by Rick Brown
I was driving through a small Ohio town
recently when I noticed a church. Hanging on the front was a banner
that read, “God loves you…no strings attached”.
I chuckled out loud. I have no reason to question God’s
love for us. But as far as those who put the sign up…well
generally speaking there are enough strings attached to their
love that you could make a giant hammock big enough for God to
When I was growing up there was a man in our church congregation
who became a very good friend of my family. My brothers, sister
and I called him Uncle Andy. That’s how close we were…closer
than most of my real uncles…and I had a number of them.
He was especially close to my dad and brother Jim. Since the three
of them loved fishing he would take them out on his boat. Because
we were poor he always insisted on giving us every last fish they
had caught. And although I lost touch with him after I went off
to college I again saw him at both my mother and father’s
funerals. He was a good, decent man who happened to live with
his sister and her “friend”.
I also had a real uncle named Bobby. He had been a lifer in the
Air Force who got an honorable medical discharge around the age
of 35. The last time I saw him was in 1973 with my family. He
was living in Los Angeles alone…working in a flower shop
that he lived above. Bobby and my mother had a very close relationship.
He would write her letters that almost sounded like love letters…signing
them “love, Bobby” with plenty of XXX’s and
OOO”s below his signature. My father explained to me they
were “kisses and hugs”. Not only didn’t my dad
seem jealous…he appeared enthralled that his younger brother
loved my mother so much. Uncle Bobby always included money in
his letters to my mother. He was one of the most generous human
beings I’ve ever known. Curiously, I never knew exactly
what malady had forced an early retirement from the service.
And I never…ever…saw either of these men in the company
of a woman. Apparently neither of them met “the right girl”.
That was the assumption. Looking back at these two influential
guys, I have to believe they were gay. In those days there were
“spinsters”, “old maids”, “confirmed
bachelors”. Ahem…these people were in the closet.
So all this uproar against gays being banned from marriage is
something I have to take personally. After all…I’ve
known all too many straight friends who “never met the right
girl”…married her anyway (she was pretty and/or had
large breasts)…then inevitably got divorced. Oh the sanctity
of it all!!!!
There’s a dangerous segment of American culture…way
too large for my comfort…who take what they want to believe
in the Bible as literal truth and deny legal rights to good, decent
people because they are born with a different sexual orientation.
The problem religious zealots have isn’t about marriage…it’s
The folks in churches who love “with no strings attached”
are repulsed by the idea of two members of the same sex having
sex. It’s unnatural according to scripture. That’s
what they believe. But what if a married couple…man and
woman…got a little bored with “vanilla” sex?
You know…missionary position and all? What if they experimented
with “gay man sex”? What if they actually LIKED IT?
And there has to be more than a few straight couples who do. What
then? Does that make them gay men? Sodomites? A heterosexual woman
becomes a gay man with a little naughty naughty? Do they cease
to be married in God’s eyes after that? Does God have a
couple strings attached to his/her/it’s love then?
The question of Jesus’ sexual orientation is one that is
never discussed because it is assumed…almost unconsciously…that
he was a heterosexual virgin until the day he died. His mother
Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to him…at least according
to the Gospels. Yet many Biblical historians believe Jesus was
more probably the third or fourth child of Joseph and Mary. And
Catholics profess Mary…like her (God’s) son died a
virgin. Tough luck for Joseph…unless he was gay anyway.
And that brings me to Mr. Mel Gibson…self-appointed defender
of the faith. Ironically, thousands of born again protestants
are flocking to his monument to retro-Catholicism to watch a handsome
young white man playing Christ get the living crap beat out of
him for almost the duration of an entire feature length film.
So much for a literal interpretation of the story. At least a
Jew could have played Jesus. And why is it Jesus is always so
brutally handsome? I thought the point was that he was like us.
Most of us don’t look like models. Been to the mall lately
and taken a good look at your average Joe? Average Joes aren’t
even as attractive as the men on TV’s Average Joe.
But the people who accept all this without provocation also believe
there actually were an Adam and an Eve. (That’s why they
always make that funny “Adam and STEVE joke!) Forget about
the fact that their offspring would have had to have sex with
their brothers and sisters to propagate humankind. Incest runs
rampant in the Old Testament. (But at least it’s heterosexual
The Jesus most people believe in is what I call “Cartoon
Christ”. He walks around pointing a finger at a barrel of
water turning it into wine. He walks on water. He heals lepers.
