Friday, September 30, 2005

daddys and sons

daddys and sons
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
The men in my family are toughies. My dad and his brothers were. Their father and his brothers were. And my cousins are tough with their kinder.

But looking over these images from Marvin's funeral, I can't help but notice: wotta bunch of total mush-hearts.

I can hardly stand it.

Little PeaceBang With Uncle Marv


Here's little tiny PeaceBang out on the boat at a very tender age, with Uncle Marvin.
I'm thinking I'm about three minutes from barfing on Uncle Marv. He won't be smiling like that when I do.

PeaceBang has no sea legs at all.

This picture is making me happier than anything else today, pretty much. Sister of PB found it, and some other old dandies, and brought them to the funeral. Which was really an amazing thing. Kind of like ... well, imagine ... well, I can't really describe it. Except that I feel really, really sorry for all the people who were trying to get a good night's sleep at the Holiday Inn Express in West Point last night, and would like to apologize.

When I look at this photo of me as such a little squirt, I remember that my sister and I actually participated in a summer camp program called "Sea Squirts." We got picked up in a hippie VW bus and listened to this teenaged kid play the guitar (we sang things like "Blowin' In the Wind" and "Leavin' On a Jet Plane" -- does this date me, or what?). When we got to Compo Beach we got swimming lessons which I don't remember. All I remember was the sand bars, which were always magical because they never lasted very long. I also remember the duffel bag Mom used to pack for me, which was navy with nautical designs. It was probably the size of one of my evenings bags today, but back then it seemed just huge because it was stuffed with a beach towel (probably the size of today's pillow covers) and lunch. In a brown paper bag that Mom would decorate with our names on it.

I was a sea squirt. I went up through the ranks from Tadpole to Minnow to Fish to Flying Fish to Shark. By the time I was a Shark I think I knew how to give mouth-to-mouth. And by then we had moved and it all happened at the YMCA, which was always so chlorine-smelling and I really preferred the ocean.

If I squeeze my brain really hard I can remember the pride I felt moving from Minnow to Fish.

Some Cousins

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

It was a lovely gathering and a beautiful service for Uncle Marv.
Every single one of the cousins was there; all twelve of us. And 8 of our 17 children (the "little cousins") were also there, which was great. There was a lot of this going on:


And this, which is just so tender I can hardly stand it. It's one of the littlest cousins and his great uncle:


And even some of this -- one of the cousins and the "little cousins" -- looking not so much a generation apart any more:


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Leviticus 10, Man

It's been a big week full of serious learning.

This is the first time in my nine years of ministry that I have suffered serious grief (except for stupid break-ups with jerks), and the first time I have been asked to officiate at the funeral of a family member. While I feel honored to do so, there was that little mewling brat in me who rebelled, whining that I don't WANT to be set apart on that day. I want to be one of the kids crying in the seats, next to Mommy, sis and bro.

In a moment of weakness I expressed this to Mother of PeaceBang who, although sympathetic, gave me some much needed Hell in the following format:
Point #1: This is what you do.
Point #2: If you are who you say you are, you have a source of love and strength to draw on now that you believe will sustain you through all toils and snares.

She is so right.

So La Madre kicked my butt to the curb, so to speak, and I prepared the service (with the occasional interruption by about, mmmm, roughly 30 to 40 phone calls from relatives) and did as good a job as I could. It's done.

I wondered with a few trusted colleagues this week about the very tricky issue of congregational support of their minister at difficult times. I have never really done any theological reflection on this issue: all I know is that we should expect to get all our major, practical support outside the congregation. And that's fine. But I had never really reasoned through the WHY of it.
Today a American Baptist colleague of mine said simply, "Leviticus 10."

Check it out. Leviticus 10:1-8:

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.

So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.

And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.

And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.


Okay. What this sounds like on the surface is a terribly abusive story, with God as a sick tyrant who incinerates Aaron's sons because they offer him, "unholy fire" (I prefer the NRSV -- don't know which translation that is above, I just ripped it from a web site). And I'm not going to argue that God is a crazyass in this tale. But the point is, the LORD says not to mourn and tear your garments because the anoininting oil of the LORD is upon you. And I take that not to be an abusive, sick arrangement where God smites you and your loved ones and you just need to suck it up.

Because that would be too easy.

I am taking it today to be about God's relationship with God's ministers. And here's how I'm exegeting it today, Tuesday night at 11:30 after a 14-hour day, mind you. I'm saying that this is a teaching to God's ministers that we ought to know how life works, we know that death and suffering are part of it. We will suffer great losses ourselves in the work we feel called to do, and that work doesn't stop because we're suffering. We don't get to rent our garments (I prefer to buy them, myself) and wail with everyone else, because the anointing oil is upon us and our work at those times is different. We are, whether we like it or not, set apart.

And I could choose to eat a lot of chocolate over that, and feel full of resentment and victimy feelings, and hate the God of my ancestors for being a crackpot Cosmic Bully, but frankly, after the week I've had, I have to go with my instinct that there's something much more complex, ancient and powerful than that to it.


Exegesis of John 14:6, Dig It

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Global Warming

Much to my surprise, my sermon for today turned out to be mostly about global warming. As a Unitarian Universalist I have been fed on a steady diet of "current events" sermons, for which I generally have very little appreciation or patience, but there I was living into my own joke about "preaching on global warming."

I connected it to the symbol of water and the grieving of our country and other spiritual issues, but it was still a sermon on global warming. I quoted from the 15th century bhakti poet Mirabai, from Bill McKibbon and from The New Yorker. I talked about carbon dioxide levels. That is so not me. But you know, once I got researching it and my heart and soul got involved, I had to share it. Above all, our children have to hear about this and be prepared to deal with the prodigal chickens that are already coming home to roost, to mix a metaphor.

Greenseagirl helped me a lot with research and then the other best source was an excellent series in The New Yorker called "The Climate of Man" by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Part I is here:

Part II is here:

Part III, which I relied on heavily for today's sermon, is here:

If you have the time you might really dig that third article in the New Yorker series. I learned a lot from it and it helped me get the whole greenhouse gases concept much clearer in my mind. Of course now I want to crawl under my bed and suck my thumb until the earth heats up another few degrees and we all float out into the melted ice caps, but I won't.

I'll take a nap instead.

