Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Renegade Returns

The BBC series Poldark returned to U.S. television screens earlier this evening with PBS premiering the show's second season as part of its Masterpiece series. If you missed it and would like to see it, you can catch it this week when it's repeated on various regional PBS stations. For instance, here in Minnesota, TPT is re-broadcasting the premiere on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. For the complete schedule, click here.

About the show's protagonist, series writer Debbie Horsfield says:

Ross Poldark is one of literature's great heroes: a gentleman who is also a rebel, who has a keen sense of morality and social justice but without any priggishness or moralizing. He's also a great romantic figure – caught between two women from two completely different backgrounds. A gentleman who marries his kitchen maid. A man who doesn't stand on ceremony, who doesn't play by the rules and often falls foul of authority.

The series is based on Winston Graham's acclaimed set of historical novels set in Cornwall at the turn of the nineteenth century, and given Horsfield's (accurate) description of Graham's main character, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that Graham originally intended to title the first novel of his series The Renegade before settling instead on Ross Poldark. That first novel introduces the young Captain Ross Poldark as a battle-scarred veteran of the American War who, upon returning in 1783 to his derelict family estate on the windswept coast of Cornwall, discovers his widowed father dead and Elizabeth, the woman he loves, engaged to his cousin Francis. Bitterly disappointed and close to financial ruin, Ross nevertheless vows to make the most of what he has.

The first season of Poldark covered the events of the first two books in Graham's 12-book series, and saw Ross begin to rebuild his family estate by embarking on the risky venture of opening the family's long-derelict copper mine. He also rescues a street urchin whom he takes on as his kitchen maid and eventually marries, much to the shock of members of his social class.

Above and below: Aidan Turner as Ross and Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza. According to writer and executive producer Debbie Horsefield, author Winston Graham set out to tell the story of a "good marriage, not a perfect marriage. . . . What I love about Ross and Demelza is that they're real people."

About the second season of the show USA Today notes the following.

The challenges come quickly in Season 2, as Ross Poldark [Aidan Turner] stands trial for spearheading the looting of a merchant ship that wrecked in the waters just off his property, well aware of the fact that it was owned by his arch-enemy George Warleggan, an insecure, new-money banker played by Jack Farthing. “They want to do a lot of damage to each other, both to their reputations around town and physically,” Turner explains. “It’s quite a gruesome thing, actually. George actually wishes Ross dead.”

Another major point of contention between Ross and George is Elizabeth [Heida Reed, the girl who broke Ross’ heart and is the object of George’s unrequited affection. Despite being one of the richest men in town, he’s still looked down upon as new money. With her old family name, Elizabeth could be the key that finally unlocks Cornish society to him.

“She’s revered in society and very beautiful,” Turner says of Elizabeth. “She can offer him children. It seems like a natural progression for George.”

As for Ross, Turner says, “I don’t even know if he understands how he feels about her. First and foremost, she’s a friend. He leans on her for support, and vice versa. Sometimes, Ross confuses those feelings ... I don’t know that he can ever really get over her. I suppose that’s a question that will be worked out by the characters in this season.”

I've made no secret on this blog of my great admiration for Graham's Poldark novels. This admiration dates back to when I read them as a teenager. I've revisited them over the years and they've undoubtedly had a marked impact on how I've come to understand many important aspects of life and love (as I explain here, here and here).

The BBC adapted the first seven novels into a highly successful television series in the mid-1970s. At the time, that's how many Poldark novels Winston Graham had written, starting in 1945. He would go on to write five more before his death in 2003. That's twelve novels over a period of 57 years. Quite an achievement, especially given the consistently high quality of his writing.

The new BBC adaptation premiered last this year to overwhelmingly positive reviews in the U.K., Australia and elsewhere. The Telegraph's Allison Pearson even went so far as to declare Poldark "one of those rare occasions when a popular drama series delivers something that properly belongs to art."

It's been said that this new adaptation will eventually cover all twelve Poldark novels. If this indeed happens then it will be quite the feat, as the novels cover a period of almost 40 years (1783-1820) and a number of major historical events, including the development of the steam engine and the Battle of Waterloo.

Anyway, I'll share my thoughts on season two of Poldark at a later date. For now, here's excerpts from some reviews by actual TV critics.

What really keeps this series afloat is the relationship between Ross and Demelza: there is a genuinely moving connection between Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson. The moment when she pushed him away as he saddled up to ride to Bodmin was sublime. They are a great, believable partnership whose connection moves Poldark well beyond shonky, forgettable Sunday night costume drama and into the realms of classic TV.

Equally watchable is the dynamic between the two semi-tragic couples at the heart of this story. We like Francis, Elizabeth, Ross and Demelza and we know they’re all good people. The links between them are complicated. We sympathise with their shifting allegiances and the things that must be left unsaid.

