Sunday, July 31, 2016

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms




The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.Deuteronomy 33:27

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms is a hymn published in 1887 with music by Anthony J. Showalter and lyrics by Showalter and Elisha Hoffman.  Showalter said that he received letters from two of his former pupils saying that their wives had died. When writing letters of consolation, Showalter was inspired by the phrase in the Book of Deuteronomy 33:27.

Isn’t it a great thought to think that God is supporting us, and that His arms are strong enough to hold us during difficult times?  That truth should provide a refuge for us.  In times when relationships disappoint us or finances fail us, it is encouraging to know that there is one who is everlasting and whose arms are there for us to lean on. 

The Apostle Paul tells us about a weakness he had in 2 Corinthians 12.  He referred to it as a thorn in the flesh.  (I have heard of some scholars that speculate that it was homosexuality, since Paul was Greek and his relation to Timothy was thought to be pederastic.  However, this is pure speculation and remains a 2,000 year old mystery.)  Paul prayed that this weakness would be taken away.  He prayed 3 different times, and God chose not to remove the “thorn.”  He then tells us about an important spiritual truth.  If the "thorn" was Paul's homosexual urges, then I would speculate that God did not remove the thorn because God did not see it as a thorn or a weakness.

Whatever the perceived weakness was, the truth is that God uses our weaknesses, our flaws, and our personal challenges, and does something extraordinary.  He takes His strength and our weaknesses, and He does something awesome with that combination.  He allows us, in weakness, to share in His glory and power.  Paul then makes the following statement “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  What an amazing statement!  Delight in weaknesses? insults? hardships? persecutions? and difficulties?  To be honest, I struggle with having that kind of mindset, even though I know it is truth.

Sources:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaning_on_the_Everlasting_Arms
http://hymnoftheweek.net/?p=432

Friday, July 29, 2016

6 Times Hillary Clinton Took Great Risks To Do The Right Thing For LGBTQs



Hillary Clinton has taken some well-earned lumps for her caution on marriage equality and other issues. Clinton is an inherently cautious politician, but then again, if you were targeted by right-wing nutburgers (and a certain presidential candidate) who alleged you murdered a friend and were a secret lesbian, well, you might be a little gun-shy yourself. Add to this the fact that the mainstream media often mistake covering Clinton with target practice, and you’ve got the makings of a candidate who thinks twice about everything.

But let’s give credit where it’s due. Despite her occasional missteps, Clinton has on the whole been more than just a reliable supporter. She has actually gone out of her way to push the envelope on our behalf. That’s much more true than it is for her spouse, although Hillary gets dinged for what Bill did.

But judging a wife by her husband is so mid-century (or, to be blunt, sexist). Let’s judge Hillary by her own actions.

Here are six times when she really went out of her way to show she means it when she says she’s got our backs.

1. Declared LGBT rights as human rights

This may have been Clinton’s finest hour. It’s certainly her most underrated. She established a policy for the U.S. government that was a major step forward for international rights. In a powerful speech in 2011, Clinton eloquently demanded that the U.N. recognize our equality worldwide. “Like being a woman, like being a racial religious tribal or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human,” Clinton said. “And that is why gay rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are gay rights.” To her credit, Clinton’s commitment didn’t stop at the speech. Under her tenure, the State Department pressured countries like Honduras to protect its LGBT citizens and launched the Global Equality Fund to promote rights groups in other repressive countries.

2. Took on Russian officials over their homophobia

Unlike her opponent, who would be happy to let Vladimir Putin do whatever he wants, no matter how evil, Clinton has taken a tough line on Russia’s repressive policies, particularly when it comes to the gay community. “What Putin’s doing in Russia with all these laws against the LGBT community… is just a cynical political ploy,” Clinton has said, adding that as Secretary of State she got into “shouting matches” with top Russian officials. No wonder that Putin has thrown the weight of the Russian media behind Trump.

3. Reached out to an unhappy gay youth 

In a touching show of her humanity, Clinton responded to a post from a frightened gay kid. “I’m homosexual, and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me,” he said. Clinton (and not her staff) penned a response: “Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you — there will be lots of them.” It was showed the warm side that her friends value but the public rarely sees.

4. Put LGBT issues front and center in her campaign

Clinton is obviously trying to wrap herself in President Obama’s mantle, so it makes sense for her to show her support in prominent displays. After all, that will be one of Obama’s most enduring legacies. Still, Clinton is trying to do Obama one better, at least in terms of visibility. But from the speakers at the convention to the people in her ads, Clinton has made a point of our inclusivity as a core part of her idea of what America is today. Those messages and visuals resonate well beyond the campaign; they set the bar for the culture as well.

5. Spoke out early and often against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell 

This must have made for some interesting conversations at home: while Bill Clinton was still in the White House, Hillary pledged to do her best to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She was running for Senate in New York at the time, and separating herself from her husband made political sense. But she went further than she had to, by declaring her husband’s compromise policy a failure six years after it was implemented and before the Democrats as a party saw fit to take a stand.

