Nov 30, 2009


An excellent review of New Moon for anyone who wants to take this cultural phenomenon seriously.

by James Walling
Staff Writer for The Prague Post

Perhaps much of the muddled religious subtext in the latest installment of the Twilight Series will be lost on the largely atheist and agnostic Czechs. But religious attitudes about sex are what lie at the core of this second film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's wildly successful series of novels for young adults. New Moon is more absurdly obsessed with sex (or rather, the lack thereof) than ever.

Opening with some pseudo-poetic drivel about "violent delights" and "violent ends," New Moon follows the couple and their respective networks of families, friends, enemies and would-be lovers during the female protagonist's senior year in a small town in Washington State. This stage of the saga is primarily concerned with the difficulties of loneliness and depression resulting from the Vampire's decision to temporarily break off the affair. Enter a swarthy young suitor (Taylor Lautner) possessed of a dark secret of his own, and we are treated to a brief respite from the gloom and doom before the action picks up a notch and the romance is repaired.

Kristin Stewart is fine as the female lead, and, though I will surely receive the equivalent of a fatwa from the teenage-girl set for saying so, Robert Pattinson as the ostensibly irresistible vampire Edward Cullen is revoltingly unctuous and stiff in his role. Apart from his angular features, Pattinson comes off as some kind of retentive Frankenstein's monster with a penchant for classical music and snappy dress.

More troubling is the way Meyers champions her protagonist's pathological obsession with her possessive, mercurial, controlling, condescending and sexist vampire boyfriend. What sort of message is she trying to send to young women? To equate dominating, patriarchal behavior with devotion and love is as dated a concept as it is an insidious one.

For an author who has repeatedly stated that her favorite reading material is contained in the Book of Mormon, such sentiments are hardly surprising. But it's more than a little disturbing to see the worst sort of conservative values dressed in music-video clothing. Interestingly, the largely Czech audience at Lucerna on the afternoon I attended laughed repeatedly and derisively at the film's attempts at pin-up sex appeal (there is hardly a sequence in the film that doesn't feature at least one bare-chested, chiseled-featured teenage boy).

There is an ongoing debate over how much blatant religious propaganda really exists in the Twilight series. But anyone who doubts the prevalence of the 'no sex' before marriage theme need only sit through the tedious 130 minutes of this film, particularly its laughable (and dramatically ineffective) cliffhanger ending, to be convinced of the author's point of view.

At any rate, whether you're a Mormon or an atheist, a genre fanatic or vampire hater, New Moon is a silly, trifling mess of CGI werewolves, sparkling-skinned emo vampires and deadly dull teen romance.

Not that any of this will make the slightest bit of difference at the box office. New Moon will doubtless be a blockbuster smash.

(Cartoons taken from this witty spoof on the Twilight Saga at Cracked. com.)

ADVENT: It is She Who Makes Me Write it Down

The following thoughts from Merton, sixty years ago, on the last day of Advent, while looking at a picture of Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation”.
December 23, 1949

Late Afternoon. The quiet is filled with an altogether different tonality. The sun has moved altogether around and the room is darker. It is serious. The hour is more weary. I take time out to pray, and I look at the Angelico picture, feeling like the end of Advent, which is today. ‘Ecce completa sunt omnia quae dicta sunt per angelum de Virgine Maria.’ – that was the antiphon after the Benetictus this morning. For a few minutes I stayed silent and didn’t move and listened to the watch and wondered if perhaps I might not understand something of the work Our Lady is preparing.

It is an hour of tremendous expectation.

I remember my weariness, my fears, my lack of understanding, my dimness, my sin of over-activity. What is she preparing: have I offended her? What is coming up? She loves me. I reject emotion about it. Her love is too serious for any emotion of which I might be capable. Her love shapes worlds, shapes history, forms an Apocalypse in and around me, gives birth to the city of God. I am drawn back again into liturgy by a sense of my great need. I look at the serene, severe porch where Angelico’s angel speaks to her. Angelico knew how to paint her. She is thin, immensely noble, and she does not rise to meet the angel. Mother, make me as sincere as the picture. All the way down into my soul, sincere, sincere. Let me have no thought that could not kneel before you in that picture. No image, no shadow. I believe you. I am silent. I will act like the picture. Ecce completa sunt. It is the end of Advent and the afternoon is vivid with expectancy.

