Sunday, January 30, 2005
An Occasion for Repentance
Jacoby writes, "Are Americans OK with using religious humiliation as tools of war?"
My short answer: Not this American - - even when my own religious and ethical convictions lead me to disagree with the spiritual legitimacy of certain Islamic taboos (e.g. homosexuality, menstrual blood). No. Never.
Jacoby continues, with an obvious sense of personal pain,
"As regular readers know, I write as a war hawk...[and] who has better reason to be outraged by this scandal than those of us who support the war? More than anyone, it is the war hawks who should be infuriated by it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so."
Americans of every stripe and kind should regard with horror the ongoing revelations that torture is routinely used to "break" prisoners and detainees associated with the War on Terror and the conflict in Iraq. However, what Jacoby did not say -- and someone should -- is that Christians have special cause to grieve and to repent this particularly sadistic branding of Christian triumphalism onto the very bodies and souls of Muslim captives.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Fear of Flying
I did have one tiny panic attack on the flight from Atlanta to Boston, for which I promptly took one tiny Ativan. I call it "Atta Girl."
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Peacebang In Savannah
Monday, January 24, 2005
Spiritual But Not Religious
It doesn't shock me, it doesn't offend me, it's not a unique, interesting identity, it's a cliche. If it's meant to be a conversation-starter, I can't see how. Perhaps, "So tell me about the religion of Self you've concocted from bits and pieces of your rejected religious upbringing, your reading, your intermittent attendance in houses of worship and your acquaintance with pop psychology? I'm just dying to know!"
I am committed to church life. I believe in salvation through church/synagogue/sangha/etc.
I know that the label "S.B.N.R." may be an expression of painful disenchantment or abuse by organized (or disorganized) religion, but a lot of the time, it's just not. I meet people all the time with truly unconventional spiritual lives, paths and interests who never feel the need to use this particularly jejune label; let's retire it! What is meant to sound so brave and unique about "S.B.N.R." functions instead for me as shorthand for, "I, a consummate member of the consumer culture, have not found a religious product that suits my needs, a religious community and tradition that maintains my comfort level, and a worship tradition that suits my schedule. Therefore, I choose not to partake. And that makes me a rugged individualist, and therefore superior to the rest of you kneeling and hymn-singing drones." The latter point is often implied by that kind of "I've thrown my gauntlet down" tone that makes me want to crawl under the table with my blankie and take a nap.
So what I know about that Mr. or Ms. SBNR is this: Instead of being willing to form their character and forge their spirit within the itchy, difficult, often uncomfortable crucible of covenanted community, that SBNR guy or gal sits on the sidelines, judging and critiquing the liturgies and theologies and personalities of the actively religious, staying away because details of community life irritate them, reading and filling his/her head with exactly what suits their current world view, surrounding themselves with exactly those people who agree with them on most important issues (a favor which extends to reinforcing their self-image), and -- worst of all -- thinking of themselves as counter-cultural! Hence my weariness. Counter cultural? Yes, our current administration is crazy bad religious. Yes, 80%+ Americans say they believe in God. So what? Belief in God doesn't make someone religious. Being bound by the claims of a religious tradition and a religious community makes someone religious -- committing to a regular, transforming, shared spiritual experience and encounter-- ESPECIALLY WITH THOSE YOU WOULDN'T PICK TO BE YOUR PALS -- that's the heart of religion, whose root word means "to bind together."
Maybe the Spiritual But Not Religious person is bound in mutual accountability and spiritual growth through some means other than the church or synagogue or mosque or ashram or sangha or the theatre or the Cause or the 12-Step Program, etc. I sincerely hope so. But if he isn't, taking smug pride in claiming to be S.B.N.R is just sad to me; sad and floppy and a source of woefully misguided self-satisfaction.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
The Hippo Lies Down With the Tortoise
You're stuck inside anyway, you may as well read this little BBC story about the orphaned baby hippo, Owen, and his new pal Mzee ("Old Man" in Swahili). There's a video that you really have to see. It gently purveys the timeless message of peace," I bite you on the head because I love you!" Wildlife people are all confused because reptiles and mammals don't usually get to be such good friends. But they're very happy and c'mon, admit it, you are too. While you're on the page you might also want to read about the lioness who adopted some baby gazelle-type guys.
"And a little mammal shall lead them..."
Our Charming Little Blizzard
Assuming we'd lose power today, I got in the shower immediately. A girl doesn't want to have to air dry her hair, after all. The house is clean, I've got dishes in the dishwasher and keeping my fingers crossed we don't lose power mid-cycle, and all the faucets are dripping hot water to avoid freezing pipes. The cat and I marvel at the scene, and even though the driveway has been plowed three times in the night, ain't no way I could have gotten around the corner to church this morning. The drifts in front of my door are chest level. My cute snow shoveling guy, Dan, stopped by last night to check on me. As he left he said the thing that warms the heart of every secretly whimpy lone homedweller: "Call me if you get scared." Everyone in town likes to take care of the single gal minister,who they think of as all spiritchal and stuff, and not much good at practical knowledge, and they're so right! Last night I had to call my neighbor Larry to ask if my fire was getting too big. Above all, I do NOT WANT TO BURN DOWN THIS HOUSE.
