Monday, March 31, 2014

Back to School

Spring break is over and it's time to return to school. Ugh!  A week wasn't long enough, but I got a lot accomplished for the play.  It's going to be an intense week of practices and dress rehearsals to get ready for the actual production this weekend.  It's exciting and nerve racking all at the same time.  I will be glad when it's over.  It seems like we've been working on it forever.  Wince this week is over, only six more weeks of school before summer.  This year seems to have flown by.

Anyway, if posts are short this week, I apologize, but it will be a very busy week of preparations.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Peace, Part II

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:1-11

The New Testament speaks of two kinds of peace--the objective peace that has to do with your relationship to God, and the subjective peace that has to do with your experience in life.

The natural man lacks peace with God. We all come into the world fighting against God, because we are a part of the rebellion that started with Adam and Eve. Romans 5:10 says we were enemies of God. We fought against God, and everything we did militated against His principles.

But when we receive Jesus Christ, we cease being enemies of God--we make a truce with Him. We come over to His side, and the hostility is ended. Jesus Christ wrote the treaty with the blood of His cross. That treaty, that bond, that covenant of peace declares the objective fact that we now are at peace with Him.

That's what Paul means in Ephesians 6:15, when he calls the good news of salvation "the preparation of the gospel of peace." The gospel is that which makes a man who was at war with God to be at peace with Him. This peace is objective--that is, it has nothing to do with how we feel or what we think. It is an accomplished fact.

Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God." We who trust Christ are redeemed and declared righteous by faith. Our sins are forgiven, rebellion ceases, the war is over, and we have peace with God. That was God's wonderful purpose in salvation.

Colossians 1:20-22 says that Christ "made peace through the blood of His cross.... And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."

A sinful, vile, wicked person cannot come into the presence of a holy God. Something must make that unholy person righteous before he can be at peace with God. And that's exactly what Christ did, dying for sin, imputing His righteousness to sinners. So Paul says we are no longer enemies but are at peace because we are reconciled.

It is as if God were on one side, we were on the other side, then Christ filled the gap, taking the hand of God and the hand of man and placing them together into the same grip. We have now been brought together through the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Whereas God and man were once estranged, they have now been reconciled. That is the heart of the gospel message, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. But Jesus is not talking about objective peace in John 14:27. The peace He speaks of here is a subjective, experiential peace. It is tranquility of the soul, a settled, positive peace that affects the circumstances of life. It is peace that is aggressive; rather than being victimized by events, it attacks them and gobbles them up. It is a supernatural, permanent, positive, no-side-effects, divine tranquilizer. This peace is the heart's calm after Calvary's storm. It is the firm conviction that He who spared not His own Son will also along with Him freely give us all things (cf. Romans 8:32).

This is the peace that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:7: "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world's peace, so it doesn't always make sense to the carnal mind; Paul says it is a peace that surpasses comprehension. It doesn't seem reasonable that such peace could exist in the midst of the problems and troubles Christians go through. But this is divine, supernatural peace; it cannot be figured out on a human level.

The word for "guard" in Philippians 4:7 is not the word that means to "watch," or "keep imprisoned." It is a word that is often used in a military sense, meaning "to stand at a post and guard against the aggression of an enemy." When peace is on guard, the Christian has entered an impregnable citadel from which nothing can dislodge him. The name of the fortress is Christ, and the guard is peace. The peace of God stands guard and keeps worry from the corroding our hearts, and unworthy thoughts from tearing up our minds.

This is the kind of peace men really want: They want a peace that deals with the past, one where no strings of conscience dipped in the poison of past sins tear at them and torture them hour by hour. They want a peace that governs the present, with no unsatisfied desires gnawing at their hearts. They want a peace that holds promise for the future, where no foreboding fear of the unknown and dark tomorrow threatens them. And that is exactly the peace through which the guilt of the past is forgiven; by which the trials of the present are overcome; and in which our destiny in the future is secured eternally. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Moment of Zen: Spring Break

I wish I had been able to go somewhere and just relax for spring break, but if I'm going to be truthful, I enjoyed all of the preparations I did this week for my drama club production.  At least with this, there will be the reward of satisfaction for a job well done, as opposed to a sunburn.  Besides, the weather has been kind of crappy this week.  The first part of the week was cold, and the last part of the week was rainy.  Therefore, the beach would not have been much fun.  It doesn't mean I won't bitch and complain because I was working instead of laying out on the beach, but overall, I really enjoyed what I did this week.

The drama club will be something I will miss if I leave my current job at the end of this year, but I will only be leaving if I get hired at one of two positions I am currently applying for and am fairly hopeful about.  Job applications are always a wait and see game, but it's a little easier to do when you have a job already, no matter how little it pays.

Also, for teachers the most important part of spring break is being away from the students for a week.  At this time each year, we are as tired of the students as they are of us.  We need a week to recuperate before the mad rush to the end of the school year, which is just seven weeks away.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Slept In

I went to bed early last night, and slept in some today.  It's raining and nasty here today, so I wish I could just stay in bed, but I've got a long list of things that need to be done today, so I guess I had better get to them.
Have a wonderful Friday, everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Building Project

This week is my spring break, but I've been working all week getting ready for a play I am directing.  Today, I will be building the set.  I plan to wear more clothes than this guy, and I will be on the stage most of the day working, but I liked this picture.  I do wish this guy was helping me out though.  We might have more fun than work though, especially if he was dressed like this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rupert Brooke's First Time with a Man

A few weeks ago, I posted the poem "Libido" by Rupert Brooke and mentioned a letter he wrote that described his first sexual experience.  It took me a while to find the full letter, but I wanted to post it and a little bit more about Brooke's sexuality.  I hope you enjoy.  I have italicized the steamiest portion of the letter.

