Sunday, July 31, 2011

Out and About – July 2011

July was dominated by the death of my friend and colleague David McCaffrey (pictured at right in February 2011). David, co-founder of the organization I work for, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), passed away July 9 after a very short illness. His funeral Mass was held July 15 at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in St. Paul.

For more about David's life and legacy, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sad News
"I Have Never Felt Closer to Anyone in My Entire Life Than to David"
God Is In the Roses . . .






Above: Standing across from the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis – Friday, July 8, 2011.

David died late Saturday night, July 9. Up until that morning he was all set to join members of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN for the second night of distributing "I Support Marriage Equality" stickers to attendees of the Basilica Block Party. When I called him at around 11:00 a.m. to make plans to travel together to the Basilica later that day, I was shocked to hear him say that he was in the Emergency Room. He was clearly in a lot of pain. I told him he was in my thoughts and prayers, and told myself that since he was at the hospital he would be okay. I wasn't to know it, but that conversation over the phone was to be the last time I would talk to him. In the early hours of Sunday, July 10, I was awakened by a phone call from David's partner of 14 years, Michael. He was understandable distraught as he shared with me the news that David had passed away and asked if I would come and be with him at the hospital.

Looking back, I am so grateful that David and I spoke the night before he died. The Basilica Block Party is a two-day event and Catholics for Marriage Equality MN had been distributing stickers to attendees on Friday evening. Late that night, David phoned to tell me that he had seen Fox News' coverage of our presence at the Basilica, and to congratulate me on the "great job" I did when interviewed by the Fox News reporter. I'll always remember and treasure that affirmation, and I'm so grateful that David got to see such a positive and well-received Catholic action in support of marriage equality at the Basilica.



Above: Basilica Block Party-goers happy to display their "I support marriage equality" stickers.

For more images and commentary, see here.



Above: David's funeral Mass on Friday, July 15 exemplified the very best of our Catholic tradition. The totality of David's life was acknowledged and honored; his husband Michael delivered a beautiful eulogy; and the parish community welcomed all.

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





I can't say how much I appreciated the company and support of friends this month – including my good friends Brian, Rick, Bob & John, Liana & Curtis, John, and Greg (pictured at right) . . .








. . . and my dear friend Kathleen (left), who joined me and other friends on the evening of Tuesday, July 26, for a "poetry party." Much beauty and wisdom was shared that night!








Right: With my good friend Phil – Sunday, July 31, 2011.








Above: Phil with his mum, Noelle – another dear friend.


Quote of the Day

. . . What was shared at this [Catholic same-sex] wedding transcended sexual orientation and truly elevated our common humanity. This historic and deeply personal event fostered genuine community by allowing us to find happiness in someone else's joy and to be present to one another through ritual and celebration.

For me, one of the ironies of the Catholic opposition to same-sex relationships is the appeal to natural law, specifically the notion that same-sex relationships violate nature because they are not capable of procreation.

Interpreting natural law in this way reduces human beings to their biological functions. It fails to appreciate human beings in their totality as emotional, spiritual and physical beings that God created us to be.

Seeing these two women still so completely in love after two decades together, one cannot deny how naturally they complement one another on every level. The only unnatural possibility would have been for them to not be together.

Though they are unable to procreate, one could hardly deny the fruitfulness of their relationship and personal and spiritual fulfillment they brought one another.

Their dedication to the church has brought a remarkable spectrum of gifts to the members of their faith community with whom they have worshiped for 20 years. The strength of their commitment to one another and to their faith are a lifeline for new generations of young Catholics who see this couple as an embodiment of the truth that one can be both in a same-sex relationship and a faithful Catholic.

It may take centuries before the Roman Catholic hierarchy recognizes that this marriage, and countless ones like it, is a holy union because of the love, faithfulness and mutual respect they shared. Lucky for those of us gathered in the park on that balmy, blessed, late afternoon, the presence of God is not subject to the limited, fallible men who make church law.


