Jan 31, 2012

Taylor Lautner in support of FCKH8

Quite a hot photo of young Mr. Lautner supporting the "Born This Way" campaign. If only this were a coming out photo, but of course it's nothing of the kind. Taylor is simply lending his 'cool' to the campaign to support young gay teens and end bullying. But what a marvelous photo from this young pop idol.

And here's Zac Efron getting into the act:

On a related note, while researching play versions of Agatha Christie novels, I came across British gay playwright, Kevin Elyot (who wrote a version of Christie's And Then There Were None for the stage). Author of the renowned 90's drama, My Night With Reg, his most recent gay related works include the BBC TV movies,  Clapham Junction, a homophobic murder mystery based upon the murder of 24-year-old bar manager Jody Dobrowski, who was beaten to death on Clapham Common in 2005 - and - the 2011 film study of Christopher Isherwood, Christopher and His Kind.

Here's a very interesting interview with Kevin Elyot, discussing the anomaly of  the rising tolerance of homosexuality in society being accompanied by a rising tide of homophobic violence.

Jan 22, 2012

Transgendered Sea Anemone Denounced As 'Abomination' By Clergy

 And now for a bit of levity:
Taken from The Onion

Filthy Anemone

Rev. William Chester, spokesman for the coalition which is dedicated to “the preservation of aquatic decency and morality” said: “This filthy anemone, which exhibits both male and female characteristics, is turning our oceans’ intertidal zones into dens of sin and perversion,” he added “For God knows how long, this twisted sea creature has been running rampant in our oceans, spreading its unnatural, bisexual lifestyle. And it’s high time somebody took a stand.”

Anemone’s Alternative Lifestyle

The “Telia Felina” has been practicing its alternative lifestyle since 1859 and since then over 40 of its subspecies have been identified as transgendered. The coalition also denounced its family structure and reproductive habits. “Unlike so many respectable, God-fearing creatures, the Telia Felina reproduces asexually, openly mocking traditional family values by giving birth to and raising its young in a single-parent setting,” Chester said. “This anti-Christian anemone, which has the audacity to think that a child can grow up properly without the benefit of two loving parents, is truly the Murphy Brown of the deep.”

Asexual Anemone is Not Natural

He added: “If you still doubt the pain and suffering wrought by this undersea abomination, just look into the eyes of a young anemone child forced to grow up wondering why Mommy and Daddy live in the same body. This, my friends, is not natural.”
As part of the coalition’s campaign against the organism they are calling upon environmental groups such as Greenpeace to put an end to their defense of endangered species and creatures that don’t have high moral standards. The coalition is also threatening a boycott of aquariums displaying the Telia Felina or any other organism of uncertain character.
Chester asked: “Is this the kind of marine invertebrate we want our children to see on their school field trips to the aquarium?” He believes that by putting the Telia Felina on display in the nation’s aquariums it sends a message to children encouraging a transsexual lifestyle.

Christian Anemone “Crossed Over” to a Life of Depravity

“It is truly sad to see what could have been an upstanding Christian creature cross over to a life of depravity and abasement,” Pastor Kenneth Boyle, director of the Loaves and Fishes Academy Of Christian Marine Biology, said of the Telia felina. “Just look at its flamboyant bright green and gold coloration. And its hundreds of effeminate tentacles, which sway back and forth temptingly in an effort to lure the spiritually weak. The Bible says that on the fifth day, God filled the oceans with living creatures, but surely this is not what He intended.”

Jan 20, 2012

The Assassins In Our Midst

A few random thoughts and an assortment of quotations in honor of MLK, whose 'feast day' was this week.

Here are quotes from theologian Jim Douglas on the only trial ever conducted on the assassination of MLK, held in Memphis, 1999. Never heard of it, you say? You would not be alone. Apart from Jim Douglas, only one other reporter covered the trial, and in the final days a correspondent for a Lisbon newspaper. The US mainstream media? Ignored it completely, too busy with 'the trial of the century,' the trial of O.J. Simpson.  Jim's  full report can be found here.

According to a Memphis jury's verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death lawsuit of the King family versus Loyd Jowers "and other unknown co-conspirators," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of his own government. Almost 32 years after King's murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, a court extended the circle of responsibility for the assassination beyond the late scapegoat James Earl Ray to the United States government.

