Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sin, original, really original

(The Expulsion of Adam and Eve...from Mahattan into Brooklyn?)

English Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols writes in his book Epiphany (the emphases are mine, however)

To a secular mind, the difficulty with this doctrine (of original sin) will be not only the concept of vicariousness but also the question of historicity. The story of the Fall could be read as a symbolic account of human rebelliousness against God, of how all our cultural developments (as for the Genesis writer, clothing, metal-working, city-building) are spoilt by an element of vengefulness and pride. Yet sin must have entered human life at some historical moment, whether identifiable or not. For unless evil marred the creation of humanity contingently (i.e., historically), it could only have done so essentially (i.e., by God's own creative act), which is unthinkable.

Well, watch me think it.

It is the notion that “sin must have entered human life at some historical moment” which I find, well, unintelligible. And if man is not of a contingently fallen nature, then the Catholic myth cannot hold. For man to be essentially fallen is in fact thinkable, if the creator God is demiurgic.

What the original sin doctrine requires me to believe is that the human species was once without its “sinful” elements and yet was human. The doctrine of Christ’s sinlessness is meant to show that it is possible to be human and sinless (likewise with the Virgin and her Immaculate Conception).

First of all, a sinless humanity is another species. The empirical human, the species homo sapiens, evolving as it has from the primates, combines all the instinctual primate base with consciousness. And if we were so created, then the creator is responsible for us. We are not without responsibility, far from it, --that is part of our paradox-- but God is not innocent. Hence, demiurgic.

In the Dec 31 04 Wall Street Journal, Orthodox theologian David Hart opines: “The Christian understanding of evil has always been more radical and fantastic than that of any theodicist; for it denies from the outset that suffering, death and evil have any ultimate meaning at all. Perhaps no doctrine is more insufferably fabulous to non-Christians than the claim that we exist in the long melancholy aftermath of a primordial catastrophe, that this is a broken and wounded world, that cosmic time is the shadow of true time, and that the universe languishes in bondage to "powers" and "principalities"--spiritual and terrestrial--alien to God. In the Gospel of John, especially, the incarnate God enters a world at once his own and yet hostile to him--"He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not"--and his appearance within "this cosmos" is both an act of judgment and a rescue of the beauties of creation from the torments of fallen nature.

Whatever one makes of this story, it is no bland cosmic optimism. Yes, at the heart of the gospel is an ineradicable triumphalism, a conviction that the victory over evil and death has been won; but it is also a victory yet to come. As Paul says, all creation groans in anguished anticipation of the day when God's glory will transfigure all things. For now, we live amid a strife of darkness and light.”

Shows the place where orthodoxy and Gnosticism almost touch.

Sin, original

One of the mild pleasures of my life is that I live in two worlds. My professional life is, well, professional. Nice educated people with ethical concerns, middle class etiquette, pleasant architecture, etc. My personal life, which is often very mundane indeed, takes place in the middle of an archetypal Gay Ghetto, a number of whose denizens make their living by renting their sexual services, either to individuals or to movie/video companies. These guys are my neighbors, whom I see at the dairy section of the grocery store, sometimes acquaintances or near-friends. What makes this pleasant for me is sometimes to notice the one world I belong to when I am in the midst of the other. It tickles me.

So being around hustlers is hardly a noticeable event.

I was at the gym last week, working out within earshot of two guys. I couldn't figure out their relationship. One was an ordinary dude, the other a short, compact guy with a very impressive set of shoulders on him, self-contained and sort of darkly handsome. Not anyone I would notice (!!!). I picked up snippets of conversation and after a while concluded that they were acquaintances and that the hot guy was a hustler.

The hustler then says to his friend, "I got this weird call the other day...guy wanted to rent my time...but he wanted to know if I charged extra for blacks. I just sorta stood there with the phone in my ear. I mean, what was I supposed to say? Ever hear of such a thing? Wow."

Now I am no optimist about the human race, but I still find myself brought up short by the originality of sin...things that never occur to me. I could see charging more over a certain age, or if you are obese, etc. But for color? Apparently it had never occurred to the hustler, either.

But what set me back even more was that the erstwhile client, who was apparently a black man, had run into this before...and was open to hiring a prostitute who would charge him extra for his race!

Friday, March 23, 2007

I did not make this up

I have now been initiated into the hate-mail experience of on-line dating. Emails below between a guy from named James, and me. All took place within about 36 hours. We never talked on the phone or met face to face…

James 1

Figured I'd better say hello before my subscription ends. Damn , you seem interesting! Any chance we could hook up for coffee or something? Let me know soon before I turn into a dung beetle.



Stephen 1

Good morning.

As long as you are not likely to do the Metamorphosis thing during coffee, I'd say that it'd be possible.

How about sending me your non-Match email address and then the subscription deadline won't matter?


James 2

My e-mail address is: Oh yeah! Soon please.

Stephen 2

Hi, James.

"Soon. Please" You're an enthusiastic guy, eh? Or maybe just clear.

I keep my enthusiasms in a spare room, but I like to be clear, too.

I recall now that I have seen your profile before. The brain slows up a bit with time. I did give it more than a one-second glance because I thought it showed brains and humor (Buddy, can you paradigm?) and I often wind up having connections with musical types, as well. And another exec director. From the rest of your very articulate text, I got the sense that you're passionately attached to your work and to a sense of internal integrity. Hmmm, I thought.

But I didn't contact you, for a couple of reasons, now coming back to me . I was well above your stated age range and you're just a bit below my youngest line. I didn't have a strong reaction to your pictures. Your politics are not just "liberal" -- the usual-- but "very liberal", which I took to mean sort of SF progressive.

