Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's Gut-Check Time in Ameria...Again

Two themes have emerged, on this Blog, regarding the "War on Terror." One is that we are in the midst of a very-real struggle, against barbarians, over the fate of Western, Judeo-Christian civilization. The other is that the war in Iraq is doing vastly more harm than good.

I'm sure, to many people, it seems that I am contradicting myself. To these poor, childlike, gullible souls, the war in Iraq is the latest front in the struggle to save Western civilization. We've been told this repeatedly -- hypnotically -- by our Svengali-in-Chief, and a lot of us feel it is our patriotic duty to echo it.

I believe that I have said this before, but I will say it again. I will keep right on saying it until I turn blue and drop dead from weariness. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DOING SOMETHING -- ANYTHING -- SIMPLY TO BE DOING SOMETHING AND DOING THE RIGHT THING.

Whenever they hear me say I am opposed to the war in Iraq, its diehard boosters tell me that "terrorism is evil" and that, therefore "we must do something about it." I would be the first to agree with them that terrorism is evil, and that we cannot afford to tolerate it. But doing the wrong thing about it -- just to be doing something -- may be as bad as, if not even worse than, doing nothing.

I believe that, in the nearly five years since 9-11, we have actually set back the cause of making the world a safer, freer place. I believe that we are actually aiding and abetting terrorism.

The Iraqi people made no significant move to defy Saddam Hussein on their own. They didn't do much to help us get rid of him. And since he has been gone, most of them have done precious little to get off their duffs and help us "rebuild" their country.

People who deserve freedom stand up and work for it themselves. People who won't do not deserve it. These people tolerated -- and, to a large degree, cheered on -- the murderous and repressive regime of Saddam Hussein for twenty-six years. Are they a reflection of him, or was he a reflection of them?

I hope they get their freedom, and I refuse to root for a collapse of their new government. But if it were a racehorse, I certainly wouldn't bet on it.

It is often argued that there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9-11 because our tough, aggressive, "decider" President has taken action. Logically speaking, it is far more likely that the terrorists achieved their purpose on 9-11 so completely that they haven't felt the need to strike again.

Do you really, really think that when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, the terrorists and the powers-that-be who back them thought "Aw, shucks...we didn't know Bush would actually attack us?" Only an idiot could believe that. No, of course they knew that the Bushies would rush to war -- hell, we now know (as surely they also did) that this administration planned on going to war even before the 9-11 attacks. Nobody with even the most tenuous grip on reality can plausibly, or even sincerely, argue that the terrorists attacked our country because they were certain we would never go to war.

The primary goal of 9-11 was to make us as terror-driven as our enemies are. Terrorists speak the language of terror because they understand no other. By having sunk, if not to their level, then closer to it than we've ever been before, we are behaving exactly as they'd hoped we would. Thanks to Bush and Company, the plans hatched by our enemies before 9-11 are coming to a near-textbook example of fulfillment.

Abu Ghraib proved it. And now, the Haditha massacre has certainly proved it as well. Robert Higgs has an excellent and very insightful piece on this at today's Lew Rockwell. com. You can access it at

Here are the two main steps toward effectively fighting terrorism: (1) Refuse to be afraid, and (2) Refuse to act like terrorists. If merely being "not as bad as" the terrorists is something we now count as success in the war against them, then we are already well on our way to losing it. And if we can't fight on in the Middle East without resorting to measures hostile not only to the human dignity of the people we're trying to save but also to our own, then "cutting and running" may indeed be preferable to staying and destroying our very souls. And if the fear of being mistaken as cowardly goads us into inhuman behavior, then not only are we cowards nonetheless, but also the damnedest of fools.

It's gut-check time for the American people. It very well may be soul-check time, too.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Whence Goes the Middle East?

I'm going to say this very frankly. We are wasting our time trying to force "democracy" on the despotisms of the Middle East.

They don't want it, and it's an insult to the lives of our brave young people that they're being sent over there to be maimed or killed for it. Of course our troops, for the most part, probably believe fervently in the cause of freedom in this region. And perhaps, someday, it will come. But it shows no sign of arriving at the point of a gun.

How do we transform this barren land? Free enterprise will achieve what militarism never will. Once business comes, and with it jobs, the angry young men who aggravate the unrest there will be too busy making their own and their families' lives better to have any more time for mayhem.

Of course, in the meantime, terrorism seems to stand in the way. Again, the way to dry up their recruiting is to give these guys real jobs to do. They are unhappy, in the first place, because they have no gainful employment and too much time on their hands. What about the hard-core terrorist organizations that seem dedicated to setting up an Islamist society? Well, don't they have to eat, just like everybody else?

All religions turn ugly in times of fear. What causes the fear? Societal unrest, for the most part -- which, in turn, is caused by the poverty that comes from joblessness. Democracy will only come about as the by-product of a free market. That may not sound sufficiently noble-minded to some people, but it is true.

The Christianist theocracy of the Far Right in America has enjoyed a surge of power primarily because of the fact that the United States is now a socialist state. How ironic that so many on the Right believe themselves to be anti-socialist! Once they got themselves some long-term power, look what they did with it: they built a socialist state! It may be Right-Wing socialism (the real name of the Nazi Party, remember was the National Socialists), but it is every bit as redistributionist and ultimately totalitarian as anything the Left has ever devised.

Socialism cannot succeed unless the state is remade into a totalitarian regime. Its centrally-planned rigors are never succesfully implemented in a free society. And no theocracy can long survive in a truly free-market system. The fact that socialism has not yet completely taken over in the United States is the only thing keeping the Christianist Right from completely ruling the land.

Well, gee whiz. George W. Bush has done more to turn this country in a socialist direction than any president since F.D.R. AND he has the backing of the Religious Right, to which he is trying his damnedest to turn over the entire nation. If you think these two circumstances are simply a coincidence, then I've got some heavenly swamp land in Florida to sell you.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The it A-Changing?

The furor over The Da Vinci Code, which shows no sign of dying down anytime soon, tells us a couple of very important things about the state of Christianity:

(A) People are really, really confused about what Christians are "supposed" to believe, and

(B) It is Christians' own fault.

