Impolite Conversation

Religion, Sex, Geek Culture & Other Topics Outside Polite Society

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Friday, May 10, 2002


After everyone and their dog has debated the issue to death (is it homosexuals? Is it celibacy?), the real heart of the issue emerges: accountability. The real issue isn't that there are priests who do sexually abuse minors -- as several commentators have pointed out, the number of abusers among clergy isn't necessarily higher than the percent in the general population. The real issue is accountability. The presence of abusers in the priesthood isn't what scares most of us. The fact that the church is abetting their presence to the detriment of the children the church is charged with ministering to is. "Lawyers invoke anti-mobster law against Catholic church abuse cover up."

Whether or not this fits the classical pattern meaning of racketeering, it's clear this is a widespread and destructive conspiracy that's caused harm to numerous children. It's time someone brought it to account. It's sad that Christian ministers have to taught how to behave by civil authorities.

Thursday, May 09, 2002


The wonderful website The Mission of St. Clare, the folks that brought you the interactive online daily office, are now working on an online audio version -- and they need volunteers to finish the psalms. Well - get working on it, people.



Today is the Feast of the Ascension, the celebration of Jesus's Ascension into heaven after his resurrection. While Christians debate whether or not the story is literally true, it points to a profound truth -- that our full nature as humans and as part of the world has been subsumed into God. God has made "base matter" holy by drawing it into himself.

Ascension also begins the nine days of prayer before Pentecost, traditionally regarded as the first novena: The Novena of Seven Gifts.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002


In Killing the Buddha Nick Mamatas pronounces modern culture:

Before industrialization and urbanization, people depended on their feelings and intuition rather than on shrinks and Oprah. The people lived in tune with nature thanks to a largely agricultural existence, until the Enlightenment and its attendants -- calculus, petroleum, and animal vivisection -- turned the universe into clockwork, work into wage slavery, and the family into a demographic market segment. Elves are now what people once were, before we all got office jobs, health insurance, and credit card debt, before life became like running across a flaming rope bridge. Thanks to modern society, we're all Frankenstein's monster. None of us fit.

In Elven Like Me.

Of course, the problem is the assumption that premodern work wasn't wage slavery, that people relying on intuition were happier than people relying on Oprah, that the clockwork model is somehow more problematic than any of the hundreds of premodern models that shaped our notions of reality.

Nevertheless, the man has a point, one that rings home to those of us who've felt a strong disconnect between ourselves as the majority of the modern world. This ties in interestingly to a lot of the reading I've been doing lately, something I want to pick up on in the next few days.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Religion: Deadly Sins

It's pretty often, actually, that the webmag Killing the Buddha adds something extra to their site, so I can never keep track of all of it, but something about this article grabbed me from the headline: Sins of the City.

What's sad is the extent to which their point rings home: In the end, we are not interested in a just city, a fair city, a good city in New York or anywhere else. Even post 9/11, recession looming, half the people you know unemployed (or "freelancing" as we all like to pretend), what we want is a presentable city. It isn't a matter of a more stable, fair, or equitable society. It's about a cleaner, more sanitized society.

Perhaps the fact that it's threatening to come apart at the seems isn't so terrible as one might think. Perhaps it's a blessing, a moment of grace, a mercy.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Sex: Like They Do on the Discovery Channel

Don't ask what drove me here. It's just safer that way, but got many juvenile kicks and grins from the field notes on copulations among the relocated California Condors in the Grand Canyon.

Can we imagine field notes like this at the average gay gathering:

"After joining Angry Activist 167 at a watering area, Opera Queen 192 over consumend and spent a lot of time displaying himself to Snooty Fag 203. Golden Boy 151 intervened initially, but then later went to attempt copulation with Leather Dad 102.

"Teddy Bear 151 attempted to leave the watering hole and fly to a more prestigious watering hole where more displaying was going on, but was harangued repeatedly by a group of Snooty Fags (which included 92 and 201) until returning to his home hunting grounds."

I told you it was juvenile...

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Geek Culture: Clarke Saw It First

H.P. Lovecraft meets hard biological sf and you pretty much get Arthur C. Clarke's 60's era short story "The Shining Ones." Who are the great luminescent squid living at the floor of the Indian Ocean, and just how the hell did they reach sentience?

Then, just to prove truth is stranger than fiction, scientists discover this. Not exactly encouraging since there was one spotted in the Gulf of Mexico, Sir Arthur didn't exactly predict our having friendly relations with them.


Sexual Histories

It's not often worth visiting PlanetOut for much more than the personal ads (and those get old after a bit, too). But I dropped by today and was greeted by this news: Gay diaries of Irish patriot declared real.

Lest you think this an odd thing for anyone but gay folks to be concerned about, the very existence of the Black Diaries was a black mark on Brittish-Irish relations for some time. The controversy consumed Irish scholars, politicians, and journalists throughout the 20th century. Casement was not only an Irish revolutionary and a former Brittish ambassador. He was a hoted human rights observer throughout the Brittish Empire. As late as 1998, Irish writer Angus Mitchell was viciously defending Casement's "honor," contrasting the diaries to Casement's other writings. Mitchell even posted the Balck Diaries (as with most things Edwardian, they're rather mild by today's standards) in the hopes of discrediting their authenticity and set off fresh debates.

What was terrible about being gay, no modern Irish writers have said. More thorough coverage (I know - you balk at the idea that PlanetOut might not be thorough) can be found in The Guardian and from Reuters.


Sex: More on Casement

It's sad that a predominately pornographic site can muster better journalism than the queer world's foremost online presence. Ah well -- anyway, this essay from Gay Today, the current events section of adult provider Badpuppy, goes into further detail about Sir Roger Casement: Hero and Traitor. You might also find this report from the AP interesting.


Almost forgot! There are two poems by W. B. Yeats on the Casement affair: One entitled Roger Casement shows that Yeats believed the diaries were forged, and the second The Ghost Of Roger Casement is a more general tribute to Casement's spirit.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Religion: Straining an already troubled world...

I know, I know: It's kind of a shock to find a liberal, gay Episcopalian shaking his head over something Billy Graham said. After all, Graham has repeatedly expressed anti-gay sentiment and is certainly a good friend of the Republican right. But it's too easy to dismiss Graham apart from the facts. While holding fast to his evangelical faith, Graham is certainly no fundamentalist, much less the kind of raving rightwing nutcase so normal among televangelists. He's long been known, even by those who differ with him, as a man of integrity and compassion, so it's sort of a blow to hear this from Ethics Daily.


Baptists Make Case for Gay Marriage

And I'm not even sure they know they did it!

While a lot of these assertions should certainly be critically discussed (who the hell are these researchers, anyway, and why do some of these sponsors seem kinda iffy), some of them are right on... and should be extended to gay couples! As the report notes, cohabitation isn't the same thing as marriage. Hmmm...