– Jamie L Manson
"Witnessing a Catholic Same-Sex Wedding"
National Catholic Reporter
July 27, 2011



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A "Fruit" Reflects Upon the Meaning of "Fruitfulness"
The Standard of Sexual Ethics: Human Flourishing, Not Openness to Procreation
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality
Relationship: The Crucial Factor in Sexual Morality
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Making Love, Giving Life
Getting It Right


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quote of the Day

. . . Yet amongst all [the] horror [of Anders Breivik's murderous rampage], the Norwegian response was truly a thing of wonder. Hundreds of thousands came to Oslo in the days following the attacks in a national showing of solidarity and love. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg took to national airwaves, declared that “we will take care of each other . . . we will mourn our dead. Tomorrow we shall prove that the Norwegian democracy will be even stronger” and boldly vowed that “no one shall bomb us to silence, no one shall shoot us to silence, no one shall scare us out of being Norway.”

. . . In the end, Breivik’s ultimate legacy will not be that of his twisted goals, but that of a nation that refuted his violence and hatred in a way that will set an example for the rest of the world to follow.

– Mark Kogan
"Norwegian Response to Tragedy Sets Right Example for World"
PolicyMic.com
July 28, 2011



Related Off-site Link:
On Not freaking Out with Fear: An Un-American Response to the Oslo Attack
– Glenn Greenwald (CommonDreams.org, July 28, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Quote of the Day – July 25, 2011


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's Your Favorite?



Here are 8 images from a collection of pictures that together have been called "the most hilariously effective signs supporting gay marriage." I'll let you be the judge of the accuracy of that claim!













Okay, my favorite is Number 3 – in large part because the guy in it is just so darn cute!


Speaking of marriage equality, did you know that the authors of a recently released polling memo see a "dramatic" shift toward same-sex marriage? Here's what Ben Smith of Politico.com says about this news.

The new memo, based on public polling, makes the case that support for same-sex marriage has "accelerated dramatically in the last two years" and that the future almost surely belongs to supporters of same-sex marriage.

The pollsters conclude that the issue is changing fast: "It is clear that the public is in the process of rethinking its position on the issue, with all political groups — Democrats, Independents as well as Republicans — and all age groups more likely to support marriage for same-sex couples," they write.

They also note a factor that has been increasingly clear to observers of state legislative fights on the subject: Momentum and public interest appear to be shifting in the direction of supporters of same-sex marriage.

"The intensity of opinion is changing at a rapid pace. As of today, supporters of marriage for gay couples feel as strongly about the issue as opponents do, something that was not the case in the recent past," they write.

And they make the case for a kind of demographic inevitability that's at the core of the argument gay rights activists have been making with increasing conviction to political leaders.

"Support strongly correlates with age" [note the memo's authors Republican Jan van Lohuizen and Democrat Joel Benenson]. "As Americans currently under the age of 40 make up a greater percentage of the electorate, their views will come to dominate."




"Coming Home"

Writes Andrew Sullivan in the current issue of Newsweek:

You can have as many debates about gay marriage as you want, and over the last 22 years of campaigning for it, I’ve had my share. You can debate theology, and the divide between church and state, the issue of procreation, the red herring of polygamy, and on and on. But what it all really comes down to is the primary institution of love. The small percentage of people who are gay or lesbian were born, as all humans are, with the capacity to love and the need to be loved. These things, above everything, are what make life worth living.

And unlike every other minority, almost all of us grew up among and part of the majority, in families where the highest form of that love was between our parents in marriage. To feel you will never know that, never feel that, is to experience a deep psychic wound that takes years to recover from. It is to become psychologically homeless.

Which is why, I think, the concept of “coming out” is not quite right. It should really be called “coming home.”


– Andrew Sullivan
"Why Gay Marriage is Good for Straight America"
Newsweek
July 18, 2011


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Same People
Love is Love
Quote of the Day – June 29, 2011
Quote of the Day – June 23, 2011
Quote of the Day – May 5, 2011
Quote of the Day – April 21, 2011
Quote of the Day – April 16, 2011
Steve Chapman: "Time is On the Side of Gay Marriage"
Dr. Erik Steele and the "Naked Truth on Same-Sex Marriage"
Dale Carpenter on the "Win-Win" Reality of Gay Marriage
A Christian Case for Same-Sex Marriage
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
A Cradle Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Fervently Catholic, Proudly Gay, and Happily Married


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How We Can Help the People in the Horn of Africa

.

One aid official is calling it "the world's worst humanitarian crisis": More than 12 million people are at risk of starvation in drought-stricken Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The situation is aggravated by military conflicts, climate change and other factors.

Writes Kazi Stastna of CBS News:

The current food crisis in the Horn of Africa is a humanitarian emergency, but it has a distinctly geopolitical dimension, say experts who follow the region.