Now, I happen to be a moderately liberal Christian. This means that I am cautious about redefining traditional doctrines, but that I am not opposed to it when I believe those doctrines would be better served -- that is to say, better understood and better followed -- if they were to be redefined. A friend of mine describes me, wrongly, as a "traditionalist." This implies that I have some special attachment to tradition for its own sake, which is just not true.

What I really am is open to God's ongoing revelation, which must mean, both, that I am open to what God has to say today, AND to what "He" has told past generations. Liberal Christians are very right when they say that "God is still speaking." But that means precisely that: that God is STILL speaking, not that "He" has only just now STARTED speaking. If God has, indeed, been speaking to us all along, then we are making a huge mistake if we get all full of ourselves and start thinking we need not listen to any voices from the past at all. If we ever truly grasped the totality of what such a balanced perspective means, the rift between liberals and conservatives would begin to be healed at last.

I have already said, many times, that I do not regard the fact that many on the Religious Right are shameful, disgraceful and thoroughly unlikable people as a sufficient reason to simply look at what that crowd does and then do something else. That is allowing people you don't like to control you, and it doesn't make an iota of sense to me.

Religious faith is supposed to be about our relationship with God, and is not about power-mad and delusional people who would twist God's very real revelation to serve their own, selfish interests.

I believe that the Religious Right has become a force for genuine evil in this country. Of course this doesn't mean that I disagree with them about everything. But it most certainly does mean that when they insist upon standing against all that I hold dear, I must stand against them.

The difference I have found between the Christian Left and the Christian Right is that the former still accepts and honors other viewpoints, whereas the latter has an almost Taliban-like, hysterical hatred and terror of other points of view. A good case in point is the fact that at my church, Faith Lutheran, when I voice my concerns about how our theology might be changing faster than it ought to, or in ways it ought not to, they actually listen to what I have to say. And I know I can trust that they will take my perspective, and that of others in the congregation who share my concerns, into serious consideration. If I were to voice objections in a Right-Wing church (even a gay one), I would be viciously driven out without one word of my objection having been heard.

Another good example of the greater degree of openness and respect I've found on the Christian Left is that a webzine for which I regularly write (and on whose board I am a member), Whosoever, even though the editorial opinion is somewhat to the Left of mine, always respectfully hears me whenever I speak -- and my essays and articles are always published without any attempt ever being made to water-down or strike out anything I say. Just try that in a publication of the Christian Right and boy, oh boy! -- you will see censorship in action. You will probably also see yourself "fired" from ever having another thing to do with them.

Remember what happened, on this very Blog, a few weeks ago? I posted an item making known my concerns at some of the things being taught in our adult education program at Faith Lutheran. Right away, I was attacked by a Right-Wing Christian. He told me, among other things, that I was "insane" (because, of course, his Bible tells him so).

As if it's somehow perfectly sane to spot one tiny portion of a post (as he admitted he had), without bothering to read the rest of it, and then flying into a Tazmanian-Devil-on-angel-dust tantrum about someone. Not only did he know very little about me, but as he didn't even bother to read the post upon which he was commenting (never mind the whole blog), he hadn't even taken the trouble to learn what little he might have.

This, my friends, is the Religious Right. I have tirelessly advocated continuing dialogue with them, even while they are actively trying to destroy the Constitution and ruin my life and so many others. And this is the sort of thing we get for it. I have come to realize that we probably won't ever get much else.

In advocating an amendment to the Constitution that would violate four existing amendments, they are attempting to destroy the United States. They are traitors to this country. In addition to this, they have betrayed God and twisted God's revelation in Jesus Christ into a tangle. No wonder so many people either think the Church is about nothing more than persecuting gay people and illegal immigrants or selling fitness shakes to fatten the coffers of televangelists who tell whoppers about how much weight they can bench-press.

And they're confused about The Da Vinci Code? Well, who'da thunk it? Leave it to the crowd who brought us the Left Behind series to straighten 'em out!

We must keep the lines of communication open with the Religious Right, because it is what Jesus wants us to do. But we must not allow them to drag us down into the mud with them. The same Jesus Who prayed for unity in the Church also gave us a very strong warning:

"Cast not your pearls before swine."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Are the Liberals Waking Up?

In a recent In These Times article by Michelle Goldberg, she decries the sort of pander-to-the-bigots cynicism that, in fact, drove me out of the Democratic Party:

"Rather than reflecting on what kind of policies would make their own lives better, what kind of country they want to live in, and who they want to represent them—and then figuring out how to win others to their vision—progressives flail about for ideas and symbols that they hope will appeal to some imaginary heartland rube. That is condescending."

I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything Ms. Goldberg says here. The only correction I wish to suggest is that people who sink to such political skulduggery are not "progressives" in any meaningful sense of the word. They are "centrists" -- that lovely, morally-bankrupt term the Clintons and their cohorts have visited upon the Democratic Party. Centrists will do virtually anything to get elected, because they stand for no principle more solid or enduring than themselves. Crassly blaming gays and other assorted "liberal special interest groups" for the defeat of their latest wishy-washy Presidential candidate, they have since insinuated themselves into an even greater entrenchment of power than Bubba ever brought them.

As they care for nothing except political victory and popularity in opinion polls, there is no way to shame these people into standing for anything. It may just be that the Democratic Party is lost to liberals, progressives or whatever the hell else they may decide to call themselves.

I'm going to make a prediction right here and now. Mark it well, or else someday, not too many years from now, you will wake up and find that it's come true. In the Twenty-first Century, socialism -- and totalitarianism in general -- will make a hard swing to the Right. Fascism, that horrible relic of the past century, will -- like those maggot-eaten mummies in Dawn of the Dead -- rise up out of the grave to walk the earth again. And, like so many horror-movie monsters, it will eat as much of the flesh, and drink as much of the blood, of the living that it must in order to keep from being driven back into the grave again.

The socialist Left is dying, because the power-mad need capital and willing labor in order to survive. And the fascist Right is studying hard the mistakes made by its Twentieth-Century forebears. What it seems, all too obviously, to be learning is not that fascism died because it deserved to, but that it made mistakes our modern fascists will be determined not to repeat.