6. Made a couple of Pride Parade firsts 

A politician marching in a pride parade? Not so much a big deal, right? But in 2000, Clinton became the first First Lady to march in a Pride Parade. This year she became the first major presidential candidate to march in a Pride Parade (sorry, Barack). Plus, she sure looked like she was having a blast doing it.

From: Queerty: 6 Times Hillary Clinton Took Great Risks To Do The Right Thing For LGBTQs (http://www.queerty.com/6-times-hillary-clinton-right-thing-lgbtqs-20160728)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Still Congested



I'm still congested and had quite a headache last night. I watched what I could of the DNC, which I think has been going much better than the RNC last week. Last night was a tearjerker at times, especially when the mother of an Orlando victim spoke. I really enjoyed when the stars of Broadway sang "What the World Needs Now Is Love." It was particularly nice to see Cagney and Lacey together again. All in all, it was a powerful night at the convention.

I also want to say, the night before Bill Clinton gave a wonderful speech. It was classic Clinton, and I don't think anyone else could have put such a human face on Hillary and be able to give her history like he did. The speech made Hillary real like nothing else could have done.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Isabella



I'm so glad I got Isabella. She's such a wonderful companion. She stays right next to me almost all the time and follows me around. She may not snuggle but she is still a good companion. I really wish she would stop biting my toes at night. It makes it terribly difficult to sleep. The funny thing is her fascination with her own tail. Edith, my cat back in Alabama, doesn't have a tail, and she is very self-conscious about it. She gets upset when you point out that she has no tail, but Isabella is different. She constantly chases her own tail. She will chase it all over the bed, but she rarely catches it. When she does catch it she doesn't know what to do with it. Kittens are such funny little creatures.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Whom You Love



Whom You Love
By Joseph O. Legaspi

             “Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Creole Proverb


The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates
Tempers my ways of flurrying
Is my inner recesses surfacing
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies
Pear eater in the orchard
Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency
Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral 
Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion
When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion
Poetry housed in a harmonica
Line dances with his awkward flair
Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker’s on the rocks
Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska
Wicked at the door of happiness
At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline
Fragments, but by day’s end assembled into joint narrative
Does not make me who I am, entirely
Heart like a fig, sliced
Peonies in a clear round vase, singing
A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter
Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell
Evening where there is no church but fire
Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory
Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train
He knows I don’t need saving & rescues me anyhow
Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous
Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost

Joseph O. Legaspi was born in the Philippines, where he lived before immigrating to Los Angeles with his family at age twelve. He received a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award. He is the recipient of a 2001 poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2004 he cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization serving Asian American poetry. He works at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mechanics



I have to take my car in to be serviced today. My air conditioner has died, my tires need to be serviced, and my oil needs to be changed. I hate going to a mechanic. Everyone I've ever dealt with when servicing my car always tried to get me to spend more money than necessary, and sadly, I don't know enough about cars to know the difference. Luckily, I have found a garage up here that is well trusted. It's actually owned by a woman, and from all accounts, she never tries to cheat her customers. She did great work last time I took my car to her, so I'm hoping the same will be true this time. It's nice that this place is giving me a loaner car for the day.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Still Sick



Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. - 3 John 1:2

Just when I thought I was getting well, my fever returned last night.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Moment of Zen: Sleep



It's one of the things that has helped with this cold.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Cold



Last night, I felt awful. I was running a 100.9 degree fever. If I'm still running a fever this morning, there is no way I'm going to work. At least my nose has quit running so bad once I was able to lay down. However, my head was hurting along with body aches from the fever. I hope the medicine I took kicks in and by the time this posts, I will be feeling better.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pep Rally for Bullies



The Republican National Convention is disgusting. The number of lies and misinformation put forth is just pitiful. It's merely a pep rally for bullies. Donald Trump is a bully. He has made his fortune by destroying those opposed to him. He has no conscience. If Donald Trump wins we will be less than citizens and many of the rights we have fought for will be taken away. He proved that by picking Mike Pence an unabashed enemy of LGBT rights. There are so many things wrong with the Republican Party that it will be a disaster if they win.

I'm not perfectly happy with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. She is a Clinton after all. However, she is what we have. She is our hope against the tyranny that would ensue if Trump wins the Presidency. Trump speaks like a fascist. He is a fascist. At least you can't say the same about Hillary. I'm honestly not sure what kind of President Hillary Clinton will make, but I know that with her we aren't heading toward the disaster on a massive scale that we are with Trump. I honestly fear for the lives of Americans if Trump were to be elected. I don't have the same fear with Hillary Clinton. I think she is a tough woman and would be an adequate and probably an admirable leader. She has to have learned from the mistakes of her husband.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Busy



It was a busy day at work yesterday and will be another busy one today. I was even busy after I got home. I cooked dinner and then I had some phone calls and before I knew it, it was time for bed. In other words, I really didn't have much time to write a post. I needed a day off work to recuperate from my mother's visit, but there is just too much to do and not enough time in the day to get it all done. This is a big contrast to my usual workload in which I'm looking for something to do. I love being busy, even if it's exhausting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mother o' Mine



Mother o’ Mine
By Rudyard Kipling, 1865 - 1936

 If I were hanged on the highest hill, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose love would follow me still, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul, 
I know whose prayers would make me whole, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

This poem seemed appropriate since my mother just visited me in Vermont and Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont for a number of years. In fact, it was in Vermont that he wrote The Jungle Book and Captain Courageous.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mother Part III



I have to admit that I was wrong. This visit from my mother and niece hasn't been as bad as I thought it could have been. Yes, a few times my niece did get a little melodramatic, but it was generally about food. She just doesn't eat right, and I blame that on my sister, who she acts just like by the way. She's eight though, so I guess it's excusable to an extent. The weekend has been all about her, with one or two exceptions.

