Jun 28, 2013

Off to Summer Camp

Don't know if I'll be posting much over the summer months. Tomorrow I take off for four weeks of summer camp with Czech kids - who come to camp for a wild, wild time. Last year we had twelve year old boys running around with condoms! Unnerving, to say the least!

Boy times have changed since I was a twelve year old, timid and shy and almost totally ignorant about my own sexuality. I feel a spot of pity for that confused young boy, looking towards the future and assuming that I would begin experiencing interest in girls. What "saved" me from greater self knowledge was my own passionate, overwhelming yearning for God, even at such a young age, which replaced all of the normal prepubescent longings. I look back on this time of my life as a moment of stupendous grace which set the course of the rest of my life- on a path so different from my childhood friends. This was essentially a saving grace, yet also  partly sublimation, substitution, a bit of escapism, perhaps, since our motives are mixed and the Holy Spirit gives her grace to correspond with our deepest needs. Yet I knew young love and passion for my young male friends, and developed passionate crushes on girls as well.  However,  none of these attachments could match the glowing, burning love that seemed to be calling me from such an infinite, mysterious, elusive height and depth, near yet far.

And so off I went, carried on the wings of love - and it would be another twenty plus years before I would finally come out as gay. A long journey of self acceptance, and I can't help wonder how much the religious quest prevented me from understanding and accepting my own nature. Yet it was the fruits of that quest - an abiding, profound sense of being loved in every particle of my being that finally enabled me to come out. All in God's good time.

Anyway, off to camp for four weeks, then one week free, then another four weeks of camp. I need  To make money to make up for the eight weeks of work from pneumonia. Fortunately, I'm going to some beautiful camps in the Czech mountains.

Will post when I feel the muse, but will follow the usual threads and blogs, to keep with the unfolding events of our times.

Jun 26, 2013

A Day of Rejoicing

A moment of light and grace today as the US Supreme Court overturned the most discriminatory part of DOMA and opened the way to gay marriage - once again - in California. I rejoice with gay and lesbian people everywhere, and feel a certain peaceful joy as well in the necessary and purificatory humiliation of the US Catholic Bishops. A small sign of victory, a small significant step forward, and one feels a rush of peace and joy, life breathing itself into existence in the face of darkness. 

Nonetheless, everything must be seen in context. This partial victory takes place within a society plummeting headlong into fascist totalitarianism, a state for which gay marriage presents little threat, so why not endorse and facilitate it. Hence my somewhat subdued reaction to today's victory. It must not be allowed to obscure - or whitewash - the profound state of crisis of US society, a crisis most of us are choosing to ignore or minimize, in a state of profound denial.   

Edward Snowden continues to languish in a nebulous exile, his exact whereabouts unknown. Perhaps he is still in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport (in one of its 43 transit hotel room cubicles) perhaps the Russian secret police, the FSB,  are draining him of information, perhaps he has made it to the Ecuadorian embassy in Moscow, and best of all, perhaps he has already boarded a flight to Ecuador via Cuba. As is to be expected, he is being demonized in the US - or else ignored by those who should be his defenders. Some are even suggesting he is in reality a CIA plant, spreading disinformation in service of the surveillance state. How familiar all of this is to those of us living in post totalitarian societies in Central and Eastern Europe. Yet just as its own lonely, under-appreciated, resented dissidents saved the moral consciences of their respected countries, so too the lonely figures like Edward Snowden take their own giant steps for the rest of us, and shame us with the knowledge of our own timidity and cowardice. Courage is possible, and truth does prevail, and moments of grace do occur. Let us be thankful for these moments of grace, signposts along the way. And let us pray for young Edward Snowden, a man without a country, suspended in limbo, waiting to be offered refuge in the storm. 

Jun 23, 2013

Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong for mystery asylum via Moscow

Happy 30th birthday to Edward Snowden (June 22nd). Hong Kong authorities, taking maximum advantage in loopholes in expedition laws, have expedited Mr. Snowden's exit from Hong Kong to a third country for asylum via Moscow. Mr. Snowden's initial flight to Hong Kong is now being seen as more intelligent than first perceived. I wish him well and my prayers are with him, as with anyone with true moral courage who stands up against the principalities and dark powers of this world, while being branded traitor, lunatic, fanatic. We live in perilous times, but there are moments of grace, and the journey of Edward Snowden is one of them. Blessings and prayers for a safe haven for one of the truly remarkable 'ordinary heroes' of our times, a man who simply did what was right (though there was little simple about it) in the face of egregious crimes and sickening lies.