Given your sense of passion and clarity, I figured that we would find ourselves un-matched in a few significant ways. My politics are quite rare for an SF homo. I'm pretty right wing, actually. I would have no trouble with a guy who worked for the phone company, or a bank, or the US Marines. George Bush, for whom I voted, annoys me because he has turned out to be such a pussy. I miss the cowboy. If they like your smile or if you kiss 'em right, some guys can ignore all that, but my sense is that my smile would not be sufficient to bridge that gap between you and me. You'd not be so easily distracted.

So...if we got together for coffee, that would be the background from my side. And you might indeed find me "damned interesting", but in a Frankenstein-monster kinda way. I am a nice guy (unless you're an illegal alien), charming, funny and very bright. I don't rant unless severely, severely provoked, but I have found that even mildly-phrased expressions of my worldview sometime render the openminded, freethinking and tolerant gay burghers of SF apoplectic. When I told a 68-year-old Buddhist lawyer that I favored an orginalist reading of the Constitution, he made "I'd like to strangle you" gestures with his hands. And this was the first date!

So if this message seems unfriendly, it's not. I admit to being (ironically, for a 2nd Amendment supporter) gun-shy on the topic. I just don't want to waste your time or make you feel ambushed. If you want to reconsider the coffee offer, I would understand completely..but if you're feeling like a field trip into a foreign land would be of interest...


James 3

Hello Stephen,

First of all, you should know that the age I have listed in my profile is my Oprah-Winfrey-age. I'm really 57. Including time in utero, 58. Secondly, it's clear to me that you live on the planet Zylon. I can't figure out if you are happy or miserable there. Although I'm leaning toward the latter.

You say that you are intrigued by the male soul (what ever that is). But I think you really only want to piss guys off. Cases in point: You are a cheap cigar aficionado, not Havanas just stinky Cigarillos, creating a cloud of stink, smoke, distance, isolation, mask, wall. You are a right wing homo in the midst of bourgeois left-wing poseurs. Hey, you must be one sick dude if you are nostalgic for the days when George Bush bore a more cowboy-like image. Yes, that's what we need- cowboys in the White House. Your voting for him was disgusting yet more likely to be some sort of acting out designed to be fatal for a relationship with me and most other local men I suspect. Is the soul of a lineman, banker, Marine easier to access? Or is yours more comfortably hidden with these men? As a proud Frankenstein, there is need to answer these questions for me.

So, a 68 year old, Buddhist lawyer wanted to strangle you. Why am I not surprised?

I hope you don't think that I'm being unkind or full of shit, but I sense that you have a mighty fortress around you to protect you from being intimate. In fact, the only tenderness I was able to detect in your e-mail was that ambiguous statement about the 2nd Amendment. Interesting it was, that you had to couch a sense of your own vulnerability in terms of the right to bear arms.

If you don't reply to this email at all, I'll understand. I would appreciate a fuck-you-very- much though.



Stephen 3


I guess my first instinct was wiser.

A winning smile and kissing skills
would not have been enough
to bridge the gap between planets.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My homosexuality cured by fiat

My mom, now in her early 80's, a bright woman with a college degree, who is very much aware of her surroundings, recently astonished me by announcing that I was not really gay. I was, as you may imagine, taken aback, and asked what she meant by that. She said, "You're not (then mouthing the word silently) homosexual. " I expressed incomprehension. She refused to explain. "End of discussion", was what she said. And left the room.

So, the last three decades plus of my life have now been revealed as an enormous prank. My ex, who ought to know, was puzzled. "Who did she think you were to me," he asked, "my parole officer?"

I told a friend, with whom I spent all of yesterday afternoon, of this astounding development. And considering how I spent all of yesterday afternoon with him , it is astounding indeed! He re-framed it very well. "Just think", he offered, "now all us men you've slept with can brag that we managed to seduce this very hot straight dude."

Well, if you look at it that way....;-)

PS. Does childbirth make women insane?

The F Word, continued

Returned to the Left Coast after some time travelling and non-blogging, to find that Ann Coulter has used the F word in reference to John Edwards.

I correspond with a wounded young gay Marine. I recently used the word "fabulous" in an email in such a way that he had to use the word as well in replying. He told me that this was the first time in his life he had ever written that word and that he had never actually said the word "fabulous" out loud. Now, THAT's an "F word".

If only Ann had called Edwards a "pussy", she could have made her point, been suitably offensive and not been dragged off to the stocks for punishment... If JohnBoy were not a pussy, he would have called Ann an ignorant bitch...and that would be that. What ever happened to the glory days of SNL's Point-Counterpoint? "Jane, you ignorant slut." I actually wish Ms. Coulter and Ms. Edwards would settle the issue of verbal insults in the same way that I wish Isaiah Washington and TR Knight had settled it (see post of 1/14/07...The F Word). I'd be fascinated to see who won the fist-fight portion of the program. Any bets?

I'm not thrilled that she called him a faggot. I'm a faggot and I don't want him to be one of us. Rude language is, well, rude. But therefore effective. What good is name-calling if it doesn't offend?

But: What does it say about a society when even right-wingers sign petitions disassociating themselves from someone who has served their cause, caustically but consistently, because she uses a word that "faggots" themselves use all the effing time? It's like "nigger". When a non-black uses it, all hell breaks loose. But it's a staple of black conversation, comedy and music, at least among the cool set.

Am I the only one who finds this more troubling than Ann's nastiness?
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