Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Confusing 1950s Culture With Scripture

Prior Aelred directed my attention to this post from The Carpetbagger Report, which makes, I think, some v. good points.

The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, for example, is offering courses on homemaking — in which women are taught that “men make decisions; women make dinner.”More moderate Southern Baptists disagree, and counter with their own biblical references. When Jesus dined at the home of two sisters, he praised Mary, who spent the evening studying his teachings, above Martha, who did chores. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes that “there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ.”

“We’re confusing 1950s culture with the teaching of Scripture,” said Wade Burleson, a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma. “I nowhere see where the Lord Jesus places limitations on the role of women in our culture.”

That said, I think the Baptists have a right to do this, with their own (not tax) dollars. Just as I think that Moslem women have a right to wear a head scarf, even though I don't agree with the notions upon which that practice is based.

I sure hope the young woman discussed in the article, who is sewing a pink-and-brown polka-dot dress for herself and who says, “It really doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what the Bible says,” never finds herself widowed or divorced with a passel of kids to feed. In those situations, it's useful to know how to do something beyond sewing polka-dot dresses and it starts to matter a whole lot whether you can think.

Congratlations To The Man America Elected President In 2000

Early this morning, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize.

He certainly deserves it, as every environmental disaster prevented likely prevents another war, another group of refugees, another tragedy for countless species.

And I'm getting a lot of pleasure out of how pissed off that stinking non-entity in the WH is this morning. Hide, Barney! Hide!

No one would have blamed Al Gore if, after having the election stolen from him by SCOTUS, he'd gone off to his farm to drink himself into an angry oblivion. He didn't do that. As a grandmother, I'm v. grateful for what he's done with the last 7 years.

Friday Cat Blogging

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No, Really. This Time I'm Serious. Come On. Really. Don't Play Games. It's Me, Your Many-Times-Great Grandaughter. Talk To Me. Seriously. Guys?

Driving home this evening from pizza w/ Son and G/Son, while my beautiful DiL was at a meeting at G/Son's school, I finally felt it. The thinning of the veil. It won't be complete for another few weeks, but it's beginning. Perhaps it was waiting for our first blast of true Fall weather to usher it in. Whatever triggered it, it's here. You can feel it, smell it, almost see it, as the darkness comes earlier and earlier and as the acorns hitting the roof tap out a message from the Isle of Apples.

This is the time of year when I have conversations with my ancestors -- the farther back, the better. (No, really. If you knew my family, you'd agree. The farther back, the better. Some other poor witch, born centures from now, can try to hold a conversation w/ my parents. Blessings and good luck upon you, Dear Descendent. It will help if you can speak Crazy.) I talk about whatever's on my mind, what's worrying me, what I plan to do for the next year, what I think about the year now ending, about anything that I need to talk about. I talk, well, my rising sign is Gemini, so, I talk a lot. I have a lot to say.

Son once, as a v. little boy, maybe three years old, was fascinated with a National Geographic story about the Vikings. My mother told him, "The Vikings were your ancestors." Son asked what an "ancestor" was, and my mom explained that they were his relatives, but that he'd never meet them because they were already dead. It made Son inordinately sad. I've always found that, first, very endearing, and, second, very true, in the "larger truths" sense of the word.

Most of us do long to know that we are part of a line, part of a clan that transcends time, someone with, not only a past, but also, the possibility of a future. And, of course, we are, each of us, someone with a long, long line of ancestors stretching back to African Eve, each of us the result of a long line of people who, no matter what else they did, or failed to do, managed to survive and to pass their mitochondrial DNA, the cleft of their chins, some archetypes, and the will to live down, down, down, through the centuries, through the Ice Ages, and wars, and droughts, and cracking of ice walls leading to floods, and long migrations, all of it passed down to -- us.

To today's survivors. To the ones who will, one day, feasting in the Summerlands, drowsing on the Isle of Apples, notice the Veil getting thin and peer across to see someone who looks, and smells, and sounds . . . familiar, in the original sense of the word. Someone who seems insistent on reaching across the veil to touch our hand, hear our voice, get some kind of important message from us. When that time comes, may we be kind.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite passages, ever, from Ursula LeGuin. A woman importunes her ancestors for help. "Oh, it's That One. In trouble, again," the Ancestors chuckle to each other. It's what I imagine some Viking thrall saying to some settler from ancient Rus and to the barefoot old crone, the one who died lighting fires at the edge of the cave to keep the winter wolves away from the smell of placenta and mother's milk. "Oh, it's That One. In trouble, again."


