Sunday, July 31, 2005

Looking For My Leopard

By the time I get home from vacation, let's hope you all have this little ditty memorized:

It wouldn't hurt you to learn some of the dance moves, either. But try not to let the little animated mouths on the mice at the end give you nightmares.

Flip Flops Are a Flop

Please don't tell me that flip flops are becoming a permanent national fashion choice. I don't hate them for the way they look, I hate them because anyone wearing them necessarily walks with all the grace of a cow hand on the way out to do the mornin' chores.

And don't go telling me about your cousin Roy who was both a cow hand and a ballerina. You know what I mean.

If You're Really Really Bored

Maybe We Should Switch To Decaf at Coffee Hour?

I just posted this huge thing at Coffee Hour, where the joint is jumpin', it's really jumpin. Come on cats,
and check your hats. I mean, this joint is jumpin.

P.S. I loathe, loathe, loathe that public radio show, "Sound and Spirit."
Ellen Kushner has the most saccharine, puerile tone. She makes me want to spit pieces of cigar out the side of my mouth and talk like Jimmy Cagney all day.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Revenge Can Be Kind of Sweet, Admit It

Hey Jude
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
This is a bone I'm throwing to those of you who care not a whit about Unitarian Universalism and just live for PeaceBang's snarky pop culture commentary (and if you do, I wish for you a life).

Okay, you all know that the scrumptrulescent Jude Law cheated on his boho-princess fiancee Sienna Miller with their NANNY, right? And you know that he issued a public apology, right?

Well, did you happen to know who it was that hired the long-legged, blonde nanny in the first place?

Think real hard.

Yes, it was Jude Law's EX, Sadie Frost.

Who was herself, I believe, cheated upon when Mr. Law stepped out with Miz Miller.

And that's what I call a beautiful revenge.

Other People's "Good News"

There's another good and serious conversation going on at Boy in the Bands:

We're getting into some very important stuff here, kids. Derek's posts in particular resonate with me, as he shares his sense of pain that the good news of the loving God we know through Jesus is considered "old news" or even "bad news" among many of our co-religionists.

But Derek makes another point I'd like to briefly touch on. He says that he used to believe in the deep pluralism of the one-world-religion universalists of the Kenneth Patton ilk (as opposed to the "salvation for everyone" Universalism of, say, Hosea Ballou -- and yes, I know he was a restorationist. Wasn't he?). ANyhoo, if I hear him correctly, Derek no longer feels that that kind of Unitarian Universalism has integrity, or is possible.

I'm WITH you, Derek. You know why? Because westerners who decide to groove on world religions mostly do so in an uncritical, flavor-of-the-month manner, picking and choosing what they like from a faith tradition and blithely ignoring all the icky, exclusionary material -- whether it be cultural, theological or practical. That's bogus.

Furthermore, and this is even worse, One-World-Religion universalists totally fail to realize that they've never been given permission by the practitioners of those "other" religions to claim them for their own use. You may ask: who has the authority to bar me from using the sacred words of concepts of any world religion? I respond that it is the faith claims of those traditions themselves that should give you pause, if not entirely keep your muddy boots out of the holy of holies. If we don't know what those faith claims are -- if it's just too inconvenient or too much work to learn them -- then ten cuidado. Be careful.

I'm guilty of this; don't think I'm not. Which is why I more and more rely on literature, film, theatre, art and poetry than materials from world religions in the making of analogies and in the crafting of what I hope will feel like a spiritually energizing, enlightening narrative.

I think the Indiana Jones series illustrates this just smashingly. The spiritual explorer thinks he or she is grabbing a really cool artifact from the past, and unwittingly unleashing all manner of hell.

No, I haven't started the paper yet, but the house is clean, the pesto made, the potatoes boiled, the shrimp ready for grilling. Why do you ask?

P.S. While I don't advocate "borrowing" bits and pieces from world religions in careless ways, I do think this is a Jim Dandy of an idea:

Why It's Dumb To Dis' Humanists

Jeff is writing some very deep and good stuff about Unitarian Universalism over at Transient and Permanent:

You may want to read it and the comments, too.
He's talking about the troubling "anti-Humanist" sentiments he hears being thrown around in seminary/ies.

To be Unitarian Universalist is to be humanist!
I don't understand it.

Maybe this will help: Those Unitarian Universalist participants in congregational life who have no time, love or respect for anything whatsoever that smells "religious" to them often go by the "humanist" label. I won't take that from them, but what they really are to me is "religion-phobic." And yes, they're destructive and yes, they're often of a certain generation and yes, gods help you if you try to serve in ministry (lay or ordained) in ways that provoke their ire and anxiety. They are Extra High High High Maintenance.

But they're not really Humanists, which carries connotation of loving humanity (phil - anthropy), of reasonableness, of love of Wisdom (philo-sophy), of true tolerance, of engagement.

I was very complimented and relieved recently when one of my congregants said she described me to an inquirer as a Christian Humanist. I've joked pretty often with my people about my multi-hyphenated theological identity, and was pleased as punch that she got beyond my shenanigans ("Jewishly Christian Transcendentalist Witch Unitarian Universalist" for example) to the truth of the matter.

Jeff also has a nice discussion going there on Universalism as the new fashionable theological orientation. I think that's connected to feminism, and have said so on his blog.

I know you think I'm procrastinating on writing my paper but I'm REALLY NOT. I really am not. It just looks that way!!

Personal to Dena: sure, link away, baby!
Personal to ChaliceChick: Your question about totally re-defining words vs. intrepreting them is important and I'm glad you brought it up again. I have a response in draft form that I intend to fix up and get out there in the next few days. Or after I get back from vacation.

Just Another Critique of Unitarian Universalist Practices

I'm always slightly depressed when I hear a Unitarian Universalist say that their minister "gave a talk" on various religious traditions. "This week we heard about Hinduism," they'll say, or "We're hearing a talk about Islam next week."

PeaceBangers know by now that PeaceBang believes in the sermon which instructs, and guides, and heals, and challenges, and digs into the guts.
I believe that congregations gather on Sunday mornings to gather the strength and wisdom they need to get through the week, and a "talk" on Hinduism -- while potentially very interesting -- does not accomplish this goal.
We have a whole wonderful secular culture -- books, magazines, radio shows, television programs, continuing education courses at the nearby college, book groups, etc., ad nauseum, to sate our exclusively intellectual curiosity. Church is something else. It is a place where we remember, in the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but are spiritual beings having a human experience. Theology and belief have little or nothing to do with accepting that basic premise. Church is the place we "remember backwards" and contemplate the moment of our death, and consider whether we have earned for ourselves a shining name and the regard of other humans, or if we have merely hoarded experiences and knowledge like a squirrel stores nuts for the winter. We do make claims in our congregational life, whether we admit to that or not. One of the claims we make is that how we live matters. An examination of "other people's" religious practices does very little to help us collectively confront how we are living.

I know that Stanley Hauerwas is hardly a favorite with religious liberals, but it wouldn't hurt to acquaint ourselves with some of his trenchant critique of liberalism.

Listen to Stanley Hauerwas on the problems with the modern university, and apply it to congregational life:

" Universities, of course, pride themselves on 'freedom of speech,' as well as providing a 'safe' place for 'radical opinions,' but that is exactly how conflict is domesticated. Namely, you can think and say anything you wish as long as you accept the presumption that you do not expect anyone to take you seriously. Thus, the presumption that students ought to be educated to 'make up their own minds' since indoctrination is antithetical to 'education.' Of course teaching students to 'make up their own minds' is a form of indoctrination, but since it underwrites the hegemonic character of liberalism, few notice it as such.