We did have one newcomer and he was enthusiastically nodding and going, "yeah" every few minutes, so that was affirming. Everyone else looked like an owl.
And I did get to sing some Mahalia Jackson and because we have this brand new fantabulous sound system, I could practically whisper, didn't it raaaain, children, didn't it rain O my Lord, didn't it rain and it came out just like I hoped it would. That is one haunting tune, children.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Don't Read This If You're A Jainist

A terrible thing happened this morning. I was making an omelette and turned on the burner on the stove, not realizing that a Daddy Long Legs was hanging out right in that burner.

I singed two of his legs before I realized he was there. I turned off the flame as fast as I could but the shock and pain killed him.

I know you'll think it silly but my God, what a terrible death.
Do spiders have nervous systems?
Did he feel anything?

I'm still a little bit sick about it. All the Daddy Long Legs and I have an arrangement: you can't stay in the house but I will politely escort you outside.

I'm sorry, little spider.

Redeeming Weddings

Not only did Nightmare Wedding Guest steer entirely clear of me today, I had my heart stolen by the two flower girls who were the cutest thing you've ever seen since Rainbow Brite came mincing down the pike.

They were Sophie and Hannah, 3 and 6 years old, looking angelic in simple white princess dresses with blush pink roses on the neckline and hem. Not only did they drop the petals with special delicacy and flare, they were perfectly behaved through the entire ceremony. I have to admit that Sophie, with her white blonde hair in a bowl cut, and perfectly round nose and big serious eyes, especially slayed me.

We had a quiet moment to chat after the ceremony when we went upstairs to find her blankie. I asked her whether she had any pets and learned that she has two cats, Romeo and Chloe. But Romeo runned away. I told her I was very sorry to hear that, and maybe he just needed to go be a wild cat in the woods for awhile and he would come back. I hoped he would. Romeo got under a car, Sophie said, and the car went on top of him. I replied that I was so very sorry. It's so very sad when cats get run over by cars.

After a moment of silent remembrance, Sophie said that they saw Romeo yesterday.
I stopped trying to figure it all out and said that I was sure glad that they still had Chloe. And what color is Chloe?

This question drew grave consideration. "She's white. And purple... And green."

I said I thought she sounded very pretty. She sounded so pretty that I had to dab at my eyes with my hankie about it.

Two wonderful things happened later in the evening: I made the acquaintance of two charming, funny people who just happen to be neighbors (REALLY neighbors, as in they live down the street from me) and who happen to know a whole bunch of my favorite old school chums from Connecticut (!). The second thing was that as I was walking back to the reception from the powder room, Sophie saw me coming and ran down the hall to me and threw herself into my arms.

And I Just Had To Include This, Too

Also from the NY Times Arts section...

Well, good for you, Aprile Milo!

The diva apparently cancelled what was to be a "cross-over" concert when she found out that she would be asked to do some rock-and-roll stuff. I mean, there's cross-over and then there's just ridiculous.

Even though she used to be plain old April Miles (this according to an old opera pal of mine, although he might just be gossiping), girlfriend knows where to put her pipes. And where not to.

Now if we can just put a stop to Kiri Te Kanawa singing show tunes, and do something permanent about that Andrea Bocelli creature who's always caterwalling at the Barnes & Noble with that other singer-thing, the one who sounds like Minnie Mouse on helium and has the blue-glitter-buttered eyelids ... the world would be such a better place.

Mini Gates In Pursuit of Mini Central Park

Remember The Gates?

Well, you gotta see this, sent by Li'l Flava in NYC:

The picture alone gave me an ear-splitting grin for hours.

Favorite quote: "I got my own job, ya know what I mean?"

I don't know how it will hit you but I feel considerably less misanthropic after reading this. It's just so endearingly silly, I think, "Aw, I just gotta love people."

Or maybe it will make you cranky. I don't know. Enjoie!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Preacher, Can You Use This?

I found this poem while looking for another one I'm going to use in the service on Sunday...

By Michael Bledsoe
*after a trip to Rome in November 2003

the ruins of Rome rustle
but the shell of the beetle remains averse to time
as it traverses across column and stone
the wind howls past the bony thumb of power
the souls which once resided here
sleep beneath shattered trees, ruined worlds
flicker in the dusk like Mose's bush
burned by God's voice and man's indifference
I raise a glass of wine along the Imperial Way
the beetle has tripped onto its back
I gaze at the Colisseum and spit into Caesar's eye
a glass of molten blue
the dome of the sky
Rome is gone
halflings of Christ and Caesar occupy the throne of Peter
I will kiss no stone, touch no statue
but angle my body between church and state
and pray to the One crucified by them both.

Another Online Quiz

According to this test, I'm a Socialist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Didn't It Rain?"

PeaceBangers, you in your infinite wisdom can help me.

I am singing some of the old gospel song "Didn't It Rain" (sometimes called "Oh! Didn't It Rain") in my sermon on Sunday. I have been haunted by it lately and humming it all the while I'm drafting, so it clearly wants to get in there. I have the Mahalia Jackson version and although she sings like an angel, I can't understand a derned word she's singing in the middle verses. Many Google searches yield nothing helpful. I know that Paul Robeson recorded it, as did Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but no luck on finding lyric printouts.

I don't really NEED to know the whole thing, but I WANT to know.

Many of you have scads of music. Does anyone perchance have this beautiful song in a collection? If so, would you be ever so kind as to transcribe the lyrics for little ole moi?

I would be eternally grateful, but you knew that.

P.S. If you even remotely like old time gospel, you just have to have to have to get the Columbia recording called, "The Essential Gospel Sampler." This can get you through more bad times than anything. It should be prescribed along with pharmaceuticals. If you can listen to the Dixie Hummingbirds sing, "Hide Me In Thy Bosom" and still feel down in the dumps, child, you are truly suffering and should go immediately to "What Could I Do" by the rockin' Marion Wiliams. That should help some. I swear by it.

The Goat Ate My Emmys Review

PeaceBangers, please do not think that I would have let a major celebrity-oriented cultural event go by without commenting on it!

I did watch the last 45 minutes of the Emmys on Sunday night. I did have witty, trenchant observations. I did hold my hand over my mouth in horror over Patricia Arquette's bad Andrew Sisters hair-do:

I did throw my shoe at the screen when "Everybody Loves Mediocrity" won Best Comedy for the squillionth time in a row, leaving such comic gems as "Arrested Development" in the dust.

I did root for Zach Braff, 'cause we're fellow Wildcats. He didn't win.