 Henry James met Rupert Brooke (1887–1915) in Cambridge in 1909, when Brooke acknowledged "I pulled my fresh, boyish stunt" and bewitched the novelist. James's last published writing, in response to Brooke's death in the Great War, and shortly before his own, celebrated Brooke's "wondrous, heroic legend." Brooke's war poems were already famous even before he died at Skyros in April 1915, of an infection rather than in battle. Winston Churchill consolidated the icon: "Joyous, fearless, deeply instructed, with classic symmetry of mind and body, he was all that one would wish England's noblest sons to be in days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely proffered." His war poetry was popularized precisely because its rosy images denied the realities of war, and ironically drew many young men to join up and go to their own deaths. He was widely celebrated as a golden-haired Apollo – his photograph at age twenty-five is the first modern icon of beauty – and was desired by everyone, male and female, who came within the Bloomsbury magic circle. The following letter describes the weekend of October 29, 1909 when he decided to lose his virginity, with a friend of the same age from Rugby school, Denham Russell-Smith (the more attractive younger brother of his closer friend Hugh Denham-Smith). But Brooke, as he later described himself, was one-half outright heterosexual, one-quarter outright homosexual and one-quarter sentimental homosexual (i.e. his idealized homoerotic longing for young men is a longing for his own youth at public school). In the same year that he bedded Russell-Smith, he was determined to marry Noel Oliver, who resisted his advances. By 1911 he was in a passionate relationship with Ka Cox, who herself was having an affair with Henry Lamb, the bisexual "wife" of Lytton Strachey, and he also had a brief fling with Arthur Hobhouse, former boyfriend of both Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey. The first half of his Poems published in 1911, are implicitly homosexual and explicitly neo-pagan. The Bloomsberries prided themselves on their freedom from conventions, but Brooke felt trapped by the double standards of society, and could not live out his hidden desires without guilt. Sexual confusion drove him to a nervous breakdown in 1912 and six weeks of psychiatric care. It was during his convalescence that he wrote this letter to James Strachey, Lytton's brother, also gay, as a therapeutic exorcism of his sexual identity. He decided, in effect, that he was a golden boy with a rotten core, and he came to reject Bloomsbury out of shame, and to seek purification through death in war. He was commissioned in August 1914, and his "1914" sonnet sequence shows a desire for death as the only resolution to his inner conflict.


