Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bullying Hurts...

We are having a problem at the school where I teach with bullying. As someone who,was unmercifully bullied in school, I believe in a zero tolerance policy. However, with the current situation it's becoming clear that though one of the bullies has been suspended and the decision about expulsion is pending, students are beginning to stand up for the bully and ostracize the bullied, which I believe is further bullying. I just don't know what the solution is.  Whereas, I think the policy should be zero tolerance, i.e. bullies should be expelled, those who are being bullied are still facing more problems with other forms of bullying. How do I protect these kids? I'm not the only one fighting this fight, but we have to reach these kids somehow so that we can stop this hatred and bullying.

I keep thinking of the Bible for solutions.  We are a Christian school and most of the students would profess to being good Christians, but I think they are lost lambs.  So I have been mulling over the following verses from the Bible. All of the following verses are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 
Luke 6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
I am attending a conference tomorrow on the subject of bullying (it came at an appropriate and opportune time).  Maybe it will provide some answers.  Any advice?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twitter Bullies

I really don't understand Twitter.  I know I am a blogger, but I think I blog with a purpose.  With Twitter though, and with Facebook status updates, I really don't care what people are doing all the time.  There are a few Tweeters that I check out occasionally, but its usually so mundane that it gets boring. Nobody cares what I am doing all hours of the day or night. Twitter has also become a major issue with bullying amongst teens.  That is what I am doing this morning, having a meeting about bullying. But it's not just teens.

Canadian university officials say they hope their new, web-based initiative will act as a "social mirror" reflecting the "pervasive and damaging" issue of casual homophobia on the Internet. Though Twitter is not just spreading homophobia.
The Candian site, called, reportedly measures the number of instances several commonly-used anti-gay terms -- including "faggot" and "dyke" -- are used daily, weekly and yearly on Twitter. The tally of numbers is indeed staggering: for instance, the term "so gay" was mentioned in a total of 800,000 tweets since July, though the most common was undoubtedly "faggot" (used 2.4 million times in the Twittersphere), according to the site.
Dr. Kristopher Wells, the Associate Director of University of Alberta's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, said his team's agenda isn't to focus on individual tweets or Twitter users, but simply to demonstrate the "astonishing" frequency in which anti-gay language is used in everyday conversation.
"We make it very clear on our site that we are not in any way implying that the people who have tweeted these words were all intending to be homophobic," Wells told HuffPost Gay Voices in an email statement. "Words have the power to hurt, but they also have the power to heal. We want people to think before they speak and to always be mindful of the power of the language they use."
According to Wells, the site will be also supported by a variety of advertising tools, including transit advertising, posters, and a television commercial. Response from viewers, he said, has been incredibly supportive.
"People want to have this conversation," he said. "I saw one youth who even tweeted, 'Now you know my daily reality.'"

Thursday, September 27, 2012


On Sean's blog, Just a Jeep Guy, he posted on Tuesday "TMI TUESDAY QUESTIONS: DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!"  And I decided that I would once again participate.  So here we go:


1.  Are you a cheap date?

I can be, it all depends on what I am drinking that night.  If its tequila, then yeah, I'm a cheap and easy date.  I tend to get very flirty and horny when drinking tequila.  To quote Shelly West in her song "Jose Cuervo":
Well its sunday morning
And the sun is shining in my
Eye that is open
And my head is spinning
Was the life of the party
I can't stop grinning
I had too much tequila last night
Jose Cuervo
You are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with
A little salt and lime
Did I kiss all the cowboys
Did I shoot out the lights
Did I dance on the bar
Did I start any fights
Now wait a minute
Things don't look to familiar
Who is the cowboy who's sleeping beside me
Well he's awful cute
But how'd I get his shirt on
I had too much tequila last night
2. What is your favorite drink? (you can have different ones for different occasions)

If I am going to be drinking for several hours, then it's beer, usual Bud Light Platinum (though those tend to get me drunk easier), Bid Light, or if I am being cheap, then it's Natural Light.  If I am cooking, then I like to drink wine, usually a nice Pinot Grigio. Sometimes though I am in the mood for liquor, and that is usually vodka (particularly Tito's Vodka) and cranberry juice.  My all time favorite alcoholic beverage is a chocolate martini, they go down so smooth but will hit you before you know it.

