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I recognize some Americans still feel threatened by gay marriage. I don’t understand that fear, but I respect it. I also respectfully suggest if you believe gay marriage is about what happens in the bedroom, you really don’t understand marriage at all.
I’m 55. I don’t remember my age when I first realized I had gay friends in high school. It’s certainly not something anyone was open about at the time. It wasn’t something we talked about.
But, I remember the moment I knew it was wrong to deny two loving, committed people the same respect we give married couples solely because they are the same gender.
My wife and I attended An Evening of Prayer Tuesday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Pawleys Island. The special event was an ecumenical vigil for the victims of the Charleston massacre on June 17 at Emanuel AME Church at the hands of a moral idiot.
For some reason, the vigil brought to mind the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, one of the most famous openings in all of literature: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” …
This spring, my wife and I recently spent a lovely weekend in Dahlonega, Georgia. For the uninformed, Dahlonega is a small town just over an hour north of Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Dahlonega is best known for the gold rush that started there in 1828, when rich veins of the stuff were discovered in the area. It was the second significant gold find in the young United States, and within three years, Dahlonega’s population soared to some 10,000, almost all of whom were seeking their fortunes in the rocks and caves and streams of the region.
are we there yet?
I clicked on this topic, interested to expand my ingenuity to distract children on a long drive or transatlantic flight. We played games to keep five boys from fidgeting and fighting during road trips when my (now middle aged) sons were small, growing up in England. We visited distant grandparents, camped in France and Spain in a Hiace van because we couldn’t afford air fares for seven…
grief and fear
The Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote many years ago in The Second Coming that,
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
First, yeah this is long, but just maybe, it’s time for long, cuz it’s been a long time comin’.
I suppose it all started with Michael Jackson and his desire for a “white” nose, which didn’t turn out so well. Why a really handsome, very talented guy would willingly fuck up his face is truly beyond me. Michael was said to have lightened his skin, while Rachel Dolezal is said to have darkened hers.
As I headed to bed Wednesday night, a white gunman shot and killed nine people in an historic black church in the center of town just four blocks from where I used to live. Unaware of the evil, sleep came quickly. But in the wee hours, the ping of a text from an Australian colleague woke me. I didn’t want to read it and tried to go back to sleep. But after tossing and turning, I read the text, only to learn the heart-wrenching news about what was going on a few miles away. I was dazed.
southern life circa 1944
While I, Louie Crew Clay, narrate the story as if fiction, it actually is nonfiction and I have changed only the names. I wrote it to expose to myself as to any readers the arrogance racism taught me. Childhood is not all that “innocent” when the privileged teach our young to devalue and disrespect others. I hope that by my preserving the privileged little boy’s insensitivity, we will see what he saw but with our thinking caps on and our eyes wide open.
I did not personally know the beautiful souls who were massacred while gathered in prayer with a stranger at Mother Emanuel on June 17, 2015, but I can’t stop weeping. In part, my tears are the product of troubled introspection. I am a proud southerner with deep roots. My father has always been puzzled by my “ancestor worship.” My husband and children mock my addiction to ancestry.com with quips like, “did you know Mom is 99.9% Anglo-Saxon and cousin of the Queen?” But I can’t help but feel pride when I find another link on my family tree confirming my forefathers’ presence south of the Mason-Dixon line before secession.
“We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are between stories.” — Father Thomas Berry
I’m not Catholic. Nevertheless, fond of this pope, I’ve eagerly awaited the release of Laudato Si’, Francis’ encyclical on ecology and climate. Immediately after its June 18 release, I paged wildly through it and was blown away. Laudato Si’ is absolutely stunning in sweep, depth, and wisdom. It is exactly the right document, at the right moment, by the right person.
mystery of joy
As the ruffian used force to carry her out of the convent because her family needed her for an arranged marriage that would increase their fortune, this thirteenth-century nun and member of (St.) Clare’s Order of Poor Ladies of San Damiano saved herself and preserved her vows by suddenly and miraculously growing heavier and heavier. In the end, her assailant had to put her down and abandon the abduction. As he said, it was as though she had been eating stones.
environmental paul revere
“You just can’t burn in one night, a million years of buried sunlight, and think you got it all for free.” — from lyrics of Long Has the Earth by Doug Hendren
avatar of the silly people
You’ve noticed it, right? The triumvirate? The Big Three? Come on, try to name one. Yep, you got it: the impossibly adorable golden retriever. Another one? Right again: the acoustic guitar leaning against the wall. Third . . . easiest of all: a yoga class in the background. What do they add up to? Sales. Today’s mad men (and women) have identified these three cultural markers as bankable touchstones of the contemporary zeitgeist, as images of health and happiness that can be counted on to reverberate pleasantly in the shared subconscious of a key demographic — that is, people with money. Trying to sell financial security? Pain-relieving drugs? A new line of active-wear? Throw this shit at ‘em.