She is here and she has filled the room with something that is uniquely her own, too clean for me to appreciate. She is here with the tone of her expectancy. There is nothing wrong in writing it, for it is she who makes me write it down.

- Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence, pp. 385-386

Article taken from Louie Louie blog)

Nov 29, 2009

Gay/Straight, Man/Woman, Self/Other

Gay/Straight, Man/Woman, Self/Other

What Would the Buddha Have Had to Say About Gay Liberation?

An interview with Jose Cabezon (Enlightenment Next Magazine)

by Amy Edelstein


 Jose Cabezon
On June 11, 1997, in San Francisco, gay Buddhist activists met with H. H. the Dalai Lama to take the revered Tibetan Buddhist leader to task for his position that gay sexuality was in violation of Buddhist sexual ethics. In his book Beyond Dogma, the Dalai Lama cites Buddhist rules that classify homosexual activity as misconduct. For practicing Buddhists, the indisputable implication of this contemporary publication was that if one were gay and sexually active, one couldn't be a Buddhist in good standing. Faithful gay Buddhists were upset. Among the eight gay and lesbian leaders assembled to discuss this sensitive issue with the eminent celibate monk was Jose Cabezon, former translator to His Holiness, Professor of Philosophy at Iliff School of Theology and self-described gay Buddhist. I was intrigued by the furor that had erupted and began to wonder—setting aside the doctrinal debate over the modern interpretation of Buddhist law—how relevant is one's sexual orientation to enlightenment, the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path?

When I thought about gay liberation and Buddhist liberation, I saw technicolor. Loud, flamboyant images, evocative poetry, outrageous creative escapades . . . Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, the beatniks. Adventurous men who, from the Bowery to San Francisco to the banks of the Ganges and the hilltops of Darjeeling, brought us mixed metaphors of uninhibited male love and Eastern spiritual pursuit. These unusual men took these metaphors into the public arena, out of the privacy of the bedroom and the silence of the meditation hall. Over one million people called in to hear Giorno's passionate and often provocative dial-a-poems. In places as conservative as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the 1970s Allen Ginsberg chanted verses about nirvana, satori [enlightenment experiences] and male sexual ecstasy while his lover droned in the background on a harmonium, sparking the spirit of the quest in countless young poets, myself among them. I thought of Whitman and the transcendentalists. I thought of a movement associated with an endless crescendo of epiphanies, with an ecstatic celebration of the divine in the human body, a movement propelled by a great energy, fueled by defying convention and breaking boundaries—in search, in search of something beyond, something ecstatic, exalted, something both immanent and transcendent.

As these various images swirled in my mind's eye with all their costume and pageantry, I realized I really knew very little about the movement called "gay liberation." What were its tenets? The essence of its goal? And why did it seem that so many gay men have taken to Buddhism, a path laid out by a celibate renunciate? For it seemed that the gay men's movement spoke of asserting one's sexuality, of conscious identification with one's difference from others, of finding one's identity as a man, while the Buddha taught about quenching the fires of desire, realizing one's sameness with all others and identifying with no-self. If contemporary gay Buddhists are writing about the fundamental importance of their identity and sexual preference to their path, what will the implications be for Buddhism—long criticized by feminists and homosexuals as another homophobic, albeit perhaps more enlightened, patriarchal religion?

Jose Cabezon's name had crossed my path again and again over the years doing research for WIE. A respected scholar, he was often referred to me as someone who could answer my questions about Buddhist doctrine and scripture. Cabezon has written, translated and edited six books about Buddhist teachings as well as about religion, sexuality and gender, including an historical analysis of homosexuality in Buddhist cultures. He has also participated in several interfaith dialogues on religion and gender and is one of very few Western monks to have studied at the illustrious Sera Je monastery in Bylakuppe, India, the Princeton University of the Gelugpa monasteries.

