Saturday, December 8, 2012

The giver, not to whom something was given

I've just discovered, in reading Elizabeth Kaeton's blog about a NY cop who bought a homeless man a pair of shoes and winter socks, that being a Christian isn't about finding someone worthy of your charity. It's about finding it within yourself that you can give freely and charitably, consequences notwithstanding. Now that I think about it, there's evidence all over Scripture about the prophets who really weren't all that thrilled with God's call to them, because they were looking at the likelihood of success. God's message to them was, "let me be in charge of the outcomes".

This is a revelatory point for me, fifteen weeks after my partner's untimely death. With each passing month of his passing, I gain greater confidence that my early suspicions were sound: I was called to help John, not to judge him or set some criterion for his care. I was called to help him in his last struggles in his life.

I asked repeatedly in prayer, why must I be his caregiver? WIIFM? Can you please get him back to good health so that we can return to our prior life together? It was John in his best health that attracted me to him, and for that condition I hoped and prayed.

Yet, John did not progress to better health; quite the contrary. John was bipolar, and quite possibly in denial about his disorder. As one consequence, his medications may not have been properly monitored. I now suspect his alcohol abuse was connected to his depressive phases. His 2008 mugging could be attributed to the consequences of a manic phase: one of his friends mentioned to me his disregard for the consequences of his more aggressive statements. Should I be more active in support of bipolar disorder research?

It's all very sad. The point of this post, though, is that I didn't condition my love for this guy on his purity or righteousness or some such. I was close to leaving him more than once, but it didn't feel right, and I could tell that it wasn't right as I struggled through the particular situation. I couldn't leave John because he was sick, or because he was imperfect, or because--or just because. I longed for John to recover, so that we could be together more, camp out more, attend more musical events, spend more evenings on the lawn at the Millennium Center. I stuck with John out of hope. Now, it's time to think about a different future, my time with John is now a chapter of history.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Five weeks later

Gradually adjusting to a single life, again. It will take me awhile to adjust to life without John. His spirit drifts from place to place in this house, and in the habits I adopted as his partner. I experience periods of fatigue, wanting to escape, wishing I were elsewhere. Some of this is depression. I am applying the only countermeasures I know, which are to continue with my music and my German, and to delegate other tasks to contractors. The garage roof and the fence are complete, the garage painting is scheduled, and I am paying the neighbor kid to mow the lawn. Most of John's undergarments are in a suitcase in his car awaiting donation to Episcopal Charities. His DVD collection sits in six cartons in the living room awaiting shipping labels, now three days late in arriving. I will spend more time next week sorting his CD collection, then his vinyl. In the meantime, I have other obligations that I must discharge, such as home maintenance and attention to my son's needs. I have a niece whose attorney has not responded to my phone call. I need to fix the scuffs on my car prior to putting it on the market. I don't know how to sell a car, nor how to buy one. Time and energy, each task. I'd rather be basking in the sun in a warm clime. For that, I should be looking for someone to take care of my cat Lili, rather than just boarding her. Another time-consuming task.

I hope that sometime in the near future I cross paths with another engaging soul, that we can forge a relationship that lasts longer than five years. As engaging as John was, his 2008 brain injury caused him - and me - considerable flexibility and mutual enjoyment. O Lord, hear my prayer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

John didn't make it

When John fell on August 15th, he hit his head, probably on the grandmother clock at the foot of the stairs. The epidural hematoma, aka "brain bleed," was so large that it severely injured John's brain. I don't even want to discuss the details of his injury nor the proposals of his physicians, all of which pointed to a severe loss of the person who was John. But, I believe he understood me when I told him we were invoking his living will, because he appeared to yield and die within 36 hours of arriving at inpatient hospice care. He left us on August 25th. I don't want to discuss that, either. The last two or three hours of his life were calmer, as apnea gradually overtook him. Poor sweet puppy, you left us waay too soon, but perhaps about right for you. I wanted you with me for a longer time.

