I'm going to go to the gym at least once a week.  Twice a week would be great.

I'm going to be more patient with conservatives.

I'm going to be more patient with President Obama.

I'm going to smile more in my seminary classes.

I'm going to dream less about owning a new car.

I'm going to write more non-blog material.

I'm going to show more affection for my cats without worrying that it's somehow emasculating.

I'm going to try not to make any new year's resolutions -- oh shit...

Consumption: Lining Up For Our Own Demise

Think of the savings!
I work in a small, rural town of about 15,000 people.

They have a Safeway, a Super Walmart (with a grocery), a Shop N'Kart (discount grocer), and a Grocery Outlet (discount grocery).

On Monday morning, a fifth grocery store opened: another discount grocer.  And yet, at 7:30am, the day after Christmas weekend, 30 minutes before the store opened, folks were LINED UP to get into this place.  FOR WHAT?!

10% Off!
What does that say about us?

What does that say about our society?

Are we so brainwashed to consume that we line up for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?

(I mean, at least Black Friday deals had some pretty cool TVs)

Are we so desperate to find purpose through our meager participation in capitalism that we wait for nothing more than a different building to buy generic laundry detergent and factory farmed chicken meat?

Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream [Hardcover]I hate to sound like a downer, right at the brink of New Year's Eve.  It's always an exciting time: an end to a rough year -- hope for a better next year.  But ours is a dying culture.  Arianna Huffington paints a compelling image of our demise in Third World America, and we're queuing up, celebrating self-destruction with credit cards in hand.  "Black Friday" will be our dying gasp if something doesn't change...


You may disagree.  In fact, I imagine a lot of my readers gloss over my wordier rants, and gravitate toward the one-liners and pictures of Jesus riding dinosaurs or holding a rifle.  That's fine.  But here are MY favorite posts from 2010!

  1. Adele & Peter: Conversations on Queer & Christian
    This was the first of a powerful series of video chats I did with my good friend Adele, from  I was impacted deeply by our time together, and it really demonstrates the potential power of webcast over text blogging, at times.
  2. How We Choose Beliefs (because we ALL do)
    You may not have realized it, and many of you pushed back with EXTREMELY important counterbalances and challenges to my initial assumptions, but this was the first post where I clearly articulated (for myself) a belief that our personal theology and spirituality is based on personal choices.  Huge implications.
  3. Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood... 
  4. Evangelicals: Don't Be Afraid of the "L" Word...
  5. Post 480 - Politics, Hope, Left, Right & The Suicide Machine 
  6. Post 500: On Deconstruction - 'Welcome to Emerging...
  7. Emerging Christianity: Advocating & Liberating
  8. Neutrality Plays Into the Hands of the Powerful 
  9. Why we need a Robin Hood; Why we wouldn't tolerate him
  10. To Be Or Not To Be: Dreaming of Kingdom, Comfort, Or... 

Review Wrap Up: On Rap (and art, and judging it, and...)

I've decided not to complete an entire review of every song on Kanye West's new album. First, I've already set up a bad precedent. There are other albums I care more about, that I think demonstrate more artistic talent, or have more lasting appeal. The Fugees The Score is one of those albums.  So are I Say, I Say, I Say by Erasure, Release the Stars from Rufus Wainwright, Depeche Mode's Exciter, and 2Pac Shakur's All Eyez On Me (all of these come from the last two decades, demonstrating my own limitations in taste and perspective).

When people ask me about hip hop, they usually want to know, "What's it about? What's the rapper saying? What do the words mean?" And I can often point to some meaningful lines here and there.  For example...

I don't care what your musical taste is.  You will appreciate this:

