Monday, November 30, 2009

Previous Blog

FYI: I have decided to import all the posts from my former blog "Nuances" which now appear as older posts here on "Reluctant Rebel".  This blogger stuff is fun.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update

After the defeat of Same Gender Marriage in Maine and California, amidst a slurry of anti-gay rhetoric, much of it coming from the Catholic heirarchy, I was given impetus to published a very personal, three-part commentary, "Objective Disorder - Revisited".  See the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Family Thanksgiving

Homemade Rustic Sage Bread, Pumpkin Bread and Store-bought Rolls




Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It requires no gift-giving or church services which keeps it from acquiring a lot of emotional baggage. It is just a nice day to get together with family and friends, and share the company and a good meal.

My grandmother used to tell us a Thanksgiving story that occurred during the depression.  She and grandpa had seven children and struggled to put food on the table and keep a home.  They were Italian but eagerly adopted American customs, including Thanksgiving.  One Thanksgiving (it might have been Christmas or just a Sunday) the family was gathered for the turkey dinner (it might have been a large chicken).  The meal was ready when Grandma heard a boy crying outside her second floor window.

When she asked the boy why he was crying, he said, "Because I'm hungry and we have no food."  Grandma immediately went inside, took a large knife and cut the turkey straight down the middle.  She wrapped it up and brought it down to the boy who ran home with the gift.  She heard some complaints from her own family of seven children, and assorted relatives who would have easily eaten the whole bird at one meal.  She told them to be thankful for what they had.  Period.

I am not much for praying anymore, but if thanksgiving is a prayer, then I do pray often.  I-thank-god for my partner, Leon, who has been a blessing in my life for 21 years; for family and friends who have persevered through my ups and downs and moods and complaints;  for Bruno, our dog who gave us joy for 15 years; for the little house we live in surrounded by woods; for the fact that our hot water has such a short distance to travel to the faucet; for food in fridge; for the garden; for the electric bed-warmer on cold nights; for the beach on a summer day; for the beautiful waterfall down the street from where we live;  for my semi-retirement; for health despite the odds; for this day;

and for the Pumpkin Cranberry Bread with raisins and walnuts 
that I made last night for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow

OBJECTIVE DIS-ORDER - REVISITED, Part 3: LIFE

"What's Life? A Magazine. 
How much does it cost? It cost twenty cents. 
Well, I've only got a nickle. Oh, oh. Well, that's Life".


In 1964, Life Magazine published a fascinating, horrible, exciting, disturbing, informative, ignorant, groundbreaking, judgmental exposé entitled, Homosexuality in America the publication of which was timed to heighten my adolescent nightmare.  I don’t remember how I found it.  I don’t remember where I bought it.  I do remember I read it.  My heart was racing, my palms sweating, adrenalin rushing through me, as I opened the magazine to the article with a two page spread of pictures of sleazy figures in dark city shadows.  I remember the excited, scared, shaky feeling I had looking at the pictures, knowing that these men were somehow  like me, but not sure how.  I was at once, fascinated by them, envious of them, and horrified that I might become like them.  I hid the magazine behind the wall of built-in drawers in my attic bedroom.

There were two compulsory activities I dreaded in high school: gym class and First Friday Mass. Gym class was a given.  Get out of it or suffer.  Anxiety.   Humiliation.  Shame.  Those who were slow in math or reading got placed in classes at their academic level where they would not be embarrassed or lost and could get extra help.  But there were no remedial gym classes for those of us who could not catch a baseball or throw a football or who had no innate knowledge of the choreography of basketball.

First Friday Mass was another Catholic school ritual I couldn’t avoid.  It was based on some Saint’s vision and the instructions of an apparition that it should include holy communion for a certain number of uninterrupted weeks in order to secure some special grace.  It was not easy for most Catholics to meet these criteria.  Because it wasn’t every Friday, it was easy to forget, so you’d miss one and have to start over.  Or you would eat something just before Mass and break the fast, so couldn’t receive Communion.  Or, God forbid, you committed a mortal sin and there was no confessional in sight.  But when it was part of the school calendar, you at least couldn’t forget.