10 July 1912

How things shelve back! History takes you to January 1912 – Archaeology to the end of 1910 – Anthropology to, perhaps, the autumn of 1909. –
          The autumn of 1909! We had hugged & kissed & strained, Denham and I, on and off for years – ever since that quiet evening I rubbed him, in the dark, speechlessly, in the smaller of the two small dorms. An abortive affair, as I told you. But in the summer holidays of 1906 and 1907 he had often taken me out to the hammock, after dinner, to lie entwined there. – He had vaguely hoped, I fancy, – – – But I lay always thinking Charlie [Lascelles].
          Denham was though, to my taste, attractive. So honestly and friendlily lascivious. Charm, not beauty, was his forte. He was not unlike Ka [Ka Cox, with whom Brooke had an affair], in the allurement of vitality and of physical magic – oh, but Ka has beauty too. – He was lustful, immoral, affectionate, and delightful. As romance faded in me, I began, all unacknowledgedly, to cherish a hope – – – But I was never in the slightest degree in love with him. 
          In the early autumn of 1909, then, I was glad to get him to come and stay with me, at the Orchard. I came back late that Saturday night. Nothing was formulated in my mind. I found him asleep in front of the fire, at 1.45. I took him up to his bed, – he was very like a child when he was sleepy – and lay down on it. We hugged, and my fingers wandered a little. His skin was always very smooth. I had, I remember, a vast erection. He dropped off to sleep in my arms. I stole away to my room: and lay in bed thinking – my head full of tiredness and my mouth of the taste of tea and whales, as usual. I decided, almost quite consciously, I would put the thing through the next night. You see, I didn't at all know how he would take it. But I wanted to have some fun, and, still more, to see what it was like, and to do away with the shame (as I thought it was) of being a virgin. At length, I thought, I shall know something of all that James and Harry] Norton and Maynard [Keynes] and Lytton [Strachey] know and hold over me.
            Of course, I said nothing.
          Next evening, we talked long in front of the sitting room fire. My head was on his knees, after a bit. We discussed sodomy. He said he, finally, thought it was wrong . . . We got undressed there, as it was warm. Flesh is exciting, in firelight. You must remember that openly we were nothing to each other – less even than in 1906. About what one is with Bunny (who so resembles Denham). Oh, quite distant!
          Again we went up to his room. He got into bed. I sat on it and talked. Then I lay on it. Then we put the light out and talked in the dark. I complained of the cold: and so got under the eiderdown. My brain was, I remember, almost all through, absolutely calm and indifferent, observing progress, and mapping out the next step. Of course, I planned the general scheme beforehand.
          I was still cold. He wasn't. "Of course not, you're in bed!" "Well then, you get right in, too." – I made him ask me – oh! without difficulty! I got right in. Our arms were round each other. "An adventure!" I kept thinking: and was horribly detached.
          We stirred and pressed. The tides seemed to wax. At the right moment I, as planned, said "come into my room, it's better there . . ." I suppose he knew what I meant. Anyhow he followed me. In the large bed it was cold; we clung together. Intentions became plain; but still nothing was said. I broke away a second, as the dance began, to slip my pyjamas. His was the woman's part throughout. I had to make him take his off – do it for him. Then it was purely body to body – my first, you know! I was still a little frightened of his, at any sudden step, bolting; and he, I suppose, was shy. We kissed very little, as far as I can remember, face to face. And I only rarely handled his penis. Mine he touched once with his fingers; and that made me shiver so much that I think he was frightened. But with alternate stirrings, and still pressures, we mounted. My right hand got hold of the left half of his bottom, clutched it, and pressed his body into me. The smell of the sweat began to be noticeable. At length we took to rolling to and fro over each other, in the excitement. Quite calm things, I remember, were passing through my brain. "The Elizabethan joke `The Dance of the Sheets' has, then, something in it." "I hope his erection is all right" – and so on. I thought of him entirely in the third person. At length the waves grew more terrific; my control of the situation was over; I treated him with the utmost violence, to which he more quietly, but incessantly, responded. Half under him and half over, I came off. I think he came off at the same time, but of that I have never been sure. A silent moment: and then he slipped away to his room, carrying his pyjamas. We wished each other "Good-night." It was between 4 and 5 in the morning. I lit a candle after he had gone. There was a dreadful mess on the bed. I wiped it clear as I could, and left the place exposed in the air, to dry. I sat on the lower part of the bed, a blanket round me, and stared at the wall, and thought. I thought of innumerable things, that this was all; that the boasted jump from virginity to Knowledge seemed a very tiny affair, after all; that I hoped Denham, for whom I felt great tenderness, was sleeping. My thoughts went backward and forward. I unexcitedly reviewed my whole life, and indeed the whole universe. I was tired, and rather pleased with myself, and a little bleak. About six it was grayly daylight; I blew the candle out and slept till 8. At 8 Denham had to bicycle in to breakfast [in Cambridge] with Mr Benians [his tutor], before catching his train. I bicycled with him, and turned off at the corner of –, is it Grange Road? –. We said scarcely anything to each other. I felt sad at the thought he was perhaps hurt and angry, and wouldn't ever want to see me again. – He did, of course, and was exactly as ever. Only we never referred to it. But that night I looked with some awe at the room – fifty yards away to the West from the bed I'm writing in – in which I Began; in which I "copulated with" Denham; and I felt a curious private tie with Denham himself. So you'll understand it was –p not with a shock, for I am far too dead for that, but with a sort of dreary wonder and dizzy discomfort – that I heard Mr Benians inform me, after we'd greeted, that Denham died at one o'clock on Wednesday morning, – just twenty-four hours ago now.

SOURCE: Paul Delany, The Neo-pagans: Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle (London: Macmillan, 1987).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Regret

A Regret
by David Trinidad

Kurt, early
twenties. Met
him after
an AA
meeting in
I remem-
ber standing
with him up-
stairs, in the
clubhouse, how
I checked his
body out.
But not who
approached whom.
Or what we
talked about
before we
leaned against
my car and
kissed, under
that tarnished
L.A. moon.
Drove to my
place and un-
dressed him in
the dark. He
was smaller
than me. I
couldn't keep
my hands off
his ass. Next
morning, smoked
till he woke,
took him back.
He thanked me
sweetly. I
couldn't have
said what I
wanted, though
must have known.
Drove home and
put him in
a poem
I was at
the end of.

Later that
day it rained
(I know from
the poem).

David Trinidad was born in Los Angeles, was raised in the San Fernando Valley, and moved to New York City in 1988. Much of his work investigates the cultural landscapes of America's great metropolises, as well as the culture at large. His poems are often filled with references to television, movies, and music, while also being populated by very real people and problems. The autobiographical impulse in poets such as Anne Sexton, Frank O'Hara, Sylvia Plath, and James Schuyler can also be seen in Trinidad's work, as can masterful threads of both elegy and celebration.

Trinidad is known for his use of popular culture in his poems. The poet James Schuyler wrote, "Trinidad turns the paste jewels of pop art into the real thing." His work is also associated with the innovative formalism of the New York School. Alice Notley has written, "There is an unwavering light in all of Trinidad's work that turns individual words into objects, new facts." About The Late Show (2007), the New York Times Book Review wrote that Trinidad's "most impressive gift is an ability to dignify the dross of American life, to honor both the shrink-wrapped sentiment of the cultural artifacts he writes about and his own much more complicated emotional response to them."

Trinidad has also edited an anthology of collaborative poetry, the selected poems of Tim Dlugos and of Ann Stanford, and the journal Court Green, published out of Columbia College, where he teaches. He has also taught at Princeton, The New School, Rutgers, and Columbia. 

Monday, March 24, 2014


Last night, I went to see the movie Divergent, which I thought was excellent.  I had just finished reading the book just prior to seeing the movie.  The movie isn't exactly like the book, but is probably as close as a book and movie can get.  I loved the book and am ready to begin the second in the trilogy.  One of the things I found most fascinating about the books is the idea of the factions.