I did think that Hugh Jackman's alarming Wolverine sideburns were hilarious, and that he was adorable and Whoopi Goldberg as thoroughly unfunny as ever.

I did find Felicity Huffman's speech the most endearing of the lot.

And I did write this all up and experience AN ERROR, according to blogspot. And I did lose it all. Quelle dommage.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Derby Street Shoppes Gaffe

So I get this flier in the mail today from the local swanky outdoor mall


announcing "Suffrage Days" when we get to "pamper ourselves" and shop 'til we drop. There will be gift bags, samples, and little events like wine tastings.
5% of the proceeds from these days (Sept. 19-September 22) will go to hurricane relief if you bring your receipts to S.R. Weiner & Associates: 781.749.7800 or

Sound nice?
Wait, there's more.

Here's what it says on the front flap of the brochure, which pictures a woman carrying TEN shopping bags and swinging along in an attitude of utmost joy and liberation:

Webster defines the word "suffrage" as "the right to vote in a political election.

The whole thing would have been a really nice idea if they hadn't gone and perverted the idea of suffrage in such an egregiously materialistic manner.

I mean, the whole point of the suffrage movement was to empower women to have a voice in society. I take serious offense in the notion that all we need to be empowered is a working credit card and the desire to own a lot of new stuff. And to dump those damn kinder at home.

Susan B. Anthony must be sitting stark upright in her grave.

What I suggest is that South Shore PeaceBangers boycott the Derby Street Shoppes for those three days or longer and send what you would have spent directly to the hurricane relief organization of your choice.

May I also recommend that you write to Ms. Kennedy and explain that "suffrage" and "pamper" are not synonymous? And that she ought to fire her development person or at least send her to a Woman's Studies class somewhere, and pronto?


Monday, September 19, 2005

When Book Stores Die

I went to Harvard Square today paspifically to shop at The Globe bookstore, a treasure-trove of travel books that was a delight to browse in for hours.
I was going to plunk myself down in the Spain and Portugal section and just fantasize away about the Prado and Dali museums and tapas and flamenco. I'm gonna get to see those Hieronymous Bosches at the Prado this January if it kills me.

But The Globe ain't there. And just as I was blinking hard and trying to get over my ridiculous sense of loss, I got to the corner of JFK and Brattle Streets and found that Wordsworth Books was also gone. Empty. Not even taken over by an Abercrombie & Fitch or GAP or anything.

I'm just sick inside. Did we cause this by shopping at Barnes & Noble and

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I keep hearing Uncle Marvin's voice in my head. He and his brother Dick (and my dad, less so their brother Mark) have/had the deepest, most elegant radio-announcer voices (but with way more soul, humor, anger and power) you ever heard. I just can't stand that's there's only one such voice left in the world. Those voices were, to me, the rumblings of God himself. When we were kids and spending every weekend at Uncle Dick's beautiful mansion on the coast of Connecticut, my eleven cousins would be wilding around and I would be in the room with the men, literally sitting at their feet while they debated politics and threw affectionate insults at each other. Tempers rose easily. My Uncle Dick, the lawyer, thundered the loudest. Marvin was the best at curt dismissal, and my father, Carl, the most cuttingly funny. When they laughed, it was a roar.

That they took seriously what I had to say was the highest compliment a child could be paid.

I just feel so tired and like I can't concentrate. I can't imagine what a loser I'll be at church today. I could cry just thinking about how much energy it will take just to get through the opening words and call to celebration, let along my 20-minute sermon.

I have a headache already and I slept well and long.

Grief is the worst.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Yuks From NYC

I was talking to Little Flava today :

who called to tell me that she had just had this great New York City morning of eating left-over Korean for breakfast (that's Korean food, not an actual left-over Korean), blasting salsa music and tanking down java.

I told her about Uncle Marvin and how I hate that feeling you get after you cry so hard you feel like every nutrient is totally gone from your body, and she said, "I know. They should make Visine with Gatorade in it."

I laughed so hard my eyeball popped out, so that one doesn't even need any Visine.

Friday, September 16, 2005

PeaceBang In Mourning

We were just talking about the good death, weren't we?

My beloved Uncle Marvin died in his sleep last night.

If I could only express what a titan this man was. He was a sexy, vibrant, wine-quaffing, world-traveling babe at 82 and he would have so hated to have become old and infirm. I have no complaints there. Neither would he have. The night before he died he was at a fabulous party in Utah, and was reportedly the belle of the ball. When I say he was a babe, I mean he was a babe. See what I mean? Paul Newman-level babe, with a great golf handicap. Here he is a few weeks ago, wearing the family uniform of navy blue blazer and khaki pants (that's vacation. In winter you get a tie and some other kind of trousers, and Bali loafers).

Unk Marv

He also, ironically enough, had just had a full check-up and had received an A+ stellar clean bill of health. Cholesterol low. Arteries terrific. Etc. His doctor will plotz.

Domineering Jewish papa, patriarch of us all (his younger brother, my dear Uncle Dick, joked with him days before he died that he was tired of being the "Patriarch-In-Waiting") the whole clan of us twelve cousins, and our seventeen children. Husband of Mae for sixty years, Army colonel (he will be buried at West Point) and absolutely no nonsense.

He thought this war with Iraq was a despicable, cowardly mess and no excuse for it.

The world felt safer with Uncle Marvin in it.

Uncle Marv and I exchanged e-mails on September 8th on If anyone knows how I might retrieve a deleted e-mail, I sure would like to know. I have found my letter to him, but I don't have his to me and it would be lovely to have it.

Hold to your loved ones real tight tonight. As the poet Mary Oliver would say (or I may be paraphrasing), "Let the small, soft animal of your body love what it loves."

Friday Cat Blogging

Dignity, Always Dignity
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
She's watching CNN. And it occurs to me that she has more dignity than Michael Brown.

Ermengarde for FEMA chief!

Muppets Wizard of Oz

muppets of oz
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I laughed a lot -- especially at Toto, who in this production was played by a king prawn muppet named Pepe, who has one of those outrageous Latino accents popularized by Hank Azaria in "The Birdcage." If this character is offensive to Latinos, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I hope they found it an endearing shout-out.

The casting is precious, especially Kermit as the Scarecrow. Miss Piggy is hilarious in the first scene as Glinda, smothering the munchkin (rats) to her bosom and singing out, "CUDDLES! CUDDLES, Munchiekins!"

Mother of PeaceBang always adored Piggy, and I am beginning to see why.

