Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Las Cañitas and Palermo Hollywood

We selected two adjacent and delightful neighborhoods for this day's exploration: Palermo Hollywood (named because of an industry sector that clustered therein) and Las Cañitas ("Little Sugar Cane Road" where the polo grounds are).

In these neighborhoods, the trash problem is handled with bins on posts on the sidewalks. Unfortunately, they seem largely ignored and too infrequent.

Needing no explanation:

After several hours on our feet, we were ready to try a parrilla recommended by a childhood friend from Connecticut. She is still a fiery redhead with milky skin offset by the circle of green peridots at the end of the long sterling holder into which she screwed a succession of clove cigarettes. Originally a librarian content to just read about life, she caught the eye of an Argentine friend of Alexander Haig when the two entered her reference room to research some local real estate history. He seemed to have married her in Buenos Aires but she says the ceremony was blurred by the language barrier and a hangover. The day he left her for a another readhead (but with a promise of perpetual extravagant support), she spat at him and then tearfully kissed him goodbye. She wants for nothing, has never learned Spanish and has always had her pick of the local boys. She brought us to El Primo and it was wonderful. The roasted red pepper and eggplant in garlic and oil! The steak! The chimichurri sauce! The malbec! The helados! We will be back for more.

Later, we paused before a salon that helps folks be more like Jesus.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thursday on Bilerico: You make me wet.

You will have to go to The Bilerico Project on Thursday at noon to read my response to the following:

Dear Father Tony:

My problem is sweat. I dread going on a first date because I know I will sweat right through my undershirt, shirt, jacket, whatever. After I sit down I'm afraid to get up because my back is like a river and my ass is drenched. Antiperspirant does nothing.

The worst is when I finally meet a guy I've been chatting with. It's only natural to give a hug instead of a handshake and it always makes them jump back a little and wipe off their hands. Gross.

Is there some way to psychologically turn off the nerves and the waterworks?


San Telmo

On Sunday, we walked from the hotel into the adjacent San Telmo neighborhood. If we lived here, this would be a neighborhood we would consider. Unlike Palermo Viejo, it is in the process of emergence, and retains the rough edges.

We jumped into the gaudy and festive weekly flea market that extends for many blocks down the street called Defensa.

C got himself a hand-painted t shirt from an artist who signs himself DayTribal.

We made the acquaintance of the fabulous Naty Menstrual, who has her own line of clothing, and who writes a blog that is full of steamy stories that require no translation.

Portrait settings abound in San Telmo.

Back at the hotel, the pool party was in full swing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A long walk

Today we walked for several hours, leaving our hotel in the Micro Centro and exploring the neighborhoods of Once and Recoleta.

Booze is cheap here. Don't be confused by the dollar signs in these prices. They refer to pesos (unless it says US$). There are three pesos per dollar. That's right. That big old honkin bottle of vodka is mucho less than two bucks. Later we entered a Pharmacia in search of mouthwash, and concluded that it would be mucho cheaper to gargle with a fine bourbon.

The herbs in the center level of this display ought to be consumed in the order of their arrangement, given their properties.

In the fashionable Recoleta neighborhood, we paused for an espresso doble. C got the torta di limon and I got the torta di manzanas. His was surprisingly Flavoroff-free, mine alas had been doused. We are now accustomed to being given tiny glasses of water with our coffees, but this establishment also felt that we would appreciate tiny glasses of Tang. We did not know whether these were meant to be downed before or after the coffees/tortas. We chose after. Oddly refreshing.

We came upon a gigantic and clunky public sculpture called Generic Plant. It is supposed to mechanically open and close, but it does not work. It was paid for by Lockheed Martin and we suspect they used some old airplane parts. There were several pouty fashion models doing their best for the cameras in front of this thing.

We approached a church to see what was drawing the crowd outside on its portico. It was the shrine to San Expedito. I am translating this to mean Saint Expeditor. A saint who "gets things done lickety split." In New York, one must always hire an expeditor to get a construction permit through the municipal bureaucracy. Heaven is no different. Here the pious ladies bring their needs to the saint via the lighting of candles (and the church minds not the revenue attached to this).