It was the marks on the slate that were the problem. By most Fridays I had chalked up more than a few checks on the board.  And even more so, the recognition of my inherent urges and desires, and the power they seemed to have over me, along with the theo-logic of Thomas Aquinas, mandated that I could never be worthy to receive the Sacrament.  The “good Catholic boy” was a sham, sitting in the bleachers in the school gym, struggling with the decision of whether or not to go to Communion: be the only one remaining seated or commit another sacrilege.

Until then, being a sissy meant that I might be a failure in gym class but I could at least be a relatively good Catholic boy.  Learn prayers in Latin, imitate the Saints, turn the other cheek. But it became more and more inescapable that who I was, was among the most despised, vile and hated of humans, to be rejected, not pitied.  Who I was, deep inside, was a sin.  It was not just my sexual release that was sinful; it was my very identity, my being, which was unforgivable. 

My religion was singling me out, making me sit on the bench when everyone else was in the game.  My religion may as well have been calling me a faggot and making damn certain that everyone knew it.  I was unforgivable and pathetic.  I could not not sin.  I had only a vague sense of this fusion identity; it was like telling a lefty that it was a sin to do anything with the left hand and expecting him or her to be just like all the righties.  This reality began to resonate to my very core, referencing every perception, experience, thought.

But being Catholic was as much my identity as being Italian-American. I always considered myself more of a Catholic than a “Christian”.  People who called themselves Christians had no real roots or traditions, only borrowed and water-down rituals, borrowed from the Roman Church, hardly recognizable and totally out of context.  Grape juice, what a joke!  Catholics, on the other hand, had almost two thousand years of tradition and scholarship behind them.  Every tradition, every ritual, every prayer, and every sacrament had an explanation, a history, a meaning and logic. Bread and wine were ancient symbols. The accouterments were elegant as well: beeswax candles, gold chalices, rich vestments, incense burners, Gregorian Chant, symmetrical processions, impeccable choreography.  Perhaps being Catholic was more identity than religion.  So one aspect of my identity was at odds with another. 
   
To be fair, values of compassion, tolerance, concern for the poor, the hungry, the prisoners and the marginalized, were not only taught by the Catholic Sisters, but practiced as well. (Fortunately, I was never exposed to the Church’s many priest-pedophiles); Pope John XXIII was visiting prisons, walking in the streets and selling off jewels; eventually Catholic theology would talk about social justice, and Liberation Theology would become accepted wisdom. Progressive thinkers would take Feminist Theology seriously.  Later, there was even a brief hope, ultimately dashed, that the theologians might include me, and those like me, in God’s Plan. 

Catholicism was an elegant religion.  No wonder so many gay boys were lured to the priesthood.  What other profession allowed one to remain unmarried without insinuating questions, perform in the theatrics of the Liturgy and also provide respect, status and a lifetime of job security?  All-male seminaries and the opportunity to hang around educated and like-minded young men was a bonus. 

Since childhood, there were family that expected me to become a priest because of my temperament and religious proclivities.  It was as though they had an unspoken formula for making that determination, especially in Italian-American families.  It went something like this:  (Italian Boy) + (Sensitive) + (Good Student) – (Girlfriends) – (Sports) = Priest.  Sex was not a part of this equation.  The absence of heterosexual interest did not necessarily indicate disgrace, only the recognition of a higher priority, the vocation.  Homosexuality was absolutely not openly acknowledged as a factor.

So the saving grace of many sissy boys was the possibility of joining the (supposedly) non-sexual or asexual priesthood.  As priests they would carry on the traditions, provide the rest of the community with a communication network to God and the Saints, ensure a smooth transition to heaven for both the faithful and the deathbed converts and be held in high esteem because they were chosen, had a call, a vocation, from God Himself. 

Although I could recite Latin prayers and knew the rubrics and rituals, I never became an altar boy nor seriously considered the seminary.  If anything, monks’ robes were more appealing, living in a monastery, gardening and making jelly.  But I was not the good teenage boy or young adult people imagined me to be.  I had powerful, lustful, sinful, wonderful urges that fascinated and confused me.   How could anyone possibly think I could become a priest? 