But no one worries about the point of the stories. It’s
merely proof of his deity. And like cartoon characters there is
gender…but no genitalia. Jesus becomes a sort of sexless
Holy Houdini who riles up religious leaders because he’s
go a better show then them. Cartoon Christ already knows he will
be alive again in three days time…making his suffering and
death one dimensional at best. He might have ended his life with
“Th, th, th, That’s all folks!” instead of “It
During Diane Sawyers’ interview with Mel Gibson ABC included
a small sound bite from the esteemed Biblical scholar John Dominic
Crossan. Mr. Crossan commented that he wondered why Christ was
so severely beaten and then killed in the film when all he had
done prior to his arrest was pat children on the head. He complained
the movie did not show Jesus for the radical revolutionary he
was. That’s because conservatives believe Christ was a conservative.
But I believe had that been the case he never would have been
arrested let alone crucified.
Gibson thinks his The Passion of the Christ is an accurate
depiction of the Gospels. Yet the Romans speak Latin and Jesus
is crucified on a cross looking like a small case “t”
…an inverted “X” if you will. But the fact is
the Romans spoke a Greek dialect in those days and hung people
on crosses shaped like a capital “T”. These are not
small oversights. Apparently a lot of Protestants are not familiar
with pre-Vatican II Catholicism…of which Mr. Gibson is a
devoted follower. And for only $12.99 and up you can purchase
an authorized necklace with a replica nail from The Passion
of the Christ!! (I wish I were kidding. Does that mean Satan
worshippers wear necklaces with tiny hammers dangling from them?)
Did I fail to mention the Vatican II proclamations Gibson rejects
also included the Roman Catholic Church’s official rejection
of the notion the Jews killed Jesus?
Contrary to what most Christians will lead you to believe, they
are always looking for some kind of “secular validation”
to their literal interpretations of the scriptures. Cartoon Christ
as rock star in Jesus Christ Superstar being the most
obvious example. Jesus as dietician in the book What Would
Jesus Eat? by Dr. Don Colbert being yet another. Gibson’s
movie is no exception. The epitome of Mr. Gibson’s literalistic
pompousness…for me at least…came when during the ABC
interview, Ms. Sawyer asked him if God had made the movie Himself.
Gibson guffawed…in his creepy demeanor of that night…and
said, “God does all things. God made my bed.” OOOH
KAAAY.(I sure wish God would mow my lawn once in a while.) And
what straight guy makes his bed in the morning? Am I supposed
to believe a straight, white, millionaire tucks the sheets in
and gives credit to the Almighty? Mel’s wife might have
something to say about that…or his maid.
I’ll bet both my uncles made their beds. And their love
for my family and me had “no strings attached”. My
“honorary” Uncle Andy was a solid member of the church
we attended. Both were generous, kind, loving men. There is no
reason why people such as them should be kept from finding a life
long soul mate…regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Many of the gay couple seeking legal marriage now have been together
10..20..even 50 years. Straight people should fare so well.
Perhaps if people at the very least entertained the idea that
Jesus may have been a gentle, caring gay man they might come to
the realization that it doesn’t really matter. After all…he
was betrayed by a kiss…from a man by the name of
Judas. Christ does not have to be a cartoon. Like Judas he was
a man also. Isn’t that part of the message: God became man?
Christians seem to forget that maybe his humanity is as important
as a belief in his deity. I think more. You think what you want.
I dare say that if Christ were in fact a gay Jewish man it would
not change a thing. Like my uncles…whether they were gay
or not…it really didn’t matter…because the relationship
was about love and respect. Marriage should be like that. And
all people should have that option. It’s like the sign read.
It’s about love…love with no strings attached.
Story Ever Told
by Ted Kane
I caught “The Passion of the Christ”. Mel Gibson's
version of the New Testament looks like Alex's from “A Clockwork
Orange”…so much gore and violence and so little positive--other
than a brief flashback to The Sermon on the Mount. And there are
almost none of Jesus' teachings. There may have been more violent
and bloody films made, but never one so utterly humorless. I've
never seen a movie in more dire need of Charlton Heston than this
I don't know. This film is misanthropic more than anything. The
Roman soldiers seem as bloodthirsty as the Jewish priests, really
relishing the torture of Jesus. Homophobic perhaps also...Satan
is shown as an androgynous figure overseeing everything that happens.