. . . [There can] be only one major supporting star skulking terrifyingly in the wings. The pewter tankard goes to Caroline Blakiston, the exceptionally badass 83-year-old actor playing Aunt Agatha [right], who is always sitting in the corner looking like the angel of death, turning over tarot cards. The scowling countenance! The hooded eyes! The guillotine-style chopping of the fig! “That new contraption they have in France ...” And her dismissal of Evil George was priceless: “Pasty-faced ... Consequence of sitting too long indoors fingering coins.” Never has anyone relished the word “fingering” so knowingly. Aunt Agatha, we salute you.

[Poldark] needs – and hugely benefits from – the near-pantomime- villainy of George Warleggan [left]. Actor Jack Farthing has truly become telly's greatest bad guy of the moment, with a demeanour that'll have you screaming for Ross to pam him.

With every fresh word that springs forth from his venomous tongue (also translated to print, as he distributes libellious piece of 'literature' round the county to defame Ross), George becomes more and more evil personified.

Farthing, though, keeps the character just on the right side of believable – you can still see how much he secretly admires Ross and wants to be him. Any time the two men face off – and there's two such encounters here – it's absolute gold.

. . . Matching the beauty of the cast, as always, is the exquisite and moving score and utterly gorgeous costume design and location shooting. Sumptuous in the extreme.

It's not all perfect. Debbie Horsfield's script is a little too on the nose at times, with heavy exposition dumps to remind us of the events of the first series, and how the various character dynamics play out. But we'll forgive that, this being the opening of a new batch of episodes.

To say Poldark is totally my kind of show is an understatement. If I were to think of a series that checked all the boxes that would make it so something I’d love, the PBS Masterpiece drama Poldark is definitely one of those rarities. It has:

• Brooding, handsome and progressive hero in Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark

• Lush and sweeping cinematography

• An unexpected yet swoon-worthy romance with Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza

• Strong, but distinct female leads as seen with the tenacious Demelza, Heida Reed’s Elizabeth and Ruby Bentall’s Verity

• Enough drama to make you leave each episode wondering if you just watched a feature-length film instead

For its first season, Poldark flew mostly under my radar, but during a boring lull in my Labor Day weekend a few weeks ago, I gave it a try, and well, kind of fell in love with the characters and their stories. Much like other PBS Masterpiece series, the structure of these British made period pieces are quite distinctive. Each episode of Poldark, only an hour-long, packs a lot of story in and moves through time at a breakneck pace, which is nicely juxtaposed by the filmmaking of the show. We get these long, sometimes languid, always beautiful, takes that bookend tense and quick dialogue-ridden standoffs between characters – as evident in tonight’s two-hour premiere.

Related Off-site Links:
Sweeping Saga Poldark Returns to PBS – Jayme Deerwester (USA Today, September 23, 2016).
PBS’ Poldark is Back: Flawed Hero, Satisfied Star – Lynn Elber (Associated Press via The Seattle Times, September 22, 2016).
Poldark's Controversial Rape Scene Has Been Scrapped – with the Blessing of Author's Son – Nicola Methven (Mirror, August 23, 2016).
Poldark’ Season 2: Aidan Turner on Ross’s Dark Side & His Changing Relationship with Demelza – Christina Radish (Collider, September 25, 2016).
How to Follow in Poldark's Footsteps in Cornwall, from the Cliffs to the Moors – Nicola Trup (The Independent, September 2, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Meanwhile in Cornwall
Thoughts on the PBS Premiere of Poldark
Poldark: Unfurling in Perfect Form
Poldark Rides Again
Ross Poldark: Renegade of Principle
"A Token of Wildness and Intractability"
Return of the (Cornish) Native

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Australian Sojourn – May 2016

Part 10: Townsville

Continuing with my series documenting my May visit to Australia, I share this evening a few images of my visit to the Queensland city of Townsville (above) to see my good friends Jeremiah and Kristy (pictured with me at right) and their two beautiful children. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

Kristy once described me to someone as Jeremiah's "childhood, boyhood, manhood friend." I think that sums it up pretty well!

I've known Jeremiah since my teaching days in Goulburn, New South Wales, where his dad was the principal of Sts. Peter and Paul Primary School. I taught at Sts. Peter and Paul's for six years before moving to the U.S. in 1994. I was Jeremiah's 4th grade teacher in 1989, and his sister Tess's 5th grade teacher in 1992. In was in Tess's memory that another of her brothers, Raphael, cycled over 1900 kilometers in 2014 to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research and prevention. (For more about Raph's inspiring achievement, click here, here, and here.)

I've stayed good friends with all the members of the family ever since our time together in Goulburn, and I always try to catch up with as many of them as possible whenever I visit Australia from the U.S. I last saw Jeremiah and Kristy in 2012, when they were living for a time in Sydney. I last saw them in Townsville in 2006 (see here, here and here), not that long after they first moved there.