This sign gives the text of the prayer one ought to say to Saint Expeditor, inserting your particular dire circumstances at the appropriate moment.

The janitor put the debris of yesterday's supplications out with the trash. Nothing leaves a waxy build-up like unanswered prayers.

Where's the Argentine Beef.

Although I've some complaints, my beef (pardon that) is largely about expectations unmet and is overridden by the resolute intrigue of Buenos Aires.

Beef seems to be the central preoccupation of this city. They eat it and wear it and want us to do the same.

Everyone has a strong opinion about which steak house is good and why all the others are inferior. We sidestepped the obvious mistake: the famous and over-priced Las Lilas on the waterfront in Porto Madera. We went with the recommendation of an acquaintance and found La Cabrera in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood.

As is the case with most of the popular places like La Cabrera, you need to get there early (i.e. before 10PM for dinner) unless you want to wait for your table, a sentence mollified by the offering of free champagne by La Cabrera's solicitous staff. Once seated, we were happy with the rambunctious feel of the room.

A salad of palm hearts and avocado was delightful, but the "dressing" was to be strictly avoided. It was a swirl of mayonnaise and ketchup. Bleech.

As we had been told, La Cabrera heaped upon us many little ramekins of stuff meant to enhance the steak. Our waiter nixed the sirloin we selected and suggested the rib eye. Taking note of our girleen figures, he also wisely suggested we split a single order. We began to sample the various fixins and were surprised to find that the ricotta, the liver pate, the potato concoctions, the relishes and even the garlic itself were utterly devoid of character. What would become clear to us after having eaten in several restaurants (all highly recommended by various locals and friends) is the fact that Argentines do not make spicy food. In fact, they strongly lean on two spices that I have encountered nowhere else in the world: Flavoroff and Blandon. Everything we eat seems to have been sprayed with Flavoroff and sauteed in Blandon. (Yesterday, at an acclaimed Italian place, I had the pizza a quattro formaggi, made forgettable by what must have been a lacquer of 4X-strength Flavoroff to stand up to the presence of four cheeses.) Out of all the little dishes, only the stewed pears and apples were of interest. The most frightening was the tomato relish steeped in what had to have been gasoline.

The steaks were, however, savory on their own. Grisly, as is the Argentine preference, but delectable and nicely encrusted in cracked pepper. If you are of the sort who appreciates eye-popping volume at the groaning board, this is the place for you. And the breads were to die. And, to either add a star to this review or to subtract a raspberry, know that the bill came to less than twenty bucks each, tip included.

I would also recommend the two other restaurants we have attended. Amici Miei, in Plaza La Dorrego, San Telmo, for its ambiance (Select the terrace in the rear), and Broccolino, just north of the Micro Centro (have the ice cream for dessert but skip the arrabiata sauce on your pasta for it is rendered unarrabiated by a liberal dose of Flavoroff.)

Then, there is the beef on the hoof, or off it, as in shopping for leather goods. C was enthralled by the wonderful 28 Sport shop.

They make either exactly one pair of shoes in a particular style (if you like it, you better hope it's your size) or limited runs of other styles (one pair in each of twelve sizes.) They look to vintage German soccer shoes of the 1950s as their inspiration. The leather is supple and the craftsmanship superb. The colors made me want to vote for Ike.

C selected a smart pair.

The third steaky category has to do with the Argentine men themselves and how these steer desport themselves when corraled in nighttime places such as Tom's and Zoom. Later, boys. Work up an appetite.

PS: In my first post, I spoke about the fact that this city is filthy. It appears that we had arrived just before trash pick-up day. The streets are now cleaner in our neighborhood, but there is a strong disregard for the picking up of dog poop on the sidewalks, and those dogs do not wait for the weekly arrival of the garbage truck. The city budget for basics is obviously strained, but the citizens augment the urban distress with their common carelessness. In New York, folks generally pick up their shit.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Welcome to BA

Upon arriving in a strange place, you are challenged with transit from airport to hotel. Wisely, we read our Buenos Aires guidebooks. We waved aside the scoundrels and freelancing drivers, and got into a chocolate and yellow radiocab with a pre-negotiated fee.