3. Worst experience?

I had been drinking in New Orleans a few years ago.  We had gone to the opera, and I had some wine.  Later after the opera, I started drinking vodka cranberries and was flirting with a guy in one of the gay bars. As we were flirting and unbeknownst to me, he stole my wallet.  It was not a good night.  I try tot to mix alcoholic beverages, because it makes me very drunk and sick.  I broke my rule.  Also, I'm not so sure that someone had not slipped something extra in my drink, because I was far drinker than I should have been.  It was not a good night.  Luckily, there was no money in my wallet, I had my cards reported stolen the next day, and my wallet was found and returned to me.  Apparently the guy who stole my wallet, got several blocks away and less than a block from the NOPD he had thrown my wallet in the bushes at a center for troubled teens.  The older gentleman who directed the place found my wallet on one of his walks around the campus, found my mother's number, called her and I went and picked up my wallet.  It was still a pain in the ass and a major embarrassment for me.  If you are ever in New Orleans, and you must carry your wallet, keep it in your front pocket.  This was the only time that I didn't just take cash, driver's license, and debit card with me in my front pocket in tight fitting jeans, and my wallet was stolen.

4. Beer goggles?

Good God, yes!  I went home with this one guy, the sex was fucking fantastic, but it was a one night stand and I never talked to him again.   I saw him a few times after that and could not believe how trashy he was.  Looks are not something that I really care about, I tend to look at personality, but white trash is one of my pet peeves.

5. What's the funniest thing you've done while drinking?

I tend to be a pretty funny guy when drinking, so there are several. Probably looking back, the funniest thing I can remember is waking up one morning in bed with one of my professors.  She knew I was gay and we were both clothed, and I have no idea how it happened, but it was pretty funny.

Ever drunk dial?

 Yes, and drunk texted. It never turned out that well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Frederick Douglass Republicans: WTF?

The other day, I came home to an odd political flyer attached to my mailbox.  It was a flyer for the Republican candidate for my Congressional district. First of all, it was odd that a Republican candidate is even trying to campaign in my district. In this district, only one Republican has ever won and that was in 1965.  The district is incredibly gerrymandered for minority voters with tentacles reaching out to take in majority African-American populations of major Alabama cities.  The current shape of the district was largely formed in 1992. It includes some of the Black Belt counties as well as portions of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The highly irregular shape is because this is a majority-minority district, formed under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1982 to include greater representation for minorities in Congress.  In other words, Republicans have as a good a chance of winning as a snowball has of surviving in Hell (or and Alabama summer).

Alabama Republicans can be a bit strange anyhow, but this flyer introduced me to one of the weirdest concepts in modern American politics: Frederick Douglass Republicans.  I know there are many non-racist Republicans in America, but there are too few in Alabama. This congressional candidate (Don Chamberlain) is running as a Republican to receive white votes using the name of Frederick Douglass in hopes of receiving black votes.  In the flyer, Chamberlain says:
I Believe 
If Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr. we're alive today, they would stand shoulder to shoulder in a fight that is inevitable to be waged in Washington to help me rid the poverty that has existed in the Black Belt for 30 years. 
Don Chamberlain
US Congress
A Frederick Douglass Republican
The whole concept seems ludicrous to me.  Chamberlain's website has not mention of him being a Frederick Douglass Republican, which doesn't really surprise me.  It's your standard Republican website.

So who are these Frederick Douglass Republicans?

In October 2009, KCarl Smith resigned from his motivational speaking career and rededicated himself to defending liberty. This former U.S. Army officer, took on a new challenge- becoming a political agitator. He became the founding servant-leader of The ConservativeMESSENGER.