Rome, Georgia. Summer 1960
In the summer after my first year of teaching, the headmaster summoned me to his office.
“Louie,” he said, “a parent has complained about the list of six books you require returning juniors to read. He says he knows his son will learn to curse soon enough, but he resents paying good money to have you require him to read cursing.”
it's getting worse
Elder abuse is defined as “harmful acts toward an elderly adult, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect.” Financial exploitation comes from the banking industry; neglect emanates from the halls of Congress; and emotions are stirred through the stories of impoverished seniors:
From Laurel, Maryland: I am over 60, and I was pushed out of my job because of my age. My rent, car note, and electricity are all two months behind. I can barely get food. Utilities will be cut off soon.
carrie had it
A pack of snarling wolves, a jaw snapping pit bull, a charging bull, a fiercely pecking hissing goose; I have felt like all of the above at one time or another. My dad was the carrier. Perhaps not patient zero but he is as far back as I have personally witnessed. If you were born with the anger gene you know it. You have felt the rage take over. It washes over you like an ocean wave that is hot and blinding. It also reaches inside your head, replacing all rational thought with pure blind rage and the need to inflict serious pain. Those in your inner circle quickly learn to recognize when anger takes control. They back away, fervently battling conflicting feelings. First, hoping they are not the target; second, pity for the actual target; third, a guilt inducing joy upon discovering themselves not to be the target this time.
It was 10:30 am when the old Volkswagen Kombi van arrived at Helmstedt to join a long line of trucks waiting to enter the land corridor to West Berlin. The van had come from near Hannover that morning with a large tent, cooking gear and baggage on the roof, and seven young people inside. The German export license plates and bright reflective tape on the front and back indicated the travelers were not German. As the line of trucks moved slowly towards the Grenzübergang Helmstedt-Marienborn (named Checkpoint Alpha by the Allies) everyone in the van was quiet. They did not have papers to enter East Germany but had been advised to tell the border guards they were visiting British military family in West Berlin…
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day. These cherished holidays give us a chance to renew vows of love, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection (or, for us pagans, the return of spring), to honor our mothers, to show a little gratitude for our brothers and sisters in the armed forces. Mostly, though, these holidays give us a chance to spend money. I try to resist the impulse to blather on about consumption — about the insatiable beast into whose maw we pour all of our…
call for revolution
“The age of nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth.” — Teilhard de Chardin
There’s a new term being bandied about, and it’s high time we paid heed: integral ecology. Whenever the same notion arises synchronously in a number of different contexts — in this case the Catholic Church, the Occupy movement, the climate movement, and the new-economy movement — it’s an idea whose time has arrived.
Word got out last week that the best barbecue in the nation, says TripAdvisor, is at Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge, Ga. Ironically, TripAdvisor said the second best place for barbecue was at another Joe’s Barbecue, this one was in Kansas City, Kan. The two eateries are not related.
Since we were in the Georgia mountains, why not try out the Blue Ridge place? So we arrived at 11:45 a.m., saw this relatively small restaurant on East First Street, and found there were 33 people in line ahead of us.
out to pasture
You couldn’t wait to retire. Could. Not. Wait.
In the run-up to retirement, you took stock any number of times. Don’t misunderstand, you told your inner-self for a zillionth time, you enjoyed your career. You did. (Well, mostly you did.) You’d survived every economic downturn since the Nixon Administration (there were six of those suckers), two Middle East oil crises (gas lines stretched to the horizon), more company budget cuts than one cared to count, four company down-sizings…
back in the day
Brooklyn was an independent city until 1898 when it was consolidated with New York City but it retained its distinct culture and architecture from the early settlers. Its motto was In Unity There is Strength and sixty-two years later the 2.6 million people in Brooklyn still thought of it as an independent city. They didn’t like the people who lived in Manhattan.
