Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
The selection of Governor Palin was an obvious play for the so-called "disaffected Hillary vote," which I believe is a politically insignificant bloc. The proudly defiant Hillary holdouts tout her 18 million primary votes as evidence of a deeply divided Democratic party, yet Barack Obama was made the nominee by unanimous acclamation, at the behest of Senator Clinton herself. Yes, Hillary came in a very close second and she has many passionate supporters, but the rumors of a sundered party have been greatly exaggerated by a media that seems to prefer that narrative to the one that plainly unfolded in front of them. (Or, behind them; how maddening to see the cable news talking heads bloviating and arguing with each other, flat-out ignoring the actual convention and, in one salient case, failing to air one of the best speeches of the week. Note to Keith Olbermann: I feel I need to see other people for a while. I will not watch your coverage of the GOP convention and will instead go back to PBS.) The media went chasing after Hillary supporters trying to keep their storyline alive, but failed to locate one single prominent Democrat or even any significant gathering of dissidents; when the PUMA's retire Hillary's debt or can get 75,000 people into a stadium, maybe I'll reconsider.
John McCain and Karl Rove may think they're picking up a crucial swing vote of angry feminists, but really they are only courting sexist women. The triumph of feminism will not be the first woman president, but rather the first election when we stop falling all over ourselves to discuss whether gender has any relevance to a person's qualifications for the job.
That seems to be where the Hillary die-hards went wrong; it's fine to prefer Hillary to Barack, but over on sites like No Quarter, you don't hear wonky discussions of the minute policy differences between the two; you hear gripes about the way Hillary was treated by the party that boasts the first female Speaker of the House and six women governors and, of course, baseless, frenzied slander about Michelle Obama's alleged secret radical agenda.
Awash in righteous umbrage over the Democratic Party's alleged machinations to deprive Senator Clinton of the nomination, they vow to teach the Dems a lesson by realigning themselves with John McCain, promptly misrepresenting his position on reproductive freedom in the process. But what is the lesson and who's getting schooled? Do they aim to teach us that gender trumps policy, competence and integrity? And do they propose to do that by electing a president who opposes equal pay for women? Are we seriously to believe that this is some kind of principled stance?
Enter Governor Palin, who by virtue of her gender has, instead of becoming a coup for the GOP ticket, completely neutralized the debate. Supporters of Hillary Clinton, who were understandably disappointed by the primary, now have another chance to put a woman into the White House. But should they?
Surely the media will hype this as a "dilemma" for women, just as they openly pondered just a few months ago whether black women would support Barack or Hillary, a blatantly sexist and racist question that reduced these voters to identity politics and glossed over the possibility that they might actually be considering the candidates on their respective merits. But it's not a dilemma, it's an opportunity.
"Were you in this campaign just for me?" asked Senator Clinton of her supporters this past week. Now with Sarah Palin on the ballot, Clinton voters have to accept Hillary's challenge to answer that question in a thoughtful manner. Because you could vote for McCain - Palin and have our nation's first woman vice president, but in order to do so, you'd have to support a litany of policies that are in direct opposition to everything Hillary Clinton believes and has worked so hard to achieve.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Come on, Democrats. You're all taking the same cheap shot. Don't any of you have anything of substance to say?
(And wow, I am really glad right now Obama didn't pick Sebelius as Veep. BO-ring. And yet, positively riveting compared to last night's appearance by Pelosi.)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I've been rather melancholy all day, perhaps because it's the Feast of St. Bartholomew, and my thoughts have wandered to my old parish by that name back in New York City. I definitely feel that I was "led" to where I am now in Portland, but St. Bart's will always be a very special place for me, and I miss the beautiful building, the amazing clergy and my many friends. And, oh yes, I miss the choir, and the seamless liturgy. St. John the Baptist is earnest and sincere and wonderful, but I always have the sense that we're still rehearsing.
"Bush Declines Katrina Request, Citing Security"
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
When they got home, the girl made her try to find more opera on the radio.