Although the immediate problem facing the 11 million people, aid agencies say, is a shortage of food, the causes of the crisis take in a broader spectrum of problems affecting the region, including climate change, agricultural policy, military conflicts and the effects of global markets on local economies.

Much has been made of the fact that parts of the region have experienced the driest year in decades because of two poor rainy seasons, but droughts are not rare in this part of Africa; nor are food shortages. The Horn (which includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) is the poorest region on the continent, with more than 40 per cent of its population of over 160 million living in areas prone to extreme food shortages.

And while the population of the region has doubled since the 1970s, food production has not kept up with that growth, says Abbas Gnamo, an Ethiopian-born academic who teaches African politics and conflict studies at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University and has worked as a consultant in the region.

Although the majority of the region's population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, farmers lack access to machinery and fertilizers, and agricultural productivity remains low. This means that even in the years when farmers get enough rain, the amount of crops they produce is very small, and they don't have any food to put in reserve for the times when there is a drought or other unforeseen shock.

"One of the problems for the Horn of Africa is the food crisis is becoming more or less chronic," Gnamo said.


Although it doesn't address or resolve the underlying causes of this "chronic" crisis in the Horn of Africa, I nevertheless made a donation today to Doctors Without Borders in an effort to help those experiencing the very real consequences of what's happening there. Please consider taking similar action by donating to one of the following relief agencies.




Related Off-site Links:
Horn of Africa Famine: Millions at Risk in "Deadly Cocktail" of War, Climate Change, and Neoliberalism Democracy Now! (July 22, 2011).
Starvation Returns to the Horn of Africa
Refugees Flee War and Starvation in Somalia


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
How We Can Help the People of Pakistan
How We Can Help the People of Haiti
Crisis in Sri Lanka
Letting Them Sit By Me


Photo of the Day


Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

No more semantics. Let's call him what he is: He is a Christian terrorist.

We Christians, to be at all authentic, need to own that sad reality. The views that he espoused can easily be found in the philosophies of nearly every fundamentalist, evangelical Christian group in the United States, as well as in other parts of the world. Dismissing him as "crazy" is too simplistic. It's too easy. It is an attempt to deny the painful reality of what we witnessed: an act of Christian terrorism. In centuries past this would have not been surprising. However, now some Christians see themselves smugly as "above" that sort of thing, denying that it ever happened, and pinning atrocities on Muslims alone.

To speak with integrity, we must roundly condemn not only this depraved act in which nearly 100 people lost their lives, but we must also stay alert and watch for signs that someone else could do precisely the same thing. Acts of Christian terror, even within my lifetime, are not unknown. The Oklahoma City federal building bombing. The bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta. Yes, even the bombing of abortion clinics.

We must own this, and we must say, "Never again."


– Thom Curnutte
"Semantics"
Faith in the 21st Century
July 24, 2011



Reports the Associated Press:

. . . [Anders Behring Breivik] said he staged the bombing and youth camp rampage as "marketing" for his manifesto calling for a revolution that would rid Europe of Muslims.

"The operation was not to kill as many people as possible but to give a strong signal that could not be misunderstood that as long as the Labor Party keeps driving its ideological lie and keeps deconstructing Norwegian culture and mass importing Muslims then they must assume responsibility for this treason," according to the English translation of [Judge Kim] Heger's ruling that was read out after the hearing.

Breivik alluded to two other "cells" of his network — which he imagines as a new Knights Templar, the medieval cabal of crusaders who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. At one point, his manifesto briefly referred to an intention to contact two other cells, but no details were given.

European security officials said they were aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar group and were investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002.



Recommended Off-site Links:
The Greater Threat: Christian Extremism from Timothy McVeigh to Anders Breivik – Pierre Tristam (CommonDreams.org, July 25, 2011).
White Christian Fundamentist Terrorism in Norway – Juan Cole (WammToday, July 24, 2011).
Norway Attacks: We Can No Longer Ignore the Far-Right Threat – Matthew Goodwin (The Guardian via ReaderSupportedNews.org, July 24, 2011).
Norway Suspect: Sebia Bombing "Tipped the Scales" – Ian MacDougall and Karl Ritter (The Associated Press, July 25, 2011).


One Couple's "Evolving View of Natural Family Planning"

The following is excerpted from a thoughtful New York Times piece by Mark Oppenheimer.