I wondered what Cabezon would have to say. He is a vocal advocate of gay rights and has been a disciplined Buddhist monk. He knows the classical Buddhist texts and has met many of the great modern Tibetan teachers. At the same time, he has studied gay history and is involved with the pressing social issues raised by contemporary gay culture. Is our identification with our sexual preference a key element in our spiritual pursuit? Is the liberation of our sexual identity part and parcel of our spiritual liberation? What is the relationship between being gay and enlightenment?

Nov 27, 2009


(THANKS TO  Kittredge Cherry ONCE AGAIN.)

Remembering Harvey Milk

Lentz, Harvey Milk Robert Lentz Harvey Milk (1930-1978) is the first and most famous openly gay male elected official in California, and perhaps the world.  He became the public face of the GLBT rights movement, and his reputation has continued to grow since his assassination on November 27, 1978 (31 years ago today).  He has been called a martyr for gay rights

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country,” Milk said.  Two bullets did enter his brain, and his vision of GLBT people living openly is also coming true.

Milk has received many honors for his visionary courage and commitment to equality.  In 2009 he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the state of California designated his birthday (May 22) as Harvey Milk Day.  He was included in the Time “100 Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century” for being “a symbol of what gays can accomplish and the dangers they face in doing so.”

He is the subject of two Oscar-winning movies, “Milk” (2008) and “The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984), as well as the book “The Mayor of Castro Street” by Randy Shilts. 

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 after three unsuccessful efforts to run for office.  He served only 11 months before he was killed, but in that short time he was responsible for passing a tough gay-rights law.

Haunted by the sense that he would be killed for political reasons, Milk recorded tapes to be played in the event of his assassination.  His message, recorded nine days before his death, included this powerful statement:

“I ask for the movement to continue, for the movement to grow, because last week I got a phone call from Altoona, Pennsylvania, and my election gave somebody else, one more person, hope. And after all, that's what this is all about. It's not about personal gain, not about ego, not about power — it's about giving those young people out there in the Altoona, Pennsylvanias, hope. You gotta give them hope.”

Shots fired by conservative fellow supervisor Dan White cut Milk’s life short.  More than 30 years later, the hope and the movement for GLBT rights are more alive than ever.

The Harvey Milk icon painted by Robert Lentz (pictured above) was hailed as a “national gay treasure” by gay author/activist Toby Johnson.  Milk holds a candle and wears an armband with a pink triangle, the Nazi symbol for gay men, expressing solidarity with all who were tortured or killed because of their sexuality.

It is one of 10 Lentz icons that sparked a major controversy in 2005.  Critics accused Lentz of glorifying sin and creating propaganda for a progressive sociopolitical agenda, and he temporarily gave away the copyright for the controversial images to his distributor, Trinity Stores.  All 10 are now displayed there as a collection titled “Images That Challenge.”

This is cross-posted is part of the new “GLBT Saints” series at the Jesus in Love Blog.  Saints and holy people of special interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.  It was written by lesbian author Kittredge Cherry.

Image credit: Harvey Milk of San Francisco
By Brother Robert Lentz, OFM.  Copyright 1987
Courtesy of (800.699.4482)

Nov 23, 2009

Will Catholic Bishops Start Denying Communion to Gay Marriage Supporters?

CommunionU.S. Catholic Bishops have made a giant leap toward using Communion as their next political weapon, with Rhode Island's bishop telling Rep. Patrick Kennedy that he is no longer welcome to receive Communion during Mass at any church in the entire state. The move by Bishop Thomas Tobin follows through on previous threats by many U.S. Catholic bishops that they would ban pro-choice and pro-gay politicians from partaking in one of the Church's most important sacraments.

Rep.  Kennedy told the Providence Journal that Bishop Tobin has been targeting him for years by threatening to withhold Communion, mostly for his support for reproductive rights. Bishop Tobin finally followed through with those threats, in a move that's being seen by many as the politicization of a Church practice that's supposed to be seen as the epitome of peace.

"The bishop instructed me not to take communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me communion," Kennedy said.

Today happens to be the 46th anniversary of the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, the nation's only Catholic head of state. What a difference four decades make in reshaping Catholic identity. Back then Catholics celebrated President Kennedy's leadership. Today, Kennedy and his family would be told by many bishops that they're not welcome to the table.