Yo, there's a war in the mind, over territory
For the dominion
Who would dominate the opinion
Skisms and isms, keepin' us in forms of religion
Conformin' our vision
To the world church's decision
Trapped in a section
Submitted to committee election
Moral infection
Epedemic lies and deception
Of the highest possible order
Destortin' our tape recorders
From hearin' like underwater
Beyond the borders
Fond of sin and disorder
Bound by the strategy
Of systematic depravity
Heavy as gravity
Head first in the cavity
Without a bottom
A fate worse than Sodom
What's got him drunk off the spirits?
Truth comes, we can't hear it
When you've been, programmed to fear it
I had a vision
I was fallin' in indescision
Apallin', callin' religion
Some program on television
How can dominant wisdom
Be recognizing the system
Of Anti-Christs, the majority rules,
Intelligent fools
PhD's in illusion
Masters of mass confusion
Bachelors in past illusion
Now who you choosin'?
The head or the tail?
The bloodshed of the male?
More confidence in the tale?
Conferences in Yale
Discussin' documents of Baal
Causin' people to fail
Keepin' a third in jail
His word is nailed
Everything to the tree
Severing all of me from all that I used to be.
But it is rare for rap lyrics to remain so consistently poignant and targeted. Even Lauryn Hill herself admits in another song, "so I add a motherfucker so you ignorant n*ggas hear me!" So-called "socially conscious" rappers like Nas, Common and Talib Kweli decry social injustice, misogyny and abuse of women, violence, and materialism in one verse, but are prone to turn around in even the same track and commit identical sins. No rapper is more guilty of this than Kanye West in "Diamonds of Sierra Leone." He was widely lauded several years ago for bringing worldwide attention to the blood diamond trade, in the first verse of the song: "I thought my Jesus-piece was so harmless, till I seen a picture of a shorty armless, and here's the conflict..." But the second verse undermines any positive affect: 
People askin'me is I'ma give my chain back?
That'll be the same day I give the game back.
Translation: "I'm keeping my Jesus-piece, armless children or not."  Nice, Kanye.  

 But my argument, cruel, heartless and insensitive as it may sound, is not that these questions are unimportant, but that they are not central to what hip hop is musically -- genetically. What's often misunderstood in the craft of rap, as much as in the enjoyment of rap, is that the words themselves function as lyrical instruments. Rappers use rhyme, alliteration, dissonance, repetition and tempo to build sounds, not just to tell stories. Too often, listeners try to find meaning in the words, and miss the music ("forest for the trees..."). It's like trying to identify the color palette in a painting without noticing the actual painting. 

 The other consistent feature of rap music, from its beginning, is its own self-celebration: rappers celebrate rap. They celebrate their own craft and artistry. They point to the thing they are doing. They differentiate themselves from others. They self-aggrandize, posture, and brag... but "celebration" is the most generous way of describing it. It's an aggressive medium, to be sure sure, but it's one that demands to be noticed. It has a cultural chip on its shoulder - expression of the oppressed. 

When art conveys something offensive, I think we should be brave enough and honest enough to name that and speak up. But it's important to recognize what is actually being said:

When Kanye West raps about his sexual exploits with easy women, we need to be specific about what needs critique. He would be wrong to use his power, fame and platform to manipulate and exploit his female fans. He is certainly wrong for speaking about them so disrespectfully. He is also wrong for allowing his celebrity-based sexual experiences to impact his respect for, and treatment of women in general. Is he a bad person for sleeping with lots of fans?  As a Christian I say he's practicing destructive, unhealthy behavior, but that's not behavior I find worth decrying an artist for.  Should we protest him rapping about the fact that he has lots of sex? Not necessarily. While it's not classy, I'm not sure that's inherently oppressive.

We need to be clear about what we're protesting. 

 When Andres Serrano took a photo of a crucifix in a jar of his urine ("Piss Christ") he obviously stirred the pot and earned all sorts of international Christian hatred. But what exactly was he doing? Serrano himself was coy about his intentions, but a nun came forward in the midst of the controversy in the 1990s to argue that it was not blasphemy, but a poignant commentary on what we (contemporary society and religion) have done to Christ.  So what's left to protest there, unless one thinks society has been respectful and pious toward the image and character of Christ?

I'm not naive, but I believe that art tells us something.  Sometimes it tells us a specific story.  Sometimes it is very intangible -- more a story about us, and our own responses than about the piece itself (plenty of artists will tell you that their art "isn't about anything" and that's legitimate, but impact is unavoidable).  It's probably not healthy to dwell on negative, caustic, hostile expressions of art.  I don't spend as much time listening to the angry music I once listened to, but it still plays an important role in shaping my worldview.  As disappointing as Kanye West's misogyny is, he provides a great reminder -- cautionary for us all -- of how far we have to go before we live in an equalized society.

2Pac Shakur once said, "They didn’t even want to stop the Vietnam War until people saw the pictures of how horrible it really was. So I said to myself, that’s what I’m gonna do with my lyrics: I’m going to paint a picture of the horrible aspects of life, and maybe then they will try to stop it."