. . . In [their book ] Open Embrace, [Sam and Bethany] Torodes endorsed natural family planning — tracking a woman’s ovulation and limiting intercourse to days when she is not fertile — but rejected all forms of artificial contraception, including the pill and condoms. The book sold 7,000 copies after its publication in 2002 and was celebrated in the anti-contraception movement, which remains largely Roman Catholic but has a growing conservative Protestant wing. As young Protestants who conceived their first child on their honeymoon, the Torodes made perfect evangelists.

That was then, this is now.

In 2006, the Torodes wrote on the Web that they no longer believed natural family planning was the best method of birth control. They divorced in 2009.

. . . The book [they] wrote two years into their marriage is quite short and quite sweet, an earnest work whose hopefulness one badly wants to share. Procreation is “the umbrella under which the other aspects of marriage are nurtured,” they wrote. Sex is “a joyous song of praise to the Creator,” and “having children (or adopting them) brings husbands and wives closer together and expands the community of love.”

They concluded succinctly: “When we should be saying ‘I do,’ contraception says, ‘I do not.’ ”

Open Embrace also embraced the view that children stabilize marriage, for “with each child a couple has, their chances of divorce are significantly reduced.” So what went wrong for the Torodes, whose children now range in age from 4 to 9?

Among other challenges, [Bethany], now 30, had unplanned pregnancies. “I got pregnant nursing twice,” she told me. “So my first two kids are 15 months apart, then there is a three-year break, then the younger two are a year and a half apart. That was intense. Beyond hormonally intense, it was relationally intense. It was nothing I would ever want anyone else to have to experience.”

In their 2006 statement on the Web, the couple wrote that natural family planning could harm a marriage, even when it worked.

“Wanting to make love to your spouse often is a good thing, but NFP often lays an unfair burden of guilt on men for feeling this,” the Torodes wrote. And it is “a theological attack on women to always require that abstinence during the time of the wife’s peak sexual desire (ovulation) for the entire duration of her fertile life, except for the handful of times when she conceives.”

. . . This year, [Sam Torode's book] The Dirty Parts of the Bible, which Publishers Weekly called “rich and soulful,” passed Open Embrace in sales. “That was a big deal for me,” Mr. Torode said. Last year, he asked the publisher Eerdmans to stop printing copies of Open Embrace. He promises there will be no Kindle version.

“I am out of the business of trying to tell people what they should do,” Mr. Torode said. “I am out of that business for good.”


— Mark Oppenheimer
"An Evolving View on Natural Family Planning"
The New York Times
July 8, 2011



Recommended Off-site Links:
Rethinking a Classic from the Conservative Contraception Canon – Sarah Morice-Brubaker (The Huffington Post, July 22, 2011).
About That Times Column on Open Embrace – Terry Mattingly (GetReligion.org, July 12, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Robert McClory on Humanae Vitae
James Carroll on Catholic Understandings of Truth
The Pope's Latest Condom Remarks
Pope Embraces an Acceptable Form of Relativism


Photo of the Day


Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Boris and George

I think it's wonderful that on this first day of legalized civil marriage for same-sex couples in New York the Christian church celebrates the feast of St. Boris, a man who, along with his trusted companion George the Hungarian, many LGBT Christians claim as their own.

The beautiful icon of Boris and George at right is by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. I have a version of it in the form of a card, and use it as a bookmark in my copy of Volume 2 of The People's Companion to the Breviary. Following (with added links and images) is "artist narrative" that accompanies his icon.

____________________________________


One of the earliest works from the literature of Medieval Rus' is The Legend of Boris and Gleb, which forms a portion of The Primacy Chronicle, a document compiled by various writers from about 1040 to 1118. The legend concerns a tragedy, occurring in 1015, of which the death of St. Olga's grandson, St. Vladimir, was a catalyst. This extraordinary prince had founded the state of Rus' and compelled his people into mass conversions to Christianity. Shortly after his death, two of his sons, the Kievan princes Boris and Gleb were assassinated for dynastic purposes by minions of their half-brother Sviatopolk, called "the Accursed" because of the deed.

