Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sister, Sister

(seem to be on that double double theme)

My sister is going to New York City in a couple of weeks with my Dad and his wife. Erin is a mom of little ones ranging from 2 to 12. Getting out to the Big Apple is a big deal! I sent her some fling money to spend while there or in preparation (you know, shoes, clothes, hair cut kind of thing). I'm excited for her.

The note with funds arrived yesterday. My sister called immediately. She told me that when she opened the note, her daughters were both hovering over her (12 and 7). They were happy for their mom to have this fun money. My sister explained that that's what sisters do for each other when they grow up. They "show the love."

Immediately the younger one (7) saw the future and said to the older one, "Shevawn, when we grow up, you send me money, okay?"

I loved that.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday, Monday (Can't trust that day...)

I wish I could collect all my thoughts and put them into a jar, shake it up and then pour them out in some kind of reconstituted fashion that would make sense to everyone who reads this blog, but even moreso to myself.

I was chuckling on the phone a moment ago with a friend. I realized that over the last several years I've been walking backwards into rooms. I had this experience first with religion... you know, I thought I was following my questions, taking them to God, expecting that the Holy Spirit would respond with some kind of message that was more than ambiguous, historically and socially constructed, and contigent, that there would be clarity and the lights would turn back on and all would be well again... a deeper and clearer sense of answer than I started with... I did all of this facing the world I love and know and didn't realize that in fact I was backing gracefully out of the place I came from.

My attention was focused on where I came from and not on where I was going when suddenly, Oh! I turned around and I'd missed the entrance and found myself in a new room. This room was the one I'd been warned never to enter for fear of hell and damnation (or at the least, lots of emails that asked me what in the h-e-double toothpicks I was doing with my faith!). But I got there reading the Bible and Christian theology of all things; go figure.

And now, I've pretty much set up shop in that room and it's got a great view. Lots of new and old furniture, and a wonderful library. :) It's just comfy and right for me at this point in time. So many more visitors than the old days.

And then deja vu, the same thing happened again, but this time more subtlely than I had expected since I wasn't on some kind of political bender or deconstruction of my political alliances. Heck, I voted for Bush after all.

Yet over the last few years since the election, I have lost all interest in right wing radio (my old staple), I find myself sympathizing with homosexual rights to the point of activism, I want us out of Iraq and our boys brought home, I am appalled at the race relations in our city, I want to conserve energy, I embrace changing language to include women, I don't trust multinational corporations... in short, I have lost touch with all of those things that made me rightwing.

I am not to the point of saying that I've moved irrevocably to the left. What I will say is that I've backed into yet another room and didn't mean to! I have been through an intensive program of getting behind the eyes of the "other." My postmodern journey deepens each month. That journey has changed me. I hope to share how over the next days and weeks.

I get it Dave B and Bilbo. :) I get where you've been coming from for the last six years.

Friday, February 24, 2006

New column posted

UPI Column for this week is now up.

I have another blog post all set to go for this blogger blog, but believe it or not, it is about my experiences on the Brokeback Mountain forums... and I just can't believe you can all bear more about that movie from me right now. Otoh, it is a pretty funny post...

Maybe tomorrow. :)

In the meantime, the UPI column tells about my early experiences in a cult! So enjoy.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ode to Donuts (Guest Blogger)

Jon Bogart, darling hubster, loves a good donut

The following poem was composed by Jon and sent to his college freshmen. He teaches composition at Xavier and brings donuts to every class (they meet at 8:30 a.m., a brutal hour for 18 year olds).

So sweet... :)

An Ode to Donuts

Some think me a nut
for searching for
the perfect donut.

Who are they to mock,
I ponder. They no doubt
have never had a donut rock
their world.

Warm and sweet,
Soft and lovely—
Donuts are replete
with character.

“They jest at wounds who never felt a scar.”
Shakespeare, no doubt, traveled far
for the perfect ├ęclair (whose flair was renown)
or a resplendent Tiger Tail, the crown
jewel in the case.