Update: A point made in comments reminds me that I should have noted that I often talk to many-times-great aunts and uncles. I don't think that a lack of direct progeny prevents one from hearing calls through the veil once in the Summerlands. We're all related somehow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday Poetry Blogging


He was the sort of man
who wouldn't hurt a fly.
Many flies are now alive
while he is not.
He was not my patron.
He preferred full granaries, I battle.
My roar meant slaughter.
Yet here we are together
in the same museum.
That's not what I see, though, the fitful
crowds of staring children
learning the lesson of multi-
cultural obliteration, sic transit
and so on.

I see the temple where I was born
or built, where I held power.
I see the desert beyond,
where the hot conical tombs, that look
from a distance, frankly, like dunces' hats,
hide my jokes: the dried-out flesh
and bones, the wooden boats
in which the dead sail endlessly
in no direction.

What did you expect from gods
with animal heads?
Though come to think of it
the ones made later, who were fully human
were not such good news either.
Favour me and give me riches,
destroy my enemies.
That seems to be the gist.
Oh yes: And save me from death.
In return we're given blood
and bread, flowers and prayer,
and lip service.

Maybe there's something in all of this
I missed. But if it's selfless
love you're looking for,
you've got the wrong goddess.

I just sit where I'm put, composed
of stone and wishful thinking:
that the deity who kills for pleasure
will also heal,
that in the midst of your nightmare,
the final one, a kind lion
will come with bandages in her mouth
and the soft body of a woman,
and lick you clean of fever,
and pick your soul up gently by the nape of the neck
and caress you into darkness and paradise.

--Margaret Atwood

Who Would Jesus Frag?

Jason Pitzel-Waters, at the Wild Hunt, covers the disturbing story.


OMFG, just go read this First Draft post. What a psychopath, to be handing out souvenir coins.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two Hundred Species A Day

We Can Do Way, Way Better Than Empire

Happy Samhein

La Revolucion Is Dead. Long Live La Revolucion.

Che Guevra was executed by firing squad forty years ago today, according to Wiki, in Bolivia, where he was captured in a military operation supported by the CIA and the U.S. Army Special Forces. He had some Celt in him, as well as Basque, and he wrote poetry.

In his notebook, taken when he was executed, he had written the following poem by Cesar Vallego:

The Black Heralds

There are blows in life, so powerful . . . I don’t know!
Blows as from the hatred of God; as if, facing them,
the undertow of everything suffered
welled up in the soul . . . I don’t know!

They are few; but they are . . . They open dark trenches
in the fiercest face and in the strongest back.
Perhaps they are the colts of barbaric Attilas;
or the black heralds sent to us by Death.

They are the deep falls of the Christs of the soul,
of some adored faith blasphemed by Destiny.
Those bloodstained blows are the crackling of
bread burning up at the oven door.

And man . . . Poor . . . poor! He turns his eyes, as
when a slap on the shoulder summons us;
turns his crazed eyes, and everything lived,
wells up, like a pool of guilt, in his look.

There are blows in life, so powerful . . . I don’t know!

Monday, October 08, 2007

My New Name For A Blog

What SarahSutterfield Winn Said:

But if anything, at this time in our spiritual history, it is the darkness that we ought to be cultivating in the gardens of our hours, making pockets of space and time in which the small things can creep back in, restore the old wells, rekindle wildernesses, spark the gift of storytelling, and make safe haven for secrets. If anything, we should be breathing darkness into our bodies and making places of rest in our bones.

Almost Heaven

I was born in the mountains -- Boulder Community Hospital -- and carried home in my mother's arms to a home with a picture window onto Pikes Peak. And so it's no wonder that, to me, the mountains, any mountains, have always felt like home. I live in Washington, D.C., as close to the coast as to the mountains, and lots of my work involves LA, again, as close to the coast as to the mountains. Yet, even when I'm in LA, I'd rather head for the hills than head on down to the coast.