The older brother, Boris, had a servant named George the Hungarian, whom Boris had given a magnificent gold necklace, "for he was loved by Boris, declaring 'I will not be left behind, my precious lord! Before the beauty of your body begins to wilt, let it be granted that my life may end." The assassins tore Boris out of George's embrace, stabbed George, and flung him out of the tent, bleeding and dying. Then they murdered Boris, who died forgiving them for their crime. Unable to undo the clasp of George's necklace, they cut off his head, flinging it so far away that, the narrator adds indignantly, his head and body could not later be reunited for decent Christian burial. Shortly afterwards, another group of assassins tracked down Gleb, the younger brother of Boris, who had been warned of his brother's death and was about to flee half-heartedly. He had been so attached to Boris that he yearned to join him in death. when ordered to murder Gleb, they balked at killing a son of Vladimir, so terrified his cook into doing it.

Since Boris and Gleb [pictured at left] both were said to have died accepting their fate and forgiving their murderers, they became the first saints canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church and were given a title especially coined to explain the saintliness of two men who, up to the time of their death, had not demonstrated any notably holy characteristics at all. They were called "Passion Bearers." The Roman Church acknowledged their cult in 1724 and assigned them a feast day of July 24th, the date on which Boris and George died.

A boy, whose cure was recorded as part of the brothers' canonization process claimed that, at the time of his cure, he had experienced a vision in which George appeared in their company. Nevertheless, even though his death was a perfect icon of Jesus' observance that "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13), George was never canonized. Probably because of a subsequent embarrassment over his intimate relationship with Boris, the most Medieval iconographers would do for George was to include him among the characters depicted in miniature scenes which framed some icons of Boris and Gleb and showed details from the account of their deaths.



Recommended Off-site Link:
Saints Boris and George: United in Love and Death – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus In Love Blog, July 24, 2011).


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Polyeuct and Nearchus: "Brothers by Affection"
Sergius and Bacchus: Martyrs, Saints, Lovers
Honoring (and Learning) from the Passion of Saints Sergius and Bacchus
St. Francis of Assisi: Dancer, Rebel, Archetype
The Allure of St. Sebastian
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon


Quote of the Day



It feels great to have achieved this in my lifetime and see so many couples who have been loved and living together, to see them finally become part of a greater community of loving couples is phenomenal.



– Daniel Hernandez
Quoted in the Associated Press article,
"Couples Wed on First Day of Legal Gay Marriage in New York"
July 24, 2011




Above: From left, couples Nevin Cohen and Daniel Hernandez, Carol Anastasio and Miriam Brown, all of New York, and Marcos Chaljub and Freddy Zambrano, of Astoria, in the Queens borough of New York, celebrate after getting married at the Manhattan City Clerk's office, Sunday, July 24, 2011 in New York. (Photo: Jason DeCrow)




Above: Phyllis Siegel, 76, left, and Connie Kopelov, 84, both of New York, embrace after becoming the first same-sex couple to get married at the Manhattan City Clerk's office, Sunday, July 24, 2011, in New York. (Photo: Jason DeCrow)



Recommended Off-site Links:
A Look at Some of the Gay Couples Married in New York
Associated Press (July 23, 2011).
Black Couple to Marry After 20 Year Wait
– Alvin McEwen (Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, July 24, 2011).
After Long Wait, Gay Couples Marry in New York
– Thomas Kaplan (New York Times, July 24, 2011).

Opening Image: Same-sex couple Daniel Hernandez, 53, right, and Nevin Cohen, 48, kiss after being married at the City Clerk's Office in New York, Sunday, July 24, 2011. A state law signed June 24 by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo went into effect at 12:01 on Sunday, allowing hundreds of couples statewide to tie the knot, including 823 in New York City alone. (Photo: Associated Press)

Responding to Some Very Misguided Comparisons

In a recent post on his blog Abbey Roads, fellow Catholic blogger Terry Nelson opines:

. . .[I]f a person who is unhappy with his sexual orientation desires assistance or support in his conflict – there is absolutely nothing wrong if he or she seeks counseling – just make sure the therapists are licensed and have decent credentials. Transgender people do it all the time, claiming to be unhappy with the gender they were born with, they spend thousands on therapy, hormone treatments, anti-depressants, and surgeries. If people of faith seek Christian psychological therapy – why are they condemned? The double standard is hugely obvious when the gay Brown Shirts set about limiting individual freedoms in such cases.



Later, in his response to "Simon" in the comments section for this particular post, Terry writes:

Likewise, one hears stories of heterosexual men and women leaving their spouses and children for a same-sex lover all of the time. If they can change, why can't a highly motivated man or woman leave homosexuality?



