Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Photo of the Day

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Spring's Snowy Start
Farewell Winter
Out and About – Winter 2017-2018

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Spring Blizzard of 2018

It's being called a blizzard and a winter storm of "historic" proportions. I'm opting to acknowledge the season we're actually in (as hard as it may be to believe) and calling it the spring blizzard of 2018. . . . And, yes, it's still very much happening right now in the Twin Cities and across southern Minnesota.

I was out in it for a while this afternoon, giving a ride home to my friend Deandre and then stopping by to visit my friend Kathleen in the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis, where the photos accompanying this post where taken. (That's Kathleen's son, Joey, cleaning off his car before going to work.) I'm home safe now . . . where I intend to hunker down until Monday morning.

Following is what the Star Tribune's Miguel Otárola says about today's blizzard:

An April blizzard so potent that forecasters dubbed it “historic” slammed into southern Minnesota Saturday, dumping heavy snow and whipping it around on high winds.

“This is shaping up to be a historic storm,” the National Weather Service in Chanhassen said Saturday morning as it expanded its blizzard warning eastward into the entire metro area — an extremely rare warning for the urban area.

Snow emergencies were declared in St. Paul and many metro-area suburbs, prompting parking restrictions.

Most roads in the southwestern part of the state were closed, and travel was extremely difficult to impossible in other areas, including the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport halted all flights until at least 7 p.m. “due to a lack of visibility and the fast rate of snowfall,” it said in a tweet.

Snowfall was expected to intensify through Saturday and continue well into Sunday, likely setting records for April amounts, the Weather Service said. Visibility will continue to deteriorate.

– Miguel Otárola
Excerpted from "'Historic' Blizzard Hits Twin Cities"
Star Tribune
April 14, 2018

Related Off-site Links:
Blizzard Conditions Pummel Southern Minnesota and the Twin CitiesMinnesota Public Radio News (April 14, 2018).
Major Snow Totals Still on Track as the Brunt of the Storm Moves In – Joe Nelson (Bring Me the News, April 13, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Spring's Snowy Start
Farewell Winter
A New Day
In Minneapolis, A Snowy February Friday
A Snowy Spring Day
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
Dreaming of Spring

Quote of the Day

Today, the discourse of fascists and ‘anti-imperialist leftists’ is virtually indistinguishable. . . . This ‘anti-imperialism’ is one which equates imperialism with the actions of the US alone. . . . This pro-fascist left seems blind to any form of imperialism that is non-western in origin.

. . . There are many valid reasons for opposing external military intervention in Syria, whether it be by the US, Russia, Iran or Turkey. None of these states are acting in the interests of the Syrian people, democracy or human rights. They act solely in their own interests. The US, UK and French intervention today is less about protecting Syrians from mass-atrocity and more about enforcing an international norm that chemical weapons use is unacceptable, lest one day they be used on westerners themselves. More foreign bombs will not bring about peace and stability. There’s little appetite to force Assad from power which would contribute to ending the worst of the atrocities. Yet in opposing foreign intervention, one needs to come up with an alternative to protect Syrians from slaughter. It’s morally objectionable, to say the least, to expect Syrians to just shut up and die to protect the higher principle of ‘anti-imperialism’. Many alternatives to foreign military intervention have been proposed by Syrians time and again and have been ignored. And so the question remains, when diplomatic options have failed, when a genocidal regime is protected from censure by powerful international backers, when no progress is made in stopping daily bombing, ending starvation sieges or releasing prisoners who are being tortured on an industrial scale, what can be done?

I no longer have an answer. I’ve consistently opposed all foreign military intervention in Syria, supported Syrian-led processes to rid their country of a tyrant and international processes grounded in efforts to protect civilians and human rights and ensure accountability for all actors responsible for war-crimes. A negotiated settlement is the only way to end this war – and still seems as distant as ever.

– Leila al-Shami
Excerpted from "The ‘Anti-Imperialism’ of Idiots"
Leila's Blog
April 14, 2018

Related Off-site Links:
U.S. Launches Attacks on Syria – Mark Katov and Greg Myre (NPR News, April 13).
In "Clear Violation of Domestic and International Law," Trump Bombs Syria – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, April 13, 2018).
American Air Strikes in Syria Do Nothing to Further Justice for the Victims of the Attack on Douma – Phyllis Bennis (The Nation, April 13, 2018).
Pro-Assad Official Says Targeted Bases Were Evacuated on Russian Warning – Reuters (April 13, 2018).
We Are a War-Making People – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, April 13, 2018).