In the Divergent trilogy and film, factions are societal divisions that classify citizens based on their aptitudes and values. The factions are Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless), and Candor (the honest). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-old's must select the faction to which they will devote for the rest of their lives with after taking a placement test.  A further explanation of the factions is below.

Abnegation (the selfless)

Abnegation do not draw attention to themselves. Instead, they help others such as the factionless (homeless). Since the Abnegation are so selfless and have no lust for power, they are the leaders of the government. Their uniform is gray loose-fitting clothing chosen so that they will blend in and be unnoticeable. They can also wear a plain watch.

Dauntless (the brave)

Always on the run, the Dauntless jump on moving trains and battle with each other. They are known for having many tattoos and piercing. They can also be reckless and cruel in order to show their bravery.  The Dauntless normally dismiss Abnegation as "Stiffs." Their uniform is black.

Erudite (the intelligent)

The Erudite are the city's scientists and teachers. They elect representatives based on their I.Q . An interesting faction, but they value intelligence over everything else, even compassion.  Much like the ancient Greeks who felt that being cunning and outwitting your opponent was often better than brute force, though this is not always true of their faction, which can be ruthless when their values demand it.  Their uniform is blue because of its significance to tranquility and intelligence.

Amity (the peaceful)

The Amity value peace above everything. They greet each other with hugs and initiate new members with sing-alongs. They tend to be the city's farmers, nurses, and artists. Their uniform is orange and yellow.

Candor (the honest)

The Candor value honesty and can't tell a single lie. They say whatever's the truth, even if it gets them in trouble. They are often lawyers, for they are truthful about everything. The Candor believe that truth is black and white, so that is what they wear.

If you had to choose one of these factions, which would you choose?  

I would hope that I'd be divergent, but if I had to choose a faction, I would most likely choose Erudite on the choosing day, but I most admire Abnegation, Amity and Candor.  I find the Dauntless to be a bit scary.  We can always hope that each of us has the best qualities of each faction within us. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
John 14:23-31

Though in the news, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of a major war as Russia invades the Crimea, but peace of mind has been more on my mind the last few days.  Though I am in the closet and love a lie that I despise because of the small minds of some "Christians" who would cost me my job if I were out, I so have places, friends' homes, where I can go and be my true self and be as out and open as I want.  I don't have to guard what I say.  I can make a joke about my sexuality or sometimes even a comment that might seem crude to some, but I don't have to filter myself, which is something I hate to have to do.  I much prefer honesty.  I can't tell you how much I hate guarding every word I say, fearing that it could be taken the wrong way (if you too are in the closet, you probably understand).

The other night I was over at one of my friend's house.  There were five of us there, including me, and the other four are well aware of the fact that I'm gay.  I've never known of any of them having a problem with it. We were joking around and I agreed, again jokingly, with one of the ladies who said that she'd fallen in love many time but often because the man was beautiful.  I think with most people it would have been seen as an innocent comment about shallowly falling in love with a beautiful person.  Gender was not really mentioned and I didn't mean it that way.  The whole thing was a joking conversation but apparently it hit the nerve of the husband of another female friend of mine who was there.  He asked me not to mention my sexuality around him.  I was absolutely floored because his wife had just been trying to convince me to go to church with them because there were a lot of gay people who went to their church.  I just couldn't understand how one minute it was okay for his wife to tell me that I should come to church with them to meet a man, and then it was wrong for me to say even the slightest thing.

So I have been struggling to understand how I feel about this revelation from him.  I have never said much about my sexuality around him because I've never felt comfortable, but I have made a comment here and there and it never seemed to bother him.  This wasn't even meant to be an overt comment.  Is oxidize with these people quite often, because I like them and have always felt comfortable around them.  I was a bit quiet the rest of the night after that incident, but it has weighed heavily on my mind.  So as I was trying to figure out what to write about today, as I often do, I try to address a problem of my own by turning to the Bible and hoping that it will help,others as well.  So I decided to do some research on peace of mind.  I am thinking that this may be a series of post that will continue for the next several Sundays.  I need some peace of mind because right now my heart hurts and I feel as if I've been kicked in the gut.  So with that introduction, I want to talk about the peace that God can bring us.

The Hebrew Bible uses a familiar but significant word, shalom. In its purest sense, shalom means "peace." The connotation is positive. That is, when someone says, "Shalom," or, "Peace unto you," it doesn't mean, "I hope you don't get into any trouble"; it means, "I hope you have all the highest good coming your way."

Most people in our world don't understand peace as a positive concept. All they know is the negative aspect of peace, which is merely the absence of trouble. The definition of peace in many languages of the world illustrates that. For example, the Quechua Indians in Ecuador and Bolivia use a word for peace that literally translates, "to sit down in one's heart." For them peace is the opposite of running around in the midst of constant anxieties. The Chol Indians of Mexico define peace as "a quiet heart." Those may be beautiful ways to put it, but they still seem to leave us with only the negative idea that peace is the absence of trouble.

Close to the meaning of the Hebrew word shalom is the word used by the Kekchi Indians of Guatemala, who define peace as "quiet goodness." The term they use conveys the idea of something that is active and aggressive, not just a rest in one's own heart away from troublesome circumstances.