I am listening to this wonderful Frenchy jazzy gal named Madeleine Peyreux, courtesy of H & R who burned me a copy of the CD last weekend. Back in the days when we could leave our houses. I am even more grateful today to my mad compadres S and M, who spirited me off to the North End on Friday night. It was just what the Winter Doctor ordered, before the claustrophia-inducing blankets of white stuff.
If you have any deities of whom you are particularly fond, please appeal to them to get me on my flight to Savannah, GA tonight. Or even tomorrow morning would be okay. Thank you.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
My distant cousin Norman escaped the Nazis when he was a teenager and eventually wound up in England. When I met him in the 1980's, he was every bit the old English gentleman, finally married in his elder years to the wife of his best friend: he had quietly loved her and proposed after her husband -- his best friend -- died. She is delightful. "Norman doesn't talk about the war," she told me in her brisk way. He was very proper, very reserved, very Anglicized (including his name -- our name). But I noticed that several times during the course of my stay, Norman carefully queried me on the number of cousins and second cousins who are living in the States, and how many children those cousins had. "Yes," he'd say, "And how many children did Marvin's children have?" While I counted out the children and spoke their names again and again, he'd crane his head forward and take in the information like a hungry man takes in a meal. The more children, the better satisfied he was.
I don't know if he is still alive. Maybe it's enough that he knows we are still alive.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Gol, Mr. Summers, Math Makes My Head Hurt!
Speaking of girlish weakness, Harvard President Larry Summers made a real doofus of himself at an M.I.T. gathering today by insinuating that women are inherently inferior at math and science. It's, like, biological or something. Fat-headed big shot Larr, he's so cool and famous he doesn't even have to acknowledge the myriad social causes for womens' historical inability to compete in the sciences. It must be something in the lipstick supply, passed down through the womb of our math-moronic mommies. Of course there were all kinds of dumb, easily intimidated chicks at the M.I.T. conference -- 'cause that's where dumb broads hang out -- and they're going to let him get away with saying that. Sure they are.
The last time I saw Larry Summers live and on-stage (at an academic hootenany) he displayed a combination of arrogance and social ineptitude that was actually tremendously entertaining.
Monday, January 17, 2005
bombie prince harry
But I was misinformed. According the the Britain Sun (a tabloid, I know, but they're THERE and we're HERE), the theme of the party was "Colonial and Native."
Let's just say that I'm reserving my judgment: I'm not spitting between my index and middle fingers at the mention of Harry's name yet, but it could happen any day now. If you have reliable sources that can confirm the party's theme, I'd like to know.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Ya Gotta Love The Golden Globes
My boyfriend, Kevin Spacey, had a handsome date with lots of silver hair: they looked coy and yummy together. Oh, Kevin, darling, be HAPPY. Be OUT.
Glimmeringly botoxed, siliconed beauty Teri Hatcher provided the surprise touching moment of the night, emphasizing in her teary acceptance speech that she was until quite recently a "total has-been." The creator of her show, "Desperate Housewives," (which I've never seen) thanked his Mom, who apparently supported him financially during recent lean years of unemployment and who gave him the idea for the show. "That's good parenting," he said. It was all very sweet and just the antidote to this oppressively gray weather we've been having lately.
The Hollywood Foreign Press gets a lot of grief for not being as highbrow as the ACADEMY, but I'll tell ya, they put on a hell of a party, and they throw a lot of dough at humanitarian causes, so good on 'em. I'm just so glad I skipped the shrieking harpies, Melissa and Joan Rivers, during the obligatory, pre-show red carpet stuff (you could not GET me to miss the red carpet!). The comic Kathy Griffin was much funnier. She asked all the arriving celebs, "Who are you wearing?" and no matter what they answered, she'd say, "Me, too!" It never got old.
I must dab at my eyes with a fresh hankie when I think of the comfortable, gorgeous fleshiness strutted by Meryl Street and Anjelica Huston, who always look as though they spent the afternoon in bed with their husbands, eating pasta, drinking wine and swyving, and are holding back peals of laughter at themselves and their youth-and-skinniness obsessed industry. KISSES, ladies. You could not be more outlaw and you make me swoon.