In 1959 I shared a one bedroom apartment on Nostrand Avenue, East Flatbush near the corner of Winthrop Street, one block from Kings County Hospital and a ten minute walk from the abandoned Ebbets Field.
national flood insurance
It has been hard to get timely, accurate information. In the early years of the 21st century, some group was tracking the transfer of dollars from the federal treasury to the states, which generally showed that the majority payments were in the form of various types of insurance subsidies: mortgage insurance, housing insurance, health insurance, flood insurance, crop insurance and higher education loans.
The data collection stopped, perhaps because of objections from the insurance industries at having their transfer function exposed. Or maybe all of my computer crashes and software switches are the reason I no longer can find the information.
the here and now
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner had a big-time influence on me as an adolescent as did my father who never met a funeral he didn’t like, especially if it took him back to the hill country of Appalachian Ohio where he had been raised. Even now I remember as a boy following a group of men carrying the casket of a man my father had known when he was a boy. The memory is still clear of them slipping and sliding along the dry creek bed en route to a spot in the woods…
New York City was cold and uninviting when the Greyhound bus arrived late in the afternoon. It was two days before Easter and light snow had fallen leaving the streets wet and slippery. On Sunday, the Easter Parade down Fifth Avenue attracted a huge crowd and at night Times Square was alive with flashing neon signs and people celebrating. It was my first visit to the “Island of Many Hills” (Manhattan) and I had a lot to see. I rode the Circle Island cruise boat, took the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, climbed the stairs into the crown of the Statue of Liberty and watched the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. That was just the first day…
When my cellphone rings, the opening notes of The Thrill is Gone signal me. I will have to consider changing that now. The author and singer of that song has moved on to Rock and Roll Heaven. B. B. King died in his sleep Thursday after nearly a year in hospice. I can’t imagine anyone was surprised; death happens to us all and this one has been imminent for quite some time. But hearing him tell me the thrill is indeed gone might be more than I want to hear every time my phone rings.
It’s a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it’s perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel — i.e. long before his time. I don’t know if his “Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel” was timely when he wrote it, but it sure seems timely now.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
Many people say that English is the hardest language to understand because so many words can mean different things and we often need a sentence to explain one word in another language. For example, in the US it is quite common for people to publicly “root for the team.” In other English-speaking countries if you are caught doing that you will be arrested. In Australia to call someone “an old bastard” is a term of endearment. But in some other English-speaking countries it could be the first few words in an argument or the last words before a fight. In the US Read on →
The outcome of Christie's recent auction of General Robert E. Lee's precious navel lint left even the most jaded “Lost Cause” memorabilia mavens gobsmacked and whistling Dixie. Not to mention afflicting many frustrated, heart-broken losing bidders with a temporary paralysis that baffled emergency physicians compared to the old-timey Southern Belle "vapors." This dream-crushing auction loss brutalized their very star and barred souls. The awestruck winner of General Lee’s coveted navel detritus, said that he did not consider himself to be the “owner” of the singular holy Rebel artifact; only its humble and devoted caretaker until the treasure is passed on to the next wors Read on →
Anxious to try out my new East German camera, bought in West Berlin, we drove to Kurfurstendamm to photograph the ruins of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtnis-Kirke and then to the Brandenburg Gate. About 200 yards west of the Brandenburg Gate, and near the Reichstag in the British Sector, the Soviets had built a memorial to the Soviet soldiers killed in the Battle of Berlin. In 1959, the memorial was guarded 24 hours/day by Soviet soldiers who marched into the British Sector through the Brandenburg Gate. At night it was lit up and highly visible from far away but the powerful searchlights were Read on →
In case you’re emerging from a coma over the last couple of months and somehow missed the change, it’s the tourist season again. The signs are everywhere – but, alas, mostly here at the beach. Gone are the days, for a while at least, when I could walk on the beach with my dog ’Dro (short for Pedro) and meet up with no one but myself. Good place for doing that. The late, great Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard wrote memorably that on a back road in Georgia at night, you could ask yourself a question and get an honest answer. In South Carolina, a beach w Read on →