There's an overly-frightening, very dark number called "The Witch Is In the House" during which Miss Piggy tears around her lair as the Wicked Witch, and her minions (the flying monkeys in this version are a motorcycle gang -- a truly motley crew of muppets!) tear apart the Scarecrow and the Tin Thing (played by Gonzo). Yikes! Not for the littlest kiddies.

Even as I laughed at the many truly charming moments, I found it disappointing that the Dorothy character (played by winsome black pop tart, Ashanti) was sexed-up so much, wearing a bare midriff throughout (although to be fair, she had a gingham apron on over it) and then given a make-over into full super-slutty-fab Beyonce mode once she gets to Emerald City. We're talking glittery eyeshadow and major cleavage to go with the 4" high magical slippers.

I personally found it hilarious that the magic slippers were silver-encrusted Manolo Blahniks, but I have to guess that if I was the mother of a 12-year old, I would have probably been exasperated. When Ashanti says, "If the magic slippers are supposed to make a girl feel sexy and confident, then these are definitely magical!" I groaned. We can't just achieve wisdom through our journey now, we also have to feel "sexy and confident." This is Frank Baum by way of Helen Gurley Brown.

For those of us who hold the torch of adoration aloft for Miss Judy Garland, and who consider her Dorothy Gale a monumental achievement of beauty and honesty, Ashanti just can't begin to compete. It's not her fault that her Dorothy was written and directed to be a pouting Material Girl; she is obviously talented enough to have played it with more tenderness.

I'm disappointed that the writers failed to recognize that Dorothy's journey is not just individual but archetypal. She doesn't want to get out of Kanas in order to be Something, she wants to get out of Kansas in order to Be. All the focus on the "I gotta be a star" totally demolished the archetypal power of the story for me.

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

If an emaciated, neurotic, workaholic Hollywood star can't make it work with a diminutive, bald, reportedly gay country singer after a relationship of about five minutes, WHAT CHANCE IS THERE FOR ME?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No More 'Mokin', 'Tay?

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

O PeaceBangers with caring hearts!

I am not really a smoker. I learned how to smoke in 9th grade when Mrs. Russell-Tutty cast me as Marty in "Grease," and I had to make one entrance smoking a cigarette. I had been initiated into the world of Virginia Slims by Lisa Cardone in the 8th grade, but they made me so sick that I wanted nothing to do with them.
But I was a stah, and I had to smoke.

Can you imagine a drama teacher requiring a kid to smoke today!!??? I cackle into my sleeve just thinking about it!

I smoked occassionally in high school, and then not really at all in college. I picked up cigarettes in Divinity School, rolling my own with a filter.

I smoked very occasionally over the subsequent ten years. My practice now is to get one pouch of rolling tabaccy in the summertime, and just roll and smoke 'em until the pack is gone, which is usually around October.

The truth is, the vast majority of my sermons and articles come to me while sitting in the driveway having some tobacco. I only ever have one (ciggie, not idea) at a time.

Remember the SNL skit about "The Dark Side of Buckwheat?" It featured shaky hand-cam work and grainy film. In it, Eddie Murphy lurched around as "Bu'meat" a room full of producers and Hollywood starlets playing his best enfant terrible. At one point, he crams himself between two bosomy blondes and says, "Let's make a Bu'meat sandwich!" A man comes into the frame smoking a cigarette. Buckwheat orders the man to come closer.

"Tum here. TUM here," he says.
The man inches closer.
"Dimme yer tigarette. DIMME yer tigarette," orders Buckwheat.

The man hands it over.
"Dimme yer hand." The man hesitates. "DIMME yer hand," insists the irate superstar.
And the man does.

Buckwheat then puts the cigarette out in the man's palm to the accompaniment of a horrid sizzling sound.

"No more 'mokin,' 'tay?" says Buckwheat.

And my brother and sister and I have never stopped laughing about it.

I know, we should all take Buckwheat's stern admonition to heart.
I'm glad I never got truly addicted. Brother and Sister of PeaceBang both smoke, and it upsets me a lot.

P.S. Fausto, you CANNOT eat the cigarettes! No!

Stress and Women

I went to get CPR training last night at my health club. It was really interesting, and I'm relieved to have refreshed my memory since age 14 or 15, when I had that encounter with Resusci-Annie. You remember Resusci-Annie. She was that ghastly dummy whose grey, dead lips got swabbed with an alcohol wipe before you blew into them, and her nose was really hard to pinch. Apparently she was full of horrid germs that were impossible to thoroughly clean out, which just fills me with lots of hideous imaginings.

(In case you were wondering, it's not true that she was modelled after the dead daughter of the guy who invented her:

Our instructor, Jack, a cute middle-aged firefighter with a fetching paunch, told us all about heart disease and the symptoms of cardiac arrest and just generally convinced me that a really fast, thorough heart attack is the best way to die (aside from dying in your sleep -- a blessing that was granted my 90-year old grandfather but pretty hard to plan on, whereas plenty of cheeseburgers and cigarettes is a good way to plan on a blow-out heart attack).

Guess what I learned? According to the American Heart Association, lack of exercise is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day in terms of heart health. I looked very smug when he said that, because I have worked out TWICE this week. And probably twice over the entire summer, which makes me a very heart healthy little gal, if you don't count the cigarettes and cheeseburgers. Or the fried clams (if you walk down the length of the entire beach to get them, you can justify them. This is what fat people do, and you have my permission).

Anyway, we also learned that heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women, but women get about ten more years before they clutch their chest and keel. Estrogen may be one factor. But it is now being discovered that that ten year gap is closing, and that stress is the chief factor.

This factoid inspired a really fit, really old guy with a super dark tan (he looked like a Gucci bag, frankly) to comment with great sincerity, "It's because women are working out of the home, and all the stress is killing them."

To which I replied, with equal sincerity, "I know. We should just stay home and die of childbirth, instead, like we used to."
I said it quietly enough that only the two women next to me would hear me. Snorts all 'round.

But really, it all just brings me back around to the point I made way at the beginning of this blog's life (January 2004): Why must Americans treat death as this terrible scourge they've got to eradicate and fast, because human lives are at stake?

All that said, I'm happy to know how to resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing on their own, but I'd better make sure to check DNR orders in my congregation before I go puffing into the mouth of someone who'd have no cause to thank me for it afterward. Not that I think it will happen: I'm far more likely to have occasion to use the Heimlich manuever (we learned that last night, too).