The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. Biblical peace is unrelated to circumstances; it is a goodness of life that is not touched by what happens on the outside. You may be in the midst of great trials and still have biblical peace. Paul said he could be content in any circumstance; and he demonstrated that he had peace even in the jail at Philippi, where he sang and remained confident that God was being gracious to him. Then when the opportunity arose, he communicated God's goodness to the Philippian jailer, and brought him and his family to salvation. Likewise, James wrote, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2).

Where does a man find the kind of peace that is not just the absence of trouble--the kind of peace that cannot be affected by trouble, danger, or sorrow? It is ironic that what is surely the most definitive discourse on peace in all of Scripture comes from the Lord Jesus on the night before He died in agony. He knew what He was facing, yet He still took time to comfort His disciples with the message of peace:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
The peace Jesus is speaking of enables believers to remain calm in the most wildly fearful circumstances. It enables them to hush a cry, still a riot, rejoice in pain and trial, and sing in the middle of suffering. This peace is never by circumstances, but instead affects and even overrules them.

So remember the positive meaning of peace.  I find it best to see the positive instead of the negative, even if at times, it can be very difficult.  Jesus left us with peace, and we should embrace it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Funny: Texts from Dog

Most of you know that I am not a huge dog fan.  I prefer cats.  Since I was a little kid, dogs have scared me.  It's not an all consuming fear, but I'm still uneasy around dogs.  However, the other day, I came across one of the funniest things I've seen on the Internet in a long time.  It was a Tumblr blog called "Texts from Dog."  Reading through them, I laughed until I hurt.  The three below are three of my favorites, but there are so many.  Some are a bit crude, and there is a fair amount of potty humor, but let's face it, it can be pretty darn funny at times.

I think the reason that I included this one above should be obvious.

While it's true that some people should never wear Lycra (me included), there are definitely some men out there that should wear Lycra, and I guess the dog in me comes out when I see one of these men, because I too "NEED TO BITE HIS ASS."

A few weeks ago, my cat HRH had a heat spot that was an abscess.  It was a nasty place on her back hip.  I took her to the vet, and they had to put a cone on her.  The poor old girl kept bumping into stuff and never could get her balance good with it, and yes, when she sat down, she looked like a desk lamp.  I felt sorry for her, but it was only for a week.  She's better now.  I will admit that HRH wearing a cone was a bit funny to watch.  Every so often she would shake her head and it'd cause her to get off balance and she'd fall over, or she'd fall asleep and not realize the extra weight on her head and fall off the bed.

I hope you will check out Texts From Dog.  You might even want to buy the books Texts from Dog or Texts From Dog II: The Dog Delusion both by October Jones.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is Turnabout Fair Play?

What happens when you constantly preach hate until it gets to the point that it's too far even for you? Well, apparently you get kicked out of that organization.  Fred Phelps has been excommunicated from Westboro Baptist Church according to his estranged son, Nathan Phelps. 

Nathan Phelps announced on his Facebook page that his father had been excommunicated in August 2013 and is gravely ill. Nathan Phelps, who left the church and became an LGBT and anti-child-abuse advocate, did not indicate in the post why his father was excommunicated last year or what he was dying of. His post offered mixed feelings about his father, whose former church was famous for leading protests at the deaths of war veterans and waving signs that say "God hates fags." 

Nathan Phelps wrote, "I feel sad for all the hurt he's caused so many," but also "I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved." He also stated "I'm bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him, and saying their goodbyes."

The big story from Natan's Facebook post doesn't seem to be that his father is dying but that he was excommunicated from the church he founded.  Though WBC has been tight-lipped about his membership status and the reasons behind his reported banishment, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that he was thrown out for "advocating a kinder approach between church members."

According to a recent interview with Nathan Phelps, who left the church 37 years ago, Fred Phelps was ejected from the group following a power struggle between a board of male elders and longtime spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper. After the elders defeated Phelps-Roper, Fred Phelps reportedly called for "kinder treatment of fellow church members," a sentiment which was ill-received.

WBC spokesman Steve Drain declined to comment on Phelps, saying "We don't discuss our internal church dealings with anyone."

A media FAQ page set up about Fred Phelps simply said, "Membership issues are private."

Speculation about the funeral arrangements for Phelps may be pointless, as a WBC member previously told The Huffington Post that WBC does not believe in having funerals or memorials because "We don't worship the dead in this church, so there'd be no public memorial or funeral to picket if any member died."

Since he was excommunicated and WBC is so well known for its "God hates _____" signs, I wonder why they have not been holding up signs that say "God hates Fred Phelps."  Considering that he was excommunicated, WBC must feel that God does hate Fred Phelps.  Maybe WBC should be picketing the hospice where he lays dying with signs " God hates Fred Phelps" or maybe "Burn in Hell, Fred Phelps."  But then again, the WBC has never realized their own hypocrisy.

When the Bible actually discusses hate, it only says that when you hate you cannot know God:

If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Sadly, the WBC fosters hate instead of the true message of love in the Bible.  Fred Phelps taught hatred as a way of life.  When he felt it might have gone too far, when he asked the WBC elders to show mercy to church members, the elders did just as they had always been taught.  They showed the hatred that was spewed by their former leader.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Passionate Freudian to His Love

The Passionate Freudian to His Love
  by Dorothy Parker

Only name the day, and we'll fly away
In the face of old traditions,
To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot,
Where we'll park our inhibitions.
Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies
As it psychoanalyzes,
And when once you glean what your fantasies mean
Life will hold no more surprises.
When you've told your love what you're thinking of
Things will be much more informal;
Through a sunlit land we'll go hand-in-hand,
Drifting gently back to normal.