The announcement by Bishop Tobin to control Communion like a mafia leader stems from debate during the 2004 election, when Sen. John Kerry (himself a Catholic) was running for President. During that year, conservative U.S. Catholic leaders put together what they considered a list of "non-negotiable" issues that they said Catholics could not waver on.

It was a narrowing of Catholic theology to strip issues like poverty and social justice from the forefront of the Church, and replace them with opposing abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research. It was also a call to Catholic politicians: oppose abortion and gay marriage at all costs, or risk the threat of the Church denying you Communion and publicly tarring and feathering you as a sinner.

Bishop Tobin's action toward Rep. Patrick Kennedy doesn't have anything to do with gay marriage on its surface (Rhode Island doesn't allow gay marriage, and Rep. Kennedy has kept a relatively low profile on the issue). Rather, Rep. Kennedy's sin in the eyes of the church was voting against the Stupak amendment to the U.S. House's health care bill, and siding with reproductive rights activists.

But the question is that if the Church is now ready to do this on the issue of abortion, are they also ready to do this on the issue of gay marriage, an issue the Church says that they view with as much disgust? Do Massachusetts politicians who support gay marriage or abortion rights now have to wonder whether they'll be denied Communion at weekly mass? What about Catholics in Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut or New Hampshire?

Time will tell. But we've already seen bishops with the Catholic Church threaten to stop caring for the poor in Washington, D.C. over the issue of gay marriage. There's no reason to think that Church leaders won't head to even deeper depths, politicizing one of their oldest traditions in Communion to simply toe a line on gay marriage that is increasingly out of step with public opinion.

Hmmm. I would say it was time to reclaim the  Eucharist away from ecclesiastic control, as many of us are already doing. This pathological hatred is not going to go away soon. It's not a question of 'leaving the Church,' but rather of forming pockets of spiritual witness and holiness on the peripheries. At this point in history, the message needs to be conveyed that the time for tribal distinctions  and dividing walls is long past. Let those who need the walls remain shut up within them. Jayden


I would like to think that there is, especially in more recent years, a kind of autumnal repose in what I'm doing. It would be nice if what we do involved some degree of perfection, not only of a technical but also and above all of a spiritual order.
I've had all my life a tremendously strong sense that indeed there is a Hereafter and that the transformation of the spirit is a phenomenon with which one must reckon and in the light of which, indeed, one must intend to live one's life. As a consequence, I find all the here and now philosophies repellent. On the other hand, I don't have any objective images to build around my notion of a Hereafter. And I recognize it is a great temptation to formulate a comforting theory of eternal life so as to reconcile oneself to the inevitability of death. For me it intuitively seems right. I've never had to work convincing myself about the likelihood of a life hereafter. It simply seems infinitely more plausible than its opposite, which would be oblivion.

Glen Gould from the film by Bruno Monsaingeon, Glen Gould Hereafter.


Gould plays (Bach) like a prayer. He's a kind of ecumenical priest, and brings us Bach's gospel. He had a direct link to God. He had received the kiss of God.
Natasha Gugina

One mother telephoned us after her 19 year old son had heard Gould play one night in October of 1947. She said her son came home after the concert and said, "Mum, you've always been telling me there is such a thing as a Hereafter and Life Eternal. I never really believed it until I heard Gould play. Now I know.

Bert Gould, writing when his son, Glen, was 15.

The spiritual power of art and the infinite possibilities of youth

Nov 21, 2009


(I've quoted this great passage from Eckhart Tolle before but it bears repeating after recent events in the Catholic Church in the US regarding the treatment of gay persons. Harvey Cox has picked up the same insight and developed it in his latest book, The Future of Faith. See Michael Bayly's review here.)

The new spirituality, the transformation of consciousness, is arising to a large extent outside the structures of the existing institutionalized religions. There were always pockets of spirituality even in mind-dominated religions, although the institutionalized hierarchies felt threatened by them and often tried to suppress them. A large-scale opening of spirituality outside of the religious structures is an entirely new development.