This is the universal sign of choking:

Universal Sign of Choking

If you see someone do this, ask them, "Are you choking?" If they nod, ask, "Can you speak?" If they can speak and cough, let them cough out whatever it is that's choking them. If they can breathe, they'll be alright. You can go to the ER and have whatever it is taken out with forceps, if need be.
If they can't speak and their windpipe is totally blocked that's when you do the Heimlich.

You should learn how to do it on yourself, too, so you don't end up like Mama Cass. Then again, that may be an urban legend, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Monday, September 12, 2005

FEMA Prison Camp

I think this is a very noteworthy story:

Mighty Mighty Water

I'm going to do a service on September 25th on Water. Tsunamis, flash floods, levees, hurricanes, tears, all of the scary, awesome aspects of water. I'm going to tie it in with the Rosh Hashanah practice of tashlich, where you cast pebbles or crumbs into running water to get rid of the bad things you've done in the past year.

I'd also like to address water rights issues but I'm a complete tyro on the subject (or I will be when I learn more about it).
Can you help?
HELP! (Jessica, are you there?)

One thing I wonder about: after New Orleans gets all pumped out, where does that water go? I mean, I know I can look up where it GOES, but what about all the debris, the human remains, et al? What happens to the water? What about after the tsunami? Does Great Mama Ocean just absorb it all? What does it all mean for the ecological balance?

I went to the beach today. Then I came home and roasted a chicken and sat outside and smoked a cigarette and said "Goodbye, summer."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Do We Pray?

Philocrites posted a notice about an interfaith prayer service in Boston, and a commenter asked him if he prays:

He asked it nicely but still, it fries me.

I am so sick of people asking Unitarian Universalists if they participate in basic, generic religious practices, but of course it isn't their fault for asking.

We've well earned our reputation as this exotic hot house flower, bizarr-o humanist cult you need to approach with the trepidation of a jackrabbit among a pack of wolves when inquiring about religious practices: "Excuse me, sirs and ma'ams, would it be okay if I prayed for the dead here in your building? Or are we only allowed to 'think good thoughts?'"

I was at the Andover-Newton Theological School opening worship the other day and found it far less than cute when the president of the school cracked a joke (the first of thousands I'm sure to hear during my doctoral studies there) about having to get along with both UNITARIANS and BAPTISTS. When he said the word "Unitarian," there was this deep, mellow chuckle from the student body, and one UU shouted out, "GODDESS Forbid!!"

I groaned. Is the theological issue of gendering God now a joke? How might things look today if UUs had historically taken as seriously our calling to do public theology as we do political activism?

How many times have I attended an interfaith clergy gathering and been instantly insulted and marginalized because all the other religious leaders were indoctrinated by some previous UU to believe that we don't pray, we will not read that Bible passage, we are pre-offended by any ideas you might have, and we expect to be capitulated to in our every terminally unique need or whim or we will stamp our teeny, tiny wounded feet and slam out the door? I've taken to arriving early to all such gatherings so I can do damage control before the meeting starts.

There is a way to represent a theologically pluralistic people without communicating the idea that we're inherently hostile to those things widely and universally associated with "religion." I've said it before and I'll say it again: we can do what we like in our own congregations, but if we keep expecting the rest of the world to define "religious" in a radically different way than they've been doing since the time of the prophets, we're going to be wallflowers for a long, long time.

We could have been building bridges, teaching, inviting dialogue and respectfully challenging orthodoxy (and even mainstream) Christianity all these years. Instead, we blithely threw out traditions without replacing them with heartier ones, gave away our worship practices to the loudest whiner, allowed organizations that are hostile to the very premise of religion into our association of congregations, and sold our birthright for a ...well, not a mess of pottage. I don't know what.

With Six You Get Eggroll!!

What's Hotter Than Gay Cowboys??

Absolutely nothing!

I so can't wait to see this.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Blue Dress

Jess just told me that she went to Target and there were Kleenex boxes with MALIFICENT on them!!!

For the briefest second I had this flare of tantrum energy where I just wanted to throw myself on the floor of my study and scream
I WANT ONE I WANT ONE I WANT ONE!! until I was out of breath and sobbing.

Because I went to Target yesterday --- yester-very-day, yes, ter-day -- and all I bought was excessively grown-up things like Murphy's Oil Soap and bleach and batteries and kitty litter and I did not buy myself even one little teeny tiny present, no , not even a Barbie lunchbox (I have a "Bewitched" one anyway). Not even one fun pair of socks, or even a throw pillow. We were all business.

I had the same tantrum-y feeling when I went to Disney World a few years ago and saw in the gift shop that they had perfect replicas of all the Disney heroine costumes that any little girl could buy if her parents had the cash for it, and if she wheedled hard enough. I mean, I would have killed a peer for one of those costumes when I was four years old. I actually held up the Snow White costume to my own body, just to have it against myself. "Doesn't this come in an 18?" Little PeaceBang sobbed inside me. She almost made me buy it anyway, but I knew there would be a terrible fight when I tried to give it away to any of my little goddess-daughters.

The whole thing reminds me of this one beautiful blue fairy princess dress we had in the Dress Up Trunk at my nursery school. I used to rush like a rabid demoniac from my car pool to the trunk to get it every morning, since whoever got the blue dress got to be Cinderella when we played make-pretend.

I had such a steady monopoly on that dress that it became a Serious Problem at the Robin Hill Nursery School. My little schoolmates never said anything to me about it but they complained to Miss Louisa and Miss Barbara, who gently inquired of me if I would like to share the blue dress. Being three years old and fairly literal-minded, I didn't get the hint. I responded honestly that I did not want to share the blue dress. They spoke to my mother about it and I got a comment on my report card about having having "issues with sharing."

In case you should think this an unjust persecution of a 4-year old, I must confess in all honesty that it was none but I who slammed the car door on Stacy Wainhouse the day that she and her rotten, curly-headed friend Rachel plotted and planned in the back seat how one of them was going to trip me while the other ran to get the blue dress.

I've always had preternaturally good hearing, and a strong right arm.

Note to parents, and those who work with pre-schoolers: don't ask them whether or not they want to be good, unselfish children. Tell them that they'd better be, or else. Children are savages, for God's sake. Stacy Wainhouse is lucky to be alive today, and you heard it here.

Rude Pundit

How did I not know about this guy until just yesterday?

Rude Pundit is outrageous. He is pornographic. He is the Marquis de Sade with a laptop. He is shocking and tasteless, and that's putting it mildly.

