Thursday, September 27


It’s been so long since I posted, is anyone even reading this anymore? I have a few things to say, I guess, to those who continue to check in.

First off, I’d like to offer my sincere apology for disappearing so abruptly. At first, the time that passed after my last post seemed normal, seeing that sometimes a week or more elapsed between posts. Then as weeks became months, I realized that I had entered into a new relationship with my blog—one of neglect. At that point, so much time had gone by that I was embarrassed to pen an explanation. Partly, I felt that most of my readers had probably long since given up on me, so why bother?

In reality, I don’t really know who’s still reading. Therefore, I’m writing this final post for myself, for some closure; however, if I can give closure to any remaining loyal readers, so much the better. Perhaps I’ve always been writing primarily for myself. This blog has been a valuable tool for me, not just to vent and voice an opinion, but as an exercise in writing and self-expression. I began it on a lark after returning home from a failed adoption attempt in Ukraine in the fall of 2005, and it turned into a fun and stimulating outlet for me.

While that outlet became no less necessary in recent months, the time I had to devote to it became more and more scarce. Playing music, working, parenting, taking care of a home, having a social life all took me away from blogging. It’s not that I had less to say; just less time in which to say it.

It should come as no surprise that maintaining a good blog takes lots of work. Moreover, one cannot blog sporadically and hope to have anything resembling a solid readership. I tried to be as regular as I could and I am grateful for the readers that I had; but as much work and thought as I put in, I realized that I was never going to attain any degree of popularity or notoriety in the blogosphere. It’s not that I was shooting for that, not really. I mean, it’s great having an audience, but there are so many wonderfully insightful blogs out there, I began to wonder whether I really had all that much to add.

To be honest, though, my stopping wasn’t at all deliberate or planned; it came as a surprise to me. As I said above, before I knew it, weeks had gone by, and I found myself wondering why I’d stopped, just as others might too have been wondering what the hell had happened to me.

I will say that it’s probably no accident that my stopping coincided with my decision to return to school to complete my doctoral work. By early summer, I’d already begun to work things out with my former program (at a university here in Boston). It’s not that school and research took me away from blogging per se. As it is, I’ve yet to resume work on my dissertation with any regularity. However, the mere prospect of having a new outlet for my writing and an exciting new project on the horizon doubtless had an impact on my subconscious decision to stop blogging. That’s just a hunch, but I’m pretty sure there’s some truth there.

I will surely look back on my many posts and the comments they received years from now and have a wonderful snapshot of my life during a time of great transition for me, the transition to fatherhood. However, because the vast majority of my posts were not about my personal life, it will also serve as a record of my thoughts and actions during what arguably has been the most disastrous administration the United States has ever seen and how I, as a horrified liberal, managed to stay sane during the Bush years. At the very least, it will serve as a potent testimony to the Culture Wars, which I hope will be long over by the time anyone looks back on this blog from the distant future.

I’m certain that I will miss blogging. I already do. I will probably regret my decision to stop. Many times over the past few months I’ve thought about posting a picture or two from my summer travels; or a topic in the news would catch my eye and I’d find myself mentally penning a blog post. I felt, however, that if I couldn’t commit to regular posting, it really didn’t make sense to throw a random something out there just to have my say or get something off my chest. I have a husband and son who are happy to let me rant, provided I don’t prattle on too long.

Of course, it’s also possible that I’ll revive this blog again someday. It’s not likely to be in the near future, but who knows? For now, I am comfortable with saying a long overdue adieu and a most sincere and heartfelt

Aman Yala!

Monday, May 28

Pink Ladyslipper

The Pink Ladyslipper, or Moccasin Flower, (Cypripedium acaule) is a wild orchid, native to many parts of the central and eastern United States as well as central and eastern Canada.

I saw a couple at Walden Pond on Friday and then a bunch more in the Stony Brook Reservation, where I took the above photograph.

Thursday, May 24

A Piano Should Fall on His Head

Just when imbeciles and bigots thought it was safe to step outside, out of nowhere comes a piano and, WHAM, right on the head.

Monica Goodling’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday provided an opportunity for conservative Republicans to defend not simply the Bush administration’s impact on the Justice Department, but also the academic credentials of Regent University, Goodling’s alma mater.

Goodling, former senior aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Justice Department liaison to the White House, was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony under oath into the ongoing imbroglio surrounding the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Democrats allege that the attorneys were fired because they weren’t aggressive enough in targeting Democrats for prosecution in cases of corruption and voter fraud or were too aggressive in prosecuting Republicans. The committee is currently investigating what role the White House played in the firings.