KCarl began the ConservativeMESSENGER with his flagship presentation, “The Making of A Champion Party”  and a unique mantra, A Frederick Douglass Republican™. Inspired by the life of Frederick Douglass and a student of his writings, KCarl narrowed the focus of this grassroots initiative to five specific objectives:
  • Re-ignite America’s passion for Liberty
  • Save the souls of the Politically Lost (politico-schizophrenics)
  • Restore the Republican Party’s Political Distinction
  • Change how the GOP relates to minorities
  • Create an atmosphere for political dialogue without accusations of racism.

In less than one year’s time, KCarl had perfected the Frederick Douglass Republican Methodology, advocating and expounding upon the Life-Empowering Values of Frederick Douglass:
  • Respect for the Constitution- “The American Constitution is a written instrument full and complete in itself. No court in America, no Congress, no President, can add a single word thereto, or take a single word there from. It is a great national enactment done by the people, and can only be altered, amended, or added to by the people.” ~ Frederick Douglass
  • Respect for Life – Douglass Championed women’s rights and was the face of the Abolitionist Movement.
  • Belief in Individual Responsibility – Douglass viewed entitlements as a detriment to freed slaves because it robs one the chance of self-sufficiency
  • Belief in Limited Government – Douglass believed the role of government is to protect the freedom of opportunity for its citizens.
KCarl has taken this strategy to Tea Party and Conservative groups across the country, educating and empowering attendees on how to effectively espouse the conservative message, pushing past the veil of assumed racism and Uncle Tom-ism. The result: the birth of the Frederick Douglass Republican™ Movement.

Who are Frederick Douglass Republicans? Everyday people- filled with passion and conviction- who have come together as a unified front, committed to help the Republican Party once again become the “party of freedom and progress”.

No longer satisfied with the status quo, Frederick Douglass Republicans are willing to fight for liberty and justice; and to seize the God-given right to self-rule.

Frederick Douglass Republicans are not bound by race, color, religion or creed but are bound by our rich American Heritage.

This is pure political bullshit, if I have ever seen it.   Is anyone else seeing Frederick Douglass Republicans running in your district?

P.S. They call themselves FDRs.  LOL.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September Midnight

September Midnight
Sara Teasdale (1914)

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
    Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper's horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
    Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
    Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
    Lest they forget them.

Sara Teasdale

In 1884, Sara Trevor Teasdale was born in St. Louis, Missouri, into an old, established, and devout family. She was home-schooled until she was nine and traveled frequently to Chicago, where she became part of the circle surrounding Poetry magazine and Harriet Monroe. Teasdale publishedSonnets to Duse, and Other Poems, her first volume of verse, in 1907. Her second collection, Helen of Troy, and Other Poems, followed in 1911, and her third, Rivers to the Sea, in 1915.
In 1914 Teasdale married Ernst Filsinger; she had previously rejected a number of other suitors, including Vachel Lindsay. She moved with her new husband to New York City in 1916. In 1918, she won the Columbia University Poetry Society Prize (which became the Pulitzer Prize for poetry) and the Poetry Society of America Prize for Love Songs, which had appeared in 1917. She published three more volumes of poetry during her lifetime: Flame and Shadow (1920), Dark of the Moon(1926), and Stars To-night (1930). Teasdale's work had always been characterized by its simplicity and clarity, her use of classical forms, and her passionate and romantic subject matter. These later books trace her growing finesse and poetic subtlety. She divorced in 1929 and lived the rest of her life as a semi-invalid. Weakened after a difficult bout with pneumonia, Teasdale committed suicide in 1933 with an overdose of barbiturates. Her final collection, Strange Victory appeared posthumously that same year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Former Owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates Comes Out

Kevin McClatchy, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and now the board chairman at the McClatchy Company newspaper chain, said in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay.

He first began to accept that he was gay in his mid-20s. But he didn't tell anyone in his immediate family until just before his purchase of the Pirates, and did so then, he said, only because someone displeased with the deal threatened to go public with a rumor of McClatchy's sexual orientation unless he backed out. He correctly gambled that the threat was a bluff, but alerted his sister in case it wasn't.

