Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Yes, I made it. Ended up on a redeye to Atlanta in a non-reclining exit row seat. (Ow.) Then flew to New York in a center seat between two plus-sized people. Cozy!

Originally I was going back to work yesterday, but after that nonsense I said "Uh-uh!" and spent the afternoon unpacking and recuperating.

Now, having been away from work for nearly two weeks, I am swamped.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Careful What You Wish For!

As I was driving back to the airport this morning to return the rental car and head "home" to New York, I thought, "I have really had a good trip -- I wish I didn't have to go back just yet!"

Well, my flight was so delayed that I would have missed my connection, so they sent me back to my mom's house. Now I have a redeye with a connection in Atlanta. Oh, joy.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bomb. James Bomb.


I'm glad I saw that movie in Oregon, so I only paid $6.25 for it.

You know, I like action packed, epic spectaculars as much as the next guy. I may be gay, but I dig the testosterone thing every once in a while. But I have a brain, too, and it remembers things. Things like scenes, plot twists and explosions that I've seen before. Often in other Bond movies.

I don't think there was an original thought in this movie. Let's see, we've got a one-eyed villain on a yacht who has a thing for cardgames. Is this movie an homage to earlier Bond films or to Austin Powers? Didn't they know the latter was successful because it traded in cliches and stereotypes everyone had seen so many times that they were instantly recognizable?

This was more like Frankenbond: a monster stitched together using the best parts of other movies, everything from True Lies to Die Hard to My Fair Lady to Master Frank's Dungeon Sluts Volume 3.

Okay, okay, Daniel Craig looks pretty damn good dripping wet in a bathing suit. And not bad buck naked tied to a seatless chair. (Fine, maybe we haven't seen that in a Bond movie before. But honestly, would you have wanted to?) I get that they were trying to break the Bond tradition a bit: upon arrival in the Bahamas he rents a Ford (shudder) and he doesn't care which way his martinis are made. Oooooh, rebel. But Bond should be slicker and more sophisticated than that. This guy's just a thug who looks good naked. You get the feeling that if he didn't work for the government he'd be one of the crooks, possibly entertaining evangelical ministers in hotel rooms on weekends for extra cash.

Eva Green? I'm sure she's a fine actress, but she's not a Bond girl. Sorry. She's pretty, in a Denny's waitress kind of way. The kind of girl you see behind the counter at Dairy Queen in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and think, "I hope she finds a way out of here someday." Her first appearance at the high-stakes poker game was less ravishing transformation then that kind of awkward sympathy you feel for a girl going to prom whose dress doesn't quite fit and whose make-up isn't quite right. She's pretty, but you wish she had some gay friends to help her with that.

And then I confess because of Craig's accent, I misheard her name. I thought it was Vespa. You know, like a scooter? All I could think was, "This is my confidential Italian secretary Alfa. Alfa Romeo." So I was just at a disadvantage to take her seriously.

Other kvetches: during the endless poker tournament, random eastern European undercover contact Mathis (no one remembers For Your Eyes Only, I guess) leans over and whispers to Vesper and says, "There's $14.5 million on the table." Ummm, she's an accountant for the British treasury. I'm pretty sure she can count. But of course, he's not really whispering to her, he's telling the lunkheads in the audience who are impressed by this figure.

The opening sequence: I guess that was an homage to Donkey Kong.

The Grand Canal in Venice is about twelve feet deep, and it's the color of antifreeze, only it smells worse and is probably more lethal. Vesper wouldn't have drowned in it, she'd have dissolved.

Terrible, terrible movie.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Only in Oregon

Today I went off on my solo tree-hugging expedition in the Oregon wilds, as I like to do each time I come out here. Being all by myself in the vast expanse of nature reassures me that we haven't completely ruined the planet just yet.

This time I picked Cascade Head, located just west of US 101 a few miles north of Lincoln City on the Oregon coast. The website that referred me said the difficulty was "moderate." Ay.

Now, I'm a very fast walker, but it took me just over an hour and a half to travel the 1.7 mile trail. Why? Because it's a 1200 foot elevation gain along a narrow, muddy path. Basically it was like taking the stairs to the top of the former World Trade Center and going back down again. Except imagine that there are elk on the staircase. (Pictures to come when I get back to New York.)

On the way back down, just as my knees were starting to ache a bit, I passed a woman going up.

She was jogging.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Research: Part 3; Holiday Wishes

Okay...well, is just a lot easier to make friends here.