Goodling has been criticized for her role in the firings, but also for her lack of prosecutorial experience and for what many perceive to be her substandard legal education. Regent University, which was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1978, boasts 150 alumni in the Bush administration. Many have questioned the quality of the “spirit-filled” education offered by Regent and its influence on the White House. Regent’s law school, from which Goodling graduated in 1999, has been accredited by the ABA only since 1996.

Others, like Iowa Representative Steve King (R), have praised Regent’s excellence, comparing the school to none other than Harvard, which was founded in 1636 (a full 342 years before Regent), making it the nation’s oldest college. During yesterday’s hearing, King declared:

“I would submit that Regent… is a successor to Harvard in being founded upon religious principles… and this nation was founded upon religious principles, as was our Constitution. And so I think it is a laudable thing, not a derogatory thing.”
I would submit that King is a colossal idiot. His statement makes him an embarrassment to his fellow Iowans and to the House of Representatives.

Incidentally, Harvard was founded by strict Calvinists. Pat Robertson rejects Calvinism with its emphasis on predestination as a distortion of the gospel, which, he argues, depends upon unimpeded free will. If the founders of Harvard were alive today, they’d regard Robertson as a heretic and would be burning his books and DVD’s in Harvard Yard.

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Wednesday, May 23

Um, Reagan?

I don’t know if anyone else caught Jeff Jacoby’s article “Look in the Mirror, Jimmy Carter” in today’s Globe. In it, Jacoby takes Carter to task for his recent comments to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in which he claimed that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history,” referring to the Bush administration.

Jacoby argued that it was actually Carter’s own administration that was the worst in history, or at least the worst of the 20th century. He points to Carter’s departure from the aggressive anti-Communism of his predecessors and what Jacoby sees as Carter’s appeasement of Communist leaders, like Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union’s Leonid Brezhnev.

Now I’m not saying Carter was one of our best presidents (and I was too young to have voted for him at the time) but I have a difficult time criticizing Carter’s policy of rapprochement with some of the world’s leading Marxists—heck, didn’t Nixon normalize U.S. relations with China?—especially in light of how many times the U.S. has chosen to support (often covertly) brutal, ruthless, and undemocratic dictators purely on the basis of their anti-Communism.

Worse yet is Jacoby’s criticism of Carter’s response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution, and the subsequent Iran hostage crisis (1979 – 1981). In what can only be considered a thoroughly cock-eyed analysis of what he terms “the fruits of Carter’s spinelessness,” he concludes (quoting Stephen Hayward, a member of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank):

“The fall of Iran… ‘set in motion the advance of radical Islam and the rise of terrorism that culminated in Sept. 11.’ By doing nothing to prevent the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter invited an evil from which grew the jihadist violence that is such a menace today.”
Only the most biased (and blind) individual would reach such a conclusion. Far more accurate is an analysis that looks to the damage done by Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, whose administration funneled billions to Afghanistan in support of the mujahedeen’s jihad against the Soviet Union. Thousands of Arab counterrevolutionaries fled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, among them Osama bin Laden. They were trained and aided by the CIA, who “devised special recommendations ‘for the use of religious movements and groups in the struggle against the spread of Communist influence.’”

Reagan’s shortsighted policy of supporting militant Islam as part of his strategy for winning the Cold War was to have devastating results. In effect, he helped create a threat far more lethal to American security than the Soviet Union. Both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda grew in strength as a result of Reagan’s interference in Afghanistan. His simplistic formula of “the enemy of my enemy of my friend” was a grave miscalculation, the full impact of which was witnessed on 9/11. To ignore the connection between the Reagan administration’s foreign policy and the rise of militant Islam, while placing the blame on Carter’s shoulders isn’t merely bad history. It’s utter foolishness.

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Tuesday, May 15

A Jihad for Love

The story of Islam told by its most unlikely storytellers...

Filmed in twelve different countries and in nine languages, A Jihad for Love is the first-ever feature-length documentary to explore the complex global intersections of Islam and homosexuality. With unprecedented access and depth, the film brings to light the hidden lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Muslims and goes where the silence has been loudest, to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, as well as to Turkey, France, India, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In many nations with a Muslim majority, laws based on Quranic interpretations are enforced by authorities to monitor, entrap, imprison, torture and even execute homosexuals. Even for those who migrate to Europe or North America and adopt the Western personae of “gay,” the filmmaker says that relative freedoms of new homelands are mitigated by persistent racial profiling and intensified state surveillance after the terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid.

