there.

Peacebang at the Gates

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Oh no, I just "outed" myself as a short, chunky woman in a blue hat!

But seriously, folks... hope you had a good time while I was gone. I saw a new musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the same team who did "Ragtime" and "Once On This Island") called "Dessa Rose," starring LaChanze and Rachel York. I cried a lot, but remained lukewarm about it in general. As J. suggested, "maybe slavery just isn't a great topic for the musical theatre." Also, P. and I saw "Being Julia" and absolutely adored it madly. It is a celebration of the neurotic neediness of The Diva, and features a gorgeously aging Annette Bening affectionately murmuring such lines as "You're a revolting hag." She has WON my heart, as has her creation Julia, and I hope she takes home a big, fat Oscar tomorrow night.

P.S. Hank, I blame YOU for getting everyone going on polyamory, you rascally rabbit.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sad Little Doll

It seems that Paris Hilton's PDA (some upscale little techno-item called a Sidekick) has been hacked, and her private little world revealed for all to see. So if you want to get Ashlee Simpson or Christina Aguilera or Gael Garcia Bernal's phone number (and who doesn't?), now's your chance. I actually considered calling Christina from the church line to express my congratulations on her recent engagement but I lost interest. It would have been funny, though. "Christina Aguilera? Hello dear, this is Reverend Peacebang. We want to extend our most sincere wishes here at HomeTown Unitarian Church for a most beautiful wedding and blessed marriage, and we affirm your right to be beautiful in oh so many ways, no matter what they say."

The extreme fame of this little Hilton creature fascinates me. She is so gorgeous and plastic and profoundly moronic it's actually kind of endearing; I cannot imagine inhabiting her life for even one minute. At least, unlike another pathologically famous blonde with the initials MM, Ms. Hilton seems to have a sense of humor and fun and irony about her, and so far she hasn't expressed any desire to be, gods forbid, "taken seriously." The world is consuming her and she's consuming right back. As despicable a spectacle as it can be, I'd rather that than watch her die of self-loathing and barbituates. Mark my words -- we're going to be seeing that mocking sneer for many years to come.

But I finally watched about 20 seconds of Paris Hilton's famous porn tape this evening and wanted to bang my head against my desk for despair. The girl has such a body and she doesn't know how to use it! She doesn't inhabit it! I thought about that wonderful scene in the movie "Antonia's Line," when all manner of real, extremely unplastic men and women are making love through a long Scandinavian night, and how much more spirit and delight and authenticity they shared, even as actors portraying real people having sex.

And I thought, Paris dear Paris... when they said that there are some things money can't buy, they must have had you in mind.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Saffron Is The New Pink!

The Gates (But Not Bill)
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I am hopping on that little Chinatown bus to NYC on Thursday morning to see these large napkins by Christo and -- what's his wife's name? Gigi? Jeananne? Cher? Divine? Zsa-Zsa?

It's terribly pretentious, of course, but I just have to go cast my vote for extravagant gestures of hope and beauty. My friend P. and I will probably wind up holding hands and running among the banners releasing primal screams all the while.

He got me to agree to meet him there by quoting the little dead twins from "The Shining:" Come play with us... forever!

How could I resist?

My New Boyfriend Michael Zelnaronok

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I have no idea who this is but he's hot AND religious. Scott Wells (Boy In the Bands) sent him to me a few weeks ago with a comment that still makes me giggle. If you ask BITB really nicely maybe he'll blog about him. I'm too tired tonight to google.

You know how you sometimes think back on the people you've been dating and you compare them to the kind of person you should be dating and then your head explodes? Yea, me too.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Maria Full of Fierce

Catalina Sandino Moreno
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
The best thing about the film "Maria Full of Grace" is that it is totally bereft of the usual sentimentality that characterizes so many other similar films about po' girls of color trying to escape their lives of boredom and poverty.
Catalina Sandino Moreno she is fierce, mami. Thank Dios that the writer/director insisted on shooting this film about Colombian drug mules (those who ingest drugs before smuggling them to the U.S.)in Spanish, and using unknowns. I kept thinking, "God, he could have cast, like, Claire Danes or something. And she would have had bad black hair dye like Winona Ryder in "House of the Spirits" and loads of mascara.

(Wait! I just saw a production of "South Pacific" where the girl playing the young Tonkinese beauty had this really obvious hair-piece, which my friend Michael described as "totally dry bad snap-on hair!")

I'm so glad that Maria didn't have totally dry bad snap-on hair.