Monday, February 20, 2006

BAFTAs: Brokeback Mountain Takes Home Four

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts honored Brokeback Mountain with four awards last night. Brokeback Mountain won the awards for Best Adapted Screeplay, Best Director and Best Picture in addition to the surprise of the whole evening--Jake Gyllenhaal (Jack Twist in BBM) for Best Supporting Actor. He was demonstrably shocked and elated!

Gyllenhaal: 'Totally unexpected'
Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal beat George Clooney, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle to win best supporting actor at the British Academy Film Awards.

Jake Gyllenhaal
Gyllenhaal plays gay cowboy Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain
For me, this was totally unexpected. It was such an honour just to be nominated.

I feel like I've always been supported by the British public. It's been so wonderful. Ever since I was on the stage in the West End, and in Donnie Darko, I feel like the British were the first to champion that.

This award is premature I think, but I'll take it.

I think if George Clooney were only one nominee - if he weren't twins tonight - he would have won. His movies are amazing. He has such courage as a film-maker. Particularly given the position that he is in.

That such a popular person can still stand up and say what is in his heart, to me is more admirable than anything.

I think all films are political, no matter what - whether they are asking you to ignore your everyday life or whether they are asking you engage with it.

With this film, in particular, I've had a lot of people say to me. 'thank you for making it...I've been waiting for this film since I was born'.

To have people go into the theatre and have an experience like that - to feel it's made a social impression, that social impression to me is the aftermath of an artistic impression, and so much more important.

When I read the script I just immediately responded to it. Every love story has its obstacles - this is one of those last great obstacles. It moved me like any love story.

From the BBC

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Day

A few heart centered incidents from the Bogart clan.

Me: Hop in the car! I'm leaving for Walgreen's to get Valentines. Whoever needs them, now's the time.

16 yr. old daughter: What? You're going now? I'm leaving in ten minutes. I can't come.

Me: I said "Valentines" not "Let's go hang out with cute boys...." What on earth do you need Valentines for?

She: I need Disney Princess Valentines obviously to hand out to all my friends at school, including the cute boys.

Me: You can take the car later.

She: It's never as much fun as going with you and the kids... (Now I thought that was sweet.)

And today, at co-op, she did hand out said Valentines and I saw six boys literally swoon as they perforated the little paper rings out of the cards and slipped them on their ring fingers in her honor. Who knew the way to a 16 year old boy's heart was Ariel and Snow White?

The sister (age 9):

Caitrin: Yeah, my brother and I made cookies for Valentine's day. We had a whole bunch of sugar cookie hearts. He used pink icing around the edges but all we had left was black so I used it. It got all gobbed up in long strings.

Chorus of little nine year old girls: Ew. Black? Why black? That's digusting.

Caitrin: I love black. I call my work Masterpiece in Black Snakes.

(Now that's love.)


Liam is buddies with another red head named... Liam (Last initial - M.). I call "Liam" and they both come running. Very convenient. I can see why George Foreman named all of his kids George.

Anyway, Liam doesn't like to handwrite but likes giving out Valentines. He tricked Catirin into writing all of his. They all said - To: you, From: Liam

So imagine Jacob's surprise when Liam M. popped into Jacob's classroom and handed him a card that said, "To: you, From: Liam" and Jacob recognized his sister's handwriting.

For my Valentine's Day, I will go to Doctrine II. Thought about getting that romantic gift card from Kroger's that they keep advertising on the radio as "just what your sweetheart wants" (money for groceries). After all, my man loves a good sale on pork roast...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Online update

This has been a busy week online.

I've enjoyed immensely the conversations over at Jesus Creed where we are discussing how Christians understand homosexuality. Scot McNight (site owner) posted a comment in a recent blog of mine that I'd like to respond to here. I wanted to say publicly that he has a great site with a well-educated and dialogical bunch of folks who are trying to graciously work out their understanding of this thorny issue. I have refined some of my own questions through that dialog. And I have to say, I am enjoying getting know the emergent church through those posts. Lots of new blogs to visit.