There is only one hope for defeating the new fascist Right -- and that is libertarianism. If all the people feel they have to choose from is one power-mad police state or another, they will always choose the one that plays to their basest instincts over that which might attempt to elevate them to a higher plane. The Right can beat the Left at this any day of the week. If "liberals" and "progressives" don't wake up, very soon, and realize that they will never regain anything even approaching success via a totalitarian system, then nothing awaits them but extinction.

And if liberals and progressives abandon all who have for so long placed their hopes in them, there won't even be anybody left to cry at the graveside.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

...And It's Also a Movie!

Okay, so I said I'd never read The Da Vinci Code. And indeed, I probably won't. But it takes considerably less of a time investment to watch the movie, and since Lee was treating, watch it we did just last night.

At least now I know what all the brouhaha is all about. It was a reasonably entertaining movie, and I guess I can understand now why somebody might get the notion to write such a story -- it is, at least, an interesting concept. It is not something that a Christian would write, and I can't fathom why a Christian would make it into a film. But we do live in a free country, so nobody can (or even should) stop somebody from telling a story about Jesus. Even if it isn't true.

Both Lee and I are firmly grounded in our faith, so there was no danger we would be corrupted by what we saw on that big screen. But I can understand why many Christian leaders, in particular evangelists and Catholic authorities, would frown upon it. Impressionable (i.e. flaky) minds might well be swayed by it.

The Christian faith, perhaps more than any other, depends upon the historicity of the events recounted in the New Testament. If these things did not actually happen, then our beliefs are based upon falsehoods. I am convinced that the New Testament is as accurate as most ancient records -- if not more so. Many eminent sorts have labored mightily to debunk it, only to end up converting to belief in Christ. But not everyone is informed enough to separate fact from fiction.

There was really nothing disrespectful about the way Jesus was portrayed in The Da Vinci Code. It was just plain incorrect. Is there anything wrong with telling fairy-stories about Jesus? Not, I suppose, as long as nobody believes them. But if they do believe them, a great deal of harm can be done.

Again, those responsible for the book and film did not happen to pick on just any historical figure. Out of the millions and billions of folks they might have chosen to depict, they chose the Man half of the population of the earth believes to be God Incarnate. They certainly have the right to tell the story. But they shouldn't expect us to cry for them when people criticize them for it.

"It's only fiction," they're telling us now. "Boo-hoo, why people being so mean?"

It may make no difference to them now. And if they're right and we Christians are wrong, then ultimately it will never matter. But if they're the ones who've rolled the wrong number, then someday they may wish that at least some of their critics had been even meaner.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Wanna Be A Renaissance Woman, Darnit!

Was today ever fun! For the first time, I attended a monthly meeting of the Phoenix Writers' Club. It was a great first meeting to choose, because they were celebrating their 80th anniversary.

The Phoenix Writers' Club first formed in 1926, to accomodate the many fine women writers in the Valley of the Sun. The Arizona Press Club, at that time, did not yet allow women. The need for an alternative was keen, and the PWC filled it admirably. The club finally opened its membership to men in 1994, so now they let in just about anybody.

Our guest speaker was Marshall Trimble, Arizona's official historian. I have read his articles in many magazines over the years, and heard him narrate stories for local programs such as "Arizona Stories" on our local PBS affiliate. He was very warm and personable, and like most people who spend a lot of time surrounded by admirers, he has the patience of Job.

When I had the chance to speak wit him, I told him I thought I might try my hand at writing local history. Having just moved back into the neighborhood where I grew up, after an absence of over twenty years, I find that neighbors who've moved here since are always asking me about what it was like "way back then." Turns out I know a lot of stuff that people actually find interesting. Phoenix is such a transitory area that most people know next to nothing about the place they now call home. Mr. Trimble seemed to think this was a very good idea.

The notion just sort of came to me, like a tap on the shoulder by an angel, while I was having lunch during the meeting. Of course, as I made friends with some of the other writers, they wanted to know what sort of writing I did. Please forgive me, dear readers, for what may come across suspiciously like self-loathing and homophobia, but I phrased it as delicately as I could. At least for now, I left the "gay" part out of it. But by cracky, it's hard to describe anything I write without including the "G" word in there somewhere!

Why do I have to be known strictly as a "gay" writer, and nothing else? I'm certainly not at all ashamed of it; if I were, Heaven knows I'd never have started writing for the GLBT community in the first place. But for crying out loud, no heterosexual writer writes strictly about being straight. (Okay, maybe a very few do, but everybody pretty much agrees that they are weirdos with hangups that cry out for professional help.) Being gay certainly is a major part of who I am, but it's a heck of a long way from being all there is to me.

I will use no aliases. I will never flinch, or even blink, when somebody asks me if I'm gay -- and my answer will always be proudly in the affirmative. I am not afraid to see my "gay" work listed right smack-dab alongside my "general" work. I will simply be one of many gay writers whose interests are broad and varied enough that I can, at least occasionally, write about something else.

If people begin to appreciate my work -- people, that is, who would never read anything specifically "gay" (and this includes a good many people who ARE gay) -- then they just might decide to take a chance on one of my "gayer" titles. This is the sort of thing that leads to a greater understanding of GLBT folks as people. It helps even those who are struggling with uncertainty (or maybe even shame) about their sexuality to realize that being gay can be interesting and fulfilling. That, as a matter of fact, we "queers" are not so queer, after all.

Some research will need to be done before I figure out what sort of local-historical work I will write for my debut as an historian. My minor in college was history, so it's something that has long interested me. And, very frankly, when it comes to my historical writing, my primary motive will be to SELL my articles and books. People don't read history to be told who to vote for, what church to go to or what to think -- they want to read some ripping good stories. Tales that show, because they are true, that real life can be even better than fiction.

So here comes the butterfly, out of her coccoon. Franklin, Jefferson, Catherine the Great and all you Medicis, just move on over. A brand-new Renaissance Woman has just burst onto the scene!

Friday, May 19, 2006

One Little Vote

In commentary threads across the blogosphere, I hear people despairing that gays and lesbians will not be able to sway zillions of voters in a single election cycle. It is frustrating, I must admit. But we would do well to keep this in mind: NOBODY ELSE CAN DO THAT, EITHER.