There's a great scene where (spoiler alert!!)Maria tells her boyfriend she's pregnant and they just sit in hostile awkardness sniping at each other, until it just comes right out that they don't love each other. I loved this scene. I loved its honesty, and I LOVED that there was no reconciliation later. None. No mention of the guy. Just like in REAL. LIFE.

It was a good film -- interesting, engaging, moving at times, but not approaching "harrowing," which is how one critic described it. I'm going right now to watch the commentary track to see how they filmed the scenes where Maria swallows dozens of pellets of balloon-wrapped heroin. I was getting acid reflux just watching it.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Minister of Radical Welcoming

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
First of all, is that the coolest job title you could ever ask for? Yes it is, and it belongs to the lovely and talented minister in the photo, Stephanie Spellers, who has just been named Cox Fellow and Minister of Radical Welcoming at Boston's St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral. Welcome back to town, you Fine Thang.
Some of you may remember Stephanie from her Unitarian Universalist days. She's one that got away, and a living, glowing example of what we stand to lose when we insinuate that a skosh of Christian curiosity is okay for UUs, but please don't get too "into" Jesus or anything: it just isn't done.

Ms. Spellers will be ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church on June 4, 2005. I also believe, and I'm not above pimping for a good friend here, that she just might be single and available.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Put Your Goyishe Punim Right Here

I read in the first volume of Elie Wiesel's amazing autobiography, All Rivers Run to the Sea, that the world of Yiddish literature is quite a small, dysfunctional family. Apparently Isaac Bashevis Singer was not liked by his colleagues, and Elie Wiesel himself called Singer's chief rival, Chaim Grade, "the greatest contemporary Yiddish writer," causing a permanent rift between these two bright lights of Jewish literature.

Who knew?

Anyway, I got this from a friend today, one of those silly forwards that made me smile and wish I knew even more Yiddish, whose rhythms and humor I adore. Humor... metaphor... such wonderful literary concepts. Such a shonda (shame) when one has neither humor nor an understanding of metaphor... Oy. Oy vey, even.

The forward begins here:

The new Kosher computer by DELL-SHALOM!

1) The "Start" button has been replaced with the "Let's go!! I'm not getting any younger!" button.
2) You hear "Hava Nagila" during startup.
3) The cursor moves from right to left.
4) When Spellchecker finds an error it prompts, "Is this the best you can do?"
5) When you look at porn, the computer says, "If your mother knew you did this, she would die."
6) It comes with a "monitor cleaning solution" from Manischewitz that advertises it gets rid of all the "schmutz und drek."
7) When running "Scan Disk" it prompts with you with a "You want I should fix this" message?
8) After 20 minutes of no activity, your PC goes "Schloffen".
9) The PC shuts down automatically at sundown on Friday evenings.
10) It comes with two hard drives - one for fleyshedik (business software) and one for milchedik (games).
11) Instead of getting a "General Protection Fault" error, your PC now gets "Ferklempt"
12) The multimedia player has been renamed to "Nu, so play my music already!"
13) When the PC is working too hard, you will occasionally hear a loud "Oy Gevalt!"
14) Computer viruses can now be cured with matzo ball soup.
16) When disconnecting external devices from the back of my PC, you are instructed to "Remove the cable from the PC's tuchus."
17) After my computer dies, you have to dispose of it within 24 hours.
18) But best of all, if you have a kosher computer, you can't get Spam.

I want one!!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Doing The Right-Wing Cha Cha

I think you should see this article on the Southern Poverty Law Center web site:

When I lived vaguely near the Washington, DC area I used to read the Washington Times, which I thought was merely conservative and therefore might provide a counter-balance to my consistent lefty tendencies. The Southern Poverty Law Center (my heroes!) exposes the reality that the WT is not merely conservative, it is psychotic, and that one of its frequent contributors is a neo-Nazi sympathizer who refers to Muslims as "hyenas" and feels that homosexuality is a disease passed by neurotic mothers to their congenitally perverted offspring.

Mostly I just wanted to get you over to the Southern Poverty Law Center site. Thems are good people. If you spent fifty bucks on roses for your sweetie today, I bet you could maybe send the SPLC half that, right? Because they do things like take venomous, murdering Aryan Nation leaders or other hate group hyenas to trial and bankrupt them, put them in jail, or in some other way hamstring them. And we really appreciate that around here. I'm going to write them a check right now.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Oatmealy Monkey

Oatmealy Monkey
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Peacebang has a new nephew, born on Thursday morning at 8:20 a.m.!!