Last night I went down to CC Slaughter's to watch the Madonna concert and to meet up with local celebrity blogger Hot Toddy. I had a great time! Everyone is just so nice. And there were some verrrrry cute boys around.

Oh, and drinks were $4.50. Buh-bye, New York.

PS, the Madonna concert was pretty okay. I liked the staging for "Jump" best of all, but "Forbidden Love" was pretty hot.


Best wishes to everyone today for a warm and meaningful Thanksgiving celebration. Personally, I have so much to be thankful for. And of course, a meow-out to my babies Rocky and Starbuck back in New York -- sorry I can't be there! I miss you! But I instructed JP to give you extra "Turkey & Giblets" tonight.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Research: Part II

So after coming home at 1:15 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday I did what you probably will think is certifiably asinine.

I got up at 7:30 and took the light rail downtown in the rain during the middle of rush hour.

One of my main problems with New York is my commute. It is exhausting, it is unpleasant, it is a waste of time, and often it is downright infuriating. The delays, the service changes, the all-local weekends, forced transfers, rats the size of Patsy Cline, the garbled announcements, the "shuttles," the smells, the temperature (from freezing to 120 degrees), the strikes, and, let's not forget, the passengers. Underground social Darwinism: survival of the rudest.

Last week I discovered that two and a half hours is not enough time to go home from work, feed the cats, put on a clean shirt and make it back to midtown to meet a friend for a drink. No wonder most of the time when I get home at night, I stay there.

This morning I was eager to be hypercritical; I needed to be sure that I wasn't seeing Portland through rose-colored glasses. Sure enough, as I waited on a bench under a covered area at the Sunset Transit Center in the drizzle, I spied a piece of litter on the platform. "See," I said to myself, "it's no different than New York." No sooner had I thunk that thought when a man in an orange vest came by and picked up the litter. I couldn't find any rats, but there were some squirrels in the nearby trees.

When the train came, there were empty seats. There was no graffiti. No one asked me for money. No one attempted to perform an acrobatic routine in the aisle. There aren't any turnstiles or meat grinders to navigate. No one held the doors. The trip took 15 minutes.

Arriving at Pioneer Courthouse Square, I immediately headed for the busiest, most centralized Starbucks in town. There was one person in line ahead of me.

"Excuse me," I said to the cashier, "I know it's two days before Thanksgiving, and a lot of people are probably off, but how does this compare to your normal morning rush?" She looked around and said, "Well, yeah, there's usually a few more people here, but this is pretty typical." There were empty tables. Clean empty tables, I might add.

Toto, I don't think we're on Wall Street anymore. And I don't think we'll be going back very much longer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Research: Part I

Confession: I don't like living in New York anymore.

I love the city. After thirteen years there, you don't have to tell me how much fun it can be, how beautiful it can be, and how certain opportunities and experiences exist only there. And of course, I have a lot of friends there.

But living there, well, that's another story. I find it draining and exhausting and stressful and inconvenient. I've been thinking a lot about moving back to the west coast, maybe even to Portland, where I grew up.

KR, frequent contributor to the comments on this blog, warned me to be careful that I wasn't suffering from "grass is greener" nostalgia. I suggested Portland had an unfair advantage, in that it actually has grass.

So, while on vacation, I have been putting Portland to the test. Of course one of the main advantages to being in New York is the huge gay community and the social opportunities. Portland has a few sad little bars along a grungy block downtown (affectionately referred to as "Vaseline Alley"); certainly nothing to compare to Hell's Kitchen or the East Village or Chelsea or the West Village. (I fantasize about opening a Therapy-style bar here.) On the other hand, UCLA recently ranked the five gayest cities in America, and New York ain't one of them. Portland is.

Admittedly, Monday is probably not the best night for evaluating Portland's gay nightlife. I stumbled into Silverado, where it happened to be karaoke night. It was such a friendly place! And there were actually some cute guys there. Some of the singers...oh, well...bless their hearts, they were having fun. Others were actually pretty good. The guys I was talking to (um, no one talks to me in bars in New York, unless they are drunk, creepy and old) were egging me on to throw my hat in the karaoke ring. I did the bashful thing for a while and then thought, what the hell. So, I sang "People." (Of course you did, says JWC.)

I felt bad; I suppose I should have mentioned that I'm not exactly an amateur, but people seemed genuinely impressed. The bar manager comped me a drink and I had several other offers. Since I was driving, I had to decline them, though. (Mark that in the "con" column. Of course, no one gives me free drinks in New York. Pro.) I followed up with Cole Porter's "Night and Day." The people who run the karaoke night told me what bar they'd be at tonight and asked me to come by. I met more people last night -- cute, friendly ones, at that! -- than I have in probably the past year in New York. Pro.