We went to Parc Safari in Canada on Friday. It's a safari park, zoo, and water park all in one. We had a blast. The crossing of the Canadian border was a lot easier this time too. The Canadian border guard was actually nice and joked and laughed with us. Last time, I had a guard that was grumpy and kept yelling questions at me. The St Albans station is much busier than the one we crossed at Rouses Point, New York. While both of the Canadian border guards were quite cute, the one at Rouses Point was so sexy because he was very nice. The US border guard at St Albans was nice, but the the one at Rouses Point was not only extremely friendly, but cute as hell too.

Saturday, we went to Ben and Jerry's and sampled some ice cream and toured the factory. Then we went to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. My niece loved it. Afterwards we went to Church Street in Burlington and did some shopping. My niece pointed to one store and said she wanted to go in there. It was called Good Stuff. I told her she wasn't allowed in there and explained to my mom that it was an "adult store."

Yesterday, we went to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, VT. So many hands on science experiments! Needless to say, my niece had a lot of fun there too. After that we went to King Arthur Flour. I knew my mom would love the kitchen store there. Like me, my mother likes to cook and bake.

Today, I am taking them to the airport and then immediately, I will be working. Their flights were in Manchester, NH because it was so much cheaper than Burlington. It turned out that I had an interview subject that lived 15 minutes from the airport, so I scheduled the interview for after I drop them off at the airport. Getting back into the swing of work so quickly will hopefully not allow me to get too emotional over them leaving. It will be Christmas before I see them again.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Rainbow



Rainbow Christ Prayer: LGBT Flag Reveals The Queer Christ

By REV. KITTREDGE CHERRY

Colors of the rainbow flag reveal the many faces of the queer Christ in the following Rainbow Christ Prayer I wrote with gay theologian Patrick S. Cheng

Rainbow flags were flying around the world in June for LGBT Pride Month. Rainbows are also an important symbol in many religious traditions. The Rainbow Christ Prayer honors the spiritual values of the LGBT movement. 

The prayer matches the colors of the rainbow flag with the seven models of the queer Christ from Patrick’s book From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ.

Let us pray... 

Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Rainbows serve as bridges between different realms: heaven and earth, east and west, queer and non-queer. Inspire us to remember the values expressed in the rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Red is for life, the root of spirit. Living and Self-Loving Christ, you are our Root. Free us from shame and grant us the grace of healthy pride so we can follow our own inner light. With the red stripe in the rainbow, we give thanks that God created us just the way we are.

Orange is for sexuality, the fire of spirit. Erotic Christ, you are our Fire, the Word made flesh. Free us from exploitation and grant us the grace of mutual relationships. With the orange stripe in the rainbow, kindle a fire of passion in us.

Yellow is for self-esteem, the core of spirit. Out Christ, you are our Core. Free us from closets of secrecy and give us the guts and grace to come out. With the yellow stripe in the rainbow, build our confidence.

Green is for love, the heart of spirit. Transgressive Outlaw Christ, you are our Heart, breaking rules out of love. In a world obsessed with purity, you touch the sick and eat with outcasts. Free us from conformity and grant us the grace of deviance. With the green stripe in the rainbow, fill our hearts with untamed compassion for all beings.

Blue is for self-expression, the voice of spirit. Liberator Christ, you are our Voice, speaking out against all forms of oppression. Free us from apathy and grant us the grace of activism. With the blue stripe in the rainbow, motivate us to call for justice.

Violet is for vision, the wisdom of spirit. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom, creating and sustaining the universe. Free us from isolation and grant us the grace of interdependence. With the violet stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with the whole creation.

Rainbow colors come together to make one light, the crown of universal consciousness. Hybrid and All-Encompassing Christ, you are our Crown, both human and divine. Free us from rigid categories and grant us the grace of interwoven identities. With the rainbow, lead us beyond black-and-white thinking to experience the whole spectrum of life.

Rainbow Christ, you light up the world. You make rainbows as a promise to support all life on earth. In the rainbow space, we can see all the hidden connections between sexualities, genders and races. Like the rainbow, may we embody all the colors of the world! Amen.

I got the idea for the Rainbow Christ Prayer as I reflected on Patrick Cheng's models of the queer Christ. Patrick and I each spent years developing the ideas expressed in the Rainbow Christ Prayer. It incorporates rainbow symbolism from queer culture, from Christian tradition and from the Buddhist/Hindu concept of chakras, the seven colored energy centers of the human body. The prayer is ideal for use when lighting candles in a rainbow candle holder.