The interview, which appeared online Saturday and will be in Sunday print editions, is the 49-year-old McClatchy's first public acknowledgement of his sexual orientation. No athlete in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues – football, baseball, basketball, hockey – has come out while playing. Longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, then with the Phoenix Suns, drew attention last year for announcing he is gay.  McClatchy owned the Pirates from 1996 until 2007.

"You're not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue," he said. "And there's no dialogue right now."  Throughout his tenure with Pittsburgh, McClatchy worked to keep his sexual orientation a secret from anyone beyond a tight circle of family and close friends, The Times reported.

McClatchy told the newspaper he frequently heard homophobic language during his days in baseball. It convinced him that staying closeted was the best course of action.  He stated: 
I think, with everybody, there's a time that feels right, and for me this was a time. My hope is that it's going to be able to help younger kids that want to get into professional sports and feel there are still great barriers. But I think, more important than that, it needs to create a dialogue about major league sports and sort of the void obviously that exists . . . Things have changed in a positive way, but there's still a lot more change to go. So I'm speaking up. And I'm sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it. But you don't understand what it's like in somebody's else's footsteps. You don't understand the pressures that they're facing at that point.
I personally understand why some people remain in the closet.  I do so at work because it is safer for my job. I think the major difference in McClatchy and I (besides his wealth) is that although he frequently heard homophobic language during his days in baseball, I never have stayed silent about homophobic language.  I consistently scold my students for using such language.  It may cause some to suspect I am gay, but I do not tolerate any disrespectful or derogatory language.  Though the article does not say he did stay silent about homophobic comments, he did not state that he did anything to stop it. What really did he have to lose by making the Pirates a welcoming environment. His response to this was:
When we took over, the Pirates were last in the league of revenues, last in the league of attendance, and everyone said they're moving to northern Virginia or Atlanta . . . . It would have been, I think, a gamble at that point to come out and do it and if there had been negative reaction, we were living sort of on the edge as far as trying to gain support, gain the public trust to help us get the financing to get a new ball park that was going to keep this team here for the next 30 years. And so I was focused, I guess, on what was directly in front of me . . . I was frightened that my own personal situation could in some way jeopardize the whole franchise.
As I said, I understand not coming out, but why brush off the homophobic comments just to stay in the closet.  People can always take the moral high ground, but being so closeted causes the fear we face of being outed to compromise our moral responsibility.  If we constantly work for a more accepting environment, then standing up against such language would not endanger us.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York TimesKevin McClatchy and his partner Jack Basilone
When asked to what extent do you think gay athletes in the "Big Four" sports are worried that if they come out, there will be complaints from their straight counterparts about everyone changing and showering together? McClatchy stated, "I think it's an overrated issue as a workplace issue. If cops and firefighters and people trying to protect our freedom on the other side of the globe in the military—if they can do it, sports needs to try and get over itself. It shouldn't be that big a deal."

So if McClatchy believes that it is an overrated issue, he should have come out earlier, but why now.  McClatchy noted that his 50th birthday is coming in January and he's spent decades avoiding talk about his personal life.  "There's no way I want to go into the rest of my existence and ever have to hide my personal life again," he said. At some point, a major American professional sports figure will have to come out before their retirement, show that it is acceptable, and open the door for those in the future.  I think when sports figures come out after their retirement, then they are sending the message that it is not safe and that you cannot be out and a major American professional sports figure.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Positive Gay Christianity

Joshua 1:9 (KJV) 
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Strength and courage aren't always that easy to find. Sometimes we'd rather crawl in a hole than deal with the things going on in our lives. Yet, God tells us that He will provide us with the strength to deal with anything. He commands that we face the difficult things in our lives, and He encourages us to rely on His strength to get us through.