Yes, I dreaded First Friday Mass in high school; it was humiliating.  The clean slate from last Saturday evening’s confession would have already been tarnished by Monday morning and taking communion on Friday would not only have been another deadly sin, but also a sacrilege. It was all so difficult, too impossible to pretend to be virtuous while living a lie.

It was inevitable that my “two lives” would conflict on some plane, and that my secret would be found out.  When I began avoiding holy communion at Sunday mass, it became the subject of inquiry at home one Sunday afternoon.  And that’s when I retrieved the Life Magazine from its hiding place to use as a weapon against the inquisition.

As a direct result of my shocking and sickening revelation, I was taken first to the rectory for a consultation with the priest, then to see a psychiatrist.  What an idiot he was.  I couldn’t figure out his inability to communicate. There was no communication.  I think he was thoroughly uncomfortable with even the topic of homosexuality. 

I recall one session that was particularly frustrating.  The doc, probably attempting to break the ice or out of sheer anxiety, or using some psychoanalytical technique, began talking about his daughter.  “My daughter is in high school too and she’s been studying all week for a geometry test today.  She was all worried about the test.  I told her not to worry because she always gets good grades and is good in math as well as in everything else”.  And on and on, Blah, blah, blah…for what seemed like half an hour.   Maybe it was a technique to get to me, to make me angry.  It did.

I was getting annoyed and bored.  This is supposed to be about me after all.  I’m the pitiable teenage homosexual.  After a period of silence, I finally interjected, with some sobbing for dramatic effect, “It’s not fair.”  I grew up and went to school in a neighborhood called Frog Hollow, known for a certain spoken accent that elongates diphthongs. So the doc, being stupid and trying to be therapeutic asked, “What do you mean, ‘It’s not fear’? What is it then?  Are you afraid of something?”

My annoyance had to be evident, because I consciously made it so, and I responded, “I said it’s not FAIR, it’s not FAIR, it’s not FAIR, like F-A-I-R, fair, fair!”

Whether he was attempting some stupid therapeutic technique or whether the man was just actually obtuse was immaterial.  That experience has colored my opinion of psychiatry and psychiatrists to this day. 

The only advantage I was able to leverage from this consultation was getting the doctor to give me an official excuse to drop dreaded gym class from my schedule.  After a few sessions I told my parents that I didn’t need to see him any more.  (Turns out later, they thought I was “cured”.)  Having a psychiatrist, even if only for a time meant I was officially “troubled”.

I knew innately that troubled teens, of course, write poetry...



Copyright 2009 FDeF  All rights reserved.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Catholic Issues - Part 2



I have posted this comment in reference to a website for "Outing" non-celibate gay (or straight) priests in Washington, DC in response to the Archdiocese interference   on Fr. Goeff Farrow's blog and on Sebastian's blog; I don't know if it will get posted on either:


The issue is not job security [for priests] and your argument about ends vs means is inaptly applied to LGBT rights vs outing.  The issue is whether to expose Catholic bishops' and clergy's hypocrisy and duplicity in spite of any collateral damage such exposure may cause.  This church has become toxic and it is time to call 911!

When I came out at 36 through a local Dignity chapter I was soon shocked to learn that there were non-celibate priests, sexually active gay priests and priests involved in long-term romantic relationships.  I filed this information away because, at the time, I needed to focus on my own coming out process.  But now, when I think how so much of my adolescence and young adulthood was wasted struggling to reconcile my "objective disorder" and my Catholic religion, while the priests who represented that religion and all its rules and dogmas were doing what I was forbidden to do, I still get angry.  The rejection of my sexuality by the church, the horror of the confessional, the years of self-hatred, poor self-esteem, spiritual abandonment, not to mention the years of therapy, have had significant impact on MY life and MY ability to earn a living.