Your Hollywood Correspondent, Peacebang
Friday, January 14, 2005
Please Pray For This Man
Peacebang Celebrates Natal Day
Aging is fun when you're approaching 40, and I'm enjoying it a lot. I hated being a child, I had fun teenaged years, emotionally devastating early 20's, then climbed my way into my own manic, overstimulated version of deep contentment in my 30's. Life is intense and therefore constantly engaging, and I don't expect it to carry on for decades and decades and decades. Aging is not fun when it turns into an exhausting round of doctors and worries, financial burdens and loss of independence. So while I'm socking away money for retirement I'm also a card-carrying member of the organization End-of-Life Choices, formerly known as the Hemlock Society. I wish they had kept the old name. It had so much more gravitas and philosophical resonance. Also it always makes me chuckle, because I'm that one girl you know who is far more comfortable keeping vigil in the death chamber than in the room where someone's giving birth. THAT freaks me out.
I don't think Americans have any idea how prohibitively expensive it is to live a really long life in this country. By the way, you might want to check out what the darling Mr. Bush has in mind for your social security benefits:
But meanwhile, l'chaim. To life!
Thursday, January 13, 2005
"This is my voice mail to the world
that never text-messaged me..."
(Apologies to Emily Dickinson)
I have been walking around with very big eyes and a very furrowed brow all morning. What other messages have I missed? Where is this limbo or purgatory my messages have been lost in all this time? Did I unintentionally do some penance to release them?
I am thinking of having an existential crisis about it but I'll have to schedule it for later in the day.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
There's Always the Dancing Brown Jesus!
Hey fellas, do you really think that anyone really views God as a bearded white man sitting in the clouds? Maybe it's just me, but that seems to be a really lazy cliche that isn't exactly contributing to our understanding of orthodoxy in this nation.
I'm afraid, actually, that a lot of people see God as "Buddy Jesus," with long Breck-girl hair, great teeth and a perfect complexion and a kind of self-esteem guru bounciness. On second thought, I'll take the crotchety old guy on the cloud.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
This guy is almost as cute as the golden retriever puppies my dog Pippin had when I was eleven. They looked like corn dogs when they were first born, and I once warmed up a plate and put a puppy on the plate, garnished with a sprig of parsley. It was either my sister or my brother who giggled over it with me for hours. It looked just like a little chicken cordon bleu, only with paws. If my friend Sari is reading this she is exploding with cuteness right now. Thanks to Rebecca for sending it in one of those Extreme Cuteness e-mails.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Les Deux Magot
Sunday, January 09, 2005
And Then She Ran For Her Life
The audience of student artists and actors ("Hi, um, my name is Elaine and I'll never work because I'm an unattractive wanna-be with delusions of talent, but I was wondering, what was it like to work with Marty Scorcese?") is watching with that particularly rapt, maenad-like hysteria they always have, as though only sheer willpower is keeping them from rushing at Diaz and tearing her body apart with their bare hands,stuffing any little bit of her famous, gorgeous, blonde essence they can get into their mouths.
Cameron Diaz' upper lip is so charmingly lopsided and thin, I deeply fear that she will inject herself with collagen and become one of those Meg Ryan duck-faced Hollywood freaks.
Her favorite word? "Unity."
Her least-favorite word? "Hate."
That is so deep, but I still hated "Shrek."
Pardon me, but have the Protestant churches been doing anything but addressing issues of homosexuality ad nauseum and ad infinitum?
The gay community took a real bashing after the elections, becoming the whipping boys and girls for an insanely disappointed and disillusioned Democratic party. After I got through banging my head slowly and repeatedly against a brick wall, I thought the opposite thing: where were the Protestant churches during the campaign, and the last two years of Bush's first term, for that matter? How come our churches let our gay brothers and sisters put themselves out there without our unequivocal support and prophetic righteousness to equal the hateful self-righteousness of the conservatives? And I don't mean a few courageous commentators or inveterate writers of letters to the editors, but churches -- whole churches. Millions of Christians, loud and proud. When are the liberal denominations finally going to settle this hash and end the eternal assemblies and conferences? Does God have that much patience?
Enough people have spoken of the need for a new "religious left," and I have nothing to add to the conversation. But about gay rights, this: Before we cross off all the red states and the people in 'em as despicable homophobes, might we consider the subtle, and hopeful, difference between the true homophobe and the heterosexist?
True homophobia is probably incurable: it requires such repression,such projection, such disgust and hatred as to be a true pathology, and beyond the reach of casual intervention. My guess, however, is that the majority of those who refuse to support gay rights are heterosexist, and can be reformed. Heterosexism is more about privilege than repulsion -- it has provided an easy bandwagon for lazy, comfortable heteros to jump on without being challenged, and hets have jumped... by the millions. The antidote to heterosexism is most often achieved when comfy, smug, privileged heterosexists become aware of -- and accomodate, in the spiritual realm, the social realm and the realm of justice -- the fact that lots of people they actually know, love, respect and need in their lives are queer.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Aniston and Pitt Splitt?