Among other presents, Baby L. has received this oatmealy monkey, well-known to any of my pals who have had babies within the past three or so years. Oatmealy Monkey is the ultimate baby gift. He is so soft. He is so easy to bond with. He is so comforting to teething gums. He smiles at you.

Welcome to the new little one!

P.S. Jellycat is the company that manufactures oatmealy monkey. They also make soft, oatmealy gorillas and doggies.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sound and Fury Signifying Something

This was posted on a board recently, in a on-line conversation asking the question, "What are you giving up for Lent?"

The poster, Ed, wrote:

There are a lot bad habits I've either broken or am trying to break lately... I'm also trying to overcome a weird addiction I have--I love to make myself upset by listening to people whose politics and attitudes differ from mine, i.e., Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, Dr. Dobson, etc. In some perverse way I'm addicted to the feelings of smug superiority and righteous indignation that come up in me when these people spout their hateful nonsense. But it's a bad habit, a sort of compulsive mental masturbation, and it diverts energy and attention away from God by focusing it on my own ego.I'm getting better, actually.

Ah, grasshopper, how wise you are. As a recovering crisis-addict myself, I'm not only careful about ingesting the thoughts of bile-producing commentators, but about spending lots of time with those who do, and for whom impotent raging is somehow satisfying. They belong to no organizations, they volunteer not at all, they show up for nothing, they join nothing, they contribute their money to nothing, they spend their free time purely in the pursuit of leisure, but they vent and spew and vent and spew. Benevolent rage is a good thing, as is judgment. But rage and judgment without action, without commitment and without community is, as Billy Shakes said, "sound and fury signifying nothing."

If you want to renew your sense of sound and fury signifying everything, may I recommend a re-read of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail?" I read it again today and it is breathtaking.

Three posts in one day! It is not mania, it is merely sermon-writing day (so say it with me boys and girls... "Pro-cra-sti-na-tion!")

Jolly Good

Jolly Good
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I don't want to have to remind everybody of the entertainingly torrid letters that passed between Charles and Camilla some ten to fifteen years ago. You remember that particularly, er, graphic one, don't you? Okay. 'Nuff said.

Doesn't she look so pretty these days? Remember when she looked so bloated and pasty and horsey? She's a regular English rose now by comparison. And look at him with his silly little man-purse, just beaming.

In a kind of silly-grin kind of way, I'm just plain happy for them. Long live the king and his consort. Why the hell not? What a revolting fate it is to be a royal.

Headlines We Never Thought We'd See in 1983

"Corey Feldman subpoenaed in Jackson case
Actor says the singer never touched him inappropriately"

(- on

This is totally shattering my memory of happy teenaged nights dancing our hearts out to "Thriller." Corey Feldman!!?? Lord have mercy.

By the way, back then ...
we didn't have cell phones,
we wrote our term papers on typewriters,
no one had a computer in the house,
we had a brand-new state-of-the-art VCR machine that weighed about 40 lbs. and which did not have a remote control (nor did the television set), you actually got up and changed the channel,
we stopped in the middle of dinner to listen when the phone rang and our brand-new answering machine picked up the call (you could hear the caller stammering with confusion: "I don't know what to say on these things!" -- and we'd giggle)
we wrote letters on paper -- and mailed them -- when we wanted to send a message.
we had to actually go to the bank during business hours to get cash,
we were just starting to hear about this weird gay sex disease called AIDS,
we thought it was really high-tech to send our film away to be developed instead of going to the Fotomat,
we were amazed by this cool new thing, the Sony Walkman, which allowed us to listen to our cassette tapes while doing Jane Fonda work-outs ("feel the burn!"),
we wore knickers with metallic Peter Pan boots (thank God the knickers haven't come back),
our movie theatre in town showed one movie at a time...

and Michael Jackson was still Black.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

It's hard to admit this, but I went out and had a martini with a colleague immediately after Ash Wednesday services last night.
It's this constant pull I have between the life of the good Christian and the life of Auntie Mame.

Why do I observe Lent? Because I feel that if I'm going to embrace a theology that affirms the inherent worth, dignity and improvability of every human being, it gives those commitments some much-needed oomph to also acknowledge the sinfulness and depravity that we daily try to overcome. And not just in human nature in general. In myself.
The ashes were imposed upon me last night by a friend and colleague of the United Methodist persuasion. I was expecting something along the lines of "Ashes thou wert, to ashes thou shall return" as she marked my forehead. (Is "wert" a word, or did I just make that up?). What she said was, "Repent and believe in the gospel."

