aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, December 11, 2006
The Southern Cross
I don’t know enough about the rebel flag. Today I learned more. Ken Burns speaking with Campus Progress last spring:
I’m always astounded by the prevalence of confederate flags and confederate memorabilia in the South and the frequent controversy that surrounds the issue. As a someone who is tremendously knowledgeable about the Civil War and as a Northerner, what do you make of that? Do you consider it a symbol of racism?
A lot of my relatives fought for the confederacy, but some fought for the north as well. First of all, the Civil War was, in addition to the biggest thing that has ever happened within this country by far, a deeply psychological event. There is an ultimate paradox at its heart, that in order to become one we kind of tore ourselves in two. Before the Civil War, when we referred to our country we said the United States “are,” and now we say ungrammatically the United States “is.” So the war in a funny way made us a one thing. We used to speak of a union and then we became a nation. A union is a collection of things and a nation is one thing. So there are deeply important psychological issues that continue to reverberate about the Civil War.
But the point you bring up about the confederate flag is a hugely disturbing thing. The confederate flag was adopted by many of the states as their flag, not before the Civil War, not during the Civil War, or not even in the immediate period afterwards, that much misunderstood period called Reconstruction. Those flags were instituted in the 1950’s and there’s only one thing that happened in the 1950’s that would have caused the southern states to add the confederate flag. They took one of the battle flags, and it wasn’t even the most popular confederate battle flag, and made it the symbol of segregation and resistance to civil rights and codified it in their flags. In that regard I find that the enthusiasm for the confederate flag today is both misplaced, misunderstood, and absolutely a symbol of racism.
[T]he ”Southern Cross” was the naval jack of the Confederacy, not the official flag. Georgia went through a controversy some years back when it removed the Confederate flag from the state flag, but the flag they have now is actually closer to the original Confederate flag
Another gay pastor in Colorado
If this keeps up Dobson and the ex-gay crowd will have plenty of practice. And we’ll all have more evidence that ya’ are what ya’ are:
In a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, the senior pastor of a thriving evangelical megachurch in south metro Denver confessed to sexual relations with other men and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.
A month ago, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.
Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.
State reliance on religion
“The state has literally established an Evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one of its penal institutions, giving the leaders of that congregation, i.e., InnerChange employees, authority to control the spiritual, emotional and physical lives of hundreds of Iowa inmates,” Judge Pratt wrote. “There are no adequate safeguards present, nor could there be, to ensure that state funds are not being directly spent to indoctrinate Iowa inmates.”
InnerChange, which has been widely praised by corrections officials and politicians, operates similar programs at prisons in Texas, Minnesota, Kansas, Arkansas and, by next spring, Missouri. Officials in those states are monitoring the Iowa case, but several said they believed their programs were sufficiently different to survive a similar challenge.
The full article persuasively reports that “a growing number of programs use tax dollars to pay for religious activities aimed at prisoners, recovering addicts, job seekers, teenagers and children.”
I’m really not so upset about this on religious grounds, though it clearly is the state offloading an obligation to religious organizations and sanctioning the religious message in the process.
I am bugged by the state’s abdication of its obligation to address the issue of what happens to an imprisoned human population. We’re locking up more people than ever and not giving nearly enough thought to the consequences.
As to God, I have no objection to God playing a role in an individual’s restoration. But from a state point of view that God must be the AA version, a God you choose freely from “your own conception.”