Partly as a result of the spiritual teachings that have arisen outside the established religions, but also due to an influx of the ancient Eastern wisdom teachings, a growing number of followers of traditional religions are able to let go of identification with form, dogma, and rigid belief systems and discover the original depth that is hidden within their own spiritual traditions at the same time as they discover the depth within themselves.

Those unable to look beyond form become even more deeply entrenched in their beliefs, that is to say, in their mind. We are witnessing not only an unprecedented influx of consciousness at this time but also an entrenchment and intensification of the ego. Some religious institutions will be open to the new consciousness; others will harden their doctrinal positions and become part of all those other man-made structures through which the collective ego will defend itself and "fight back." Some churches, sects, cults, or religious movements are basically collective egoic entities, as rigidly identified with their mental positions as the followers of any political ideology that is closed to any alternative interpretation of reality.

But the ego is destined to dissolve, and all its ossified structures, whether they be religious or other institutions, corporations, or governments, will disintegrate from within, no matter how deeply entrenched they appear to be. The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first. This has already happened in the case of Soviet Communism. How deeply entrenched, how solid and monolithic it appeared, and yet within a few years, it disintegrated from within. No one foresaw this. All were taken by surprise. There are many more such surprises in store for us.

(A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, pg. 17-19)


on the publication of the 1992 Vatican document,
"Some considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons."

My only consolation at this time lies in three profound hopes. First I pray that the very absurdity and hateful spirit of these documents will lead the Catholic lay person to refuse to receive them and to discern spiritually  the contradiction between these documents and the spirit of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. 
Second I hope that the Church will proceed soon to call together a third Vatican Council which will change radically the way authority functions in the Catholic Church. The current structure that produces documents such as the 1992 directive is rapidly undermining credibility in the Catholic magisterium, while the world desperately needs the credible moral authority  of the Church. This third Vatican council, among other tasks, should create new structures that will allow a democratic  process in which what the Holy Spirit is revealing  in the lives of people can be heard by an enlightened hierarchy. 

Meanwhile, I hope that my lesbian sisters and gay brothers will be able to draw on all the good things the Church has to offer them for their health and holiness in its sacramental life, while protecting themselves against the poisons of a pathologically homophobic religion.
 (Taken from Freedom, Glorious Freedom, page 60)

Prophetic words uttered seventeen years ago and we now see a further entrenchment with the recent US Bishops' pastoral letter on marriage. The pathology and homophobia have deepened as has the crisis of credibility surrounding the magisterium. Perhaps that is the lesson the Spirit is teaching us so painfully, that credibility and moral authority are not to be vested in the magisterium at this point in history, but to be found elsewhere, in the wisdom of the whole community called church and expressed through its holiest and most sensitive, prophetic members, many of whom are women, many of whom are openly gay, most of whom are on the margins, few of whom are official authority figures. How to gather together that collective wisdom is the question, but somehow the present dysfunctional structures of authority must be sidestepped for the health and well being of the whole community.


Authority often exalts opinions into dogmas and works to destroy every school of thought but its own. 
John Henry Newman

Nov 19, 2009


 Always nice to see that we Catholics are not alone in dealing with prejudice and  the renewal of a rigid spiritual tradition.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ajahn Brahm Expelled for Ordaining Nuns

The popular monk Ajahn Brahm has been disciplined by the Thai forest monastery sangha founded by the Venerable Ajahn Chah because he was involved in ordaining four women as nuns, or bhikkunis, in a ceremony on October 22 at his Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Australia. The Wat Pah Pong Sangha's action of excommunication (revoking Bodhinyana's status as a branch monastery) has resulted in a firestorm of controversy in the Theravada Buddhist world.

The ordination of nuns is illegal under Thai Buddhist law because the order of nuns became extinct sometime between the 11th and 13th centuries, after which, the argument goes, no new bhikkhunis could be ordained since there were none left to preside over an ordination. However, nuns currently may be ordained in the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka, and also in Mahayana Buddhist countries, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam and China where the religious authorities are not so conservative. According to an official statement from the Thai forest sangha, Ajahn Brahm's decision to ordain nuns without permission "may cause wrong understanding among Buddhists throughout the world, and division of views regarding this issue." Called to Wat Pah Pong a week after the ordination, Ajahn Brahm was told the ordination at his monastery was invalid and the senior monks asked him to recant. He refused.