Given what I know about Gibson as a homophobe, having read an
interview in a respected men's magazine (ahem ... Playboy) a few
years back, I think it's reasonable to read into this that Gibson
is equating homosexuality with demons. Yuck. No one should sit
~ mites on a
by Patrick O'Malley
country is going straight to hell” Chris Cooper’s
character (Col. Frank Fitts, USMC) replied when asked: “What’s
new in the world today dad?” in the feature film American
Beauty. I’d have to agree, although I’d say not only
this country but the whole Earth and all it’s inhabitants.
And we’re going not to hell, but to a much more real destination,
if it can be referred to as such. Nothingness, nonexistence, extinction.
First let me say this once: I have boundless faith that the human
race has the potential to evolve, adapt, and eventually metamorphose
into a Type III civilization. Just becoming a Type I would do
for now. Theoretical types of intelligent civilization usually
must meet the following general parameters:
Essentially, our civilization. A Type 0 civilization has only
just begun to tap planetary resources such as solar power, geothermal
power and wind power. Most of its power generation is still
based on non-renewable fossil fuel resources such as oil, coal
and natural gases.
These civilizations can effectively control the entire resources
of their planet; they can predict weather patterns and earthquakes
very accurately, and even control them using artificially induced
greenhouse effects or space-based lasers. A Type I Civilization
could conceivably halt an ice- age.
Type II civilizations have extended their power to their entire
solar system and learned to harness some or all of the excess
energy of their suns. Having colonized or at least extensively
explored all the planets within their solar system, they are
a largely space-faring race and have already mounted expeditions
to other stars using interstellar craft.
At the cusp of their power, Type III civilizations may span entire
galaxies having colonized all the stars by wave after wave of
interstellar craft. They can harness the power of galaxies by
utilizing the black holes that reside within their own galaxy,
or even the supermassive black holes that are the engine driving
most galaxies. Type III civilizations would have sufficient power
to conduct truly universe-altering high-energy physics experiments
and examine matter down to the Planck length. Such high energies
could theoretically unravel matter down to the superstring and
thus possibly access other dimensions.
Newport Music Hall
The heavy jazz instrumental “Thelonious Beck” opened
Government Mule’s Newport Music Hall performance. From the
very start Warren Haynes was delivering a triumphant execution
of guitar mastery. During the opening instrumental, Haynes displayed
the musical brilliance that has put him at the forefront of the
jamband scene. With new bass player Andy Hess providing some great
low-end groove, Haynes was able to take his playing to incredible
heights throughout the night. The Mule original “Game Face”
and a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Don’t Step On
The Grass, Sam” were Haynes’ first chance to let his
voice deliver it’s raspy, yet precise and powerful, punch.
Over the years, Haynes’ vocal talents have grown right along
with his guitar playing and he has now reached a point were he
can induce goose bumps with either talent.
A surprising cover of Al Green’s emotional R&B song
“Take Me To The River” followed and acted as a perfect
catalyst for Danny Louis to lay down some impressive keyboard
work. Louis’ playing provided great energy to the rest of
the band and the jam that ensued during “Take Me To The
River” was very reminiscent of the Talking Head’s
Top 40 version of the song. The choppy laid back guitar funk of
“Time to Confess” and the rockin’ power of “Bad
Little Doggie” highlighted the middle of the first set.
Once again, Danny Louis provided excellent playing during “Time
to Confess”, where his keyboard work fit perfectly with
Haynes’ rhythmic guitar patterns and Hess’ steady
bass playing. The forceful drumming of Matt Abts was prevalent
throughout “Bad Little Doggie”. Abts is a great rock
drummer that never misses a beat and there wasn’t a moment
during the show that Abts did not provide the perfect musical
support for the rest of the Mule. An inspired cover of Lynyrd
Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” was a fitting end to
Mule’s first set of bluesy rock.
by John M. Bennett, Ph.D.
Laughter, and Lies
by Rick Brown
Cardinal is omnipresent. From the beginning of Love, Laughter,
and Lies he…along with Megan Overholt…sings backup
for Stephanie Shull during a soaring version of Sting’s
“Fortress Around Your Heart”. In an instant he’s
up on stage welcoming us all to yet another superb 2Co’s
production. Before you know it Tom is closing the first section,
fronting house band Downtown DFN singing Dada’s “Get
High”. After a brief intermission Mr. Cardinal is once again
belting out Nickel Creek’s “Green and Gray”.
