Monday, May 4, 2009

Uncle Lew

I'm not sure if anyone reads this blog or not, and I haven't posted anything in a long time. But I came up with an idea of what I might post. I recently took a writing workshop and started a short story. I decided I can post sections of it here to see if anyone has any thoughts...if anyone is reading. So if you are, and have some thoughts, please comment.

Here's the first installment (it's a rough draft):

The house had finally quieted down, and the smell of bread and chicken were waning. The ladies from church had finished all the dishes and put away what they could. They were kind as could be, but always squawking—like the hens in the coop when you go to gather eggs. Noisy, but not loud; always busy, without getting too much accomplished. But this was their duty to their Christian brothers and sisters. So Lew left them to their business, but it was a welcome calm that followed their departure. His brother had walked the kids back over to Aunt Tenn’s house. There’d been a lot of death in those kids’ lives—first their mom to TB in ‘27, now less than a year later, their grandfather. He would have to keep an eye on them. His mother was upstairs resting, so it was one of those rare moments that he had to himself in his own house.

Lew didn’t want to disturb her, but he needed to be busy. That’d been his job for years now; keep busy taking care of everyone else. If he kept busy, he didn’t think too much. It was easier if he didn’t think about it. But that was always the danger when things got too quiet.

Maybe this was a good time to put away some of his father’s things. It was a delicate balance. He didn’t want to rip away every trace, but his mother shouldn’t be bombarded with sad memories. As he stood in the front hall and looked into the parlor, he felt the lingering heat of the day, his body lightly glazed in sweat. The whole house had that sticky heaviness that comes in those late-summer, Arkansas days. The curtains rustled gently at the open windows, with an evening breeze that helped break the heat of the day a bit. But real relief wouldn’t come until he’d had a cool bath and was able to catch the late night breeze in his bedroom upstairs.

The parlor had that comfortably cluttered look that a well-lived-in house should have. He sometimes couldn’t believe he’d been here for 8 years already. So many things had accumulated in that time. Where to start? As he looked around, he couldn’t help but think of how the house would have been so different if his parents hadn’t come to live with him as they got too old to live by themselves. What if he had gotten to live here with WJ? How different would the house have been if that had been the case? All the tumbling thoughts of what might, but couldn’t, have been got stirred up, and, alone in his house, he let the tears flow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hunkered Down

For Ike. School's been canceled, non-essential businesses closed, lots of predictions, but do they really know? We'll see how things go.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Summer's over--reading update

So summer is officially over and we're back into the full swing of another school year. It's going to be a busy one, with lots of work for a self-study as we prepare for re-accreditation next year (it's a private school thing).

But I did read some great books this summer. It was a summer of gay books. Band Fags!, by Anthony Polito, was so evocative of my high school days in marching band in the early 80's. Candy Everybody Wants, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell (which I ordered because I always enjoy his columns in OUT), was a little slow to start, but ended up being a novel with great, quirky characters. So much less tragic than Running with Scissors; yes, I'm one of the few who didn't like that one. Then there was When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris, with some "embaress yourself by laughing out loud on the plane" moments. I have loved every book of his I've read (and I think I've read all of them) as well as his work on NPR. And I'm psyched that we get to see him when he's here in town next month.

Then there was a non-gay interlude, with Odd Hours, the next in a series of Odd Thomas (he's a guy who can see ghosts) books by Dean Koonz--great spooky fluff to pass the time, followed by the non-fiction Shadow Divers, about a group of SCUBA divers off the NJ coast who find a WW2 German submarine wreck while the experts are all saying "there's no German sub there." I'm not a history buff at all, but have done SCUBA in the past, but it comes across as a mystery, with great character development.

Now I'm in the middle of Anne Tyler's Digging to America, but I'm having to put that aside because I've just been turned on to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I was talking to two other teachers at school about books and this Pulitzer Prize winner came up because the author is going to be in town for a reading. So some of us are going to that, which means I need to read as much of it as possible in the next week. Then, because of that same conversation, I've got a collection of Graham Greene short stories (I've never read any Greene), Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham, and The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst all waiting on the table.