The first glimpse of a city is rarely that which becomes the heart’s souvenir. Grim streets. Multi-storied poured concrete. (Bunkers in anticipation of an attack that ended up being internally generated?) Narrow acned buckled sidewalks. Heaps of trash everywhere. Most of the plastic ripped apart by bands of men who day and night sort from it the recyclables and leave the rest an exploded obstacle course. Dramatic statuary depicting the defiant. And, like baby teeth falling out in the natural course of things, gracious and faded old buildings with their soaring art nouveau wooden and wrought iron doors and their beaux arts windows and their crumbling shuttered terraces.

To be a day-one visitor in Buenos Aires is to walk about and take note of what is accessible to a foreigner. Those buildings, those sidewalks, that trash. As is always the case, the obvious first rank of details that rushes the visitor is like the barfly who pounces the fresh meat. This includes the graffiti, the strange tree, the intriguing alley and sidestreet, the poster and the pedestrian. Here then are those first images from the Micro Centro, the subway and the alluring Palermo Viejo neighborhood.

(The Hotel Axel is a counterpoint that I will describe later, along with our first steak dinner at the famous La Cabrera and a visit to a subterranean sex palace called Tom’s.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two worms

We had to flee New York City because it had become a veritable Diet of Worms. That was one salvo I had considered for this post, but it was a tad to obscure and besides, this is about art, not religion.

I also considered something about how the worm turns, traceable to Shakespeare's Henvy IV, Part 3, but that reference is meaningless.

Basically, I have lost the key to Cleverton while we are lounging by the pool at the Hotel Axel in Buenos Aires, shedding the influence of the Lunesta pills we took in order to sleep during the eleven hour flight (and I highly endorse those tiny blue pills to make such a flight seem so much shorter). They were given to us by our next door neighbor in New York who is also here in BA and we'll be meeting her and her ex-pat friends to eat steak on Sunday.

Here's the deal: We saw some wormish art by Ernesto Neto at a gallery in Chelsea. We also went to the thank-god-it's-temporary wormish Chanel Art Container set up in Central Park. In a post-to-come, I will include some pics of a startlingly good side building in the Chanel thing. One that was built just to hold the swag bags given to everyone who goes throiugh the art exhibit. Meanwhile, you might want to read Nicolai Ouroussoff's review of the wormish building designed by Zaha Hadid for Chanel.

But really, if you just want entertainment (and who does not) just watch these two Youtube videos. In the first one, I interview one of the guards at the Chanel thing. In the second one, we go into the installation by Ernesto Neto.

Words about Buenos Aires coming soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An intelligent Catholic lady

Here's a video message from a philosophy professor in California (a devout Roman Catholic and mother of a regular Farmboyz reader) giving forth the truth about why California Catholics should not be strong-armed by their bishops into voting for Prop 8.

The volume is a bit low on the video, so I have asked her for, and received, the text of her message:

I am speaking with you today about an alternative Catholic way to think about Proposition 8. As a devout practicing Catholic, I feel compelled to do this because the California Bishops are offering you only one way to think about same sex civil marriage, and it is not a way that is accepted by all Bishops and theologians.

First I want to say what Proposition 8 is not about.. It is not about the morality of homosexuality itself. Nor does it have anything to do whether homosexuals would be able to marry in the Church. What proposition 8 does do is to take away the legal right of homosexuals to enter into a civil marriage. A civil marriage is a contract that has legal ramifications. It is very different from a sacramental marriage where two people stand before God and make a covenant. Currently two atheists can enter into a civil marriage, but they could not marry in the Church. That would be the same status for homosexuals if Proposition 8 is defeated.

I stated earlier that the Bishops are giving us only one interpretation of Catholic teaching and that there is debate in the Church on the issue of same sex civil marriage. This debate is an example of why the Church does not claim infallibility in moral matters. The Church usually tries to bring the best information available at any point in time to current moral issues. Because this information can change, the Church wisely does not invoke infallibility. Therefore, the Church does claim is that we must have an informed conscience. But we must have an informed conscience for another reason; the Church has been wrong on in the past. It was wrong about slavery, Jews and the status of women.