The Rainbow Christ Prayer has been welcomed and used by many progressive Christian communities, but denounced as blasphemy by conservatives at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

I first wrote about linking the colors of the rainbow flag to queer spirituality in my 2009 reflection on Bridge of Light, a winter holiday honoring LGBT culture. Meanwhile Patrick was working on his models of the queer Christ based on LGBT experience. In 2010 he presented five models of the queer Christ in his essay Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People at the Jesus in Love Blog.

In a moment of inspiration I realized Patrick’s various queer Christ models matched the colors of the rainbow flag. 

Patrick and I joined forces and the Rainbow Christ Prayer was born. With wonderful synchronicity, Patrick had already added two more queer Christ models, so he now had seven models to match the seven principles from Bridge of Light. He wrote a detailed explanation of all seven models in his book From Sin to Amazing Grace published in spring 2012 by Seabury Books.

Gay spirituality author Joe Perez also helped lay the groundwork for this prayer in 2004 when he founded the interfaith and omni-denominational winter ritual known as Bridge of Light. People celebrate Bridge of Light by lighting candles, one for every color of the rainbow flag. Each color corresponds to a universal spiritual principle that is expressed in LGBT history and culture. I worked with Joe to revise the Bridge of Light guidelines based on my on own meditations on the chakras and their connections to the colors of the rainbow flag.

The symbolism of the rainbow resonates far beyond the LGBT flag. 

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rainbow stands for God’s promise to support all life on earth. It plays an important role in the story of Noah’s Ark. After the flood, God places a rainbow in the sky, saying, "Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (Genesis 9:15-16).

Lastly, in the Book of Revelation, a rainbow encircles the throne of Christ in Heaven.

Originally published on Jesus In Love; Image via Andrew Craig Williams

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Moment of Zen: Gay Couples



There were quite a number of gay dads at the zoo in Canada yesterday, especially at the water park at the zoo. Gay dads in tiny swim trunks is a sexy sight. I got to really check out one couple because they were going down the lazy river as my niece was. I got to stare without looking like a creep, but just someone watching their kid.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mother Part II


I got my mother and niece to their hotel room. It was a long day. The AC in my car is out and I felt like I'd been burning up all damn day. Not really much to report except that my back isn't much better so I went to bed early last night.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mother



My mother is coming to spend the weekend. She and my niece are flying up this morning. This means I had to mother-proof my apartment. No "toys" can be laying around. Everything must be spic and span. I'll close off my bedroom, so that will help, but it also means that Isabella can't be in my bedroom during the day. I have to be emotionally prepared. Etc. etc. etc. I'm sure it will all be fine. We may not even go by my apartment. Well drive by, but we might not stop, especially if I can help it.

I have a full weekend planned. We are going up to Canada to visit a zoo on Friday. Please pray for me that it will go well. Saturday will be filled with Vermont stuff: Ben and Jerry's, Vermont Teddy Bear a Factory, Echo Aquarium, and a few other things around Burlington. Sunday, we will have to see. There are a number of things we could go and do, and I've checked them all out. It will just be up to what my niece wants to do. She's 8, so,of course this trip is really all about her.

Hopefully, it will be a fun weekend and it will be nice to see family. I've missed them. I may complain about my mother, but I love her dearly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pimento Cheese



As a native southerner, there are things that I truly miss about the South. Most of those things have to do with food, because it sure as hell isn't the politics. One of those foods that I have been craving is a simple blend of cheese, mayonnaise and sweet peppers known across the South as pimento cheese. Some people will say there is nothing like the homemade variety, but I always enjoyed the store bought kind. However, you can't buy it in the north, so if I want some, I'll have to make my own.

The recipe for most pimento cheese consists of mixing just six or so ingredients. Typically, it includes sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos and some simple seasoning, such as salt and pepper. Common variations on the recipe include the addition of onions, cream cheese, garlic or Monterey jack cheese.

Pimento cheese is so ingrained in the lives of many Southerners that we don't realize our passion for the stuff doesn't exist outside the region. Call me a hick, but I was shocked when I realized people outside the South had never heard of the spread. It makes a great sandwich or as an appetizer when put on celery or a cracker. Combine it with pepper jelly and put it on a cracker and you'll swear you've died and gone to heaven. My mother would often make finger sandwiches and she'd have pimento cheese and chicken salad, separately of course, but on the same platter.

But you don't have to travel down South to enjoy authentic pimento cheese: Its basic ingredients are readily available everywhere, and it's a cinch to make. It can take as little as 15 minutes to go from inspiration to completed dish. I almost asked my mother to sneak some on the plane but figured with current regulations, she wouldn't get very far. She and my niece will be flying up on Thursday. More on that tomorrow.


Classic Pimento Cheese

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, makes about 2 cups

10 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4-ounce) jar pimiento peppers 
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon horseradish sauce (optional)

To make your pimento cheese chunky-style, for spooning atop crackers, or digging into with a fork: Stir all ingredients together in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least one hour and preferably overnight.

