Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Today is Spy Wednesday. Not an official day in the Church calendar, at least anymore outside of Ireland and Wales. Today is the day when Judas arranged his betrayal of Christ.
Spy Wednesday is a Celtic name for the day. And it reminded me of the two Irish phrases that my grandmother taught me. She was born in America in 1892, of Irish immigrant parents. The two phrases are telling.
The first, and most often used, Pogue mo thoin, pronounced "Poga mohone". Meaning? "Kiss my ass." Yeah, grandma taught me.
And the second I learned verbally from her, too, pronouncing it (incorrectly, I suspect), as follows: "A nanya ma naha awgus avik awgus shprig naha amen."
It's the Sign of the Cross, "In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." In Irish, with its maddening spelling, I n-ainm an athar, agus an mhic, agus an sprid naoimh. Amen.
An insult and a blessing. These things last.
I have often said that the only Christian doctrine that is obviously and empirically true and needs no faith to embrace is Original Sin. Not the mechanism --highly problematic, IMHO-- but the content: that we are a race seemingly destined for so much more than the rampant selfishness and stupidity which we exhibit so floridly, constantly and predictably.
My Gnostic side casts us as participants in an original flaw in the creation itself, beings in a dilemma, subjects of a condition, of a world-crack far older than Adam, one that must be traced back to Creator somehow. But it does not lessen the descriptive accuracy of the portrait.
Walking home this morning, I saw one of the "We All Deserve The Freedom To Marry" signs that have sometimes populated the neighborhood. "We All". That cozy lie, making of so many competing tribes a fictitious family. And "Deserve". If there is one thing about America in my lifetime that irks me...and there are a few...it is this notion that we "deserve" this or that. Streak-free hair. A new SUV. Government health care. And "Freedom." As if the progressives who are behind all this care one whit for anyone's freedom but their own.
It started me thinking that the underlying narrative for so many of us is that there is a vast and undiscovered country of rights and entitlements that we have somehow, by the evil designs of wicked men, been prevented from entering. Here we are, in the modern West, a unique bubble in history, living lives of health, abundance, safety, sanitation, convenience, and freedom unheard of since the Garden of Eden. Has there ever been a world in which is is easier to survive? For all his opulence and power, Louis XIV could not dream of the ease of life for an ordinary person in America or Europe or Australia. Places where we wring our hands because the poor are fat. And yet there is this constant whiny rage, and outrage at being barred from utopia. We take so much that is miraculous, and fragile, for granted. It astounds me. But that is part of the truth of the story of Original Sin. Set us in Paradise and we will be restless for something we think must be better. You know how that turned out.
And a HT to Charles Winecoff for this barely readable piece in the New York Times. God, do these people not ever listen to themselves? Do they live in a bell jar with Sylvia? A self-pityingly multiracial American poetess died. Ai. Yeah, Ai is what she renamed herself. Get this.
Her work — known for its raw power, jagged edges and unflinching examination of violence and despair — stood as a damning indictment of American society...Ai was college educated and award winning, a friggin' professor of poetry at Oklahoma State University in the American society of which her raw jagged and unflinching work was a damning indictment. I'll bet she suffered a lot, poor thing.
You know what's "a damning indictment of American society"? That it produces and then not only tolerates but celebrates so many who whine so much about so little, when they should be thanking Heaven that they were born when and where they were.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Boyo and I spent most of yesterday hiking in Point Reyes. It had rained, it was foggy pretty well all the time and the trails were moist to muddy. Animal tracks were apparent, and the notice that reminded us we were in mountain lion country did give me pause. On clear days, you catch glimpses of the ocean and the surrounding hills, but when your vision is constrained, you lose some sense of distance and perspective. On the way back, the sun came out briefly and everything was illuminated. We met few other folks.
We had lunch, part one, at Bass Lake. I am no fan of being wet-and-cold, so I declined repeated requests to go swimming.
But the salami and artichoke and chicken were good. Lunch part two was pasta and salad at Allemere Falls. And the pleasure of a great playmate is very real. What's not to like about smooching in the woods?
I did my doctoral thesis on Heidegger and Aquinas. It was a long time ago and I forget a great deal of it. But I do recall realizing the power of ruling metaphor for thinking. Aquinas' primary image was the sun, a center of light that sets everything brightly in place. But Heidegger's was the forest path, --presumably on a foggy day!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Politics. Pretty dismal. Barack Hussein Obama sits in the White House. A bad dream. Busy trying to turn America into Europe. Or Canada. I can't believe that the American electorate fell for his BS. I still hold that the only reason he's there is that he is --not Black, as he claims, but Half-Black, which he'd like us to forget-- "Black". How many guilt-addicted liberals voted for him. And 90% of Blacks. No racial bias there, of course. What a mess. I hope the Republic survives him and his ilk. Not at all sure it will. VDH nails it, as usual.
