Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I. Have had. Enough!
Notice is hereby given that this is an official rant. It's been awhile, so it's a bit long. Besides, I'm allowed.
Should you not be in the mood for a rant, you are invited to take your leave, with as good a cheer as I can muster, given the circumstances, and no hard feelings.
However, this IS a rant. I have to get this out of my system. It's been long over-due. And, it's the week before Holy Week. Gimme a break, okay? I'm allowed to be in a Very Bad Mood once in a while.
This is a rant in three parts - one part speaks to the disturbing level of violence among those on the Right, one part speaks to the progression of violence towards women in our culture, and the last speaks to the violence of Holy Week, and some insights I've had about the progression of violence.
What is it that got me in such a bad mood, you are wondering?
This, THIS, is what pulled my last, poor, tired nerve: "Pro-Life News: New Dean at Episcopal Divinity School Is A Lying Baby Murdering Witch"
That's just the latest hate-filled headline from the Far Right (Oh, what else to call them?) of the Tattered and Frayed Fringes of the Episcopal Church, Anglican wannabes.
And no, I'm not going to give you the link. If you really want to read that trash, you're going to have to go find it for yourself.
Let me put it in context for you. The image that appears below is a 'controversial' advertisement from Dolce and Gabbana. It was designed to 'market' their style.
Well, you tell me what's going on in this picture.
Looks like a set up for gang-rape to me.
Dolce and Gabbana protested that it was just an advertisement. Just trying to sell their wares, is all. Oh, yes, and stir up a bit of controversy. Controversy sells. Even negative attention is attention and, after all, if you want to sell your stuff, you've got to get someone's attention, even if it's negative.
The same principle is in effect with headlines that scream of the objectification of women and invites violence. She deserves it. She wants it, see? Look at her face in the advertisement. Look at the way she's dressed. She's asking for it.
When verbal violence is on display, it is usually defended by putting the responsibility on the woman. If she'd simply act like a good Pauline lady and keep her head covered and her mouth shut, and in particular, stop talking about the 'blessing' of abortion, no one would have to respond violently.
When you don't get that sort of violent, vile, bilious stuff from the Right, you get a weepy, ineffective sob from a newly preggers Mrs. Kennedy (that's the fifth in six years, for those of you who may have been paying attention).
God bless them. Because, thank God, we live in a democracy and not a theocracy, they have the same absolute right to have as many babies as they want and are able to care for as a woman who doesn't want a child or another child has the absolute right to abortion because she is not equipped to care for the child.
One of Mrs. Kennedy recent posts is about "someone" who called her at the rectory to talk about how she was pregnant and going to have an abortion, and how Mrs. Kennedy really, really, really tried hard to talk her out of it, but, ultimately, like everything else in her life - except, getting pregnant, having beautiful babies, cooking gourmet meals, and the clear superiority of the male of the species in general and her husband in particular - she was an abysmal failure.
Poor baby. Mrs. Kennedy, that is. (Wanted to make that clear because, well, you know how Trolls love to lift things out of context.) She's obviously been so busy getting pregnant five times in these past six years of her married life (I have to keep saying that to really believe it. Bless her heart) that she hasn't learned that most clergy get at least two of these calls a week.
Or how to screen calls like this for veracity. And how to know when someone is having a bit of a go with you because, oh, I don't know, it's how they define 'fun' in their own sick little way.
Happens to the best of us, hon. On either side of the aisle.
So, don't cry for your caller, Argentina. You know she never loved you. She was just mocking you. And being cruel. You were made a fool.
Bless your heart, and keep her in your prayers.
The Trolls on Viagra have been especially vile and violent about the appointment of Katherine Hancock Ragsdale as President and Dean of EDS. Their teeny-tiny little Troll-hearts, which are always three-sizes too small, cause them to grinch and snark and carry on about things like this.
It's amazing to discover, however, that the issue of abortion always, always, always, trumps the issue of homosexuality. They can feast on the issue of reproductive rights in general and abortion in particular for days.
It's a veritable "Troll Fest" - but there ain't no lurve, lemme tell ya.
If I'm honest, it's a little disappointing. I always thought I was the object of their favorite Troll Fest. I think they're off homosexuality as a topic right now. They are really, really turned on by:
1. Episcopal priests who are struggling with the Muslim faith.
2. Newly elected Episcopal bishops who embrace Buddhist practices
3. Very bright and articulate women like Susan Russell, Katharine Jefferts Schori and Ann Fontaine.
4. Abortion - well, this is a given. They always get especially excited when Abortion is the topic du jour. And, even when it's not.
The one and only Ms. Sarah Hey, The Dominatrix of All Trolldome, actually deleted one of Susan's comments the other night.
I know. She defined it as "drive by commenting" - which would pretty much characterize most of the comments posted at that site. Except, of course, it was probably one of Susan's brilliant 'sound bite.' Except, of course, Ms. Hey simply cannot abide to share her spotlight with anyone.
Our Ms. Susan got a mighty WHACK of the Orthodite whip from Dominatrix (that's what their own call her, BTW) Hey - which was, apparently, her second warning.
Who knew? How many warnings does one get over in Viagraland? I'm thinking that the Republicans like the sound of "Three Strikes and You're Out" and, since none of the Trolls seem to have a penchant or natural-born inclination toward creativity, that's probably the unspoken rule over in the inner recesses of the bowels of the underground volcano from whence these Trolls cometh.
I, for myself, made the hideous mistake of asking - real polite and all - to be removed from posting privileges there. I didn't even get a warning. Didn't commit "Drive by commenting". Just had the gall to ask something politely.