The first source for an informed conscience must be Scripture. If we look at the Ten Commandments, we see that they do not mention homosexuality at all. The do refer to adultery however. But for Christians the primary scripture has to be the Gospels which give us the life and teaching of Jesus. Again, Jesus never mentions homosexuality. In fact Jesus is silent about sexual sin. What he does preach about is the law of love. He tells us that all of the commandments can be condensed into that one law: love. Further, if we look at the live of Jesus we see that he was primarily concerned about lifting up the oppressed and the marginalized, categories which refer to homosexuals today. Finally, we speak of Scripture on this issue we have to address Paul. It is important to realize that in most cases where Paul spoke about homosexuality, he also condemned adultery and fornication, yet the Bishops do not see a civil law banning those things.

A second source of our conscience is the Natural Law as it was formulated by Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas looked to experience to help us identify what goods of human lilfe. He identified one of those goods as procreative sex. Whatever violates or gets in the way of a good, is wrong. On this view contraception is immoral, which certainly is consistent with the Church’s teaching today. Yet, again, the Bishops do not see a civil law banning contraception. Later, the Church added the unitive purpose of married sex that is the bonding that sex produces as an important purpose of marriage. But this is an aspect of marriage that homosexuals can participate in. And here, adultery breaks the union and is thus much more threatening to marriage than homosexuality. Again, the Bishops do not seek a civil ban on adultery.
We can look to the documents of Vatican II for help in understanding why the Bishops do not pursue banning these things. Vatican II gave us a beautiful document titled the Declaration on Religious Freedom which states that the purpose of society is to uphold human freedom, and human freedom should only be curtailed when absolutely necessary for the common good. John Courtney Murray, who was primarily responsible for the document, argued that it is not the direct jog of the Church to create a social order and that imposing a private morality on the public order damages both morality and public policy. Therefore we have no moral obligation to prohibit an act simply because it is immoral. This is why we don’t use civil law to oppose contraception, and adultery. It would be an imposition of private morality on the public order. The question then is, why have we singled out homosexuality?

Murray argued that if we valued freedom of conscience as basic, then we have to be able to practice what we believe, without government interference, a right that everyone must have, as long as it does no harm to the common good.

The Bishops entry into the public order on the issue of same sex civil marriage ignores what we know about neurology, psychology and the Church’s own claim made in 1975 that most homosexuality stems from an innate instinct. Furthermore, it violates our own Church’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.

I urge you to think about all of these things as you approach Proposition 8.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Steve's news

Steve Schalchlin has revealed some great news!

Who among us would not love to be in San Francisco for that?

(He includes some footage of the rehearsals. His music is terrific.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday on Bilerico: Would you date this guy, or is he a jerk?

You will have to go to The Bilerico Project on Thursday at noon (I've been moved up two hours because they supposedly love me in California!) to see my response to the following:

Hey Fr. Tony,

HIV poz here and looking for a man to share my life. My on-line profiles say 32. Muscular. Gym built. VGL professional (yup, that does mean financially well-off) hung, drug-free, etc. etc. etc. All true except for the part where I say I am HIV NEGATIVE.

I know what you are going to say. No lies, no way, But I want to get to know a man not just fuck. I’m not going to infect anyone. I play safe. My viral load is undetectable and I am very careful about my meds and my health. I’m a better risk than all those druggies and boozer-losers.

I want to find a man I can get to know and love. I have to get my foot in the door. The man I want to meet will pass me by if I say I’m poz. He has already passed me by a hundred times.

For years I went to poz groups and met nobody who was boyfriend material so don’t tell me to do that.
I would never put anybody at risk with unsafe sex. I just want to date a guy for a good long time before I tell him my status. If it’s love, it ought to be strong enough to deal with the news, right? Or am I a shithead who deserves to be alone and assigned to the junkheap? You tell me. I’m just so tired of being alone. I am sick of getting my hopes up over some guy who disappears when I feel comfortable enough to tell him the truth.