Students [congregants], as a consequence, approach curricula [church life] not primarily as students but as consumers. Teachers [ministers] are expected to present in class in an objective fashion various alternatives. If asked, 'Which one do you think is true?' the teacher is expected to say, 'That is not my task. I am trying to help us understand the best options so that you can come to a reasonable judgment on your own.' Students are thus further inscribed into capitalist practices in which they are taught to think that choosing between 'ideas' is like choosing between a Sony or a Panasonic. It never occurs to them that the very idea that they should 'choose' is imposed."

-- Stanley Hauerwas, "Positioning," from Dispatches from the Front

I hope you can see how providing a series of sermons on the Chinese buffet of world religions relates to Hauerwas's point.
Meanwhile, I have a 20-page paper to write and a dinner party to prepare for this evening.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


You may notice that my profile picture of the little girl warrior with the peace sign on her face is gone, and has been replaced by a languid sock monkey.

Neither image is really "me," but when I went to a blogger meet-up in the spring, someone met me and remarked that I didn't look anything like my photo.

He thought that little girl with the peace sign face was moi! So I'm just trying to avoid confusion.

I'm not a sock monkey in real life, but I play one on TV.

When Sheep Go Bad

Klan Sheep
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Wait until the Southern Poverty Law Center hears about this.

(P.S. It's a joke! But don't they look like they're going to burn a cross on some minority sheep's lawn? Honestly, I don't know why they can't make their little outfits less menacing. It makes some of us nervous).

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Speaking of Onions (But Not Blooming Onions)

Best Comic Headline of the Day

"Bush Awaits Orders From Rove On Handling Of Rove Scandal"

In other news, I got my first mammogram yesterday.


Me to the technician:
"If you're going to press my boob that hard, at least buy me dinner first!"
Her: "Oh, I hear that all the time. Please don't breathe."

Mr. Emerson

July 15th came and went and I forgot to encourage you to read Ralph Waldo Emerson's Divinity School Address, which he gave to the graduating class of divines at Harvard on July 15, 1838.

Well, here it is. If you're a Unitarian Universalist, you ought to acquaint yourself with it:

If you're a fan of "Self-Reliance," remember that it was written soon after the firestorm that was unleashed as a result of the "Address." Emerson was feeling hurt, misunderstood and defensive; hence the slightly defiant, juvenile tone of "Self-Reliance."


Obesity Steakhouse

I went to Outback Steakhouse ("no rules, just right!") last night, which is usually a depressing no-no for me, but I was at the mall and hankering after a quick burger, so I went. First of all, there is something soul-destroying about the uber-cuteness of their Australian theme. My heart goes absolutely cold at the word "bonzer."

When I walked in, a cursory glance around the place revealed that 90% of the diners were grossly obese. I was by far the slimmy of the evening, and that's WACK, jack. I remembered Jungian genius James Hillman's shocking and offensive (but possibly true) point that other nations hate Americans partly because we're so ugly, and we impose our ugly, fat, inelegant personal aesthetic on every landscape we inhabit.

This is part of the reason I am personally committed to never, ever wearing sneakers as a tourist in other nations.

I'm heading up next week to spend seven to ten days in O Canada. St. Saveur, then Montreal. Any blogger friends from up there? Wanna have coffee?

I'm going to walk on the beach now, and then hunker down to start my TWENTY PAGE PAPER on "the body at worship."

I'd rather be "the body at hammock" today.

Resolution of my "Sweeney Todd In Concert" date dilemma: I'm going with my friend who played Anthony in the production I did ten years ago! Sometimes things just work out. His wife is due with their first child in three weeks, so he's taking the opportunity to get out with a pal one last time before the Baby Storm hits.

Monday, July 25, 2005


My mind is officially blown. I just spent a few minutes tracking the google and yahoo searches that bring people to this blog and found that items like "nice ties" and "sez UCC" and "open casket funeral" are some of the phrases that cause poor searching souls to end up in the land of PeaceBang.

I don't know if I trust Site Meter. Why would some quark scientist be looking at this blog? Why would someone who speaks a Southeast Asian language even land here accidentally?

It's all very "Being John Malkovich" --- which was a hilarious flick, by the way.

As I suspected, most hits to this site clock in at ZERO SECONDS, and many of you who actually stick around to read are total Night Owls, squinting at your computer screens way past midnight. From the Meter, even Sister Of PeaceBang read this blog in the wee hours. SOPB, you are a silly snick. I was up. You coulda called (doing the "We're going ta the DOG CHAPEL" dance).

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Psalm 139

Don't you love how Psalm 139 is this glorious, soaring hymn of praise, and it just goes on and on for millions of verses about the beautiful intricacies of how fearfully and wonderfully we are made and how we can never be forsaken by the Holy Presence, and then all of a sudden the Psalmist just goes psycho in verse 19 and takes out a knife and starts wailing to God about how He should kill all the Psalmist's enemies? And then by verse 23 he's realized he's frothing at the mouth with vengeance and hatred and calms down and says, "oh wow, um, sorry, I kind of lost it there, Lord."

Read it in the King James version. Just smashing.
It would make the most amazing aria. Donizetti should have done something with it, like the mad scene in "Lucia." I see a soprano in a white nightgown floating around for the first 23 verses, lovely coloratura stuff, and then ree ree ree, here comes the knife for verse 19!! She flails around thrashing and screaming, and it comes to a lovely resolve at the end. Gee, I can hear it now.

It's really my favorite.
Well, no. Psalm 23 is my favorite (SO ORIGINAL, I know).
Psalm 19 also knocks me out.

I never get tired of them. They're like 150 little tiny soap operas.

Wrestling With The Word -- A Sermon

This is a sermon I gave in a Christian church this morning.
If you want to reprint any of this, send me an e-mail so I can send you attribution information (Not that I'm making assumptions or anything, but it occasionally happens).

OT reading: Genesis 32:22-32
NT reading: Romans 8:26-38

"Wrestling With the Word"

I remember visiting Ed in the hospital before he died. I was the minister on summer duty at a congregation in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and Ed was a highly-respected professor of science at U Penn. Maybe mid-60’s. He had gone in for a fairly routine heart surgery and was told, “This is going to be fine. You’ll be out and recovering in a few weeks. Worst case scenario, such-and-such could happen.” And as is sometimes the case, the worst possible scenario did happen, and one day I walked into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit to find Ed small and lost in a web of wires, his mouth taped shut around tube, and clinging to life. He was heavily sedated but still conscious, obviously frustrated by his inability to speak, obviously frightened.

Ed was an atheist. He was a brilliant man, a rational man, a professional scientist and he didn’t have a lot of interest in spirituality stuff. He had told me so after church one day, in the friendliest way. He knew exactly who he was.

So day after day I drove through the back roads to Bryn Mawr Hospital and stood by his bed, and had no idea what to say that might comfort him. I wanted to pray with him. I wanted to pray, “Dear God, please be with Ed as a healing presence. Fill him with the strength that he needs, and with the peace of knowing that you will never forsake him.” But I knew this kind of prayer would not minister to him, even if it would minister to me. So I showed up every day, and I stammered out the best words of love and consolation I could muster, and I brought greetings from the church. I promised him that his wife was doing well and that she had all that she needed. I told him that what we all wanted most of all was that he not be afraid, that he be well and at peace.

Ed died, and we gave him a lovely memorial service. His wife asked that I sing “Spirit of Life,” and I did. I don’t remember much else, but that it was at the university and the room was full of professors.
I have never forgotten Ed; never stopped thinking up better things to say to him on the last tormented days of his life, things I wish to God I might have had the chance to say.

Paul says that we don’t always know how to pray as we ought.
And he knows what he's talking about.

But Paul, in all the fullness of his faith, says that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness when we come before such sacred moments with tongues tied. Anyone who has stood by the bed of a dying friend knows this. Anyone who has run into a newly widowed neighbor at the grocery store knows this. How often do we manage to find just the right words of consolation and love at just the right time? Hardly ever. Most often we stammer out some thing or another – sometimes horrid little clichés that we know are stale the moment they come out of our mouths. And we go home and we groan for shame and embarrassment. How could I have said that? Did I really just say, “It must have been his time?” What a klutz I am.

