the home group of one of my mothers

I have just returned from a long and involved trip South – first to Santa Fe to visit family, then to the Bay Area for New Year’s Eve and dear friends and small adventures, then to Seattle to build family, then back to the Bay for a further adventure, this time with a stranger. It was a clean narrative, completely without disaster, and I safely arrived from where I left, at the Vancouver airport, without either serious physical or emotional injury and having only lost one item of clothing. (May not be remarkable for other people, but it may actually be the first time in my life such a thing might be said.)

There is not a lot to say about my time in New Mexico, except that I have finally experienced that classic North American thing that people experience when they visit family in an isolated area in an isolating culture, minus the bits about disagreeable politics. For example, I was told there was a Solstice party happening the evening I arrived, so I dressed up shiny and put on my warpaint and arrived in style, only to find it was an entirely different thing. A coven of women (who might be the type to spell it womyn) have been gathering six to eight times a year for thirty-five years to have a pot-luck, create a “Circle” of good intentions, light candles, welcome spirits, tell stories, and sing old songs. I was the only heterosexual present and the youngest by an easy twenty years.

To give you a clearer picture, they meet on dates that are significant to the moon and on at least two occasions, without any irony, someone present referred to the United States government as The Man. It was like time travel. I kept expecting someone to laugh and the entire gathering shatter, but I looked around the room and realized that I have read about these people in books on first wave feminism. It didn’t occur to me while I was delving into that history, but apparently some of those people are still riding that wave, passing talking sticks around in circles and singing droning hymns to The Goddess that they wrote while stoned in a yurt on the side of a mountain in a woman’s enclave somewhere in 1978. If I had gone outside and stood on something, I would even have been able to see the mountain the yurt had been located.

As experiences go, it was an echo of a hundred different moments I’ve witnessed (and tried to escape), so not new, exactly, but distilled down to an ultimate essence. I slowly became fiercely uncomfortable. I felt hammered by the singing, by the tone of it all, by the waiting. I was a fish out of water with a bicycle and I wished, with increasing desperation, that I could switch bodies with someone who would love to be there, like my friend Pam, or simply teleport her there. I am disagreeable when confronted with rituals or religion. I feel that the invisible things that weave the world’s narrative are things like atoms or quarks, neither of which will ever care or be capable of caring about rattling sticks or human interaction. You can do whatever voodoo you like on your own time, (pray to invisible super dragons, consult random chance oracles, LARP, read horoscopes, or whatever), and I won’t care, but I am not ever going to be a complacent participant. Even so, it was interesting. Interesting in an I-wish-I-were-writing-about-this-instead-of-in-the-middle-of-it kind of way. I wanted to document the living history as it unrolled before me. So here I am, writing about it, still wishing, nearly a month later, that someone who would have appreciated the evening had taken my place.


Legal immunity cannot hold. The Vatican should feel the full weight of international law

Well may the pope defy “the petty gossip of dominant opinion”. But the Holy See can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state – and of the pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action – cannot stand up to scrutiny.

The truly shocking finding of Judge Murphy’s commission in Ireland was not merely that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and, despite knowledge of their propensity to reoffend, allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their victims had been sworn to secrecy.

This conduct, of course, amounted to the criminal offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors.

As Meredith points out, “Especially interesting is the part later on in the article where he points out that the Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I wonder if we will actually see this brought to the European Court of Human Rights. Or the ICC.”

Bishop ‘blames Jews’ for criticism of Catholic church record on abuse

A furious transatlantic row has erupted over quotes that were attributed to a retired Italian bishop, which suggested that Jews were behind the current criticism of the Catholic church’s record on tackling clerical sex abuse.

A website quoted Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism, considering how “powerful and refined” the criticism is.

The comments, which have been denied by the bishop, follow a series of statements from Catholic churchmen alleging the existence of plots to weaken the church and Pope Benedict XVI.

Allegedly speaking to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: “They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”


X-Ray Crowd, by American painter, graphic novelist, and illustrator Eric Drooker

The Westboro Baptist “Church” are coming to my neighborhood in Vancouver to protest a small play running at the Havana about Matthew Sheperd, a gay American University of Wyoming student who was hate-crime murdered near Laramie on the night of October 6–October 7, 1998. (These classy, classy people are also planning on picketing Obama’s grandmother’s funeral.)

From their awful site,

C1/28/08 Vancouver, Canada – Havana Theatre – Matt’s in hell & God Hates Canada! 1212 Commercial Drive With signs in hand and smiles on our faces, we shall travel the great distance from Kansas to Canada – AGAIN! When Canada determined to fight against God, they took up a satanic mission which must be addressed. We cannot make you behave, but we can tell you some words, to wit: Ps 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Just because you are really, really evil and hateful does not mean WE will not lovingly tell you the truth because that’s our job, man! Matthew Sheperd is in hell, 10+ years now, and will remain there for the remainder of time. Deal with it! AMEN!