If this is a matter of economics and job security, I dare say that the church's stance on homosexuality has had a direct impact on ME: academic underachievement,  the choices of careers in which I could feel comfortable - mostly non-profit, dead-end, helping professions. Many of us out here don't have a pension or a health care plan.  I don't see the church coming to our rescue.  As a matter of fact, in Washington,DC, they actually threaten to withhold assistance to the most needy, holding the poor hostage to Catholic political ideology around LGBT rights.  Talk about collateral damage!

But the issue is not about job security for priests.  It is about hypocrisy, duplicity and the continued psychological abuse of minors.  (Thank god, most young people now have a mind of their own).  It is not OK to insist that the boys in the pews be pure and chaste while the boys in the rectory are sneaking off to the baths or Palm Springs or cruising on Silver Daddies.  As a gay man in a loving relationship I am not welcome in the Catholic Church.  Perhaps if I had clandestine encounters, one night stands and sex in the park, I could periodically repent, go to confession and take communion.  Then I too could appear to be a celibate, spiritual person.

In 2009, there should be no question of whether to have to out or not to out anyone.  If your "objective disorder" precludes you from being a card carrying, holy-communion-receiving Catholic, then say good-bye, go to the unemployment office and be a man.  Don't ask, don't tell is a cop-out. 

Unfortunately it has been the outspoken, gay-supportive, celibate gay priests who have been most unfairly persecuted by bishops, while the promiscuous and secretive have survived to verbally denounce homosexuals and LGBT rights or, by their silence, to allow others to do so. And I'm not even talking about the pedophiles.


Perhaps the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church should do a hostage exchange, at a remote location, somewhere in Spain.  
- FDeF

See also:http://www.richardsipe.com/

Thursday, November 19, 2009

OBJECTIVE DIS-ORDER REVISITED, Part 2: EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE


“Examination of Conscience”

I first learned for certain (but didn’t I already suspect?) that the furtive pleasure I was indulging in was an illicit act, a sin called “self-abuse”.  There, in black and white, under “Sins Against the Sixth Commandment” in the pamphlet titled Examination of Conscience for Teenagers, was the proof.  The pamphlets were given out in religion class at my Catholic school, but were never discussed in detail. What the pamphlet didn’t explain was why my fantasies were directed toward males.  There was an underlying assumption that all teenage boys entertained only fantasies of girls.  I read between the lines and concluded that though unspecified, my desires and my actions fell into this shameful category and were, in fact, more shameful and sinful than the ordinary kind of self abuse that other boys would indulge in while they thought about the basketball team’s cheerleaders.

On Saturday afternoons I would scrupulously “examine my conscience” before confessing so I could recite my list of sins, beginning with the most venial, and the number of times I had committed each.  Sexual matters, which by their very nature were likely to fall into the category of serious sin, would dominate in the exercise of the ritual:  impure thoughts, desires, and god-forbid, actions. Sex became the only real sin.  Other transgressions were merely lead-ins, trivial fillers, and diversions to lessen the shock (for me or for the priest?) of the really bad stuff to come.

“Father, I lied to my brother three times; I think I ate cereal less than an hour before communion; I committed self abuse fourteen times; I had unkind thoughts once.”  I know Father Severe always caught it even if he didn’t go back and drill me about it.  It was humiliating to have to say this to an adult, to a man, to a priest, forheavensake.

Was I the only kid playing with himself in his room?  Not likely.  Was I the only boy who bought the whole sixth commandment sin-declension?  Yeah. Probably. Was it true that the Catholic hetero-boys experienced so little conflict during their pubescence and adolescence that “self abuse” was not even in their vocabulary, let alone their Saturday confession?  Of course, their fantasies and desires arose from an objective orderliness or normal functioning of the mind and body and so they were naturally inclined toward an intrinsic moral good.  So, while they might masturbate to the same rhythm and with the same results, their fantasies affirmed their essential worth and goodness, while mine, and perhaps those of other scrupulous Catholic gay-boys, confirmed only our propensity for moral evil.   Confession was the only option.  But it was not at all a healthy option. 