This weekend, Son, DiL, G/Son and I made the two-hour trip up to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, the closest mountains that there are to Washington, D.C. I love those goddamn mountains. It's been such a hot summer and fall that few leaves have started to change, although there were a few red, red maple trees. All the rest of the trees, and there are a lot of trees there, are still a dull, late-summer green. But the mineral water still bubbles out of the original stream and the woodpeckers are still huge and the trees are still so thick, in spots, that no sun makes its way to the valley floor. Son took us on a brilliant detour through some of the high hills with a lovely view of the small town in the valley and of the wonderful next mountain over. Views like that are a huge part of what I love about mountains.

I'm a witch and a huge part of what I "do" is to ground -- in the Starhawk sense of the word. And all that I can tell you is that when I ground in Berkeley Springs, I sense both a deep beauty and peace and a deep, deep sorrow. The sorrow comes from the Celts who came here and allowed their lives to be ruined. You can see them everywhere in this small, sad town. It surprises me that this much sorrow can pile up in, say, a mere 300 years. But it's everywhere in the ground when you sink your roots down; it's everywhere.

I think sometimes about buying a patch of mountain in West Virginia, probably near Berkely Springs. I could get cell phone reception and log onto wireless with my cell phone, this time, unlike five years ago when I could only get cell phone reception at the very top of the mountains. There are, it's clear to me, witches up here. Could I ever move? Maybe not. I'm really a city witch.

Oddly, When You Spend A Generation Acting Like A Bunch Of Asses, Young People Grow Up Disliking You

Recently, both Atrios and Jason Pitzl-Waters have blogged about a study showing that today's young people (16 to 29 year-olds) have a less favorable view of xianity than did previous generations. The study attributes this change to: a growing sense of disengagement and disillusionment among young people. I assume that means a "disengagement" from xianity and a "disillusionmnet" with xianity among young people. But that's not really an explanation, it's merely a restatement of the results of the study.

I'm willing to take a wild guess and suggest that the change in attitudes is due to a change in xianity, at least in the version of xianity that's been shoved relentlessly down America's throat for the last few decades. That version of xianity is a far cry from the "care for the sick/judge not lest ye be not judged/blessed are the meek" version of xianity that, for example, I grew up with during the sixties and seventies. I didn't like xianity's view of women, but I generally believed xians to be good people who cared for others, tried not to do evil, attempted to convert by example. And, to be clear, there are still many, many xians who believe in and follow that version of xianity. But they're as invisible today as St. Paul wanted women to be.

The only kind of xianity that many of today's young people, especially those in their teens, have ever seen is the "hate on gays/hate on abortion/hate on women/hate on Islam" xianity that's gotten oddly tangled up in some bizarre form of American exceptionalism and mad desire to bring on a bloody Armageddon. They've seen that Catholic priests are pedophiles protected, at all costs, by the church. They've seen xians insist that evolution is a lie, that science is bad, and that the myths of Bronze Age sheep herders are the final word in -- well, in everything. They've seen one creepy minister after another turn out to engage in exactly the behaviors against which he's gotten rich inveighing. They've heard over and over again that it's wrong to have sex, use birth control, have an abortion and they know that none of that works in today's real world. The face of modern xianity is mean, hateful, intolerant, relentlessly anti-woman, anti-sex, protective of the privileged, and spiteful to the downtrodden. It's not surprising to me that just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a "good impression" of Christianity. Hell, I'm surprised that the xians got 16%.

I'd like to think, as Jason Pitzel-Waters' commenter, Steve Caldwell, suggests, that: [a] shift in Christian cultural and political dominance is possible based on current demographic trends that [Jason Pitzel-Waters post] highlighted and similiar trends posted on the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance web site:

"By about the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christians in the U.S."

"14.1% do not follow any organized religion. This is an unusually rapid increase -- almost a doubling -- from only 8% in 1990. There are more Americans who say they are not affiliated with any organized religion than there are Episcopalians, Methodists, and Lutherans taken together."

Religious identification in the U.S.