Con: you can smoke in bars in Portland. I forgot how awful that is. I came home stinking. Uch. But, I happened to see an article in a local paper this morning that they are trying to pass a smoking ban. Future pro!

Monday, November 20, 2006


My cellphone is not working, if you're trying to reach me. I'm going to try to replace it today.

All is well.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Rashomon Effect

In the debate over religion and its place in the modern world, a lot of fuss is made over the “evidence” for God. Skeptics argue there is nothing to prove God’s existence; some, using ideas like intelligent design, say there’s lots of evidence.

Of course, like a typical Episcopalian, I’m going to say both yes and no to this question. As I pointed out in the comments in a recent post, in a court room, for example, there’s evidence like “Exhibit A.” But there’s also testimony, and testimony is considered evidence even in the absence of tangible items. And so while we may not have an Exhibit A for God, we have the testimony of billions of humans across the eons of our existence.

One of the points that Richard Dawkins, high priest of religious skepticism, makes is that if there is a God, it is highly unlikely that it is the God of any of the literally countless religions and faith traditions; statistically speaking, the chance that “God” is the God of Jesus is no more likely, says Dawkins, than the God of the residents of Alpha Centauri.

But what if they’re really all the same God?

Let’s say there’s a two-car collision in the middle of a four-way intersection. There is one witness standing at each corner. (Already this is a bad metaphor, I know. Not only am I letting a car accident represent God (!!!), I have to ignore that in an actual accident, there would be lots of tangible evidence. But stick with me.)

The witnesses on the northwest and southeast corners both saw the entire incident; however, they had opposite perspectives. They might not agree on who is at fault. In important ways, their testimony might be contradictory. But both of them are still telling the truth.

The witness on the northeast corner is prejudiced about women drivers, and one of the drivers involved was a woman. Might such a prejudice affect what the witness thinks he saw? Would it tend to lead him to make certain assumptions? Might such a witness even be willing to deliberately color his testimony because of his personal views?

Still with me? Okay. Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that the witness on the southwest corner is a Hebrew from 1400 BC. What would his reaction to a car accident be? What language might he use to attempt to explain what he saw? His account is likely to be wildly different than any of the other three witnesses, and would perhaps strike us as fanciful or even crazy.

So here we have four people with a shared experience, but all of them describe it in significantly different ways. None of them are lying, but some of them might let bias color their recollections. One could not understand what he was witnessing. Maybe some made assumptions. Maybe not all of them have perfect memories.

Does this mean there wasn't a car accident?

Bon Voyage Cat Blogging

Well, I couldn't leave without posting a cat picture, now, could I? Here they are sitting on top of a nice warm, clean towel, fresh out of the dryer. Aren't they helpful?Posted by Picasa

Anyway, I'm off this afternoon to Oregon to be with my family during the Thanksgiving holiday. There's a post in my head waiting to be translated to the internet, but I highly doubt I'll have time before I have to head to the airport. It will be a minor miracle if I even get most of the things done at work I have to do.

I don't have any big road-trip plans this time, so there may not be great pictures like the trip from May. We'll see. Hopefully I'll still be able to blog a bit.

And speaking of helpful, oh, my, the cats really enjoyed "helping" me pack last night.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Random Photo Blogging

Central Park, a couple weeks ago. I don't plan to live in New York forever; this is what I'm going to miss more than anything else. Posted by Picasa

Run, Rudy, Run!

I am delighted that in the aftermath of last week's Democratic landslide, there are some in the Republican party who think what they need in 2008 is a pro-choice, pro-gay candidate.

I guess the Karl Rove strategy of energizing the base really is dead. I can't imagine anything that's more of a kiss-off to the James Dobson types than supporting a divorced Catholic with known fidelity problems who used to appear at public functions in New York City in drag.

I won't vote for him, but I will definitely support his candidacy.

Random Photo Blogging

Sorry I've been really bad about Sunday Photo Blogging lately. Just haven't found time to edit some of the photos I've taken. I'm going to try to post a few before I leave for vacation Thursday. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006


This was supposed to be for Halloween, but I couldn't get it together. Sigh. Posted by Picasa

The Silly Science of Richard Dawkins

Does Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology at Oxford University, know what a hypothesis is?

Apparently not.