If they manage to cross the border, a group of us are planning on attending as well with counter signs that state GOD HATES SIGNS, (based off Isaiah 44:24-25), GOD SENT ME TO SELL YOU ATHEISM and any other appropriate anti-slogan we can think of. As Mike Levens points out, “ should provide some inspiration”. What we’re going to do once we’re there is still up for discussion. Some people are planning on arriving in angel wings, which I think sort of buys a little too deeply into their belief structure, plus is something for them to rail against, which they thrive on, and some people are planning on attempting to stand with the Westboro people with anti-signs in hand. “… just kinda sidle up to them. Act like you’re in on their cause and want to support it. Act surprised and offended if they try and distance themselves. Join in their stupid slogan-chants but get the words wrong.” Me, I’m more for the second plan.

To go with this, a collection might be taken up to donate money to the matthew shepherd foundation, accepting pledges that will increase with every hour the Westboro people protest.

emotionally satisfying music

“A toddler whose remains were found inside a suitcase in Philadelphia in April was starved to death by members of a religious cult, including his mother, in part because he refused to say “amen” after meals, police said.”

Listening to the Kronos Quartet covering Sigur Ros’ Flugufrelsarinn, music as quiet, rich, and thick as the calm pumping of blood. Sound like running hands over sheets, straightening them out on a September morning, as leaves fall outside, golden and red and silent in the gutters. I’m letting the cello soothe out the jangled nerves of today’s news, of going to bed at three and waking up at eight to the telephone ringing with police on the other end wanting to talk about permits and crowd size and kids running around with replica guns.

Karen is considering moving out the end of October. She misses Main St, hopes to find a nice flat there, something vintage with wooden floors and windows that get stuck when it rains. I’ve been worried about her lately, she’s been absent from the house a lot, and I know her family isn’t as supportive as they could be, little things that add up into hoping she’s okay, so it’s nice to know that she’s well and together enough to keep on top of things. Plans will coalesce, they will calcify, they will become fact. It’s one of the nice things about living, how we continue to change and transform and become more of who we are as we become who we think we need to be. I hope that wherever she finds, she gets to paint her room again, whatever shade of light, minty lime green she likes best.

David will be moving soon, too, though more immediately, at the end of the month. No longer will he be staying with me as his place becomes piles of boxes full of books, instead the two of us will be staying up too late, unpacking his life-things into a nice, wine coloured room in a big house across from the Ridge Theater on Arbutus. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to teach him how to make really nice, to-the-ceiling cinderblock shelves, (remember to pad the ends of the blocks with hidden felt), and lie in the garden with the rabbits hopping on leashes as the city drowns around us in every day, ordinary life. I might not have very much passion these days, but I can see putting a mild time aside for just that sort of thing, and being okay.

let our bodies hit the floor

This was our favourite video this trip. Mike would start singing the chorus and that would be it – whatever we were talking about would dissolve into laughter. Politics, music, movies, it didn’t matter – we were lost. The fanaticism fascinates us, illusionists, the passionate power of suggestion, how much it can affect the body, how many of these so-called healers are debunked only to return ten years later on television, selling snake oil holy water in little plastic bottles for $15 each. He bent a spoon for me over a two:thirty a.m. Husky truck-stop breakfast, expertly rubbing the handle with his thumb, making fun with a Uri Geller trick we both know enough to especially love. My smile at that moment was worth the plane ticket, right there. I felt my writing return. The price of admission paid.

this is important

Angels have shitty days too
Originally uploaded by jstar.

I got this today: Your LiveJournal paid account for user “porphyre” is expiring in 5 days, at which time it’ll revert to its previous status.

I want to make a t-shirt that reads this says nothing.

I enjoyed a nice one-panel comic in the newspaper the other day. I don’t remember it precisely, but essentially the panel was a priest standing at the altar, marrying two men, “Congratulations, you have now become political fodder for the government to keep people distracted from the real issues.”

What with the Washington State Supreme Court handing down its anti-gay-marriage decision several weeks ago and the ever-hearing more about attacks on reproductive rights down south, I’m feeling that the States is tripping a bit too merrily down the Handmaid’s path.

This week, I found a way to strike back.

Focus on the Family, the horrid anti-gay evangelical church based in Colorado Springs that wields too much power for anyone’s good, has a store on their website that will give you books, CDs, and DVDs absolutely free of charge. Usually people pay for their items by donation, raising millions of dollars to help Focus on the Family produce more hate-propaganda featuring “experts” on homosexuality who claim it’s a curable “sickness”. (They’re practically defined by their book A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Course, there’s no mention of having less kids, which is the only proven method. No, no, you shouldn’t use birth control, that would be wrong. They need more worshippers, how dare you prevent god’s will.)