There are so many things we face each day that bring about fear in varying levels. One of the things that we fear the most is change. Some of you may have just come out and are struggling with your faith, and it can be very daunting. Will you be able to handle the contradictions you've been taught? Will you allow yourself to realize that God's love for you is what really matters, not the misguided interpretations of God's word by so many mainstream churches?  Will other gay people accept you? Will you proudly stand and say, "I am Christian, and I am gay?" God tells us that He will be with us through it all. Sometimes we face these fears because God has more for us to do and learn. When we lean on His strength, He only makes us stronger through the sometimes difficult process. Remember Phillippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Through Christ we can be positive gay Christians.

What are Positive Gay Christians?  We are:

  • are are comfortable with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-identified
  • are comfortable with being Christian
  • see no contradiction between being queer and Christian
  • are not consumed with defending their identity
  • are future focused
  • know God loves them
  • love themselves
  • are living for God
  • believe they are worthwhile and worthy of being loved
  • see themselves as having control over their lives

  • Are you a positive gay Christian?

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    You must remember this...

    You must remember this 
    A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh. 
    The fundamental things apply 
    As time goes by.

    And when two lovers woo 
    They still say, "I love you." 
    On that you can rely 
    No matter what the future brings 
    As time goes by.

    Excerpt from "As Time Goes By"
    By Herman Hupfeld
    Casablanca (1942)

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Could the Boycott Be Over?

    Could Chick-fil-A be turning over a new leaf?

    A Chicago-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group reports that the restaurant chain -- which was at the epicenter of a media firestorm this summer after its president confirmed his company's anti-gay stance -- has agreed to cease donations to right-wing groups that oppose same-sex marriage.

    In a press release, the Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) cites Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno as confirming that Chick-fil-A officials declared in an internal document that the company "will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation." TCRA reportedly served as an advisor to the alderman as he negotiated these concessions with Chick-fil-A executives, though details of exactly what those negotiations entailed remain unclear.

    "We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue," Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA, said in the statement. "I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights. It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step."

    Said to be titled "Chick-fil-A: Who We Are," the fast food chain's "internal memo" reportedly states that they will "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender."

    Among those to praise the document was Rick Garcia, policy advisor for TCRA, though he noted his organization still hoped the company would adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level. "As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal," Garcia noted. "It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made."

    TCRA's statement appears to confirm earlier reports which indicated that Chick-fil-A might be reconsidering their LGBT stance. Last month, reliable sources who did not wish to be identified told the HuffPost Gay Voices team that Dan Cathy, the fast food chain's president, "welcomed campus leaders to a private luncheon in discuss diversity, hospitality and the opportunity to find common ground," though no further information regarding exactly which college groups were present was provided.

    The recent backlash against the Atlanta-based fast food chain was sparked by Cathy's remarks in a July 16 interview with the Baptist Press. When writer K. Allan Blume asked Cathy, the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy, about the restaurant group's "support of the traditional family," the president glibly responded, "Well, guilty as charged."

    Cathy went on to note, "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that...we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
    Yet even before the national controversy, students at colleges and universities have been among the most vocal critics of Chick-fil-A's well-reported donations to groups like Exodus InternationalFocus on the Family and the Family Research Council. In February, New York University student Hillary Dworkoski launched a petition against the fast food chain, calling for NYU to close its Chick-fil-A franchise, reportedly the only one in Manhattan.

    Campus Pride, a non-profit LGBT college student advocacy organization, announced this morning that it is suspending its "5 Simple Facts About Chick-fil-A" campaign, which informed students about the company's anti-LGBT connections.

    Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, who has been meeting with Cathy and other Chick-fil-A leaders over the last six weeks to find "common ground," said in a statement, "At the end of the day, this is not about politics for Campus Pride, this is about dignity, respect and the campus safety of all students at colleges and universities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students."