Feel the anticipation of waiting in the pew for the previous penitent to come out from one side or other of the confessional. Feel the anxiety as your turn approaches. As you enter the confessional, move the sound-dampening curtain aside and feel the heaviness and softness of the velvet against your arm. Feel the nausea in your gut, a combination of nervousness and fear, competing with a comforting sense of anonymity and mystery.  Kneel in the dark confessional, heavy with the smell of stale incense, beeswax, and human contrition. This ancient ritual was full of contradictory sensual stimuli.

Hear silence but for the hum of an unintelligible voice reverberating from the chamber on the other side of the priest’s cubicle.  Wonder if the unseen penitent’s sins were as bad as those you are about to confess.  Father Severe sat in his own dark closet between you.  Wait with determined discipline for him to slide open the panel to reveal his darkened sillouette through the grated window.   Prepare to blurt out once again: “Bless me, father, for I have sinned.”

I masochistically and conscientiously subjected myself, week after week to this ritual.  My entire existence, it seemed, centered on sinning and absolution, the ritual confession being the means from one to the other.  I was a slate with chalk marks: mark, mark, mark, erase.  I was unaware of the fact that others were not any less sinful, just less honest.  

By the time I was sixteen I had become such a theologian that I was able to commit three mortal sins each time I masturbated.  While the act itself was a most deadly sin, so to was the secret desire that preceded it; and, I was able to contort admonitions against it as creating the exact conditions for it to be a sin of disobedience: this type of disobedience was no venial (less serious, purgatory cleansing) sin, but a mortal sin in itself because the instruction was not to commit an act that was a mortal sin. I was not in the least confused about this.  If I thought about it some more, I could add the sin of “scrupulosity” – that peculiarly Catholic Catch-22, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” sin that really messes up your mind. I’m not sure if we have Augustine or Thomas Aquinas to thank for that one.




Sometimes it seemed that all I did during my adolescence was masturbate and go to confession.  Going to school, doing homework, raking leaves, ice skating, talking on the phone, were incidental activities.  My emotional and spiritual life revolved around my inability to be pure. No amount of will power was sufficient to keep my resolve to “sin no more” and I saw myself as tormented.  If Sisyphus had his rock, I had my slate.

 After Vatican II, giving up chocolate during Lent was considered inauthentic and juvenile, so I decided to go to daily Mass.  This devotion might help make me stronger in my resolve, if not holy.  Confession was available before or during the 7am mass throughout Lent and in order to receive communion, I would go almost daily to confession.  “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I committed the sin of self-abuse in action, in disobedience, and in desire” oh, so many times.  My obvious lack of repentance and willpower prompted Father Severe to scold me for returning day after day with the same sins. He ordered me to go to bed with rosary beads wrapped around my hands.   (Maybe that’ll teach him.)  That exercise only resulted in the inevitable.

Another time, Father Severe said to me, “You will have this temptation ‘till the day you die.”  I’m not sure whether that was a warning or a curse.  In any case it was frightening.  It was discouraging.  “So this will never end.  There is no hope,” I thought subliminally.

There was no hope that this hell would end.  I would successfully resist “temptation” for hours, even days, but would inevitably succumb, mostly willfully, just to end the ordeal.  It came as a relief to finally “just do it” and be released from the endless, internal conflict.  After the first sin on my clean slate, it was less tortuous: if I died before getting absolution, one act of self abuse would send me to the same hell as ten, it mattered little. It became a question of keeping count for Father Severe.

I kept going back to Father Severe for more.   Once he gave me a whole Rosary for my penance. This consisted of five decades (ten beads each) of Hail-Marys with some Our-Fathers and Glory-Bees interspersed regularly with an Apostle’s Creed finale.  He said I was obviously insincere and unrepentant, returning as I did, week after week with the same offenses.  So this was a fitting penance. 