Dawkins, author of the new book The God Delusion, is featured in last week’s Time Magazine cover story, “God vs. Science.” It’s great that Time has been taking on important religious issues, and even better that for this particular article, they avoided the temptation of finding Dawkins’ ideological opposite for a debate, but instead paired him up with Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Still, like Time’s previous exploration of the “Prosperity Gospel” phenomenon of American Evangelicalism, the article fails to be fully illuminating because the author appears not to understand Christian theology well enough to ask the right questions.

There is a difference between faith and science, and here Dr. Collins’ expertise could have been very useful; instead, he is left to repeat variations on a theme of, “Evolution doesn’t disprove the existence of God.”

He does, however, get a chance to cut right to the heart of Dawkins’ misunderstanding of faith – and science.

“The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important questions we have to answer,” says Dawkins. “I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.”

I guess Dawkins wasn’t paying attention to last year’s national debate over “intelligent design.” If the existence of God were, in fact, a scientific question, then it should be part of the science curriculum, no? Especially if, as Dawkins argues, it is “one of the most important questions.” But it’s not, because the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved through scientific methods.

Furthermore, as many Christians will tell you, there is no “proof” of God, nor will there ever be, because the freedom to choose belief is the essential component of salvation. We are asked to believe in spite of an absence of hard evidence; that is the core proposition. If we could find God in a laboratory, that would be a fundamental challenge to Christian thinking that would dwarf evolution. What would happen to ideas about free will? Who would willfully choose not to worship a God who’d been scientifically proven to exist?

Dawkins’ hypothesis is that God does not exist. But how is this a scientifically testable assertion? As a tool for evaluating the merits of faith, it’s irrelevant, because faith specifically means belief in the unprovable.

Dawkins would call this response a “cop-out,” as he frequently describes Collins’ answers (one reply is even labeled “the mother and father of all cop-outs”). But the cop-out is Dawkins’ own attempt to define God using methods that simply don’t apply. He has reached a predetermined conclusion, and then selected methods which are guaranteed to be non-responsive to his inquiry. The resulting lack of evidence Dawkins interprets as proof of his non-scientific assumption.

“The difference,” explains Collins, “is that my presumption of the possibility of God and therefore the supernatural is not zero, and yours is.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did You Call Me?

Someone -- with a deep sexy voice, mmm -- left a message on my cellphone this morning, but didn't say who it was and didn't leave a phone number, so...I have no idea who called. But...I'm fine, thanks for asking.

UPDATE: Mystery solved, thanks.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bridges and Windows

Let me start with an apology.

One of my very favorite verses in the entire Bible is James 1:19-20: “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.”

I like this verse so much that I have it tacked up on the wall of my cubicle at work. And yet, though it’s right there in front of me every day, I fail at its instruction – especially the part about being slow to speak – about once every 30 seconds.

Sometimes things make us angry, and that’s okay. Looking at the world around us, I am reminded of the liberal campaign slogan from 2004: “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” But to act on anger in a moral way requires us first to listen and to speak only later. In between hearing and speaking comes thinking.

There is no healing in anger. Anger doesn’t knock down walls, it’s what the bricks are made of. So I apologize for my incautious words. Calling a stranger a bigot most certainly does not work the righteousness of God.

I am not here to convert people or to lecture people or to warn you to repent or else. That’s not my style, and I don’t believe it’s an effective way to bring people to faith, even if that were my intent. I only want to build bridges; if not of agreement, of understanding. If I can’t open a door for you, maybe I can at least point you to a window. I want modest things, like communicating to more conservative Christians that there are legitimate, alternate ways of understanding Scripture, and demonstrating to atheists – many of whom have been deeply wounded by religious people – that faith can be positive and beautiful.

I take great pains in my writing and in my life to set myself apart from Christians who claim faith means an abdication of God’s own precious gift of critical thought; of Christians who insist that to believe in God means our understanding of the origin of life and the world itself can never progress past the limits established by an ancient people who couldn’t even fathom that the earth revolved around the sun. I set myself apart from Christians who believe in a faith of limitation and exclusion, apart from Christians who seek the destruction of the planet and the destruction of Israel and the destruction of Islam because they believe in a God so puny and weak that he needs our foreign policy and our wars to achieve his aims.

I am not here to deny that unspeakable evil has been done in God’s name, or that religion has been a source of oppression and injustice probably since the earliest humans or human ancestors first developed the capacity to imagine something beyond their immediate existence.