Sex. Pretty amazing. God, but I do like sex. Damn. The whole process, from the first glint in the eye to the hand on the shoulder to the happily sweaty and grinningly piled up afterglow a couple of hours later. Time stops. Reality becomes utterly concentrated right there. Totally submerged in an ocean of carnality, supremely awake and aware and completely comfortable and at home, pretty literally, in my own skin. And his.
Religion. Pretty uninspiring. But it beats "spirituality". This is Holy Week. As I've said before, if I could find a traditional Catholic --or even Anglican-- church which performed the rites well but without having the priests open their mouths to preach, I'd consider going. Mencken was right on back in 1920, although now the issue is not Darwin but "social justice".
A bishop in his robes, playing his part in the solemn ceremonial of the Mass, is a dignified spectacle, even though he may sweat freely; the same bishop, bawling against Darwin half an hour later, is seen to be simply an elderly Irishman with a bald head, the son of a respectable saloon-keeper in South Bend, Indiana.So...I guess it's "Thank God for sex."
Saturday, March 27, 2010
National Geographic TV has a program on the failed attempt of a Scottish outdoorsman to live alone and off the land for three months in the Canadian Yukon. He filmed himself, including the time he began to starve and deteriorate mentally and emotionally, forcing a rescue after 50 days.
I have to say, he's not got a TV personality. Not an interesting or articulate guy. And although he had the guts to attempt something difficult and dangerous, you begin to wonder if he was really just being foolish, totally underestimating the challenge of solitude and hunger (combined!), and you get to watch him be afraid and indecisive a lot. A lot.
But you also discover that he has to forego several opportunities to feed himself with duck or moose because of Canadian hunting laws!
Friday, March 26, 2010
The guy above is Josh Weston, a porn performer*. I have passed him in the street. Porcelain skin, totally lean muscle and the best set of shoulders you could ask for.
The fella here below has his profile up on another site and describes himself as "better at being a guy than being gay." I'm sure that's not his only talent.
For those of you who require some transhormonal depth of meaning, you can tag this post under argument from design.
*He died in December 2012 from HIV at age 39.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I am one of those conservatives, not totally unusual, who do not (or no longer) practice their ancestral religion, but hold it in high esteem and hope for its health and thriving. Inconsistent? Maybe. There are lots of things I am in favor of that I personally do not participate in.
Anyway, in my cyberwanderings, I came across the remnants of a controversy about Roger Haight, a Jesuit theologian who re-interpreted Christ in a way that Rome found seriously deficient. His book, Jesus Symbol of God, --that kinda gives the game away right there--was widely praised by the theological professoriate, who had previously made him president of the US Catholic Theological Association (no nest of Rome-lovers, they). After he basically refused to change his positions, he was refused permission to teach Catholic theology by none other than the current Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger.
You know, when you consider the range of discipline and punishment formerly meted out to theologians who fiddled with the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection or the Mass, etc. being told not to teach is a very modern and very mild rap on the knuckles. And when you consider what job a Catholic theologian has, especially an ordained one, what else could you expect? "Yes, we know you hold positions contrary to important Catholic doctrines, so we will let you continue to teach them"? Look at what crossing orthodoxy merely on race and gender cost Larry Summers!
Anyway, he complied, Father Haight did. And then got a job teaching at the uberliberal Protestant Union Seminary in New York. And wrote yet another book on Christ in the very same vein. Now he has been told he may not teach systematic theology or Christology anywhere, at all. He can teach other things, but not those.
An Orthodox theologian, John Garvey, very ecumenically reviewed the second book and found it thin: "The Jesus offered in The Future of Christology would not scandalize a Unitarian" and he applied to it Lincoln's dismissal of Douglas's arguments, "as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death." Ouch. But the Orthodox are very, well, orthodox that way. You would hardly expect anything else.
I recall reading a glowing review of Haight's work in a Jungian journal some years ago. The author's praise seemed to be based on her assumption that Haight had given up thinking that Christ was anything more than a symbol. Seems the Romans and the Jungians were on the same page there.
But there was a quote from Haight in the Garvey review that struck me and that is the inspiration for the posting title and suggests the pomo ethics whence the project actually proceeds. Here it is:
In our new stage of the history of the human race ... we cannot in principle provide a metaphysical grounding for competition and imperialism by defining Christianity as the only true religion, thereby relegating other religions as inferior to Christianity."Roger, can you spell Islam?
Islam, the most (literally) explosively active and self-confident religion in the world, is completely clear and wholly unapologetic that it is the perfect and final revelation of God, meant to dominate and eventually replace all other religions, including the Jim Crow "religions of the book." How do you expect to confront that with the emotional and epistemological armory of a pomo United Church of Christ professor?
