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Saturday, May 26, 2012


 Some quotes from an interesting Alternet article:

'Incumbents have reacted to this new world by running faster and faster on their fund-raising treadmills.  Incumbent Senators have to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a month—every month of their six-year terms.'
 And more:
'Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig has written a new book called Republic, Lost, in which he argues that our campaign finance system is destroying our ability to have a functioning government.  He does not claim that Members of Congress are venal and corrupt—to the contrary he says that they are largely good people, stuck in a system that focuses overwhelmingly on the need to raise money from interests who have it and contribute to influence legislation.  To give you a sense of his book—which I commend to you—a couple of the Chapters are called:
As you may have heard, Jack Abramoff is now back in Washington, out of prison and having seen the light.  “Ban contributions from lobbyists”, he says, “and from the executives of companies that employ them.”  Not because lobbying is bad, but because in his own personal experience the involvement of lobbyists in campaign fundraising can dominate the legislative process.'
What all this means is that staying in office is becoming confused with attending to our business (WE are the people!) and that staying in office and, most importantly, acquiring enough funds to mount the next campaign is rapidly crowding out the necessary business of government of, by and for the people. Most of our 'elected' representatives have neither the courage nor the creativity to get OFF this treadmill which is killing--that's right, killing--our democracy! That being the case, the stopping of this hamster-wheel falls to we the people.
What can we do then? Simply this: at least until there is serious reform of campaign finance, we must vote for the candidate who best understands and is most forthright about what s/he wants to DO in office. Pledges to return to private life once these things are done won't come amiss either--or real explanations, as opposed to obfuscations, as to why they're staying in office. And if one candidate spends far more than the rest, that has to warrant close examination and uncomfortable questions. So, members of the media, quit chasing cotton-candy gossip and do your f***ing  jobs right!!
Neither we the people nor the press should acquiesce in the political blackmail by which our country's gambling casinos, aka the big banks, can say to good candidates: you'll do what we want or we'll carpet-bomb your campaign with our money. The media has to step up to carpet-bombers with uncomfortable questions and we the people must treat carpet-bombing campaign techniques as a disqualifier! And candidates must see that those candidates who say less for their program and rely instead on tricks and slogans which stay unexplained when the candidates are asked to expound are on a sure road to defeat! And that will probably give us more of a real choice between candidates. At least it'll make the candidates running behind think more as they articulate the 'reasons' why they, and not their running-ahead opponents, should be elected! That ad hominem or ad mulieram attacks should be treated as disqualifiers for the person running them goes almost without saying. However, that might necessitate explanations as to the difference between them and the 'raising of questions of character.' Well, fine, sez I: any citizenry can only be enriched and sharpened by serious and thoughtful discussion of such questions!
But while our elected representatives and even the Board of Elections refuse to act, the responsibility to do so lies with us--as it always should in any country honestly calling itself a democracy. I've suggested certain guidelines as to how to act; now, my fellow citizens, it's in all of our hands. No democracy will survive long without an actively engaged citizenry. The enemies of democracy know this and are using every parliamentary trick they can dig up to knock as many as possible off the voting rolls and discourage at least as many as they seek to exclude. Let's show these b****es and sons thereof that we won't be discouraged and that OUR government is NOT FOR SALE!! Not now or ever!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I know for a fact, sexual orientation is not a choice.
Toward the end of 1970, I was an ordinary high school freshman whose hormones hadn't yet started flowing. At that point, I could take or leave females (mostly the latter) depending on whether I actually liked them or not as persons. Four months later, my hormones were rising, my head was full of pictures of women dressed, naked or in various states of undress and I was jacking off like fury, sometimes as often as thrice daily. That summer, as I babysat for two fairly attractive divorcees, I was also accompanied by Mrs. Robinson fantasies of both. Not to mention unmarried female teachers!!
The following forty years have seen both good times and bad between women and myself. There have been long droughts, relatively 'moist' times (OK, that was deliberate) and two happy marriages, the second of which is still going on. (If anyone wants to know, I was widowed almost three years ago.) But, even in the middle of the long droughts, I never had any thoughts of switching my sexual orientation. It simply never occurred to me. Nor was there anyone, parent, teacher, other authority figure or even any peer group  'shoving' me towards the girls; my hormones did all that and forcefully enough indeed! The point here is, my hormones rose and brought my libido to the fore and they also made it crystal clear where they were pointing me--that is, to women and women only. For those nitwits who seem to think that a little male bonding doing such stereotypically 'masculine' pursuits sech as huntin' an' fishin' ('Son, yo' daddy jes' wudn't 'nuff like BIIIIG Daddy!) can 'cure the gay', allow me to say my dad was never either of those things, and my love for him was mixed with little if any fear. It's only fair for me to say he was very much present in my life. But I also believe his presence to be quite irrelevant to the way my hormones flowed.
And when my wife and I enjoy marital intimacies, I honestly feel that nothing that either two men or two women can do for each other can possibly hold a candle to being 'one flesh' with the woman I love. I'm saying how I feel here, not that it must be so across the board. But the point here is, feeling such sensations as those, I can't believe being gay is a choice. No way, nohow. Not to mention there are still plenty of primates who look at gays with either fear, apprehension, dislike or homicidal desire or intent. Life is still plenty harder for gays than for straights. In the face of all this, who would choose to be gay???
The answer has to be, they don't. The question then has to be: why would anyone even entertain such a loony notion as being gay is a choice? I have a few suggestions, none of which are at all pretty. And as I take the lid off this kettle, you might feel the need for a hazmat suit.
The top element appears to be anxiety about one's own masculinity and, hence, the same old tiresome need to overcompensate. That element, though noxious enough, is also familiar and boring and we needn't discuss that further. Go down further and we find something really wicked: a lot (and I mean a lot) of unacknowledged hostility to women. The same nasty slime that fuels the desecrators of God's Name on the political Right as they seek to circumvent Roe and push back contraception availability as well. I suggest that only those sitting on a lake of unacknowledged hostility to women could even begin to entertain the lunacy that being gay is a choice. And the extent to which 'Momma' is made into a plaster saint doesn't help either. If anyone has other ideas as to whence springs this rot, I'm ready to hear them.
Imagine living with an abusive mother who everyone warns you to respect, yea sanctify, lest you be branded 'unnatural' and threatened with hellfire! Sounds like a brew for criminal insanity to me! And even if no one tells you these things, you might be getting them out of the ether. Another noxious element is probably the remnants of St. Augustine's anti-sex attitude, which probably adds to the resentment these men (and women?) feel towards their own hormones. Finally, there are those who feel attraction towards their own sex and work overtime to keep it tamped down. Sorry, guys and gals: if that's where your hormones point you, that's not about to change. Without re-examining and re-working your understanding of God and then 'coming out', the best you'll probably be able to do is bear it as a thorn in the flesh, to use Paul's phrase. I feel for you. Really. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes, and I'll pray for you. But also cleanse yourself before our God. Start asking Him questions again. Seek out progressive clergy if and when you need some clarifying. Don't listen to anyone who says you're unnaturally made, or anything close to it. Support one another, and let we progressives know who and where you are so we can help you. Then you won't care so much, if at all, about what the rest of us do behind our bedroom doors.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


