Monthly Archives: February 2014

Uganda: These Are Crimes against Humanity

My heart hurts today for my brothers and sisters. I pray for their safety, as they are compromised in the midst of this political power grab and uninformed homophobia that is masquerading as righteousness. Imagine the fear and instability this kind of legislation will also bring to families and friends of our LGBT sisters and brothers. Anyone who knows the heart of God, also knows this cannot be the will of God. I am confident that truth and love will prevail because at the end of the day, God has the last word. We are all leaning on God’s everlasting arm. – Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship

May our thoughts and prayers be with the LGBTI people and their families in Uganda, the Kuchu Diaspora Alliance, and our global LGBTI family around the world. This is not the last word in Uganda, of course, and at this time let us pause for moments of solemn solidarity and then return to the work of solidarity, equality and justice. – Michael J. Adee, Ph.D., Global Faith & Justice Project of the Horizons Foundation

Our hearts break as we think about the unthinkable.  The new law in Uganda is surely as heinous an attack on humanity and human rights as we have witnessed in the 21st century.  The fact that U.S. so called religious voices have supported and encouraged this law is disgraceful  We pray for the safety and well-being of LGBT people in Uganda and their families, and urge the U.S. government to respond swiftly to this violation.  We pray for a day when all will see that sexual and gender diversity is part of God’s blessing to us all. – Rev. Debra W. Haffner, Co-founder and President of the Religious Institute, Inc.

Our hearts and souls are joined with the people of Uganda, especially those whose lives and liberty are threatened by this horrific injustice. We pray that the majority of people, law enforcers, and those in government will continue to live in the recognition that all people embody the Divine, and pledge renewed vigor in working to overturn such discrimination. We call on the people and officials of the Catholic Church worldwide to recognize that such laws perpetrate violence on the entire body of Christ, and to lead efforts to repeal this and similar laws. – Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, DignityUSA

May those responsible for the anti-homosexuality law in Uganda be healed in heart mind and soul. May their fear be vanquished, opening them to the grace, beauty and vitality of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, resulting in the repeal of this law. May our LGBTQ comrades find safety, feel loved and be clear that they are part of G-d’s intentional Creation, beloved, manifesting an aspect of G-dself in our corporeal world necessary for the elevation of all consciousness. – Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Executive Director, Nehirim

“Right now, we have heard from LGBTQ people in Uganda who are fleeing their homes to avoid being beaten or imprisoned.  It is far past the time when religious people should be speaking against this vicious persecution. Persecution and brutality are not cultural differences; these are crimes against humanity!” – Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson. Moderator ofMetropolitan Community Churches

the divine hero twins- final story, part one: The False Sun

Each age of the world has had its own Sun. To become the Sun of the Age, one must prove oneself with the harshest of tests, for the Sun rules the world with great power. It would not do for just anyone to become the Sun.

In one of the ages before ours, while the Heart of the Sky was still trying to make humans, but had not yet succeeded, Seven Macaw put himself forward, vain-gloriously, and became the False Sun.

His teeth and face were jeweled. His nest was metal and lit up the face of the Earth.  And when he came forth from his nest, he shone like the sun and moon together.

“I am the foothold of the people,” he said.  “My place is higher than the designing of humans. I am their light and their sun, their months and their days.”  And his feathers glowed around him.

All beings and creatures who lived listened to the False Sun.  Or else they were destroyed.

It is said that, during that age of the world, the Heart of the Sky formed people who were made of wood.  Although they had the shape of humans and human intelligence and skill, they were made of wood.  They had no hearts.

These wooden people refused to acknowledge the months and the days of their Maker and Molder. It is sometimes said that they were the people who were swept away by the flood.

While Seven Macaw was Sun, our father and mother could not be made.

In those days, before humans had successfully been made, the Grandfather and Grandmother had two sons- One Hunahpu  and Seven Hunahpu. One Hunahpu had had a wife, before she died. His younger brother, Seven Hunahpu, lived with the family, unmarried. The two were playing the ritual game, the ball game, together. They were dressed in their yokes and arm guards. They used their rubber ball for the game, and the Hawk, the Messenger of the Heart of the Sky, sat and watched.

One Hunahpu had fathered two children.  Their names were One Artisan and One Monkey.  One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were great knowers, midmost seers of the earth, and One Artisan and One Monkey were like them.  They were clever in every way. They were Flutists, Singers, Writers, Jewelers, and Metal Workers.

One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were playing the ritual ball game on the road that led to Xibalba.  This is the Land of the Rivers, the Land of the Dead.

The Lords of Xibalba are named One Death and Seven Death.  They are the Lawgivers.