Bad news Bear

Update: It's up! Go for it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Florida Vote by Absentee Ballot

My Florida absentee ballot has arrived via the post office.

It cost Broward County $1.34 in postage to send it to me, and according to the instructions, I will need to affix $1.17 in postage to the return package.

The instructions are extensive and there seem to be several ways to nix the validity of the ballot, in addition to insufficient postage.

Using a red or blue pen or a pencil is verboten. (It takes black to turn this state blue or red.) If you erase something, you’ll need to request a new ballot. Since there is not enough time for that, I simply must read the instructions carefully and get it right the first time.

Not using the “secrecy envelope” would be bad. (Although I can’t figure out how this folded paper with glue on only one edge can possibly be called a “secrecy” anything.)

The whole schmeer must be placed in the mailing envelope, the back of which is printed with something called the “Voter’s Certificate” which, if not properly completed and signed, will scuttle your vote.

And then there are those things beyond the voter’s control, such as, the US Post Office’s tendency to deliver things lately.

Although my pen momentarily hovered over the Libertarian line, and also briefly wanted to show some love to Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, you will see that I soon came to my senses.

This, accessed through Bilerico-Florida, was certainly helpful in the selection of names I might not recognize.

There were many paragraphs describing proposed constitutional amendments (including the obviously odious “prop 2”). I don’t think most folks will be able to read these and make a sensible yes/no choice. They are wordy and hazy trains that seem to bury the basic question somewhere beyond sight. Many of them seem to want to give more power to the county or to certain elected individuals. Some proposed new entities to deal with housing or transportation. This is because the people currently in government cannot deal with those basic issues. Why on earth would I assume that the newly created boards will be any more successful?

I have discharged my responsibilities, and have done my part to help turn Florida blue.

OMO's JFK/FLL review.

It is annoying to have so little time left for the pleasure of reading what anyone else is delivering. Mostly, I stumble into your woods when you leave me a comment. This is inefficient but I have no other options and it did lead me to OMO's recent spot-on review of New York City and Fort Lauderdale.

What he says about the NYC bath house is correct. The entering of it is so strenuously convoluted, and one is so exhausted by it that only the prospect of the safest sex (flopping down in the steam room and sleeping till it's time to go) remains.

Their time in Abercrombie & Fitch. Well, if that's your poison, expect the burping.

Gym bar. I agree, but occasionally it does attract some men who actually do something with a ball on grass. And it is certainly not as bad as the "sports bar" in Lauderdale in which most of the attendees are chain-smoking.

About Fort Lauderdale. Well if you've been reading me for a spell, you know my opinion about the state of the minds of the men who live there and the redemption of their bodies.

I'll part ways with OMO only by conclusion. I do like living in both of those places. I think you need to scratch their surfaces more deeply to see how and where they can glow. When these men return, I hope they will let me show them some of what they missed and judging by OMO's other posts, they missed a good deal of what they would have liked. Some doors are unmarked. Some corners located only with Luminol.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michaelangelo Signorile interviews Father Geof Farrow

You've probably been to his blog and read his words but here is a fine interview that will let you hear his voice and ought to indicate why I think he is sincere. I may not agree 100% with the way he handled his announcement, but whole teams of presidential candidate handlers have done a lot worse than this one priest at getting their message across.

I hope he's got a rich boyfriend because the job market for such a man is very limited.

C pics

C has developed a fondness for manipulating his New York photos, playing with color saturation and cropping. Here's a clickable-for-closer-inspection result:

Guess what it is. Give up? Go here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cottaging and Dogging

I do love the Queen's English.

If I understand this correctly, cottaging refers to having sex in public toilets. Dogging also includes other public places and seems to imply a group effort that might involve both participants and observers. Cruising, exported from the States, threatens to make extinct these two words that are so much more quaint, comfy, whimsical, homey and gentle. They are not at all like that horrid British word, shagging that conjures synthetic fibers and the inevitable rug burns.