I thought this was a nice story, so when I got home I created a CD that I called “Opera for Princesses” – mostly a hit parade of soprano arias – that I thought a four year old might enjoy. (Mind you, I have high expectations of four year olds.)
Here’s the playlist:
1. “O mio babbino caro,” Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini (Renata Tebaldi)
2. “Viens, Mallika” (‘Flower Duet’), Lakmé, by Leo Delibes (Mady Mesplé & Danielle Millet)
3. “Sempre libera,” La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi (Renata Scotto)
4. “Habañera,” Carmen, by Georges Bizet (Tatiana Troyanos)
5. “Mesicku na nebi hlubokem,” Rusalka, by Antonin Dvorak (Gabriela Benackova)
6. “Quando m’en vo,” La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini (Kiri te Kanawa)
7. “Mi chiamano Mimi,” La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini (Angela Gheorghiu)
8. “Der Hölle Rache,” Die Zauberflöte, by W. A. Mozart (Edda Moser)
9. “Vissi d’arte,” Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini (Maria Callas)
10. “Je veux vivre,” Roméo et Juliette, by Charles Gounod (Ruth Ann Swenson)
11. “Caro nome,” Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi (Daniela Lojarro*)
12. “Liebestod,” Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner (Hildegard Behrens)
13. “D’Oreste, d’Ajace,” Idomeneo, by W. A. Mozart (Carol Vaness)
14. “Un bel di,” Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini (Mirella Freni)
15. “Glitter and be Gay,” Candide, by Leonard Bernstein (Dawn Upshaw)
16. “Non più mesta,” La Cenerentola, by Gioachino Rossini (Cecilia Bartoli)
So, yeah, not all the subject material here is appropriate for preschool-age children, I’ll grant you that, and it’s possibly not the most diverse range of music I could have come up with, but I was aiming for things that were tuneful yet also conveyed a sense of drama without needing context. I also imagined the girl, some years from now, listening to a commercial or seeing a movie and thinking, “Hey…I know that!” (We can debate my choice of singers…but I stand by them.)
I ran into the co-worker again today, who had an update for me. Apparently the little girl listens to the CD every night. Last night they went to check on her, and she was crying.
“What’s wrong?” her mom wanted to know.
“This song makes me sad,” the girl replied.
* Y’all probably have never heard of Daniela Lojarro, and I haven’t really, either. It’s from one of those budget LaserLight CD’s, but it’s the most amazing recording of “Caro nome,” if you can find it. She takes the high E-natural at the end, floats it effortlessly and manages a flawless diminuendo into nothingness.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Years ago he filled my head with all kinds of nonsense about Revelation and Biblical "prophecy" and "the Rapture" and whatnot, and only recently did I find the courage to look again at the marvelous last book of the New Testament and begin to explore what's really there. Some of my father's views have moderated a bit over time (he has stopped inquiring about my dress size and plans on voting for Obama this fall -- mostly because he has come to see that Iraq was a boondoggle of criminal dimension), but I've often wondered if he still held the same views about "the Antichrist" and all that.
Presently, he is on a solo bike tour of Oregon; he called me from a campground about 30 miles from Chemult (where?) to check in and let me know he's all right.
"Did we invade Russia, yet?" he asked.
"No, no, we're still talking that over," I said. Then, perhaps rather stupidly, I said, "Besides, everyone knows that Iran is next."
"I was kind of hoping Israel would take out Iran," said my father.
"Hmm...I'm not sure that's something we should really be hoping for."
"Well, it would mean that Christ's return is imminent, that's for sure."
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I didn't speak to him for about a year and a half after that.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So it turned out that the only thing I took with me on my fabulous August beach trip that proved to be even less useful than the condoms (hey...you never know!) was sunscreen.
It's been a busy, stressful summer and I haven't taken any time off, so I've been dying for a little "me" time to go hide somewhere and decompress. After church on Sunday, I drove out to Waldport, eager for some long walks on the beach and quiet time in prayer and meditation.
