Dec 30, 2011

Welcoming the New Year

As a propitious ending to 2011 the coffin of Vaclav Havel was majestically carried down the Vltava River yesterday-and today- on it's way to his home.

The imaginary life journey of the first Czech president Vaclav Havel, who died earlier this month, will be symbolically closed by a boat voyage along the Vltava and Labe (Elbe) rivers on December 31, Sabina Tancevova from Havel's office told CTK yesterday.

The boat will set off downstream the Vltava from the pier near the National Theatre in Prague at 10:00.
It will carry flowers and wreaths that people laid at Havel's coffin on the days preceding his funeral last week.

The boat with the flowers will go down the Vltava and the Labe, into which the Vltava flows to the north of Prague, via the towns of Melnik, Roudnice nad Labem, Litomerice, Lovosice and Usti nad Labem to Decin, the last town on the Labe before it leaves the Czech Republic for Saxony, Tancevova has written in a statement that has also been signed by pop musician Michael Kocab and artist David Cerny.

Havel died at his country house in east Bohemia on December 18, aged 75.

And to welcome in the New Year, I've moved into a new and very charming apartment on the river with a 10 square meter terrace overlooking a green hillside. A perfect retreat away from the bustle of the city, where I can write and reflect over the coming year. I hope to have internet service up and running by next week and hope to resume blogging at that time.

Best wishes to one and all for a fulfilling, peaceful and hope filled New Year.  

Dec 24, 2011

Dec 18, 2011

In Memoriam: Vaclav Havel

At six this evening (one hour ago) all church bells across the Czech Republic tolled their bells in mourning at the passing of Vaclav Havel, one of the truly great political leaders in the world today - of the stature of Nelson Mandela. The story is well known how Havel after suffering imprisonment and harassment for many years at the hands of Communist officialdom  led his country to freedom through the non-violent Velvet Revolution of 1989. A playwright, an artist, a creative and moral thinker, Havel was anything but a career politician, and even through two terms as Czech president, never became entirely comfortable in the role. He  always longed to return to the role he loved best, that of writer and thinker and chronicler of his times, and for this longing and for his evident resistance to the political life he was beloved by his people, for all of his quirks and faults. His passing will now send shock waves of reflection and assessment through his country, as we evaluate how we have evolved as a country since 1989 and in what ways we have honored his legacy and in how many ways we may have betrayed it. The passing of a giant.

Estimated crowd of 100.000 pays homage to Havel this evening in Wenceslaus Square.
This is the self effacing poet and playwright who led them to freedom 22 years ago.

Havel, the dissident playwright who wove theater into politics to peacefully bring down communism in Czechoslovakia and become a hero of the epic struggle that ended the Cold War, died Sunday.
Christian Science Monitor

Dec 17, 2011

Apartment Hunting

Running about these days searching for a new apartment here in Prague, which is experiencing one of it's mildest winters in years. We are usually covered in snow at this time and in fact most of the Czech and Slovak Republics are experiencing snow at this moment. Prague is drenched in rain and is beginning to turn cold, but so far nothing like the past few years. Various things are happening about town and the great churches are preparing for their advent concerts a week from now. It feels good to be here, and in preparation for the coming of the Lord I'm ignoring the crazy goings on in certain fanatical human institutions and living in the Peace that passeth understanding. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, Come.

A few of the possibilities for a new home for the new year and a cheaper one than the very expensive one I'm presently occupying. Trusting in Our Lady to show me the way. Then when all of this is settled, I'll be taking off for the grand Polish Marian shrine of Czestochowa.

Dec 8, 2011

Another Teen Bullied to Death, Another Reason for a New Christianity

Terribly sad news for this feast day of The Immaculate Conception, a feast day that celebrates the purity and innate goodness within all of us. Immaculate Mother heal us all of the sin of homophobia.

Thanks to John Shore and Huffington Post for this article/

Another kid has been bullied into killing himself. His name is Jacob Rogers. He went to Cheatham County Central High School, in Ashland City, Tenn. Apparently he'd been pretty severely bullied for four years. It got so bad that around Thanksgiving he quit going to school.

A friend of Jacob's told reporters, "He started coming home his senior year, saying 'I don't want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer.'"
Yesterday Jacob took his own life.

You can read more via MSNBC. (An important detail not mentioned in that MSNBC story comes from from "Dr. Tim Webb, Director of Cheatham County Schools [said] that his almost all-new staff at the high school only knew of one incident of bullying and confronted the accused over the bullying. However, Dr. Webb also noted that because staff were new to the school, they were perhaps not aware of the extent of bullying that Jacob had endured in years past.")

I've done a fair amount of writing on these sorts of tragedies (see this past Saturday's "Tell Me, Christian, That You Hear this Boy," "Christians and the Blood of Jamey Rodemeyer" and "My Gay Christian Cousin Committed Suicide," to name just three). And so I have no doubt that some will claim that the primary reason Jacob killed himself is not because he was bullied. They'll say that we don't know the whole story. They'll point to the fact that Jacob lived with his grandmother, that his family is poor (not, God knows, that poverty is any sin) -- that it's safe to assume this kid had problems beyond being bullied.

And I will respond with what I always say: that certainly there are always myriad causes behind the suicide of any person. But that that does not alter the fact that the root cause of tragedies like the Jacob Rogers story is that strain of Christianity that continues to insist that homosexuality is an evil affront to God.

If Christians would actually read the Bible, instead of daring to insist that three or four isolated phrases within it justifies a theology that has no more to do with Christ than Fred Phelps has to do with Welcome Wagon, we would arrive at a popular Christianity that is not, as so much of our Christianity is today, a pure affront to anyone with half a conscience.

And that Christianity would dissipate the motivation of those kids who bully in the name and spirit of condemning homosexuality. Quickly and inevitably, that particularly noxious train would come to a halt. Because there wouldn't be left any enduring reason for anyone to ever condemn gay people at all.

Then gay people would just be ... people. You know: that thing God made in his own image.

* * *
I don't know how to say this without sounding self-serving, but the whole reason I wrote "Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality," the concluding chapter in "UNFAIR: Why the "Christian View of Gays Doesn't Work," is because I wanted to unarguably prove that using the Bible to condemn gay people is purely unbiblical. And that's what that essay does. You can buy "UNFAIR" as Kindle book; you can buy it as a Nookbook; if you don't have a Kindle, you can download onto any PC, Mac or device a free Kindle reading app, and read it that way. You can wait for the paper version to come out about 10 days from now. I don't care. But the next time someone tells you that God condemns homosexuality, you give them that book.

Dec 5, 2011

GREASE is the word

Just finished directing the musical, GREASE, for my high school here in Prague - which is why I haven't been blogging for a while. Exhausted from the experience and need a rest, but it was so rewarding. An absolutely fantastic production with such talented youngsters.