(Makes me want to have sex in a gingerbread dog house with green indoor/outdoor carpeting and a thatched roof.)

The interesting thing about British law governing this kind of adventuring is that it is illegal ONLY if someone sees it and reports it to the police. If a tree falls in the woods....

Or, "Don't See, Don't Know".

J'adore the Brits.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tomorrow on Bilerico: "Your Wife Already Knows Your Little Secret."

You will have to go to Bilerico after 2PM to see my response to the following:

Father Tony,

You want everyone to come out. But why? Is it because you did it and you'll feel better? Misery loves company? I am married to a wondeful smart woman. I love her. Our kids are grown and still I will never tell her I have a gay side. I made that decision way before I met her. I wanted to as you say to the gay priests "do the right thing". Why should I rip it apart now. She deserves better. This is what I chose. My bed to lie in. Why can't I be respected for this?

One of many you will never see.

Update: It's up.

Father Geoff Farrow's press conference statement

Go here to read what Father Geoff has said regarding Prop 8, counseling gay people, what he did and why he did it. Here is the comment I left on his post:

Exactly. You know, of course and probably by heart, the rebuttal. Your bishop will claim that following the teachings of Christ is challenging but not impossibly onerous. He will say that Christ speaks through his Church and that His truth has been revealed through the magisterial authority of the Pope and his bishops, and that the route to salvation is revealed through Church tradition and laws based on that tradition. He will discount your compassion. He will say that your conscience is malfunctioning. He will say that you have fallen prey to modernism and a theology of convenience.

He will make that which is so simple and clear very complicated and distorted. It will come down to whether the listener decides that he is speaking for Jesus or that you are speaking for Jesus.

Permit me a story. My own mother once faced a moral dilemma. She wanted to pursue something that she knew was against church law but it seemed right to her. She was conflicted. Did she think it was right just because it was desirable, she wondered. She asked my counsel. I told her to do it. (I think I may have said "Go with your bad self".) She said, "I knew that's what you would say." She then asked a priest who was a good friend of mine. She worked as his parish secretary. He told her the same thing I did. Her response to him was the same. Finally she went to an elderly Monsignor who had known our family for decades. He said "Marge, you know in your heart what you must decide." She took this to mean "No, you can't." She did it anyway, but she went to confession to the elderly monsignor and she felt forgiven and relieved. All four of us got a good laugh out of it, and it clearly demonstrates how traditional Catholics think their way through stuff.

Times have changed. Those quaint games are over. It's time to take the lid off the nonsense of 20th century Catholicism and return to a healthier more mature (I won't say sophisticated) approach to Jesus who has patiently been waiting lo these many years for his priests to do exactly what you have done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Father Geoffrey Farrow and the Third Army.

This article is of interest to me primarily because it will help keep the Catholic Church from burying this man's story. I am not surprised that the Bishop of Fresno would say something like "You're suspended and stop talking about this on the internet" (I haven't seen the bishop's letter to Geoff whose call I missed last night, but I hope he'll read me that laughable section when we talk later today.)

The article is also of interest because it leans more heavily on the comments of irate parishioners who disapprove of what Father Geoff has done and/or how he did it. It leans less heavily on the comments of supportive parishioners. If you read the comments on Geoff's blog, you will be moved by the compassionate words from many of his parishioners and from clergy and religious folk from around the globe. All the same, the LA Times writers would be inclined to highlight the disapproving mob (despite the fact that its size may be eclipsed by that of the cheerful side of the street) because this is a war story needing opposing camps and one hero and some colorful villains. The bishop who seems to be insufficiently colorful is enhanced by the parish deacon, a man known only to me by his actions and words in this matter. But I've seen this type before. Clerical-wannabes who trumpet the party-line and are always jumping up to fall on their toy swords whenever anyone says a word against the bishop or the pope. When Geoff made his first announcement on Sunday in his church, this gung-ho deacon rushed to the altar before the congregation dispersed to assure everyone that Father Geoff would certainly be replaced by a new pastor. If anyone should have been fired for his words, it is this over-stepping deacon who, a week later, dosed the same congregation with a church history lesson concluding with a reminder to vote yes on Prop 8. A sufficiently colorful and idiotic villain, at least the way he has been drawn by the reporters.