No, not even the mighty Karl Rove, who can spin his way through kryptonite (or, until lately, so it was supposed). Even the Religious Right -- which can hurl thunderbolts, catch bullets in its teeth and leap tall buildings with a single bound -- cannot make people vote the way they want them to all the time. They can't make a lot of people vote the way they want to ANY of the time.

Each of us has one vote. One tiny little vote? No, one whole vote. Which is more than most of the human beings who have ever lived on this earth have had. And a lot of people fought and died so that each of us could have that vote. A lot more would have died for it, had they even been given the chance.

Feeling sorry for yourself because you can't have more? Yeah, you and the entire Religious Right. Listen, if you can't even think of anything constructive to do with ONE vote, what the hell do you think you would do with more of 'em?

Someday, you will be asked to account for what you did with your one little vote. Not what anybody else did with theirs, but what you did with your own.

There are people in this country -- rich, powerful and ruthless people -- who DO think that they should be given more than one vote apiece. And right now, they are working very hard to make that happen. Where will they get all those extra votes? From people like you, who didn't think that one was enough -- so they threw theirs away.

One vote per person is a treasure well worth keeping. And if ever you doubt that, just ask some of the people who have no votes at all.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A "Holy Ghost" Post

This is Post Number One Hundred for Born on 9-11. Woo-hoo...yipee-skipee!!!

I thought it might be fitting to celebrate this milestone with a post about the desired driving force for every Christian's blog: the Holy Spirit.

It would be vain to claim that the Spirit is always working through this Blog, but I do believe we have seen the Holy Spirit's presence here on occasion. New friends have met, ideas have been discovered and eyes have been opened.

I've also royally pissed at least a few people off. That's not necessarily evidence of Holy Spirit activity, although it certainly can be.

After He had risen from the dead, and before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus promised His followers that He'd send the Holy Spirit to guide the Church. This is a promise we commemorate every Pentecost -- and then, all too often, promptly forget.

Especially with regard to important debates now raging between believers, it is crucial to remember Jesus's promise, and to pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance.

It is as important to believe in the Holy Spirit as it is to believe in Jesus and in God the Father. As a matter of fact, this belief is crucial in determining whether someone who claims to be a Christian really is or is not.

There are people on both sides of the gay rights debate that make me wonder whether they have any faith in the Holy Spirit or not.

Those who are content to play on the ignorance of the general public, letting them go on thinking that "Christian" and "gay or lesbian person" must be diametrically opposed concepts, display a marked lack of faith in the Holy Spirit. Not only because they're liars (surely most of these people have kept up with the news at least enough to know that there are gays and lesbians fighting for inclusion in the churches), and liars have no part of the Holy Spirit, but because they show not a single shred of faith that the Third Person of the Trinity guards and works within the Church today.

If gays are wrong, then ultimately the Spirit will prove it. If gays are right, the Spirit will prove that, too. In twenty centuries, the Holy Spirit has stood unfailingly by the Church no matter how many in it were wrong. A good many disgusting and disgracefully erroneous things have happened in the Body of Christ over that time, but true to Jesus's promise, the gates of Hell have never prevailed.

Funny thing. Most gay Christians are willing to trust the Holy Spirit -- and most anti-gay Christians are not. All the spin-doctoring, the obfuscation, the willingness to leave ignorant people in the dark, the stereotyping, and the hornets-in-the-pants rage when somebody like me dares -- dares!!! -- to publicly suggest gays can be Christians, displays a shameful lack of faith in the Holy Spirit.

If anti-gay Christians retain any faith at all in the Holy Spirit, they sure have some very odd ways of showing it.

This brings me to why I have elected not to return to the Catholic Church after all. All the latest news regarding the hierarchy's doings suggest a vote of no-confidence in the Holy Spirit. They show little interest in what God wants -- only in what THEY want. And in shutting down the dialogue on the subject of gay rights, they are, in effect, telling the Holy Spirit to shut up.

Well, nobody shuts God up. This is hardly the first time the Catholic Church has attempted this feat, and, sadly, it probably won't be the last. But they will not succeed. Jesus will keep His promise 'til the very end. The Spirit will abide with Jesus's followers until Our Lord makes His glorious return.

The dialogue will go on. The debate will continue. I believe that the pro-gay forces are right -- but one way or another, the Holy Spirit will eventually make the truth clear to us all.

Now if we could just get all the liberal Christians who say they support us to stop running after every loony new theory that floats down the pike! I keep my distance from these people. Just as they once so staunchly supported African-Americans in their struggle for freedom and civil rights, the liberal churches are on the side of right once again. But theologically, they are -- how shall I put this -- quite confused. Gays and lesbians need to have the pride and the gumption to stand on our own feet and tell our liberal friends "thanks so much for supporting us, but we have the right to our beliefs."

African-Americans refused to compromise on matters of theology. Gays and lesbians need to stand our ground on this, as well. The fact that many of us swoon and thrall after every one of our liberal benefactors' latest theories might have something to do with why so many African-American Christians still regard us with suspicion.

You can't effectively argue against the conservatives who've forsaken the Holy Spirit if you're going to do the same darned thing. And as I have already made clear, if the history of the Church is about nothing more than mean people squabbling over power -- and the biggest and strongest of them prevailing -- then the Holy Spirit is either AWOL or dead.

I take no stock in the "lost gospels," or the "alternative Christianities" theories now swirling around. I believe the Holy Spirit has protected the Church from any error so serious that it would have destroyed it.

If we're going to fall for the fallacy that in the Body of Christ, all spoils go to the strongest, and that those with the biggest wallets can simply suppress God's truth at will, then we will have succumbed to the fantasy in which so many conservative "Christians" place their faith.

Given the bully-boy, strong-arm, just-shut-up-if-you-disagree-with-us attitudes of so many on the so-called Christian Right, it is tragically obvious that many who call themselves Christians have no faith in the Holy Spirit at all.

It is not yet clear which side will win in the gay rights debate within the Church. But given the anti-gay forces' lack of willingness to entrust the matter to the Holy Spirit, a pretty good indication is already emerging.

Many of the strongest gains in the understanding of gay rights are coming from the Pentecostalist camp. This speaks volumes, in and of itself. And in tongues that will, one day -- I truly believe -- inform the whole world.