This is the kind of insulated liberal egalitarian-loving stupidity that makes me think these otherwise bright people are deaf dumb and blind. In their cultural milieu certainty is seen simply as arrogance. Unless it is certainty about the things they are certain about. (See above mention of Larry Summers).
For some very specific reasons, I do not practice Roman Catholicism. But it has the potential to be one of the few bulwarks in the West against the totalitarianism of resurgent Islam. Why take away one of its most powerful strengths against an ancient foe in order, yet again, to please a few of middle-class Christianity's cultured despisers ?
I am reminded of Flannery O'Connor, perhaps America's only great modern Christian writer.
She was a staunch, if idiosyncratic, Catholic in the Bible Belt and was famous for her bizarre characters. When someone proposed to her the idea of the Eucharist as a symbol, her reply was,
"If it's a symbol, to hell with it."
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Skinny, skinny, geek genius with really bad long stringy straight hair. And the voice. The voice. Reedy and cracked, with a hyper Midwest accent, plus my least favorite vocal tic, the rising terminal interrogative. I'm not even gonna link to a photo of him.
He irritates me so much I never even realized that one of the other leads was Mandy Patinkin, who has always irritated me.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Mr. Washington, sir. As part of our interview today, as I ask you about the course of the war you are waging against the British, I am channelling a prediction about the future.
"I do not hold with fortune-telling, sir."
No, wait. This is really strong. Please, just oblige me. Here it is.
You will be victorious in your revolution and the American States will become an independent nation.
"Nice to hear. Continue."
When the Republic has endured, not without great sacrifice and difficulty, for almost 235 years, there will be a President who is half African and half White, raised as a Mohammedan but often attending a church which calls for America to be damned.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives will be an Italian Catholic woman from the land along the Pacific Ocean. And the leader of the majority party in the Congress will be a lawyer from the Western deserts, a man whose religion will be founded on polygamy so that its members can become gods on their own planets one day.
"Do not jest with me, sir."
And together these three will get Congress to pass a law --one that is so large it is bigger than a Bible-- binding on all Americans, that they must all join something like medical benevolent societies or be fined with a tax by the national government, equivalent to a full week's wages.
That's it. That's the vision, sir.
Washington stands and exits the room.
Excuse me, sir, General Washington, where are you going?
"To surrender to General Cornwallis."
I recall the liberals being in high hysteria about the Bush administration's "shredding the constitution." Now we have Obamacare. So if I don't buy an approved health insurance policy, I will be fined by the federal government? And that's constitutional?
And that's not all.
I am not letting myself feel how I feel about Barry Hussein O and Pelosi and Reid and the whole bunch of them because the feelings are very ugly indeed.
I have a very liberal sister who said that all during the Bush years she felt as if aliens from some other world had occupied the White House and the government and that the country she knew had disappeared. I think I know how she felt.
We'll see how the Americans respond in the fall elections and in 2012.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Studies indicate that diversity training does not make people more open to...diversity.
Speaking for myself, my years in the nonprofit sector included dealing with this BS and BS it was. Those trainings actually helped to produce in me the conviction that "diversity" is an anti-White, cultural Marxist game. And the popinjays of color I was forced to endure...well, don't get me started.
There are people I know and love who are not white, or male, or both. It would infuriate me if they were refused work, advancement, etc. just because of their color or gender. But I treat them as individuals, not as ethnic flower pots. I have a Korean-American friend who is paler than I am. When she is dragged out at work to represent "people of color", we both laugh ourselves silly.
I once led a revolt in a multiculti training when we were put into groups as Latinos, Blacks, Asians (you can imagine how happy the Filipinos were to be put in a group with the Japanese) and Whites. I told the leader that as a Celt I would not be rendered invisible, homogenized and subordinate to the hegemony of the Anglos, who had destroyed my ancestors' culture and language. Other Celts joined me and we had two groups of whities, Celts and Other Whites. Of course it was a total farce, but by his own stupid rules, the "facilitator" --a black man who told us we just should not expect black employees to come to meetings, or work, on time-- had to go along. Hey, I never said I wasn't passive aggressive.
But as we know...along with the Yugoslavians, the Hutu & Tutsi, the Uighurs & Han, the Tibetans & Han, the Flemish & Walloons, the Quebeckers & Canadians, hey even the Sunni & Shia...diversity makes us stronger. Yeah, and Arbeit macht frei.
HT to Kathy Shaidle.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The second* most misleading phrase in Western history.
Inequality is the structure of nature and reality.
*The most misleading? "God is love."
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sometimes stupidity just burns me. Especially coming from people who claim to be smart.