As a result, many gay and lesbian Muslims end up renouncing their religion. But the real-life characters of A Jihad for Love are not willing to abandon a faith they cherish. Instead, they struggle to reconcile their ardent belief with the innate reality of their being. The international chorus of gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims brought together by A Jihad for Love does not seek to vilify or reject Islam, but rather to negotiate a new relationship to it.

It was a difficult decision for the subjects under threat of violence to participate in the film. According to the filmmaker, Parvez Sharma, those who came forward to tell their stories felt that Islam is at a tipping point and thus they were willing to take the risk. The documentary will create a new language of affirmation, break down walls of silence and re-address the role of religious fundamentalism in daily life.

Producer Sandi DuBowski is director/producer of the award-winning and groundbreaking film Trembling Before G_d. A Jihad for Love is co-produced by five major international broadcasters, Channel 4 (UK), ZDF/ARTE (France/Germany), SBS (Australia) and LOGO (USA).

Sandi DuBowski and Parvez Sharma have expressed the need for immediate funding as they wrap shooting and edit the film to premiere in early 2007. All donations for the production and distribution of A Jihad for Love are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. If you would like to make a donation via the Hartley Film Foundation, the film’s fiscal sponsor, please click here.

There will be a gala reception in Boston on Monday, May 21 at 6:30pm with selected clips from the film and a Q&A with the director and producer. For more information on this event, please click here.

Monday, May 14

Says WHO: Don’t get hooked on the hookah.

I don’t know if anyone else caught the Globe’s article on hookah smoking a couple of Sundays ago. The jist of the article was that health officials are becoming alarmed by the rise in hookah smoking among young people who erroneously conclude that it’s a relatively safe alternative to cigarettes. I’m not sure that there’s much of a trend here—or if there is, it’s not really all that new.

Sure, you can order a hookah at Tangierino in Charlestown, but that’s been the case for over a year, at least. A new hookah bar, The Nile Lounge, is set to open in Allston soon, and there are a handful of establishments that offer hookah smoking on their outdoor patios. Mantra built a cool, but pricey hookah den right in the middle of their restaurant about eight years ago, but Boston’s smoking ban killed it shortly thereafter. Do these few instances really amount to a trend? I think a small minority of non-Middle Eastern Americans have been using hookahs for a while, and I’m not sure there numbers are increasing all that much.

On the other hand, Americans of Middle Eastern descent have been using them for decades. My grandfather (OK, he was Greek, but he was also an Ottoman subject) used to smoke one. I smoked one at a Palestinian restaurant in San Francisco about five years ago, but long before that, I noticed a line of ornate hookahs on a shelf at Sevan bakery in Watertown, which is run by an Armenian family from Istanbul. Virtually every Middle Eastern grocer I’ve ever encountered—including the one on Shawmut Ave in the South End—has been selling hookahs and hookah paraphernalia (i.e. tobacco, coals, mouthpieces, etc.) for years.

Whether or not hookahs are truly on the rise in the United States, it is true that they have caught the attention of health officials, who have begun to rail against the dangers of hookah smoking and have raised the regulatory battle cry. This past March, the American Lung Association published a new report entitled An Emerging Deadly Trend—Waterpipe Tobacco Use. They cited a 2005 study by the World Health Organization’s Advisory Note on Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking, which concluded that hookah smoking is 100 times more dangerous than cigarettes. Well, actually, they concluded that smoking the hookah for an hour is more dangerous than smoking a single cigarette. Well, duh. I could have told you that.

Among their findings:

“A waterpipe smoking session may expose the smoker to more smoke over a longer period of time than occurs when smoking a cigarette. Cigarette smokers typically take 8 – 12 40 – 75 ml puffs over about 5 – 7 minutes and inhale 0.5 to 0.6 litres of smoke. In contrast, waterpipe smoking sessions typically last 20 – 80 minutes, during which the smoker may take 50 – 200 puffs which range from about 0.15 to 1 litre each. The waterpipe smoker may therefore inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming 100 or more cigarettes…

A typical 1-hour long waterpipe smoking session involves inhaling 100 – 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled with a single cigarette.”
The operative wording here is “a cigarette.” I don’t know that many smokers who smoke a single cigarette. Don’t smokers typically smoke several cigarettes, spread out over their entire day? Moreover, don’t they typically smoke every day? I’m sure there are plenty of “social smokers” who don’t consume nearly as many cigarettes as their chain-smoking counterparts, but I’m sure even this group doesn’t stop at just one. I think it would have been more accurate to compare the effects of hookah smoke vs. cigarette smoke over the course of a month. Even this would be an exaggeration, however, as many hookah smokers, like myself, don’t smoke every month, unlike cigarettes smokers who probably do.