Veni Sancti Spiritus!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's a NOVEL, Folks!

I am concerned -- no, make that downright worried -- that there's been such an increase in worldwide nuttiness because of The Da Vinci Code.

People, it's friggin' FICTION. It's a NOVEL, not an expert treatise on Scripture or Christian history.

Many liberal Christians are, predictably, falling into a swoon over it. "Maybe Jesus was married," they titter. "Maybe He had children." Yeah, and just maybe He was a Cubs fan. The team has been around for just about that long, and I think at least a few of the apostles were still alive the last time they won a World Series.

Get a grip, everybody. From what I've heard, it's an interesting story, but that's all it is: a story. Do I personally plan to read it? No.

Why not? Because I find it in something worse than merely poor taste to use a Man millions of people believe to be God Incarnate as nothing more than a handy-dandy historical figure to star in a spinoff of reality. I, too, believe that Jesus is God Incarnate. If I was willing to stop watching South Park because I disapproved of the way Jesus was treated on the show, why the heck would I want to pay perfectly good money to support an author who treats the Lord of Lords and King of Kings no better than Joe Average Anybody?

On a separate note, somebody claiming to be the Messiah has found this Blog. If you read what Scripture has to say about the End of Days, it predicts an increase in this sort of thing. People are literally coming out of the woodwork, claiming to be the Messiah. But we don't need to run after them. We've known who the Messiah is for twenty centuries now.

I'm going to pray for this guy, because the scary thing about it is that he may actually believe the stuff he's saying. Jesus loves him, too, and wants to be his Lord. If you run across somebody who tells you he (or she) is the Savior, point the way to Christ. Not everybody will listen, but there's no end to the wonders prayer can work.

Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? If He had been, there's no real reason why the Bible wouldn't have simply come right out and said so. All those dark and nefarious forces, supposedly so hard at work under the catacombs or wherever the heck else back in the early centuries of the Church, would have had to have been busier than the Keebler elves, not to mention more magical, in order to pull off everything that's claimed about them.

Christians believe in the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised us that His Spirit would guide us through the centuries, and this is not a belief to be taken lightly. If the Christian faith is true, then we have been protected from doctrinal corruptions, much the same way as the ozone layer has been a shield against meteors and other debris from outer space.

Outer space, incidentally, is where most of the current notions about Christian history seem to have come from. Put on your tinfoil hats, if it makes you feel better. But for real results, by all means, pray.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Man or a Mouse?!

According to a documentary last night on PBS, an excavation of St. Peter's tomb in Rome has yielded the bones of a man, a woman, a boy and a mouse.

They have no idea, of course, whether the man whose bones they found was, indeed, the Big Fisherman. They do know that the bones of the boy, the woman and the mouse belonged to somebody else.

Is it possible that this closely-guarded (and for centuries, hidden) tomb NEVER held the remains of St. Peter? Kinda looks like it.

This does not mean that everything in The Da Vinci Code, for example, is true. The documentary itself pooh-poohed some of the claims made in that novel. (And what is lost on nearly everybody is that Dan Brown, the author himself, insists that it is ONLY a novel.)

It does, however, mean that the Roman church might have taken steps very early on to assure that its bishop was recognized as Peter's successor.

You don't diss the Vatican. Not even to this very day. But the Vatican and its prince, the Pope, still often fall a long way shy of acting like Christ.

I dunno. Maybe I'm better off simply staying at my Lutheran church -- which does welcome me as no other church has.

Jesus welcomes people, too. It definitely seems, to me, that welcoming is the thing the Church should do.

Using Christlike behavior as the standard with which to measure the Church. What a concept!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How 'Bout A Smackdown?

I've got a great idea for those of us who blog, as well as for those of us who regularly comment on other people's blogs. How about a face-to-face, smackdown-style event?

I want to meet some of these people. Especially those who tell me I'm going to Hell, or that I'm a genetic mistake because I'm gay. Why do I get the feeling they wouldn't say such things to my face?

There is nothing I would say to a computer keyboard I wouldn't say to somebody's face. Anybody's. This could get very interesting.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. My only complaint about it is that it is the perfect haven for people too chickenshit to speak their minds to others. Those, that is, who feel some cathartic compulsion to be nasty. It is one more hole for cowards to hide in.

We are a nation of cowards. Just listen to us strut and bluster about Iraq. I'll tell you something about the possibility of war with Iran. If we do go, even the chickenshits will have to sign up. There simply aren't enough existing volunteer troops to spread that thinly.

At the moment, over on another blog, I am in a war with words with somebody who says I'm a biological error for having been born gay. This is not a religious person, but an atheist speaking. Too bad so many gays and lesbians save their wrath for filthy hypocrites like "Doctor" Laura -- who want to wrap themselves up in a nice, cozy mantle of religion -- instead of people like that.

A good many atheists and agnostics hate gay people. They would just as soon see all of us dead. Someday, somebody's going to come along and suggest a "final solution" for "imperfect" folks like us. They will probably be about as religious as this creep is, but whattya want to bet they will cloak their murderous rhetoric behind a "Doctor" Laura-like religious veneer?

Let me make this perfectly clear. "Doctor" Laura believes that God is a bungler. This is blasphemy of the blackest order. And any so-called religious person -- Christian or Jew -- who runs after her and her theories is a traitor to God.

You're entitled to your opinions, and I'm just as entitled to my own. But if you've got the same opinion about me as does "Doctor" Laura, it's better not to add blasphemy to your crimes by trying to hide them behind religion.

It's all just a matter of biology and chemistry. Human breeding is no different than that of horses, cattle, sheep or pigs, and gays and lesbians are simply mistakes, to be dealt with as the unproductive cull that we -- in these peoples' opinions -- really are. Take a good look at the real, atheistic, God-hating face of homophobia. And if you agree with it, at least have the decency not to call yourself a religious believer.

How many souls -- particularly those of sensitive and impressionable young people -- have been driven off into the dark of night by hate-consumed frauds posing as "moral religious people?" Religious bigots who get off on condemning me can have all the fun they want to with it now. Come the Day of Judgment, I wouldn't trade places with any of them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fruit Crate Art Rules!

