Read from my place of employment during our last hour on a very slow January night. Well, last night, in fact.
Maybe you already know this song. But I just heard it last night and it cracked me up. I am very happy this week. I had a fantastic time over Christmas with my sons and some time with my family, and one of my dearest friends and I have at last admitted that we are head over heels for each other. My boyfriend, Brian is just the sweetest cutest cadet in the galaxy! So, anywho, since I’ve been so giddy and happy since Christmas, enjoying the way 2009 has “earned its keep,” I’m posting silly gay videos on my blog. Enjoy!
A friend sent me a link to this article on Facebook and I felt compelled to respond.
To put it bluntly, the Cardinal, despite his clarification is still full of crap, and it’s about time I sit down to write a series of essays on faith, the Bible and homosexuality (AFTER this semester). Lord knows I’ve studied, prayed and agonized over this for long enough to be an expert on the topic (insert mad little laugh here). Even if I were to interpret the Bible as literally as these people do, the Cardinal’s statements would not hold up to fair scrutiny.
For now, let me say regarding the book of Leviticus, eating shrimp and lobster is also an abomination, as is having sex when you are menstruating. And the day that our government starts obeying the Old Testament and begins stoning adulterers to death I’ll consider listening to such arguments against homosexuality.
As for Paul and the New Testament, when I see women keeping their mouths shut in church, and praying only with their heads covered, I will stop calling the Christian Right a den of hypocrites.
The reason Christians recognize some of these commandments but dismiss others is that we interpret the Bible in it’s historical and cultural context, and apply logic and science only to the issues with which we are comfortable, ignoring those considered out of date or silly when applied to ourselves. The truth is most people don’t understand why a woman would love another woman, or a man would wish to have sex with a man. It makes us uncomfortable, so we decide it must be wrong. Interestingly enough Biblical arguments have been used to assuage this same sort of discomfort regarding inter-racial marriage. And not so long ago in our nation’s past we can find seemingly good men supporting from the pulpit the ownership of slaves by upholding Paul’s admonitions to treat them fairly, as implied consent.
Ultimately the Bible, as is made clear in the New Testament, is about love, so when I see the church as a whole start to really make a difference in the world, not of politics so much as charity and daily kindness, I may begin to think that they are onto something at last. As it is, their general behavior indicates that Jesus’ greatest command was not to love one another but to judge one another.
I am a family man, and I am not out to destroy the institution of marriage. To hear such accusations (the words of a divorced minister I know come to mind) is not simply insulting but astounding. To quote my 13-year-old son, “Have these people even looked at the divorce rate in this country? They have been successfully devaluing the institution of marriage without your help for years!”
And finally, for those who think that same sex attraction is a choice, I ask that you share with us a little testimony about the day you chose to be attracted to the opposite sex. If it was a choice for me, it had to be a choice for you. I’ll be writing a lot more on this topic in the future. There are many who will not change their minds, despite facts or logic, but I hope that by addressing the words of those to whom I have been so tired of listening, I might provide a little courage to one or two self-doubting souls to reject the false guilt and judgmentalism that they have suffered because of the innacturate and prejudicial teaching of men like the Cardinal.
Alright, sir, for you, I am breaking my rule of not posting my poems online. Well, ok, it’s also fun to get some feedback, so I hope you enjoy this. The poem is printed just below the video.
A Response to Billy Collins
Kayaking on the Susquehanna,
now that’s something I’m quite likely to do,
in July or any month, as long as there’s no ice.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a painting
of someone kayaking on the Susquehanna,
or any other stream or river in Pennsylvania.
My own body feels it now, the ache, the pull
of muscles as I row this pushing, pumping
rhythm, the meter of my stroke a little off–
two beats to port for each one
at starboard. This little sit-on-top is made
for ocean waves, not upstream track.
But it’s all the kayak I have, so I row
on the Susquehanna, my backyard fountain.
This far north of Harrisburg where west
meets main, the water’s deep, at least
when the dam is up. It’s inflatable, you know,
like the ego of poets who don’t know
of boats and bats swooping past,
fishing poles, and calloused hands,
curved paddles that dip and scoop
and drip the Susquehanna into your lap.
It’s dusk; two ducks, then a loon flap past,
wings nearly tip the waves. I tire and drift
the way we poets do when we’ve pushed
the pen too hard, and need to let the stream
find us again, take us where it will.
The slow current spins me facing downstream
toward a low waxing moon, and even the rise
of countless mayflies doesn’t hide the glow
of pink sky above a jumbled bank of trees.
I imagine, as I glide toward docking,
a man in a museum, mind adrift,
gazing at a picture of a stranger
kayaking on the Susquehanna.