The key, of course, is moderation. I agree that hookah smoking is not risk-free, and that people should be aware of the risks. The WHO study points out that myths about the harmlessness of hookah smoking are as old as the hookah itself (centuries in other words). It’s important to separate myth from reality. For that reason, it doesn’t really make sense to replace the old myths of harmlessness with new myths of deadliness, based on a questionable methodology. My suggestions:

• Limit your hookah smoking to once a month, at the very most.
• Don’t smoke for more than an hour.
• Don’t smoke alone.
• Use natural coals instead of quick-lighting briquettes.
• Always separate the tobacco from the coal with a layer of perforated tin foil.
• Always clean out the hose and the neck after every use.
• Don’t allow smoke to collect above the water in the base. Use the valve (good hookahs have them) to blow out excess smoke.
Of course, the real danger here isn’t so much to one’s health, but to one’s wallet. Most establishments charge $30 a pop for a hookah on the outdoor patio, in which case what you’re really paying for to look oh-so-hip. No thanks. Just go out and buy your own for Chrissake and smoke at home with your friends. You can find a great selection here or here. Click here for natural coals. The hookah’s special mixture of tobacco, dried fruit or flowers, and molasses (called tabamel or shisha) can be purchased here. For some really cool hookah smoking music, click here.

In spite of the fact that the hookah is making inroads into places where it has historically had less of a presence (I saw hookahs in Kiev last year), it is undeniably a Middle Eastern phenomenon in its origins and remains so in the popular imagination. It’s the exotic associations that make it cool to some, but dangerous to others. Let’s face it, the backlash against hookah smoking cannot really be separated from its post-9/11 context in which anything Middle Eastern has become suspect.

Sunday, May 13


I love getting text messages from friends. This one came today from my friend J, just as the Joes and I arrived home after being in the car for three hours. It was just what I needed.

Seventeen lilacs
encountered meandering
fragrant poignancy

I love that J texts me haikus. Thanks, J.

Wednesday, May 2

Take That, Reunion!

A few weeks ago I posted about Reunion Christian Church and an article in the Weekly Dig about their uber-hip approach to saving your soul. Of course, they’re not the only ones trying to make church fun and cool. I’m happy to report that some Episcopal churches are trading in their incense for overhead projectors as part of something called a U2charist.

From the project’s website: “A U2charist is an Episcopal Eucharist service that features the music of the rock band U2 and a message about God’s call to rally around the Millennium Development Goals.”

A set of eight goals set by the United Nations, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) endeavor to end poverty, hunger and disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion while promoting gender equality, education, and enviromental sustainability, all by 2015. Bono is widely recognized as the project’s global ambassador.

While the Episcopal Church is a denomination that contains both liberals and conservatives, I believe the conservatives are in the minority, at least in the United States (in Africa, it’s a different story). In the U.S. Episcopalian sermons are far more likely to emphasize ethics, social and economic justice, and human rights than sin, salvation, or personal holiness. I doubt you’ll find many of them talking about hell and who’s going there. Instead, they address the hell that the poor, exploited, and disease-ridden experience every day, right here on earth.

A U2charist might sound a bit hokey. I myself haven’t been to one. I am, however, glad to see someone other than the fundies drawing large crowds to their worship and using that opportunity to promote something genuinely positive in the process. Amen.

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Monday, April 30

A Page Straight from the Haggard Playbook

As soon as I read about the resignation of Randall Tobias (shown left with George W. Bush) last week, I immediately thought of Ted Haggard. Tobias was the U.S. State Department’s top foreign aid advisor and resigned after admitting that he was among the clients of a well-known Washington prostitute. Tobias, who served as the director of foreign assistance and the administrator of the Agency for International Development, required foreign recipients of AIDS assistance to explicitly condemn prostitution. He is a former chairman and chief executive of Eli Lilly and of AT&T International. He was chairman of the board of Duke University from 1997 to 2000. He has also been a major donor to various Republican campaigns.

Naturally, Tobias is claiming that he hired the prostitutes to give him massages, not sex. Wasn’t that Ted Haggard’s defense?

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Friday, April 27

A Page Straight from the Romney Playbook

In an appalling, but not at all surprising, change of heart, Rudy Giuliani announced this week that he opposes civil unions for same-sex couples. In response to New Hampshire’s imminent civil unions law, a spokesperson for the Giuliani presidential campaign issued a statement saying that the law goes “too far.”