I wandered onto the sites of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Yeah, one word: womenpriests.
Kinda tells you what they're all about.
These are girls who got themselves "ordained" by some stray bishop and now are playing at being womenbishops and womenpriests, "ordaining" each other. Have at it girls, but the thing which burns me is calling it all "Roman Catholic." It's just, well, wrong and stupid. Call yourselves Old Catholics, New Catholics, American Catholics, Reformed Catholics, etc. But if you call yourselves Roman Catholics and then break with the primary mode of transmission of Roman Catholicism, the priesthood....you're stupid, at the very least. It hasn't been 1968 for a long time.
Rome says you can't ordain a woman, says it consistently and says it solemnly. So there it is. You can't baptize with gravy. You can't confirm by laying on of feet and anointing with Noxema. You can't marry five people at the same time. You can't consecrate the Eucharist with beer and rice cakes. You can't make a priest out of a female.
Hate it. Deny it. Defy it. But don't pretend to be a priest or bishop and then say it's "Roman Catholic." That's just...stupid.
Jack Donovan wrote Androphilia (as Jack Malebranche), the feisty 2007 farewell of an unrepentantly man-loving man to the pre-packaged identity of gayness. For better or worse, that little book has had a big impact on how I see myself and how I see the gay world, which I increasingly see myself as "in" but not "of". (Cf John 17:13-16!).
As I was walking down Castro Street today, I was thinking again that pretty well the only thing I have in common with the denizens of the gay ghetto is a common interest in same-sex eros. I do not agree with the victim-based LGBT grievance-group identity, nor with the captivity of these folks to progressive Left thinking and statist politics, nor with the feminist-led ambivalence (at best) about being a man.
Part of the conservative temper is a hesitancy to fiddle with what has been long established and seems to work pretty well. In conservative parlance, "work pretty well" is practically an ecstatic outburst, since so much does not. Marriage, for all its limitations, works pretty well. Has anyone found an empirically superior long-term societal alternative? The law of unintended consequences takes up a lot of space in conservative minds. And although I have a lot of personal sympathy with gay and lesbian people whom I know (and love) who want same-sex marriage, on a wider cultural scale I am skeptical.
It would please me more to have the military decide, on its own, to ignore sexual orientation than to have same-sex marriage enshrined in law.
Well, Mr. Donovan has taken a stand on both these issues in his usual forceful, clear, kinda take-no-prisoners way.
Gay marriage. No. Homosexual soldiers. Yes.
Here's his piece. Enjoy.
Small island, Eire. Saint Patrick made the Irish Christians in the 5th century. He was a Roman Briton, kidnapped and enslaved by the Irish as a boy. He escaped but returned later, with a big impact. A big chunk of my ancestry came from there. My middle name, chosen at confirmation, is Patrick.
When I was thirteen, the night I graduated from eighth grade to be exact, my Dad sat me down and explained that he was not my only Dad, that my mother had been married before and that her first husband, who had died in a car accident, was my birth father.
I was only ten weeks old when he'd died happened, so I had no memory. And my Dad had entered the picture fast, marrying my mom when I was just two. So as far as I was concerned, he was my father.
My first response to all this information? Wanting to know the deceased man's name, to make sure I was still Irish!
For better or worse, he was 100% Hibernian and so my gene pool remained unchanged.
In the interim, I have sometimes had reason to wish otherwise. Specifically, I told my mom that if she were going to marry a short-lived father, instead of marrying a tall, skinny, pale Irishman to mirror the tall, skinny, pale Scandinavians of her family, she could have found a 5'9" Italian football player. For example....
That would have been a happier genetic mix: skin less likely to burn, possibly even able to tan, a more mesomorphic frame to work with and perhaps a less sensitive conscience!
But instead of pasta, wine, veal and garlic, I got potatoes, whisky, corned beef and soda bread. And Irish Catholic guilt.
I am very adept at language. In my heydey, I spoke Spanish fluently, and did well in French, Italian, could read German, along with Latin, Greek, some Hebrew. Even did basic Esperanto.
But when I tried Irish I was stumped. The spelling-pronunciation dynamic makes English look like simple math. In the Sign of the Cross, for example, the phrase, "and of the Son" is "agus an Mhac". But it is pronounced "agus a vik." You get the point. I gave up.
Erin go bragh. Lotsa good craic to you.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I have always remembered my IQ score as 130. My nephew recently scored 156, and as I was telling my mom that he was then 26 points smarter, she said, no, your IQ when we had it done in grade school was 142.
Now I feel like even more of an underachiever!
PS. IQ is important, but I know, as a smartypants of either 130 or 142 with five university degrees, that there are lots of other qualities that make even more significant differences in life. My brain can hold lots of information (of certain types) and it processes very very fast. Language stuff especially. When it comes to math, though, no smarty I.