I flew to Townsville from Port Macquarie via Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland.

At left is a view of the central business district (CBD) of Brisbane that I snapped as we were coming in to land. This was the morning of Thursday, May 26, 2016.

Above: With Magnetic Island behind me.

Above: Jeremiah, showing us all how it's done!

Above: A view from the plane window as I flew back south. It was kinda a pain returning to Port Macquarie as I had to fly to Brisbane than overshoot Port to Sydney, where I then caught a third flight back up north to Port. Yes, it was a long day. But thankfully there were beautiful views like the one above to enjoy!

NEXT: Last Days in Australia

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Leichhardt (2012)
Photo of the Day – May 13, 2012
A Bushland Wedding (2011)
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast (2010)
Newtown (2008)
Return to Ellenborough Falls (2008)
North Brother Mountain (2008)
Travelin' North (2006)
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 1 – Maroubra
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 2 – Morpeth
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 3 – Melbourne
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 4 – Hanging Rock
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 5 – Albury
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 6 – Goulburn
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 7 – Exeter
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 8 – Port Macquarie
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 9 – Gunnedah

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bde Maka Ska Sunset

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Bde Maka Ska Skies
A Record High
Pelican Lake
Gull Lake
Photo of the Day – November 28, 2015
Photo of the Day – April 17, 2014
Photo of the Day – July 17, 2011
Photo of the Day – December 19, 2010

Related Off-site Links:
How to Say Lake Calhoun's Dakota Name: "Bde Maka Ska" – Britta Green (Minnesota Public Radio News, December 4, 2015).
Lakes Panel Urges Restoring Bde Maka Ska Name for Lake Calhoun – Steve Brandt (Star Tribune, March 25, 2016).
Names Matter: The Story of Bde Maka Ska – Kirsten Delegard (Historyapolis, December 9, 2015).

Image: Bde Maka Ska ("White Earth" or "White Bank" Lake), also known as Lake Calhoun. (Photo: Michael J. Bayly)

Welcome to America . . .

Related Off-site Links:
If You’re Mad About Colin Kaepernick's Kneeling Protest Against Racial Injustice and Silent About Cops Killing Black Lives, Do Better – Lilly Workneh (The Huffington Post, September 21, 2016).
Why Aren't the People Who Criticized Kaepernick Speaking Out About Terence Crutcher? – Robert Littal (Black Sports Online, September 19, 2016).
White America, It’s Time to Take a Knee – John Pavlovitz (, September 20, 2016).
Here’s How Many Black People Have Been Killed by Police Since Colin Kaepernick Began Protesting – Travis Waldron and Julia Craven (The Huffington Post, September 20, 2016).
Colin Kaepernick on Death Threats: Killing Me Would Only Prove My Point – Ryan Grenoble (The Huffington Post, September 20, 2016).
Students Are Pulling a Kaepernick All Over America – and Being Threatened for It – Zaid Jilani and Naomi LaChance (The Intercept, September 23, 2016).
Aren’t More White People Than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No – Wesley Lowery (The Washington Post, July 11, 2016).
Police Killings of Blacks: Here is What the Data Say – Sendhil Mullainathan (The New York Times, October 16, 2015).
U.S. Seems Intent on Pushing Black People Past Breaking Point – Shaun King (New York Daily News, September 20, 2016).
Historian Chronicles How White Rage Erupts Whenever Blacks Seek Equality – James E. Kenyon (Page One Post, August 9, 2016).
When Black Death Goes Viral, It Can Trigger PTSD-like Trauma – Kenya Downs (PBS NewsHour, September 20, 2016).
Here Are 8 Policies That Can Prevent Police Killings – Alice Speri (The Intercept, September 21, 2016).

UPDATES: Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Will Face Manslaughter Charge in Unarmed Man's Death – Bill Chappell (NPR News, September 22, 2016).
After Viewing, Family of Keith Lamont Scott Call for Videos to Be Released to Public – David Badash (The New Civil Rights Movement, September 22, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – September 21, 2016
"This Doesn't Happen to White People"
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
Remembering Julian Bond, 1940-2015
Can the Klan!

Image: Drew Sheneman.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nienstedt, Redux

Back in February 2008 writer Tim Gihring interviewed myself and a number of other St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholics for a feature article he was writing for The Minnesota Monthly. Published in April of that year, Gihring's piece focused on "the talk of the archdiocese," namely the implications of the appointment of John Nienstedt (left) as archbishop, and how such an appointment reflected the state of the wider church.

Fast forward eight years: We have a new archbishop, Bernard Hebda, appointed in response to last summer's resignation of Nienstedt in the wake of allegations of clergy sex abuse cover-ups by the chancery and, as Gihring writes in an article published last month by MinnPost, "a seemingly unrelated set of accusations: the bumbling attempts of Archbishop John Nienstedt . . . to have sex with men."