Words are important. In the Jewish tradition, God said the world into being. God said let there be light, and there was light, and so on unto the end of the seventh day. God said it was good, and it was good.
In the Christian tradition, according to John’s mystical gospel, it all also begins with a Word. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was from God. And the Word was God.
The Word was God. There could be no higher designation. No wonder we approach words with fear and trembling.
What we say is important. What comes out of the mouth, said Jesus, is more important than what goes in it. What we say has the power to make or unmake, to heal or to harm, to bless or curse some aspect of creation.

Paul says we don’t always know how to pray as we ought. And sometimes we don’t know if we ought to pray at all! Why? Because faith language in our pluralistic society is dangerous and loaded, and political and multi-layered and potentially offensive. You don’t dare say “God bless you” when someone sneezes anymore. Unitarian Universalists, who mostly gather to worship in theologically pluralistic congregations, are particularly sensitive and careful with religious language. Listen to the way a Unitarian Univeralist minister typically offers up a prayer. It’s not going to be, “Let us pray.” It’s something like, “I invite you to enter into the spirit of meditation and quietness, in that deep silence of healing and holiness.” This works okay until someone raises their hand and asks what you mean by “holiness.” So the preacher tries again.
“As you are willing and able, I invite you to join together in a peaceful time of reflection, sometimes known as prayer, or meditation, or thinking good thoughts.” And at the conclusion of such a moment, not just “Amen,” but “Shalom, a salaam alaikum, Shanti, Peace, Blessed Be.” (We cover as many bases as we can.)

Perhaps it would work better if we simply entered into a time of groaning. “I invite you now to join me in a moment of sustained groaning, a groaning that will express all the suffering, loss, fear, confusion and anger that is a part of all our lives.” And then there would be this wailing together. Why not? We need to wail. People in grief especially need to wail. If there is a God that listens, and our faith tells us that there is, do we think that that great, ineffable, omnipotent Spirit and Source of all is listening for carefully-worded English!??

In the beautiful salvation history that Paul lays out in his long and passionate letter to the Romans, weaving throughout all his doctrine of pre-destination and justification and christology, and all of his discussion of the elect and sainthood and martyrdom, there is this constant affirmation that we aren’t saved by words, but by faith, and by God’s love, and by being conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Because God loves us, The Holy Spirit, the breath of God that blows through every living thing, intercedes for us in groans too deep for words. Paul doesn’t try to explain this mystery. He is wise not to try. It’s a gorgeous image, it’s a gorgeous intimation and intuition of the way creation loves, holds and blesses us even in our sinful, broken, inarticulate being, and let’s leave it alone.

When I think of the Holy Spirit interceding for me, and God knowing my heart as Paul describes it, it reminds me of when I was a child and would listen through the bedroom wall as my parents talked about their children late into the night. All I heard was Mom’s female murmurings and Dad lower rumbling response, my earthly creators holding me in their care as Paul says my cosmic creators hold all of us in theirs. There is great poetry in this image, and great consolation.

Jesus, the Word made flesh, was apparently a gifted talker. We have his beautiful sermons. We have his Wisdom teachings, and the enigmatic parables that confuse us with their many possible interpretations as they reveal glimpses of the coming Kingdom. But Jesus did not always have words. Jesus groaned too, on occasion. He groaned at the disciples when they were being particularly bone-headed, but he also groaned in prayer and when healing the sick. In Mark 7:32, Jesus spit on his fingers and put his fingers in a deaf man’s ears and groaned, and the man was healed. There is love in the groan, a love beyond words. We are also told that Jesus “groaned in the Spirit twice” when he raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was his friend. So Jesus brought forth the prayerful groan, the sigh too deep for words, and invoked the Spirit that let his friend live.

There is life in the groan.

We, though, are enamored of words, verbal formulas, arguments, hair-splitting definitions, etymologies for everything. We act as though religion is a set of phrases with which we can either agree or disagree, forgetting that religion is how we live, how we are present to God’s people. We make idols of words.

I admit to an idolatry of words. I attended a summer intensive course at Andover-Newton Theological School a few weeks ago, and on the first day we had some opening ice-breakers. We were asked to choose a partner, and for thirty seconds, half of us were to spill out everything that came into our head about certain topics, and our partner’s job was to simply listen without interrupting, and then we would switch roles. It was fun. We laughed and the place was buzzing with noise and friendly exchanges and then the instructor said, “Okay now, pick a new partner. And for the next thirty seconds, unburden your soul about some worry or care you came here with. There’s one rule. You can use sounds and you can use any gestures you want, but you must not use any language. No words.”
First there was a great silence, and then there was a great communal groan.

When it came my time, my mind was a blank of anger and frustration. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to unburden myself except for how much I hated this exercise! I spent my allotted thirty seconds stomping and moaning and making sort of chimpanzee sounds. “Wow,” my partner said. “That was intense.” Little did she know.

Later in the week, I was again asked to tell a story without using any language. Again, I seethed with frustration and found within that frustration a seed of tremendous grief and fear. If I cannot speak, if I cannot employ words, what am I? I, the daughter of a nominally Jewish father and an ex-Russian Orthodox Christian mother, who received an atheistic Unitarian upbringing, have wrestled with words since my teenaged years. Having inherited no language with which to articulate my experience of a holy presence and eternal source of love in the world, I set out in search of a language that I could sing in, pray in, and think about God in. What began as an expedition for expression became a religious life, and then a Christian one. (Who knew? God works in mysterious ways!)

But this did not happen for me until I broke through the words and stumbled, sword still in hand, into the mystery of God’s love beyond the words: the mystery of love that those words so gamely attempt to express.

As Jacob sent his household across the river from where he intended to spend the night before reuniting with his estranged brother Esau, so too did I spiritually separate myself from my family and forfeit my primary relationship in order to wrestle with the God whose presence I felt so powerfully but could not name, and whose blessing I wanted to obtain at any cost. Along the way, I wrestled with many of the words we hear in our liturgy this morning, words from a 1785 prayer book that alienate or trouble many worshipers even today. Words like Salvation. Manifold sins and wickedness (that's a good one, isn't it?). Repentance. Righteousness. Lord Jesus Christ.

These words, which once seemed to me mischievous demons which taunted and then turned their backs on me, are now mine. First experiencing them as hostile foes, they are now the threads by which I weave the tapestry of my soul’s journey, thanks be to God. Imperfect as these words are, and troublesome as they are, I have come home in them, and therefore I am a daughter of Israel (Yisroel) – the new name given Jacob after his own wrestling match with God. Israel, which means “one who has striven or struggled with God.”

When Paul is listing, at the end of his letter to the Romans, a catalog of those things that can never, ever separate us from the Love of God, he mentions angels and powers and principalities and height and depth. None of these can cause God to abandon us. Perhaps we might add to that list, “Neither awkward sentences nor confused theological formulations nor sentimental, schlocky Hallmark sermons nor grammatically incorrect prayers can keep us from the Love of God. Neither the worst lyrics in any hymn nor the most sterile litanies can alienate us from the eternal, inviolable love which is God’s nature, and within which we live and move and have our being.

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Created in God’s image and likeness, we too are the Word.
May your seeking after that Word that communicates to your soul God’s eternal and inextinguishable love be a wrestling and a struggle that yields great blessing to you.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Stuck In a Hot Blonde Sandwich

Ladies and gentlemen, again... PlanetDan. Juvenile, yes. But hilarious. The comments are also snort-worthy.

Sometimes it's a relief to get a laugh out of these very grim hurricane stories.