I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial's second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, "Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson's trial was the trial of the century. Clinton's trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who's here?"...

What I experienced in that courtroom ranged from inspiration at the courage of the Kings, their lawyer-investigator William F. Pepper, and the witnesses, to amazement at the government's carefully interwoven plot to kill Dr. King. The seriousness with which U.S. intelligence agencies planned the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. speaks eloquently of the threat Kingian nonviolence represented to the powers that be in the spring of 1968....

Hatred and fear of King deepened, Lawson said, in response to his plan to hold the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. King wanted to shut down the nation's capital in the spring of 1968 through massive civil disobedience until the government agreed to abolish poverty. King saw the Memphis sanitation workers' strike as the beginning of a nonviolent revolution that would redistribute income. "I have no doubt," Lawson said, "that the government viewed all this seriously enough to plan his assassination."...

Maynard Stiles, who in 1968 was a senior official in the Memphis Sanitation Department, confirmed in his testimony that the bushes near the rooming house were cut down. At about 7:00 a.m. on April 5, Stiles told the jury, he received a call from MPD Inspector Sam Evans "requesting assistance in clearing brush and debris from a vacant lot in the vicinity of the assassination. . . . They went to that site, and under the direction of the police department, whoever was in charge there, proceeded with the clean-up in a slow, methodical, meticulous manner." . . . Within hours of King's assassination, the crime scene that witnesses were identifying to the Memphis police as a cover for the shooter had been sanitized by orders of the police....

Pepper went a step beyond saying government agencies were responsible for the assassination. To whom in turn were those murderous agencies responsible? Not so much to government officials per se, Pepper asserted, as to the economic power holders they represented who stood in the even deeper shadows behind the FBI, Army Intelligence, and their affiliates in covert action. By 1968, Pepper told the jury, "And today it is much worse in my view" -- "the decision-making processes in the United States were the representatives, the foot soldiers of the very economic interests that were going to suffer as a result of these times of changes [being actived by King]."
        To say that U.S. government agencies killed Martin Luther King on the verge of the Poor People's Campaign is a way into the deeper truth that the economic powers that be (which dictate the policies of those agencies) killed him. In the Memphis prelude to the Washington campaign, King posed a threat to those powers of a non-violent revolutionary force. Just how determined they were to stop him before he reached Washington was revealed in the trial by the size and complexity of the plot to kill him....

Perhaps the lesson of the King assassination is that our government understands the power of nonviolence better than we do, or better than we want to. In the spring of 1968, when Martin King was marching (and Robert Kennedy was campaigning), King was determined that massive, nonviolent civil disobedience would end the domination of democracy by corporate and military power. The powers that be took Martin Luther King seriously. They dealt with him in Memphis.
        Thirty-two years after Memphis, we know that the government that now honors Dr. King with a national holiday also killed him. As will once again become evident when the Justice Department releases the findings of its "limited re-investigation" into King's death, the government (as a foot soldier of corporate power) is continuing its cover-up -- just as it continues to do in the closely related murders of John and Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X....

As a complement to these sobering thoughts, here are more quotes from the distinguished poet and researcher, Peter Dale Scott, taken from his recent book, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan

Elsewhere I have written of civilization as "a great conspiracy of organized denial." I mean by this the creation of a partly illusory mental space in which unpleasant facts, such as that all Western empires have been established through major atrocities, are conveniently suppressed....

.....deep events: events that are systematically ignored, suppressed, or falsified in public (and even internal) government, military, and intelligence documents as well as in the main stream media and public consciousness. Underlying them is frequently the involvement of deep forces linked either to the drug traffic or to agencies of surveillance (or to both together) whose activities are extremely difficult to discern or document. ...

A clearly defined deep event will combine both internal features- evidence, such as a discernible cover-up, that aspects are being suppressed - and external features-a ongoing and perhaps irresoluble controversy as to what happened. Some deep events - the 1968 assassinations, the Tonkin Gulf incident and 9/11 - clearly have both features. ...

In my experience, deep events are better understood collectively than in isolation. When looked at together, they constitute a larger pattern, that of deep history. For some years, beginning before 9/11, I have noted that from time to time  America's recorded or archival history has been disrupted by deep events, such as the John F. Kennedy assassination. These events are attributed publicly to marginal and unthreatening agents-like Lee Harvey Oswald. But cumulatively, the historical succession of deep events-such as Dallas, Watergate, 911 - have impacted more and more profoundly on America's political situation....