To make your pimento cheese smooth, especially good for fancy piping and dipping: Increase mayonnaise to 3/4 of a cup. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least one hour and preferably overnight.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Experience



Experience
By  Carl Sandburg

This morning I looked at the map of the day
And said to myself, “This is the way! This is the way I will go;
Thus shall I range on the roads of achievement,
The way is so clear—it shall all be a joy on the lines marked out.”
And then as I went came a place that was strange,—
’Twas a place not down on the map!
And I stumbled and fell and lay in the weeds,
And looked on the day with rue.
 
I am learning a little—never to be sure—
To be positive only with what is past,
And to peer sometimes at the things to come
As a wanderer treading the night
When the mazy stars neither point nor beckon,
And of all the roads, no road is sure.
 
I see those men with maps and talk
Who tell how to go and where and why;
I hear with my ears the words of their mouths,
As they finger with ease the marks on the maps;
And only as one looks robust, lonely, and querulous,
As if he had gone to a country far
And made for himself a map,
Do I cry to him, “I would see your map!
I would heed that map you have!”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Science Friction



It’s been a rollercoaster week for Trekkies everywhere following news that Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu — formerly played by George Takei and portrayed by John Cho in the latest reboot — is discovered to be gay and married in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. 

Cho broke the news to Australia’s Daily Sun, saying, “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”

But Takei, to whom producers were giving a nod by turning his iconic character into a gay man, was surprisingly displeased by the news, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Following that, Star Trek writer and actor Simon Pegg, who plays chief engineer Montgomery Scott (known affectionately as “Scotty”), told The Hollywood Reporter that he “must respectfully disagree”:

"I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.

“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

Now, openly gay actor Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the reboot films, has let the world know that he’s 100% in favor of the plot choice , telling Pedestrian.TV:

"As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed.

“Any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema… I get it that he has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe.

“My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people, who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”

Where do you stand on the executive decision to marry off Sulu to a man in the name of representation? Sound off in the comments below.

From: Queerty.com

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Stepping in the Light



For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. - 1 Peter 2:21

Last Sunday, I visited this wonderful used book store. There I found the 1894 edition of "Pentecostal Hymns." Below is one of the songs from that hymnal and a song that we still sing today. May we all try to walk in the steps of the Savior.

Stepping in the Light
Eliza E. Hewitt, pub.1890

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Trying to follow our Savior and King;
Shaping our lives by His blessed example,
Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.

Refrain:
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,
How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Led in paths of light.

Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,
When we are tempted to turn from the way;
Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,
Happy, how happy, our praises each day.

Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,
Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,
Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,
Happy, how happy, our journey above.

Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,
Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;
When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”
Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Sulu Comes Out



Last year, George Takei told Time magazine he’d once asked “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry why the original series, which depicted biracial relationships and tackled other civil rights issues, didn’t include any LGBT characters.

According to Takei, Roddenberry told him, “I’m treading a fine tight wire here. I’m dealing with issues of the time. I’m dealing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and I need to be able to make that statement by staying on the air. If I dealt with that issue I wouldn’t be able to deal with any issue because I would be canceled.”

There have been three instances when this almost came into being. First, Commander Riker on The Next Generation had a fling with an androgynous being, but turned out that she felt more female than neutral and was "reeducated." Then, there was Jadzia Dax on Deep Space Nine who shared a kiss with a woman whom she'd previously been married to as a man, both in different lifetimes. Then in the non-sanctioned web series Phase II, Kirk's son or nephew (I can't remember) was depicted as being in a relationship with another man. When Enterprise came out, it was rumored one of the characters would be gay, but it never materialized.

Now, one of the “Star Trek” universe’s most beloved characters is revealed to be gay in the latest installment of the iconic franchise. John Cho told Australia’s Herald Sun that his character, Hikaru Sulu, will have a same-sex partner, with whom he is raising a daughter, in “Star Trek Beyond,” which hits theaters July 22. This is one of the most exciting things I've heard in years.

The 44-year-old actor said that he approved of the way his character’s sexuality will be handled in the film, in that writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin opted not to make it a major plot point. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he said.

Lin and Pegg’s decision to depict Sulu as a gay man was a nod to George Takei, who played the role in the original 1960s “Star Trek” television series and in six subsequent films, Cho said. Takei, 79, came out as gay in 2005, and has since gone on to become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights.  

Unfortunately, the Star Trek alum and LGBT activist spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the news on Thursday, July 7, saying it strays from creator Gene Roddenberry's original vision for Hikaru Sulu. "I'm delighted that there's a gay character," Takei, 79, told THR. "Unfortunately it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate."

Its unfortunate that Takei feels that way. I think it's a great legacy for Star Trek, the character of Sulu, and Roddenberry's belief in equality and a better universe.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Heat Wave



For most of the country, it's hot. Even here in Vermont, yesterday was hot. It got up to 91 according to my car's external temperature thermometer. Luckily, we will get down to the 70s and 80s later in the week. My mother called yesterday to see what the temperature was like up here. I told her it was hot but nothing like at home where the temperature is 97-99 degrees. God only knows (and the weatherman) what the heat index was like. Their lows for the next ten days is 72-73, while that will be our high come Saturday. While yesterday was hot in Vermont, we only get that one or two days every couple of weeks. I'm not complaining, except I don't have an air conditioner at home. Thankfully, the museum is air conditioned.