Moments later he’s back in the lights performing a marvelous
reading of Arturo Vivante”s “Can Can”…a
funny and pungent monologue concerning marriage, trust and betrayal.
Upon completing this wonderfully charming piece he races back
to the band area where he and Gabe Smith put on the dog behind
David Gigliotti’s ultra-hip rendering of the Stray Cat’s
“Stray Cat Strut”. I guess Mr. Cardinal is a “tom
cat”! Sorry…couldn’t resist. And just a short
while after that…there’s Tom belting out Steven Lynch’s
“Lullaby”….a deliciously filthy ditty that made
me smirk with joy.
Passion of the Christ
reviewed by Jonah Baldwin
these bygone autumn and winter quarters here at OSU I found myself
hard at work studying a subject that I – a Classics major
– had never anticipated encountering in my days as a student
– Christianity. Two post-Classical Latin classes, medieval
philosophy, later Roman Empire; apparently for about 1600 years
(let’s use Augustine and Ambrose as our line of demarcation
in the west) the most intelligent and introspective human beings
in Europe turned their well cultured psyches towards one question
– the Christian God. Needless to say, the Jesus was a big
part of this equation. So I read – liturgies, passion plays,
lives of the Saints, Augustine through Aquinas – and I began
to think, maybe I have these religious types pegged all wrong. And,
in the midst of all this ivory tower revelry and discovery of an
intelligent spirituality, along comes The Passion of the Christ
– Passio Christi. I thinks to meself, now here it
is. Finally an inspired filmmaker – Mel Gibson, Mr. Braveheart
himself – will bring before the whole of a lethargic and spiritually
defunct American populace all the glory of an all but lost Christianity
– one founded, nurtured, and reared on the backs and minds
of men who sought after truth with a capital T and found life in
pursuit of the mystery that is God. Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, controversy,
how could I go wrong! I know what you’re thinking –
this kid is on crack. In retrospect I must concur. But at the time
I was ready and willing to throw my very being into the waiting
arms of Mel and his trusty sidekick Jesus (played by James Caviezel).
and transfixed I watched the first cells flutter across the screen.
Jesus is kneeling, praying, a few disciples sleep nearby, it’s
Gethsemane. Moments into the film Lucifer, Leviathan, Satan - whatsoever
moniker you care to dub the Dark One with – makes his appearance.
He is played by Powder – a figure conspicuously absent from
the cinema since his self-titled debut in the early 90’s.
One of the columns of my naively erected artifice is rent asunder.
Such a corporeal satanic presence was never part of my whole ethereal
Passion vision – it is however part of the common Christian
conception and Catholic doctrine for that matter. Pardon the expression,
but it was all downhill from there. What ensues is more or less
a Biblically inspired bloodbath cut with parable scenes reminiscent
of Sunday school – a rather illuminating juxtaposition as
it were. From the moment the henchmen of the Sadducees seize Jesus
– beating, dragging, hanging, spitting upon him – to
the driving of the nails on Calvary any attempt Mr. Gibson makes
to insert the mystery and spiritual power of these events is lost
in material obsession. I heard one commentator on NPR remark that
the gore brought to mind the ultraviolence of Anthony Burgess’
A Clockwork Orange. Perhaps we oughtn’t go that far, but then
again perhaps we should. The fifteen-minute scourging is painstakingly
detailed; there was no doubt even digital enhancement of Christ’s
suffering. Digital enhancement of Christ’s suffering? Something
is amiss. Judas is assailed mercilessly by video demons –
children with their computer distorted faces crying in their Aramaic
tongues “Traitor!”. At one point Satan makes an appearance
with what is seemingly a hairy dwarf wrapped in his cloak, scowling
at and mocking Jesus. Immediate reflection: this is Mel Gibson’s
personal conception of the Devil? How inartistic, how banal, how
blasé. Even in the recesses of my underdeveloped agnostic
mind I’ve conjured up something a little more formidable than
a black clad albino cuddling a menacing little person. Perhaps a
hyper evil cloud or shade of gray would have served better. In his
portrayal of Pontius Pilate – who in my 14 younger years of
Bible camp and mission work was always the consummate villain –
Mel falls victim to a veteran Hollywood cliché: the pensive
noble Roman. Quid est veritas, Claudia? I check the oncoming
laughter. Pilate would no doubt have been a somewhat educated man
but hardly a Cicero or a Seneca and I fail to discern the import
of his rendering of Pilate as such. And now that we’re on
the subject of the Romans let us discuss Latin, and for that matter
Aramaic. From the linguistic studies that have been performed by
countless experts we know one thing about the Romans of the 1st
century AD – they did not speak Church Latin. Soft C’s
and rolled R’s nearly drove me into torrid madness –
if you’re going to tout your picture as an attempt at historical
accuracy at least consult some historical linguists! Aramaic I am
not familiar with, but anyone who sees the movie will agree that
the attempt at the native dialect is forced and as opposed to adding
to the experience distracts the ear. James Caviezel (as Jesus) is
a pretty sound victim of torture, outside of that he comes across
as just what he is – an actor playing Jesus, a tall Semitic
in this scathing criticism? The grave disparity between my expectations
and the actuality of this film speaks for itself. Whatever it is
that one is searching for when they turn their minds or hearts to
a higher power, it is not to be found on the big screen. The Passion
is in the end a supercharged version of the popular conception of
Christ’s crucifixion, replete with all the stereotypical images
and lore proliferated over the years by the Church. It is, in the
words of the Talking Heads, “the same as it ever was.”