Now, nearly four weeks later, after a memorial mass, a brief but loving committal service and lots of support from friends and relatives, I'm beginning to recover my own sense of self and responsibilities. My period of bereavement is gradually subsiding. I am engaged in the new projects that John left me. I am asking all John's health care providers for a reduced settlement, so that all may receive something. The garage has been re-roofed. The fence is removed and the north side replaced (not without some flak from the cranky neighbor to the north). I will decide today or tomorrow who gets to paint the garage. I am recording John's DVD, CD and vinyl collections for eventual sale to the highest bidder. One of these days, I will escape from Northwest Indiana to a home somewhere else, like Hyde Park. Or elsewhere, who knows. I am still discussing with God the next phase of my life, but it's much too early in the conversation to disclose details.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I'm exhausted. Not sure whether physically or spiritually, but still lacking a lot of energy I associate with living day-to-day. I so wish I could back this week up and start it over, with changes.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 5:10pm, my partner John slipped and fell, head-first, down a half-flight of stairs. I don't know the circumstances--was he headed toward his office, had he a glass of wine, what was he thinking--but the consequences were catastrophic. I was close by, arriving in the kitchen to prepare supper, just around the corner of the stairs. I heard him fall. I saw him seconds later, he was unconscious. Not good.

I called 911, unlocked the front door, then mopped up some water or some colorless liquid on the stairs. First responder was a Munster patrolman. I called to him to come through the kitchen. A minute or two later, paramedics arrived. The patrolman called out to them this time. Two or three minutes after that, a second team of paramedics arrived. The paramedics with the muscle lifted him out of the family room and onto the gurney in the kitchen.

John was no better than semi-conscious throughout. As they strapped him to the board, I collected his meds into a plastic bag. I believe I alerted them to the Coumadin he was taking. John was placed on a gurney and transported to the EMT vehicle, thence to the ER. I followed a few minutes later.

Community Hospital Munster was reasonably prompt in assessing John, considering the institutional structures through which such assessments must travel. He went quickly for a CAT scan and a neuro-surgeon was summoned. He assembled a surgical team and ordered a craniotomy, which began around 9:50pm, roughly forty minutes after he was wheeled out of the ER by the anesthesia team. The neurosurgeon, a 37-year veteran of his profession, did not soften his opinion of John's condition nor his prognosis.

During the interstitial times, I worked to arrange alternate transport for the two baritones I had agreed to carpool to the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Wisconsin, on Thursday. One of them made it, the other didn't. We prepared Beethoven's Symphony #9, fourth movement, this summer. Easy come, easy go, I guess

Thus, Wednesday evening and Thursday morning were times of frantic rearrangement. By today, this period became one of derangement, limited of course by the circumstances.  By today, the panic had subsided and a mix of depression and anger--covert and overt anger--had covered some of the personal scene. One must note, the intervention of significant social contacts is a significant element in the breakup of these emotional "binges". I have had the opportunity to express my grief, frustration and general angst, thanks to the generosity of close friends. There's no subsitute for close friends, to help one through tough times.

John will recover in God's Good Time. I'll post more, later. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My good friend Lisa, in her post today, alerted us Piskie readers to the actions of the Diocese of South Carolina, which she charged might be "secessionist and duplicitous".

I responded, because it showed me the clear, highly charged path between conditions and actions. It's almost as clear as the path that creates a lightning bolt between cloud and ground:

Since 2009, TEC has not received a pledge from the DofSC greater than 0.7% of its income. By contrast, even the DofLouisiana has pledged in the 10-11% range; NC is at 21%, and VA is above 17%. SC is de facto in secession.

I have two proposals, one hard line, the other softer. Hardline? Adopting the principle that one puts one's money where one's mouth is, I propose we replace the entire SC standing committee and bishop based on their failure to do their part to uphold the Church to which they claim to belong. IOW, show me your commitment to TEC by your pledge and its fulfillment. This is the God of Judgement, in spades. There will be winners and losers.

The softer line entails more work. Organize. Create a coalition. Invade the state as CORE did the South in 1961 with its Freedom Rides. Enlist Integrity, HRC, and any other organizations willing to participate. Visit the churches in the DofSC. All of them, if you have the staff. Engage the vestries and clergy. Ask for time to speak to "adult formation". Put human faces to labels like "gay" and "lesbian". You want friends? Be a friend. There are dozens of ways by which you can do this, you know them, you can't do it just by e-mail or Twitter or blogs. You have to be there and make the commitment to be a real friend. Visit a sick relative, hug a stranger, make a phone call in support of a parishioner's need. The softer line converts adversaries into friends. Net, no losers.