The reason my mom called is because she and my niece are coming to visit next week. She wanted to know how to pack. I didn't tell her what everyone tells me, "If you don't like the weather in Vermont, wait fifteen minutes and it will be completely different." While that is an exaggeration, it's not much of one. The weathermen never predict the weather correctly. They can tell you what it's currently like outside, but that's as good as it gets. The weather is constantly changing. The forecast shows thunderstorms for the next four days, but it rained last night and it likely won't even rain at all. And what passes as a thunderstorm here is nothing like what I've experienced in the South. What they call a thunderstorm is technically a thunder storm because of the thunder but the rain is what I'd consider a light rain, nothing more.

Anyone who doesn't believe in global warming has not experienced Vermont for the past nine months. The winter was mild, and the summer has been hot. I guess there were a few perfect days in what passed as spring here. Winter though was not that bad. Dress appropriately and there was nothing to fear. Summer has been something entirely different. I dress nice for work everyday, which usually means a long sleeve shirt. As soon as I get home to my un-air conditioned apartment, the pants come off and a t-shirt is put on. If I didn't have the windows up, I'd probably just go naked the whole time I was home, but decency keeps me from showing the world the horrors of me being naked.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Crappy Mood



I was in a really crappy mood yesterday. Everyone seemed to piss me off. Since I hate spreading a shitty mood, this is all I am going to say for today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

America



 
America
By Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
 
About This Poem
 
“America” was first published in The Liberator in December of 1921. It appeared in McKay’s collection Harlem Shadows (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922).

Monday, July 4, 2016

Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Steuben



Meet the gay man who actually won America her independence
By Mark Segal

To appreciate the contributions Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-94) made to the American Revolution, consider this: Before his arrival in Valley Forge in 1778, the colonies were on the path to defeat. Without his leadership, our modern America might still be the British Colonies.

The Sodomite Soldier

Before von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, the Revolutionary Army was a loosely organized, rag-tag band of men with little military training or discipline. The military fumbled through the beginning of the war for independence lacking training and organization. Gen. George Washington and the Continental Congress knew that, without help from additional seasoned military experts, the colonies would clearly lose.

Since Washington himself was the best the colonies had, they looked to Europe for someone who could train the troops. To that end, Washington wrote the colonies’ representatives in Paris, among them Benjamin Franklin, to see what he could come up with. Franklin, a renowned inventor, was treated as a celebrity in the French court. This would be pivotal in achieving his two major objectives in France: winning financial support for the American Revolution and finding military leaders who could bring a semblance of order to the Revolutionary Army.

Franklin learned of a “brilliant Prussian” military genius, Lt. Gen. Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who had a string of successes across Germanic Europe. But there was one problem. He’d been asked to depart many of those states and countries because of his “affections for members of his own sex,” according to biographer Paul Lockhart’s The Drillmaster of Valley Forge.

This became urgent in 1777 when von Steuben literally escaped imprisonment in what is now Germany and traveled to Paris. There, Franklin was interviewing candidates to assist Washington back in the colonies when his fellow Colonial representative Silas Deane brought von Steuben to his residence for an interview in June.

During the process, Franklin discovered von Steuben’s reputation for having “affections” with males and the issue became pressing, as members of the French clergy demanded the French court, as in other countries, take action against this sodomite, whom they considered a pedophile. They had decided to make their effort a crusade and run him out of France.

Lockhart’s biography tells of von Steuben’s being summoned from Paris for Karlsruhe, at the court of the Margrave of Baden, for a military vacancy. But, Lockhart notes, “what he found waiting for him at Karlsruhe was not an officer’s commissioner but a rumor, a horrible, vicious rumor” that the Baron had “taken familiarities with young boys.”

Those allegations were fueled by von Steuben’s close ties to Prince Henry and Frederick the Great, also “widely rumored to be homosexual.”

Benjamin Franklin: Smuggler & Scandal Fixer

Von Steuben returned to Paris, and Franklin had a choice here — and he decided von Steuben’s expertise was more important to the colonies than his sexuality. While it can be debated how much a part Franklin played in the recruitment of von Steuben, one cannot doubt that one of the most informed people at the French court would know of the allegations against the baron. With that knowledge, and with von Steuben about to be jailed, Franklin, along with Deane, wrote what must be the nation’s first example of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as they mutually signed a recommendation letter to Gen. Washington that embellished von Steuben’s military expertise and titles and suggested he had been recommended by various princes and “other great personages.” Most surprisingly, it remarked that “his distinguished character and known abilities were attested to by two judges of military merit in this country.”

The judges of character that Franklin referred to were two of the four involved in the plot to bring von Steuben to America, along with Franklin and Deane, and personal friends of the baron: Pierre Beaumarchais, author of the “Figaro” plays and an arms dealer who supplied arms for the ship von Steuben eventually sailed on, and Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain, the minister of war under Louis XVI.