It’s a little bit time-consuming, but not enough to deter me. (Nor should it you). The chance to take money out of their pockets is too useful, not to mention satisfying.

Here’s how to do it in 10 steps:

1. Go to and look for the “Resources” link in the blue bar on the left-hand side, right above the “Search” box, and click it.

2. Under the “Resource Category” menu on the left-hand side, you’ll notice categories such as “Homosexuality” under “Resource Category.” Me, I went straight to the CD’s and DVD’s under “Resource Format.”

3. Go through, find something you like, such as the recently released movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theatre Complete Set, suggested donation US $79.00, or the three disc Les Misérables soundtrack. It’s not a very wide range of products, but there’s bound to be something either you like or you could use as a sweet gift for someone else. Click the “Add to Cart” button.

They won’t send more than $100 worth of materials for free in any given shopping trip, so be sure to go through a few times, until you’re sure you’ve dinged them.

4. Select “Add New Shipping Address,” decide to send it yourself or someone else, and once you’re done picking up to $100, click “Proceed to Checkout.” Some people have been sending items to themselves to sell later on eBay, some have been ordering the more controversial items as conversation pieces or educational props, (as anti-anti-propaganda), but I plan on using mine as gifts, mostly. I’ve found no reports on receiving Focus on the Family junk mail after inputting an address, so I figure it’s fairly safe.

5. The next screen asks you to sign-up for an account and give your information. Fill it out with fictitious information, enter whatever name and address you like. You might want to make up a phone number too and an e-mail account too. After filling out all the required fields, click “Proceed to Checkout” one more time.

6. This will take you to the “Here is Your Cart” page. You may have to re-enter your data again after this part to actually confirm your account. Eventually, you’ll get to the “How Much Would You Like to Donate?” page.

7. Select “Enter other total amount” and enter 0.00 as the amount you would like to pay. (Don’t put in a dollar sign or it will ask you for credit-card information.) Don’t be fooled by the field in the lower-right-hand corner that shows you the suggested donation amounts, simply Proceed to Checkout.

8. The next screen is a guilt screen, to make you feel bad about how little you donated. ignore it. Ignore it utterly. Think of how many people they’re persecuted and had in their “gay kids can be cured” camps. Just proceed to checkout again.

9. Click “Checkout Now.”

10. Finally, pass this information on to all your friends. They’ve got money to back them, we have word of mouth, let’s see if we can win.

edit: as also told in the seattle stranger

edit: “They have altered the site slightly. After placing your each order, it will try to block you from placing subsequent orders. They accomplish this thru the use of cookies.

Go into your browser’s user preferences and trudge thru the cookies present and delete all from It is not nearly as complicated as it sounds, and can be done quickly. Then of course go back to taking their money. I’m getting bunches of the Narnia DVDs and selling them off to Record Exchange and anywhere else who will pay and giving the money to the local AIDS taskforce and Planned Parenthood and PFLAG and other organizations to support the communities of the people that Focus on Family continues to preach hatred and intolerance towards.” thanks to Jezcabelle.

edit: We’ve killed it. Thank you to everyone who participated, but we hit the tipping point. They won’t accept anything less than the suggested donation. It was good while it lasted and if anyone has an extra Modest is Hottest t-shirt, feel free to think of me if you need a volunteer.

yet another edit: An Anonymous posters says: “if you are willing to pay a dollar, you can still order up to one hundred dollars”

I havnet’ tried it myself, but go to.

Britney isn’t as evil as THIS.

Here’s the gimmick: Take a weird, modern conservative revisionist New Testament and wrap it in faux-hip fashion-mag duds and hawk it to unsuspecting young maidens who otherwise wouldn’t get within ten low-rise jean lengths of the gray-bearded dust-choked finger-wagging dogma of King James and all his hoary misogynistic machismo. Clever indeed.

It’s called “Revolve: The Complete New Testament” and it’s apparently racing up the sales charts — whatever that means — as it sucks up all the accoutrements of a teen fashion rag and rams them through the cute Christian grinder of humorlessness and sexual rigidity and homophobia, and regurgitates them as kicky dumbed-down slightly numb virginal tidbits of advice and admonition and, yes, Biblical storytelling.

“Revolve” takes a decidedly conservative view of the Bible, condemns homosexuality, encourages virginity until marriage, and informs girls that excessive makeup and jewelry and revealing clothes are to be avoided and chastity is to be rewarded because, well, Jesus really loves baggy sweaters and granny underwear.

Add onto that: Never call a boy, it’s sinful – date rape happens to bad girls – only let the boys lead the relationship – and… oh. Just throw away all those silly thoughts you had about gender equality. They’re wrong.