Mr. Melanie Griffith, that chivalrous but alas, out of work, soul has tried to banish me to the outer darkness. He blocked the browser from which I used to post my comments. He doesn't know that I have more than one browser up my sleeve.
So now, on the occasions when I do venture forth into Outer Trolldome, what I get is "System Temporarily Offline."
PULEEEESSEEE. This is now several months notice. What a wimp!
Poor baby. And, him with his tin cup out, rattling coins for change so he can get a full time job out of being mean and nasty online. It's been several weeks and he's only at about 20% of what he says he needs.
I'm thinking, "Hmmmm . . . not so much." If you listen closely you can even hear him whine. Yes way! Swear to God!
Back the headline story. You can go out and fix yourself another cuppa joe or tea, if you want. The second half is about as long as the first.
Here's bit of context:
I've just finished writing our own version "Children and their Families walk the Stations of the Cross." We're going to use it on Good Friday evening in place of the Service of the Word before the Veneration of the Cross and the rest of the traditional Good Friday service.
Our task is to combine the 12 Noon Family Service with the now mandatory for Confirmation Class participation in the services of the Triduum - a mixture of family-oriented stuff and the traditional BCP stuff. Tough balance, but I think, by Jove, we've got it. At least, I think it will play here in this part of the Northeast Corridor and God will be praised and glorified.
As I was cutting and pasting in the Gospel passages for the Eight Stations, I was struck by how the violence against Jesus progressed - from verbal abuse to objectification to increasingly violent language to physical violence to a murderous, hideously obscene and violent act.
Sociologists and cultural anthropologists have, for decades, done studies on domestic violence, and the pattern they document is pretty much the same as that which Jesus experienced. I don't know why I didn't see it so clearly until today.
It starts with abusive language, to language that bullies and shames, mocks and objectifies the person. Once the de-humanization process begins, it's a slippery slope to physical violence - pushing and shoving, which progresses to slapping and hitting, which progresses to belting and punching. The death rate for domestic violence among women and children is staggering.
I confess that I cringed when I saw the headline posted on HOB/D with the link to the site which produced that heinous headline. Goodness knows, part of the macho dynamic which fuels those words thrives on attention - the more negative the better. And, unfortunately, it's not the only site that is filled with cruel machismo and violent bravado in Anglican Blogland.
However, it is important that we know that this dynamic is alive and thriving in Anglican circles. Here's the thing: The author of that blog and the authors and posters of all so-called "orthodox" or "conservative" or "evangelical" or - whatever the current term du jour is these days, whether inside or outside of TEC - are absolutely entitled to their opinions.
They can even have strongly, passionately held opinions and cherished beliefs on any number of topics, including reproductive rights. God knows, I have mine.
No one - not them, not nobody, not nohow - who calls themselves a Christian has the right to use this kind of vile, violent, abusive language. Indeed, we have an imperative from Jesus to seek the higher ground and to hold each other accountable to that standard of excellence.
The author of that headline is inciting those who read his blog to violent thoughts. She's a "lying, baby-murdering witch". See? Not a person. An untrustworthy murder of babies who is godless - indeed, practices the worship of the Devil and all things vile and putrid. Got the picture? Not a shred of humanity in sight. So, well, anything goes, right?
The ends justify the means. Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war. We now know who "The Enemy" is. What are we waiting for? Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone knows that everyone goes to Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.
It will not take much for some one of the wack-a-doodle right wing extremists (not necessarily Anglican or Episcopalian) to be incited to threats of physical violence which, unfortunately, may well then become a reality.
Those who are like this so-called "pro-life" blogger and those who comment - anonymously, of course - are remarkably and paradoxically quick to try to snuff out any life that disagrees with their position to "save an unborn child." They 'troll' the Internet just looking for trash like this article on which to feed and fuel their machismo and bravado and violence.
The author of this and other such blogs knows this only too well.
Shame on them. Shame on us when we keep silence and let it pass. It is not enough to say, like Pilate, "His/her blood is on your hands," then publicly wash our hands and move on.
Even Pilate could see a riot forming. It's not exactly rocket science. Alas, the progressive pattern of human violence - especially against women - is as predictable as it is ancient.
I want to thank my brother Bruce for bringing this headline to the attention of the House of Bishops AND the House of Deputies, as difficult as that may have been.
I would encourage the brothers among us who know about this sort of violence to speak out and rebuke this "violent-speak".
Let's name this for what it is: ignorance and violence that is unbecoming - indeed, antithetical - to a baptized Christian.
I suspect this is why Fred Preuss, the self-proclaimed Atheist who lurks about and commits his own often nasty version of "drive by commenting" is, in fact, an Atheist.
Tell you what - if this were the way I thought all Christians acted, I'd be an Atheist, too. I hear ya, Fred (and, I'm appreciative of your recent constructive contributions to our conversations.)
It is dangerous language that objectifies a Sister in Christ - one with whom we may flat-out disagree or with whom we may not completely agree, but one who is, nonetheless, our Sister in Christ, sure and true.
She was created by the same, One, Holy God, baptized in the same name of Jesus, sealed forever by the same Holy Spirit, and nourished at the same Table by his body which was broken and his blood which was shed for us.
As we prepare to walk The Stations of the Cross and hear over and over again the "Passion of Jesus," let us pray for peace - which begins deep within the individual human heart.
Here endth the rant.
You may now resume to your previously scheduled day.
(And yes, I'm feeling much, much better now.)