What the letter didn’t mention was that he was about to be arrested and appear before judges in France.

Franklin, working with Deane, decided von Steuben’s “affections” were less important than what he, Washington and the colonies needed to win the war with England. Deane learned of von Steuben’s indiscretions — and that the French clergy was investigating — from a letter to the Prince of Hechingen, which read in part:

“It has come to me from different sources that M. de Steuben is accused of having taken familiarities with young boys, which the laws forbid and punish severely. I have even been informed that that is the reason why M. de Steuben was obliged to leave Hechingen and that the clergy of your country intend to prosecute him by law as soon as he may establish himself anywhere.”

The proof of Franklin and Deane’s knowledge lies in the letter to Washington recommending von Steuben and their quick action to secure the baron from France. So in September 1777, von Steuben boarded a 24-gun ship named Heureux — but, for this voyage, the ship’s name was changed to Le Flamand, and the baron’s name was entered onto the captain’s log as “Frank.” And he was on his way to the colonies.

Baron von Steuben Whips the Men Into Shape

Washington and Franklin’s trust in von Steuben was rewarded. He whipped the rag-tag army of the colonies into a professional fighting force, able to take on the most powerful superpower of the time, England. Some of his accomplishments include instituting a “model company” for training, establishing sanitary standards and organization for the camp and training soldiers in drills and tactics such as bayonet fighting and musket loading. According to the New York Public Library, (“The Papers of Von Steuben”) these were his achievements:

  • February 1778: Arrives at Valley Forge to serve under Washington, having informed Congress of his desire for paid service after an initial volunteer trial period, with which request Washington concurs.
  • March 1778: Begins tenure as inspector general, drilling troops according to established European military precepts.
  • 1778-79: Writes “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” which becomes a fundamental guide for the Continental Army and remains in active use through the War of 1812, was published in over 70 editions.
  • 1780-81: Senior military officer in charge of troop and supply mobilization in Virginia.
  • 1781: Replaced by Marquis de Lafayette as commander in Virginia.
  • 1781-83: Continues to serve as Washington’s inspector general, and is active in improving discipline and streamlining administration in the Army.
  • Spring 1783: Assists in formulating plans for the post-war American military.
Washington rewarded von Steuben with a house at Valley Forge, which he shared with his aide-de-camps Capt. William North and Gen. Benjamin Walker. Walker lived with him through the remainder of his life, and von Steuben, who neither married nor denied any of the allegations of homosexuality, left his estate to North and Walker. There wasn’t much else to claim, as the baron was in debt at the time of his death, according to both Kapp and Lockhart. His last will and testament has been described as a love letter to Walker and has been purported to describe their “extraordinarily intense emotional relationship,” yet that line was not in the Kapp biography of 1859.

Both North and Walker are featured in the statue of von Steuben in Lafayette Park across from the White House.

John Adams’ Son’s ‘Unsavory’ Relationship with the Baron

Von Steuben and with whom he slept was long a matter of discussion — from Prussia to France to the United States. Yet he never publicly denied it. The closest he came was to ask Washington to speak on behalf of his morals in a letter to Congress so he could get his pension. And why did he ask Washington?

Since his arrival in Philadelphia to assist the Revolution, von Steuben had financial issues caused by a Continental Congress that often didn’t keep its funding promises, a challenge compounded by his own personality: Von Steuben at times could be cold and aloof, which was problematic when diplomacy was needed with an important member of Congress. He also had a tendency to live and spend extravagantly, especially on his uniforms, which were often emblazoned with epaulettes and medals of his own design.

Adding to that were the constant rumors about his sexuality, which by 1790, reached one of the revolution’s first families, the Adamses of Massachusetts.

Charles, the son of John and Abigail Adams — the second president and first lady of the new union — was what today would be called the black sheep of the family. Early on, Abigail considered him “not at peace within himself.” His biggest problem was alcoholism but, as revealed in letters among the various members of the family, the Adamses had other concerns.

As John Ferling wrote in the biography John Adams: A Life, “There are references to [Charles’] alleged proclivity for consorting with men whom his parents regarded as unsavory.” One of these men was von Steuben, who, as Ferling writes, many at the time considered homosexual.

Charles had become infatuated with and adored Von Steuben. It is clear from the family letters that the Adamses were concerned about a relationship between Charles and the baron. Von Steuben’s sexuality was an open secret, one that he himself never challenged, other than to ask Washington to defend his moral character.

The Nation’s First Underwear Party

The baron is a puzzle. At first, I really didn’t like him: The man himself was pompous, cold and theatrical, and his uniforms and title were stage props for an officer who didn’t even speak English when he got to Valley Forge. But I respected him for what he did to help Washington’s rag-tag army to defeat the British, eventually leading to the creation of our country. His knowledge created the first sense of military discipline in the colonies. My appreciation for him came from his most recent biographer, Lockhart, whose book The Drillmaster of Valley Forge offers a complete look at von Steuben’s work.