High IQ also does not, for instance, mean that you are good with money. Trust me.
I am waiting for this to be front page news on the BAR.
*Well, no one in our very PC press has named them as followers of Mohammed, but their names are Mohammad Habibzada, Shafiq Hashemi and Sayed Bassam. Think I'm rushing to judgment?
One of the most useful insights I have gleaned from reading philosopher John Kekes is that conservatism is, or should be, anti-ideological. This is partly because ideology is a form of rationalism, that taking of an idea (almost always untested by practice) and imposing it on society as the solution to a problem. A kind of unhinged intellectual obsession. Enforced
equality is now the ideology of choice in the liberal West...a strange obsession for the victors of the Cold War against Marxism, the ideology of enforced equality.
Kekes helped me articulate why my libertarian sympathies never developed into a Libertarian affiliation. Libertarianism is an ideology, the consistent and comprehensive application of the principle of non-coercion. Something, by the way, that has never been tried.
Advocates of gay marriage often have a similar rationalist argument. Ignoring what works and what doesn't in this most complex and crucial area of gender and reproduction, they announce a theorem of equality. Poof. A solution.
It strikes me that we never make decisions in this way about our own lives, or the lives of our families --a non-rational institution if ever there was one. We calculate all kinds of factors, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously or even lazily ("Sorry, that just doesn't work for me"). But we are hardly ever ideological about our most personal interests. Does that bode well for using rationalist and ideological arguments for the larger world?
For example, how many of the white enlightened class in San Francisco, who hold only the most advanced racial views, move heaven and earth to get their kids into a good school, often private?
A lot of the cumulative decisions of many humans over many ages sometimes goes by the name of tradition. In some cultures, that word has positive and even determinative value. But in ours, it is practically pejorative. Because tradition, supposedly, is not rational.
And rationality is better than "blind" or "mere" tradition, which, after all, was made up by all kinds of inferior (and dead) people who were not...us.
It may have been Chesterton who called tradition "the democracy of the dead", since it continued to give a voice to lives that had been live through to the end. I find it ironic that people I know who sigh enviously at how "spiritual" brown and yellow and red people revere their ancestors will, at the slightest inconvenience, dismiss or pathologize their own, often in the forms of life that they have handed down to us, like marriage, for instance.
Since I am a believer in The Fall, I do not grant sinlessness or infallibility to human tradition. But I do, especially as I get older, give it the benefit of the doubt for starters and then try to understand why it turned out as it did. Some things become obvious only with time.
A trivial example. When I was a monk, there was a long tradition of eating meals together but in silence, with one monk reading aloud during the dinner. This inhibited "community connection" and so, during the era of The Church Efervescent, it was largely abolished, along with the long tables, etc. We sat together at smaller tables and talked. All the time. Morning, noon and evening. Do you know how wearisome it is to try to make conversation with people you live with for years and don't even like? God, how I wanted the old way back. It was kind, not cruel.
For all its benefits, one of the things the Enlightenment did, I suspect, was sow the seeds for the de-racination from reality of the Western mind. It helped us believe the Star-Trek-silly notion of "universal human rights" transcending human attachments to soil and tribe and self-interest.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Here we are, the Burghers and me.
On the one hand, it's kinda unintentionally disrespectful. The story of the Burghers is noble and sad. But on the other hand, it appeals to my sense of the absurd. By his own description, the Boyo found the action "high concept fun."
Plus, my Dad, who taught me, laboriously, to throw and catch, would probably sorta approve.
Someone else who finds the word "racism" now a mere rhetorical weapon opines that
"the term means little more than believing in the scientific method and rejecting the double standard which says Asian countries for Asians, African countries for Africans, Middle Eastern countries for Middle Easterners and white nations for everybody.If you'd like to empty a room, start a discussion about race and IQ.
Or suggest that the head of the Detroit Board of Education should be able to write a complete and proper English sentence...after spending 15 years in college. Role modelling and all...
A few years ago I was working for an organization which had found a wealthy donor to provide some much needed improvements to their old offices. This person was charming and likeable, extraordinarily easy to work with. And was giving substantially out of a real sense of gratitude.
But one day the donor mentioned to me, with the kind of quiet exultation of someone who has landed a real coup and was sharing their joy, that our next lunch would have to be rescheduled because they were meeting with some friends, lawyers who were volunteering to represent the prisoners at Guantanamo.
The clear assumption of the communication was that I would be impressed. I was, of course, not.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I really don't get it. Really. I don't.
I can't tell you how deeply uninterested I am in women's clothes.
Really. I can't.