    Note that absolutely none of this is coming straight from Chick-fil-A headquarters.
    A Chick-fil-A spokesman acknowledged Wednesday's news developments but said there would be no further comment beyond re-releasing a statement made in July. That statement says in part: "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

    So what does this all mean? Is Chick-fil-A retreating? Did Moreno really wrestle a concession out of the fast-food chain? And perhaps the most important question of all: Can those who followed the boycott get in line for some of those hot, salty fries?

    The Chicago Tribune story, which includes quotes from Moreno, sounds skeptical. The story raises the question about whether Chick-fil-A is actually beating a retreat or simply reaffirming its position that it treats everyone with dignity.

    GLAAD -- the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, one of the most outspoken voices during the summer uproar over Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage position -- released the following statement Wednesday:

    "It's time for Chick-fil-A to join the countless American businesses that proudly and publicly support their LGBT employees and customers," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "This news is the first step in Chick-fil-A making good on their promise to treat all people with true hospitality."

    But the boycott -- is it over?

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012


    I received an email a few days ago from a filmmaker named Wajahat Ali Abbasi. He is currently trying to find funding for what sounds like a truly remarkable story that the world really needs to be aware of.  Inspired by a true story, 'Sin' is a feature film which will bring to life an emotional tale of a teenager who was killed by public hanging along with his partner in Iran because he was gay.

    Videos and pictures of this sad incident were released online in July 2005, but the world forgot about it soon after.  Through this movie we will get to know this teenager's life, whose only crime was that he wanted to be accepted by his society, with his true identity.
    Through this tragic story some important question will be addressed; Why some people who are in love don't have the same rights, as others? Is it just because they are different from what the world expects them to be?
    There are no words in any language to adequately convey the level of sympathy, and body-crushing grief for someone losing their life because they are gay or lesbian.  Wajahat Ali Abbasi has a passion for thos project, and I believe that this film has the potential to open hearts and minds, which is the only way equality will become a reality.
    To learn more about this project you can check it out on SIN's Kickstarter page.  There you can not only read about the project, but you can connect with the filmmaker and help fund the project.


    You can become a backer in just three easy steps:
    * Step 1: Read through the pledge levels and rewards we're offering in the right sidebar of the Kickstarter page.
    * Step 2: Click the large, green "BACK THIS PROJECT" button to the right of the trailer video at the top of the Kickstarter page.
    * Step 3: Enter your pledge amount - and complete the steps for filling in your information. This process takes just a few seconds.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012


    By Nicola Slee

    You touched my flesh
    with infinitely tender embrace:
    with touch of charis,
    the caress of grace,
    the chrism of bliss.

    You sought my face
    with your lips,
    came closer than breathing
    to give me the kiss of peace.
    No one loved me like this.

    You opened my body
    like rain parting leaves,
    like the blessing of oil
    on a dying man's brow.
    You blessed, broke and offered
    the bread of your body.
    You ate of my flesh,
    you drank of my juice.
    You forsook every other
    and cleaved unto me.
    We are flesh of one flesh.
    We are forged of one will.
    We are still,
    in the heart,
    in the bone,
    in the dark,
    in the tongueless,
    wondering place
    where two are made one.

    We are gift,
    we are grace,
    we are the face of love.
    We are one, we are one.

    - Taken from Courage to Love: Liturgies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community, edited by Geoffrey Duncan (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2002). This poem was found at Michael J. Bayly's blog, The Wild Reed.

    Note: In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites (Greek: "Graces"), goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea ("Beauty"), Euphrosyne ("Mirth"), and Thalia ("Good Cheer"). In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the "Three Graces."

    Nicola Slee

    nicola_sleeNicola Slee is a theologian and poet based at the Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, where she teaches feminist and contextual theology. 
    She also works freelance, doing a wide range of writing, speaking and retreat work, with a particular interest in women's spirituality, faith development, liturgy and poetry.  The author of numerous articles, her previous books include Faith and Feminism (DLT, 2003) and Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004).  She lives with her partner and two cats in Stirchley, Birmingham. 