The forum I host for women, The Trapdoor Society, has been buzzing as well. I'd love to invite any readers (who are women) to pop in and join us, if you are so inclined. We like to discuss everything from theology to films to movies to women's issues.

In addition to those, Brave Writer is hopping! I opened registration for my classes on Friday at noon and by 12:01, my primary class was full and there was a waiting list.

Hope to post some of my actual thoughts, not just report about them, soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Come see my new column/blog!

UPI Religion and Spirituality Forums has invited me to be a weekly columnist on their website. I feel honored.

Here's a link to my first post:

Julie Unplugged at UPI

I decided to use my handle from this blog to create some continuity in my life. The goal of this new blog adventure is for me to share my spiritual reflections (whatever they may be) each week. I enjoyed reading some of the other columnists too, particularly Adela McKay's column. She has a terrific sense of humor (love her blog about bumper stickers).

Anyway, thanks for supporting me in my new outlet for writing. Now I've got like four blogs to maintain? I'm insane, clearly, but for some reason, I enjoy it! Writing is almost better than sex.

P.S. I should add that my posts on the UPI site will not be duplicated here unless I resort to re-using one of my old posts from this blog when I'm in a time crunch. Also, anything I express on any blog is a moment in time snapshot of me and my heart, not to be taken as the final version of my faith for perpetuity. (This needs to be added so that I am not held to any comment I make as binding or harassment-worthy, depending on how one reads me!)

U2 takes home Album of the Year

Why am I so surprised?

They were supposed to win four years ago for "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and lost in an upset to "O Brother Where Art Thou?" They had front row seats. Their wives were all there. They had little clever speeches prepared.

And instead of the final Grammy going to "Best Album of the Year," that year, it went to "Best Record of the Year" (which U2 won). But this year, the buzz just didn't seem to be there. In fact, VH1's Rachel Perry interviewed an ex-Backstreet Boy yesterday who talked about each of the nominees for "Album of the Year" and he could only remember four albums... and forgot about U2.

That seemed to be the way it was in all the write-ups, in the predictions. I don't think U2 was the likely candidate for Album of the Year... So this year, U2 sat six rows back, Ali and Morleigh were not there, and the band looked as surprised as everyone else in the room when their name was called.

Yet if you look closely at last night's Grammys, a few things were clear. This is a conservative voting crowd. They picked "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" over "Gold Digger." Why? Green Day has already earned how many Grammys? I think this voting crowd is radio driven and conservative. They like the home grown Kelly Clarkson over the rehabbed Mariah Carey. They like the predictability of a Green Day band over the not as-yet-tested Kanye West. They voted for U2 so that no one could cry that U2 was overlooked again - isn't U2 the one band deserving of winning "Album of the Year" twice in its career?

I have a hunch that what knocked the votes in any direction was a desire to be in step with what the public loves and to avoid upsets.


Well, I'm happy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


My goodness. Total validation for Kelly Clarkson - both awards (Best Female Pop Vocal for "Since U Been Gone" and Best Pop Album for "Breakaway") showing that this first American Idol is the real deal. I love her personality. Still so unaffected.

But what is really surprising is the way Mariah Carey and Gwen Stefani are losing to U2, Green Day and Kelly. What's up with that? I am the U2 fan, punto fin. I always root for them. But I really expected them to be honored with nominations while grammys went to some of these other artists (particularly Kanye West - what a performance with Jamie Foxx!).

Album of the Year still ahead. I had already decided U2 wouldn't win... but now I'm not sure.

So I post this much without complete results, and will gush with enthusiasm and update the entry tomorrow.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bits and pieces of a week

Super Bowl, Super Snore.

Not much to report on this snoozer (though if you were a big Steelers fan, you must be elated). Thought college ball had more to offer as far as big entertainment this year. Rolling Stones make me laugh. :)

Other than that, this week has seen me teaching. I spoke at a homeschool group in Indiana and a Catholic Homeschool Workshop on Saturday here in Cincinnati. My first ecumenical experience... The Catholics pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost while the Protestants pray in Jesus's name. I got a kick out of the differences given that I'm reading Luther and Council of Trent documents these weeks.