But if atheists are going to structure their beliefs on critical thinking, then they, too, have a moral obligation to be open minded, curious and intellectually honest. Just as they would expect religious fundamentalists to acquaint themselves with the facts of evolutionary biology before they reject it, atheists have a responsibility to investigate faith traditions more fully if they’re going to rail against them.

I’m not very good at making effective arguments for the existence of God. But I’ll happily settle for the opportunity to demonstrate that Christians are diverse, and that even if you don’t necessarily believe in the existence of God, there is common moral ground between us (see James 1:19-20). Won’t you give me that chance?

Donald Rumsfeld: An Appreciation

As improbable as it sounds, all of these are real quotes.

"Needless to say, the president is correct. Whatever it was he said."
February 28, 2003

"If you're chasing the chicken around the chicken yard and you don't have him yet, and the question is, how close are you? The answer is, it's tough to characterize because there's lots of zigs and zags."
November 14, 2001

"I'm working my way over to figuring out how I won't answer."
December 3, 2002

"Oh my goodness, you can't imagine the number of things you see and hear that are wrong. It's just breathtaking how much misinformation floats around. I guess it's part of our free society."
December 18, 2002

"It's hard enough just to keep track of the things that are really happening without having to worry about all the things that aren't really happening."
May 1, 2002

"I can't remember. I might have. Hope I did. If I didn't, I should have."
September 24, 2002

"When they told me what this was about, I sat down last night and made some notes. I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."
January 9, 2002

And then of course, who can forget:

Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit to Wife's Vagina

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Rocky reacts to the ousting of Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum. I didn't know cats could say "Hallelujah!" Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night Liveblogging

James Carville looks like Skeletor's grandfather.


Sigh. Some atheists are every bit as smugly self-righteous, arrogant and prejudiced as the religious extremists they decry.

Because "news" in America must have entertainment value, the public faces of religion in this country are loons willing to compress complex ideas into rhetorical soundbytes. I will grant that eloquent voices of moderation are hard to find in this world of infotainment.

I am the last person to claim religion is harmless. I frequently like to quote Bishop Gene Robinson: "Religion is the source of our oppression."

But it is an intellectually dishonest position to say that all religious ideas and all religious people are deluded and harmful. That idea isn't any more enlightened than creationism, or any more supportable by empirical study.

If atheists want to take pride in "reason" and "intellectualism," then perhaps they should take more of an interest in getting their facts straight.

Gender and Genitalia

What defines male and female?

The New York Times reports today that New York City is likely to adopt a proposal to allow transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificate even if they have not had reassignment surgery.

First, a primer on what is meant by “transgender.” Let us make a clear distinction – even as we acknowledge that these are blurry boundaries – between drag performers, or gender illusionists, who take on an alternate persona for the purpose of entertainment, transvestites or crossdressers, who enjoy dressing up as the opposite gender as a form of recreation, and people who suffer from gender identity disorder. One is an act, one is a hobby and the last is a psychological condition where a person’s self-perception of their gender does not match their genitalia.

This is a new and shocking social frontier for many of us, and let me be the first to admit I don’t fully understand it, myself – and to that end, I apologize in advance to any transfolks who might read this and infer insensitivity where really there is only ignorance.

Are men and women really only defined by their genitalia? Of course not. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have books like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus trying to explain what the differences are, we’d have books called Men Have Penises and Women Have Vaginas, and it would be a very short book. A pamphlet, even. We wouldn’t have academic studies about why boys and girls tend to perform differently in school and we wouldn’t have had a big to-do when Larry Summers tried to explain why there aren’t as many women scientists. He could have said, “Because they have vaginas,” and, if that were truly what determined gender, he might have been right and that would have been the end of it.

In this year’s New York Court of Appeals ruling on same-sex marriage, Judge R.S. Smith argued that marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples because “a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like.” I don’t think he meant that children need to be shown a penis and a vagina every day to avoid confusion.

We can debate whether gender stereotyping is right or wrong, but however we feel about it we must admit it exists, and it starts at birth: babies with vaginas are dressed in pink, and babies with penises in blue. Some children get Barbies as presents, and some get fire trucks, and what they have between their legs determines how we talk to them, how we encourage them to behave, and what we expect of them. Yet when we say to children, “You need to behave like a big boy now” or “Act like a man,” that doesn’t really have anything to do with their penis. We usually perceive who is a man and who is a woman without needing to check below the belt. Quite simply put, one’s gender identity consists of a lot more than a reproductive organ.

[On a side note, we should really examine our ambivalence about our sexual organs, and why it is that we call people dicks, pussies and cunts.]