Many Americans are at least dimly aware that we have had a number of similar deep events involving this form of sanctioned violence in the past half century. Some of these, including the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy, have had significant structural influence on the subsequent evolution of American political history. I have argued in the Road to 9/11 that we should consider the attack of 9/11 as yet another example of a deep event, another chapter in our nation's deep history....

The problem of illegally sanctioned and protected violence-violence regularly suppressed from our consciousness- is not necessarily attributable to the state as we normally think of it. We do not know in any state was directly involved in the recent unexplained murder of an Italian banker, Roberto Calvi, related to scandals at the Vatican Bank and it has even been argued that Pope John Paul I was murdered by those involved in these same scandals. But where there is cover-up, as in the Calvi case, the murderers have profited from a state connection. 

What is a Christian to make of all of this and what is she to do? Firstly, we must honor the memory of our own assassinated Master, dispatched by a murky coalition of unsavory forces in his own society who have never been properly identified, apart from the horrifically unhistorical designation "The Jews."  What elements in his own society were so threatened by his presence and his teachings that they joined forces to do away with him. We must remember that we follow not so much a martyred god figure as an outspoken prophet, who went knowingly to his death, trusting in "the Father" to redeem his suffering and death and turn it into good. From this faith, we must then ask for the courage to display the same fearlessness in face of the forces of evil in our world, forces just as devious and deceptive now as they were two thousand years ago. From our faith we must also find the hope that evil does not ultimately triumph, that - as Gandhi said- Truth is God, and that if we are fearless in confronting the forces of disinformation and denial in our culture, truth will win out in the end, provided we are fearless in confronting and exposing this deceit, both within our own indoctrinated selves as well as in the world at large. We in America in particular inhabit a culture of massive psychological denial at this point in history. The first call of the Spirit must be to the Truth and to the exposure of its denial. There can be no justice, no peace, no virtue in a culture of willingly embracing lies and deceptions. The truth will indeed make us free.

Jan 8, 2012

A New Flat for a New Year

Gifts from a good friend in Slovakia
Just in time for the feast of the Epiphany, internet service has been turned on for my new and cozy flat in the Podoli district of Prague. I love the new living space, quite a bit smaller than the previous flat, but somehow so much more peaceful and conducive to prayer, writing and study - with a lovely 10 sq meter terrace overlooking a hillside. Just to be able to go outside in the evening and sit with a hot cup of tea makes me feel like I've been away somewhere for the whole weekend. A very prayerful silent place. Even the rambunctious and very friendly five year old boy next door can't be heard through the very thick walls.  I'm quite astonished by the utter silence and peace. In my previous flat, with it's spectacular view of the river and castle, I could hear one of my very own students, a 15 year old Korean boy named Sung Po, bouncing around upstairs and shouting at his sister. Here nothing penetrates the walls, it is complete stillness.

Here are a few photos of no real interest to anyone but myself. The large luminous paintings of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary were given to me by a devout Slovak friend, and the paintings come, in fact, from Slovakia. They are a 'bit much,' yet they make me feel strangely comforted and somehow I feel they are supposed to be here, watching over this silent space and offering inspiration.

I had to move to this flat because I will no longer be teaching drama at the international school next year. At the age of 68, the school felt it was time for me to retire and, recognizing the hand of Providence moving me to concentrate more on my writing, I graciously accepted their 'offer' to pursue other interests. However, I've already landed two small drama teaching jobs next year with local theater companies and all feels right with the world. I've also just entered the UK Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger contest, for the best debut crime novel of the year. I hope at the very least to get on the short list. This move feels like the guiding hand of Providence revealing a major shift in my life towards a greater focus upon writing. Lord grant me the peace and fortitude to discover and live out your gracious will for me. Lord have mercy and thank you for all of your gifts for the present and the future. Watch over all of those I care for and bring peace to the world and instill harmony and understanding within and between the world's religions. Amen.

Library, reading and prayer corner

My young friend Michal, helping me order the internet connection.

A very cozy and peaceful spot

View from the terrace

second sofa pulls out into a bed.