Pop art today is showing us a lot of reality that needs to be stopped.  Somehow, in a beautiful, dark, twisted, ironic way, the most powerful art is telling us those hard stories in ways that are perversely beautiful and disturbingly compelling.

review: My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy - pt.2

Gorgeous, track two of the album, is less ostentatious than Dark Fantasy. Moody and brooding, but somewhat underwhelming, it features cameos from KiD CuDi and Raekwon. 

On my first listen, I was certain it was Nas (rather than Raekwon) spitting the last verse. It's a gentle, almost-tired whisper the sounds wise, not arrogant:

nigga hat game was special 
it matched every black pair of Nikes 
throwing dice for decimals 
the older head, bolder head, would train a soldier head 
make sure he right in the field, not a soldier dead 
got made code red 
break up the black skunk 
the black dutch, back of the old shed 
if you can't live, you dying 
you give or buy in 
keep it real or keep it moving, keep grinding 
keep shining, to every young man, this is a plan 
In his debut album, Nas was often called "The Second Coming of Raekwon," but that acclaim (and it was acclaim) died off when Nas' subsequent 90s albums demonstrated a bling-mediocrity few would have predicted from his promisings start. Thankfully, he pulled his career back from the brink, and his last six albums have been consistently strong. After years of tirelessly listening to Nas, I hadn't realized how much his style truly emulated Raekwon, so I was excited to hear West provide space on this track, and Raekwon delivers, redeeming one of the drabber songs on the album.

Track three is Power, one of the most pure, "hip hop" songs in the mix, and yet there is nothing simplistic or one-dimensional about it.  It's grand and aggressive, starting with a chant that builds and builds, layer upon layer, tribal, punk, techno, alt rock, rap... I'm not sure what it is that makes a film "epic."  Lawrence of Arabia is epic.  Braveheart is epic.  So is Star Wars.  All three have sweeping panoramic shots, lush, varied landscapes, rich textures, high drama, a huge number of actors in front of the camera.  And yet there are plenty of films with all these components that are decidedly not epic.  The same can be said of music, though the components are slightly different.  Power is an epic.  It's lyrics aren't particularly gripping, but they serve as instruments carrying the message, not the message itself.  The message is the whole.

I’m livin’ in the 21st century
Doin’ something mean to it
Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it
Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music

No one man should have all that power
The clock’s tickin’, I just count the hours
Stop trippin’, I’m trippin’ off the power
(21st century schizoid man)

Watch this video.  The man is a narcissist, but there's something about it, isn't there?  It's quite something...

Review: My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy

Merry Christmas!

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Explicit]It's not like there's any lack of reviews for Kanye West's My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy, released last month.  While I can't necessarily offer anything new in terms of why it's broadly appealing or important to the genre, a coupe of friends have recently asked (a) why I like it so much, and (b) how I can tolerate such demonstrable misogyny.  While I don't want to defend myself, or West (neither of us need it), maybe this post (it may turn into multiple posts) will be helpful...

Track one: Dark Fantasy opens with an allusion to Roald Dahl's rendition of "Cinderella," which opens:
I guess you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
And made to sound all soft and sappy
Just to keep the children happy...
To parallel, West's track features hip hop phenom Nicki Minaj, who recites in an oddly Harry-Potter-esque accent (especially odd for a hip hop mega-album):
You might think you’ve peeped the scene,
You haven’t. The real one’s far too mean
The watered down one, the one you know,
Was made up centuries ago.
They made it sound all whack and corny!
Yes it’s awful, blasted boring
Twisted fiction, sick addiction,
Well gather ‘round children, zip it, listen!
The last line slips from sing-song Brit-poetics to a monstrous fairy-tale "roar" as Minaj brings the climax of her introduction to an unexpected ferocity.  Minaj is already well-known in the hip hop world, though her first album released only last month.  She's  been incredibly successful in countless cameos over the last year or so, with a schizophrenic lyrical style that could only be compared to Eminem's Slim Shady/Marshal Mathers multiple personality syndrome.  But where  Em settled for two personalities, Minaj has already demonstrated at least six vocal personas, and the list is growing.  Minaj claims these personalities began to develop for her own survival as a child in a violent household. 

The hook of the song follows immediately after by indie rock band Bon Iver, singing, "Can we get much higher... so high... oohhh oohhh.... oohhh oohhh..." and it repeats.  It's dark and ethereal and the whole song begins what is clearly a direct evolution off of West's previous album, 808s & Heartbreak.  The vocals here sound as much like Annie  Lennox as anyone else, but they are as jarringly unexpected as the Roald Dahlesque intro we've just heard, and further disorient the listener expecting a typical hip hop album.