Following (with some added afterthoughts) is the response I left at Abbey Roads. I welcome any additional thoughts my readers may have on the comparisons Terry raises.


Terry, you're comparisons between the homosexual orientation, trangenderism, and a straight person leaving his/her spouse for a homosexual relationship are misguided. [I think I'm being too gentle here! They're not only "misguided" but misleading and false.]

A transgender person feels inside him/herself a gender that doesn't correspond with their outward appearance. They want to be true to their deeper, inner reality of gender identity. A gay person who seeks "reparative therapy" feels inside him/herself a sexual orientation that they do not want to accept – often because of the negative indoctrination they've received from outside entities, e.g., family members, society, teachings of their church, etc. In both cases, what we should be trying to do is encourage the acceptance of these people's inner realities – be it their gender identity or sexual orientation. [Somehow I don't think this is the type of "counseling" that Terry is encouraging unhappy homosexual to seek.] It's through such acceptance and integration that people live that "life to the full" that Jesus calls us to.

In the case of a "straight" person leaving their spouse for a gay person, I think that if you talked to such an individual they would tell you that, in retrospect, they had always been gay but just didn't want to admit it or deal with it. That kind of avoidance, however, can only last so long. [In other words, they haven't changed their orientation; they're simply being true to it. This, of course, means a change in how they express themselves sexually, but their actual orientation remains the same.] Interestingly, it you also talk to the former spouses of such people, they too will often admit that they sensed "something" different about their partner but just didn't want to admit/deal with it. Let's face it, we still live in a society that often conveys negative ideas about homosexuality. This can complicate and slow a person's journey of self-awareness and "coming out."

Having said all that, I do believe that because sexuality is a continuum, there can be and are some individuals who are capable of moving along this continuum [and they generally do so without need of "counseling"]. I certainly think it's possible . . . but rare. [And in most such cases, it could be that they are actually bisexual, a sexual reality that Terry consistently ignores.] Most of us are firmly placed somewhere on the sexual orientation continuum [and are quite happy to stay there! Bisexuals, it should be noted, are located at the center of this continuum]. The problem with the "therapy" offered by people like Marcus Bachmann and organizations like NARTH, is that they accept and encourage "movement" [or "change"] only if the person is moving from gay to straight. [Unhappy straight people, for instance, (and, yes, there are lots of them around!) are never encouraged to explore the possibility that they may actually be gay.] If [people like Bachmann] were truly open to what science says about [the complex reality of] sexual orientation, and to actually helping people, then they would not display this double standard.

Peace,

Michael


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Putting a Human Face on the "T" of "GLBT"
Vanessa Sheridan on "Living Lives of Principle"
Quote of the Day – July 9, 2011
It's Official: APA Opposes "Reparative Therapy"
The Continuum Just Shrank
"Curing" Homosexuality (Be especially sure to read the comments on this one!)
Debunking NARTH (Part I)
Debunking NARTH (Part II)
When Quackery Goes Mainstream
Holding the Courage Apostolate Accountable
Gay Catholics, the Courage Apostolate, and "Reparative Therapy"
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Courage Apostolate
What Scientists in the UK Are Saying About Homosexuality

Recommended Off-site Links:
Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity – American Psychological Association.
Sub Secretum – Jacqueline White (Progressive Catholic Voice, January 19, 2009).


Friday, July 22, 2011

"Tell Them, Mary . . ."


Today is the feast of St. Mary of Magdala, the Apostle to the Apostles.

To mark this occasion I share Edwina Gateley's beautiful poem, "Tell Them." It's from her 1993 book, A Warm Moist Salty God: Women Journeying Towards Wisdom.

_________________________________


Tell Them

By Edwina Gateley


Breaking through the powers of darkness
bursting from the stifling tomb
he slipped into the graveyard garden
to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that I have journeyed far
into the darkest deeps I've been
in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that fear will flee my light
that though the ground will tremble
and despair will stalk the earth
I hold them firmly by the hand
through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
the globe and all that's made
is clasped to God's great bosom
they must not be afraid
for though they fall and die, he said,
and the black earth wrap them tight
they will know the warmth
of God's healing hands
in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
smelling the blossomed air,
tell my people to rise with me
to heal the Earth's despair.