Somehow he senses something missed,
and he thinks to write of his regret,
fleeting as a Pennsylvania rabbit,
remorse for a euphoria he’ll never know–
shoulders sore, a setting sun,
the moon and first few stars over slow
roving water. Up ahead a bass jumps
for the day’s last mayfly. From far away
I feel his gaze, rub my neck as I clamber
onto the dock, and sigh a little for his loss.
In my renaissance poetry class last week we talked about how mankind really only has so many stories. I mean, we seem to think they are endless, but truly we often tell the same stories over and over. We change the names, a few details, but honestly, there are no new stories to be had. What is unique is the style, the way the tale is told. That’s what makes it interesting.
This discussion had me thinking of this Carl Sandburg piece from the Chicago Poems. It reminds me why I am no longer in a workshop with teenagers questioning my technique. 🙂
Style STYLE—go ahead talking about style. You can tell where a man gets his style just as you can tell where Pavlowa got her legs or Ty Cobb his batting eye. Go on talking. Only don’t take my style away. It’s my face. Maybe no good but anyway, my face. I talk with it, I sing with it, I see, taste and feel with it, I know why I want to keep it. Kill my style and you break Pavlowa’s legs, and you blind Ty Cobb’s batting eye. - Carl Sandburg
Turn Over Your Hand
Those lines on your palm, they can be read
for a hidden part of your life that only
those links can say– nobody’s voice
can find so tiny a message as comes
across your hand. Forbidden to complain,
you have tried to be like somebody else,
and only this fine record you examine
sometimes like this can remember where
you were going before that long
silent evasion that your life became.
A poem by William Stafford from his book An Oregon Message.
Harper and Row, NY © 1987
Now, why that poem is significant at this point in my life could be easily guessed at by many of my friends and colleagues. But please don’t think that I mean that my entire relationship of ten years was any kind of total loss. That’s not at all what I mean. I think if I have come to understand anything in these many months (six since the break up; five since I moved out), it is that I truly did love that man.
Surprising? Well, no. At least not to me, though that second-guess-over-analyze-it-all tendency I have does find it a bit of a relief, as if some kind of argument was settled. He’s a good man. There is a lot he doesn’t understand, but I’ve come to realize that the same can be said of me. I think we both made some mistakes, and part of the after-sadness is thinking about what we might have done better. But it was never a question of whether I loved him. It was a question of why we couldn’t seem to solve our problems, why we couldn’t seem to understand each other, or connect… why both of us were so very lonely.
I suppose there could be many reasons, other than love, that influenced my willingness to stay together for entire decade. Financial stability (a two income home is one practical thing I miss), companionship (even if it was often sparse), familiarity, a history, and honestly often times, despite it all, we really did like each other. I do still care about him, respect him and wish him the very best. He works so hard for it. I do wish that we could be friends, and had even hoped for a time that we could repair what was broken, but I understand that being best buds is just too difficult for him. Still I wish we could at least say hello, or that he would answer the door when I drop things (pictures, etc, things that ended up in my moving boxes by mistake) off at his home.
So why did my blogging come to a halt back in December? It just became too difficult. My other projects, GayFatherhood.com, my poetry, my participation in the local group Gay Men of Faith, all suffered, and most fell to the way-side all together; I felt I had only enough energy for me and my sons. An honest assessment is that I was depressed. And when I am hurt I tend to do one of two things that I am ashamed of. One, I retreat into myself, the old turtle in his shell analogy. It often becomes so bad that my sister or a good friend will finally call and ask, “Just checking; Are you dead?” The second way I deal with the pain is to lash out at those close to me, well, usually those close, but occasionally some unsuspecting bystander who pisses me off at the wrong moment ends up feeling the shocking full blast of my fury.
I have stories to tell about all of this. I couldn’t tell them for some time, but now looking back, perhaps it would help me to go over things a bit, see what I’ve learned and what I could do better in the future. But honestly if it would have served any purpose for me to vent my pain in the moment, I am sure it would have either bored or drowned my readers in it’s maudlin flood of emotions. And in the end would have only been embarrassing for me (“Oh no, you mean I wrote that?). So be thankful for both of us that we dodged those angry bullets and skirted those deep waters.
Better that I write something productive now as I look back and gaze forward. And if you care to follow along, maybe what I write will help you too. I doubt it, but hey, hope springs eternal, right? So the next several entries, maybe the next several months will probably be me working out the details of this journey I’ve been on and seeing where I’ve come, and (cross your fingers) hopefully getting a clearer glimpse of this path I’m laying out before me.
Thanks for reading, friend. Thanks for caring. And you people know who you are, I cannot speak the thanks owed to you for being there for me through all of this. I don’t deserve it, and I love you for wanting to disagree with that statement.
OK, more about that palm reading by Stafford and what I mean about that long silent evasion next time. We’ve gone deep enough for day one. 🙂