When the first verse of the album breaks off of Bon Iver's hook, it carries a rhythm and tune nostalgically reminiscent of Tupac Shakur's "California Love."  Seriously, listen.  I don't think it's an accident that West's hip hop opus-to-date is making an allusion to one of the most important rap songs of the '90s.  Try singing along if you remember the original: "California... knows how to party..."  I haven't heard anyone else make this observation so I'm sort of proud of it.  I digress.

West ends the first verse with the words, "So much head, I woke up in Sleepy Hollow."  Casual and/or aggressive sexual references in hip hop are so common I almost don't blink when I hear them anymore.  They're very much a part of the genre.  And why not?  These artists are literally surrounded by sexual availability.  Their reality is so typified by sexual access that there's  no point in writing songs about easy women.  Those songs are for amateurs and new artists.  For performers like West, sexual access is merely punctuation or verse-filler.   Again, that's not justification, it's sad and unconscionable, but it also has very little to do with the music itself (I'll write a little bit later about how the marginalized marginalize, which I've written about, before).

Ha!  "Too many Urkels on your team, that's why your wins low"!?  That's just brilliant pop cultural worldplay.

All right, I can see this is going to be a much bigger project than one post, so I'll end with the first song.

I hope you had a really nice holiday!


NEW YORK ( -- The gap between the rich and the middle class is larger than it has ever been due to the bursting of the housing bubble.  The richest 1% of U.S. households had a net worth 225 times greater than that of the average American household in 2009, according to analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. That's up from the previous record of 190 times greater, which was set in 2004.

The widening gap came even as wealthy households' average net worth tumbled 27% -- to about $14 million -- between 2007 to 2009. That's the first time that they suffered a decline since the three-year period of 1992 to 1995. Meanwhile, the average family's net worth plunged 41% -- to just $62,200 -- from 2007 to 2009, according to EPI's calculations.
This all goes back to what Stephen Colbert mentioned last week, concerning the poor, because today's zeitgeist affirms free market capitalism as not only compatible but synonymous with New Testament teaching on the Kingdom of God. 

Christianity has nothing to do with free markets.

Jesus' teachings do not endorse capitalism.
(I'm not arguing here that Jesus teachings necessarily denounce capitalism either, although that is the direction I lean, theologically...)

Believe in what you want, but please don't try to pervert Christian compassion for the sake of self-justification. The cold reality is, America is now - more than ever - a nation of haves and have-nots. And while the haves have more of the collective pie than ever before, there are more have-nots than at any time since the great depression.

This Christmas, as I watch credit cards fly out of wallets to buy new TVs and other home entertainment, I'm constantly reminded that we are stretching out the last desperate gasps of society economically dying from its own consumption, while still voting to inflate the wealth of those we will never meet.  A bizarre sacrament to trickle down economics.

Economist John Quiggin wrote Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us.  Quiggin said recently on NPR's Marketplace:
Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among UsI talk about the trickle down theory, that when you help the rich that helps everybody. I think a theory so convenient to powerful people is never going to be cured permanently... It's suggesting that keeping on giving tax cuts to the top 1 or 5 percent of the population is going to help everybody else. The evidence is very clear that that's not the case. That the vast majority of benefits of economic growth have gone to people in the top 10 percent of the income distribution. Within that 10 percent, the top 1 percent has done much better than the remaining 9 percent, and within that 1 percent, the top tenth of a percent has done even better.
If I had one wish for Christmas, it's that my friends who don't like hip hop would still give Kanye West's new album a try.  It's an incredible musical achievement.  If I had two wishes, it would be the Kanye Album, and that American voters would stop voting to expand the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful.  If I had three wishes, I would wish for the Kanye thing, the voters, and that all of the children of the world would join hands and sing together in a spirit of harmony and peace. 
No, no, who am I kidding! I mean, they're not gonna be able to get all those kids together! I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible! It's more trouble than it's worth!

So, we reorganize: here we go. The first would be for $30 million a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account...

"Jesus Is The Reason... And You're Going To HELL!"

Becky Garrison sent me this.  LOVE it!  Well, I don't really love IT... but I love it.
Hard to call it "salvation" when the "saving" leads to a lot more hell than heaven, isn't it?