With all the ado over marriage equality, I feel the need to look at it in the light of what I wrote last month titled 'It's All About Right Relations'. First, let's examine the 'troublemaker' verses in both the Old and New Testaments. These verses all have a common context which is set forth as follows: 'I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God.' (Leviticus 18:2b-4) What follows is a lengthy list of actually mostly wholesome rules forbidding sexual relations between a variety of blood-relations. Nowadays we tend to think of these strictures as commonsensical, but remember that Abraham and Sarah were children of the same father and put these strictures in that context! I suggest what God is after here is to keep relationships as clear and as unentangled with or by other relationships as might be humanly possible. Not to mention that Israel then shared at least one characteristic with Israel now: lack of size. Then, God called them the 'smallest of the nations'. And one thing that a tiny nation in the midst of much larger and almost perpetually warring nations needed in those pre-WMD days was warriors. Lots of warriors. Which meant that every healthy Israelite capable of procreating had to do so early and often and with a minimum of (if any) non-procreative sexual distractions. Finally, the cardinal point was (and still was when Peter, Paul et al. wrote disparagingly of homosexual intimacies) keeping Israel separate and distinct from the pagan nations around them. This point was still valid in the Apostles' times as such intimacies were then closely associated with, and may have been part of, worship of the Greco-Roman gods. But I don't see such an association today, nor does it look like a 'necessary' association--i.e., worship of other gods doesn't necessarily follow from such relationships.
One objection which I've heard is, 'Such relationships are sterile; only a man and a woman can produce new life.'  This comes from those who hold that the sole, or primary, purpose of marriage is procreation. I used to agree, but that was years ago before I met, married and (after 11 1/2 years of happy marriage) saw home to God a truly wonderful woman with the biggest heart I've yet known and who, unfortunately, could not have children. And how much good is procreation 1) without the home being reasonably happy and, hence, able to raise children who will be assets to and not burdens on the larger community and 2) in our increasingly and almost alarmingly crowded world? Don't mistake me here; I know it's still necessary but just how necessary is now, and deserves to be, a debatable matter.
No, marriage has another purpose anterior to, yet necessary for, the rearing of children if not for their conception and gestation (though it's best for that too): to quote the Book of Common Prayer, marriage 'is intended by God for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity'. And so long as it's that, how much difference can the sex of the partners make if they feel themselves right for one another? Finally, I'd like to say that, not only are same-sex couples just as capable as raising healthy children as are traditional couples, but there's even a bit of research which suggests that children raised with two mothers do better than any! I don't know how extensive this is, but it's definitely worth some further examination.
 Reverend Barber has the right idea, hands down. If we err, let it be on the side of rights expansion and not on the side of going backward by contracting them. And same-sex marriages marked by commitment and mutual joy may well fall within the circle of 'right relations' and, in any case, isn't it much more consonant with God's Spirit to give them the benefit of the doubt? Here and now, I say it is.