The bishop's stance? Up to his congregations. The change starts from the ground up. When the civil rights movement changed us forever, some fifty years ago, did you see the change coming from the top down? Weren't you listening?
 I recognize the risk I have created, that I might be thrust into a leadership role in such an effort. Understand that I greatly prefer a consultative role. I recognize that such a role transfers responsibility to another, whose values may not coincide with my own. I have not given sufficient thought to the morality of such a decision.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Update on my final straw

I have no way of knowing that my earlier post was read and understood, but roughly two weeks before the start of General Convention, I was asked to be the network admin for the advocacy group. So, at my first General Convention, I was there helping to set up, operate and close the group's operation. I was even asked if I would serve again in three years. Yes, I replied, but give me some booth time so I can meet deputies and bishops. IMHO, rotating some assignments would help the entire organization improve its perspective on how it fits into the larger community.

It was rewarding to meet deputies and bishops from my diocese, another bishop whom I am privileged to call my friend, and yet other bishops whose posts I have read or who I want to count as friends. The Episcopal Church is an amazing family, I'm barely able to describe how we all relate to each other in any other terms. Being at The Great Episcopal Sausage Factory is an opportunity to watch the Spirit, unseen yet not unperceived, work to bring the Kingdom a little bit closer. As I have experienced the Spirit in a loving relationship, it can be gritty and very real, and still be love.

So, being called back into community, even after having shaken the dust off my sandals, so to speak, I am once again ready to serve. And I will.

Chick-Fil-A wants a return of patriarchy

Interesting comment by Biblically-challenged Dan Cathy, President of Chick-Fil-A:
"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit."
Hmmm, what would that be? Well, for certain, it's not "one man and one woman" in a peer-to-peer relationship. It's one man in a superior relationship to at least one woman. For King Solomon, it was one man--him--and 700 wives. Oh, and to keep tradition alive, he also had 300 concubines. Talk about a sex drive, wowee! He even made time for the Queen of Sheba, giving her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked". If this is the "biblical definition of the family unit," count me in!

The traditional middle-Eastern definition of marriage is one man and one or more women, all of whom are considered property. Women are subordinate in all things to men. In biblical times, consensual sex was unknown or even forbidden. I read somewhere (but don't have the reference), that in Assyria ca. 1000 BCE, consensual sex was a capital offense. Men had sex with their subordinates: women, slaves, apprentices etc. Sodomy was an act of domination of one person over another, which is why it was eschewed in Mosaic law. The servant of the centurion that Jesus healed more than likely satisfied his master's sexual needs, not just his need for polished armor. Even today, traditional weddings feature the father "giving" his daughter to the groom, as if he had received a good bride-price for her.

So, when Dan Cathy defends his anti-gay stance and contributes millions to "Christian" organizations that oppose homosexuality (however they define it), I infer that he longs for a system of patriarchy that we in the Western world abandoned in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mr. Cathy is welcome to his beliefs. Most of our society, however, is not there with him. And, I'm not in any of his restaurants for the foreseeable future.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A prayer to one who lost her mother

I left this post to a close friend who lost her mother this week:

What a delight, Oh Lord,
that you would receive
your servant Margot
into your presence.

What a delight, Oh Lord,
that we would see
a glimpse of your beauty,
from pain to its release,
from angst to its redemption,
from fear to its freedom!

What a delight, Oh Lord,
You have released her
to unfettered joy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reclaiming the faith

Yesterday, Saturday, June 2nd, The Episcopal Church created through ordination a new priest, Dan Puchalla (pronounced, the 'c' is silent). In my most humble opinion, Dan's talent for preaching will grow beyond what it is today. This will be something rather remarkable, considering his current skill at cutting through all the euphemisms to address the nature of Christianity today.