UPDATES: Despite Trump's Bluster, It's Unclear What Syria Strikes Accomplished – Peter Beaumont and Andrew Roth (The Guardian, April 15, 2018).
The Search for Truth in the Rubble of Douma – and One Doctor’s Doubts Over the Chemical Attack – Robert Fisk (The Independent, April 17, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The War Racket
Saying "No" to Endless U.S. Wars
Rallying in Solidarity with the Refugees of Syria and the World
Making the Connections
Quote of the Day – May 28, 2017
Quote of the Day – September 7, 2015

Friday, April 13, 2018

Celebrating Al Green, Soul Legend

Today is soul music legend Al Green's 72nd birthday, and to mark the occasion here at The Wild Reed I share a video of Green performing one of his most famous songs, "Love and Happiness," live on Soul Train in the early 1970s.

But first, here's a brief excerpt from an insightful 2008 piece by Matt Rogers about Al Green . . .

Like one of his idols, Sam Cooke, [Al Green] fits into the crowded pantheon of gospel and pop singers who have been tormented by the tug-of-war between church and club. It’s no secret the pulpit has informed and shaped popular music, let alone soul music, from the get-go – there is a list of singers perhaps as thick as the Bible itself who’ve crossed the pew lines and brought that sacred fire and phrasing to the land of milk and honey(s).

. . . It’s a fool’s game, certainly, but draw up your list of the greatest male pop singers, and though some may be as good – Sam, Jackie, Smokey, Marvin, Curtis – none were better than Al Green. Particularly at helping you and that special someone slip into something just a little bit more comfortable. Armed with a quiver of slinky, sensual songs that praised love, beauty and happiness, and delivered with an unmatched tenor and charisma, unmoored and siphoned from the church, Green created music that got under your skin, while your skin got under the sheets.

And here's a little of what Wikipedia says about Al Green:

Albert Leornes Greene (born April 13, 1946), often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an African American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Take Me to the River," "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still in Love with You," "Love and Happiness", and his signature song, "Let's Stay Together."

Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum's site as being "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music." He has also been referred to as "The Last of the Great Soul Singers." Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 65.

Related Off-site Links:
Al Green: One of the Refiners of American Soul Music – Farida Dawkins (Face 2 Face Africa, April 13, 2018).
Seven of Al Green's Greatest SongsSmooth Radio (April 10, 2018).
Al Green Strives for Perfection – Matt Rogers (Wax Poetics, 2008).
The Gospel According to Albert Green – Atomic Cafe (August 4, 2011).
Al Green's Journey to Glory: "What I Learned . . ."BlackDoctor.org (April 13, 2018).

Previous featured artists at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Out and About – Winter 2017-2018

Well, the spring equinox may have been and gone but we're still experiencing wintry weather here in Minnesota. In fact, winter storm is forecast for this weekend, with the Hennepin County Emergency Management issuing a warning that "all precipitation types are likely . . . including heavy rain, freezing rain, snow, and strong winds." In response, the hospital where I work has issued a statement that includes the following: "Predictions vary, but the worst case scenario includes a foot of snow, ice accumulations, widespread tree damage, and power outages." (4/14/18 Update: The Spring Blizzard of 2018.)

Given all of this, I don't feel that bad for the time it's taken me to look back on the winter that looks and feels as though it's very much still with us.

But first, regular readers will be familiar with my "Out and About" series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the world. I've continued the series in one form or another for the last 10 years – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 . . . and now into 2018.

So let's get started with this latest installment . . .

My year-long chaplain residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital (ANW) in Minneapolis continues. In fact, I'm a little over halfway through – which I find hard to believe. Where does the time go?

In the photo above I'm pictured with my fellow resident chaplains Hae, Chandler and Katie. We're in the Bigelow Chapel of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities at a Transforming Chaplaincy forum on January 10, 2018.

Right: Getting into the holiday spirit with Hae and chaplain intern Simeon – November 29, 2017.

To find out what exactly we're doing to create some holiday cheer, click here.

Above: My desk in the Spiritual Care department of Abbott Northwestern Hospital. If you look closely you'll see a piece of bark from the Prayer Tree, a photo of my family from last August (the last time I was in Australia), a photo of myself with singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and drummer Michel Lee Bruyere (from August 2016), my Adsum Award from the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, and a framed print of "The Compassionate Christ" by John Giuliani.