Okay, well...first, it immediately became apparent why the Howard Johnson had vacancies in mid-August. As Elizabeth Taylor said in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, "What a dump." Don't get me wrong: I wasn't expecting the Four Seasons, but wow, that place is long overdue for some fresh paint and some general maintenance. It might not kill them to pick up the trash in the grassy area between the hotel and the bay or clean the leaves out of the pool, either...not that it was warm or dry enough to go in the pool. Ahem.
I mean, sure, the room was clean. And by clean, I mean, it had this overpoweringly chemical "clean" smell that gave me a headache and made me sick to my stomach. Fortunately I had a sliding door with a screen...that opened up onto the "pet area." Watch where you step.
About 5 minutes after I arrived, fog as thick as pea soup rolled in and you couldn't even see across the street. I had planned on driving down to a decent restaurant in Yachats (there's not much in Waldport), but I looked at the fog and figured maybe I should stay local. I thought I would investigate the "Ahi Grill" on site at the hotel.
You can't really see what the restaurant looks like from the lobby; you have to go down a hall and around a corner and bang you're suddenly in the dining room, which is about the most depressing little excuse for a "restaurant" I've ever seen. But the waitress pounced and said, "One for dinner?" and I just didn't have the heart to say, "Oh, dear God, no," so instead I said, "Yes, please," with a sinking feeling in my gut. Ahi might be Hawaiian for tuna, but it's also Italian for "ouch."
The menu was depressingly limited; I had settled on the fettuccine alfredo with chicken, but just then the same dish was brought to the woman sitting at the table next to me, and it was far more food than I could possibly eat (and didn't look that great) so when the waitress came I asked for a burger and fries. ($6.95)
So, look, I just wanted to have a quiet dinner alone staring at the bay. Some people might find that depressing, I guess, but I think it's relaxing. Unfortunately, the tourists on either side of me had other ideas; they were the types that like to chat up strangers.
First they remarked on the weather, a reasonable enough starting point, and complained that it was 60, dark and rainy in the middle of August. (Hey, welcome to Oregon; you take your chances.) This prompted one man to say, "Yeah, global warming my foot, what a joke." To which the other table rejoined, "That's right, up in Spokane we had the coldest winter anyone can remember this year." And thus I found myself surrounded by global warming deniers. "It's just a plot so some people can make money." "Yeah, Al Gore -- he has a huge house and I heard he drives three humvees!"
Let's see...the Spokaners complained about how Governor Chris Gregoire "stole" the election from Dino Rossi, then they all commiserated about high taxes and moaned that Barack Obama wants to give us "Canadian" healthcare, "even though everyone knows Canada has the worst healthcare in the world." Naturally then we had to gravitate to Iraq, and it was generally agreed upon that "the Iraqi people are tremendously grateful we are there" and that "the liberal media" simply refuses to report the good news. The oldest man in the group then remarked, "Iran is next, mark my words. Just read Revelation, it's all there."
By this time my blood was positively boiling and the Revelation remark was the last straw. You read Revelation, you butthead. I held my tongue, though (see James 1:19-20) and instead said, "Can I get the check?" I didn't have anything to drink with my dinner because I'd brought along a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir that was waiting for me back in the room; and it's a good thing, too, or I might just have told them off. Instead I wished them all a peaceful visit to Oregon.
About that wine: as I was shopping for the trip, I came across a new label, Anam Cara Cellars, and with my recent introduction to Celtic Christianity, I took that as a sign. Well...it's awful. Tart, no body, with strong hints of pickle. Gross.
It was only 7:00 and I was still mad, so I decided I'd go for a walk on the beach, even though it was windy and foggy. Alas, there is only one public access route to the beach from the hotel, and I hadn't gone very far past it when I realized it was already lost in the fog and growing darker. A storm was coming, so I turned around and went back to the room, cold, wet, sand-encrusted and depressed.
I decided to take the old fart's advice and read Revelation. All of it, so that I could feel justified about my self-righteous indignation. And it made me madder still, because it's actually quite wonderful and there's really nothing in there about Iran; it's about Rome. Anyone with seven heads and ten horns can see that.