Like Buttah

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I just had one of those perfect New England summer nights where it's broiling hot all day and then some delightful new friends call and ask if you want to go to a gallery show of a great local artist (who also happens to be a member of your congregation who you love a whole lot) and you drive down to very charming Plymouth (yes, the one with the Rock) and the art show is in the oldest house in town-- tres charmant -- and then you go have a lobster dinner by the water and laugh and talk and get home all happy like a little kid.

It was so lovely that I had to tell you in one big, huge run-on sentence.

Also I found out that a very dear friend who is currently in CHILE is going to be coming up to Montreal when I am there so I have a perfect excuse to extend my stay for another four to five days.

It's not like she doesn't live 25 minutes from me in real life, but with both our schedules, it's a treat if we get to meet at Barnes & Noble for a coffee and to talk about our upcoming sermons. We've been saying all winter how much we just want to sit around and have margaritas and GAB.

The time has come. I also can't wait to frolick with other Canadian friends, two of whom have appeared on this blog.
I feel like the luckiest li'l PeaceBang that ever was.

Thankya, Jesus.
Thankya, Yemaya, Ocean Goddess.
And all other deities, ancestor spirits, and the guy in the head Karma Office.

I wish you a beautimous weekend. Wear your sunblock, now.

But They're SUCH Good Kids

I'm so sick of fawning adults whining that kids are "such good kids" whenever they get caught doing heinous things.

Hazing a classmate until blood comes out of his ears, Coach Someone will inevitably say, "I don't believe it. These are such good kids."

Girls hacking their "friend's" blog while she's away on vacation and posting such disgusting, explicit smut that the girl, devastated, transfers to another school: "But these are such good kids. It's just not like them."

Teens taunt a scrawny kid in the marching band and call him names until he kills himself. "It's a shame. But really, these are such good kids."

Another group of SUCH GOOD KIDS vacationing in Nantucket decided last weekend that they didn't want their pal to have to go off to SAT preparation camp. So they phoned the Nantucket ferry company and said, "Don't let the ferry leave, or it will blow up."

The ensuing panic shut down the island from Sunday night until Monday morning, costing hundreds of stranded tourists extra hotel fees and work wages, and the ferry and boat services lost profits. Dozens of local and state police forces were deployed to find the "bomb."

"These are good kids from good families," said their lawyer, R. Bradford Bailey. Well, what'ya expect? He's their mouthpiece. But bet you real money that a whole passel of other whiners are saying the same thing.

You know what? Daphne Bragg and Brendan Reed and Brett Williams aren't such good kids. I don't give a hang about their families; their families didn't do this unbelievably stupid, selfish and damaging thing. Daphne and Brendan and Brett, coming from the best of families and receving the best of educations, are presumably aware that we live in a time of real terrorist threat. I presume they have televisions and that they see the occasional newspaper. Daphne and Brendan and Brett aren't good kids. They're indulgent little brats who should be grounded for life.

I'm glad they're being tried as adults.

No, PeaceBang does not have children, nor does she intend to. She feels that some child-loving adults need to remain child-free in order to retain some level of objectivity about the mishegas of family life, and she could never do that thing called ministry with such energetic enthusiasm if she had squirts of her own at home. She prefers to be that "cool grown-up" that the kids like to hang around with, mostly because she gives them excellent dish on their parents (not applicable for church children, of course).

By the way, I have to say ... well, no I won't. I brag too much on my church. (the kids are mostly really good and cute)

I remember a time in a previous congregation when one of our church teens showed up at the office with a police escort. "Rev. P.B.," he said. "I'm so glad you're here. The police were going to call my parents but I asked if they would take me here instead." Turns out that Clark (name changed) had been busted shoplifting a pack of cigarettes.

I told the cop I would call Clark's mom and thank you. I put a kindly pastoral hand on Clark's shoulder. As soon as the cop was out of sight I gave Clark the side of my boot in the tushie, hard.
"THAT's for stealing," quoth I.
And then I booted him again.
"And THAT's for stealing CIGARETTES."

We talked for awhile (including about my own shoplifting days, and how awful it is to get caught, and how stupid and jackassed it is to do it at all, and how I would make him eat a pint of dirt if I ever found out he'd been smoking) and then I phoned his mother. "I kept him here so you can kill him," I said.

I bet she didn't though. He was actually a really good kid.


I think I included a typo in one of the recent posts. The Romans passage is one with which you are familiar:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the Love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You may exegete as you like. I'm preparing a workshop of leading worship for tomorrow, very excited.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


By the way, it's Thursday.

Now we return to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Gitmo Bay

A dear friend of mine, a Unitarian Universalist Navy Chaplain, has been deployed to Guantanamo Bay. She will be serving the U.S. forces stationed there and also in the detention center.

She writes that she's looking forward to it.

Lord have mercy. Well, that's why her brave, intrepid soul is doing that work, and I'm not.

She asks for letters, as it's not likely that she will be able to access e-mail during her 7 month deployment. All mail will be carefully screened, so she asks for news from home and inspirational quotes and stories that keep you going.

(Romans 8:38-39, for a start)

If you'd like her address, e-mail me.

Damned if I haven't gone and cried off all my eyeliner.

Amen, Sister

This is exactly what I thought when I got a gander at the cover of the most recent "Entertainment Weekly:"

Go ahead. It's Friday. Indulge.

Just Trying To Keep It Light

The First Thing We'll Do...
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
"You're going out there a little Supreme Court nominee, kid, and you're coming back a STAH!"

Or whatever you think is funnier.

Because it's just really so not funny.

"All That Is Right and Wonderful"

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I saw the Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway classic "Carousel" at a local semi-professional community theatre tonight, and found out for myself why "Carousel" is the least-performed of that Rodgers & Hammerstein's great works.

It's just a mess, children.

The show straddles about three genres and tears a hamstring doing it. Also, "It Was a Real Nice Clambake" is, just as you suspected, one of the worst numbers ever written for the musical stage.

It was a real nice clambake.
We're mighty glad we came.
The vittels we et
were good, you bet.
The company was the same.

Your honor, I rest my case.

You've doubtless heard that the leading male character Billy Bigelow smacks his wife Julie Jordan around. Yea, he does. Or he hits her once, or something. Anyway, they have a miserable relationship and he kills himself and is given a chance to go back to earth for one day and make his karma right by doing something good for a change. He encounters his 15 year old daughter and has a little conversation with her, during which she becomes suspicious and agitated, and he smacks her. He disappears, poof, back to the heaven, and thus follows some really atrocious dialogue about how his smack felt "like a kiss," and as the now-invisible Billy (as a spirit, or an angel) watches, Julie explains to her daughter that yes, someone kin hit ya real hard, and jis' sometimes, it jis' don't hurt somehow.

At which point I looked over at M. and we made serious disapproval faces at each other. Like, "Oh no you DITINT just say that." And we sucked our teeth.

You know that Shirley Jones played Julie Jordan in the movie, right? Well, she's too old for that role now, so it was played by the gorgeous and talented Sarah Pfisterer. But for nostalgia's sake, and because we love her, Shirley Jones played ole Aunt Nettie who gets to wear aprons and spout homely bromides and hug people a lot, and sing "You'll Never Walk Around" with a serious Sensaround vibrato.

(why do these people sound like they're from Alabammy, when the play is set in Maine, ya'll?)

So Miss Shirley Jones played Aunt Nettie, a very supporting role, but she got extra tippy-top billing and this is how her THREE PAGE program bio begins:

(big, huge Glamour Shot photo here)

"Shirley Jones' story is almost Hollywood legend, and it remains a living part of the lady that continues to work and grow and nurture her unique role as the embodiment of all that is right and wonderful about the American woman."

No, it really says that.
It really does.

And it goes on like that for three more pages, single space, tiny font.

This all leads me to want to say highly sarcastic and unkind things about Miss Jones, but I will withstand that temptation out of respect for cinema's original Julie Jordan ("Carousel"), Marian Paroo ("The Music Man"), Laurey ("Oklahoma"), and Mrs. Partridge.