While considered a longtime supporter of GLBT rights, Giuliani has never expressed support for same-sex marriage. At the same time, he has explained his opposition by pointing to the existence of civil unions, which, he has argued, effectively replicate marriage for same-sex couples:

“That’s why you have civil partnerships. So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union, whatever you want to call it, and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn’t have.”
So why the sudden change? There’s really no mystery here. For months, political commentators have been saying that Giuliani’s liberal positions could make him poison for more conservative Republican voters, who would reject him in favor of Romney. Because God knows, Romney’s conservatism is genuine.

If you ask me, it’s a disgrace. But is it more disgraceful than the about-face of so many Democrats whose vocal opposition to the war in Iraq belies the fact that it was their failure to oppose Bush’s October 2002 Iraq War Resolution that put us there in the first place? Bush couldn’t have done it alone. He needed Congressional approval to send our military into Iraq. Fearful of appearing un-patriotic so soon after 9/11, Democrats in Congress fell into line and authorized the disastrous war in which the United States now finds itself. Is their change of heart any less politically expedient than Giuliani’s?

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Thursday, April 26

Naughty Fruits

Last night I played Boggle with the Joes. Little Joe loves games. He wants every night to be game night, and we are happy to oblige if it means we can keep him from spending hours in front of the television or computer. His favorites are Life, Monopoly and, more recently, Risk. On a regular basis, however, he’s just as likely to choose Scrabble, which he loves, or Boggle because it’s easier to squeeze these games into the hour space we have between dinner and his bedtime.

I hardly ever challenge in either Scrabble or Boggle, but last night, Joe (my partner, not Little Joe) made “sot,” which I thought was incorrect, so I took out the dictionary to challenge him. He claimed it refers to a fool and he ended up being right, but in the midst of looking up the word in question, I came across something that I would never have believed had I not seen it with my own two eyes.

I must admit that I thought I knew all there was to know about squirting cucumbers. I was wrong. The definition of a “ripened fruit [that] forcibly ejects the seeds and juice” is priceless, and I cannot help but think there’s a little camp involved here. One (or more) of those crusty old editors loved the idea of a squirting cucumber so much that they just had to include an illustration! Surely, they must have been aware of the naughty nature of it all. Joe and I had a good laugh over it.

Little Joe just rolled his eyes.

I have prayed for that very thing many times.

Christine Bakke is a lesbian who was recently interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. On the show, she talked about her traumatic, disappointing, and often bizarre experience during four years of ex-gay “reparative therapy.” Read the story here.

She recalled how one of her stranger moments occurred in the midst of a prayer meeting when a fellow church member asked God to give Bakke the ability to accessorize. Apparently a tried and true method of identifying a lesbian is her inability to accessorize. It also appears that it’s not enough for lesbians to stop having sex with other women. They need to be fabulous as well.

It’s a humorous example of the pathetic way the ex-gay movement continues to conflate sexuality with gender. I wonder if that same church member, recruited to pray for gay men (as opposed to lesbians), would ask that God strip them of their ability to accessorize!

How many times I have prayed for the ability to accessorize! Perhaps I’m not really gay after all. Hallelujah, I’m cured!

Wednesday, April 25


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been issued a subpoena to appear before House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee next month to testify about the Bush administration’s case for the war in Iraq and their false claims that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from Niger.

Read the full story here.

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Thursday, April 19

Sinking Buildings + Rising Seas = We’re Fucked

There’s an inescapable irony in being comforted by truly discomforting stories that serve to remind me that I’m not alone in worrying about the sort of things that could easily be (and often are) dismissed as neurotic. It’s nice to know that at least I’m not alone in my neurosis.

I love Boston. Although I went away to college and I’ve lived abroad on two separate occasions, I always knew that I’d settle here, where my roots are. My grandparents came to Boston from Greece almost a century ago, and my family and friends are here. It’s more than that, however. I love the city and the region that surrounds it. Boston is far from perfect, but as a built environment, it stands out as one of America’s loveliest cities.

Which is why I cannot help but be alarmed when I read stories about dwindling ground water supplies that threaten to erode the foundations upon which so much of Boston is built. Perhaps it would be done differently today, but back in the 19th century, the way they approached construction atop landfill was to drive wooden pilings into the muck and build atop those. When groundwater levels drop leaving those pilings exposed to air, they rot, and that’s bad news for the structures sitting on top of them. This isn’t speculation either. It’s already happening.