So Christianity may find itself as a minority faith in the U.S. and no faith group will be in the majority.
That would, IMHO, be a good thing. It might put an end to the obvious lie, repeated over and over by people who profess to believe that it is evil to lie, that "America is a Christian Nation." When you probe a bit and ask people what they mean when they say that "America is a Christian Nation," there's just not, in the immortal words of Gertrude Stein, much "there, there." Everyone I've asked has responded that it means that "America was founded on Judeo-xian ideals." Forget how odd it is that they never say that "America is a Judeo-xian Nation," what's weird is what they say when you ask what that means. The inevitable response is that it means "respect for life" (sometimes phrased as "respect for human dignity"). And we all know what that means.

Look, I love the idea of America a whole lot. But America was founded by people who owned slaves, kept women as second-class citizens for generations, massacred the Native Americans, and, practiced early forms of abortion to deal with unwanted children. It was also founded by people who said: As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Hopefully, today's young people will be more true to the vision of our Founders than are the likes of Fred Phelps, James Dobson, and America's Bishops.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hmmm. This City Appears Oddly Unchanged.

Richard II, Scene III
I count myself in nothing else so fortunate,
As in a soul remembering my good friends

For absolutely no reason at all, I have been blessed with wonderful friends and a wonderful, loving family.

I spent this weekend off in the fall-touched mountains of West Virginia, up in the highlands that I love, with my rock-steady Son, my brilliant and beautiful DiL (who is just an am-a-zing cook!), and my wonderful G/Son.

We had a lovely time, from the late Friday night dinner at the Wild Woman Cafe with the v. nice waitresses, to the early Saturday morning small-town parade at the Apple Butter Festival, to the late morning sampling of West Virginia (yes, West Virginia!) vineyards, to the late Saturday afternoon massages at Astasia, to the Ina Garten pumpkin soup that DiL made and the steaks and corn on the cob that Son grilled, to the late morning drive through Virginia horse country.

Meanwhile, my brilliant friend E, author of the best football blog you'll ever read, was taking care of my home, Miss Thing, and my blog. The brilliant women in my circle were having brunch in amazing hats. My wonderful paralegals were making it appear as if I'd never left town.

And, sad as I was to leave, it was good to come home.

Guestblog: Current Administration Scandals, Part So Many I've Lost Count

I don't even have time to go into the whole thing right now, but those of you who care about the state of our country, what's going on in Iraq, our service men and women, and Curious George the Boyking's latest disasters need to check out the Blackwater story:

As Al Gore points out in The Assault on Reason: "Our Founders' faith in the viability of representative democracy rested on their trust in the wisdom of a well-informed citizenry...."

So what are you waiting for?

Guestblog: It wouldn't BE guestblogging without a post about music

A few random tidbits:

Best discovery from Jazz Fest this year? Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. He put out his first album at 17, fronts a quintet that includes two Marsalises (Marsali?), Kermit Ruffins and John Boutte, and founded a band called Orleans Avenue. And he's now all of 21.

After 12 years of classical lessons as a kid, and about 10 years off playing, I've been taking jazz piano lessons for the past year. If you're ever in the DC area, you should definitely check out my teacher, Amy Bormet, at one of her frequent gigs around town. She's awesome!

One of the things Amy has me attempting to do is transcribe recordings. Transcribing is HARD! One of the musicians I'm trying to transcribe is Gene Harris, whose recording of Summertime will change your life. Yeah, I'm definitely going to play like Gene when I don't suck.

Finally, the Tipitina's Foundation is still trying to put instruments back in the hands of New Orleans kids through school music programs, a vital incubator of jazz talent in Crescent City, the USA, and the entire world. Help 'em out.

Guestblog: It's GAMETIME, baby!

I'm still at Hecate's, but at my house, Sunday means football. I know most of you are NOT American football fans...but for those who are, my new name for a blog is: what I wrote (in my other blogging life). Check it out - and trust me, you'll enjoy.

Guestblog: This, Also, Is Poetry

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
and nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
and nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters

never cared for what they say
never cared for games they play
never cared for what they do
never cared for what they know
and I know

So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
No, nothing else matters

--James Hetfield (Metallica)

Guestblog: Jezebel

A little frivolity over your morning coffee:

Jezebel: "Celebrity, sex, fashion. Without the Airbrushing."

Make sure to check out the comments on each entry - they're the best part.