The best thing by far about the show were the several ballets contained therein, one of which was danced with gorgeous agility by Miss Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, giving us Agnes De Mille's original choreography. It occurred to me that it has been many decades since we've seen ballets in musical theatre pieces, and it was an unexpected joy and privilege to see DeMille's work presented with such perfect commitment, with absolutely nothing of 2005 about it. (It helped a lot that David Loveless put every single last person on that stage in totally perfect costumes and wigs, and don't think I didn't appreciate the details, Mr. Loveless. The sad, rolled up little pantaloons that Louise wore in her ballet were unbelievably poignant. You're a dream.)

So that was amazing and made me feel as though I was sitting in the theatre in the 1940's -- or -- wait, I have to look that up -- whenever "Carousel" originally played on the Great White Way.

[It was 1945 -- P.B.]

For now, this embodiment of all that is right and wonderful about the American woman is going to sleep.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Harry Potter Will Make Your Child A Witch!

Jason has an interesting post that I only half-read about the Harry Potter novels leading people (especially children and teens) to the religion of Wicca, and paganism in general:

Remember that not all pagans are Wiccan, and not all Wiccans are pagans.
I, for example, practiced Wicca for years and was never much of a good pagan. I don't feel like explaining that right now but maybe I'll get to it later.

Anyway, I think there's a lot worse things that could happen to a kid than he or she gets into Wicca. There are tons of good resources out there for little Witches -- whereas when I was a small Endora there was literally nada.

Wicca is a great religion for girls, in particular. It introduces them to a concept of the Goddess, gives them a sense that they can shape their own reality, cautions them against manipulating others or Fate to selfish or harmful ends ("An thou harm none, do what thou will"), and gives them a sense that creation is holy. Plus, the clothes are really cool.

I left Wicca because too many of its adherents couldn't admit that they were incredibly power-hungry and hierarchical (while claiming not to be), that they were grossly mistaken about the history of Christendom (particularly the witch hunting hysteria of the late medieval era, a subject on which I snootily claim to be a serious amateur scholar, having lectured on it to undergrads at Harvard), that they were simplistically anti-Christian -- and quite ignorant of much that they were snottily criticizing.

Same stuff that Christians do. Can ya stand it?

P.S. Feeling relatively like a million bucks day 4 sans caffeine. Wow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lord Java, Have Mercy on Me

coffee is god
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I know there's a lot of important stuff happening in the world. I know that hurricanes have ravaged some, um, places. And that Karl Rove is a lying hounddog and that George Bush should be lighting matches under his shoes right this very minute. I know that other really important things are happening. I know that I speak English. And that I should be able to formulate a complete thought; even a fairly deep one. Maybe even something theological.

But I went off of coffee about three days ago -- or was it two? --- and my brain isn't working. I used to be this snappy person with quick opinions and big plans. And organizational skills. Also, I could drive and think at the same time.

But now it's really broiling out and I have a constant pounding headache (don't worry, I'm staying hydrated) and I have become a mouth breather. Because I don't have iced coffee, you see.

A kindly female colleague said to me today, in all sympathy, "Oh, it takes three to six months to get out of your system." I wanted to respond, "I'm sorry, you must have heard me wrong. It's coffee I've given up, not crack cocaine." That would have been funny. Except that I was too busy breathing through my slightly open mouth and trying to keep my eyes open to respond.

Three to six months!!?? That's not true, is it? Not even if you have a really lot of fat tissue? And especially if you only ever drank one big mug a day (with maybe a little tea in the afternoon, or a diet cola?)?

But I feel so much calmer and less jittery without the coffee I am going to continue to abstain and just wait and see if the brain comes back.

Nap. Nap time. Naps good.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cindy Crawford

"I swear, it was this long!"
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
She's had work done, am I right?

Cheek implants. The eyes are also bigger. Possible brow lift, botox. She looks sharp, and different.

Maybe it's just the photo. I doubt it. Downright depressing when we're cheated of watching beautiful people age beautifully.

Peace and Canada Quiet

canada lake
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

As my sister pointed out, I already live in one of the most picturesque areas anyone could ask for. So why would I need to leave this tourist destination for another tourist destination?
Simple: In Canada, no one knows my name, lots of people don't even speak my language, and if I get caught in a bathing suit it's not going to do any damage to my reputation.

It's cooler in Canada, it's cheaper in Canada, it's cleaner in Canada, and my B&B has a HEATED POOL, which beats the icy Atlantic any time. But in case you miss frigid waters there's something called The Polar Club nearby that offers ice baths.

Sister of PeaceBang, her trusty hound, and PeaceBang are first going to St. Johnsbury, VT to make a pilgrimage to the DOG CHAPEL. I think I told you about it already, but we're really excited. We got reservations at a pet-friendly hotel 45 minutes away that looks so unintentionally retro and cute you just can't stand it. You can practically fall out of your bed and into a big lake. Gordon is going to love it.


Lotta! Astrid! Gustav! Johan! Let Us Go To IKEA!

For Boston-area people with a penchant for cheap, Swedish furniture... a great day has arrived!!

I'll go with you! We can stop for Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam when we get tired of picking out rugs and bookshelves!

Bad Title, "Bad Education"

Bad Title, "Bad Education"
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I just saw Almodovar's "Bad Education," starring the delectable Gael Garcia Bernal.

Maybe it's that I quit caffeine yesterday and my brain is about as effective as a 1973 Dodge Dart up an icy hill, but I don't know what to think.

It may be that I never really recovered from the fact that my favorite character was killed off halfway through the film -- or rather, the person I *thought* was the most sympathetic and endearing character wasn't who I thought he was. There I was loving a fabulously gorgeous gay transvestite and it turns out he was ... ick, hetero. And bigger ick... a murdering sociopath. And the biggest ick of all.. an ACTOR. {{{shudder}}}}

Just kidding, ya'll.

In other news, I positively loathed Ellen Gilchrist's 2000 collection of short stories, The Cabal, which read like the worst chick lit and was thoroughly unworthy of her.
Wait. I'll pluck it out of the recycling bin so I can quote you some choice bits:

"Royals followed Caroline to the stairs, then watched while she walked up them to the landing. Her legs were long and finely wrought. Her hair was thick and wild. Her hips were thin and tight. Her mind was quick and interesting. She was a winner and plenty ruthless enough to be a mother and a doctor's wife. The more he thought about it the more he wanted to f%&* her. If they knew what we thought about them they would slap us every time they saw us, he thought. He had heard a comedian say that on a late night television show. He had thought it was the most profound thing he had heard in years."

(Are you barfing yet?)

"She raised her eyes and looked at Royals Connell. Death had made her bold. She was going after what she needed in the world, starting this afternoon, starting today."

And I'm going after what I need, which is to throw this overwrought garbage back in the recycling bin and heat up some vegetable mushi and broccoli shrimp.
If it's entertaining literary commentary you're after, I hear that ChaliceChick is live blogging the new Harry Potter novel:

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Win a Date With PeaceBang!

sweeney todd
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
The New Rep Theatre has a beautiful new space in Watertown, MA, and they're hosting a gala concert version of "Sweeney Todd" on July 26th to raise money for the new space. They've brought back the cast from their recent production -- all of whom got raves -- and it promises to be a swell evening of thee-ay-tah. As soon as I got the e-mail invitation I called right up and bought two $65 tickets, never considering that I had no one to go with (one of those, "Oh, I forgot! I don't have a husband!" moments). An ad on the internet only yielded the usual losers and pervs.

Sister of PeaceBang has loved this show ever since she saw it on Broadway in high school and spent the entire evening in a fetal position, whimpering softly every time the horrid London factory whistle blew.

PeaceBang once played the cheerfully homicidal Mrs. Lovett, and adores the show herself.