Friday, January 07, 2005
My Striped Nurse
Thanks for your concern, Peacebangers. I'm feeling better today, although still weak, thinking that asthma was a complicating factor in my little adventure. Like, breathing toxic fumes on an empty stomach in an overly-warm, tiny, enclosed nail salon for an hour that day prolly didn't do me any good. But hey, my NAILS LOOK GREAT. My hands will be just lovely as I'm writing out all those checks to the hospital and ambulance company.
My cat plastered herself against me all night, which is quite different from her usual Miss Independence routine (she has her own little blue toile bed at the foot of my bed and sleeps there, thank you very much). I would open my eyes and see this adorable striped face with big concerned green eyes staring at me. When she saw that I was awake she'd bust into purring and lick me. I am starting to get very Egyptian in my concept of God: I'm pretty sure today that the Great Cosmic One is a Cat.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
My Near-Death Potato Ricer
I actually was very calm and cool about the possibility of dying, I just felt an atrocious wave of grief what it would do to my loved ones. I had the physical sensation of a gargoyle squatting on my chest most of the night, filing its nails and chewing gum. And I thought more than once, "What if this is my last thought? What if this was last image I saw before I died?" And then I'd respond to myself, "Well, that would be fine. Stop obsessing. Everyone has to have SOME last thought or image... don't expect yours to be all profound or something, Miss Saint Therese of Lisieux." I kept seeing patterns, lots of patterns and textures, as though the cosmos were a big potato ricer squishing out patterns and colors. Nothing like that has ever filled my head before.
Today I just feel like the Samsonite luggage must have felt after the gorilla got done with it.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Because You Need To
Because the Word was made flesh and dwelt in the 'hood.
And you know how right that is, people.
Emergency Contraception Non-Story
EC-supporting gals and the men who love them: fling your old Pill packs and foil condom wrappers at health reporter Janet Wu (or her producer) at WHDH-TV: http://www1.whdh.com/newsteam/
and tell her what you think of WHDH for leaving those viewers who didn't stick around to see the story with the impression that EC is the drug of choice for scads of Bad Girls around Boston. And while you're at it, visit the good folks of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and make a donation in Ms. Wu's name, or Peacebang's!
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
20 Facts About American Voters
The doubter in me wants someone tell me how it's all wrong; the crazy ravings of a paranoiac. Anybody? Anybody?
I woke up this morning to the news of the assassination of the governor of Baghdad. Way to GO with that bringing democracy to Iraq! Whenever I see Bush or Rumsfeld I just see blood dripping off of their sneering faces. And yet they both continue to walk around free men -- collecting paychecks, no less.
Jerry Orbach and "Right Hand" Diamonds
I forgot to mourn the passing of Jerry Orbach, best remembered for some police show ("Law and Order" I think) but cherished by Broadway babies for his creation of such characters as El Gallo in "The Fantasticks," Paul in "Carnival" and Billy Flynn in "Chicago." Jerry O. was so cool, and he looked like a real guy on stage; like some ordinary joe you'd meet on the street. He was so adept, so comfortable and so masculine without being overtly macho. His wasn't a voice you'd pick for its great technique or anything -- he just sang the songs straightforward, without any show-bizzy tricks. Of all the parts he brought to life, his role in "Carnival" is probably least well-known, as that show isn't often done by regional theatres, and I'd like to know why not. Get the CD and cry as you hear his rendition of "Her Face." Then switch real fast to his balls-to-the-walls version of "Lullabye of Broadway" as Julian Marsh in the 1980's revival of "42nd Street" and you'll be a convert. I promise. God bless you, Mr. Orbach. Thanks for the memories.
Meanwhile, I am admiring a really pretty $15 bit of bling on my left hand that I got at Filene's yesterday. There's been a campaign by the diamond sellers recently to encourage spinsters to purchase "right hand" diamonds for ourselves, to tell the world we're our own best friend or some such nonsense. Sister spinstresses,I recommend that you stick with the $15 version, wear it on whatever damned hand you like, and bank that extra few thousand in an interest-bearing account. You'll need the dough when you're old and getting ready to die alone.
Speaking of which, I've buried dozens of people and I haven't yet met anyone who didn't end up in that box alone, even if they had a devoted spouse.
And so far, I haven't seen any diamond rings go into the casket. You truly can't take it with you, but it's also true that old age is expensive, girls. Look out for #1 and let DeBeers rot in hell without a penny of your hard-earned cash.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Those of us in the religion biz often wonder if our preaching and praying and ritualizing does any good at all, especially in the face of such dreadful occurrences. But right now I realize: some people deliver medicine, some put bodies in make-shift coffins, some release birds from cages. We all have our jobs, and they all have their beauty and necessity.
Pray without ceasing.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
"I Don't Know"
Happy new year! Anyway!