See report in the South China Morning Post

I breathed a enormous sigh of relief when reading this breaking news this morning (I lived in Hong Kong for  year and read the South China Morning Post every day.). I haven't been blogging much, but have been following the Snowden affair with keen interest.

However, for an even more explosive exposé of NSA spying, see the interview with NSA whistleblower Russ Tice here at Boiling Frogs. This is essentially the interview MSNBC severely censored. Too hot to handle for the compliant mainstream media.

More reflections later, but I can only reiterate the powerful mystical connection I feel with the whole Snowden affair. Yet how difficult it is for some to see the light amidst the fog.

Perhaps I shouldn't have breathed quite so loud a sigh of relief for the young fugitive, since he's been charged with espionage by the Obama administration - no surprise there - under an antique, outmoded law that has now been used by Obama seven times, more than double the times of all previous US administrations. Meanwhile Obama continues to preach his smooth liberal agenda regarding gay rights, women's right, fairness to all, peace to the world - words that do little to threaten the dark and hidden systems of power that truly rule the US in the shadows.

Prayers and blessings for Edward Snowden - may he find safe refuge. Is that praying for a miracle?

Jun 9, 2013

Back to Life

Both the glorious city of Prague and its majestic, serene river, the Vltava or Moldau (take your pick), have returned to some semblance of normal. The flood waters are receding - slowly - having caused far less damage than the 2002 floods. The beautiful, wide embankments which are such a pleasure to walk upon, are still under water, about four feet. But the subways are open, the cafes are bustling, the days are glorious and sunny, and the swans have returned to their peaceful meanderings along he river shore. 

And I have finally adjusted to living with one eye, for the time being, and have already returned to work and back on the computer. Lots of work ahead of me, with summer camp coming up and work on my novel. Everything  feels fine and peaceful and I'm looking forward to lots of good reading, including a list of great spy novels, with Red Sparrow at the top of the list.

I just finished Barara Kingsolver's harrowing, deeply moving novel, Flight Behavior, which explores the horrors of climate change as seen through the eyes of an ordinary, struggling Tennesee housewife. One of the most frightening literary novels I've read in some time, for the very effective way it drives home the impending disaster coming down upon all of us. To borrow an image used by one of the scientists in the book, think 'Niagra Falls,' you are in a canoe, the roar is deafening, the abyss is in view and there is no turning back for a slow paddle back to shore. The story revolves around the stunning discovery of a colony of thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies, who have bypassed their usual yearly migrating site in Mexico and landed insread in a forest in rural, Bible Belt Tennessee. The locals see it as an act of Divine Grace;  the scientists, however, are grief stricken as they witness the extinction process of a beautiful species. Yet the book actually succeedes in ending on a note of some hope for the human community, as the crisis itself brings people together into new forms of cooperation.  Deeply spiritual message, which reminds me of mystical activist, Andrew Harvey's latest book, The Hope.

Jun 2, 2013

Prague Under Water

Terrible floods in Central Europe, at the moment, with flooding in the south of the country and the historic center of Prague threatened by rising river waters. We're all hoping and praying this is not a repeat of the 2002 disaster, which caused two billion dollars damage and was a terrible blow to the Czech economy. But it's already bad. Forecasters and tentatively predicting the Vltava river will reach its peak levels tomorrow by 7 and - hopefully- begin receding. But predictions are changing every moment.
I'm safe in the southern district of Podoli, about three miles from the  center. The land on the other side of us is much lower, so all the excess water is flowing in that direction. But our favorite riverside cafe is a foot under water at the moment and probably at least a meter by tomorrow morning. Mother swans with their chicks are anxious and confused, huddling by the river bank seeking shelter.

This is a terrible tragedy for the country and puts everything into perspective.

