aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Merry Christmas Happy Hanukkah Good Kwanza
The day started with a trip to the Virgin Megastore at Union Square to pick up a CD for Doug’s mom. The salesclerk asked, “Peter Paul who?” She looked it up and we bought their single copy of the Peter Paul & Mary Holiday Celebration.
Evidently the War on Christmas has been a long one.
We left New York, had lunch in Philadelphia, dinner in Lancaster and we’re sleeping in Harrisburg. We’ll be up early in the morning with the niece and nephew to open Christmas presents.
We wish you and yours a great one, however you celebrate.
Christmas day worship in your living room via DVD
As Christmas Day is nearly here, I thought it worth reposting my reaction from two weeks ago to the decision by some mega-churches to cancel the Christmas service and offer a DVD instead.
The megachurch goal of an “innovative” and “family friendly” approach is achieved this Christmas by canceling the Christmas Day service and distributing a DVD instead.
This, says Willow Creek Community Church Communications Director Cally Parkinson (a “community” church needs a communications director???) will facilitate a “more personal and maybe more intimate Christmas message.”
God, she says, “is with us wherever we are.” How convenient.
For me it confirms Fareed Zakaria’s observation in The Future of Freedom that there’s a decline of religious authority in American life. In a compelling and well argued chapter entitled “The Death of Authority” he suggests that the notion of evangelicalism thriving because of its strictness is flat-out wrong.
Rather, he explains, today’s fundamentalism has undergone a profound populist transformation; the focus is on attracting the masses. Today we have faith as therapy; a populist evangelicalism that coddles its flock. “People are praised, comforted, consoled, but never condemned,” he writes:
[p.214] What remains of the old Protestant fundamentalism is politics: abortion, gays, evolution. These issues are what binds the vast congregation together. But even here things have changed as Americans have become more tolerant of many of these social taboos. Today many fundamentalist churches take nominally tough positions on, say, homosexuality but increasingly do little else for fear of offending the average believer, whom one scholar calls “the unwashed Harry.” All it really takes to be a fundamentalist these days is to watch the TV shows, go to the theme parks, buy Christian rock, and vote Republican.
So are the fundamentalist upset about canceling the Christmas service? Some. But the big deal even for them is not that they’re canceling the Christmas service. It turns out that’s the trend among evangelical churches; they make Christmas Eve the big draw instead. But because Christmas falls on a Sunday they’ll be canceling a Sunday service. That’s the upset.
The cancelation won’t upset my worship routine. Bedside Baptist is the church for me. And it looks like this Christmas, even here in the red, red, heart of the South, I won’t be alone in that.
SEE ALSO: Slate’s photo essay on the anatomy of megachurches.
UK gay priests rebel over marriage
The Church of England’s Gay priests want a civil partnerships for themselves:
In recent correspondence, the Church of England reiterated its teachings that sexual relations should only take place within a heterosexual marriage.
The church is not enforcing its directive on lay members who have civil partnerships but is telling clergy they must promise that their relationships will be celibate.
BBC News religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said there are already signs of a rebellion from gay clergy.
He said the issue of homosexuality has already split the worldwide communion and now poses a new threat to unity at home.
Wednesday saw the first same-sex ceremonies take place in England and Wales.
It’s official: TiVo’s a great gadget
A friend with a featured role in Transamerica - she was outstanding, by the way - commented to Doug last night on the heterosexual cast. As with Brokeback Mountain, I think it’s a good thing. I don’t want ghettoized movies preaching to the choir, I want movies that reach out and spread the good word.
Transamerica is that kind of movie. It is outstanding; Felicity Huffman’s performance brave and brilliant:
To call Felicity Huffman’s performance in “Transamerica” persuasive would be an understatement, as well as somewhat misleading. Her character, Bree (short for Sabrina), is a pre-operative transsexual who lives in a modest bungalow in Los Angeles and in a condition she refers to as “stealth.” In other words, though still technically male, Bree passes for a woman, though there is nothing very stealthy about her elaborate, almost theatrical displays of femininity. In her tasteful pink outfits and meticulously applied makeup, she presents an image of womanliness that harks back to an earlier era. Her voice soft and breathy, she avoids cursing and peppers her conversation with Latinate words and foreign phrases.
In this debut feature by Duncan Tucker, who wrote and directed it, “Transamerica” sets out to affirm Bree’s dignity, to liberate her and others like her from any association with camp or freakishness. That the film succeeds without slipping too far into sentimentality or didacticism is in no small measure the result of Ms. Huffman’s wit and grace. (She may also be the first film actor of either sex to do frontal nudity, in a single movie, as both.) Her work on “Desperate Housewives,” for which she won an Emmy earlier this year, suggests a knack for gender parody, since that series is in essence a drag show that happens to star real women. The challenge Ms. Huffman faces here is more complicated: she must convey the layers of Bree’s identity and the spaces between those layers. It is not just that the actress must play a man who is playing a woman - that much is a matter of technique (with some prosthetic assistance, to be sure) - but also that she must impersonate a performer in the midst of learning a complicated role. Her performance is a complex metamorphosis, and it is thrilling to watch.
I will be hosting a screening in our little town.