Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005
BALTIMORE (UMNS)—Irene Elizabeth "Beth" Stroud, who was found guilty of violating United Methodist church law and had her clergy credentials withdrawn last December, won her appeal in a decision announced April 29.
The clergy court had found her guilty of violating denomination law, which forbids the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." Stroud had disclosed that she was living in a committed relationship with another woman.
The appeals committee upheld part of the trial court’s finding but overturned the verdict based on legal error. The committee’s 8-1 vote means Stroud is automatically reinstated as a pastor.
The United Methodists are not united. Just a matter of time until there is a schism in the Methodist Church, or a significant number of moderate to liberal Methodists quit or drift away to more open & accepting denominations. Conservative Methodists would like the latter to happen; no messy, public lawsuits over division of property & power. There are unprejudiced, relatively sophisticated Methodists throughout the Church, even in the South, who openly welcome gays & lesbians to their churches & who understand that pastors like Beth Stroud would never insist that conservative congregations be forced to accept gay & lesbian ministers. But here, conservative is narrowly used, for the Reconciling Ministries movement in the UMC is not advocating huge doctrinal shifts or a radical theology; no one's trashing the Methodist "Articles of Religion," or disputing the Apostle's Creed.
What's remarkable about Beth Stroud is how Methodist she is. She strongly supports the church's traditional Wesleyan committment to social causes, but she's just as comfortable taking a youth group roller skating & attending pot luck fellowship suppers. She uses the non-confrontational, somewhat convoluted "sisters & brothers in Christ" language that characterizes debate & differences of opinion; everyone is "seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit" & "dedicated to growing God's church" & "joining together to light the fire of renewal in our hearts." You get the gist. Sometimes it makes one feel like yelling. Beth is a quintessential young Methodist minister. Her sermons are thoughtful & felt, but her appeal isn't especially intellectual; it's evangelical in a typically friendly, informal Methodist style. One prays, sings, studies the Scriptures, does God's work, acts with modesty & moderation, & always lets the children be first in line at the annual Strawberry Festival. Everything about Beth says, "This is a good way to live." In the UMC, lesbians & gays at all levels of participation are secrets everyone knows. Rev. Beth Stroud refused to be an example of "Don't ask - don't tell."
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Free Form Radio
WFMU is a free form radio station wherein most DJs do free form programs but some do not.
The great strength of free form is that every type of music, every sound, can have an equality of emphasis in the free form stream.
Most of the music that flows out of WFMU's broadcasting stream isn't especially strange. But it may attain an unexpected strangeness in the free form context; analogous to watching a variety of items floating down a river; a broken lawn chair, tree branches of various shapes, a colorful beachball, a rainbow oil slick, a dead body. Presented this way, everything is sort of equal. You can watch, accepting whatever comes by next, or you can walk away. & upriver, someone tossing all that stuff in - the DJ.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Monday, April 25, 2005
The student, Edward Bolles, said his poem entitled "Professor White," was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization. In it, a Mexican student named Juan has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.
Nothing Is Simple
A woman friend called me tonight from her bathtub,
she wanted to drive over & have sex, watch some TV
& get home by midnight. I said, not now sweetheart,
I'm playing along with Mozart on my kazoo (actually it was just
tissue paper & a comb), & I really need to rinse some socks,
& then I'm having coleslaw & canned ravioli. Or maybe
a frozen pizza. How about tomorrow night? We can watch
that new show about the soccer mom who sees the future
in her dreams & her husband is a real jerk. She said
she couldn't do it, she had a job down the shore
installing a dry wall in a chiropractor's office & probably
wouldn't get home until after 8 o'clock.
What a coincidence, I said, I'll also be down the shore
taking blood samples from a pod of dolphins
that mysteriously beached in Asbury Park
on the exact spot next to Casino Pier that local legend
has Wendy going down on a young Bruce Springsteen,
inspiring a song originally titled Born to Hum.
I'm sure we'll be famished when we're done, let's
meet for drinks & sushi at Martell's Tiki Bar.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
This Sunday, we're seeing the first of 2005's two lunar eclipses. Very early in the morning, the Earth's silhouette will pass in front of the Moon, shadowing out its light, but you'll begin to feel the effects 24 hours earlier. This eclipse is focused on Scorpio, the sign of sexuality and the paranormal -- quite the exciting combination! Scorpio is the most secretive and ambiguous sign of the zodiac, and you'll certainly feel a sense of mystery this weekend. You'll also feel a detached focus on yourself, as the illumination of the Moon, which rules our emotions, will be blocked. It's an excellent time to take a step back from the details of your life to see the whole picture. To learn more about this weekend's lunar eclipse, visit The Stars This Week.