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Boston Marriages

    Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Adams Fields
    Boston marriage as a term is said to have been in use in New England in the decades spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe two women living together, independent of financial support from a man. The term was less well known before the debut in 2000 of the David Mamet play of the same name. Since 2000, many mentions of "Boston marriage" cite as examples the same few literary figures, in particular the Maine local color novelist Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Adams Fields her late life companion, the widow of the editor of The Atlantic Monthly. There is often an assumption that in the era when the term was in use, it denoted a lesbian relationship. However, there is no documentary proof that any particular "Boston marriage" included sexual relations.

    It's an antique phrase, dating back to the 1800s. In Victorian times, women who wanted to maintain their independence and freedom opted out of marriage and often paired up to live together, acting as each other's "wives" and "helpmeets." Henry James's 1886 novel about such a liaison,The Bostonians, may have been the inspiration for the term, or perhaps it was the most glamorous female couples who made their homes in Boston, including Sarah Orne Jewett, a novelist, and her "wife" Annie Adams Fields, also a writer.

    Were they gay? Was the "Boston marriage" simply a code word for lesbian love? Historian Lillian Faderman says this is impossible to determine, because nineteenth-century women who kept diaries drew curtains over their bedroom windows. They did not bother to mention whether their ecstatic friendship spilled over into — as Faderman so romantically puts it — "genital sex." And ladies, especially well-to-do ones who poured tea with their pinkies raised, were presumed to have no sex drive at all. Women could share a bed, nuzzle in public, and make eyes at each other, and these cooings were considered to be as innocent as schoolgirl crushes. In a 1929 study, Katherine B. Davis reported that, of 1,200 female college graduates who talked about their sex lives, 605, or 50.4 percent, responded that they had "experienced intense emotional relations with other women", and 234, or 19.5 percent, had "intense relationships accompanied by mutual masturbation, contact of genital organs, or other expressions recognized as sexual". These women spent their lives mainly with each other. They gave their time and energy to each other. Their practical reasons for not marrying men were strong but their emotional reasons were even stronger. These relationships would probably be known as lesbian relationships now.  Whether any given Boston Marriage involved sex is unknown. 

    So, at least in theory, the Boston marriage indicated a platonic, albeit nerdy relationship. With ink-stained fingers, the Victorian roommate-friends would smear jam on thick slices of bread and then lounge across from each other in bohemian-shabby leather armchairs to discuss a novel-in-progress or a political speech they'd just drafted. Their brains beat as passionately as their hearts. The arrangement often became less a marriage than a commune of two, complete with a political agenda and lesson plan.

    "We will work at [learning German] together — we will study everything," proposes Olive, a character in The Bostonians, to her ladylove. Olive imagines them enjoying "still winter evenings under the lamp, with falling snow outside, and tea on a little table, and successful renderings . . . of Goethe, almost the only foreign author she cared about; for she hated the writing of the French, in spite of the importance they have given to women." James poked fun at Olive's bookworm passion. But he lavished praise on his own sister Alice's intense and committed friendship with another woman, which he considered to be pure, a perfect devotion.

    Most likely, the Boston marriage was many things to many women: business partnership, artistic collaboration, lesbian romance. And sometimes it was a friendship nurtured with all the care that we usually squander on our mates — a friendship as it could be if we made it the center of our lives.

    Some women did not marry because men feared educated women during the 19th century and did not wish to have them as wives. Other women did not marry because they felt they had a better connection to women than to men. Some of these women ended up living together in a same-sex household, finding this arrangement both practical and preferable to a heterosexual marriage. Of necessity, such women were generally financially independent of men, due either to family inheritance or to their own career earnings. Women who decided to be in these relationships were usually feminists, and were often involved in social betterment and cultural causes with shared values often forming a strong foundation for their lives together.

    The living arrangements of a Boston Marriage helped its participants have careers. American culture of the 19th century made it difficult for women to have careers while married to men. Wives were expected to care for their children. Society dictated that men and women play very different roles. Men were seen as taller, stronger, richer, and smarter; women were seen as weak and were expected to spend most of their time and effort pleasing their husbands. Even if her husband did not treat her as inferior, society did.