Let me know if you're interested. If you're a couple, you could obtain one more ticket and we could all go together. You and your S.O. can even sit together.

O Mighty Equus

I was beyond thrilled when I arrived in the Berkshires to see a Sondheim Pops concert at Tanglewood and learned that the Berkshire Theatre Festival had just started previews for "Equus." I mean, over-the-moon thrilled. I had never seen it before, and have been waiting for over 25 years to do so.

I first read "Equus" when I was in 6th or 7th grade, and I remember that it took my breath away. I was flattened when I finished; gasping like a grounded catfish. I could see it all in my mind's eye: the damaged boy Alan, the damaged psychiatrist Martin Dysart, and the horses of Alan's feverish obsession. I was fascinated by this story of a boy who had blinded six horses with a hoof pick: Why did he do it? How would they heal him? And what did "healing" mean in this context?

Even at that young age I had a sense of compassion for the fragile, deranged, horse-worshiping Alan, and an equal sense of compassion for his doctor, Martin Dysart, a character who goes to Greece for three weeks a year to study and encounter -- in a purely safe, tourist-approved manner -- the kind of ecstatic, fierce, pagan religious experience that Alan actually has with his equine god.

It was my first acquaintance with Dionysian religion and it left a very lasting impression. When I later reached the professional and vocational crisis moment that eventually led me to Divinity School, I leafed one afternoon through course catalogs for an MSW degree and remembered Dr. Martin Dysart. I remembered his agonies about divesting his patient of his rapturous religious ecstasy in the name of "normality," and I knew that I wasn't called to that kind of therapeutic work. I wanted to respect the crazy. I wanted to be able to hear about people's visions, obsessions, kinks, fantasies, spirit hauntings and other socially unacceptable realities without feeling the obligation to enlighten them out of their illusions/delusions.

(I had a dream around this time that just about scared the hair off my head and informed me that I was making absolutely the right choice.)

Life is enchanted. That enchantment can be a dangerous and violent thing. The gods are not sweetness and light. I'm not a minister of the god of sweetness and light. I'm not a preacher of it, either. I can't tell you how gratifying it was to sit in that theatre on Thursday afternoon feeling exactly as flattened by seeing "Equus" as I did first reading it as a girl. This is just why we need art in our lives; how the arts guide our souls.

The play is about so many things: psychiatry as an art form that both heals and destroys the psyche, the tendency in modern psychology to blame parents for all their children's sins and crimes, and the tremendous sexual power (eros) of some forms of religious devotion (let me just say that the "horse" costumes in this production -- all hot young guys in studded harnesses and platform "hooves"-- are sure to launch dozens of uncomfortable fantasies among the more staid Berkshire audience members. Heh-heh. When I met the lead horse-actor after the show (talented hottie Steve Wilson) I really wanted to say, "Hey Nugget. Can I pet you?" Gosh, he was that kind of handsome that makes you look at the ground and kick your toe in the dirt. We did talk about the show and stamp the ground and make horsey snorting noises together, though, and that was fun).

I'm still a little overwhelmed. What I really wanted to do after the curtain call was to stay in my seat and have a loud, wailing cry but that's not really the kind of instinct you want to indulge unless you want to get invited to the comfort station. So ever since late Thursday afternoon there has been a horse-sized lump in my throat and a big heavy debt of gratitude to playwright Peter Schaffer in my heart.

Read it, won't you? And if you can get out to see the production, so much the better. Randy Harrison of "Queer As Folk" fame makes a wonderfully vulnerable, beautiful Alan Strang, and John Curless and Pamela Payton-Wright are his tender, believable parents. Ms. Payton-Wright's second-act diatribe against Dr. Dysart is particularly raw and upsetting. Jill Michael took a terrible fall on her keester during Thursday's show and recovered with fair bravado as Nurse, and Tara Franklin makes the potentially tarty character Jill lovely, sweet and sympathetic. It did not escape my notice that she had a lovely, shiny "ponytail" of hair, which she took down to lovely effect in the second act. Speaking of which, Miss Franklin and Mr. Harrison deserve extra kudos for playing their long nude scene with a total lack of inhibition or stage tricks, and with refreshing honesty. Victor Slezak went up on a lot of dialogue and seems to have borrowed too many of his inflections directly from Sir Anthony Hopkins but nevertheless turned in a moving, consistent, impressive, well-developed and eventually loveable Dr. Dysart.

All praise to director Scott Schwartz for inventive but not overly-snazzy or distracting staging, and to Gus Someone (who sat next to me in the first row of the balcony taking notes Thursday afternoon) for his movement work with the "horses," whose masks were also gorgeous and effective. There were many complicated sound cues, all done well and well-designed. Lighting and sets and costumes, ditto.

Personal to Mr. Victor Slezak: I really wasn't trying to stalk you. I simply wanted to shake your hand and personally thank you for bringing Dr. Dysart to life for me. I've played musical theatre roles that make Martin Dysart look like a nap in the green room, darling, and I ALWAYS make time for a few autographs if people are kind enough to want them, EVEN between matinees and evening performances. I didn't mean to frighten you by following you for a block; I actually thought you might stop and wait for the one minute it would have taken for me to catch up to you. Sorry you missed me. Your loss. I had many nice things to say.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Vineyard Church

So, doesn't this look like a terrific church?

From a perusal of their web site, I only see a Christ-centered, very hip group of people who seem to really want me to join with them. It looks like a great summer worship community for me, the Jesus freak UU chick who appreciates an opportunity to get down and praise-y for a few weeks when her own congregation is having bi-monthly lay-led services.

Of course I know that I really don't want to go to the Vineyard, as (I think!?) their theology falls into the conservative, fundamentalist category that exclude gay people from grace, and which commits other serious sins against the true gospel as my tradition understands it.

Notice, however, that their web site doesn't really go into theology all that much. It emphasizes community, optimism, inclusion, the arts, and where to park on Sunday morning.

Those who shop for churches the same way they shop for beach towels get what they deserve, I suppose. You should no more choose a religious community by shopping for it online than you should scroll down the thousands of photos on looking for a mate. The snares are far too many and potentially serious.
Still, like everything else, it serendipitously works for some. Both the church shopping and the dating, I mean.

(I'm out in the Berkshires and boy, is the font teensy tinsy on this teensy tinsy Mac computer!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I'm running off to the Berkshires tonight for a couple of nights. I'm going to a concert at Tanglewood (Sondheim! with Marin Mazzie, Greg Edelman and Faith Prince! Broadway fans, swoon away) and then to see "Equus" at the Berkshire Theatre Festival on Thursday night.

I have decided that, along with most of the world, I hate car salesmen. Why must they be such vultures? Why, when I assure them that I am simply test driving, pricing various models and getting *ready* to buy a car, must they insist on obtaining my phone number and e-mail address and then harassing me for weeks afterward? Who's idea of good salesmanship is THAT? In what parallel universe does that technique actually work?
(And why don't I just refuse to give that information the next time? I've learned that you don't actually, legally have to fill out any paperwork before test driving cars).

When are these wolverines going to get hip to the fact that anyone who has access to the Internet knows exactly how much their old car is worth, how much the dealership paid for that new car on the lot, and everything about the engine (including the fact that a V-6 engine does require premium fuel, Mr. Lying Head Sales Schmuck)? I may be a girl but I ain't that dumb.

In totally unrelated rantings, I just learned that one of my favorite comedians, Mitch Hedberg, died in late March. Very sad. He was weird and bright and really funny.

Monday, July 11, 2005


I walked along the beach yesterday, picking my way over bajillions of sun-worshipers. I've never seen so much impending melanoma in my life. Women were slathering on BABY OIL as if they'd never heard of such a thing as the depleted ozone.
I saw horrifyingly burned, leathery skin everywhere I looked, me in my SPF 45 and spray-on tanned legs. I wanted to be the Skin Cancer Fairy and spray titanium dioxide on the worst cases, but I figured I might end up in Davy Jones' Locker if I tried it.