The other Lords of Xibalba are named House Corner and Blood Gatherer, Pus Master and Jaundice Master.   They are named Bone Scepter and Skull Scepter.  They are named Stab Master and Trash Master.  They are named Wing Death and Pack Strap.

The Lords of Xibalba heard the sounds of One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu- playing the ritual game on the road to Xibalba- at the ball court called the Great Abyss.  They looked at each other and smiled.

Where One and Seven Hunahpu were playing, the Hawk, the Messenger of the Heart of the Sky, sat and watched.  And now the Owls, Messengers of Xibalba, flew up and watched as well.

“Therefore, you must come.” said the Owls. “You must bring your playthings, your yokes and your arm guards, your rubber ball.  You must come and play with the Lords of Night.”

“Very well,” said the two.  “But first we must bid farewell to our Mother.”

Because, in the age of the False Sun, the Grandfather was dead.

One and Seven Hunahpu returned to their Mother’s house.  They tied their rubber ball in the rafters and bid their Mother farewell.  One Hunahpu instructed his sons to care for her and to turn their whole hearts towards reading and writing and singing, to cheer her and keep her heart from being heavy while he was gone.

The world’s Grandmother started sobbing.

“Don’t be sad.” the boys told their mother.   “We’re going to visit Xibulba, not dying! We’re going to come back.”

And they left.

Xibalba is full of tests.  It is heaped and piled with tests.

One and Seven Hunahpu descended into a deep canyon. The canyon sank deeper and deeper until they were cut off from the sky.  They came to the first river- the River of Churning Spikes. Because of their seeing, those midmost seers passed unharmed through the spikes. They did not drink of that river.

They came to the second river, the river of blood.  They passed through unharmed.  They did not drink of that river.

They came to the third river, the river of pus.  They passed through, unharmed.  They did not drink of that river.

They came to a crossroads.  The roads there were red and black, white and yellow.

And their seeing failed them.

The black road spoke to them.

“I am the road you are taking,” it said. “I am the Lord’s road.”  So they took the black road. But it was the Road of the Dead.

They reached the council place of the Lords of Xibalba. The Lords of Xibalba were there and One Death and Seven Death were siting there, each one in his place, still as wood.  One Hunahpu and Seven Hunapu greeted them.

“Goodmorning, One Death.  Goodmorning, Seven Death”

The Lords of Xibalba began laughing.  They were shouting with laughter.  In their hearts they knew they had won.  One and Seven Hunahpu had greeted wooden mankins.   Their seeing had failed them.

The Lords of Xibalba laughed until the real One Death and Seven Death stood up.

“It is good that you’ve come.” One Death told them. ” Tomorrow you must put on your yokes and arm guards and play a ball game with us.”

He gestured to a bench.

“Please sit.”

One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu sat down.  They began to squirm.  They jumped up, burnt, holding on to their butts.  The bench was a red hot stone.

The Lords of Xibalba shrieked with laughter.  The laughter moved like a serpent through them, and, though One and Seven Hunahpu could not understand, they were saying,

“We should just sacrifice them.  They wont be able to play against us. They wont be able to play against our ball, the White Dagger.  There will be no game at all.”

So One Death had them put inside the Dark House. The only thing inside that house is Darkness.

The names of the other houses of Xibalba are Shiver House and Jaguar House, Bat House and Razor House and Flame House.  One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu never saw those houses.

“Here is where you will spend the night.  In the morning, you will play the game against us.”

And he had one lit torch brought to them.

“I will lend you my torch for the night,” he told them.  “But you must return it to me by morning, just as it is, or your lives will be forfeit.”

One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu held on to the torch, cowering inside the Dark House.

The next morning, the torch was burned up. Nothing was left.  They could not return it. One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were brought out to the ball court. There they were sacrificed.

The Lords of Xibalba had Seven Hunahpu buried in their garden, under a tree. They had One Hunahpu’s head cut off. They buried his body under the tree as well and wedged his head into the fork of the tree, to decorate their garden.

A strange thing happened after that.  Till that day, that tree bore no fruit.  The day that the head of One Hunahpu was wedged in its fork, the tree began to fill with fruit.   The fruits were round and hollow like skulls.  Today they are called Calabashes. The tree is called the Calabash Tree.

The Lords of Xibalba wondered at the tree, that had never born fruit before, and they became afraid.  They forbid any of the people of Xibalba from going beneath the branches of the Tree, or eating any of its fruit.

But Lord Blood Gatherer had a daughter, named Blood Woman.

the divine hero twins- interlude

I stopped, stroking my friend’s hair, touching my friend’s eyes.  Such eyes.