Someday, I will go to a headshrink and together, probing the labyrinthine byways of my mind, we will figure out why I love old fruit crate art so very, very much.

If you feel compelled to offer a bad pun about the fruit loving fruit crate art, go ahead and get it out of your system. I'm a patient woman.

When I was a kid -- back in the Seventies, when we still shared the earth with dying dinosaurs and disco -- there was a brief craze during which T-shirts were sold with old fruit crate art images on them. I snatched up several. My first, and favorite, was for Sea Cured Ventura County Lemons, sold by the Seaboard Lemon Association of Oxnard, California. It featured a picture of a beautiful cargo-ship, evidently laden with lemons as it cruised into a West Coast harbor at sunrise. The billowy clouds overhead reflected the orangy sun rising over the city, the waves did their merry morning dance, and all seemed right with the world.

When I couldn't wear the shirt anymore, I cut out the picture and put it on my wall. My mom thought I was nuts. (The fact that I had pictures of beautiful women on my wall the whole time I was growing up -- from Snow White and Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie" in the early years to Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn as a teen -- never seemed to bother her. Meaning only, as it evidently did, that I was a "big fan.") A washed-out-looking rag with the faded remains of an ad for lemons made no sense to her in the least.

Google junkie that I am, one day I tapped in "Sea Cured Ventura County Lemons" and got nothing but chaos. Then I tried "Old fruit crate art," and had a bonanza. There are several excellent websites out there, on which antique fruit crate art, as well as old advertising art in general, is sold. As I mentioned on this Blog once before, a site called "Plan 59" (formerly "Ephemera Now") is my favorite, especially for mid-century graphics. Not a day goes by that I don't visit that site, as there is always something new and wonderful.

At a site called "Oodles a Lootle" (, I finally hit paydirt and found my "Sea Cured" picture. It just arrived in the mail a few days ago. As soon as I get it framed, I am on my way to redecorating my house so it really feels like mine.

On the back of the picture's cardboard backing, there's a sort of certificate of authenticity, showing that this was, indeed, once a real fruit crate label. It includes the big stamped word, "Sunkist," along with a recipe for "Lemon Clear Sauce for Puddings" (!!!) and "Household Uses of Lemon" (!!!!!!!!!) I am in hoggy, lemon-crate heaven.

Best of all, as the label also tells us, it is "A Product of United States of America." Be a patriot and buy a fruit crate label today!

One of the best things about America is that even if you inherit your house from your parents, you're free to redecorate it your own way. Goodbye to all the "Mom" frou-frou (heterosexually tasteful though it may be) and hello fruit crate art, Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

For Sports Fans, The Buck Stops Here

In today's Arizona Republic, sportswriter Dan Bickley implies that fans who complain about unjust officiating sound like hicks. There's something bush league, in his view, about demanding that you fork over between seventy-five and three hundred bucks per ticket to see an honest contest.

Why don't fans in the biggest TV markets tend to worry about such things? Probably because they either prefer deluding themselves into thinking their teams really are the best the lion's share of the time, or else because they have no pride and have such a pathetic sense of themselves that they're okay with being TOLD they're winners, even when they wouldn't be without extra help.

Kobe "the Princess" Bryant would be the best player on just about any franchise in the league. There's something corrupt about being willing to play for a team of mercenaries who get three extra players every night. Players with whistles. Deaden your conscience to that for a while and you lose a part of who you are.

Maybe that's why he made such a pathetic spectacle of himself on Saturday night. Throwing elbows at people's heads and knocking them around. And the refs were such cowards that for the most part, they ignored it. Surprise, surprise.

Not only is the game of professional basketball in the process of defiling itself to the point where it's about as genuine as bigtime wrestling, but in winking at the sellout, America is sullying its soul.

As I have stated earlier, my disenchantment with the NBA goes back to long before the beginning of the WNBA. I got tired of watching suspected rapists, and men under police investigation for having allegedly hired hit-men to kill pregnant girlfriends, cheered by arenas full of fans. That's just sick. This country is spiritually diseased.

If you pay good money -- and lots of it -- to watch a contest that's billed as a fair game, when the officiating is corrupt, you are being robbed. And if you don't care that you are being robbed, you are compromising your very soul.

I still watch the big games on TV. I grew up watching the Suns, and of course I retain some real affection for the team. But I refuse to pay that sort of money to watch a game in which the outcome has already been determined. And I don't care that somebody who makes his living whoring after pro athletes wants to call me a hayseed because I'm not afraid to say so.

There's still only sooooo much the referees can do to affect the outcome of a game. They still don't dare to be too obvious, which is why the "right" team doesn't always win it. Rather than being a sign that the league has not yet succumbed to corruption, that is A PART OF its corruption. Because it still wants to make its games look like honest contests, sometimes the "wrong" team still has to win. In its unwillingness to show itself for what it is, the league still lies to us and steals our money.

When you go to a Harlem Globetrotters game, you know they're going to win by a fantabulous margin. This is not dishonest; it's all just a part of the show. When you go to see Wrestle Mania, you understand that you are seeing a staged production. It may not be my cup of joe, but because it's giving the paying public exactly what is expected, it isn't taking anybody's money under false pretenses.

"Princess" Bryant ought to be in jail for the cheap shots he took at Suns players last night. If he were any of the fans, he certainly would be. I take consolation, small as it is, that the Suns managed to enact justice and win the game. This was the outcome because the Lakers are so bad that they don't even belong on the same court with the Suns. Most of their players are unfit to lace the Suns' sneakers.

Lakers fans used to have enough pride to put a great team on the floor. Man, have they sunk! If these clowns hadn't been wearing Laker purple and gold, they'd never have made the playoffs at all. They've got to resort to thuggery to get anywhere. Too bad the Suns are bigger men than they are, and more than willing to stand up to whatever they dish out.

It's not too late to save the NBA. Insist on honest contests. Refuse to pay the insulting prices teams now charge, and they will come back down to earth.

The Princess sits in the kiss-n'-cry area, wiping away her tears and hugging her teddy-bears and flowers. The judges couldn't come through for her this time, and she doesn't -- sniff! -- like her coach as a person. She doesn't even have Shaq to snipe at anymore. And the Suns are skating boldly off to another challenge.