Jessica Orange Simpson
(Jessica Simpson: Princess of the Bad Faux Tan)

My father and siblings always got these gorgeous tans. Me, I got my shiksa mother's rosy pin- and-white skin. On family vacations my father would be baking on a chaise by the pool and when I asked if I looked burned, would shade his eyes with his hand, look over at me, and say, "You look fine. You can stay out another hour." Meanwhile, it never quite penetrated his skull that sunburns take time to develop, and that I was inevitably headed that night for a vinegar bath, a miserable sleep on scratchy cotton sheets, and skin the shade of Contadina tomato paste.

Teens, if there are any of you out there in PeaceBang land, I'm talking especially to you: SPF! SPF! Reapply after swimming or sweating!

I myself have developed a love of protective eye creams, and am particularly fond right now of Kiehl's eye gel with SPF 30. I swear my crow's feet have improved in the past year.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunrise July 10th


Because Not All Of You Are Here For the Theology

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
... some of you are here for the haute couture. And we aim to please.

(Thanks to www.Perez for the fashion hilarity.)

Blogging Ethics

I think it's fine to reference another blog and link to it, and to use another blogger's comments as a jumping off point for one's own reflections.

I think it's fair enough to say, "I disagree with Sir/Lady So-And-So's blog comments, and here's why..."

I do not think it fair, fine or ethical to use one's own blog as a place to malign the character or motives of other writers, and especially not to play Junior Psychologist and make lofty suggestions as to the condition of various people's unconscious selves. No, I'm not including a link. This isn't dish, it's a sincere concern. We are a reconciling people.

We must guard against ridiculous asswhappery. No one knows another person's unconscious self except God. Or maybe their shrink. At any rate, there's plenty to talk about without fantasizing that we have any understanding at all of the other crazed bloggers out there.

That's one of the reasons I have consistently declined to be included on the official list of Unitarian Universalist bloggers, although I have wound up on many such lists anyway: we're a little family and it's too easy to get drawn into the habit of talking about and psuedo-analyzing each other, instead of being inspired by each other.

(If you haven't read UU blogs, there's a derned good list of them at Better yet you should get up on Sunday morning and visit one of our congregations. Keep going back. Go back six times before you make up your mind.)

In blogging, as in all other literary pursuits, "write what you know, not what you don't know."

I'm not a former English teacher for nothin'.

(I recommended to my church that they stay up at least one night this summer to see the sun rise. Tonight's gonna be my night. I have a full-out insomniac situation going on here.)

Theological Doo-Doo

It's 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday night into Sunday morning and I'm just guessing that I will be sound asleep at church-goin' hour tomorrow. I can't help but emit a little Jeff Spicoli chuckle. "Duuuuude! Rad!" So naughty. So rare. So freeing. I had INTENTIONS of going to church at 4th Presbyterian in Boston. I really did. And we know what the road to HELL is paved with, don't we, my little Satan Spawn?

church lady

I'm still musing about Open Theism. I still don't get it. I still think that the Mind of God is just totally incomprehensible to me and all other of my humanoid brothers and sisters. I have always thought so.
I take theology very seriously and have respect for those who dare to do it, but sometimes I read these works that really, really suggest that God's Mind is similar to ours and I tilt my head. All I hear is "meow, meow, meow."

William Ellery Channing put me on my knees about this question, though, by writing and preaching so beauteously about our Likeness to God. It occurred to me some time ago that I do, in fact, believe that we are somehow created in God's image, and that for me (thanks to Channing) the imago Dei is related most to the reality of conscience. Not consciousness. . . conscience.

I was comfortable with this for years and now I'm uncomfortable again. Unsatisfied. It needs work. This daughter of Eve is feeling once again like she doesn't know doo-doo and that she's been very lazy in the Personal Theology Department. (Well, that's not exactly true. I've been very busy falling madly in love with the Bible, so that counts for a lot. Also, Saul/Paul and I are getting very close and that requires a lot of christological mind-melding).

More thoughts: This relates to death, of course. I contemplate death every day (Russian melancholics do, you know) and comfort myself with the belief that the Creator really, really doesn't intend for me to understand it, to know what to expect, or to overly-anticipate it. What does Open Theism say about that?
I think about death, the possibilities of an afterlife and/or total oblivion/stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm-doneness, the consolations of memory and a good name, the Bardo Dream and not wanting to get stuck in a bad one, the fact that my friends will give bitchin' eulogies at my funeral, and so on. I consider how waxy I'll look in my casket (which gives me an inevitable case of wicked chuckles), and then I imagine floating through space as pure nothingness, energy released, no more "I."
And God says, "Oh, PeaceBang. Meow, meow, meow. You don't know doo-doo and you're not meant to. Go to sleep."

You may think it morbid that I intend to be buried in white cotton pajamas and tucked into my pine box on comfy bedding, and buried with lots of lavender and rosemary sprigs, but I think it's lovely. (And waxy.) On my tombstone, if I'm buried in our own churchyard, it should say, "AT LEAST I'M NOT STUCK IN CAPE-BOUND TRAFFIC." And then the dates. Wouldn't that be hi-larious?

Now that I think about it, God grant us all a death that we can afford to treat with some gentle irreverence. That's really all one could ask. Too many of our brothers and sisters suffer deaths that reacquaint us with the urgency of theodicy.
And that's a good place to shut my mouth for the moment.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Blog Response to Karl (spit) Rove

Sorry to overload you but I think you should see this. It's a new blog set up to allow liberal military folks to respond to Karl Rove [spit]'s comment about the liberal response to 9/11, which was something like, "the liberals wanted to understand and provide therapy to the attackers." Or some other such vomitously inflammatory asswhappery. I don't like to try to quote Mr. Rove [spit] too accurately: I might grow horns and cloven hooves.

(Oh alright. He said this: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.")

Some serviceman and women are whapping back at Rove:

Thanks to Respectful of Otters for the link.
(Yes, I made up the word "asswhappery." You have my permission to use it.)


Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
... so you get PUPPIES IN A BASKET!!

All together, now.


:::::::::sound of happy hour cocktails clinking:::::::

Open Theism

I don't mean to be snotty and/or patronizing but I wonder about these theological systems that need to make God's consciousness similar to human consciouness.

What do you think of this?

It's "open theism;" the idea that the future is not determined by God.

I first heard about this this morning from my most recent issue of The Christian Century, in an article called "What God Knows: The Debate On Open Theism" by James K.A. Smith.

I'm reading this thing over toast with cream cheese, lox and capers and puzzling. Furrowed brow.

From the article:

"If God knows that suffering will occur, the open theist reasons, then there must be some sense in which God is responsible for evil -- which would compromise God's goodness. Since such a conclusion would be clearly contrary to scripture and Christian tradition, the open theist offers another account: God didn't know."

Um. Okay.
Well, I appreciate these open theists' sincere desire to deal with theodicy. That's cool. Thanks, fellas.
But on another level it seems kind of sweet and dear, like I want to pat them on the head and say "There, there, it's okay if you don't understand why your omniscient God permits evil. It's okay if you don't know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It's okay if you aren't capable of comprehending the ineffable mystery of a mostly benevolent Deity and a sacred creation that still contains BTK killers and genocides and bombs on the London tube, and cancer and tsunamis and the recent Britney Spears-Kevin Federline reality show. You don't have to develop a whole new systematics of the mind of God to help you manage the anxiety of that unknowing. But I mean, knock yourself out."

Also, since when does scripture not include a concept of God's (for lack of a better word) Badness?

Well, it all makes my head ache. It seems sad, futile, unnecessarily irreverent and worst of all, we're back in that anthropomorphized God concept again.