Don't Ask Don't Tell R.I.P.

It's been repealed!
(in case you were living under a rock)

Okay, confession: I was all Christmas-hyped over the weekend, watching Chevy Chase and Charlie Brown, and Jack Black (a la The Holiday), so I actually WAS under a rock.  I didn't even realize until I hit CNN Monday morning.

This is a huge step toward social equality and I couldn't be more pleased that this wretched Senate managed to actually get something done!

"WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA?!" Gil Scott-Heron/Kanye West

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

The new Kanye West album is pretty amazing musically, narcissism and misogyny aside: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

It's pretty phenomenal where West has come artistically in the last 5 years; perhaps, directly related to how fall he seems to fall, personally.

There's a track at the end of the album, featuring spoken word by American poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron:

Us living as we do upside down. 
And the new word to have is revolution. 
People don't even want to hear the preacher spill or spiel because God's whole card has been thoroughly piqued. 
And America is now blood and tears instead of milk and honey. 
The youngsters who were programmed to continue fucking up 
woke up one night digging Paul Revere and Nat Turner as the good guys. 
America stripped for bed and we had not all yet closed our eyes. 
The signs of Truth were tattooed across our open ended vagina. 
We learned to our amazement untold tale of scandal. 
Two long centuries buried in the musty vault, 
hosed down daily with a gagging perfume. 
America was a bastard the illegitimate daughter of the mother country 
whose legs were then spread around the world and a rapist known as freedom, 
Democracy, liberty, and justice were revolutionary code names 
that preceded the bubbling 
bubbling in the mother country's crotch
What does Webster say about soul?
All I want is a good home and a wife
And a children and some food to feed them every night.
After all is said and done build a new route to China if they'll have you.
Who will survive in America?
Who will survive in America?
Who will survive in America?
Who will survive in America? 

But Scott-Heron's lyrics are edited in Kanye's cut.  These are the full verses:

Cheryl Ensom Dack: On the Kingdom

My friend Cheryl recently sent an e-mail, inviting a group of bloggers to interact on the topic of "The Kingdom of Heaven."  Specifically, what "citizens" of the kingdom actually look like.  I like her defining characteristics:

I have come to believe, as I know many of those I know have, that the "kingdom of heaven" that Jesus talked about being here on earth, now, is among other things, a group of people who are characterized by: 
  • believing that everyone is good inside/has value, even when they act to the contrary. 
  • believing that on the other side of this life, we will ALL understand not just why people did what they did, but what it felt like to BE them. 
  • choosing to intentionally, relentlessly show the truth of themselves to others and SEE (even LOOK FOR!)the truth of others. 
  • give the "microphone" to those who others have silenced and shamed, so that they, too, have the opportunity to show who THEY really are.
  • believe that on the other side of this life, everyone will be seen and understood by everyone else, but also believe that starts HERE and NOW.
This is the mind Jesus had when he interacted with people, right? He saw people's hearts, not just their actions, and treated them as having the value they REALLY have, even if they weren't behaving in a way that was consistent with that. That's what love looks like.
When you feel understood, it changes you. It lights you up. When even your mistakes are seen within the context of who you REALLY are, you feel loved, not judged.

Kurt Vonnegut - Un-American Prophesy From 'Hocus Pocus'

I'm a big fan of Vonnegut.

With seminary demands, I don't spend enough time reading for pleasure, but I've been working through Hocus Pocus  very slowly and wanted to share a couple of witty forecasts from Vonnegut in the late '80s, projecting on America into the early 2000s.
Hocus Pocus
"He predicted, I remember, that human slavery would come back, that it had in fact never gone away.  He said that so many people wanted to come here because it was easy to rob the poor people, who got absolutely no protection from the Government.  He talked about bridges falling down and water mains breaking because of no maintenance.  He talked about oil spills and radioactive waste and poisoned aquifers and looted banks and liquidated corporations.  'And nobody ever gets punished for anything,' he said.  'Being an American means never having to say you're sorry.'" (94)
And on the next page:
"'I heard you said Jesus Christ was un-American,' she said, her tape recorder running all the time.
So I unscrambled that one for her.  The original had been another of Grandfather's sayings.  He repeated Karl Marx' prescription for an ideal society, 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.'  And then he asked me, meaning it to be a wry joke, 'What could be more un-American, Gene, than sounding like the Sermon on the Mount?'" (95-96)
I know the narrative is completely incomprehensible from these quick quotations, but I'm always moved and convicted (and a little terrified) by the sober predictions made by this witty, biting, hilarious, prescient novelist.  And so it goes.