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Mary of Magdala
Apostle to the Apostles
The Passion of Christ (Part 11) – Jesus Appears to Mary
"I've Been Changed, Yes, Really Changed"

Image: Artist unknown.


Sam Sparro

This evening for "music night" at The Wild Reed, I highlight openly gay electro-funk recording artist Sam Sparro.

Born in Australia in 1982, Sparro moved to Los Angeles at 10 years of age, when his gospel musician father found work in the California music industry. While singing with his father’s gospel groups, he was discovered and championed by Chaka Kahn. He later moved to London to pursue a career in music, but returned to LA, finding work in a coffee shop. It was during this rather difficult time that he wrote his hit single "Black and Gold" (2008), which went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording. The song has subsequently been covered by Katy Perry.

Of "Black and Gold" blogger Sharon van Etten writes: "[The song] sees Sam pondering the existence of God as he stares at the sky. It’s perhaps the closest you’d get to personal reflection on an electro track, but the glam and glitter of the dance floor seems to create the space and place for stargazing. A symphony to God this is not, but it sure remains an earnest plea for a revelation of sorts."

Sparro writes, performs, produces and arranges all his own material. He lives in LA with his partner Adrian.

Following is one of two music videos for "Black and Gold." For the other one, click here. For a live version of "Black and Gold," click here.




. . . I look up into the night sky
and see a thousand eyes staring back,
and all around these golden beacons
I see nothing but black.

I feel a way of something beyond them,
I don't see what I can feel.
If vision is the only validation
then most of my life isn't real.

'Cause if you're not really here
then the stars don't even matter.
Now I'm filled to the top with fear
that it's all just a bunch of matter.

'Cause if you're not really here
then I don't want to be either.
I wanna be next to you,
black and gold.



Writes Danny McKenna of Sam Sparro's self-titled debut album:


Australian-born soul starlet Sam Sparro has been making ears prick up of late. His savvy blend of soul, funk and modern electronica nods to '70s and '80s legends like Stevie Wonder and Hall and Oates, but Sparro brings a sassy style and modern production ethic that renders his music 21st Century fresh. Armed with a smooth, mercurial voice, Sparro sashays slickly through disco, funk and soul, moving waists with the punchy electro-funk of "Too Many Questions", "Black and Gold" and "Cut Me Loose", soaring soul like "Hot Mess" and darker material like "Pocket" and the synth-laden "Sick" (which comes over all Calvin Harris, admittedly minus the kitsch, ironic appeal). "Clingwrap" is pop-lite Prince, and there’s the occasional slower track like "Waiting For Time" and "Cottonmouth", but mostly this is an upbeat collection for good time people. His Daft Punk-meets-Jamiroquai single "Black and Gold" has already earned him deserved comparisons to contemporary blue-eyed soul boys like Jamie Lidell; Sam Sparro is assured enough to make him a star.






Recommended Off-site Links:

EQ Interview With Sam Sparro EQ Music Blog (August 29, 2010).
Rockwired Interviews Sam Sparro – Brian Lush (RockWired.com, 2009).
A Collection of Images of Sam Sparrow


Barbarians with Glitter!


A friend of mine donned (faux) fur and was part of the recent non-violent direct action at the Minnesota "counseling" center of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus. And, yes, glitter was involved!

The action has received national attention. Following is The Washington Post's coverage.


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Marcus Bachmann’s Clinic Invaded
by ‘Gay, Barbarian Horde’

By Melissa Bell

The Washington Post
July 22, 2011



While British protesters may still find pies their weapons of choice, glitter is fast becoming the American protest pick.

The latest victim? The counseling center of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus. The clinic, which receives federal and state funding, has come under fire for reportedly using “pray-away-the-gay” techniques.

Marcus Bachmann has come under fire for his strong views on homosexuality, with much of the focus on an interview in which he called anyone with homosexual tendencies “barbarian.”

To show their displeasure, gay and lesbian activists donned Viking-esque attire, called themselves a “gay, barbarian horde” and descended on the clinic to shower the lobby with glitter.