. . . And, yes, I have a new statue of Cernunnos (right)! For a picture of the first one, and a reflection I wrote last year about this Celtic deity, click here.

Above: The wonderful group of chaplain interns we had at ANW from the beginning of September until mid December. From left: Simeon, Verna, Parker, Angela, and Yvette.

Above: The new group of chaplain interns that started at ANW in mid January 2018. From left: Dave, Phillipos, Sheila, Suzie, Dong, Mark, and PJ.

Above: The Rev. Denise Dunbar-Perkins, who retired in December 2017 after many years as a chaplain at ANW.

Left and below: The December 19 farewell party for Denise, hosted by the Spiritual Care department.

Above: Katie, Hae, Denise, and Verna – December 7, 2018.

For more about my journey in interfaith chaplaincy work, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
Getting Into the Holiday Spirit

Above and below: Two of a number of gatherings I hosted this past winter to celebrate both the Winter Solstice and Christmastide.

For more pics and commentary, click here and here.

Above: My boyfriend Brent in a winter wonderland! . . . Actually, we were at Rosedale Center. We were there to see the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi.

Above: My housemate Tim and his girlfriend Colleen by Minnehaha Creek, close to where we live in south Minneapolis – December 9, 2017.

Above: My dear friend Noelle with her granddaughter Amelia – December 23, 2017.

Right: Brent and Amelia – December 23, 2017.

Above: My dear friend Joan and her fiancee Matt – December 24, 2018. You may recall that Joan accompanied me on a visit back to Australia in 2015.

Above: My friend Kathleen – January 20, 2018.

Above: On Saturday, January 20, 2018 I hosted my fifth (somewhat) annual tea party at my home in south Minneapolis. At this event were my dear friends Ken and Carol Masters and a number of the wise and inspiring women who are members of (or closely connected to) the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province. I'm a consociate member of this Catholic order, and two dear CSJs, Marguerite Corcoran and Rita McDonald, served as my companions during my two-year consociate candidacy (2006-2007).

For more images and commentary on this event, click here.

Above: My friend Omar – January 27, 2018.

Above: My friend Simeon – March 13, 2018.

Above: My friend Deandre – March 16, 2018.

Above: With my friend Brian at Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall. I was Brian's guest for the Minnesota Orchestra's February 9 concert, a definitely highlight of which was the orchestra's performance of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, Opus 48 (concert version of 1900).

For my reflections on what I call Fauré's "ChristoPagan" requiem, click here.

Above: Hey, it's Black Panther himself!

On the evening of Thursday, February 15, Brent and I went to see Black Panther at the West End in St. Louis Park. . . . And who should have reserved seats right beside us but our friends George and John (left)!

The young boy pictured above was just one of a number of movie-goers dressed up as either characters in the film or in traditional African attire. It was great to see how happy and excited everyone was about seeing a movie which, in many ways, is about envisioning a world were all are recognized, represented, and valued. Without doubt, Black Panther plays a big role in ushering in such a world.

For more on Black Panther at The Wild Reed, see:
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, my boyfriend Brent hosted an Oscars Night Party.

Above (from left): John, Brent, George, Jim, and Omar.

Right: With my frien Kathleen.

Above: My friends John and George – March 4, 2018.

Above: Winter scenes – Minneapolis, MN, 2017-2018.

Winter 2017-2018 Wild Reed posts of note:
Our Quiet Time
Vessels of the Holy
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Medicine Songs
No Room for Them
Christmas 2017 – Reflections and Celebrations
If God Is Love . . .
Let Us Be "Energized by the Beauty All Around Us": Jane Goodall's New Year Message
Hope in the Midst of Collapse
Waking Up
Global Condemnation for Trump's Latest Ignorant and Racist Comments
Three Winter Gatherings
Nakhane Touré's "Tortured Journey to Clarity"
Winter of Content
Blessing the Dust
Gabriel Fauré's "ChristoPagan" Requiem
The Important Cultural Moment That Is Black Panther
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
In Minneapolis, a Snowy February Friday
In the Wake of Yet Another School Shooting, Signs of the Times
A New Day
Remembering Dusty
In the Garden of Spirituality – Marianne Williamson
Celebrating Black Panther – Then and Now
A Day to Celebrate the Survival of the Old Ways
Farewell Winter

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Autumn 2017
Out and About – Summer 2017
Out and About – Spring 2017
Out and About – Winter 2016-2017

Images: Michael J. Bayly.