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa. You can bet that's going on my fridge and staying there for the next forty days. In my mind, I gave her a huge high five and said, "Right ON, sister!" In real life I said, "Thanks be to God" and went meekly back to my pew to repent. And to believe in the gospel. It's still a wonder to me how many unbelievably cool and smart people will never crack a Bible in their adult life, but they will rifle through the pages of Wayne Dyer and Dr. Phil and that Marianne Williamson creature looking for exactly the spiritual teachings that Jesus gave. They actually think the Bible is too kooky, and that that other stuff is eminently more sensible and spiritually wholesome. I want to set my hair on fire and run down the street waving a Bible and screaming, "You just can't let Jerry Falwell and those despicable nut jobs have this!!!Nooooo!!!"

My spirit always feels like Brian Boitano winning the gold medal on Ash Wednesday. All year long I carry this incredibly huge burden of trying to believe in the benevolence of God (central to classical Universalism) and the potential goodness of each person(central to Unitarianism). On Ash Wednesday I am only asked to do the former, and released of the latter, my spirit spins around in crazy freedom and joy, cackling maniacally. It is a huge relief to be invited to the dank cellar of my nastiest spiritual parts and reminded that it is because God loves me and made me in Her/His image that I am possessed of inherent worth and dignity. It is not, as I was taught by my dearly beloved but currently theologically floppy tradition, just CUZ.

I don't think you say, "Happy Lent," but I'll say it anyway. Happy Lent. If you're making a sacrifice, I hope it's a worthy one. I am giving up dessert and fantasies about inappropriate men.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Cat That Got Away

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
This is Omar, a cat I met and kind of tamed in the summer of 1999 while house sitting for friends in PA. He was a biter and a scratcher who infuriated the other two legitimate feline members of the household by just sort of strolling into the house through their cat door whenever he felt like it. I thought he was smashing. He now lives in Massachusetts and has apparently taken up the violin. What a looker.

One evening I was watching a movie in the glassed-in, air-conditioned living room when I saw Omar racing across the lawn, hell bent for leather and practically foaming at the mouth. I thought, "What in the world is he running from?" and turned to survey the yard. When I spotted an unbelievably huge buck with his doe and fawn standing at the edge of the lawn, I just about fell off my chair. Those were some big antlers there, feller.

I teased Omar about it for days. "Hey Omar, can I borrow a few BUCKS?" and like that. Don't think he didn't understand me.

Love to you, my handsome bad boy Omar, and to your human for sending me this recent photo.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Margaret Cho's Husband

small world after all
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Activist & comedian Margaret Cho married artist Al Ridenour in June of 2003. Interesting guy. I love what he and his cohorts from the LA Cacapophony Society did at the Burning Man festival in 1999, creating a replica of the Disney "It's a Small World After All" ride and then burning it to smithereens. Of course as it burned, that g*&Damnned song continued to play... and play... (although they say it was enhanced by sirens and other appropriate sound-scaping). This was an anarchists' statement against Disney's shiny-happy depiction of globalism, and the ethnic and racial stereotypes of the animatronic figures... you probably really want to read the whole pictorial report at

Friday, February 04, 2005

House of Sand and Fog

Ms. Aghdashloo
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I am still breathing way down in my soul 12 hours after seeing "House of Sand and Fog" on DVD. Based on the book by Andre Dubus III and directed by Vadim Perelman, it is the best Greek tragedy I've seen in a long time, and I'm terribly devoted to the tragic form. Jennifer Connelly plays a sniveling, alcoholic beauty who screws up her life by failing to read her mail and thus losing her house(take note, ya'll.. you can NOT blow off your mail!), and gets kind of rescued (in a really psycho-needy way) by a sexy deputy sheriff with an overdeveloped sense of he-man protectiveness (tho' not for his own wife and children, the bastid).

You want to see this film for two reasons, though, and their names are Ben Kingsley and Shohreh Aghdashloo. They are Lord and Lady Tragedy, they are exquisitely beautiful and exquisitely rendered according to gender stereotypes that are so true they make you weep, and played with honesty and love that will make you feel as though they have scooped your heart out through your mouth and dropped it onto the floor.