Those "Beat L.A.!" signs are good for another whole series. Go Suns!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sometimes I Like Being Wrong

Suns win! Suns win! Suns win!!!

Even after the league found an excuse to suspend Raja Bell from Game Six (for a "flagrant" foul supposedly committed in Game Five -- a foul no more "flagrant, if you look at the tape, than most of what constitutes Laker defense), the Suns still managed to win the game in overtime. There will be a seventh game, after all, in front of the long-suffering Suns' fans.

Nobody can deny that Kobe is a great player. He tried to save the game singlehandedly, and didn't come too far short of succeeding. But he is also about the biggest crybaby ever to wear an NBA uniform. I'm not sure playing for the Lakers is too great a character-building experience. Jack Nicholson's favorite team seems to think the rest of the league owes them victory.

When the Suns were up by seven, as the extra period dwindled down, Lakers fans were ACTUALLY LEAVING THE BUILDING. glorious victory. Next week, they may need to change the colors on their pom-poms, come right back to the same building and root for the Clippers.

The game last night was actually pretty decently officiated. Maybe the Suns' brass and media made enough noise about the foul stench of favoritism extended, up 'til then, in favor of the Lakers that the league had to show an earnest face. But I have been a Suns fan for thirty-seven years, and I have seen this happen too many times before not to know what's probably up for Game Seven. The Lakers will get away with anything up to -- and probably including -- attempted homicide against us, and we will get in foul trouble if we so much as breathe too hard on Kobe.

I'm sticking with this because (A) After nearly forty years, I'd like to see the Suns go all the way just once, (B) the Lakers have already won enough titles and (C) the WNBA season doesn't get to start until all of this bull-hockey is over. Guess which reason I find most compelling.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Predict (Not What I Want)

I predict that the Los Angeles Lakers will win Game Six of their first-round playoff series against my Phoenix Suns. Meaning that in the next round, the NBA, the TV networks and the news media will get their All-La-La-Land Series.

Why will this happen? Because the officiating in the NBA is about as objective and impartial as the judging in figure skating. Most WWF Smackdown matches have more surprising results. The league just pretty much figures out which matchups would be best for their almighty TV ratings, and the refs blow their whistles accordingly.

It doesn't matter how much better the Suns may happen to play in Game Six. They will be robbed in the end.

I stopped being much of an NBA fan a long time before the advent of the WNBA. I got tired of all the corrupt officiating and the temper-tantrums from the players. The league wants to pull in every drunken half-wit it can get into its arenas, so it's been dumbing down the game for years.

Even though I usually have to thumb all the way back to the last couple of pages of the sports section to find the WNBA news (mustn't give anybody a masculinity crisis by having the ladies' stories too prominently-placed), it is usually well worth it. No more is the news of my favorite players riddled with criminal reports. In following the WNBA, I no longer need to wonder what player will be arrested next for trashing a barroom, trying to sneak a gun onto a plane or raping a twelve-year-old kid.

Sooner or later, the same B.S. that's sinking the NBA will probably get to the WNBA, too. Scapegoating Phoenix Mercury coach Carrie Graf for the fact that the team failed to reach the playoffs last year was one of the most chickenshit managerial moves I've ever seen. We didn't make the playoffs, for a record number of years, because Seth Sulka can't keep the players in town for a whole season. Blaming Graf was the most ignoble thing I've seen from the Mercury front office since they failed to sign Jennifer Gillom for her last season -- letting her sign, instead, with the L.A. Sparks.

The Sparks?! A team everybody in Phoenix hates?! Getting a Mercury legend, in what would have been her last year in the league? What a bunch of boneheads they've got in their front office.

Sports are NOT "just" a business. Rather, I should say, yes, they are a business -- but they're one of those commercial enterprises nobody wants to think of as strictly a commercial enterprise. In their slavish devotion to the bottom line, a pro sports team's management would be wise to be at least slightly less crassly money-grubbing than the average Evangelical megachurch.

And if they don't put the banners for Jen Gillom and Michele Timms back up in America West Arena this year (oh, 'scuse it's the U.S. Airways Center), THIS longtime season ticket holder is gonna demand to know the reason why.

Even if all they want to do is hold us upside-down until they've emptied all the money out of our pockets, the bigshots in the front offices of our favorite teams might at least have the good grace to PRETEND they care about us.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Miss Manners and Her Mission of Tough Love

Excuse me, but why do so many gay and lesbian people put up with such abominably rude behavior from straights?

Notice very carefully what I'm asking. I'm not asking why so many straights are so rude to us (they get away with it most of the time, so why shouldn't they be?). I am asking why we put up with it.

Every once in a while, a straight person will make a remark to me about "my lifestyle" (about which he or she knows nothing), or about "what I do in bed" (about which he or she has no right to know anything). Or this fool will make any number of other boorish and ignorant remarks, to me, because I am gay. Why are they so accustomed to thinking they can get away with this?

Sometimes, on a TV talk show, a noted gay person will appear alongside a noted anti-gay person. The encounter is not always unpleasant, but occasionally the anti-gay person gets not only rude, but downright abusive. Now, the gay person almost always remains calm. And as far as I am concerned, this is sainthood in action.

If I were treated like that on a talk show, at the first commercial break I would inform my antagonist that the next time it happened, he would get the back of my hand all the way across the studio. This would end the problem right there. Would it be saintly? Probably not. But some people need tough love.

"Spare the rod and spoil the child" is evidently something the parents of most contemporary adults did not believe. I find it amusing that so many social conservatives claim to believe in corporal punishment for children. And, given their own behavior, I can only assume it's because they never got it themselves.

I simply don't put up with rudeness. Not from anybody. I am Miss Manners on Steroids, and I am on a mission of tough love.

Gay folks, start standing up for yourselves. Most of your would-be antagonists are cowards. If they know you aren't going to take their crap, they will not try to give you any. Very few of the rude straight people I have encountered were ever told, by anybody before me, that they were being rude.

Back in Christ's day, kids would have gotten the shitfire thrashed out of them for speaking to others the way so many so-called adults talk to other people today. "Turn the other cheek" still definitely has meaning, but in an era when the average adult has the manners of a chimpanzee, sometimes the kindest thing you can do for people is to tell them how foolish their behavior really is.