Dan's take on being a priest today?
You can’t be a pastor or a proctologist without people wondering what’s wrong with you that makes you want to do that kind of work.
Early on, Dan acknowledged to his congregation that he was gay, but this was his main point:
And even if most pastors experience this to some degree, you have to acknowledge how much worse it is for gay pastors. When most gay men my age think of pastors, they’re not thinking “potential boyfriend material.” They’re thinking, “ignorant, intolerant, homophobic, sexist pig.”
On Pentecost, May 27th, six days before his ordination, The Rev. Daniel Puchalla unloaded on those who have to this point framed the Christian response to issues of sexuality.
The prevailing bigotries of Christianity don’t offend me primarily as a gay man, as one whom they continually attack and demean. These prevailing Christian bigotries offend and grieve me as one who follows Jesus as my Lord, one who by the water of Baptism has been buried with Christ in his death and raised to new life in his resurrection, as one who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own for ever, and as one ordained to be a minister of the Word of God.
Rev. Dan characterized Pentecost, as revealed to us in Acts 2:1-21, as an apocalyptic nightmare for those who were comfortable with the status quo, for anyone who believes God's Spirit can be contained in any way,
for those who thought God could be contained by adherence to a moral code and a religious practice. Let today’s Pentecost be an apocalyptic nightmare for any who would use the Word of God to propagate sexism, heterosexism, racism, jingoism, or economic injustice.
Read Dan's sermon in its entirety. It is full of radical truth. It does not comfort us, indeed, it challenges us to be prophets ourselves:
Holy Spirit, put your holy fire not just upon our heads: Put it in our bellies. Put it on our tongues. Make us instruments of your justice. Make us witnesses to the true gospel of Jesus our Savior. Make us see visions and make dream dreams and make us prophesy that your Kingdom is at hand.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final straw: I gave up on a goal today

I have, finally, given up entirely on being part of a Piskie (Episcopal Church) organization that was, I thought, congruent with my own views: equal treatment, all the sacraments for all the baptized, that sort of thing. Today was the last straw, and it was only a straw that did it, although the tipping point was reached a bit earlier. Here's the history of my disenchantment with a group I thought I could be a part of, not realizing they had their own internal rules.

In 2007, I consented to helping re-form the local chapter. I consented to co-chairing the chapter. When most of the organizers promptly bailed out after the chapter was formed, I consented to chairing the chapter. Help from the membership was not present.

Help from the National organization was, in Kelvin numbers, in the single digits. They sent pitiful tracts, in quality and quantity, for the table at Diocesan Convention. Communication and support, in Kelvin numbers, brought the numbers lower, not higher. This was truly a wilderness experience. As Convener, I should have the privilege of delegating authority, but there was no one who would step forward and help out.

Fast forward to 2011. With a new burst of energy from our newly-elected Convener and a grant from the national organization, we planned, organized and executed a film festival, in two venues, South Side and North Side. National accepted our plan and sent us a 50% advance on the grant. We did it. The South Side was predictably barren: our posters were removed or never posted, our 'net ads never appeared. The North Side received a better fate. Three or four ancillary groups helped us spread the word, we got help from the venue's press, and our premiere of Gene Robinson's second film provided enough spark to make the festival a success, but only marginally so. The festival ended in February. It is now May, and the Convener has yet to submit a final report. Without this report, there are insufficient funds to cover my expenses.

In March 2012, the national organization asked me to represent them at a two-day meeting of a delegation headed for our triennial General Convention: set up a table, network, schmooze, help out, whatever: represent the organization. I did this, willingly, cheerfully.

Now, here we are approaching our General Convention. The national organization asked for volunteers, and I responded immediately. Less than two weeks ago, I received a form email stating that I was not selected to represent the organization.

Oh, yes, the final straw? The Tiger Lady of the organization runs a blog. I submitted a response to one of her posts this morning. It probably wasn't as weighty as it could have been, but I put some time and energy into it, nonetheless. She threw it away.

Oh, yes, I have an ego, and I genuinely appreciate a kind word and the acquiescence of a blogger to post my occasional contributions, some substantive toward the blogger's POV, others less so or even challenging.

Too much to do to waste more time on these insults, I'm off to helping others treat us all as equals. It's a major task, here in darkest Indiana. I shall be busy. All the best to those who are overwhelmed with talent that you have no need of mine.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Romney's attack on gays

I wrote earlier that Gov. Romney's Wednesday, May 9th statement, "If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don't support that". I wondered just what benefits granted hetero married couples Mr. Romney would deny LGBT couples, and why.