That particular Saturday afternoon I was there at confession, in church with my parents.  At approximately ten seconds per Hail Mary, and fifteen seconds for an Our Father, plus the other prayers, one could conceivably recite the Rosary in its entirety in 11.7 minutes. But without beads, one will inevitably lose track counting on fingers and have to repeat a few Hail Marys, just to be sure.  And adding the Mysteries would require some thought.  This would take too long.  I couldn’t make my parents wait for me to recite a whole rosary in church. They got maybe three Hail Mary’s each, tops versus my fifty-three plus.  They would be waiting.  They would be upset.   Even worse, they might ask questions I would not want to answer.  Even though I hummed the prayers as fast as I could, each minute seemed an eternity.  I had to finish the Rosary at home.  There was no question in my mind but that I would tell Father Severe next week and hope that he would approve. 

But he did not.  Father Severe informed me that by not completing my penance before leaving the church, the sins whose forgiveness hinged on that penance remained un-absolved on my slate.  And further, there was collateral damage: the holy communion I took on Sunday was a sacrilege and an additional mortal sin.

Did I dare consider then, how my honesty might, in fact, make me guilty of “scrupulosity” – that tricky sin that kept conscientious penitents perpetually sinful?  I threw that one in once, just to prove that I was serious about my spiritual life.  I’m not certain how Father Severe took it.  There was little compassion in this sacrament for my sin.  I was not transformed or blessed.  I was not made spiritually strong.  It did not impart fortitude.   The sacrament was not efficacious.  But I kept coming back for more, more guilt, more shame, more scolding, more penance.  Confession was my only option.

To anyone not privy to my secret life of sin, I was just a “good boy”.  Others could not have guessed that my adolescence was schizoid: I had a “normal”, public life with school, homework, friends, birthdays, movies, beaches and a surreal, secretive life of masturbation, guilt, loneliness, tears, prayers, and self-punishment. I don’t know how I was able to maintain outward sanity. I believed that more prayers and devotions, sincere confessions, penances and sacrifices would make the spiritual ordeal end. Mortification was in my vocabulary.


Copyright 2009 FDeF  All rights reserved.

Monday, November 16, 2009

OBJECTIVE DIS-ORDER - REVISITED, Part 1

"It is as a gay man that my very identity meets condemnation, not merely my sins.  Why don't they see this?”
 

Grandma's Prayer Book


When the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, under the direction of Joseph Cardinal Razinger, in October 1986, officially defined being a sissy as an "objective disorder" certain aspects of my childhood and youth finally began to make sense: The schoolyard bullies now had serious, grown-up words to more effectively humiliate and hurt us and to separate us like the apocalyptic damned.

Being pegged as a "sissy" at the age of six by other six-year-olds is revealing.  It really does have more to do with one's identity than it has to do with playtime activity or lack of athletic skills. The fact that those six year olds know a sissy when they see one contradicts what they say later on as adults: "Being gay is a choice" or "I never knew anyone gay".

“Straight” boys, even six year olds, become frustrated when they sense that all their teasing and taunting will not change a sissy. They are powerless to make some of us conform to their boyish male stereotypes. If they don’t resort to beatings with baseball bats, they will later try psychoanalysis, electroshock therapy, behavior modification, or, depending on their own persuasion, rosary beads and penance or fire and brimstone.  These tactics make them feel powerful and in control, but ultimately, their strategies won’t work.

Growing up Catholic, I tried to follow the rules. I obeyed my parents, I went to church on Sunday, I didn’t eat meat on Friday, I didn’t lie or steal.  I prayed the Rosary and knew the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries and the day of the week to which they belonged.  I could say the Mass responses in Latin, carry a Gregorian tune, and had the word monstrance in my vocabulary.  Bringing flowers to school in May to place in front of the statue of the Virgin was a dead give-away, I’ll admit.

In spite of my piety, at twelve years old I was a good boy guilty of more deadly sins per week than most people confess in a lifetime.  I was certain that no other boy in school was so depraved, except perhaps Pudsey, the only eighth grader in our Catholic school in 1960 who had a duck-tail haircut and smoked cigarettes.  Pudsey was bad.  Being bad is what Pudsey did best, in a defiant kind of way. Pudsey got suspended from school.  Eventually Pudsey got expelled. (I remember thinking that the kids who got expelled from Catholic School were probably the ones who most needed to be there or, more likely, the ones that the Catholic School system most needed to keep).