A few weeks before the publication of his latest piece on Nienstedt, Gihring contacted me and asked if I'd share my thoughts on the following questions: "Does it matter that Nienstedt may be gay? Does his hypocrisy make his repression of others in the church that much more heartbreaking? Or is it simply prurient?"

I responded by noting how a few months before Nienstedt's resignation, I shared on The Wild Reed my thoughts on the investigation into his alleged inappropriate sexual conduct with men. I also said that my thinking on this matter, along with the possibility of Nienstedt being gay, has not changed since then. Gihring checked out the post I mentioned (Has Archbishop Nienstedt's "Shadow" Finally Caught Up With Him?) and responded, "Very insightful and compassionate, Michael, as always."

Nienstedt has been the subject of numerous posts here at The Wild Reed, owing to the fact that he lead the charge of two efforts in Minnesota to amend the state constitution to prohibit civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. Both efforts failed (as I document here, here and here).

As the executive coordinator of both the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) and its 2010-2012 initiative Catholics for Marriage Equality MN (C4ME-MN), I was often compelled (and called upon by the media) to respond to and thus counter and challenge Nienstedt's words and actions around the issues of sexuality and marriage equality. (See, for instance, here, here, here, here, here and here). I also organized a number of actions and events that brought Catholics of the archdiocese together to speak out against and offer an alternative Catholic perspective to Nienstedt's anti-gay rhetoric and activism. (See, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Quite frankly, I'm done with discussing and responding to John Nienstedt and his ilk. All the more reason, then, that I appreciate Tim Gihring's piece published last month by MinnPost. Not only does this piece provide an update on the issues surrounding Nienstedt, it also offers a helpful historical overview of Nienstedt's anti-marriage equality efforts and the opposition such efforts encountered by Catholic groups such as CPCSM and C4ME-MN. Finally, Gihring's piece offers something rarely seen in mainstream media: a humanizing, albeit tragic portrait of a churchmen in denial of his sexuality, a denial which as Gihring documents, has led to much damage and scandal.

New Ways Ministry's executive director Francis DeBernardo, a leading figure on the national LGBT Catholic scene, argues that Gihring's contention that Nienstedt made a deal with Vatican officials that if he covered up sexual abuse cases, they would cover up his homosexual liaisons, is a "case . . . built totally on speculation." Nevertheless, DeBernardo acknowledges that Gihring's portrayal of Nienstedt may well describe "a gay man who did not learn to accept himself, and whose lack of self-esteem provided him no opportunity than to act out sexually in unhealthy ways, and to project his own self-hatred onto others."

Following, with added links, is Gihring's article in its entirety.


Does It Matter Whether
Archbishop John Nienstedt is Gay?

By Chris Gihring

August 19, 2016

When allegations of a sex-abuse coverup began to leak out of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis a couple years ago, they were always accompanied by another, seemingly unrelated set of accusations: the bumbling attempts of Archbishop John Nienstedt, then the leader of the archdiocese, to have sex with men.

“The archbishop has been known to go ‘cruising’ (and I am not referring to the type of cruising one does on a ship in the Caribbean) and, on one occasion, purchased ‘poppers’ (and not the exploding candy preferred by elementary school students) and followed another gentleman to his car for, well, the type of activity that men purchase ‘poppers’ for…,” wrote Jennifer Haselberger, the whistleblower whose allegations prompted Nienstedt’s resignation last summer. On her website, Haselberger helpfully links to Wikipedia’s entry on poppers: basically disco-era sex drugs.

In late July, more stories of Nienstedt’s “promiscuous gay lifestyle,” as a fellow priest put it, were released by prosecutors. Most relate to his time in Detroit, where he moved up the clerical ladder in the late 1970s and ’80s. He’s said to have frequented a gay bar just across the border in Canada, whimsically called the Happy Tap.

But even if the allegations are true, it doesn't mean that Nienstedt is sympathetic to sexual abuse — a link between homosexuality and priestly pederasty is as unproven as it is enduring. Nor does it mark Nienstedt as unusual. Catholic researchers estimate that as many as 58 percent of priests are homosexuals. To confirm that he desired men would be like discovering that the pope is Catholic.

But Nienstedt is not just any priest, of course. He staked his tenure in Minnesota fighting marriage equality — and using church money to do so. No other archbishop in the country has gone so far as to condemn the families and friends of gays and lesbians for abetting “a grave evil.”

Nienstedt, who now lives in California, writing and editing for a Catholic institute, has publicly denied that he is gay. He recently declared, as no straight guy ever has: “I am a heterosexual man who has been celibate my entire life.”