In my Aristotelian wonderings about what gay men are for, what their purpose is, one of the themes that comes up is: decoration and ornament.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Today is my birthday. I had a very nice celebration. Very nice. Partly conventional, partly not. It included hot dogs and burghers (sic) ...and softball...at the Gates of Hell...in Stanford. At the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, I posed with a mummified baboon...who is older than me.
Picnic on a bench, on a blanket, under a tree to keep the rain off, in Rosicrucian Park, across from a plaque quoting the Delphic Oracle: "No one is wiser than Socrates because he knows he knows nothing."
Menu: Sandwiches of Molinari hot sausages and peppers, roasted chicken thighs, roasted beets with parsley, tortellini with sauteed vegetables, oranges, and Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale (!).
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Eighteenth Amendment. Banning the importation, manufacture or sale of intoxicating liquors.
Just think about it. They amended the effing federal Constitution to make people stop drinking.
Talk about moralistic statist intrusion and control. I guess it's more of an American tradition than I'd like to believe. I know that the Puritan impulse is strong in this country and it shows up in a myriad of ways. Nowadays among cool and groovy people who would never in a million years think of themselves as puritanical, just concerned about health and safety and the environment and the children.
Hey, good old Thomas Jefferson, friend of the French Revolution, wrote a law in Virginia that provided the punishment of castration for men who engaged in sodomy.
I wandered onto a blog yesterday where a Catholic man who is "same-sex attracted" holds forth on the virtues of seeking sanctity through celibacy, etc. While I understand, intellectually and historically, why Catholicism can only validate traditional marriage as the place for sexuality, it always pains me to run into an actual homosexual Catholic who tries to live this out. It is in the realm of personal experience that the doctrine runs aground for me.
In this fella's case, he was wondering if he had been stunted or damaged because his father had never sat down with him and had The Talk, explaining the realities of sex. Well, my dad did just that and I remain very "same-sex attracted", so...
But what is sad is a comment he makes, admitting that language about sex being an act of love is "completely foreign" to him. In his few dozen sexual encounters with other men, he reveals that only one of them had any reason to think that he might love him. I ran across this same theme on the blog of another "same-sex attracted" Catholic who is now rather famous for his gay-defiant orthodoxy. He plenty of experience having sex with other men, but had no experience of making love with another man and could not imagine how male-male sex could possibly express love.
Well, someone is indeed stunted or damaged. That is a sad thing to hear.
I can understand why people who have no direct experience of male-male sex find it upsetting or even repulsive. As I have said, it involves physical gestures which to most people signify degradation, pain or dirt.
And I have also noted that for very many people who are heterosexual, their own "natural" gestures are often seen in a quite similar way. The paradox of seeing sex as both exciting and disgusting is hardly original. It feels almost archetypal.
I also know from experience that the repertoire of sexual gestures available to men with men is capable of a wide range of meanings, good and bad, but that love is one of them.
To continue in the Catholic mode, all of human life, sex included, lies under the sign of the Fall. The tragic element in creation is enormous and flawed humans enact flawed lovemaking. Is there selfishness, dishonesty, wrongheadness, illusion, mere mistake possible in sex? Can it be part of heartbreak? Of course. Not because it is sex, but because humans do it. But humans they are, and lovemaking it can be.
Perhaps the poor man has just never been properly kissed.
When I was a kid, my maternal grandmother, "Kitty" Dowd, moved in with us after she was widowed. I liked her a lot and she liked me. She was easygoing, told good stories, smoked, and sometimes used bad language. After Mass on Sundays, she'd always check in with her bookie. She was great at aphorisms and remains the most quoted member of my family, even though she died over forty years ago.
For example, when anyone would complain about life's unfairness, she'd say, "There's no justice in this world. And good thing, too. Otherwise, we'd all be hung from the yardarm at dawn."
I do recall her looking at me one day after one of our conversations about I-don't-remember-what, and saying to me through wreaths of smoke, "Ah, but you're a queer duck."
True, Nana, truer than you knew. Or maybe you did.
I was watching a scifi program recently and the plot involved two couples. The guys are good looking guys and the women are, by any standard, very beautiful. But this queer duck realized, once again, that while the men have a vividness and three-dimensionality as physical beings --the cut of a jaw, the thickness of a shoulder, the timbre of a voice, the rhythm of a walk-- the women seem to me like talking surfaces. Shiny but without blood or fire.
And although the men are clearly entranced by them, it escapes me why that is so. One of the women is a beautiful but rather calmly masculine character, a military scientist. She at least is likeable, self-possessed and interesting. The other one was all ringlets of hair and too much smiling and blinking and a sibilant British accent and (to me) skinny white shoulders, etc. The power to attract is clearly there for the man. But not for this one. My radio does not get that station at all, one that almost all the men in history have been listening to obsessively.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Lee Harris. A fine and clear-minded writer and thinker,
called by some "the philosopher of 9/11".