A thunderstorm rolled in and, there being nothing else for it, I turned out the lights, reclined on the bed and watched. This was nice for about two hours, but then I felt really tired and wanted to actually sleep. I would drift off for about 10 minutes and then awake again to another window-rattling blast of thunder. The storm finally passed about 3:00.
I awoke about six and lay in bed debating with myself about whether I should try to get more sleep or get up and take advantage of the day; at 6:45 I rose and went for a walk on the beach, which was definitely the highlight of the entire trip. Got some great pictures -- see below -- until flashes of lightning appeared over the ocean and I decided I'd better high-tail it off the beach and get some breakfast.
After morning prayer I hopped in the car and drove down to Yachats to get coffee at the Green Salmon, which has amazing coffee and pastries and boy, if you dared insult Al Gore at the Green Salmon, you'd probably be thrown out. My kind of place.
They are closed on Mondays.
After sitting in the car in the parking lot in the rain for about three minutes chanting, "No! Fuck. No! Fuck. Fu-u-uck!!!!" I figured I might as well drive down to the Fred Meyer just north of Florence and go to the Starbucks there.
Ummm...I misjudged the distance. It's like 25 miles.
And the Florence Fred Meyer does not have a Starbucks.
They do have an imitation Starbucks. There were two customers in line ahead of me, which meant I stood there for 12 minutes until I got to order. (Yes, I counted.) I asked for a large coffee and a low-fat marionberry muffin. "Okay, sir, just so you know, the muffins just got delivered so it might still be a little bit cold, is that all right?" "Sure," I said.
Cold? Fucker was frozen. I'm serious. It was cold, wet and mushy on the outside and muffin-ice at the core. Also the coffee was weak and tasted like cigarettes. Within an hour I had a "you have not had coffee yet" headache.
It was raining.
At this point I decided it was time to give up and go home.
You know, the Oregon Coast is wonderful, even in inclement weather. All it takes is a good bottle of wine, a comfy chair and a marvelous view. Well...three strikes. I was outta there. I drove back to the hotel, told them I had changed my plans and asked for a refund for the second night.
The good news is, I got 37.25 mpg in the new car.
* * * * *
The day looked like it maybe had some promise; sunrise over Alsea Bay.
Alone on the beach; perfect.
The tide was definitely out; have you ever seen a beach so broad?
Kind of hard to tell, but these are pelicans.
A great blue heron.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Okay...so, today is the third triple-digit day in a row for Portland, which is highly unusual. We usually see 100 degrees somewhere in August, but this is a little intense. Fortunately it's slated to drop to the upper 80s tomorrow and the low '70s on Monday.
Still, in the meantime, there's no question about the most popular spot in the apartment.
I have not (yet) taken a single vacation day this entire summer (too much to do!), but Thursday morning between fits of feeling like I wanted to cry I decided maybe I should ask for Monday off. I found a cheap hotel room for tomorrow and Monday night out at the coast, so I'm just going to drive out after church, spend the night, and then take all day Monday to do, oh, nothing.
A while back I promised you a live-blogging roadtrip event for Hermiston, Oregon's first-ever Gay Pride. Umm...I didn't really get around to that. Co-traveler SMB live-blogged (as best he could, given spotty wireless access) on the JustOut webpage -- read here for details. (No, I did not go with him to the strip club. Honest.)
Here's where we stayed. "Tillicum" is a ubiquitous local Native American word, but I have no idea what it means. I confess that, churchgoer that I am, I picked the motel for its dirty, punny connotation. (And the $50/night rate...which, I have to say, was possibly a little inflated, given the amenities.)
Actually, we had a great time. For dinner Friday night, we ate at the first-ever Shari's Restaurant, which was founded in Hermiston, and had truly excellent table service. Breakfast the next morning was at a new restaurant in Umatilla (home of a chemical weapons dump), and while the waffle was excellent, the water was not; and I think the waitress was not entirely sure what to make of two men not in cowboy hats who whiled away the time until the food came by browsing the restaurant's antiques for sale.