Born in London, Ajahn Brahm went to study with Ajahn Chah in Thailand after graduating from Cambridge and remained for nine years. He has published numerous books and is extremely popular here in Bankok where his talks draw large crowds. His ordination as a monk was presided over by the abbot of Wat Saket who is now acting Sangharaja of the supreme Monks’ Council of Thailand. In his online statement of "why he was excommunicated," Ajahn Brahm said he had consulted his preceptor "to ask him precisely his opinion on the ordination of Bhikkhunis outside of Thailand. His response, which I have circulated amongst the Western Sangha for a long time now, was 'Thai Sangha law does not extend outside of Thailand.'" The conflict over ordaining nuns is complex, involving Buddhist traditions and lineages, the formal Vinaya rules established by the Buddha and national sangha regulations which often reflect cultural prejudices. I have written before about how the Thai Sangha treats women as untouchable. Ajahn Brahm discussed his support for bhikkunis in an interview in the Bangkok Post last April (a complete transcript of the edited interview can be found here).

The fallout from this controversy is particularly intense because many western Buddhist monks have been trained in the forest tradition and owe allegiance to Ajahn Chah's lineage based at Wat Pah Pong. Although he is not in that tradition, the influential Bhikku Bodhi initially supported the ordination ceremony in Perth, but later issued a retraction. Ajahn Chandako, an American monk now at Vimutti Monastery in New Zealand, wrote that "this particular ordination was a serious mistake." His criticism was answered by Ajahn Brahmali and the Bodhinyana Sangha who reminded Ajahn Chandako of his previous view that, while there are no serious obstacles to ordaining nuns in the west, ordaining bhikkhunis in the Ajahn Chah Sangha "is another matter." It was this resistance that prompted Bodhinyana to proceed in secrecy. When informed by Ajahn Brahm, Luang Por Ajahn Sumedho, abbot of Amaravati Monastery in England and the most senior western representative of the Ajahn Chah tradition, advised him not to proceed with the ordination. A meeting of monks was to be held at Bodhinyana Monastery in December and bhikkhuni ordination was on the table. Many objected that Ajahn Brahm's action was premature. The contrary view is that it might have been more difficult to push the issue after the expected negative response was received.
Taken from: Religion, Sex & politics

Nov 17, 2009


Czechs celebrating on the streets of Prague as the month long party begins celebrating the downfall of Communism in 1989. The end of a bloated, corrupt totalitarian system that enslaved millions with its false pretensions to absolute and sacred, infallible authority.


Today is a great day in the Czech Republic, as the following article demonstrates. The walls of tyranny came crashing down, beginning on November 17th, 1989. By Christmas time Czechoslovakia was a free nation for the first time in 40 years. Despite signs to the contrary, something of the same seismic significance is happening within Christianity and Catholicism worldwide as the cracks appear in the walls of the false idol of a very fallible Authority.


November 17 is twice as important for Czechs

November 17 is not at all just an ordinary day in the Czech Republic. If you take a look at the Czech calendar, you will see that November 17 is marked as a public holiday. It is called The Day of a Struggle for Freedom and Democracy. It is a very important day for Czechs, not only for one, but for two reasons!
On this day, Czechs commemorate two remarkable events in  Czech history – one happened in 1939 and another one exactly fifty years later, in 1989. The former commemorates the student demonstration against Nazi occupation, the later the demonstration against the communist government, which was again held by students, and led to the so called Velvet Revolution. Both evens are significant in fighting for freedom and democracy of the Czech people.
Czech flag But why did both events take place on November 17 and not on some other day? Well, both evens are connected. And I will tell you how. It all started on October 28, 1939, which was the 21st anniversary of the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic. On this day there were big anti-Nazi demonstrations in Prague, which were suppressed by Nazi forces – you probably know that Czechs were occupied by Hitler’s Germany back then. One student, whose name was Jan Opletal, a nineteen year old student of the Medical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague, was seriously wounded there and died a few days later. His funeral, attended by thousands of students, turned into another anti-Nazi demonstration. This provoked the Nazis so much that on November 17 they ordered closed all Czech universities and colleges, plus over 1200 Czech students were sent to concentration camps, and nine students were executed.Because of this terrible act, November 17 has been marked since 1941 as International Students Day by the International Union of Students.