For gay Catholics, if Nienstedt does share their desires, the deceit would be heartbreaking, “a sickening level of hypocrisy,” as one described it. It may also help explain why Nienstedt not only neglected the sins of priests, but covered them up, a pattern of denial that would be hard to fathom if it were not so deeply personal.

A different era

When gay Catholics in the Twin Cities first came together, in the late 1970s, they asked to meet with then-Archbishop John Roach. They were looking for compassion and understanding, if not acceptance — and to a remarkable degree they got it.

With Roach’s blessing, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) — an independent group of local Catholics based in St. Paul — introduced a sort of sensitivity training in parishes and in nine of the 11 local Catholic high schools. It was intended to help priests, teachers, and administrators better serve gays and lesbians, and it lasted for nearly 20 years.

“During the peak of our work,” [David McCaffrey] one of the group’s co-founders told me several years ago, “we became almost mainstream.” In 1989, the archdiocese awarded its Archbishop John Ireland Award to another CPCSM co-founder [Bill Kummer] for his social-justice activism on behalf of gays and lesbians.

The efforts paid off: “If it was okay to bash someone in the past, it isn’t now,” reported [Sister Mary Ellen Gevelinger] the director of Catholic Education and Formation Ministries in 1998. “We’re trying to teach kids what’s right.” When conservative activists objected that same year, the archdiocese defended the Safe Schools initiative.

Michael Bayly, a gay Catholic who until last year headed up the CPCSM, began compiling this history in 2009, shortly after Nienstedt became archbishop. He worried at the time that “there are some who would like to downplay or even deny such a relationship.”

But the church’s openness wasn’t limited to the Twin Cities. Bayly recalls that in 1994, when he moved to Minnesota, a bishop [Thomas Gumbleton] from Detroit came to talk with gay and lesbian Catholics on how — to quote the advertisement for the dialogue — a “wholeness in sexual expression” can be “deeply human and truly spiritual.”

In fact, Detroit was known as one of the most open-minded districts of the church. And as Nienstedt was starting out there, he was imbued with its liberal spirit.

Promoted and protected

In 1977, as the era of disco and poppers was in full swing, Nienstedt was 30, a newly minted priest in Detroit, and he became the secretary to Cardinal John Dearden, characterized by The New York Times as a “leading liberal voice in the Church.” Nienstedt himself described his mentor’s views to The Times as aligned “with the mind of the Church.”

But something changed after Dearden’s retirement in 1980, when Nienstedt went to work and study in the Vatican, which was shifting toward the neo-conservatism of the new Pope John Paul II. As a leading critic of Nienstedt has noted, the ambitious young priest saw first-hand “the changes John Paul II sought in the church and the kind of bishops whom he wanted.” When he returned to Detroit in 1985, Nienstedt’s new boss was a favorite of the pope, and, sure enough, in time Nienstedt adopted his views.

For pushing back on gays in the church, among other issues, Nienstedt would be promoted and promoted and promoted again. He would also be protected: Among the revelations in the documents unsealed last month is that the Vatican envoy to the United States quashed an investigation into Nienstedt’s homosexual activity and ordered evidence destroyed.

The evidence that exists, in the form of corroborated witness accounts, suggests that Nienstedt spent his time in Minnesota, from 2001 to 2015, living a precarious double life: indulging his homosexual tendencies, even as he railed against them.

Haselberger, who worked closely with Nienstedt in the archdiocese office as an adviser on church law, believes his proclivities help explain why he coddled abusive priests — he may have been attracted to them. And the so-called Delegate for Safe Environment, a priest overseeing child-abuse prevention in the archdiocese, came to the same conclusion about Nienstedt two years ago: being gay “affected his judgment.”

But Nienstedt’s silence protected far more priests than he could have known or been attracted to — dozens across Minnesota. And aside from suspicions of a relationship with one of the most notorious, Curtis Wehmeyer, his intervention — or lack of it — appears less about personal favor and more about institutional preservation. He saw sin, and looked the other way.

Instead, the deal that Nienstedt long ago made for the benefit of his career — to follow the church into conservatism — now seems a kind of ecclesiastical quid pro quo: if he covered for the sins of the church, the church would cover for his. The internal investigation of him, reportedly quashed by the Vatican, had been his idea — he was that confident that his name would be cleared.

But the deal may also have been a trap. By closing the door to homosexuality, marking its expression as the work of Satan and the most aberrant of sins, Nienstedt had nowhere to go with his own desires. He left himself no way out.

At the end, as multiple investigations closed in, Nienstedt still stuck to the pattern, claiming both that he was unaware of abusers under his watch and that any accusations of homosexuality were merely retaliation for his anti-gay policies. He had no choice but to double down on denial.