Afterward I followed SMB around for some [wo]man-on-the-street interviews, and ended up buying some homemade lavender soap from a friendly, gray-haired lady who said, "It's okay with me if people choose to be gay [!!!], but I don't think Hermiston is ready for any 'New-York-style' protests." I don't think she has anything at all to worry about. As we walked away, SMB remarked that he wasn't sure she even comprehended that we ourselves were queers, despite the fact that I'd talked to her about living in New York and yoga and...well, I bought a lavender soap from her.
"Hermiston Pride" never really got off the ground. First, I guess "Pride" was judged to be a tad ambitious, so it was retitled "Equality Day." The "event" was co-hosted by Western Farm Workers and the Society of Friends, who were there to protest the Iraq war (and had an amazingly powerful Tibetan prayer-flag display).
Hermiston was represented by the local organizer, his mother, and one 18 year old girl who came up to me and said, "So...are you...G, L, T, B...?" I smiled and said, "Oh, I'm G, very, very G." She smiled back and said, "I'm B...which stands for 'bitch.'" I liked her immediately and immensely. Aside from that, the entire turnout consisted of two guys from local organizations in Portland (one of whom was beautiful but clad in a most unfortunate hawaiian-print shirt), a lesbian MCC minister from the Tri-Cities (Pasco/Richland/Kennewick), SMB from JustOut, and a reporter from Spokane's local gay paper. I don't think a single random person from the greater Hermiston metropolitan area even came by. I snapped this picture of a rainbow flag in the park where 'pride' was held because it seemed to me to perfectly encapsulate the flaccid nature of the entire day.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Clackamas rape report turns out to be consensual bondageby The Oregonian
CLACKAMAS -- A man and woman arrested Wednesday night in a reported rape turned out to be engaging in consensual bondage sex after meeting through a Craigslist on-line bulletin board.
Detective Jim Strovink, Clackamas County sheriff's spokesman, said a homeless woman spotted the couple and called police, believing the bound woman was being raped. When deputies arrived, the couple ran.
Deputies then called a K-9 unit and used tracking dogs to catch the couple -- fully clothed. The couple, a Milwaukie man and a Portland woman, were booked into the Clackamas County Jail on accusations of public indecency, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.
The man told deputies he ran because he didn't want his wife to find out.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Antichrist is a White Male Evangelical Christian in his 60's from Sullivan County, Indiana, Who Drives a Blue 1998 Nissan Sentra
Short answer: no, long answer: what kind of biblically illiterate douchebag asks such a question?
Last week, the McCain campaign released an ad that purports to mock Obama's alleged "messiah" status with his followers (who would be, according to any and all available polling, a majority of the nation), but numerous observers have noted that, as Eric Sapp of The Eleison Group puts it, "If the McCain camp was trying to spoof Obama as Messiah, they missed a number of more obvious images and did a very poor job with this ad. If they were trying to draw parallels to Obama as Antichrist, they nailed it."
I continue to be appalled, saddened, infuriated and frightened that so many people insist on pushing the myth of "the Antichrist" while citing a "literal" interpretation of the Bible. A genuinely literal reading of the handful of relevant passages -- all from the first and second epistles of John -- would require one to acknowledge that "even now many antichrists have come."
So despite the fact that by the end of the first century the apostle John (as the tradition of authorship holds) is telling us that multiple antichrists are already in the world, many people today are on the lookout for "the One."
In an article for Time rife with errors on the Barack-as-Antichrist meme, Amy Sullivan points to a chain e-mail currently in circulation that "claims that the Antichrist was prophesied to be "a man in his 40s of MUSLIM descent."
Here is where Sullivan truly misses the boat. She points out that "the Book of Revelation was written at least 400 years before the birth of Islam." It's more like 500, but that's irrelevant, especially since the point here is that End Timers assert that Revelation predicts the future. First, the phrase "the Antichrist" is not found in Revelation, nor in Daniel, another apocalyptic writing she points to but messes up the reference. She refuses to call the bluff of the literalists who insist the Bible says what it plainly does not say.