Jun 1, 2013

Signs of Hope: Cardinal Defends Gay Marriage Legislation

Cardinal Godfried Daneels of Belgium speaks out about gay marriage.

This hopeful, wise and inspiring article was taking from the site Catholic Conclave (or is it the Cardinal's words that are,hopeful, wise and inspiring?) More signs of change in the Church and indications that the glacial icebergs are melting.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels defends legislation for same-sex marriage in an interview with this newspaper, though he feels that there is another term that should be found for relationships between people of the same sex. Archbishop Leonard sides with him. 'Do not call it gay marriage, but a gay relationship. "

D e Tijdspoke with Godfried Danneels following his eightieth birthday.

There have been months of massive demonstrations against gay marriage, which has been accepted by parliament. In France on Wednesday, there was the first legally blessed marriage , heavily protected from protesters. When asked what he thinks of the attitude of his church in this discussion Danneels says, "You know what the Church says about these problems, I do not want to go against it. But I think it's a positive development that states open up free civil marriage for homosexuals if they want. "

Can you not as a human being identify with this orientation?

Cardinal Godfried Danneels,

The reasoning goes like this: "Can you not as a human being identify with this orientation? I think there is a clear evolution in the thinking of the church. Also towards people who commit suicide, for example. Previously, that condemned you to be not being buried in a cemetery - of course you cannot do such things! It is much more nuanced thinking about the person in their totality rather than being fixated on the moral principle. '

Politically sensitive

Same-sex marriage is currently politically sensitive in several European countries.The British Parliament is considering the opening up of civil marriage to persons of the same sex. In Paris, hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets against gay marriage. Recently historian Dominique Venner put a bullet through his head at the high altar of Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage. Nineteen countries, including Belgium, have already opened civil marriage , dozens of other countries will follow in the coming years.

On what is legal, what one can do legitimately and legally, the Church has nothing to say.

CardinalGodfried Danneels,

Danneels has a reputation of being in the vanguard of the troops. As in 2004, when he set the Vatican in turmoil by declaring that someone who is HIV positive would be better to use a condom during sex. About gay marriage, he is clear, albeit cautiously: "It is positive if states want to regulate the relationships between people of the same sex but for the Church it is not real marriage as between man and woman. So you have a different name cited in the dictionary sites. But on what is legal, what one can do legitimately and legally, the Church has nothing to say.. "


The statements fit in with a change in the Vatican.
Paul Van Geest,
Professor of Church History, University of Tilburg

“What Cardinal Danneels says is remarkable. Here he creates a noteworthy opening, because the institution of the Church is opposed to a civil marriage, that regulates and legitimises sexual relationships between people of the same sex' "says Rik Torfs, professor of canon law and rector-elect of the university. Paul Van Geest, professor of church history and his colleague at the University of Tilburg, gives perspective."There is the story put out by the New York Times that the current Pope, Jorge Bergoglio, as archbishop of Buenos Aires behind the scenes campaigned for legal rights for gay couples and civil union, a fight he lost in the Argentine Episcopal Conference. (See Cathcon- witness inside the Episcopal Conference) ;The statements fit in with a change in the Vatican. "

Also Archbishop Andre Leonard sides with Danneels, "The position of Danneels is that of the Archbishop ', says Jeroen Moens, a spokesman for the archdiocese."Monsignor Leonard has no problem with a legal commitment between gay men. But he would not call it marriage. Let us say that Monsignor Leonard endorses a gay commitment. Marriage happens before the Church in the complementarity of man and woman. Such complementarity is impossible between two people of the same sex. "

Let us say that Monsignor Leonard endorses a gay commitment.

Jeroen Moens,
Archdiocese spokesman

Danneels, in other words, is not the only ecclesiastical dignitary who recently reached out to gay couples. Archbishop Piero Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies promoted by Pope Benedict (Cathcon- well, not exactly) recently remarked that "it is time to recognize that many couples suffer because their civil rights are not recognized. 

Similar words were spoken earlier this year Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family - before he was rebuffed

Source Cathcon- Archbishop Leonard is in theory at least meant to be a conservative. Like origami, turn a conservative inside out and you get a liberal. You cannot do that with tradition. See also German Cardinal defends mutually caring homosexual relationships