While the pale moon gleams, we will dream sweet dreams,
And I'll win your admiration,
For it's only fair to admit I'm there
With a mean interpretation.
In the sunrise glow we will whisper low
Of the scenes our dreams have painted,
And when you're advised what they symbolized
We'll begin to feel acquainted.
So we'll gaily float in a slumber boat
Where subconscious waves dash wildly;
In the stars' soft light, we will say good-night—
And "good-night!" will put it mildly.

Our desires shall be from repressions free—
As it's only right to treat them.
To your ego's whims I will sing sweet hymns,
And ad libido repeat them.
With your hand in mine, idly we'll recline
Amid bowers of neuroses,
While the sun seeks rest in the great red west
We will sit and match psychoses.
So come dwell a while on that distant isle
In the brilliant tropic weather;
Where a Freud in need is a Freud indeed,
We'll always be Jung together.

On August 22, 1893, Dorothy Parker was born to J. Henry and Elizabeth Rothschild, at their summer home in West End, New Jersey. Growing up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, her childhood was an unhappy one. Both her mother and step-mother died when she was young; her uncle, Martin Rothschild, went down on the Titanic in 1912; and her father died the following year. Young Dorothy attended a Catholic grammar school, then a finishing school in Morristown, NJ. Her formal education abruptly ended when she was 14.

In 1914, Dorothy sold her first poem to Vanity Fair. At age 22, she took an editorial job at Vogue. She continued to write poems for newspapers and magazines, and in 1917 she joined Vanity Fair, taking over for P.G. Wodehouse as drama critic. That same year she married a stockbroker, Edwin P. Parker. But the marriage was tempestuous, and the couple divorced in 1928.

In 1919, Parker became a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, an informal gathering of writers who lunched at the Algonquin Hotel. The "Vicious Circle" included Robert Benchley, Harpo Marx, George S Kaufman, and Edna Ferber, and was known for its scathing wit and intellectual commentary. In 1922, Parker published her first short story, "Such a Pretty Little Picture," for Smart Set.

When the New Yorker debuted in 1925, Parker was listed on the editorial board. Over the years, she contributed poetry, fiction and book reviews as the "Constant Reader."

Parker's first collection of poetry, Enough Rope, was published in 1926, and was a bestseller. Her two subsequent collections were Sunset Gun in 1928 and Death and Taxes in 1931. Her collected fiction came out in 1930 as Laments for the Living.

During the 1920s, Parker traveled to Europe several times. She befriended Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, socialites Gerald and Sarah Murphy, and contributed articles to the New Yorker and Life. Dorothy Parker's biting wit made her a legend, but it also masked her lonely struggle with depression and alcoholism and attempted suicide.

In 1929, she won the O. Henry Award for her autobiographical short story "Big Blonde." She produced short fiction in the early 1930s, and also began writing drama reviews for the New Yorker. In 1934, Parker married actor-writer Alan Campbell in New Mexico; the couple relocated to Los Angeles and became a highly paid screenwriting team. They labored for MGM and Paramount on mostly forgettable features, the highlight being an Academy Award nomination for A Star Is Born in 1937. They divorced in 1947, and remarried in 1950.

Parker, who became a socialist in 1927 when she became involved in the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, was called before the House on Un-American Activities in 1955. She pleaded the Fifth Amendment.

Parker was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1959 and was a visiting professor at California State College in Los Angeles in 1963. That same year, her husband died of an overdose. On June 6, 1967, Parker was found dead of a heart attack in a New York City hotel at age 73. A firm believer in civil rights, she bequeathed her literary estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Upon his assassination some months later, the estate was turned over to the NAACP.

Her wit was legendary, especially her one liners.  Here is one of my favorites:
I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Following weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, the organizers of Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade have once again decided to prohibit LGBTQ groups from marching. As a result of the prolonged unpleasantness, several corporate sponsors have ended their support for the parade.

Back in February, under pressure from Boston's new mayor, Martin Walsh, it seemed that LGBT Veterans for Equality would be permitted to march as long as they refrained from broadcasting their orientation in any way. (In other words: No homosexual propaganda.)

But on March 3, officials from the Allied Veteran's War Council, which organizes the event, claimed that statewide LGBTQ advocacy group MassEquality had lied about the number of veterans who would be marching with the gay group, and it withdrew permission. AWVC has repeatedly accused MassEquality of "using a ploy to enter this parade under false pretenses." Essentially, it suggests that MassEquality manufactured the gay veterans group just so it could march.

Corporate sponsors have taken note, and many have said "Slán go fóill!" to  the South Boston parade. Earlier this month, the parade's website prominently featured the names and logos of the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, Sam Adams (Boston Beer Co.), and Gillette as primary sponsors. When Westin and Gillette officials denied their support for the march, their company logos were removed from the website. Sam Adams was listed as a sponsor until yesterday, when the brewing company formally withdrew its support. Currently, the parade's sponsor page says, "We're updating our supporters, thank you for your patience."

Irish-American communities, particularly in Boston and New York, are known for being cohesive, having a strong community spirit, and, despite tilting Democratic come election, for being socially conservative.