When breaking the rules is a virtue, there is little concern with guilt. In fact, I don’t think Pudsey ever felt guilt.  That was just one of the differences between us.  I knew guilt.  Guilt told me that what I did was worse than anything Pudsey did.  I remember thinking that Pudsey might appreciate knowing about my way of being bad, if he didn’t know already. But I didn’t know Pudsey well and I was afraid to talk to him.

In the schoolyard I would flip baseball cards with the other kids, but even that was barely within my comfort level when it came to baseball.  Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Ted Something-or-other were valuable cards to have.  You could trade one of them for ten or more ordinary cards.  Tossing cards was part skill and part luck and it didn't involve actually throwing a baseball, or trying to hit one with a bat or, god-forbid, standing in the out-field waiting, no, hoping with symptoms of an impending anxiety attack, that no one hit the ball your way.  Praying, of course, was of no use to protect you from a baseball or a basketball or a football projected in your direction. 


When it came to sports, Hail Mary’s were for winners.  

In the playground, it was always easier to pick "Simon Says" or "Giant Step" over basketball or catch.  When you picked it so often that it became always, you were silently relegated to the edge. It was an unspoken rule.  Something understood without understanding.  There was no gymnasium at our Catholic school, so rainy days actually had an upside. Being good at reading and math was a plus.  It made the indoor part of school tolerable and, to some degree, interesting.

Despite what I believed for a time, it never was a matter of learning how to throw or catch a ball or shoot a basket.  It was, knowing deep in my sissy-gut, that I would never, ever, like throwing a ball, in much the same way as I know that I would never, ever, like having heterosex.  The Catholic Church calls this aversion to sports and heterosex - two aversions frequently, but not universally linked - an “objective disorder” with a “more or less strong tendency toward moral evil”. 

They say it with all the magisterium authority of the Vatican, the Papacy and the Collegiality of Bishops.  And they require all good Catholics, to believe it.  The Catholic Church is teaching parents of sissy-boys as they sit together in the pews on Sunday that their children have an innate propensity for moral evil. How cruel. 

It may as well be that blatant and straightforward:  “Your boy doesn’t like team sports.  He seems very sensitive.  He plays with the girls.   It is most likely an objective disorder that will lead to unthinkable moral depravity and evil.  Try rosary beads.  Try psychology.  Try electro-shock.  Try teaching him sports.  But be prepared, it’s not likely to work.  If you’re lucky he’ll join the seminary.”

Except seminaries are now forbidden to accept sissies.

Copyright 2009 FDeF  All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanks, Archdiocese of DC for this example



The Washington, DC Archdiocese is threatening to pull out of all social services it supplies under contract to the city on the basis of the city's support of same gender marriage with all rights and benefits.  If the Archdiocese does so, it is the poor, the sick and the homeless who will suffer.  This is not the Catholic Church I grew up with.  Read More.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Losing Faith: My Catholic Issues











Faith, like ethnicity informs identity.  Growing up Catholic in a neighborhood populated by Americans of Irish, Polish, French Canadian, and Italian descent we were likely to identify with our "nationality" as we called it then as well as with our religion.  It was as a college student in Italy that I overheard a group of Italian students pointing to the group I was with and referring to us as "Quegli Americani" - "those Americans".  They couldn't mean me, could they?  Yes, in Italy, I am definitely an American.

The ethnic Americans that populated the neighborhoods where I grew up and the Catholic schools I attended may have celebrated holidays with different foods but they all shared the same religious traditions.  Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and Funeral Masses were life events, rites of passage, celebrated and shared with extended family and friends.  They brought people together and were opportunities for the Church to dramatically intersect the lives of its communicants.  More importantly, those making the passage were obligated to do so through the prescribed ritual, with the proper intent and preparation.  Those who were not Catholic and those who had "fallen away" or who had been excommunicated, usually by virtue of divorce and remarriage "outside the church", always stood out.  They did not belong to the club.