Fifty years after such oppression, in 1989, Czech students organized a demonstration to commemorate the student martyr, Jan Opletal and the International Students Day. It started off as an officially-sanctioned march, but turned quickly into a demonstration demanding the resignation of the country’s communist government. Students were brutally beaten by riot police. This annoyed the public so much that they went on strike as well, demanding the same thing. Demonstrations, which were held afterwards, were attended by more and more people. With the growing street protests and with other communist regimes falling in neighboring countries, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia finally announced on November 28 that they would step out.

November 17, 1989, started the so called Velvet Revolution. As a result, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June 1990 and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechs and Slovaks in over 40 years.

Nov 12, 2009


Transgender Jesus play protested in Scotland

Jqueenofheaven More than 300 conservative Christian protesters picketed a play about a transsexual Jesus recently in Glasgow, Scotland.
Waving signs and singing hymns, they blocked traffic for two hours on opening night of “Jesus, Queen of Heaven” at the Tron Theatre last week.
The play was written and performed by Jo Clifford (formerly John Clifford), whose stated goal was to create greater understanding of transgendered people like herself.
The play expresses a theme of love and tolerance in keeping with Jesus’ own teachings in the Bible. The poster (at left) shows Clifford posing as Christ in a white dress with a halo and crucifixion wounds.
Promotional materials sum up the play this way: “Jesus is a transsexual woman. And it is now she walks the earth. This is a play with music that presents her sayings, her miracles, and her testimony. And she does not condemn the gays or the queers or the trans women or the trans men, and no, not the straight women nor the straight men neither. Because she is the Daughter of God, most certainly, and almost as certainly the son also. And God’s child condemns nobody. She can only love...”
In contrast, protestors condemned the play with signs saying “God: My Son is Not a Pervert” and “Jesus, King of Kings, Not Queen of Heaven.”
Clifford said in a news interview that she was deeply offended by the protestors’ misunderstanding of her play and their prejudice against transgenders.
The production is part of the publicly funded “Glasgay!” festival, Scotland’s annual celebration of GLBT culture.
I believe that it’s important to envision a transgender Jesus because Christ represents God made flesh, and we are all created in God’s image, whatever our gender identity or sexual orientation. When we can imagine God as transgender, it is easier to recognize the divinity within the transgendered people around us. The transgender Christ is especially valuable to counteract the bigots who use Christian rhetoric to justify discrimination against GLBT people.
Similar protests were sparked by “Corpus Christi,” a play by Terence McNally about a gay Christ figure. Bomb threats almost prevented its off-Broadway opening in 1998.
This post was written by lesbian Christian author Kittredge Cherry and cross-posted at the Jesus in Love Blog on GLBT spirituality and the arts.

Nov 10, 2009


Dedicated To The Memory Of The
1,470 Gay and Lesbian Youth Who Commit Suicide In the U.S. Each Year
And To The Countless Others Who Are Injured Or Murdered

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;  
my eye is wasted with grief, my soul and body also.  
Strong, as I am, I stumble because of my inequality,  
and my bones waste away.  
I am the scorn of my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, 
an object of dread to my acquaintances; 
when they see me in the street they turn quickly away. 
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; 
I have come to be like something lost.  
Yea, I hear many whispering -terror on every side! -
as they scheme together against me, to take my life.  
But I trust in thee, O Lord, I say, "Thou art my God."  
Rescue me from those who persecute me!  
I will rejoice and be glad for thy unfailing love, 
because thou hast cared for me in my distress  
and thou hast not abandoned me but hast set me free.

Taken From: ICONS

What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

The woman at my polling place asked me do I believe in equality for gay and lesbian people. I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her: what do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?