Colbert: Jesus Is A Liberal Democrat

"If this is gonna be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition!  And then admit, that we just don't wanna do it."

Stephen Colbert really amazes me sometimes.  His eloquence, despite all the tongue-and-cheek comments, surpasses most of the socially-conscious activists and thinkers we watch and read in the media.

This would be one of the funniest things I've ever watched, if it weren't so hopelessly tragic and desperately horrible.

Thanks for the link, Jared!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

"Do you know what it feels like for a girl?" - Glee

I confess: I watch Glee.  Not religiously - I miss episodes, and rarely finish an entire episode.  The show is inconsistent - sometimes too cheesy to bear, but sometimes profound, beautiful, and moving.

Last night the "Madonna Episode" was re-run, and I watched it for the first time.  Throughout the episode, the male characters were confronted with their own bad behavior toward women, even as they explored and followed their sexual pursuits.  Several times, the guys lamented in conversation their sexist tendencies, and discussed their need to be better - more respectful, more thoughtful, and more empowering.

This isn't great script writing or great acting, but what Glee managed to do was demonstrate some awfully progressive relational solutions to normative cultural misogyny - not just for the students, but for the teacher Will Schuester, too.  Maybe not earth-shattering, but certainly more than most teen-TV fare which too-often only contributes to the hyper-sexualization of teenage girls, and the marginalization of women in general (and yes, Glee is just as often guilty of this, itself).

In their attempts to both understand their female classmates, and apologize to them, the boys sing Madonna's surprisingly thoughtful song Do You You Know What It Feels Like (For A Girl)...
Silky smooth 
Lips as sweet as candy, baby 
Tight blue jeans 
Skin that shows in patches 
Strong inside but you don’t know it 
Good little girls they never show it 
When you open up your mouth to speak 
Could you be a little weak? 
Do you know what it feels like 
For a girl? 
Do you know what it feels like in this world 
For a girl? 
Hair that twirls on finger tips so gently, baby 
Hands that rest on jutting hips repenting 
Hurt that’s not supposed to show and 
Tears that fall when no one knows 
When you’re trying hard to be your best 
Could you be a little less 
Do you know what it feels like 
For a girl? 
Do you know what it feels like in this world 
For a girl? 

Trite or not, cheesy or not, I'd like to see more of this in pop culture.  Glee, for all its silly failings, has tackled a lot of major social issues, including homophobia, bullying, and teen pregnancy.  It's what keeps me watching (well, that, along with my background in musical theatre).

Ex-Gay = Ex-pert?

I'm having some interesting ongoing dialogue at

Paul, one of the commenters there, has the fascinating ability to lump every LGBT person alive into his narrow, angry definitions.  He's really an interesting case study in "extreme repentance!"  I've known recovering drug addicts and alcoholics who behave similarly - in very black-and-white paradigms.

Comment on the post "Homosexuality is a Sin" 
Author: Paul 
Oh dear, there is sucker born every minute. The Gay couples who claim to be faithful after 'years together' are either liars or they are so old sexd has ceased to matter. Gay's can be emotionally faithful, ie: they stay together and care deeply for one another but the sex fizzles unless they spice it up with porn, open encounters (secret or agreed), or group stuff together to spice it up (ie: three-somes). Gay men are not monogomous after the 'honeymoon period'.

I can't purport to know what's true for Paul.  He obviously feels deeply convicted about his own attraction to men, and I have no interest in judging him.  I don't want to condescend him, either.  I would imagine that to reject something so internally compelling, it would take a VERY concrete position to combat it.

And it's clear that Paul has been hurt, when he writes:

Author: Paul 
Oh yes, I used to want a totally faithful Gay relationship but once the sexual honeymoon period wears off Gay men crave 'outside encounters'. 

There are loads of liars out there who want you to believe Gays are monogomous after donkey's years of being in a relationship but that is garbage. It may convince a heterosexual but I know otherwise. I have NEVER met a monogomous couple after the 'honeymoon' period. They either have a discrete 'open' relationship, tell lies, use porn together or do group sex (three-somes) to keep the passion alive.