So my plan is to not work when I get home, as much as possible, and do some real relaxation by reading as much as possible. We'll see how that plan unfolds.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New Favorite Book

I just finish reading "The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy" by Robert Leleux. I think it's now my favorite book. It's a funny, touching tale of a gay boy growing up in Houston under the influence of his moneyed-husband-seeking mother. You should go out and buy it now--it's a fantastic read. And you can visit his website:

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bible Teaching

Summarized from What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality

GENESIS 19:1-25

What was the sin of Sodom? Some proclaim that God destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of "homosexuality." Although some theologians have equated the sin of Sodom with homosexuality, a careful look at Scripture corrects such ignorance. Announcing judgment on these cities in Genesis 18, God sends two angels to Sodom, where Abraham's nephew, Lot, persuades them to stay in his home. Genesis 19 records that "all the people from every quarter" surround Lot's house demanding the release of his visitors so "we might know them." The Hebrew word for "know" in this case, yadha, usually means "have thorough knowledge of." It could also express intent to examine the visitors' credentials, or on rare occasions the term implies sexual intercourse. If the latter were the author's intended meaning, it would have been a clear case of attempted gang rape. Horrified at this gross violation of ancient hospitality rules, Lot attempts to protect the visitors by offering his two daughters to the angry crowd, a morally outrageous act by today's standards. The people of Sodom refuse, so the angels render them blind. The angels then rescue Lot and his family as the cities are destroyed. Several observations are important. First, the judgment on these cities for their wickedness had been announced prior to the alleged homosexual incident. Second, all of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority of the population been homosexual. Third, Lot's offer to release his daughters suggests he knew his neighbors to have heterosexual interests. Fourth, if the issue was sexual, why did God spare Lot, who immediately commits incest with his daughters? Most importantly, why do all the other passages of Scripture referring to this account fail to raise the issue of homosexuality?

What was the Sin of Sodom?
Ezekiel 16:48-50 states it clearly: people of Sodom, like many people today, had abundance of material goods. But they failed to meet the needs of the poor, and they worshipped idols. The sins of injustice and idolatry plague every generation. We stand under the same judgment if we create false gods or treat others with injustice.

LEVITICUS 18:22 & 20:13

Christians today do not follow the rules and rituals described in Leviticus. But some ignore its definitions of their own "uncleanness" while quoting Leviticus to condemn homosexuals. Such abuse of Scripture distorts the Old Testament meaning and denies a New Testament message. "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." These words occur solely in the Holiness Code of Leviticus, a ritual manual for Israel's priests. Their meaning can only be fully appreciated in the historical and cultural context of the ancient Hebrew people. Israel, in a unique place as the chosen people of God, was to avoid the practices of other peoples and gods. Hebrew religion, characterized by the revelation of one God, stood in continuous tension with the religion of the surrounding Canaanites who worshipped the multiple gods of fertility cults. Canaanite idol worship, which featured female and male cult prostitution as noted in Deuteronomy 23:17, repeatedly compromised Israel's loyalty to God. The Hebrew word for a male cult prostitute, qadesh, is mistranslated "sodomite" in some versions of the Bible.

What is an "Abomination?"
An abomination is that which God found detestable because it was unclean, disloyal, or unjust. Several Hebrew words were so translated, and the one found in Leviticus, toevah, is usually associated with idolatry, as in Ezekiel, where it occurs numerous times. Given the strong association of toevah with idolatry and the Canaanite religious practice of cult prostitution, the use of toevah regarding male same-sex acts in Leviticus calls into question any conclusion that such condemnation also applies to loving, responsible homosexual relationships. Rituals and rules found in the Old Testament were given to preserve the distinctive characteristics of the religion and culture of Israel. But, as stated in Galatians 3: 22-25, these Jewish laws no longer bind Christians. By faith we live in Jesus Christ, not in Leviticus. To be sure, ethical concerns apply to all cultures and peoples in every age. Jesus Christ, who said nothing about homosexuality, but a great deal about love, justice, mercy and faith, ultimately reflected such concerns.

ROMANS 1:24-27

Most New Testament books, including the four Gospels, are silent on same-sex acts, and Paul is the only author who makes any reference to the subject. The most negative statement by Paul regarding same-sex acts occurs in Romans 1:24-27 where, in the context of a larger argument on the need of all people for the gospel of Jesus Christ, certain homosexual behavior is given as an example of the "uncleanness" of idolatrous Gentiles. Does this passage refer to all homosexual acts, or to certain homosexual behavior known to Paul's readers? Romans was written to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who would have been familiar with the infamous sexual excesses of their contemporaries, especially Roman emperors. They would also have been aware of tensions in the early Church regarding Gentiles and observance of the Jewish laws, as noted in Acts 15 and Paul's letter to the Galatians. Jewish laws in Leviticus mentioned male same sex acts in the context of idolatry.