    Women who wanted a different, more independent life (and could afford to have one) sometimes set up households together. While the women involved may have seen their relationship as one of equals and designed their own roles, society dictated that one partner in a relationship needed to be superior. Because of this view, one woman perceived herself to be "a man trapped in a woman's body".  Romantic relationships were especially common among academic women of the 19th century. At many colleges, female professors were not allowed to marry conventionally and still remain part of the faculty. Academic women also broke with the social view of women as mentally inferior: such a woman was likely attracted to another woman who would recognize her intelligence, rather than a man who most likely would not. Having invested so much of their lives in scholarship, such women could find needed respect for their work and lifestyle among other academic women.

    In comparison to heterosexual marriages, Boston Marriages at that time had many advantages, including more nurturing between partners, and greater equality in responsibilities and decision making. Women who understood the demands of a career first-hand could give each other support and sympathy when needed. These women were generally self-sufficient in their own lives, but gravitated to each other for support in an often disapproving and sometimes hostile society.

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    Jesus' personality test: What kind of seed are you?

    Mark 4:1-20 (NASB)

    Parable of the Sower and Soils

    He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, "Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seedfell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Otherseed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." And He was saying, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
    10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven."


    13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are onlytemporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
    Do you ever take those online personality tests, the ones where you answer a few questions and find out which TV character you are, or which color represents you?  If so, here's your chance to categorize yourself once more!  Anytime Jesus divides humanity up into categories, the first thing we ought to wonder is, "which one am I?"
    So take a moment to think about your life and see which one of these descriptions fits you best.  Which seed are you?
    The Path Seed - Although you may have grown up in a Christian environment, God's word never really took root in your life.  "Christian" has always been more of a social label than a spiritual one, if you even consider yourself Christian at all.  And while you might go to church and visit Christian websites (like this one), you don't really feel very connected to God.  In fact, if you're honest with yourself, you're life's not that different from how it would be if you weren't a Christian.  Whatever that passion is that some people have about Christ, that's not something you've experienced firsthand.
    The Rocky Seed - You wanna talk about passion?  You've got it, baby!  At least sometimes.  You really love God, and you're totally on fire for Christ... as long as you're around other Christians.  The trouble is, when it comes to taking difficult stands, you've never been very good at that.  You cave into pressure.  A lot.  You're not the kind of person to talk about Jesus around your non-Christian friends, and you're ashamed to admit that you don't really act like a Christian when you're around them either.  You want to do better, and you know that you should, but it's just so hard.
    The Thorny Seed - No doubt about it, you're a Christian.  And all in all, you're a pretty decent human being.  You're not perfect, but who is?  To be honest, you know you ought to spend more time with God, having quiet times and Bible studies, and you really do plan to do that sometime.  If only you weren't so busy.  You've got a lot of stuff going on right now, and a lot of things on your mind.  You do pray, but mostly quick prayers at certain times of the day or as needs arise.  And your Bible has a bit of a tendency to gather dust in between readings.  But it's not like you're not a committed Christian, because you really are.  You just get, well, a little distracted.  There's school and work and money issues and relationships and health and recreation and before you know it, the day's over and you never got around to those things you meant to do for God.  One of these days, though...
    The Fruitful Seed - A relationship with God isn't just something you talk about; it's something you experience.  Every day.  And it's amazing.  You make time for God every day, often having long, intimate conversations that leave you feeling refreshed.  You study the Bible regularly, and you're always learning new things during that time.  More importantly, you put what you learn into practice.  God's love and truth shine through you in a way that even your enemies can't deny.  And you're making a difference for the kingdom of God, something that could accurately be called even a hundred times greater than the seed that was sown in you.
     So, which one is you?  Be honest with yourself. To be honest with you, I am more of a thorny seed trying to be a fruitful seed.

    Are there things God wants you to change in your life to make it more fruitful?  If so, what steps do you need to take to make those changes?
    Will you make them?