His 2007 interview with Dennis Prager here.
His website here.
"Effing impressive guy" Ayan Hirsi Ali
reviews and critiques his book The Suicide of Reason.
His doubts about changing the traditions of marriage
expressed at length here.
His upcoming book in May:
The Next American Civil War: The Populist Revolt
against the Liberal Elite.
Lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia
with Andy Fuson, his partner of more than twenty years.
LANCASTER-- A man was stabbed in the neck with a meat thermometer after asking a woman to silence her cell phone in a movie theater, a sheriff's department official said.
The stabbing occurred last Saturday at the Cinemark 22 theater at 2600 West Avenue I in Lancaster, according to Detective Richard Cartmill of the Lancaster sheriff's station.
Deputies say that while the movie was playing, a woman was talking on her phone and the victim asked her to turn it off.
The victim was attacked by the woman's boyfriend and another man. Deputies say he was stabbed in the neck with a meat thermometer.
The victim was hospitalized and is expected to survive. Two other people who attempted to help the victim were also injured in the altercation.
Sheriff's officials describe the suspects as black males. One man was wearing an orange hat with an orange jacket or jersey. The other man was dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt.Anyone with information on the attack is asked to contact the Lancaster sheriff's station at (661) 948-8466.
PS. Original story reveals that the woman and two men left the theatre and then came back to do the stabbing.
HT to my moviegoing companion G, and the original story in the Free Republic. Lancaster, BTW, is in Los Angeles County.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
All is vanity and a chasing after the wind, Saith the Preacher.
The Boyo has a workmate who would not go to see Avatar because it is too violent.
Got a jar of homemade marmalade composed mostly of the lemons from my backyard, along with blood oranges and ginger. Nice. Made by the partner of a friend and erotic partner of mine; I was best man at their gay wedding.
That's a true fact.
Who says all right-wingers are one-dimensional? Or consistent.
Long ago a mentor of mine pointed out that I hold lots of strong opinions about things and about groups of people, but if you put an individual person in front of me, it's a whole new ball game. Strikes me as a typical conservative attitude. And one I like.
Which punishment is more cruel? The fate of the Titan Prometheus, whose regrown liver is eaten out each day by an eagle or that of the half-human Tantalus, who is fixed forever in Hades, with cooling water and ripe fruit close but always out of reach?
Having to finish up my CE requirement for my license renewal. I really hate fulfilling tedious tasks for large organizations, especially when they cost me money and involve filling out forms. Like doing my taxes.
I am glad Howard Zinn is dead. Couldn't have happened soon enough. Ungrateful Jew. See Item Three here. (Does this put me in the same moral category of caring activist and Hugo Chavez adoring actor Sean Penn, who hopes people who criticize him die of rectal cancer? Although, mercifully, he only wants you jailed if you call His Excellency a dictator...)
I like waking up, now that in the mornings the sun is up before I am.
I miss my car.
I like American porn much better than Euro porn. The men are far better built and better looking. And they at least appear to be enjoying themselves or to be engaged with one another with some intensity. Most of the Euros look like homely skinny bored sleepwalkers doing housework to schmaltzy mall muzak.
Cajun music. Great stuff. Hard not to move. Can make an accordion sound like Mozart. In an alternative life, I wouldn't mind having some Cajun ancestry.
Why are so many of the women characters on television angry unhappy castrating bitches, right out of the gate? A lot of them need to be smacked, hard and fast and regular. All this unmotivated rage. That's supposed to be strength? A stellar exception is "Angela Montenegro" on Bones. She is smart, beautiful, playfully sensual, self-confident, talented but enjoys life and the people of both sexes around her. Her power does not rely on humiliating others.
That H1N1 really kicked the shit out of me in January. Back almost to normal levels of performance at the gym, but it's taken six weeks or more. Must be getting better; a hunky 45 year old seriously hit on me there the other day.
As a religion, I find Protestantism utterly boring, though they have some good music. But since there would have been no America without the Reformation, I am retroactively glad of it.
Speaking of music and America, even if you take a dim view of the Brits, past or present, it's hard not to be moved by "Jerusalem, Parry's transformation of Blake.
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
And even if you take a dim view of the Mormons, same thing for "Come, come, ye saints." Always brings tears. "All is well. All is well."
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
And lay this body down?
And as my trembling spirits fly
Into a world unknown
I sometimes think that with age and experience you should find the world easier to take, since the unreal expectations of youth have been worn away and you can flow with less tension. Some days I do. But some days I am glad that we have limited life spans and that I will not have to live here forever as the place seems to get worse all the time. Curmudgeon, anyone?