– Chris Gihring
August 19, 2016

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Gay Men in the Vatican Are Giving the Rest of Us a Bad Name
Archbishop Nienstedt's "Learning Curve": A Suggested Trajectory (2007)
Thoughts on Archbishop Nienstedt (2008)
Progressive Perspectives on Archbishop Nienstedt's Anti-Gay Activism (2011)
Has Archbishop Nienstedt's "Shadow" Finally Caught Up With Him? (2014)
No Resignation for Nienstedt ... But Perhaps an Upcoming "Reassignment"? (2014)
CCCR Responds to Archbishop Nienstedt's Resignation (2015)
And What of the Investigation into Archbishop Nienstedt's Alleged "Sexual Improprieties"? (2015)
Gay Men in the Vatican Are Giving the Rest of Us a Bad Name
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 1)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 2)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 3)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 4)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 5)
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (Part 6)
How Times Have Changed
For the Record
CPCSM’s Year in Review – 2006 (includes an announcement of the January 29 death of CPCSM co-founder Bill Kummer.)
Sad News (The Wild Reed's July 10, 2011 announcement of David McCaffrey's death.)
On the First Anniversary of Marriage Equality in Minnesota, a Celebratory Look Back at the Important Role Played by Catholics
Saying Farewell to CPCSM

Related Off-site Links:
How Important is It to Know If an Archbishop is Gay? – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, August 27, 2016).
A Timeline of Former Archbishop John Neinstedt’s Anti-LGBT Activism – Andy Birkey (, June 16, 2015).
Jennifer Haselberger Was Ignored, Bullied Before Blowing Whistle on Archdiocese, Records Show – Jesse Marx (City Pages, July 15, 2014).
Betrayed by Silence: How Three Archbishops Hid the Truth – Madeleine Baran (Minnesota Public Radio News, July 14, 2014).

Photo of the Day

Related Off-site Links:
Four Things to Know About the 2016 Autumn Equinox – Ada Carr (, September 20, 2016).
Autumnal EquinoxThe Leveret (September 22, 2009).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
O Sacred Season of Autumn
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quote of the Day

It is definitely disturbing that bishops are echoing the pope’s negative language [of “gender theory” and “ideological colonization” when discussing the issues of gender and marriage equality]. More disturbing, though, is the fact that the pope’s and these bishops’ words reveal an immense lack of information on gender and transgender people. For instance, [a recent] Crux article quotes Pope Francis as saying “gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion,” and that this view of gender is one reason why “the family is under attack.”

If the pope and bishops would listen to LGBT people’s experience, they could understand that what they claim is “theory” and “ideology” is actually a very human and holy phenomenon. They would also realize that LGBT advocates are not attacking anything, but just trying to help people live whole and full lives. Far from attacking the family, the experience of families with LGBT members shows that acceptance of these realities can promote family harmony, unity, and strength. LGBT people are not enemies of the church, but faithful members who can help it grow. Since LGBT people’s experiences are lived realities, it seems that the only people promoting “theory” and “ideology” in these discussions are the those who insist that gender binaries are set in stone.

Francis DeBernardo
Excerpted from "Pope Francis’ Negative Rhetoric
Begins to Be Echoed Around the Globe
Bondings 2.0
September 21, 2016

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – August 25, 2015
Quote of the Day – June 12, 2015
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Putting a Human Face on the 'T' of 'GLBT'
Shannon Kearns' Transgender Day of Remembrance Message: "We Are Beloved Children of the Universe"
Living Lives of Principle
We Three . . . Queens
Signs and Wonders Continue
Standing with Jennicet Gutiérrez, the "Mother of Our Newest Stonewall Movement"
North America: Perhaps Once the "Queerest Continent on the Planet"

Related Off-site Links:
Pope’s Lament About Children and Gender Identity Reveals Serious Blind Spot – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, August 3, 2016).
What is Gender? OR Why the Term is Both Meaningless and Indispensable – Anna Magdalena (The Catholic Transgender, August 16, 2015).
Transgender and Catholic – Nick Stevens (The New York Times via The Progressive Catholic Voice, May 24, 2015).
Beyond Male and Female: Gender Trouble, Biology Trouble – Terry Weldon (Queering the Church, September 25, 2011).
Sub Secretum – Jacqueline White (The Progressive Catholic Voice, January 19, 2009).
Who Decides What Makes a Woman? – Brynn Tannehill (The Huffington Post, June 11, 2015).
Clinging to a Dangerous Past: Dr Paul McHugh’s Selective Reading of Transgender Medical Literature – Mari Brighe (The TransAdvocate, June 15, 2014).