Today, I found the answer to those questions, in the form of a video. According to the video, Romney would:

 Deny health insurance for one's partner and kids
 Prohibit gay couples from adopting children together
 Refuse one person from making emergency medical decisions for his/her partner
 Let the states roll back federal rights for couples' hospital visits
 Work to adopt an amendment to the Constitution denying rights now granted under the 14th Amendment, Section 1. This would be the first Constitutional amendment in U. S. history to discriminate and deny rights to individuals.

"Calling it marriage creates a whole host of problems," Gov. Romney said during the 2012 debates, "for families, for the law, for the practice of religion, for education. Let me say this, 3,000 years of history shouldn't be discarded so quickly."

OK, let's examine his statement in somewhat greater detail. What kind of problems would gay marriage create?

 For families, it would mean that parents and grand-parents would have to learn that their LGBT progeny are human, discovering as they grow that they can love another of the same gender. It would mean abandoning the idol of straight marriage, 2.3 kids, picket fence, that sort of thing. Have you seen Fiddler on the Roof? Behold Tevye, the father of five daughters, the strong-willed actions of the eldest three abandonment of prejudice toward LGBT persons. But, that's already happening across the world.

 For the law, it means that Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution would finally apply to LGBT persons. Just as with the Caucasian clauses of almost every home real estate title in the sixties, it would invalidate every one of the state constitutional amendments that chooses not to recognize that two loving couples can marry and have their rights—and responsibilities—recognized by state and federal governments.

 For religion, it means that religious denominations have two options: re-interpret Scripture or declare bigotry to be a religious icon. In essence, this is a choice between pride and humility, between sticking with the concept of hetero superiority and God's decision to create some people gay.

 For education, note the educational aspect of all the above points. Essentially, the community of educators would have to, first, learn that human sexuality is not exclusively straight, it varies, and second, teach that natural variation in mammalian sexuality is a normal condition. As with families and religion, it must disenthrall itself from the pride of straight superiority and teach that gay sexuality is no more inferior than left-handedness or green eyes.

Oh, yes, Mr. Romney, gay marriage creates a whole host of problems, but there's not a single one of them that can't be overcome with strong political leadership. During the Republican debates, you chose to lead our country to a position that denies LGBT persons their rights to equality under the law. Should you be elected President, your Oath of Office would be perjury, because the platform on which you ran would be contrary to the U. S. Constitution, as amended.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Clear Choice for 2012

I've been holding back on putting together my thoughts on why I'm for Barack Obama and against Mitt Romney for President. Yesterday, however, convinced me to begin to express my thoughts. With luck, they'll be succinct, perhaps even understandable.

President Obama, in yesterday's interview with Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America," said, "I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally." Equality under the law is a concept written into the U.S. Constitution (14th Amendment, Section 1). For gays and lesbians, President Obama's position has "evolved". He now supports this concept more fully.

Gov. Romney, in contrast, said, “I don’t favor civil unions if it’s identical to marriage, and I don’t favor marriage between people of the same gender.” Asked why he opposed civil unions, in particular, he explained that in many cases they represent marriage by a different name for gay couples. “If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don’t support that,” he said Wednesday."

Mr. Romney's statement left me wondering just what benefits granted hetero married couples Mr. Romney would deny LGBT couples, and why. What state interest is advanced by denying any benefits, now granted married couples, to gays? Name one.

Another question occurred to me: were Mitt Romney to be elected President, God forbid, how could he take the oath of office without perjuring himself? Remember the Presidential Oath of Office?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. (emphasis mine)

Vice President Biden expressed what I believe to be the key framing issue in his Monday interview. "Who do you love," asked Mr. Biden, "Who.Do.You.Love?" he repeated, with emphasis. No government, State or National, can or should be in the position of encouraging or discouraging its citizens to love or not love another person of his or her choice. Amendment 1 of the Constitution, lead-off hitter for the Bill of Rights. 30 or 31 states, however, have placed themselves in the position of denying equal benefits to their LGBT citizens and encouraging all their citizens to hate gays and lesbians.

In the period Oct 1787 - Aug 1788, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay published a series of 85 papers in an effort to promote the ratification of the new U. S. Constitution. We know these papers today as The Federalist Papers. Federalist 10 discusses "the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority," a concept now referred to by the phrase "tyranny of the majority". de Toqueville popularized the phrase, using it as the title of one of the chapters of his book, Democracy in America, in 1835. Ayn Rand, with whom I agree only infrequently, stated in Collectivized Rights, that individual rights are not subject to a public vote, and that the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and that the smallest minority on earth is the individual--her extreme individualist views is where we part company).

