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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Some birthday musings I shared yesterday with an online interfaith community.


Tomorrow is my birthday. I mention the fact not because I seek attention — or sympathy (well, not exactly!) — but for another reason: tomorrow I’ll be 57, and that has led me to reflect, for the fifty-seventieth time, on the various flavors that infuse my personal creed. Heinz-sight is 20/20, right?

What follows is a very small portion of those reflections. (more…)

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How I like to imagine…

…the jumble sale that is my “beautiful mind”:

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Christmas Wreath

This is an amplified and expanded version of something I wrote a couple of years ago.

On Christmas Eve of 1984, my first in San Francisco, I found myself at the home of a close friend’s new boyfriend (I’ll call him “Daniel”), enjoying a little “pre-party,” prelude to a celebratory night of clubbing. While we sipped his elegantly crafted cocktails Daniel began to spin a web of enchantment, sharing with us some of his favorite memories of the season. Bittersweet to heartwarming to hilarious, Daniel’s stories of Christmases past tumbled out one on top of another, creating an almost palpable atmosphere which was nearly visible and wholly hypnotic. I was transfixed. What a magical Christmas Eve this is turning out to be, I remember thinking.

I had no idea.

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Cranberry sauce from a can

Mom’s cranberry sauce was a thing of beauty, concocted of fresh berries, sugar, spices and orange zest; slow-simmered on a back burner while she attended to the rest of the feast, and brought to the table in a pressed-glass bowl handed down from her x-great-grandmother. Made with love and pride, it was to me emblematic of her skill as a cook and, writ larger, of a kind of happiness and warmth which, in youthful innocence, I thought unique to my family’s holiday celebrations. Cranberry sauce from a can was for people who just didn’t care enough.

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Circling the Wagons

Last weekend in Salt Lake City there occurred a three-day event: Circling the Wagons – a conference for LGBTQ Mormons and their friends, families and allies. The title, “Circling the Wagons,” comes from my friend Carol Lynn Pearson’s book No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones.

Written from Mormon territory to a general audience, No More Goodbyes is a call to lovingly include in our families and our congregations our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It dramatically shows the unfortunate goodbyes we continue to say because of homosexuality: to suicide, to ill-fated marriages and to family alienation. It also tells numerous inspiring stories of families and friends refusing to let anything come between them and their gay loved ones.

Carol Lynn (whom I’ve written about before) was the conference’s keynote speaker, but my purpose here is to share another address: that of Kevin Kloosterman, a Mormon bishop from Illinois who felt impelled to participate in the conference and traveled to Salt Lake at his own expense to do so. In an interview he gave to Joanna Brooks at Religion Dispatches, Bishop Kloosterman had this to say:

Trying to convey the pain I’ve felt realizing what gay and lesbian people have gone through, I quoted a scripture in Zechariah [Zechariah 13:6] where someone—who Mormons interpret as Christ—comes and shows wounds, and he says, “I was wounded in the house of my friends.” I used that imagery to characterize the scars of gay and lesbian people. I know it’s strong imagery. I just feel really mournful about what they have been through. All of these realizations are very new to me, and it’s still quite raw. I was trying to convey that I’ve felt a small sliver of what gay and lesbian people have gone through, and I’ve found strength and peace in the Savior.

A transcript of Bishop Kloosterman’s remarks can be found here, but I recommend watching the video (below) if possible.

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I suppose every family has its stories of ghosts or other odd phenomena. This one belongs to the latter category.

Utah Lake, a 150 square mile body of water in north-central Utah, has a rich tradition of monsters and other unnatural creatures living in its depths. The Ute Indians told legends about evil dwarfs living in the waters of the lake. The Indians called these “water babies” [pawapicts] because they made sounds like crying babies that lured mortals into the water where they drowned. The Ute also told of a “Water Indian” who would drag unlucky braves to their deaths. They also told of a creature so large it was able to swallow a man whole.

Local natives said the great serpents had disappeared in the 1820s, but by the 1860s white settlers were reporting incidents involving huge, terrifying, scaly creatures.

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Nearly a hundred years ago the practitioners of a trade that had traditionally been regarded as barely a step above prostitution formed a union.

The growing resentment of the men and women of the legitimate stage towards the conditions under which they were employed eventually found institutional expression in the founding of the Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) in 1913. But it was not until 1919—by which time it had become abundantly clear that the producing managers had no intention of yielding any of their control over the terms under which actors were employed—that its members voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

~ “All Work or No Play: Key Themes in the History of the American Stage Actor as Worker”

I have never been a member of Actors’ Equity, but I was for a time a non-union actor with paying gigs. And in the early 1980s I went on strike. Twice.

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