There is also in this war story a third army. That vast and impotent legion of gay priests who are afraid to come out of their rectory closets. Newspaper reporters have difficulty depicting them because they will not speak and they will not be seen and they will not come to the defense of a man who has lost everything including his health insurance because he has spoken his conscience. How do you include them in a fair and unbiased report when they fearfully refuse to be counted?

When I ceased functioning as a priest, I received no support and certainly no expression of concern from my bishop. I did receive immediate notification from the Chancellor that my health coverage had been terminated and that I would now be responsible for the repayment of my student loans which up until then had been handled by the diocese. When I received that letter, I thought "So. They do know where I live. They do have my address. If they were worried about me, they could have reached out to me." More than anything else in my life, that moment, standing at my mailbox and reading that letter, helped me realize the truth about the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. They are at heart a terrifically unchristian lot. I suddenly knew where I stood with them but I also knew where I stood with Jesus Christ whom I rather believed to be sympathetic with my new life of extreme poverty and integrity.

I made a hand-written response to the Chancellor apologizing for the fact that I no longer had access to a typewriter, and I explained to him that he had not seen me lately at the health club/spa to which we both held memberships because I could no longer afford it. I reminded him of the fact that when I was a seminarian, the Archdiocese had promised to repay the loans upon my ordination. Because the diocese had instructed the lender to pursue me for payment, I was now receiving threatening demands for money I did not have. I told the Chancellor that I thought this was unfair, and I made a very clear and explicit threat to go to the local media with the story of my situation. I received a very swift and curt response stating that the diocese would resume repayment of my student loans.

I did not have health coverage or dental coverage for a couple of years, but I was young and had rarely used it while I had it. I did not miss it at the time. Only with hindsight can I realize the importance of what the bishop was doing when he cut me off financially. This will certainly be more of a hardship for the fifty year old Father Geoff.

Father Geoff's story obviously awakens unpleasant personal memories some of which are too painful for me to recount. I hope his survival instincts are as strong as were mine. Also, with unrealistic optimism, I hope that when he returns from the desert into which he has been cast, he will find that third army ready to march.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Father Geoffrey Farrow has been suspended.

I left the following comment on his blog post about the suspension:

Dear Father Geoff,
We rather knew it would come to this. Sadly, a man does not get to be a bishop by championing truth and by facilitating the movement of the Holy Spirit. He is given authority because he can be trusted to uphold the laws of Roman Catholicism. The kindness you extend to the bishop of Fresno is noble but undeserved. Shame on him for having passed on an opportunity for greatness and witness to the real message of Jesus Christ. He has unfortunately chosen to be ordinary in every sense of the word.
You shine a bright light on some important issues, and I am hoping that your voice will be heard widely because of this suspension. If only your brother priests had but a fraction of your courage.

We are so traditional

last night there were two adjacent tables of birthday-celebrating friends at Gene's (a very hospitable Italian restaurant in the West Village). The only difference between the two was the set of diamond studded door knocker earrings on the birthday girl at one table (Not ours, although the coveting was palpable.)

So much for sub-culture. So much for seething and cutting-edge sardonic urbanity. So much for dangerous liberal subversions. Look into our faces, you from the heartland. Do you find anything there that would possibly threaten your institutions or your children? We are an entirely traditional family, no different from the ladies at the next table. Not so different from you.

(I am including two group shots because Ken is missing from the second one, and I was behind the camera for the first one. In the first picture, clockwise from the lower left are Craig, Tim, Mark, Ken, Jeff, C, Joe, Aaron and Chris.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy birthday

He's never happy with any photo taken of him.

I rarely get a word in edgewise, and when I do, he's listening to the voices in his head so I don't know why I bother saying anything.

He doesn't cook anything.

He has no patience.

On any given night, he will tell the same story thirty times until he's got it perfectly tuned.

All the same, we love him lots.

Head over there and wish him a happy birthday.