Yet here we are, with 30 or 31 states whose majorities are conducting a campaign of oppression against LGBT persons. 29 states do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. You could be fired if your employer thinks you're gay.

President Obama's and Gov. Romney's positions are sufficient for me to support Barack Obama for President this year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

So this is how we lose the lead

Paul Krugman's Op-Ed today drove to the heart of the malaise that envelops our economy today:
the real structural problem is in our political system, which has been warped and paralyzed by the power of a small, wealthy minority.
Krugman pointed to the Republican leadership's insensitivity to facts and evidence in their persistent efforts to implement policies that have been demonstrably unsuccessful. He claimed, not implausibly, that such insensitivity was caused by the very wealthiest Americans' support of a cabal of legislators, such support insulating them from public opinion and immunizing them against compromise. I agree with Krugman. One can see the same process at work in the the now largely completed campaign for the Republican nomination. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich stayed in the race far longer than they should have because, in my opinion, they were financed by large contributors: 53.1% and 52.5%, respectively. Rick Santorum, likewise, raised over 49% of his campaign contributions from large donors; he dropped out ostensibly due to health issues with his son. Those with pockets not quite so deep included Rick Perry and Tim Pawlenty, whose big supporters forked over 96% and 99% of total contributions. Jon Huntsman put in $4.1 million of his own money; 86% of the remainder was from big supporters. "Money is speech," or so says the SCOTUS. Not true. Money isn't speech, it's the amplification of speech. I may be able to contribute, say, $150 to a candidate whose ideology matches mine. But what voice do I have against, say, the invisible contributors of Restore Our Future, who have poured $51,904,973 into Mitt Romney's campaign? Even Barack Obama's large contributions comprise 56.5% of his total campaign contributions, although, in all fairness, these contributions aren't coming from super-PAC's, by and large. We, the people, and the voice guaranteed us by the U.S. Constitution are being drowned out by the enormous amplification and mega-speakers of corporate America and the super-rich. It is their agenda to which Congress and most of our entire Government is marching. So, how do we correct this mess? I have a few ideas. First, restrict campaign contributions to registered voters. Second, establish a panel of, say, five non-partisan organizations to declare an advertising spot "issue-oriented," within 7 days of its release or half the interval between its release and the election of a candidate whose platform is supported or opposed, whichever is lesser; Third, require that the source of funds for all issue-oriented advertising identify the registered voter(s) or corporation(s) that contributed such funds. Fourth, define the use of cascading corporations for the purpose of concealing campaign contributions or issue-oriented expenditures to be money-laundering, with appropriate penalties. If I've left anything out, please advise.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drawing the line

There are times when a line must be drawn. I drew one this afternoon. From my upstairs office, I heard my partner call me for help, no "please," no pleasantries.

I found him on his back at the foot of the stairs to the lower level. He should have had a cane, but it was some distance away. His cell phone was on the main level. The house phone, with intercom, was out of reach. Shouting was his only option.

He wanted help getting up, which I was disinclined to provide without more detail. I asked whether he needed paramedics; he declined. After some discussion, I provided him a cane, and he arose, slowly, and climbed the stairs. I walked behind him, experiencing that particular fragrance which only accompanies those who have gone four days or more without bathing. I described my senses aloud in very direct terms. He responded immediately and appropriately, taking an immediate shower.

So, that's where we are at the moment. He just came out of the bathroom, normal speed, cane in hand, clean and fragrant, and sat down in the easy chair. When I attempted to complete this blog, he arose and left. He was not as unsteady as he appeared thirty minutes ago.

What am I to do with this? This week, I am attempting to impress upon him that I am not his valet, nanny or nursemaid. I proposed to him that he consider registering with a rehab center. He has not honored that proposal with a response. This will be a lengthy rehabilitation exercise for our partnership, I suspect.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Venality in action

It has come to my attention that H.R. 1505, sponsored by Rep. Bishop (R-UT), would stop all enforcement of several landmark environmental and conservation laws that the National Park System uses to manage and protect our national parks and forests, which annually serve millions of park visitors.