Significant to Paul's discussion is the fact that these "unclean" Gentiles exchanged that which was "natural" for them - physin, in the Greek text - for something "unnatural," para physin. In Romans 11:24, God acts in an "unnatural" way, para physin, to accept the Gentiles. "Unnatural" in these passages does not refer to violation of so-called laws of nature, but rather implies action contradicting one's own nature. In view of this, we should observe that it is "unnatural," para physin, for a person today with a lesbian or gay sexual orientation to attempt living a heterosexual lifestyle. Romans 1:26 is the only statement in the Bible with a possible reference to lesbian behavior, although the specific intent of this verse is unclear. Some authors have seen in this passage a reference to women adopting a dominant role in heterosexual relationships. Given the repressive cultural expectations placed on women in Paul's time, such a meaning may be possible. The homosexual practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1. Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from loving, responsible lesbian and gay relationships seen today.


Any consideration of New Testament statements on same-sex acts must carefully view the social context of the Greco-Roman culture in which Paul ministered. Prostitution and pederasty (sexual relationships of adult men with boys) were the most commonly known male same-sex acts. In I Corinthians 6:9, Paul condemns those who are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind," as translated in the King James version. Unfortunately, some newer translations are worse, rendering these words "homosexuals." Recent scholarship unmasks the homophobia behind such mistranslations. The first word, malakos, in the Greek text, which has been translated "effeminate" or "soft," most likely refers to someone who lacks discipline or moral control. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but never with reference to sexuality. The second word, arsenokoitai, occurs once each in I Corinthians and I Timothy, but nowhere else in other literature of the period. It is derived from two Greek words, one meaning "males" and the other "beds," a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Other Greek words were commonly used to describe homosexual behavior, but do not appear here. The larger context of I Corinthians 6 shows Paul extremely concerned with prostitution, so it is very possible he was referring to male prostitutes. But many experts now attempting to translate these words have reached a simple conclusion: their precise meaning is uncertain.

No Law Against Love
The rarity with which Paul discusses any form of same-sex behavior and the ambiguity in references attributed to him make it extremely unsound to conclude any sure position in the New Testament on homosexuality, especially in the context of loving, responsible relationships. Since any arguments must be made from silence, it is much more reliable to turn to great principles of the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. “Love God with all your heart,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” “The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love ... against such there is no law.” One thing is abundantly clear, as Paul stated in Galatians 5:14: “the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Two weeks off from work. My plan is to see as many movies as possible. I'll try to write some reviews here.

Yesterday, I saw The Golden Compass. It was quiet a beautiful film; the CGI were pretty amazing most of the time. The story was a little convoluted, but interesting. I'm fascinated by the whole "the kid is the hero and can outsmart the adults" genre. It's like a lesson in self-efficacy for kids--letting them know that they won't always be at the mercy of adults and that they can make decisions for themselves.

More to come.

Friday, November 23, 2007

So is it homophobia, or just a clueless sister...

Yesterday for Thanksgiving, we hosted my partner's family dinner. His parents, who are in their 80s (oh, and they are Chinese), have both had health issues recently, so the siblings decided it was better to not have the dinner at their house, where it is traditionally, because they would want to do too much of the work themselves. None of his three siblings wanted to have it at their place, and ours is apparently the most company-friendly. So we were elected.

Some family background to set the stage: Everyone except for his brother and sister-in-law, have been here before for dinners or parties, so that wasn't a big deal. We've been together for almost 10 years and I've been around his family for family functions for about 9 of those years. There has not, however, been any kind of formal acknowledgement from his "traditional" parents of our relationship. They are very nice to me, seem to expect me to be around for any function, and talk about "family" stuff in front of me (in their culture, only family hears about family stuff). So there is a level of acceptance. And his sisters seem fine with it all; his brother and his wife now at least talk to me (he's kind of the redneck of the family, and the sisters have issues with him for other it's not like we're missing anything important by not having him on "our side").

So everyone's here and the food's finally ready. Lotus, his "unofficial god mother" decides that Molly (as she usually does) should say the prayer. In my upbringing, it was up to the host to decide when dinner started and who said the prayer. But Lotus is just kind of pushy like that, so no more annoying than usual.

So in her (very Southern Baptist) prayer, Molly thanks "Gary for opening his house to us." Uh, yeah Molly, it's not like I don't own half the house, and was as much involved in "opening the house" as Gary was. Not to mention the fact that I gave up going to see my family in order to help with Gary's family event. It's little things like this that make me wonder how far her "acceptance" of me and my relationship with her brother goes.