Image: Kristen Solberg

Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
Rev. Traci Blackmon Among President Obama’s Appointees to His Faith-based CouncilThe St. Louis American (January 29, 2016).
Protests Erupt Over Police Killings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott in Tulsa and CharlotteDemocracy Now! (September 21, 2016).
Footage in Oklahoma Police Shooting Prompts Nationwide Outrage – Emma Niles (TruthDig, September 20, 2016).
Dash Cam Video Shows Unarmed Black Man With Hands in Air Before Tulsa Police Shoot Him Dead – David Edwards (The Raw Story, September 19, 2016).
Terence Crutcher Wasn't a "Bad Dude" – Just a Black Man in America – Michael W. Twitty (The Guardian, September 21, 2016).
"Bad Dudes" Have Rights: Challenging Problematic Police Narratives – Derecka Purnell (The Huffington Post, September 21, 2016).
Police in North Carolina Fatally Shoot Black Man Witnesses Say Was Disabled and Unarmed – Kim Bellware and Willa Frej (The Huffington Post, September 20, 2016).
Keith Lamont Scott Shooting: Charlotte Police Say He Was Holding a Gun When ShotCBS News (September 21, 2016).
Charlotte and Tulsa Shootings: What Police Say vs. the Families – Mary Bowerman and Melanie Eversley (USA Today, September 21, 2016).
13-Year-Old Tyre King "More Likely Than Not" Running from Columbus Police When Fatally Shot – Ryan Felton (The Guardian, September 19, 2016).
Aren’t More White People Than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No – Wesley Lowery (The Washington Post, July 11, 2016).
Police Killings of Blacks: Here is What the Data Say – Sendhil Mullainathan (The New York Times, October 16, 2015).
Massachusetts Court Rules Black Men May Have Good Reason to Flee Police – Hilary Hanson (The Huffington Post, September 21, 2016).
Michael Ealy: "The Good Cops Have to Speak Up" – Brennan Williams (The Huffington Post, September 21, 2016).
When Black Death Goes Viral, It Can Trigger PTSD-like Trauma – Kenya Downs (PBS NewsHour, September 20, 2016).
Historian Chronicles How White Rage Erupts Whenever Blacks Seek Equality – James E. Kenyon (Page One Post, August 9, 2016).
The Counted: People Killed by the Police in the U.S.The Guardian (Interactive).
Here Are 8 Policies That Can Prevent Police Killings – Alice Speri (The Intercept, September 21, 2016).

UPDATES: Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Will Face Manslaughter Charge in Unarmed Man's Death – Bill Chappell (NPR News, September 22, 2016).
After Viewing, Family of Keith Lamont Scott Call for Videos to Be Released to Public – David Badash (The New Civil Rights Movement, September 22, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"This Doesn't Happen to White People"
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
Remembering Julian Bond, 1940-2015
Can the Klan!

Image 1: Photographer unknown.
Image 2: Michael J. Bayly.
Image 3: A protester stands in front of a line of militarized police officers in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, September 20, 2016. Protests erupted in Charlotte after the police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. (Photo: Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Australian Sojourn – May 2016

Part 9: Gunnedah

Continuing with my series of posts on my May visit to Australia, I share this evening a few images of my visit with my parents to our hometown of Gunnedah. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

My parents have lived in Port Macquarie since 2002, and the drive from this town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales inland to the rural town of Gunnedah takes about four-and-a-half hours.

In traveling across the mountains from the coast to the New England Tablelands the towns and villages one passes through are Wauchope, Walcha, Bendemeer, and Moonbi, and the city of Tamworth.

Above right and left: My parents, Gordon and Margaret Bayly, and I at Gingers Creek, a rest stop and "bush resort" in the mountains between Wauchope and Walcha.

For many years logging was a dominant activity in the area around Wauchope and Walcha. The town of Wauchope, for instance, is the location of Timbertown, a popular heritage theme park inspired by the logging industry that formed the basis for the town's early economy and prosperity. Logging still goes on, though with a twist and some controversy. Beyond timber, Walcha is known as the "Pasture Wonderland" as the dominant industry in the area is livestock grazing, mainly Merino sheep but also stud and beef cattle.

Above: The town of Walcha, located in an area originally occupied by the Dunghutti Aborigines prior to European settlement. In 1818, John Oxley became the first white person to discover the area and the nearby falls which were later to be named Apsley Falls.

The Dunghutti people tell the story of how the Rainbow Serpent created the gorge at Apsley Falls in the Dreamtime. If one walks to one of the viewing platforms and may well see a rainbow in the mist of the falling water. The Rainbow Serpent is said to travel underground from the base of the falls to reappear at the mill hole near Walcha on the Apsley River, 20 kilometres (12 miles) upstream. The site is marked in Walcha by a mosaic made with the ideas and help of the local Dhungutti community.

Above: The post office of the rural city of Tamworth, Australia's "Country Music Capital." The city annually hosts the Tamworth Country Music Festival in late January; the second biggest country music festival in the world. Tamworth is also recognized as the "National Equine Capital of Australia" because of the high number of equine events held in the city and the construction of the world class Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre, the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Gunnedah is located in the Namoi River valley of north-western New South Wales and serves as the major service centre for the farming area known as the Liverpool Plains (above).