I asked a Persian friend if the details of Iranian immigrant culture were fairly depicted, and she thought so. I was glad. I didn't see this story as a metaphor of Middle-East-Meets-West,though, as some critics have written. I saw it as a tragedy, pure and simple, where the gods look down and throw human beings together according to their whimsy and our inestimable loss and suffering. The tide comes in, the fog rolls out, someone tries to die and gets saved by someone else's goodness, someone else dies and doesn't get saved by anyone's goodness. And so it goes. You will never forget the deep pools of Shohreh Aghdashloo's eyes, which seem to reflect every proud mama and faithful wife's suffering from the beginning of time.
If you rent the DVD, make sure to leave time for the commentary track, because if you care about acting at all you will want to hear Sir Ben Kingsley's take on his magnificent performance.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Sorry, It's Out of Stock

Spider Man Joy Stick
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I just saw "Spiderman II" and loved it, but somehow I think I'd have a hard time 'splaining having this in my living room.
Courtesy of your friends at Wal-Mart.

(Thanks to the ever-hilarious PlanetDan for the link:

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Oy Vey, Not Again

A guy named Perry Marshall wants to get you to take his on-line course called "The Seven Great Lies Of Organized Religion.
These are the burning questions Marshall will address in his course:
(1) Some religious leaders seem to tell us that we're not smart enough or good enough to discover God on our own. Who says?
(2) If God is good and perfect, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?
(3) How can anyone rely on the Bible for answers, if it's just a loose translation of ancient myths anyway?
(4) How can we trust a religion that has advocated slavery and the subjugation of women throughout history?

Marshall, in all apparent sincerity, writes:
"These are serious questions-hot potatoes that nobody wants to touch."

Um, hon? Mr. Marshall? A brief glance through, like thousands of articles and sermons from the past 150 years or so from probably about sixteen or seventeen dozen religious traditions would indicate that your questions are at the absolutely forefront of religious thought in America. Every single one of those hot potatoes done been PASSED. And passed. And passed.

Again, as in my "spiritual but not religious" entry of a week or so ago: Who are these people? What kind of bubble do they live in that they somehow don't know that an enormous portion of the "organized religious" population concerns itself with these questions? So, just off the top of my pointy head... a reading list for our Mr. Perry Marshall:

Ralph Waldo Emerson or Immanuel Swedenborg, Meister Eckhart, Matthew Fox (on the direct, unmediated experience of God); William Ellery Channing or Marcus Borg or John Shelby Spong or John Dominic Crossan (on how to read the Bible reverently and critically); Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza or Elizabeth Johnson or Rosemary Radford Ruether or Carol Christ or Sarah Coakley or Julian of Norwich (on the question of being a feminist and a Christian or a Jew); Martin Luther King, Jr., Howard Thurman, Walter Wink (on why we can "trust" Christian tradition despite the Bible's teachings on slavery);
Gottfried Leibniz, C.S. Lewis, Harold Kushner, Elie Wiesel, Gersonides (on theodicy, the question of suffering, evil and God).

I apologize to Mr. Marshall and to anyone else on the planet who has been participating in a religious community on any level and who has been left with the impression that religious people do not care about things like evil, suffering, misogyny, oppression, access to the Divine, and the myriad other problems inherited from ancient faith traditions.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Down At The Socinian

The Socinian is a neat new blog by our friend Fausto. I checked it out today and laughed like hell (pardon me, HECK) to see a little shout-out to Yours Truly on one of his recent posts:

In the same post, Fausto quotes at length a letter from Benjamin Franklin to Unitarian minister Ezra Stiles in 1790:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to his divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed...

Isn't that wise and tolerant and lovely? If only post-Christians today had the same maturity and respect.

Letters From Siberia

My friend, the poet Sophie Wadsworth, has published her first book!
This description appeared recently in a Harvard Gazette article by Beth Potier:

"When Roxanna Lord Pray - Roxy to all who knew her - left Maine as a newlywed to join her husband's family in Siberia in 1894, she sent home letters. Thousands of letters, written throughout her 36 years in Vladivostok, rich with details of her life, images of East Siberia, and the mood of the time in which she lived."

Sophie is Roxy's great-granddaughter, who took those letters and wrote a gorgeous book of poems about them, including this one:

I picture Siberia, three weeks away:
deep snowy trees sleep along the horizon.
Another heave, I slide into a blue

hallucination ... a swirling alphabet of snow ...
Cossacks shouting, whipping the hull
to outrace a squall ... I lurch locked inside
a giant trunk marked Roxanna Lord

-- from "Passage to Vladivostok, 1894," Sophie Wadsworth

Don't you just want to buy this book? You can! Send $11.50 to Sophie at 22 Old Mill Road, Harvard, MA 01451. I bet she'll even sign the copy for you.