In honor of this mysterious eclipse, we're offering you 33% off your Revelations Reading -- from learning what influences affect your personality to seeing how others perceive you, you'll begin to understand how you came to be the person you are today.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
One more for the Stupid Crime File
A 53-year-old city man was charged after scuffling with officers who tried to arrested him on drug charges, police said yesterday.
Eddie McClary of Park Street was riding a motorized scooter the wrong way on East Cherry Street, a one-way street, shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lt. Kevin Sherwood said.
Officers stopped McClary near the intersection of West Milton Avenue and Broad Street. As he was being questioned, McClary tried to discard a bottle that contained what was later determined to be heroin, Sherwood said.
East Cherry is downtown near the police station. The guy also probably got summonses for an unregistered motor vehicle & reckless driving. Previous entries in the Rahway Stupid Crime File include: a local man who robbed a convenience store using his own car, then parked it in front of his house. & another convenience store robber who was chased & caught by the Rahway police bicycle patrol; & the kid who threw his drugs into Rahway River & then crawled up into the storm sewer system, so the cops called in the fire rescue unit, popped some manholes & waited until the kid encountered a few rats.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
'scuse my Latin
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Viva Il Papa! Hail Caesar!
"It is slavery in everything; in the acquisition of knowledge, in morals, in religion, in art, in political & social life."Berdyaev wrote this in order to expose a paradox: We all are totally, utterly free, & we use this freedom mainly to enslave ourselves & each other. Is he advocating chaos? Of course not. He is refusing to advocate slavery. In every institutional religion is some degree of absurd & unnecessary bondage. I saw slavery on display today in Rome; the Curse of Constantine, an emperor who embraced Christianity to win a crucial battle, & later moved the capitol of his empire to a new city on the Bosporus, leaving behind in Italy the structure of an orthodox Church. Freed from 300 years of persecution, this Church was already gathering to itself the power, pomp, & political structures of pagan Rome, which was the only model it had (other than the singular example of its founder). How strange to see that model not only surviving 1700 years later, but praised & embraced, as if there were still sense in 115 hand-picked princes choosing a King-for-Life to rule over one-billion subjects. Il Papa! indeed! The crowd could just as well have been shouting "Hail Caesar."
Monday, April 18, 2005
Happy Birthday, blog
That I've kept it up for two years can be attributed to two things. First, I enjoy writing in short bites & much of what I"ve posted here I would have written anyway. Second, I'm a textbook A.C.A. & so I become doggedly attached to routines, projects, & goals that don't help me much; I have misplaced many loyalties in my life & this blog may well be an example. But like another writing project I pointlessly kept going, a weekly column for Worrall Newspapers back in the Nineties, I know I'm stockpiling a lot of words I would adapt to another context if I could figure out what that context is. Just as my taste in music was ideally suited to free form radio for many years, so my prose writing may be best presented (to myself if no one else) in a chronological form that includes - even showcases - all the digressions, asides, & non-sequiturs of the process.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
DNA to identify victims of wagon train cannibals
John Harlow, Los Angeles
DNA tests being carried out on the remains of pioneers from a doomed Wild West wagon train may establish whether a Victorian gunsmith from Sheffield was eaten by fellow travellers.
John Dutton, 28, signed up with an 81-strong party led by George Donner, a prosperous farmer, that set off in April 1846 on a 2,500-mile trek from Springfield, Illinois, bound for San Francisco.
The pioneers came to grief in blizzards in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains the following winter and began to die of cold and starvation. The Donner Party, as the group is known, has become synonymous with disaster and despair to generations of American schoolchildren and has spawned memorials, films and even a musical.
Dutton volunteered to set off over the mountains on snowshoes as part of an expedition called the Forlorn Hope, but covered only a few hundred yards before his strength ran out. He is said to have sat down in the snow, lit his pipe and “died without complaint”.
The Forlorn Hope lived up to its name: lost in the snow and maddened by starvation, members drew lots to decide which of them would be killed and eaten so that the others might survive."
Saturday, April 16, 2005
The Phone Call
Wheel. The path of destiny. Karma on a grand scale. An unexpected turn of good fortune. A link in the chain of events. Success, luck, and happiness.
Sun reversed. Loneliness and uncertainty. Nostalgic memories. The warm passing glow of dusk. Peace without vigilance.