My ex emailed me a YouTube video of a Japanese taiko musician waling away at a big drum.
He is shot from the back, dressed only in a fundoshi. God, the male animal is a miracle of form and function.
I was always taught that belief in a creator God and acceptance of evolution were not incompatible. In principle, no reason why they should be. Evolution would then be the modality of God's creation. But if you pay attention to the process, you find unimaginable realms of time in which whole worlds are created and then destroyed. (The Kabbalists thought this, too, for other reasons.) To call the process savage, from the human viewpoint, is understatement defined. The God who is revealed in the higher religions, a (mostly!) purposeful, benevolent, wise and powerful intelligence, seems far removed from the vast theatre of eons in which struggle and eating dominate. A religion of principles must necessarily be a religion unable to address the world as it is and has been. That is why the messy narratives of the Old and New Testaments are better guides to reality than deracinated value statements. Perhaps the difference between "spirituality" and "religion" is the different emphasis they place on blood.
So, here I am: a product of more than six decades of living, of aeons of evolution, and the workings of divine grace on fallen nature. Stunning results, no?
Sunday, March 07, 2010
I saw an Oscar-nominated French film yesterday. That happens about once every two decades, that I see a French film at all, but I sorta fell into it with a friend of mine who couldn't get anyone else to go to it.
It is a much-awarded-in-France prison flic called "Un prophete", A Prophet. It was long, almost 3 hours. And it was grim and brutal, as you'd expect. The story seemed basically unoriginal to me, however: a relatively callow young guy gets imprisoned and thru the vicissitudes of it all, turns out to be a kingpin, bringing down the men who once controlled and used him. The difference is that he is an Arab and the downfall group are the Corsicans who once controlled the prison and him. The future of the prisoners' power clearly lies with the Arabs, the Muslim "brothers".
As the idiosyncratic and curmudgeonly Right website Taki's Mag points out, the only relatively decent people in the film are the imprisoned Muslims.
To me, of course, what lay in the background of the film is the impossibility of France continuing to exist in any recognizable way with a growing alien population like that.
I checked it out. France's population is anywhere from 6% to 10% Muslim at this point. Its prisoner population consists of anywhere from 50% to 70% Muslims.
My friend B has a dog named Molly. But Molly is a boy. B refers to Molly as "she" quite a lot. There's a specific history to this; nowhere else in his life does B confuse the genders of animals or humans.
I am sitting at the gym, where B works, and Molly sleeps by the desk. A guy comes to the desk on his way out, a regular gym member. This fella is one of those "impressive but not attractive" types. He is pretty un-handsome, with dark circles under his sunken eyes that, along with his shaved head, give him the look of a skull. He is big and broad and tattooed, if not aesthetically so. And having seen him in the showers, his gender is not at all in doubt. Not at all.
Anyway, he comes by on his way out and asks about the dog, whether it's a boy or a girl. B explains that he's a boy but that his name is Molly and I add that Bill has a strange habit of calling him "she." Skull guy says it makes no difference, since "she owns us all."
"You mean the dog?", I ask.
"No, she. The big she."
I apparently register some kind of discordant reaction on my face, because Skull guy asks, archly, "Oh, are you one of those 'masculine' guys?"
He then flicks his wrist and swirls his meaty hand my way, dismissive-drag-queen style, with this parting thought, "Well, you're all still just faggot cocksuckers."
Gay liberation. Great stuff, eh?
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
Bette Midler. Tina Turner. And Cher.
Unlike a lot of gay men, I don't want to be them...a crucial difference...but I enjoy them immensely. They are female, clearly and to the max, and they are powerful, unshy, gifted and justly rewarded for it. And, sexuality aside, I have always had the impression that all of them liked men. Liked us.
Tina Turner is a class act with a huge intense talent; she manages to be steamy and bold, vulnerable and warm, without ever losing her dignity.
Cher is just fun, a lot of fun and she is clearly having fun doing what she does.
And, my sentimental favorite, The Divine Miss M --Confiteor: I saw that movie at least 7 times in the 80s*--has got brass and cheek, earth and bawdiness, burlesque and absurdity, always with a sense of play, humility, heart, and, well, joy.
Joy. That's what separates these three from some other kinds of so-called divas, who are too often just narcissistic and histrionic bitches with a mean streak. Not for this boy.
Whenever I watch them or hear them, Ms. Turner, Ms. Midler or Ms...Cher, I find myself smiling. That, I say, is talent. In this world, to create a smile out of joy, that is almost divine, which is what "diva" actually means.
*I actually went to see her live in concert back then. And the next night went to the same venue to see my other favorite performer of the 80's: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Always trying to balance the opposites!