Friday, November 19, 2004

three words about work

We're being audited.

Couln't have happend during a better week (see the post below). Anyway. Just got home. Back to writing my presentation for tomorrow. Right now its something between a sermon and a lecture. A hellfire and brimstone examination of Greek Tragedy, poetry, modern-day mythmaking and (or course) Dante. In 40 minutes.

Monday, November 15, 2004


So, I'm gonna be a little busy for the next week or so. I've got a 40 min. presentation to prepare for this Saturday ('suffering, catharsis and transfomation'), ten pages due the following monday (new fiction for workshop), and a whole buttload of reading (how much is a buttload, you ask? A lot). And yes, I'm still working 40 hrs a week. At least.

But while I'm here: What's up with my near-pathological need to reach out to unpleasant people? What compells me to befriend the intolerable? Why do I go out of my way to do them favours, when I know full well that they'd never do the same for me, and are probably patting themselves on the back for pulling one over on ol' gullible? Is it the guilt I feel for dislking them? Is it a recognition of the unpleasantness within me? Misdirected charity? A need to be liked, no matter the source? A 'holier than thou' impulse to live by example? Or am I just a chum......p?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Brand New Bag

For a blogger template, this is actually kinda pretty.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

by popular demand:

pants on fire

Monday, November 08, 2004

More Poetry

I'm not so happy with this one. But maybe y'all can offer some constructive criticism.

Untitled Vilanelle

Europa walks along the wayside
Wondering at the fair and fowl
Plucking feathers from her hair.

Inside her, Helen, Clydemnestra
Grow inside an alabaster shell
Europa walks along the wayside.

At night she dreams of beaks, god voices.
She cannot bear to sleep on down,
Plucking feathers from her hair.

Moving slowly, gently - careful
Lest she break her wee god eggs
Europa walks along the wayside.

Helen grows up white and downy,
Standing on the walls of Troy
Plucking feathers from her hair.

Cursing Paris, Aphrodite,
And her fate born long ago --
Europa walked along the wayside
Plucking feathers from her hair.
Bad spellers of the world, untie!

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Tricia, I've substituted the phrase 'public discourse' for 'pubic discourse' in my post below.

But now I'm wondering - does this mean I've sold out? Why must we reign in our pubic discourse? Let me not to the marriage of behinds permit impediments!

“In a situation like this, unbearable is good”
-Tony Kushner

I’ve been thinking about religion a lot lately (see below). It’s hard not to - faith is at the center of our public discourse, whether we’d have it or no. The news is riddled with rhetoric about ‘evil doers,’ ‘morality’, and some nonsense about restricting marraige in order to form a ‘decent society.’ Fire and brimstone have become a part our everyday lexicon.

One of the many insults inherent in this national talk of morality is the co-option of Chrtistianity. I find myself wishing I were more actively religious, a better whole-er person who could stand up for religion as a means to a more deliberate, conscious and humane way of living. Or I wish I could be completely atheistic, able to scoff from a safe and cynical distance.

I grew up in a fairly religious household. Prayers were said at every meal and before bed, and church the centerpiece of our Sundays. Bible verses were quoted in conversation, and theology discussed at the dinner table. We even sang hymns on long car trips. And it was good. My religion - my funny little late-20th century mishmash of beliefs - is important to me. It’s part of who I am.

The faith I was raised in is more 'love thy neighbor' than 'smite the sinner'. My mother ran meal programs and distributed food to the working poor. Every year, my father and his fellow Quakers would stand silently in the town square, witnessing for peace. I can remember being sternly scolded on the way home from school one afternoon for jokingly referring to my unmarried aunt and her live-in boyfriend ‘living in sin.’ My mother pulled to the side of the road and turned to look at me. “It’s not a sin. They love each other. A sin is something that keeps you from loving.”

Damn straight.

Oh, and PS: for a glimpse of what I think the better sort of Christianity looks like, go click around over at 'Real Live Preacher'.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

That's Me in The Corner

So, this whole election thing. Sheesh. Where to start.

I'm going to pretend for a moment that the people who read this blog aren't just a small assortment of old college friends and family members, and take a moment to declare my little (still forming) system of beliefs.

Religion was a big factor in this election, and "moral values" were named as a key issue for voters in the exit polls. Well, I'm religious. and I struggle with 'what's right' every day. When your favorite author is Dante, you tend to think about the cosmic stuff.

But my religion is not George W. Bush's religion.

Now, I'm a little leery of trying to say what, exactly, George W.'s religion entails. I only know what I read in the papers, after all. But G.W.B. seems to believe in an unbending and punitive God -- one that divides the world into 'evil doers' and 'chosen.' One who doles out punishment and reward. If my God were at all like G.W.'s, well, ol' G Dub'd be a big ol' smite hole in the ground by now.

So what do I believe in? Uncertainty. Mystery. Perplexity. Like Will Durant, "I believe in God not as a God of vengeance in the skies, but as the creative will and power of life in the world." I believe that we are, each of us, called to live our lives in a way that moves the whole word forward. I believe that God is the force that calls us.

And yes, I have doubts. I hear that voice that tells me that organized religion is nothing but a source of strife in the world, that religion is a chemical fluke in our haphazardly evolving limbic brains. And I listen to that voice, from time to time. But I find comfort in my own little version of Pascal's wager: if I'm wrong, I might still better myself a little. I might even leave the world a little better than I found it.

I was raised by two very religious people. My mother is an Episcopalian, my father a Quaker, and both actively live their religion, so that through their lives they might create a better world. Growing up, I was given the choice of attending either service on Sundays, and as I got older, I tended towards Quaker meetings more and more. The branch of Quakerism that I grew up in is distinct from most Christian sects in that there is no priest, no preacher – no hierarchy within the church. Worshippers come to meeting on equal footing. More than that, meeting for worship is a communal experience, a Divine Comedy in which every participant is both poet and pilgrim, both Beatrice and Virgil.

The 'Religious Society of Friends,' as Quakers are properly called, took their name from a passage in the Book of John:

You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I call you servants no longer; a servant does not know what his master is about. I have called you friends, because I have disclosed to you everything that I heard from my Father. . This is my commandment to you: love one another. (John 15: 14-17)

Thus we see the first cause of Quakerism: simultaneously giving power to the faithful (“I call you servants no longer”) and binding them to a community (“love one another”). Liberation is contingent upon regard for others.

The Quaker emphasis on community lies in the central doctrine of Quaker theology: the belief that a divine light is in us all but that, as Quaker historian John Punshon describes it,

It would be a mistake to regard it as a part of human nature, a personal possession, a fragment of divinity, our bit of God. The light is in all. . .but it is the same light that is in all. . . There are not many lights, but only one. . . Because it is common to all of us, the light calls us into unity with one another, into the community. . . So you could not practice the sort of religion George Fox preached in isolation” (Punshon, Portrait in Grey, p.50, 1986).

This faith does not have a category of 'Evil Doers'. This faith cannot tolerate the abuse and torture of prisoners anywhere. This faith does not contibute to the destruction of the environment. This faith has room for questioning, and nuance.

Eh. What do I know?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I have nothing to say

Apparently, I'm out of touch with America's 'moral center.'

Hm. Who knew.