Friday, April 15, 2005
State police marine troopers believe the 12-foot iceberg white beluga whale that has made the Delaware River its home away from home this week, is still meandering the waterway today, probably between Burlington and Trenton, but as of noon, there had been no reported sightings.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
MADISON, Wis. - A proposal to legalize the killing of feral cats is not going to succeed, Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday.
'I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats,' said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. 'What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now.'
He told reporters his office had received calls from around the country denouncing a proposal adopted Monday at meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a public advisory group, that would classify wild, free-roaming cats as an unprotected species that kills song birds and other wildlife.
Outdoor enthusiasts approved the proposal 6,830 to 5,201 at Monday's spring hearings of the group."
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Drawing from history
Dad's occasional art was far more precise - he had an engineering background & not much patience for fine art or observing nature - he designed things, & he did one nice pen & watercolor of a Civil War soldier with authentic uniform & equipment - not too good with the face though - that he liked enough to frame & hang in his home office. Later, he switched to the Revolutionary period & became a re-enactor, with costume & working cannon. His approach to history didn't get much attention from me when he was alive (except the cannon), but I was coming at it from another direction, through literature & what used to be "alternative" or parallel histories of the United States: African-American, human rights, & cultural, rather than economics (which talked more of cotton than chattel slavery) & the battlefield. The latter was Dad's thing. I did always appreciate the old photos; stark portraits of the death, destruction, & ruined beauty that a generation long dead experienced. "The real war," Walt Whitman correctly observed, "will never get in the books." But there is no war in my drawings. No battlements, no people. Only rivers flowing beneath bridges that no longer exist.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Federico Fellini (1994)
Friday, April 08, 2005
The art supply store in the strip mall
Pearl was a buzzin' little oddball community with a spirit existing independently of a management that did nothing to encourage loyalty & pride in the workplace anyway. The store hired people of all ages who for various reasons wouldn't or couldn't be employed under more structured & closely supervised conditions. Pearl was unobtrusively tucked away behind a Red Lobster & between a Toys R Us & a discount carpet outlet on Mall Alley, a wasteland of middle class over-development along Jersey's share of old U.S. Route One. The store was a disaster when I started in 1991; atrociously managed, uncontrolled theft, unbelievable fire & OSHA code violations; some guys in the drafting supply area even watched porn on a monitor set up for promotional videos. But I enjoyed my younger cuckoo bird co-workers. & the store slowly improved without losing its offbeat qualities - a unique blend of India bazaar, boardwalk souvenir shop, & art supply supermarket. It's all gone now.
When I quit for the third time in 2000 over being denied a raise, leaving a large, eclectic book department that reflected my personality, several retail generations of these "kids" had known me as "Bob from Books." A number of them had been at the store all along, from high school through college, providing a continuity to my time there. I'd observed their changing fashions & tastes. I'd watched them form bands, play local bars & clubs, & break up to form new groups. I'd followed their soap operas of doomed in-store adolescent romances, & attended several weddings. Nearly all of them respected me because I was open-minded about what they liked & did while remaining true to my own ideas; I respected each of them as persons. & they were often surprised - at first- when I ordered a special book or print that reflected something they were interested in. It was my quiet way of being a teacher; that & never saying "no" to whatever creative ideas or dreams were shared with me. Pearl was a very good gig some days.
I shot this photo from the parking lot in front of Pearl.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
How long would you stand in line for a dead pope?
The retail system of buying or bargaining salvation touched off the protestant reformation. This hypothetically includes not only the sale & purchase of indulgences (the Roman Church in response to Luther suppressed the practice), but also all sacramental & apparent attempts at negotiation with God (e.g. buying flowers for the altar, inviting clergy to the country club for a round of golf, extreme self-mortifications like giving up ice cream for Lent, viewing a fuzzy image vaguely resembling Virgin Mary on a window in Perth Amboy New Jersey, signing over one's estate to a slick televangelist, defending or castigating Bernard Law, boycotting Disneyworld for allowing "Gay Day," dispassionately rooting for the Liberty College women's basketball team, voting for Republicans).
Monday, April 04, 2005
All the Toys Go Cha Cha Cha
The staff of the [Newark] Star-Ledger won a Pulitzer Prize in the "Breaking News" category for "its comprehensive, clear-headed coverage of the resignation of New Jersey’s governor after he announced he was gay and confessed to adultery with a male lover." The McGreevey Scandal. The arts & letters prizes were laughably predictable.