Back in the Ireland, however, they stand accused of being bigots.  Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny has come under fire for agreeing to participate New York's annual St. Patrick's Day parade, because it bans marchers carrying posters promoting LGBT rights. Kenny has attempted to walk a political tightrope on the question of identity, saying: "The St. Patrick's Day parade is a parade about our Irishness and not about sexuality and I would be happy to participate in it."

Nonetheless, a series of gay rights groups, supported by prominent campaigners and a trade union, have asked Kenny to cancel his plans to attend the "exclusionary" parade – something the city's mayor, Bill De Blasio, has already said he will do – or at least wear a rainbow pin badge in solidarity with gay groups.

Ireland's attitudes are changing when it comes to LGBT rights.  David Norris, an Irish senator and former professor, has been at the center of the Irish gay rights movement for four decades. In fact, it was his lawsuit against the country in the European Court of Human Rights that resulted in the country's 1993 decriminalization of homosexuality.   Norris wrote, "I find it extraordinary that Irish Americans can be so far behind the actual inhabitants of the island of Ireland; that 10 years ago the gay float won first prize in our national St. Patrick's Day."

Ireland was slow to see the march of gay rights, but much changed in the last two decades. With a yes vote in this year's referendum on gay marriage considered a foregone conclusion, Ireland is drifting ever further from the Catholicism-dominated days of yore.

Mr. Norris sees the issue as being founded in a sectarian dispute. "As an Irish man who through my mother has direct descent from the ancient kings of Ossory, Leinster, and the High Kingship of Tara," he says, "I find the claiming of the parade as an exclusively Roman Catholic festival – despite being originally founded in the US by exiled Irish Protestants – completely ridiculous," he told the Christian Science Monitor.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rock of Ages

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:19 (KJV)

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Safe from wrath and make me pure

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee. 

"Rock of Ages" is a popular Christian hymn by the Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady written in 1763 and first published in The Gospel Magazine in 1775.  Traditionally, it is held that Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was traveling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics on a playing card.

This morning, I will be the song leader at church.  Our usual song leader has a slight case of laryngitis and is unable to conduct the service.  I was the song leader before I moved away for graduate school, but I was never very good at it.  I'm just not a loud enough and confident enough of a singer to lead a congregation, let alone a small congregation where every singer counts, and there is no musical accompaniment since it is a Church of Christ. However, "Rock of Ages" is one of those tried and true songs that everyone knows, which makes it an easy song to lead.  I tend to use traditional songs because they are the ones that I know best.  If you follow my Sunday posts, you will see that occasionally I do post the lyrics to hymns, and the past songs that I have listed will most likely make up my song service for today.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Moment of Zen: Spring

Even though Spring is officially still a week away, and some of you still have snow on the ground, here in Alabama, Spring had sprung.  Bit it is springing elsewhere too.  A friend of mine in Minnesota sent me a message the other day, because he finally some grass after months of only ice and snow.  He was very excited and reminded me of just how much I love Spring and all of its beauty.  The signs of Spring are always exciting to me, and for my friends in the North, I am sure that the first signs of spring are very exciting, especially after a winter that some are saying is the coldest it's been in decades.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Porn Equality

% of Gay Porn Users by State
Pornhub recently got together with Buzzfeed to gather some of the latest porn statistics. They asked us if the same might be true about gay married couples? Do the states with legalized gay marriage watch more gay porn than the states where it is still illegal?

The quick answer: yes. At 4.41%, states with legalized gay marriage watch 7% more gay porn than states without at 4.13%.

The results get trickier once you start looking at the map, state by state. The majority of states with a high percentage of gay viewers is in the South, where gay marriage is illegal in all states. Dixie loves dicks so much, that the percentage of gay viewers for every single state in the South is higher than the average of the legal gay marriage states.

In number one, holding a record 5.58% gay users, is a state where anal sex is still illegal: Mississippi (though I have to say, that never stopped me from breaking the law quite a few times when I lived there). Louisiana is closely on its rear at 5.44%, and Georgia with 5.38%.

As for the States with legalized gay marriage, there’s no big surprises in the top 3: Hawaii at 5.38%, followed by notoriously liberal New York at 5.27%, and California with 5.27%.

Finally, like in all things, there must be a top and a bottom. In this case it’s Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and Idaho that have the lowest percentage of gay porn users, all below the 3% mark.

% of LGBT Populations by State
If you compare the map of gay porn viewers with the percentage of adults in the United States who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), you are likely to see an interesting correlation.  The numbers range from 1.7% in North Dakota to 5.1% in Hawaii and 10% in the District of Columbia, according to findings from a new study released by Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar, Gary J. Gates, and Gallup Editor-in-Chief, Frank Newport. The study is the largest population-based survey ever conducted that includes measurement of LGBT identification.

While LGBT communities are clearly present in every state in the union, their visibility is generally higher in states with greater levels of social acceptance and LGBT supportive legal climates. With the exception of South Dakota, each of the states with populations 4 percent and over has laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These states have also taken steps toward more LBGT equality by recognizing same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Iowa is the only state among those with the lowest LGBT populations to extend similar rights. In fact, six of the ten states with the lowest LGBT populations are among the most conservative states in the country.