Recommended Off-site Links:
Bachmann's Clinic Gets Glittered Over Ex-Gay Therapy Charges – Andy Birkey (The Minnesota Independent, July 22, 2011).
Protesters "Glitter" Bachmann Offices Free Speech TV (July 22, 2011).
Gay Protesters Glitter Bachmann Clinic StoryfulNews.com (July 22, 2011).
"Gay Barbarians" Glitter Bomb Bachmann Clinic – Josh Voorhees (The Slatest, July 21, 2011).
Conservative Gay Leader to LGBT Glitterers: You're Not Helping – Evan McMorris-Santoro (TPM, July 22, 2011).
Fred Karger: "Marcus Bachmann, Come Out of the Closet and Debate Me" – Lynda Waddington (The Minnesota Independent, July 15, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – July 9, 2011
It's Official: APA Opposes "Reparative Therapy"
Gay Catholics, Courage, and Reparative Therapy


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Lost Art of the Arioi


Once when I was in Catholic primary (or elementary) school in Australia, a troupe of Polynesian dancers came and entertained the school community. I remember being quite enthralled by their colorful costumes of leaves and grass, shells and flowers; and by their fluid movements and (half-naked) physical beauty. I especially remember being drawn to one particular male dancer, and how strangely elated I felt when he looked me in the eyes and smiled a truly brilliant smile. For the briefest of moments the crowded, noisy school hall dissolved, and it was just he and I. True, my response of elation and connection was somewhat disconcerting – heralding, as it was, an awakening of my little gay boy self. Yet as a wise woman would later remind me: the truth indeed sets us free, but first it often makes us uncomfortable!

I was reminded of all of this when reading about the arioi dancers of Tahiti in Gerald Jonas’ informative and entertaining book, Dancing: The Pleasure, Power, and Art of Movement. I share today an excerpt from this book as part of The Wild Reed’s ongoing series, “The Dancer and the Dance.” Enjoy!

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Again and again during [their] “discovery” of the South Pacific . . . Europeans were struck by the initial friendliness of the natives, by their uninhibited (to European eyes) sexuality, and by their propensity to express themselves through dance. Speaking of the Tahitians, a French sailor reported that “their existence was in never-ending merrymaking.”

. . . The European missionaries who followed the first explorers to Polynesia learned more, and liked less, about the native dances. On Tahiti and its neighboring islands, where food was usually plentiful, men and women seemed to dance at every opportunity, day or night – to please their gods, to celebrate the completion of communal work projects, to praise their chiefs, and, apparently, for the sheer fun of it. They also had an elaborate dance theater. A fleet of up to seventy canoes made a circuit from island to island carrying a troupe of actor-dancers called arioi, who had renounced ordinary life to devote themselves to the cult of Oro, god of rain and fertility. Some of their canoes were rigged with platforms for performances, so that the singing and dancing could begin even before the fleet reached land. Once on shore the performances continued through the night in houses specially built for this purpose.

Among the high points of the performances were mime shows featuring men with mock phalluses fashioned from distended animal bladders; their grossly exaggerated portrayals of sexual intercourse provoked the audience to waves of laughter, as did their satirical skits about the shortcomings (sexual and otherwise) of the most powerful chiefs. Under the rigidly hierarchical system that dominated life on these Polynesian islands, only the arioi were permitted to make fun of the ruling class in public – not unlike the court jesters of medieval Europe.

The first representatives of the newly formed Londan Missionary Society arrived in Tahiti in 1797 and began converting the principal chiefs and local priests. The arioi, who offended the new order both by their devotion to the old gods and by their open sexuality, were suppressed. Within a few years, no trace of their society could be found. By the 1820s dancing of the traditional kind was prohibited as immoral, and the prohibition was extended to all activities associated with dancing – even the making of bark cloth. But the islanders, despite their mass conversion to Christianity, continued to dance in private, away from the prying eyes of missionaries. When the somewhat more tolerant French ousted the English from control of Tahiti in 1842, the traditional dances began a slow comeback, although it was not until the end of the nineteenth century that dancing in public received official sanction.

Today, dance is again a significant part of Tahitian social life. Much of the music now uses Western scales and harmonies, the words of many traditional chants have been lost or are no longer understood, and few if any dances have been preserved intact from the pre-Christian era.





How ironic it is that it was a form of Christianity that drove the art of the Arioi to extinction and yet it was at a Catholic school that I had a deep and sacred part of me awakened and affirmed by the "pleasure, power and art" of Tahitian dance – and thus, I'm sure, something of the Arioi!




See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Garden of Spirituality – Paulo Coelho
The Dancer and the Dance
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
The Church and Dance
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 1)
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 2)
The Trouble with the Male Dancer (Part 3)
Dark Matters
The Soul of a Dancer