And he's doing something very unique and, I think, important, with his style of writing.

I warn you -- you may be very offended.

Dog Collars

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

UU bloggers have talked an awful lot about when it's appropriate to wear clericals, and when to do so would be inauthentic and manipulative. Boy In the Bands has a good rule: he says if you don't wear them regularly to identify yourself as clergy, don't just throw on a shirt when you attend a rally or on some other work of activism.

Nevertheless, I just bought a clergy shirt to wear to Baton Rouge, even though I rarely wear one at home. My old one was simply heinous (and I don't like the big all-around dog collar, I prefer the tab -- and I don't much care about the historical or ecclesiastical differences between them right now, although by this spring I probably will, as my class may want to know for their own edification).

Why wear the dog collar in Louisiana?

A couple of reasons: first, it's a uniform of sorts. I could just walk around with a sign that says, "Hey ya'll, I'm a minister, which means that I'm prepared to offer you spiritual support right now," or like a firefighter or National Guard reservist, I can show up in my uniform and people will know I'm clergy. Not only will I pray with you, listen to you, hold your hand, tell your child a story, or hold your purse while you go to the bathroom, I'm also good for a Kleenex and some good pointers on where to go to get a meal, clothes, and shelter for the night if need be. Although I expect that there will be a lot less of that come October.

Second, if someone wants to give God an earful of rage and accusation, they know they can lay it on me. No, it's not rational, but it can help. And since I'm a Unitarian Universalist, they're never going to hear a response like, "It was God's will" or "It was his time to go" or "His ways are mighty to behold" or anything like that. They're probably going to hear, "Bring it on, baby. You give that God a piece of your mind."

I am grateful today for my Universalist heritage which tells me that our God is not a God who sends storms and floods to punish anyone, anywhere, ever.

(Fausto has a good conversation of this issue going on at

On a sartorial note: it's not okay to wear a clergy blouse with a belt, is it? I am so not a tuck-the-shirt-in girl. I suppose I'll have to make judicious use of blazers and overshirts. There's no need to traumatize a population of people any more than they already have been.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Garments of Praise!

For the truly stylin' clergywoman. Get a load of this:

"Garments of Praise has attempted to change this concept by offering soft styles to keep women both feminine and anointed without revealing the body, yet not concealing the very essence of womanhood."

Feminine AND Anointed

(Not only is she feminine and anointed, she is rocking some totally awesome goth-style sleeves! )

Beautiful Baton Rouge

Not that I'm getting afraid to go to Baton Rouge or anything, it's just that when I hear I should pack as though I'm going camping and get all my shots and vaccinations, it definitely highlights the fact that this isn't a joy trip.

I don't know how to pack to go camping. This is the girl who was kicked out of Girl Scouts, remember?

Apparently I could get me that gun I talked about pretty easily, and probably shoot some snakes. Or something. A colleague said, "wear your collar and hope for the best."

And it's going to be reeeeal hot.

Sanity Help and Love

I don't know if this change will last, but I feel like 90% of the stress has gone out of my system.

It all seems so clear: there really, truly isn't that much to fret about when you consider -- as I have been doing ceaselessly -- the possibility of losing everything except your own body and the clothes on your back.

I feel very quiet, clear and calm. I understand my job to be this: Sane. Helpful. Loving.

Theology doesn't so much engage me right now. History, politics, art, culture... all interesting, but my blood doesn't race for any of it.

Three things. Sanity. Love. Help.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Moment Of Zen

I stayed up to watch "The Jon Stewart Daily Show" last night and was rewarded by a hilarious show. They had been on vacation for a week, so it worked especially well when Stewart looked dead-on at the camera and said, "So.... did we miss anything?"

I practically fell off the couch when I saw the "now, for your moment of Zen" clip, which featured a CNN newscaster interrupting a meteorologist in the middle of a report he apparently gave in the midst of the hurricane. She was appallingly whining ("Chaaaad, we don't know what that meaaaans! You have to traaaanslate") and he was a little King Baby, crabbing back at her to let him finish and then throwing his paper on the floor.

You can check out the tomfoolery at (thanks to Cindy for directing me to this link)

People, where's the dignity, for God's sake?

Maybe it's that I grew up with the heroes of WWII as a major influence, but there are certain tones of voice a public figure simply does not take, ever. One is whining, which is abhorrent no matter what the occasion.

Women, who tend all too easily toward the shrill, have to guard against sounding like a total virago and against "de-voicing," which is using cutesy, girlish tones to curry favor or sympathy with the public. Also inappropriate and manipulative is to overly sexualize the voice, making a simple statement sound like an invitation to the boudoir.

Men have the tendency to suppress emotion to the point where their voices become a dull monotone or sound strangely "swallowed." Another vocal manipulation occurs when they artificially lower their voice and clip their tones to produce a macho "I'm in charge" effect. Leslie Nielsen achieves this with comic brillilance in the "Airplane" movies. Just perfect.

I have noticed in the past years that the use of the voice is becoming more immoderate and unconscious, and a lot of this can be blamed on the ubiquity of the cell phone.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Just Remembered How Much I Love This Song

"Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans"
by Louis Armstrong

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockin' birds used to sing
And I'd like to see that lazy Mississippi...hurryin' into spring
The moonlight on the bayou.......a Creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about Magnolias in bloom......and I'm wishin' I was there
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more...

I miss the one I care for...
More than I miss New Orleans


My colleague in Baton Rouge informs me that the initial request for body bags has been for 20,000 of them. He doesn't think the media is reporting this yet.

Brace yourselves.

Two Saved Doggies

I feel really good right now because I helped hook up a person from NY who is willing to adopt two abandoned hurricane doggies with a shelter in Baton Rouge.

Yay for craigslist. It can't find me a date but it did work out for the doggies, and that's much more important.

(no jokes about dating dogs, please, unless you're Adam Tierney-Eliot)

Going to Baton Rouge

I'm going down there!

Barbara Bush's Compassionate Conservativism,,2-10-1942_1765953,00.html

How could she SAY such a thing???????
I'd like to force feed her that triple-strand of pearls.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Snake Shooter

What must it have been like for that CNN reporter to ride a boat down the streets of New Orleans and hear people crying for help, trapped inside their attics with no way out?

Do you just want to go crazy, tearing out your hair and clawing at your skin, hearing this? Do you just want to rent a helicopter and a few crowbars and land on every one of those houses and tear the shingles off?