Catholicism is a strange mix.  It is schizophrenic. It is a religion of service to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the indigent.  As I knew it, it was compassionate and stood for social justice.  It is John XXIII and Vatican II.  It is also a religion of Dogma and Rules and Consequences.  The Inquisition and its "modern" counterpart, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are testimony to the Church's unwavering stubbornness and its unconscionable hubris .   It can forgive and absolve the most heinous crime, yet cannot find compassion for the conscientious dissenter, the remarried, the homosexual.  Those who struggle with their conscience and make difficult decisions often end up, not so much "Losing THE Faith",  as just "Losing Faith".

The Faith began losing me in my adolescence.

Thanks Giada

Made sweet potato gnocchi with turkey meatballs for dinner.  Saw Giada make the gnocchi on the Food Network the other day.  They came out very good, light and airy but not spectacular.  I made the sage butter sauce but no maple syrup as I just couldn't pair gnocchi with maple, sorry Giada.  I also used a bit less cinnamon and added a dash of nutmeg.  I think I put in too little salt.


















With a side of November Broccoli from the garden



Saturday, November 7, 2009

To Anonymous

Your comment arrived in my junk mail where it belongs.  Given the prevailing catholic winds, there'll be a lot more "whining" and "sniveling" to come, and it won't all be from me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Defeat of Marriage Equality in Maine

I just want to say, I'm not surprised but I am disgusted.   See David Mixner's post.  He calls it Gay Apartheid and we shouldn't put up with it anymore.  And that's all I want to say about that.  Check out the Link.

Nothing is Simple

This is just a small sample of what we each seem to need to stay connected now-a-days.  This doesn't include the computers, the TVs, the PVR, the DVD Player/Recorder, Stereo, Speakers, Cordless Phones, Cell Phones, GPS, EZPass, Cameras, Remote Controls, Keyless Keys, etc., ad nausea.



















Things seem to be getting way out of hand.  Wires. Connections.  Chargers. iPods.  Phones.  Cameras.  Bluetooth.  Memory.  Smartcards.  Batteries.  USBs.  But its not only electronic devices but finances, insurance, even grocery shopping.  The company that held my measly 403b account suggested a rollover to an IRA account so I called to get the paperwork.  What arrived was 250 plus page "Prospectuses" with assorted flyers, brochures, folders and forms.  Is this really necessary?  Especially when the brochure says that their "Rollover IRA is as Easy as 1, 2, 3." Only a Madoff could understand the paperwork.

I also recently qualified for our state's low income health insurance plan.  While I will save a considerable amount on monthly premiums, I may have entered a more challenging  adventure in health care than I bargained for.  I had to change my primary care provider to a doctor "in the network".  Should I ever need a specialist, good luck.  There are few if any "in the network".  I was told that I would have to talk to the doctor, ask them if they would accept the payment rates that the Plan has determined, then get my PCP to make an "out of network referral".  If no specialist will accept the totally inadequate payments, then I either pay out of pocket, or go without treatment.  I'm glad I am in pretty good health right now.

And, well grocery shopping has its own challenges.  At least six stores on the main drag compete for customers.  Their weekly flyers are so crowded with pictures and fine print that I can't imagine most people taking the time to go trough them.  Then there's the credit card company that is offering 5% cash back on groceries.  I know I called to "enroll in the program" (Why do you have to enroll? Why can't it just be automatic?  That would be too convenient.)  I'm in the checkout line when I remember the cashback bonus points, "Now was that my AARP Visa Card or my Discover Card?"  One of them gives 5% on gas but only on up to the first $100 per month, the other on travel, but only until December, one on groceries through November and don't they both give 1% on everything?.....

So things are tight.  We will be trying to sell our junk at an indoor tag sale in a couple of weeks.  It is a benefit for the ARC.  So I was busy making some arts and crafts to supplement the junk we gathered up from around the house and basement.  Here are some of my creations.  What do you think?  Will anyone pay a buck?

















































Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Party

Here is a pic from the Halloween Party we went to.

My God, I would have thought twice if I knew the Vatican disapproved!!!!!



























Some graveyard shots for the occasion.

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