I don't believe corporal punishment is cruel in the least. And I'll gladly administer it to anybody who demonstrates to me that they need it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

An Unholy Mess

I was (at least nominally speaking) raised Lutheran. As a young adult, I became a Catholic. It was, up 'til that time, by far the most profound thing that had ever happened to me. As improbable as it may seem, my decision to face my sexuality, and to come out as a lesbian nearly ten years after my conversion, was one of the many healthy results of the conversion itself.

Why did I become a Catholic? Because I discovered what many other Protestants who investigate the Biblical underpinnings of the Catholic faith have learned, which is that -- regardless of all the squawking evangelical Protestants do about how "biblical" their faith is, the Catholic faith is actually more solidly founded on the Bible than anything else. To anyone who doubts me, I recommend a little book by Scott and Kimberly Hahn: "Rome Sweet Home."

Like most converts, I was a very strict and by-the-book Catholic. I was chosen to teach adult catechism when I was right out of catechism myself. And I frequently butted heads with the head of the catechetical team (someone for whom I have since come to have a lot more respect), not because she thought I was too liberal or rebellious, but because she thought me too stodgily conservative. My world was all black-and-white; there was no room in it for any shades of gray. In the Catholic world, however, there are not only shades of gray as well as black and white, but also vibrant color in all shades of the rainbow.

The news media does not tell us this, of course. They speak only of the black-and-white. And this was all I was interested in, until I came to know myself better, realize who I really am and come to honest grips with myself. Then I thanked the Church that had helped me do this by (A) believing the narrow-minded portrayal the media presents of it and (B) leaving it to return to the "freedom" of Protestantism.

For most of the next decade, I would think of myself as a liberal Protestant and a Protestant liberal. It took a while for the good old habits of self-scrutiny to take over again, and for me to recognize that I was no longer a liberal, but a libertarian. Now in the capital "L" sense, I am a Libertarian as well.

I have begun, again, to reassess my commitment to Protestantism. Martin Luther is one of my greatest heroes; he was, I believe, a man ill-used by the Catholic Church. But Martin Luther continued to consider himself a Catholic 'til the day he died. The Church might kick him out and try to kill him, but he never left it -- it left him. This does nothing to change, however, what I have come to believe about Protestantism in general.

I thought I had returned to the church of my youth: the church of Luther. Now I'm not quite sure WHAT I returned to.

Protestantism is one unholy mess. Just as unscrupulous men got ahold of Luther's attempts at reform and used them as a pretext to loot much of Catholic Europe, so, too, are the Protestants of today looting, raping and pillaging the Christian tradition.

Why HAS the Catholic Church become so reactionary? It is a defensive posture against the relentless raidings of the flock by evangelical Protestantism. The Holy Spirit will abide with the Catholic Church 'til the end of time -- it can rely upon that with confidence. But in the meantime, instead of dealing with the complex issues before it, it must beat back the raiders of the flock. Even in the areas of the world in which the Catholic Church has made gains (Asia, Africa and South America), the Protestants are more than keeping up with it.

I consider all the spasms of homophobia in the hierarchy today in precisely that light. Liberal Protestants are now (at least in some cases) trying to capitalize on them by luring away those most abused by Catholic defensiveness: gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and those heterosexuals who get chewed-up and spit-out by the rigid sexual legalism of a Church struggling to cope with societal change -- change that is happening at a greater speed than that with which the Church seems to be able to pursue it.

God loves bigots, too. And "He" cannot allow the Church Universal to move at a speed greater than that which allows the slowest and most-backward to keep up. For a long time, I failed to understand that. Many feminists and gay and divorced or unhappily-married people cannot.

I have, only very recently, committed to publication the assertion that the Catholic Church is NOT the only true church. I still don't know, for sure, if it is the ONLY true church -- though I do, indeed, still believe that it IS true. Catholics themselves believe that Protestants are real Christians, just as they are. I told myself that the whole time I dallied back in the Protestant world, experimenting with one sort of "Reformation" Christianity after another, and then back and forth between them.

And though that is, indeed, true, I don't know how much more of this nonsense I can take.

The pattern is the same, over and over again. I find a church where I feel welcome, without any shadow of ambiguity. Then comes the payment: liberality about welcoming all becomes liberality about Christian truth.

We are at an unfortunate juncture in Christian history. At the moment, only liberal Christians are willing to welcome those not welcome elsewhere. If only more people knew enough about the history of the faith to realize how many times in the past this has already happened! Not only do the conservatives never learn this, but the liberals don't seem to, either.

The only possible solution, if I am to remain a Protestant, is for me to join a "gay" Evangelical church. I tried going to one the Sunday before last, and it was the same as always: the preacher raves on and on for about forty minutes, we all flip back and forth dutifully in our pew Bibles from one disjointed text to another, we sing a bunch of hymns (everything unrelated to everything else in any way except that it is "Christian") and then we partake of a communion of broken crackers and grape-juice. There is no liturgy to speak of, no observance of the Christian calendar and an abysmal ignorance about the history of the faith.

I've been to enough "Straight" Evangelical churches to know that they are exactly the same -- except that I won't be welcome if I tell the truth about how God made me. The "gay" Evangelical churches are the way they are not because they are "gay," but because they are Evangelical.

I will not go to a liberal church that thinks the Da Vinci Code ought to influence theology. Or that Jesus walked on ice when He is supposed to have walked on water. Or that the Gospel of Judas deserves a place in the Canon of Scripture right alongside the Gospel of John.

There is no balance in Protestantism. What do I miss besides the balance? I miss the trust that the Holy Spirit can be counted on to fulfill the promise Jesus made, and to abide with the faithful until His glorious return.

Every once in a while -- in an exceptionally dark period of its history -- the Catholic Church also forgets to trust in that promise. It has forgotten to trust in it now. But it has always eventually come to itself and learned to trust again. It will with regard to gays, women and other "sexual" issues -- I am sure of it. History bears me out.

Maybe the thing to do is go back and hang on. Hang on through this dark time, and realize that it's always the darkest right before the dawn.