I get a tightness in my chest. I wish I had taken up martial arts years ago like a psychic advised me to, because I have too much life force apparently and it comes seeping out as aggression. Whatever, gypsy woman. Later. What I really want to do is put on a bright yellow sweat suite a la Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill" and kick and karate chop my way around New Orleans. Hi YA. I know Lane Bryant doesn't make these suits but I'm telling you, it's my fantasy right now. That and shooting snakes in the water. I have this vision of sitting on the top of a house and just shooting snakes in the water. This isn't nice to snakes, I understand. But I just can't handle the thought of one more thing hurting people who are trying to survive and wading through filthy water to do so. If the Red Cross has a snake shooting division I am going to sign up, because believe it or not, I'm an excellent shot.

I'm not surprised to read hateful bloggers who blame "the poor" for not leaving (as in "Why didn't they just get on a bus out of town? I mean, it's so easy for poor people to leave their homes! They've got nothing to lose!"). I just can't believe how STUPID these people are. STOOPIT stupid. Corrente provides examples here:

Hey duuuude, does the concept of being in shock mean anything to you? How about denial, which I'm sure you've never experienced??!!

You know what, haters? Human beings are oriented toward life. They're hard-wired for survival. They generally assume (especially living in New Orleans, which has a proud, tough ancestral history of weathering very bad storms) that even though things may get pretty damn dire, they'll make it somehow. They'll survive, they'll rebuild, they'll get down off the roof. Add to that general optimism some sleep deprivation, incredibly high levels of stress, dehydration, low blood sugar, and plain old fashioned stubbornness and you can easily understand how many people made lousy choices.

Maybe it's not the snakes I really want to shoot after all.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Comment From Steve Gilliard's Blog

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Wrath of Steve Gilliard

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Party Update

Well, that was great. We sat around outside and lambasted the Bush Administration and raised $570.

I'm sorry you couldn't all be there, but Fausto and Mrs. Fausto came by to represent. Yo.

I have so much food left. In a hilarious moment of party panic, I thought we were running out of rice and beans (we were, but just the kind with kielbasa. I have tons of vegetarian left) and went and whipped up TWO boxes of Zatarain's jambalya. So it's going to be a JAMBALICIOUS fall. And winter. I mean, it freezes.

I made this amazing sticky buns recipe:

Get Pillsbury dinner rolls (the little round kind in the canister). Grease a Bundt pan with butter. Throw the rolls in the pan and sprinkle with butterscotch pudding mix (not instant). Melt a stick of butter and a half cup of brown sugar together. Drizzle over rolls. Throw some chopped nuts over that. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise overnight. In the morning, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Take off the foil and bake another five minutes.
Let cool for ten minutes then plop on a cake plate, upside down. The butterscotch will have carmelized and people will think you're a genius baker.
The beauty of it is, you can assemble the whole thing at 2:30 in the morning , even with a little margarita buzz going. It's that brainless.
And worth ruining your fillings for!

Hurricane Party

I'm having a Hurricane Relief Party today. I'm crossing my fingers that I can raise at least a few hundred dollars for the UU Gulf Coast Relief Fund. $500 would be awesome. Lots of people are busy and out of town but we'll just do the best we can with what we've got.

I made fried chicken (my version, very buttery and sinful), tons of red beans and rice, and we're having mint julep. Also "sweet tea" which I learned how to make from Brother Scott Wells (who also provided the recipe for the red beans and rice and I'm sure he'll forgive me -- if not in this world, then in the next -- that although the beans are perfect, all I had on hand was basmati rice. So I guess I should say that we're having "Red Beans and Yankee Liberal Multi-Culti Blue State Rice.")

I'll check in later.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Reading Post-Katrina Images

Just stopped cleaning for a moment to check in with CNN. Two comments:

(1) Why is Bush always pictured surrounded by white men? Always. Always surrounded by white men. When he's trying to project a presidential "I'm on the scene and everything's gonna be okay," he's always got the white men entourage (the only exception to this rule is brown-skinned men in full military dress). Unless he's campaigning or indulging in pure, pointless photo ops. Then it's okay to have some women or non-white people in the immediate vicinity.

(2) I didn't think I could loathe him more, but when I saw the photo of him playing the guitar (another UU blogger posted it with a very apt comparison to Nero fiddling), I hated him on a new level. It would help so much if I didn't see his rolled-up sleeves and immediately know that a White House stylist rolled those sleeves for him to project just the right "we're gettin' stuff done" message.

But I have news for you, Mister or Miz Stylist: those sleeves are rolled up too high. He doesn't look like he means business, but rather that he's about to help Laura do a load of dishes. You should have rolled them to a 1/8 of an inch BELOW the elbow, not hiked them up so far. He looks like a total doofus.

The Superdome now has its own zip code. They say officials expect 2-5 more deaths per day.

The Economy of Hospitality

[Dear readers: I moved this up because I think it got buried under a ton of other postings, and it was long, and I was hoping some of you got the chance to read it. I'll try to slow down the postings because I hope you'll also have a chance to take a look at the Harper's article of May, 2005 referenced in "Get A Cup Of Coffee and Read This" -- P.B.]

After spending another weekend traveling for professional reasons, it occurs to me that hospitality is currency for those who are not in the lucrative professions.

Let me try to explain.

If I had traveled, say, as the keynote speaker to a corporate convention, I would have flown first class, stayed in swanky, sterile hotel rooms, expensed every bit of food and drink that passed my lips, and been whisked from place to place in a car with a driver.

But that's not the life I've chosen; nor is it the life I want. I am not a corporate bigwig. I am a minister and therefore a servant. It's really, really hard for this Material Girl to remember that. All that affluence in my formative years doesn't help. But still, I try. As Howard Thurman wrote, "Keep before me the moments of my high resolve."

What I did this weekend was travel to an ordination at the request of one called to the ministry from out of our congregations -- someone I worked with when he was a lay leader and someone I love and care about. He asked me to preach the sermon, and I accepted the honor.

I searched for low fares on I left sufficient kibble in the bowl for the cat, drove my 8-year old Honda to the airport an hour away and parked in remote parking (cheaper). I ate a ham and cheese sandwich between flights and God only knows where that receipt might be. I made sure to pack a small enough suitcase so that I could carry it on to all the flights.

Friends picked me up from the airport. We had wonderful $5 bowls of pho for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. They bought me dinner, kept me up with beers and delightful conversation (no, wait- I kept them up) until 11:00 pm, and fed me breakfast the next morning. I slept in their comfortable guest room.