Our national parks and forests are, collectively, my property, which I look forward to visiting and enjoying as often as I can. As I understand this bill, it would eliminate any and all environmental, historical and cultural protections now afforded properties under the control of the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, permitting for-profit companies unfettered, unregulated access for their own personal gains. The purported national security objective is a poor excuse for this legislation, because we have no hostile countries on our borders.

There was a time when "conservatives" were champions of conservation. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a staunch advocate for preserving natural treasures for future generations of Americans. H.R. 1505 is a frontal assault on this concept, a blatant example of Congresspersons willing to sell our priceless heritage for a few campaign contributions.

In 2001, Taliban militia leader Mulla Mohammed Omar in 2001 ordered the destruction of all statues in Afghanistan, including ancient relics and an ancient and priceless statue of Buddha dating back some 2,000 years. His religious ideology drove him to such grotesque lengths. By sponsoring H.R. 1505, the Republicans in the House have shown themselves to be the American Taliban, squandering billions of dollars of priceless real estate for their own ideology, that for-profit companies cannot do wrong and government cannot do right. Garnering a few thousands of dollars from private companies for their re-election campaigns is not incidental to their objectives. Indeed, I submit that this re-election funding is central to it.

Sponsors of this legislation can be found here. Call them, write them, e-mail them, pester them to death - well, not actually to death, but until they understand how awful this legislation is. If they stand by their support of H.R. 1505, work actively to elect their opponent in the fall.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Roman Idolatry

Whatever happened to the Jesuits? There used to be an intellectual underpinning to pronouncements by RC bishops, some academic justification to their beliefs. For that matter, there used to be an active discussion of current topics inside the Roman Catholic church. One could vigorously disagree with some Bishop's ill-considered sermon or article and retain one's credentials.

No more. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops published a statement last week, entitled "Marriage and Religious Freedom". You can find it here. It is not a scholarly document, thus there are no footnotes or other references to support or justify their statements or opinions. Their principal thrust, as I read it, is to claim that Federal or State governments are pressuring poor, innocent religious organizations to "treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct," in violation of the religious organizations' First Amendment right to vilify the same. Clearly outrageous, governments imposing rules on the religious. There are two problems with their umbrage, one tactical, the other strategic. I'll discuss the tactical issues first.

According the the First Amendment, there should be an impenetrable wall that keeps a religious organization from getting involved in a governmental one, and vice-versa. How is it that any part of the U.S. Roman church could be pressured by any U.S. government agency, unless there were some connections? Uh-huh, it seems that Catholic Charities has been largely funded by government grants. This means that this lovely piece of business, conducted by one arm or another of the Roman Catholic Church, is largely funded by taxes collected from all citizens. Should you be a gay or lesbian couple seeking to adopt a child, you would be eligible by right of your status as taxpayers but still ineligible by the rules of Catholic Charities. Net, you are paying for rights that are denied you by a government-sponsored agency.

Now, perhaps, we see the problem from the Roman bishops' perspective. They want to continue to feed at the public trough but bridle at the idea of complying with requirements with which all of us who wish to receive public funds must comply. All their pious bullshit regarding the protection of the "true definition" of marriage is just a smokescreen for their refusal, on their own sectarian grounds, to follow the rules. So much for the tactical argument.

Regarding strategic issues, read the open letter again. Show me any reference to a God of love. From the first epistle of John, we know that God is Love, and from Genesis, we know that we are made in the image of God. Where do the bishops acknowledge that all of us are creatures capable of love? Are LGBT persons not capable of expressing God's love as fully as straight folk? By what authority is this opinion expressed?

The bishops' letter does not acknowledge that marriage is a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Thus it denies that the will of the Spirit goes where it chooses and conveys God's grace on whomever it wills. By claiming that "marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake,"
the bishops succumb to idolatry. I pray that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy return to its own root document, the Holy Bible, and humbly acknowledge that God can grant his/her blessing on any union, gay or straight.

Trust me, I have seen enough unions, both gay and straight, to know which are blessed and which not. The Roman Catholic church does no good by declaring one group of Christians "intrinsically disordered," whatever that means. I cannot understand how any member of a celibate order is able to rationally identify what is "ordered" and what is not.