With that being said, you are likely to notice that states with lower LGBT identifying populations have the higher percentage of those populations watching porn.  I think the conclusion is obvious, when the LGBT population is small, we (and I say "we" because I live in a southern state with a small LGBT population) tend to turn to porn to satisfy some of our sexual appetite.  It is also where we can satisfy some of our curiosity about gay sex.  I think the two maps above make a lot of sense when put together.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tea Partier Actually Thinks The Common Core Will Destroy 'Traditional' America

I wasn't aware that the Common Core State Standards had anything to with homosexuality or religion, but Alabama Tea Party leader Dr. Terry Bratton seems convinced the new education measure has a specific and radical agenda.  By the way, even though I teach  at a private school, we do follow state curriculum standards, so I am quite familiar with Common Core, so I have been following this debate on the news.  However, an article on the Huffington Post pointed out Bratton's lunatic rant about the Common Core.

Bratton spoke to the state Senate Education Committee about his fears on the Common Core at a public hearing Tuesday. The committee was considering, and eventually approved, a bill that allows school districts to opt out of the Common Core, according to Right Wing Watch.

In case you don't know, the Common Core is a set of new education standards that have been adopted in more than 40 states, including Alabama, in an effort to make sure students around the country are being held to the same benchmarks. While the Common Core Standards are designed to emphasize critical thinking and deeper learning and aim to better prepare students for college and careers, they do not take a stance on homosexuality or religion.

Nevertheless, a video of Bratton shows him accusing the Standards of promoting "acceptance of homosexuality, alternate lifestyles, radical feminism, abortion, illegal immigration and the redistribution of wealth."

"Alabama places a priority on family and Christian values. We don't want our kids to be taught to be anti-Christian and anti-Catholic and anti-America," said Bratton. "We don't want our kids to lose their innocence, beginning in preschool and kindergarten, told that homosexuality is okay and should be experienced at an early age."

Bratton also railed against what he called ideas of "social justice" woven into the Standards. He said such teachings are "contrary to traditional American notions of justice in the United States Constitution" and claimed they teach kids that "America is an unjust and oppressive society that should be changed."

However, when asked by Alabama outlet The Anniston Star where he found such ideas in the Standards, he said they were in the "reading lists" associated with the Core's English standards. According to the Common Core website, the reading lists are meant to "serve as useful guideposts in helping educators select texts of similar complexity, quality, and range for their own classrooms," but teachers are not required to teach these suggested texts.

Finally, Bratton told the state senators that voting against the opt-out bill could impact them for all eternity.

"Do you want this on your record when you come to the End of Days, knowing the Master Teacher said, 'As much as you've done to the little ones, you've done it unto me?'" he asked of the meeting's attendees.

While the bill passed the Education Committee, Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) told local outlet Montgomery Advisor that he did not think it would have enough votes to pass the Senate floor.  Honestly, there is very little chance that it will pass.  The Alabama Education Association, the state teacher's union and advocacy group is against Beason's bill.  The AEA is probably one of, if not the strongest and wealthiest lobbying organization in Alabama. When they want a bill dead, even the Republican majority legislature can't stop them, because all Alabama legislatures have their price and the AEA knows it.

And as a fellow teacher told me at lunch yesterday when discussing allowing local Alabama school boards to choose to use Common Core or not, "Well, we all know how good Alabama is at education decisions."  Alabama is ranked 46th in education, according to Education Week.  At least we are no longer at the very bottom, but it shows that Alabama is not very good at the whole education business.  If you want my honest opinion, there are two main reasons for it, (1) white legislatures do not want to fund education for minority students and (2) the AEA safeguards a lot of teachers who are quite honestly only qualified to teach on paper, but have no business in the classroom.

Although the Common Core State Standards have increasingly faced backlash as states begin the implementation process, a majority of Americans still do not know what they are. According to a recent poll from education reform advocacy group 50CAN, 58 percent of those surveyed did not know what the Common Core was, while 31 percent supported the Standards and 12 percent opposed them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Reg...

In 2009, a gaggle of notable personalities were asked to contribute to a book entitled Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self in order to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation; the idea being for each celebrity to write a letter to themselves, aged sixteen. Below is a charming example of such a missive, written by Elton John in March 2009, to himself in 1963.

I think we'd all love to be able to send 16 year-old selves a letter, and once you read Elton John's letter to the 16 year-old Reginald Kenneth Dwight he was in 1963, I think you will feel a certain warmth in your heart.  There is so much I'd say to my 16 year-old self, but as the saying goes, "Hindsight is 20/20."  What's the most important thing you'd tell youself of at age 16?

March 8th 2009.


Dear Reg, 

You are a very young 16. you know nothing about sex — you don't even know what a "queer" is. Trust me when I tell you — you are "queer"; you are a gay boy. I made the mistake of not having sex until I was 23! I loved being with another man and felt relieved that I finally knew who I was. I made the mistake of falling in love too soon because I was naive and romantic. My advice to you is never to chase love — it will find you when you least expect it. Have FUN, have lots of safe sex and enjoy your sexuality. Be proud of who you are and, as you get older and wiser fight for gay rights — I'm 46 years older than you are, and we have a long way to go. In certain countries we are still not treated as equals, especially by the so-called "Christian" Church. I made a lot of mistakes. Stay away from drugs — they're a waste of time. Stand up for every human being's rights. Be loving, kind and strong. Set an example. You're going to have a hell of a life!!

Love you

Elton x