The next morning one of my friends delivered me at the appointed hour to a local church, where I preached the morning service. For that, I received $150 (the sermon was one I'd given before, and I spent between 3-4 hours revamping it, preparing the other words I would say in the service, and talking on the phone with the lay liturgist). I was taken out to lunch afterward by a friend and colleague.

I took a nap, shook the wrinkles out of my next outfit, and had a shower at home of same friend and colleague before the afternoon service. I arrived back at the church, participated in the ordination service (the sermon had taken something between 8 to 10 hours to write), and had dinner afterward with more friends and colleagues. Total cost: $20.00. Two beers and bratwurst.

Because I am terrified of tiny planes, I hitched a ride with good friends (some of the ministerial colleagues who had been at the service) to their house a couple of hours away near my hub airport, which would save me the terror of climbing on a tiny prop plane the next day. Their invitation to come home with them was instant, genuine and enthusiastic. I stayed up talking until about 1:00 a.m., was nourished by the company and the big glasses of water we drank (it had been so hot in the church that I soaked through my clothes and made puddles in my shoes), and slept until 10:00 a.m. next morning. Upon rising, I had friends to talk with, their fresh coffee to drink and their biscuits and eggs to eat, and a comfortable backyard to sit in and listen to the birds. I knew the house, as it had been previously inhabited by a dear mentor and his wife. Therefore, the very house felt like a friend.

I was driven to the airport in good company, got on my flight, picked up my car, paid about $40 for parking, and drove myself home.

The total cost of the trip was something like $500. The so called "profit" from the trip was the $150 preaching fee (minus a few ham sandwiches, some bottles of Dasani water, a bag of Doritos, and about $10 worth of tips). The hidden "cost" was giving up a few days of vacation, and of course the great labor of composing the sermon.

In corporate America, the same trip may have cost a company close to $4000 (airfare, driver, meals, hotel). The keynote speaker would have been paid at least that (maybe far more: what do I know?). The profit to the speaker, therefore, would have been thousands of dollars free and clear. The missing elements would have been: dinner and an overnight with 2 friends, the experience of meeting an entire congregation and sharing two emotionally bonding services with them, lunch with another friend, renewing ties with a beloved former congregant (now minister) and at least 8 other admired colleagues, having the honor of becoming a tiny part of the history of our religious Association (in that the Certificate of Ordination will be kept on file at our association headquarters), sharing the lore of my profession over a wonderfully rowdy dinner, and a subsequent "sleepover" with two favorite people. I like to think, also, that some of the sermon might make it into the folklore of our generation of ministers.

So who walks away richer after such a weekend? The corporate keynoter, or the minister?

It really depends on your definition of currency.


Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

... And Could Use A New Hair-Do And Shoe Shine

I know this headline isn't supposed to be funny:,10117,16390249-421,00.html

But it's from an Australian paper, where they use words like "bashing" to describe a physical assault.

So maybe it is supposed to be funny.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Get Yourself a Cup of Coffee and Read This

I like to think of myself as a generally tolerant person. Tolerant; not unconditionally accepting. I affirm that every human being possesses inherent worth and dignity, absolutely, but that conviction doesn't come with automatic acceptance of every precious thing believed by every precious individual. You may say, "DUH," but many Unitarian Universalists -- who mistake our first principle as carte blanche to claim martyrdom at the drop of a hat -- are known to scream, "You're not affirming my inherent worth and dignity!!" when you dare reject anything about them, or their opinions.

I have a curious nature and I enjoy talking to, and knowing, people who possess a wide variety of spiritual philosophies (The one quality that makes me insanely frustrated is what I call "liberal fundamentalism," which is practiced by those who claim to be open-minded, intellectual, rational and tolerant, but who froth at the mouth when other human beings reach conclusions about the nature of ultimate reality that they themselves just can't fathom).

But I digress.

I have generally tried to understand, rather than to vilify, the Christian Right. Maybe not so much on PeaceBang, where I bring on the sass with impunity, but certainly in my own pulpit. I am not much into blanket condemnation, even if I did once refer to George Bush and his anti-choice cronies as "fetus worshipers."

After reading this article in Harper's magazine this weekend, though (it's from the May issue but I just got around to it), I think it's time to pound the pulpit and make it really clear to my folks that it's really okay to be intolerant of this; that it's such a disgrace and a despicable way to build religious community:

Wedding Nonsense

This is the kind of thing that leads me to say that when and if I ever do marry, it will be in the simplest possible ceremony right out of a Universalist prayer book:


Regular gas shot up to $3.25 a gallon for regular. I drove by and saw the listing and almost swerved into a tree.

I felt a sense of real alarm; a kind of doom. I don't know why gas prices should feel to me like such a symbol for what's wrong with this country. But I thought, "My country has gone to hell. My God. There it is." This is not reasonable. It is visceral. If you want reasonable, read Fausto's very brainy and helpful economist's response to why it won't do any good to boycott Mobil and Exxon in the comments section of my previous post on the issue.

Fausto smart. PeaceBang scared.

I have been reading the prophets lately and feeling very, very frightened. If they're right (and I believe in their righteousness -- I'm thinking particularly of Amos right now), America the Beautiful has a lot of wrath of God coming due. Call it what you will: karma, cause-and-effect, wrath of God. It's coming, if it isn't already upon us.

I wonder: do George Bush and his ilk ever read the entire writings of the prophets or do they just content themselves with the sections that speak of the evil-doers OUT there? Why do they conveniently ignore the fact that the prophets have much more fire and brimstone and condemnation to heap upon the evil-doers within the supposedly righteous community?

In case you're wondering, I'm not equating Katrina with the wrath of God. But the images from down South don't contribute to my sense of "God's in heaven, all's right with the world." The looting, the monstrous death toll, the fact that global warming contributes to all of these scenarios (right?).

To spin this crazy emotional posting into a rational place, anyone want to comment on that latter hypothesis, or steer us to a link that will prove me right or wrong?

P.S. I don't really believe that God's in his/her heaven and all's right with the world at the best of times. That's not my theology. Whatever God is, It's not limited to Heaven (whatever that is -- I'm fuzzy on it; MUCH clearer on the geographical tradition of Hell). And I'm too much of a melancholic existentialist type to ever think of this vale of soul-making as being "all right."
But you knew what I was saying anyway, didn't you?