Political Piece, sort of; a Book Review, Sort of; and a Travel Piece,
sort of, Rolled into One
It has been gently
and not unwisely suggested to me by Rique, the esteemed editor-in-chief
and brewer of fine beers as well as a musician of note, that I shouldn’t
write so much about politics. I assume he means that I could be
putting the readers to sleep, and possibly causing harm to myself
from sheer frustration at the current state of affairs.
So, Rick--this one’s for you, sort of. And forgive me.
For I feel that nothing rules our lives more, certainly today, than
politics. And what has been happening in the US is a catastrophe.
Michael Moore is right of course: our government has been seized—he
refers to it, not incorrectly in my view, as a coup d’etat--by
thugs, thieves and general lowlifes.
I feel, as do many other like-minded individuals, that the US has
regressed by decades at least, to perhaps the early twentieth century,
with its disregard for the environment; a fair tax system; a social
net. And basks in an unhealthy, arrogant and dismissive attitude
towards the rest world.
I don’t know how we’ll get out of the mess, even if
Bush is defeated. Assuming the Congress remains Republican--and
there’s no reason to believe it won’t--a Democratic
President--should he be elected and in my view that stands a 50%
chance at best—will have his hands tied very much the way
Clinton had had.
That beckons this: how will a Democratic President repeal the horrific
tax cuts, balance the budget, get us out of the hell of Iraq and
get Iraq and that forgotten land of Afghanistan on the right track,
tighten environmental regulations, etc? How indeed. I pity the sucker
to be elected. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t
kick that illegitimate parasite Bush out, and forthwith. But it
does mean that we should be realistic and realize that Kerry--should
it be him--in the White House is only a fraction of the battle.
Because while we have all been sleeping, the conservatives have
taken over. They have bullied, gerrymandered, and altered the political
landscape in such a way that reasonable policy will be almost impossible
Recently, I have read The Clinton Wars, by Sidney Blumenthal and
I can’t recommend it enough. It was one of the most interesting
and fascinating non-fiction reads I have immersed myself in, in
quite some time. What Blumenthal shows is the wall of resistance
any Democratic President can expect when entering the White House
and that any policy changes are far from certain. It is a frightening
account of how right wing America tried to destroy a President.
What amazed me, frankly, is how Clinton was able to get up every
day in the onslaught of ignorant and arrogant attacks by idiots—for
lack of a better term—and do the very best he could for you
and me. And why. I fear that I would have said one day, to hell
with this. What is the damn point? It must have been the most intensely
solitary and lonely and ungrateful job one can imagine. The fact
that he fled to Lewinsky’s embrace, frankly, doesn’t
surprise me. That he didn’t flee to each and every woman’s
embrace who entered the White House does.
It’s an astounding read; and it vividly portrays the reality
of politics in the US today, and what was happening and continues
to happen behind the scenes. I repeat: I pity future Democratic
Presidents and I pity the Blumenthals they bring along.
Onto the “sort of” travel piece:
I play soccer in a park in a part of Johannesburg called Norwood
(a predominantly Jewish suburb). The field is not particularly well
taken care of, but it’s free, and at least we have a place
to play. I am the only white guy there.
I guess I want to speak about the social implications of that, at
least as far as I am able.