The town and its surrounding area were originally inhabited by indigenous Australians who spoke the Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) language. The area now occupied by the town was settled by Europeans in 1833. Through my maternal grandmother’s family, the Millerds, my family can trace its connection to Gunnedah back to the town’s earliest days. For more about the town’s history and my family’s connection to it, see the previous Wild Reed posts, My “Bone Country” and Journey to Gunnedah.

Left: The dove that belonged to my maternal grandmother, Olive Sparkes (1906-1997). I'm thinking this dove must be at least 20 years old. Since Nanna Sparkes' death, the dove has been in the care of my Aunt Ruth, whom I stayed with when I was in Gunnedah. I'm glad this dove is still with us, as hearing it's beautiful and peaceful cooing in the morning is a lovely reminder of Nanna.

Right: A faded snap shot of my maternal grandparents Olive and Valentine Sparkes.

My grandfather, Valentine Sparkes (1890-1971), was a survivor of the First World War. He moved to Gunnedah in the 1930s from down south in Victoria. He married the widow Olive Louis (nee Millerd) and together they made a home in Little Conadilly Street in Gunnedah . Here they raised Olive's two children, Eric and Fay, from her first marriage, and had four children of their own: Margaret (my Mum), Catherine (who died in infancy), Michael, and Ruth.

Valentine was a writer and one of the last short stories he wrote was about the kinship that developed between me as a young child and one of his fowls – a white rooster. You can read this story here.

Above: Looking across the western edge of Gunnedah towards the Kelvin Hills, which I hiked in my youth – and most recently in 2000.

Above and below: Two views from Gunnedah's Porcupine Lookout of the Breeza Plains.

As I note elsewhere at The Wild Reed, part of the 2006 film Superman Returns was filmed on the plains near the village of Breeza, 25 miles south of Gunnedah.

Above and below: Some of the beautiful eucalyptus trees on Porcupine Hill that caught my eye! These photos were taken in the late afternoon of Tuesday, May 25, 2016.

Above and below: Later that evening my parents and I enjoyed dinner with relatives and friends at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club. This establishment has special significance for our family as my paternal grandmother, Belle Smith (1919-2005), worked here for many years as the Catering Manager. At that time it was known as the Gunnedah Servicemen's Club.

Pictured with me above are Jillian, Jo, and Noah.

Above: Mum (at left) with (from left) longtime family friend Gwen, mum's younger sister Ruth, and sister-in-law Valda.

I'm sorry to say that dear Aunty Val passed away quite unexpectedly just a few weeks after this photo was taken. She is missed by many, especially her beloved husband Michael, daughter Alicia, and three grandchildren. I had already returned to the U.S. when Val died and so was unable to attend her funeral in Gunnedah, My parents did, however, and, by all accounts, it was a very well-attended and loving tribute to a woman greatly respected and loved by her family and the community.

Above: Happy times with Aunty Val and Mum – May 25, 2016.

Above: Val's husband (and my uncle) Michael with longtime family friend John Sills.

Above: Family friends Gary, Peter, and John.

Right: My childhood friend Dianne and her partner.

Left: With another dear childhood (and neighborhood) friend, Louise.

Above: Dad with longtime family friends Gwen (right) and Wendy (one of Gwen's and her late husband Ray's three daughters).

Right: Gwen and Aunty Ruth catch up on the latest!

Left: Ruth's son (and my cousin) Greg with (from left) Sally, John, and Noah.

Above: When I heard that young Noah was especially looking forward to seeing me, I made sure to call into a bookstore as we passed through Tamworth earlier that day on our way to Gunnedah. Here I bought him a copy of the wonderful novel by Michael Ende, The Neverending Story. It's definitely one of my all-time favorite books. And I hope it becomes that for Noah too!

Above: Family friends (from left) Heather, Delores, and Wendy.

Right: My childhood friend (and next-door-neighbor) Jillian and her husband David.

NEXT: Townsville

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn, March 2015: Part 12 – Gunnedah
A Visit to Gunnedah (2014)
Journey to Gunnedah (2011)
This Corner of the Earth (2010)
An Afternoon at the Gunnedah Convent of Mercy (2010)
My "Bone Country" (2009)
The White Rooster
Remembering Nanna Smith
One of These Boys is Not Like the Others
Gunnedah (Part 1)
Gunnedah (Part 2)
Gunnedah (Part 3)
Gunnedah (Part 4)
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 1 – Maroubra
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 2 – Morpeth
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 3 – Melbourne
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 4 – Hanging Rock
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 5 – Albury
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 6 – Goulburn
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 7 – Exeter
Australian Sojourn, May 2016: Part 8 – Port Macquarie

Images: Michael J. Bayly.