Still thinking lots about homosexuality as we discuss it over on Jesus Creed. Admit to being encouraged by some of the emergent thinkers (Curt and Scott Mo posted some really detailed perspectives that take the OT passages into account). Still stunned when someone says that we can just tell homosexuals that the Bible calls their kind of sex sin and that is enough.

I'm thrilled that Brokeback Mountain has so many Oscar nominations. I have some theological reflections on the story that I may post in the future. In the meantime, if you haven't seen that movie yet, go! It's well worth the big screen. The bigger the better. Gorgeous cinematography.

And the big news this week: I will be starting a weekly blog on religious themes for UPI! More details forthcoming. I'm looking forward to the challenge and increased exposure.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Where Angels Fear to Tread...

Blame it on PMS or the fact that this winter hasn't been cold enough to freeze my head...

I've popped in to the Jesus Creed discussion about homosexuality after reading Scot McKnight's blog and comments for the last several weeks. I made the suggestion that perhaps we stop trying to figure out what we believe about homosexuality for awhile. Maybe it would be helpful if the church could open its doors to homosexuals - they can particpate at any level and go to seminary or study theology, they can lead worship, or pray for others.

What if we trusted the Holy Spirit and the Bible to be the guides Christians say they are and see what emerged after a generation of deliberate silence on the issue? Then maybe once we actually know each other - homosexuals and heterosexuals within the context of faith and church, we might learn some things and develop a deeper and more meaningful idea of what it means to be gay and Christian.

I am not gay (though apparently this suggestion made it appear that I am a radical lesbian to one commenter).

But I am stymied by what appears to be a need for the hetero community to define what is biblical and true for another whole community of people. The arguments that are used are usually moral (putting gays in the same camp as theives, murderers and adulterers). I can't do that. I've met and known too many and they just aren't like those people (unless they are also theives, murderers and adulterers... which they could be just like I could be).

I am all for ex-homosexual Christians being in on that conversation that would emerge after some time to let the issue be. It seems to me we need a much deeper and more nuanced understanding of sexuality than "hetero" good and "homo" bad. My God. Heterosexuality can be just as deviant if we want to get into each other's bedrooms. So there's a whole lot more to this discussion than a simple thumbs up or down on being gay and/or Christian.

So here's the funny thing. I got lambasted for my suggestion over there. And to be fair, I should not have commented. I am new to the site and it was like throwing a snowball over the fence at neighbors having a pleasant BBQ without me.

But then this a.m. I found support in a surprising quarter. I read a piece of Brian McLaren's blog at Christianity Today (posted on the pomoxian email list) and my jaw dropped. Here is numero uno Emergent Church leader calling for a very similar plan for how evangelicals can think about homosexuality:

Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us." That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren't sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn.

Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we'll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they'll be admittedly provisional. We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak; if not, we'll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the "winds of doctrine" blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.

My word! He only wants five years and it's a five year moratorium on pronouncements. I wanted a forty year moratorium on the endless need to define and control beliefs about homosexuality. But I'd take five!

There really isn't anything new to do otherwise. Ex-homosexual ministries have been in full fource for over twenty years. Christian churches have been saying that they will be welcoming to gays and helpful to them in becoming faithful believers, for at least that long. The theology that goes with that posture is not new or creative.

So if the status quo is what Evangelical Christianity wants to preserve, then even just going silent for five years would be a welcome change from the constant need to put their definitions out there, which end up sounding more like hand-wringing than anything useful.

If we want to see something different, then we have to be willing to take risks... Get to know people who don't share our point of view. Somehow homosexuality is up for discussion because it is no longer a culturally supported taboo to the degree that it once was.

Reminds me of women's rights, of abolition... An idea whose time has come, perhaps?