Even research by Gay affirming secular sociologists affirmed that five years was the longest ANYONE in the sample group remained faithful and they were the exceptions that prove the rule. 

I have heard so many commentators state "I know couples who are faithful." Yes, so do I for the first few months or couple of years but it NEVER lasts. However, I don't hear from those themselves who claim to be faithful and who have been in a relationship for many years. Mind you if I did, from what I know by my own experience I would feel sorry for them cos the other partner must be lying if he has said he is faithful. 

I know Gay couples who are 'emotionally faithful' ie: they don't get emotionally involved with those they have sex with, or only use pornography. But I KNOW from bitter experience Gay men shag around after the 'honeymoon' period.

I truly feel respectful of Paul's opinions on homosexuality.  But his statements about "all gays" are statements about some of my best friends.  That's not okay with me.
From Friar Rohr's Daily Meditations:


Sunday, December 12, 2010 
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

How do we also give birth as Mary did?
We tend to manage life more than just live it.  We are all over stimulated and drowning in options.  We are trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen.  That is what built our First World culture.  It is not all bad, but if you transfer it to the spiritual life, it is pure heresy.  It is wrong.  It doesn’t work.  It is not gospel. 
If Mary was trustfully carrying Jesus during this time, it is because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift.  She is probably the perfect example of how fertility and fruitfulness break into this world.

I can relate to over-stimulation, drowning in options, fighting to "manage" everything!  We we release our control and our obsessive need to act!  May we become pregnant with something beyond our control - beyond our understanding - beyond our capacity to create ourselves...

"Happy Holidays" from XtraNormal & EmergingChristian!

I Like: PM Dawn

I've been a huge PM Dawn fan since 1991.  They're like real-life "hip hop hippies."  An otherwise non-existent species.

I love this song...

Sonchyenne tell me about mankind
and all of my lifetimes with you

Dayglow talk to me about rainbows
and all of my lifetimes with you

Promise you'll always be cherished
in all of my lifetimes with you

Earth's Church tells me I've no worth
nor any of my lifetimes with you

But you said you'd show me
All the different sides to you
I'll try and understand you
'Cause when you're lied to like I'm lied to
All that can connect you is your love

Sonchyenne tell me about mankind
and all of my lifetimes with you

Bright skies you cry like I cry
in all of my lifetimes with you

Light Be Everything inside me
through all of my lifetimes with you

But I fear they've no idea
All the other minds in you
thinking thoughts for you
when you live not like they do
all that can connect you is your love

Sonchyenne tell me about mankind
and all of my lifetimes with you

You cry like I do
Show me what it's like in you
'Cause I know why they hate you
when you know one more than they know then
all that can connect you is your love

Sonchyenne tell me about mankind
and all of my lifetimes with you

and all of my lifetimes with you
     *     *     *
I just read that frontman Prince B (Prince Be) had his leg amputated in 2009 from gangrene, and he's suffered two strokes in the last decade. Seriously sad.

Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (Susan Griffin)

from:Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (Susan Griffin)

He says that woman speaks with nature.  That she hears voices from under the earth. That wind blows in her ears and trees whisper to her. That the dead sing through her mouth and the cries of infants are clear to her. But for him this dialogue is over. He says he is not part of this world, that he was set on this world as a stranger. He sets himself apart from woman and nature. 

And so it is Goldilocks who goes to the home of the three bears, Little Red Riding Hood who converses with the world, Dorothy who befriends a lion, Snow White who talks to the birds, Cinderella with mice as her allies, the Mermaid who is half fish, Thumbelina courted by a mole. (
And when we hear in the Navaho chant of the mountain that a grown man sits and smokes with bears and follows directions given to him by squirrels, we are surprised. We had thought only little girls spoke with animals.)

We are the bird's eggs. Bird's eggs, flowers, butterflies, rabbits, cows, sheep; we are caterpillars; we are leaves of ivy and sprigs of wallflower. We are women. We rise from the wave. We are gazelle and doe, elephant and whale, lilies and roses and peach, we are air, we are flame, we are oyster and pearl, we are girls. We are woman and nature. And he says he cannot hear us speak.
But we hear.