Have at it, PeaceBangers.
Or have another iced coffee. It is summer, after all.

(P.S. Sorry for technical difficulties experienced by T-Man and Dave. Wish I could help, dudes, but I am Unfrozen Caveman Blogger. Your modern technological ways confuse and confound me!)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Not Your Diana Ross Supremes

You should read Philocrites on the possibility of Alberto Gonzalez as a Supreme Court nominee:

The right to a safe and legal abortion in all 50 states isn't the only cherished freedom we stand to lose courtesy of the next Supreme Court. But listen to the religious left, honey, and you'll think it is.

Don't get me started on the pro-choice leadership in this country. Especially the religious voice for choice. Boy howdy, have they missed the boat. You wanna talk about your George Lakoff frames... (and you do)...the religious voice for reproductive rights is still trotting out tired-ass 1970's rhetoric about women's right to choose as though we haven't had a massive upswell of fundamentalism since then. The religious progressives have never adjusted their frames accordingly or learned how to really sock it to the anti-choice factions using their own fire-and-brimstone tactics.
You bring photos of aborted fetuses to my rally and I'm going to empty out a busload of starving orphans on your ass. You love babies so much? You feed them, you clothe them, you care for them. Here, help us pass out some sandwiches... unless you'd prefer to harass the women entering the clinic for Pap smears, you vile, hypocritical, hateful s.o.b.'s!

okay. phew. [Reading this a day later, I'm sorry to be so terrible. I've been to rallies and seen women I know have had abortions protesting on the other side of the line. What the hell are they doing there?? There's a lot of pain, guilt, repression and group-think at play here, and anti-choice people aren't all vile, hypocritical and hateful. Nor are they sons of bitches. Let's not malign their mothers. They're just, um, jackasses? Dorks? Rotten bastids? Some of them. Randall Terry, for instance, for whom there are not enough swear words in PeaceBang's rich repetoire]

But really, since I'm on the subject:
Ask your primary care physician: does he or she support abortion rights? If your daughter, wife, sister, friend or lover wanted to terminate a pregnancy, to whom would your PCP refer you? How about in the event that abortion becomes illegal in your state? How about then?
It's not too early to start asking these questions.
Where can you get a prescription for Emergency Contraception filled? Where might you not be able to? Does your pharmacist dispense medications regardless of his or her own religious convictions as to their moral acceptability?

If not, why does that pharmacy get your business?

O London

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Our eyes are upon you and our hearts are with you, London.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Word From The Editor

Just FYI, I'm obviously not on hiatus any more.

I've been blogging for a little over 7 months now and still figuring out what it's all about (Alfie).

I have noticed that lots of my favorite bloggers don't post for weeks, and I think that's great. I'm going to feel free to do that, too, and not have to call it a hiatus.

I love our little UU blogging community but it's a bright, quick and demanding one that I can't always keep up with. I admire those who do, but I can't.

I may occasionally turn off comments as a way to say, "PB has put something out there and invites you to go discuss it without her." Blogging is, by nature, ephemeral. I find that a very active comments section makes me feel as though everything I write may require a subsequent lengthy conversation, and I just don't have the energy to maintain that kind of vigilance.

I had this fantasy that I was going to wake up real early every morning this summer and do some reading and studying and have a work-out before starting my day of other brilliant things.

So far I've stayed up 'til about 2:00 a.m. most nights watching things like "Animal Precinct." I wake up at about 10:00. My big new translation of Don Quixote is sitting on the floor unopened.

Peace. Bang.

And Now, Your Theology For the Day

Not only because he's great at reminding us that Unitarians weren't always a groovy sandal-wearing bunch of sophisticated God-phobes, but because he says "neener, neener."

Now unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only Wise God, be honor and glory, forever. Amen.
LOVE it.

Olympian Disappointment

Randomly musing... not that I know anything about how it works, but...

I wonder if one of the reasons NYC didn't get the Olympics bid is because so much of the world hates the U.S. right now and perceives us as a nation of pathologically arrogant militaristic nutjobs who subject ferners to such security shenanigans that no one would want to fly here for the games (especially if they have brown-colored skin and wear interesting head wraps).

The irony is that New York City was the worst city devastated by what happened on 9/11 and could really use the economic upper of hosting the Olympics -- but what happened TO NYC that day was the whole motivation for our current pathologically arrogant militaristic nutjobish behaviors.

I'm not being clear but I know you brainy readers can figure it out. I also know that you will not hesitate to correct my Swiss-cheese-brained reasoning, should you feel so inclined.

By the way, I'm not personally saying that we ARE pathologically arrogant militaristic nutjob nation. I'm just saying that that is our current international reputation across most of the Blue Planet. And a well-deserved one, too. I might add. Or I might not.

Cat Experiments

Here's a fun cat trick that will prove your cat has magical ESP powers:

Wait until your cat is asleep. Take your hand and bring it very slowly toward your cat's body and watch with amusement as they wake right up when your hand is about a quarter of an inch from their fur.

Every single time.

erm on modem

Thumbs Up To Gay Marriage, Sez UCC Synod

Socko! Boffo!

In related news, Jesus looked up from healing the sick and feeding the hungry and said, "Huh? Oh, good, good."

From the article:

"Jeanette Mott Oxford, who described herself as the first openly lesbian member elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, said she was pleased by the "brave prophetic witness" of the vote, but "very concerned about my brothers and sisters who may be hurt by this."

Hurt HOW? Hurt by having to relinquish the heterosexual privilege that allows only their kind to benefit from the over 1200 legal benefits and protections of civil marriage?
Can you imagine Isaiah or Jeremiah or Micah expressing "concern" for the sinners they were trying to fill with the spirit of repentance and justice? What a bunch of pandering. What a typically political response masquerading as a pastoral one. BAH.

Meanwhile, back on the Tom Cruise Monkey Ranch:

(I hate "The View" and those cackling harpies.
I loathe it.
It makes me into a temporary misogynist)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Used To Love Jane Siberry

Siberry Swirl
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Right after 9/11, I went to see Jane Siberry in concert at a small venue outside of Philadelphia. I was, at that time, a major fan and living in Maryland.

When I arrived at the club I was shocked to see that the Celtic twist design Jane had chosen as the central symbol of new new album, "City," was the same design on a silver ring I just happened to have recently purchased and just happened to be wearing that night.

I thought it was a very cool case of synchronicity.

Between sets, I waited for Jane to emerge so I could say hello and give her my ring. I wanted her to have it.

I had met Jane a few years before, also in Philadelphia, where we had chatted for a few minutes and she had been lovely and friendly and had signed a poster for me. She remembered a letter I wrote her in 1998 or so, and remarked that she had wanted to write back but never got around to it.

This time, I showed her my ring and said, "I think it's really weird that I happened to wear this tonight -- I got it in Chartres, France recently -- I'd like you to have it."

Jane looked at me like I was trying to unload a stack of used beach chairs on her and replied, "Oh, I really couldn't. I'm trying not to collect any more THINGS." I stood awkwardly with my offering, stammered a few words of incoherent assent and walked away. I sat through her second set and never, to this day, realized how angry and disgusted I was. All I know is that her music went to the very bottom of my rotation pile and has remained there for years.

What an ungracious ingrate. If there was ever a time to just say "Thank you" and accept a gift, this was it. I had just driven 3 hours to see her play, and spent over $100 on tickets. All on a minister's salary. But the burden of a 3 oz. silver ring was just too much for the ethereal songstress. She's just so spiritchal.

After all of these years I realize that I couldn't agree with you more, Jane. I can't claim to be nearly as spiritual as you, of course, but I do see the danger in filling my life with extraneous THINGS. Therefore, I am divesting myself of some unnecessary material items: specifically, hundreds of dollars' worth of your recordings.


Anyone who wants the ring, just let me know. I'll send it right off.