If that wasn’t frightening enough, we have the spectre of massive flooding as a result of rising sea levels. A study done by Applied Science Associates of Narragansett, Rhode Island, created a hypothetical model to simulate the effects on Boston’s topography in 100 years if a) sea levels rise by 15 inches, b) the city settles 6 inches, and c) a storm surge hits during high tide. It’s not a pretty picture. Neither was the one painted by an EPA-commissioned study back in 2005. The flooding that was produced just this past week throughout coastal areas should give us an unpleasant taste of what’s to come.

I don’t want this post to be all problem and no solution. The first and most important step is to be aware. Far too few are aware of the threats facing our city and it’s easy to dismiss fears of sinking buildings and rising seas as alarmist melodrama. Take some time to learn about the Boston Groundwater Trust and the city’s Groundwater Conservation Overlay District (soon to include the North End and Fort Point area). Take some time to learn about climate change and environmental sustainability.

Otherwise, we might be forced to do what Chicago did in the mid-19th century. It was drastic, but it did the trick.

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Saturday, April 14

Dear Leon and Anonymous:

Thank you for your comments. They are much appreciated.

There is a subtle distinction between my warning young people not to be taken in by the laid back, hip atmosphere of Reunion Christian Church and accusing them of deception. My point was simply to praise the Dig article for its juxtaposition of Reunion’s more progressive and non-traditional worship with their theology, which is far from progressive and quite traditional.

I don’t believe that Reunion is being deliberately deceptive. I think they are being strategic. They consciously strive to reach a younger audience and have created a vibe that they feel will resonate with that audience. They’re trying to reach those who feel church is dry and boring by offering a worship that isn’t dry and boring. And that is fine.

But it doesn’t change the fact that they are still evangelicals. Ask them if Muslims are going to heaven (no, not if they accept Jesus, but as believing Muslims). Heck, forget Muslims, ask them about Catholics. Ask them about the final destination of a person who thinks Jesus was pretty cool, but doesn’t believe that he was the Son of God or that he came back from the dead. I could be wrong, but I’d place my bet on their answer being the eternal flames of hell. Ask them if it’s OK in God’s eyes to be gay.

If those things (along with the other medieval stuff that evangelicals believe) are OK with you, that’s your business. And, frankly, it’s none of my business, unless of course you start lobbying the civil government to adopt laws that marginalize me and all those others who don’t conform to your vision of a Christian nation. Then it is my business to criticize you and to do so loudly.

I’m all for live and let live, but I’m not going to sit back while the Religious Right tries to impose creationism (or is it “intelligent design?”) on the public schools, while undermining diversity training in those same schools, or tries to pass laws preventing same-sex couples from obtaining the same rights and privileges as other couples. I will fight those who do these things and whatever else is on their wacky (and very dangerous) political agenda, and I’m not above lampooning them for the buffoons that they are.

Admittedly, I don’t know where Reunion stands on political engagement. For a long time in America, evangelicals and fundamentalists avoided politics. Many historians have argued that the fundamentalists’ retreat from the public sphere had to do with their humiliation during the Scopes trial in 1925 (even though they won the case). All that began to change in the late 1970s, when evangelicals reemerged as a political force. Perhaps Reunion belongs to that older, apolitical strain of evangelicalism, but there’s an awful lot on their website about “transforming society.” Often that is code for “take back your government for Christ.”

Frankly, without knowing for sure where Reunion stands on the political involvement of Christians or whether they have been among the thousands of angry bigots to descend upon the state house every time same-sex marriage is debated, it’s bad enough knowing that they teach homosexuality is sinful. That kind of teaching contributes to the marginalization of GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender—in case you don’t know) people. And marginalization results in discrimination and violence. That’s not cool, no matter how cool Reunion’s worship is.

I think others will recognize that. For those committed evangelicals looking for a less-stuffy and more hip worship, Reunion is clearly the place for them, and they know exactly what they’re getting into (and won’t like what I’ve said). I’m concerned more with the vast numbers of young people who don’t really know what evangelical Christianity is all about (just like I was in college). Maybe a young person looking for friendship and a laid back approach to spirituality will be drawn to Reunion. And maybe Reunion’s laid back, hip and high tech worship will be enough to make their conservative worldview palatable. That will surely be the case for some, but not for others, who, once they see (if they didn’t already know it going in) how terribly narrow and not at all laid back Reunion’s theology is, will decide that Reunion’s not for them, in spite of the cool, laid back vibe.
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