His Power

He Tames What Is Wild

The Hunt

Is it by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation when beholding the milky way? (
herman melville, Moby-Dick)

And at last she could bear the burden of herself no more. She was to be had for the taking. To be had for the taking. (
d.h. lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover)

She has captured his heart. She has overcome him. He cannot tear his eyes away. He is burning with passion. He cannot live without her. He pursues her. She makes him pursue her. The faster she runs, the stronger his desire. He will overtake her. He will make her his own. He will have her. (The boy chases the doe and her yearling for nearly two hours. She keeps running despite her wounds. He pursues her thorough pastures, over fences, groves of trees, crossing the road, up hills, volleys of rifle shots sounding, until perhaps twenty bullets are embedded in her body.) She has no mercy. She has dressed to excite his desire. She has no scruples. She has painted herself for him. She makes supple movements to entice him. She is without a soul. Beneath her painted face is flesh, are bones. She reveals only part of herself to him. She is wild. She flees whenever he approaches. She is teasing him. (Finally, she is defeated and falls and he sees that half of her head has been blown off, that one leg is gone, her abdomen split from her tail to her head, and her organs hang outside her body. Then four men encircle the fawn and harvest her too.) He is an easy target, he says. He says he is pierced. Love has shot him through, he says. He is a familiar mark. Riddled. Stripped to the bone. He is conquered, he says. (The boys, fond of hunting hare, search in particular for pregnant females.) He is fighting for his life. He faces annihilation in her, he says. He is losing himself to her, he says. Now, he must conquer her wildness, he says, he must tame her before she drives him wild, he says. (Once catching their prey, they step on her back, breaking it, and they call this "dancing on the hare.") Thus he goes on this knees to her. Thus he wins her over, he tells her he wants her. He makes her his own. He encloses her. He encircles her. He puts her under lock and key. He protects her. (Approaching the great mammals, the hunters make little sounds which they know will make the elephants form a defensive circle.) And once she is his, he prizes her delight. He feasts his eyes on her. He adorns her luxuriantly. He gives her ivory. He gives her perfume. (The older matriarchs stand to the outside of the circle to protect the calves and younger mothers.) He covers her with the skins of mink, beaver, muskrat, seal, raccoon, otter, ermine, fox, the feathers of ostrich, osprey, egret, ibis. (The hunters then encircle that circle and fire first into the bodies of the matriarchs. When these older elephants fall, the younger panic, yet unwilling to leave the bodies of their dead mothers, they make easy targets.) And thus he makes her soft. He makes her calm. He makes her grateful to him. He has tamed her, he says. She is content to be his, he says. (In the winter, if a single wolf has leaped over the walls of the city and terrorized the streets, the hunters go out in a band to rid the forest of the whole pack.) Her voice is now soothing to him. Her eyes no longer blaze, but look on him serenely. When he calls to her, she gives herself to him. Her ferocity lies under him. (The body of the great whale is strapped with explosives.) Now nothing of the old beast remains in her. (Eastern Bison, extinct 1825; Spectacled Cormorant, extinct 1852; Cape Lion, extinct 1865; Bonin Night Heron, extinct 1889; Barbary Lion, extinct 1922; Great Auk, extinct 1944.) And he can trust her wholly with himself. So he is blazing when he enters her, and she is consumed. (Florida Key Deer, vanishing; Wild Indian Buffalo, vanishing; Great Sable Antelope, vanishing.) Because she is his, she offers no resistance. She is a place of rest for him. A place of his making. And when his flesh begins to yield and his skin melts into her, he becomes soft, and his is without fear; he does not lose himself; though something in him gives way, he is not lost in her, because she is his now: he has captured her.

The Lion In The Den Of The Prophets

She swaggers in. They are terrifying in their white hairlessness. She waits. She watches. She does not move. She is measuring their moves. And they are measuring her. Cautiously one takes a bit of her fur. He cuts it free from her. He examines it. Another numbers her feet, her teeth, the length and width of her body. She yawns. They announce she is alive. They wonder what she will do if they enclose her in the room with them. One of them shuts the door. She backs her way toward the closed doorway and then roars. "Be still," the men say. She continues to roar. "Why does she roar?" they ask. The roaring must be inside her, they conclude. They decide they must see the roaring inside her. They approach her in a group, six at her two front legs and six at her two back legs. They are trying to put her to sleep. She swings at one of the men. His own blood runs over him. "Why did she do that?" the men question. She has no soul, they conclude, she does not know right from wrong. "Be still," they shout at her. "Be humble, trust us," they demand. "We have souls," they proclaim, "we know what is right," they approach her with their medicine, "for you." She does not understand this language. She devours them.

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