There is one story in the book that could be considered rather scandalous in today’s terms: Von Steuben most likely threw the first underwear party in the United States military, at his house in Valley Forge.

As Lockhart writes, “The Baron hosted a party exclusively for their lower-ranking friends. He insisted, though, that ‘none should be admitted that had on a whole pair of breeches,’ making light of the shortages that affected the junior officers as they did the enlisted men.”

Apart from this humorous anecdote, it’s hard to question von Steuben’s importance — especially as Washington’s last official act as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army was to write a letter to the baron.

George Washington Says Goodbye

Sent from Annapolis and dated Dec. 23, 1783, Washington wrote:

My dear Baron: Altho’ I have taken frequent opportunities, both in public and private, of acknowledging your great zeal, attention and abilities in performing the duties of your office; yet I wish to make use of this last moment of my public life, to signifie [sic] in the strongest terms my entire approbation of your conduct, and to express my sense of the obligations the public is under to you, for your faithful and meritorious services.

“I beg you will be convinced, my dear sir, that I should rejoice if it could ever be in my power to serve you more essentially than by expressions of regard and affection; but in the meantime, I am persuaded you will not be displeased with this farewell token of my sincere friendship and esteem for you.

“This is the last letter I shall ever write while I continue in the service of my country; the hour of my resignation is fixed at 12 this day, after which I shall become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomack, where I shall be glad to embrace you, and to testify the great esteem and consideration with which I am, etc.”

The nation that von Steuben helped found has memorialized him with numerous statues, including those at Lafayette Square near the White House and at Valley Forge and Utica, N.Y. (where he is buried) and German Americans celebrate his birthday each year on Sept. 17, hosting parades in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

It was von Steuben, a gay man, who played a giant role in not only the creation of our military, but the idea of military academies, a standing Army and even veterans organizations.

If George Washington was the father of the nation, then von Steuben, a gay man, was the father of the United States military.

This article was originally published on Bilerico in 2013. This version has been abridged.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Freedom



So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. - John 8:36

Patrick Henry: Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death

Abraham Lincoln: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Tomorrow our nation celebrates Independence Day. For Americans, it should be a day that reminds us how fortunate we are. LGBT people have fought for our rights. These are rights that weren't taken from us but denied us. We still lack some of the freedoms that most Americans have, but we have gained so much in the last few years. Liberty never looks so sweet as it does when we do not possess it. This is why we have so much to look forward to this Independence Day.

There have always been a group of men ready to impose their will upon others. Sometimes in the belief, right or wrong, that they knew what was best for themselves and their fellow men. 
When they were right, their imposed will could be a blessing, lifting others out of lives of poverty, disease, and despair. When men desire to rule over others with right motives much good can be accomplished. 

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our founding fathers came from a religiously repressive environment. These were men of different religious outlooks. But they had a burning desire to live where they were free to worship God as they saw fit. Religious freedoms laws are unnecessary. In fact if we were to look at the Sermon on the Mount we would see that the very nature of such bills are contrary to Christ who wanted everyone to be treated the same.

Equality in the early church was what brought so many into Christianity. Freedom from oppression caused the downtrodden to be baptized and join the faith. They were promised eternal freedom from the evils and unfairness of this world. We need to make sure those freedoms are preserved for everyone, which is why we celebrate freedom from oppression on Independence Day.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Spoiled


Bob commented yesterday that, "Isabella appears to already be spoiled." Yes, I have to agree with that assessment. She's a little princess with all the makings of a diva. I have little doubt that she will be queen of her castle when she gets older. I expect she will become HRH II. Some of you may not have been around long enough to remember my very special and loving cat HRH, aka Victoria. Victoria was named after Queen Victoria, just as Isabella is named after another queen. Victoria ruled like no other cat I've ever known, and she ruled with fear. People, other cats, and even dogs cowered when she was nearby. She never hurt anyone but she had a look and a yeow that meant she meant business. My aunt once called her "Miss Victoria," to which my aunt received a look that if looks could kill, she'd have died on the spot. When she changed it to "Queen Victoria," HRH forgave her and allowed her to enter the house.

While Victoria ruled through fear, I hope Isabella will rule through benevolence. Right now her greatest demands are that you be in the same room she is and that you lay still so she can sleep on top of you with only minimal disturbance. Victoria was always a stickler for you being still. I can remember coming home from teaching and she would know I was tired so she'd demand that I lay down. Then she'd lay on my side and we'd take a nap. This was our after school ritual when I was a teacher. She'd patiently wait for me to come home, watch from an upstairs window and wait for me at the top of the steps to come inside. Isabella does not yet immediately come to greet me, but she does come within the first few minutes of me coming home. Instead of nap time though, for her it is playtime.

I realize that Victoria and Isabella are two different cats, but I don't think you can help but to compare the two. No cat can ever replace Victoria. Edith and Lucy helped me get over the loss of Victoria, but they were always more my aunt's cats than mine. Isabella will be raised by me. We will see if she is as loyal and great a companion as the previous queen in my life. So far, she is doing a damn good job.