In one particularly embarrassing instance, Sullivan compares Barack Obama to the description of the Antichrist (in the character of Nicolae Carpathia) in the popular (and nonsensical and heretical) Left Behind novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins; in one sentence she gets multiple facts wrong about both Carpathia and Obama.
Here, though, is where she could really have gone in for the kill and written a great piece. In a predictably excellent post on the McCain ad, Slacktivist quotes LaHaye himself (via The Wall Street Journal) debunking the Obama rumors: "The Antichrist isn't going to be an American, so it can't possibly be Obama. The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania." [Emphasis mine.]
How is it that if the Bible is so clear on the identity of the Antichrist, no one agrees on who it is?
Jerry Falwell insisted that the Antichrist would be Jewish.
Others say he will be homosexual. (I guess that's not mutually exclusive.)
Historically, the favorite candidate has been the Pope.
Maybe it's Putin. Or Ahmedinejad. Or Suri Cruise. Here's an article that claims the Pope says George W. Bush is the Antichrist.
And all of this absurdity is pushed by people who insist they're just reading the Bible "literally."
The real story here isn't that some people think Barack Obama is the Antichrist; it's that the "Rapture" and "the Antichrist" are extra-biblical myths hawked by charlatans -- false prophets, if you will -- who distort Scripture to support their own secular agendas and call it "literalism."
Monday, August 04, 2008
The issue, as Archbishop Orombi sees it, is the Episcopal Church’s consecration of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions. “The American decision disregarded biblical authority by violating clear biblical teaching against homosexual behaviour,” he says.
“Even though some scholars have tried to explain away specific biblical passages that refer to homosexual practice,” he continues, “the fact remains that nowhere in Scripture is homosexual practice affirmed or presented as a legitimate alternative to heterosexual relationships.”
This is cowardice; he accuses the Episcopal Church of blithely ignoring “biblical authority” and yet declines to engage the scholarship he acknowledges, the scholarship that shows plainly that biblical teaching on homosexuality is anything but “clear.”
Let’s take a look at Orombi’s own approach to Scripture. As justification for shirking his responsibility to the global communion by refusing to engage the subject in person with other professing Christians, he writes, “The Bible says: ‘Can two walk together unless they are agreed?’”
“The Bible” says no such thing.
Anytime anyone cites a solitary verse free of any context – known as “proof texting” – mental red flags should go up. I was unfamiliar with this one, so I had to do an internet search. It turns out that’s Amos 3:3, in the New King James Version. Other translations render it differently. The New International Version has it as “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” and the more academic NRSV puts it, “Do two walk together unless they have made an appointment?” The English Standard says, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
Orombi clearly intends for us to take away that the Bible “says” that people are forbidden or at least discouraged from meeting for any purpose unless they are in total agreement about everything; at least, that’s his defense for playing hooky from Lambeth. But that’s not even how the cited verse (in one variation) reads. Amos is asking, albeit perhaps rhetorically. But there is an answer to the question, and it’s clearly “yes.”
Just today – and I am not making this up – I chanced upon a co-worker as I was heading back to the office from lunch. We hadn’t planned to meet, and yet we walked together probably a quarter of a mile or so across the corporate campus to our building. He’s a Mormon, and I’m a gay Episcopalian, so clearly our theologies aren’t going to be in total agreement. Yet we walked together amiably enough.
What else does Amos ask in this passage? “Does a lion roar in the forest, when it has no prey?” Umm…it might. Why not? “Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Jesus had a different take on urban disasters.)
Instead of smacking millions of prayerful, conscientious (and biblically literate) Episcopalians across the face with a single (questionably translated) verse ripped from its context and misrepresented as a commandment rather than an open question, perhaps Archbishop Orombi would want to sit with the 14th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans for a while and get back to us.