Gender is defined by more than genital status, and since hormone therapy and reassignment surgery are not covered by insurance (not to mention this country has 45 million uninsured people anyway), many transgender people cannot afford medical treatment. Also, given our larger social gender prejudices, it’s often difficult for transfolks to find meaningful work, because they are perceived to be mentally ill, or at a minimum, very weird, and somewhat threatening. Some transgender people do not feel a need for therapy or surgery. The new policy would allow birth certificates to be changed with recommendations from a doctor and a therapist and evidence that the applicant has lived with their current gender expression for two years.

Kudos to New York City for having the courage to confront this controversial issue and to come up with positive recommendations.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Against the Use of Nature

We still don’t know the full story of what happened between megapastor Ted Haggard and the Denver-based male escort, so it’s premature to draw conclusions about this specific incident. Yet, like any parable, we can start to examine the lessons, even if we don’t know all the details.

That Haggard admits he purchased methamphetamines is, I think, the most significant part of the story right now. Sex and drugs tend to go together, but there are many, many drugs out there, like pot, cocaine and painkillers, that aren’t necessarily used in sexual situations. You can do a bump of coke in the bathroom at a club for a boost of energy, or you can stay at home on a rainy night, dim the lights, put on Coltrane and light up. You can pop a vicodin in your office before the board meeting. But meth is a sex drug, and while there are certainly straight people who use it, crystal, or “tina,” is ubiquitous on the gay party circuit.

It gives the user – so I’m told – an overwhelming sense of immortality and invincibility, as well as a raging, uninhibited sex drive. An acquaintance of mine who has used it said it makes you feel “amazing” and turns you into the Energizer Bunny in bed, except that the ad slogan would be “it keeps on coming” instead. The idea that someone would use methamphetamines without intending to use it to enhance sexual performance and experience would be akin to someone randomly taking a hit of Cialis without intending to get laid.

So while it may remain in the realm of possibility that Pastor Ted innocently arranged for a massage with a man he did not know was a prostitute, it defies credibility that innocuous conversation with a masseur would casually and naturally turn to discussions about how to obtain a gay sex drug.

Haggard’s evangelical colleague James Dobson was quoted by The New York Times today saying, “The situation has grave implications for the cause of Christ and we ask for the Lord’s guidance and blessings in the days ahead.” For once I agree with him.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, there is a passage on sexual immorality that is at the heart of the ongoing discussion about homosexuality and Christianity. In the time and culture in which Paul was writing, as with today, many people believed that only heterosexual orientation is natural, and that gay people are folk who “exchange natural intercourse for unnatural” motivated by “the lusts in their hearts.”

But increasingly today we come to the awareness that sexual orientation is less about lust than something innate, with evidence that it is genetic in origin. This turns Paul’s sentence on its head, or at least opens it up to a new, more expansive reading: the sin is in the exchange of one’s natural sexual identity for one that is false.

We don’t know yet precisely what Mr. Haggard’s situation is, but the anecdotal evidence about what happens when a gay person suppresses their natural identity in exchange for an outwardly heterosexual lifestyle, including marriage and children, is vast, and it’s not pretty.

The problems arise not only because of sexual urges that are difficult to restrain, but because sexual orientation is an essential part of identity and self-awareness, quite apart from sexual activity. Sexual attraction and activity is merely a manifestation, an expression of who you are. Pretending to be heterosexual is not about refraining from gay sex, it’s about denying a huge part of what makes you you.

“The cause of Christ,” as Dobson puts it, is love. May we all come to understand that we do not serve Christ faithfully by only pretending to love someone. We do not serve Christ by loving someone only on the condition that they conform to ancient prejudices about sexual orientation. We will serve Christ best by loving honestly and sincerely, which can only be done when we honestly and sincerely love our own true natures.

As progressive Christians, we must resist the temptation to indulge in schadenfreude over an Evangelical’s hypocritical downfall. Mr. Haggard remains our brother in Christ. May he find healing through the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fundy Fodder

What irks me most about the allegations surrounding Ted Haggard is that they reinforce the prejudices of the fundamentalists.

Religious fundamentalists will claim this is further proof that gay people are secretive, promiscuous drug users.

Secular fundamentalists will claim this is further proof that Christians are hypocrites.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I Want an Apology

Let's establish a new rule for politicians, shall we?

From now on, no one can demand an apology from anyone except the person who was actually the target of the alleged offensive comment.


If I had known how today was going to turn out, I'd have stayed in bed with the covers over my head and the curtains drawn.