Now, I told my friend, as the Chronicler of the Elves once pointed out, fairy stories are written by humans, not fairies. Humans write stories about the Escape from Death, but the fairies themselves may well write stories about the Escape from Deathlessness.

A human telling the story of the Twins might understand the ending to refer to the Escape from Death. They might exclaim that the child of the deathless gods had shared his life with his dying brother.

A fairy might see it differently.  A fairy might say that the mortal Castor had shared his death with his immortal brother. That it was not Pollux who saved Castor, but Castor who saved Pollux.

Pollux had escaped from an eternity of glory so fixedly given that it can never actually be won. From actions so assured of success that there is no point in carrying them out.

From life so safe from death that it is never lived.

People have claimed that the finite is nothing without infinity.  That ordinary life is nothing without the numinous.

But what is infinity, without the finite?

the divine hero twins- second story

trigger warning: rape

It had not been an ordinary swan.  Its wings seemed to fill the sky, in the moment she had looked up and it had been coming down on her.  It’s weight was like a man, not like a bird, but she hadn’t gotten to look at it.  It’s beak clamped on the nape of her neck, threatening to twist and break bone, and pinned her face to the ground.

Lede had not given birth.  She had laid eggs- twin eggs.  She had wondered, shame burning her face, if the children would turn out to be birds. They weren’t.  When the time came, the eggs hatched, and the feet and hands of human children poked out, breaking the shells.

There were two children in each egg- a boy and a girl in each.  She named them Clytemnestra and Castor, and Helen and Polydeuces.  As the children grew, people started calling Polydeuces ‘Pollux’ for short.

Clytemnestra and Castor were ordinary children.  They even took after her husband, Tyndareus, in their looks.

It soon became clear that the children from the other egg, Helen and Pollux, took after their Sire, the Swan- and that the Swan must have been a god.

The golden light she had not been able to see in the eyes of the Swan, as she choked on mud and struggled for breath, burned in the childrens’ eyes. Music seemed to be hovering in the air around them, just out of the reach of hearing. And nothing could hurt them. They ran and laughed through life, untouched by suffering.

When they were old enough, Tyndareus gave the girls to a high ranking pair of brothers from another city- a matching set.

Helen found a man whose company she better enjoyed.  She ran off with him- apparently heedless of the thousands of lives that would be destroyed in the international chaos and collapse this desertion triggered.

Clytemnestra remained at the side of the man to whom she had been given, fulfilling her duties. She produced a male heir for him. He then publicly killed the daughter who had been born along the way.  The killing had been part of an obscure ritual, intended to help the war effort.  She was left to keep his estate in order and profitable while he was gone at the war.  Long years later, when he returned, he brought a girl-slave with him.  The slave was youngish and beautiful and intelligent, and without family to speak on her behalf.  Spoils of a fallen city.  Something he could entertain himself with in his old age.

Clytemnestra had her husband assassinated.

Her husband’s heir, the son she had given birth to, killed her in punishment for her crime.

The boys, Castor and Pollux, had not been sent away from home like the girls had.  Their father was alive and was the ruler of the city and the land around it. One day, they would rule, but until then, they had few responsibilities.  The boys took to cattle raiding and quarreling with their paternal cousins.  Polydeuces’ breezy confidence ran them in and out of trouble again, and they would laugh as they rode off.  They wore round skullcaps, and joked that these were pieces of eggshell.   What did they have to fear?  They were children of a god.  Perhaps even the god!

Staying with their sister Helen, they had been out on a raid the day she ran off.

One night, their luck turned against them in a dark and tangled forest.  They were separated, and Pollux found himself alone pursued by both cousins. The younger and smaller cousin caught him and they wrestled.  Lynceus was named for the Lynx that hunts and kills, solitary in the dark, but when their bodies parted, it was Lynceus who fell bleeding to the earth. Pollux stared at the fallen body. It didn’t move. He began to be afraid, although he didn’t know why.

At that moment, Idas crashed into the clearing.  His dead brother was laying on the ground between them and before Pollux knew what was happening, Idas’ hands had closed around his throat.  Idas was, perhaps, named after a mountain- the mountain where the god had once died and had also been born.  Pollux was choking, squirming against the ground and fighting for air.  Idas sneered and bore down on him harder- bringing all his great weight and power to bear.

A strange thing began to happen.  Pollux’s eyes, that had always shone, began to burn. They burned brighter and brighter.

There was a flare that lit the clearing.  Trees stood stark in front of their shadows- and then disappeared into sudden darkness.

Pollux pushed Idas’ body off of him.  The corpse reeked of burned flesh. And burned hair. And burned bone.  He lay for a moment, panting, then scrambled to his feet.  He ran through the woods, terrified of something he knew was happening and did not understand.

When he found Castor, Castor was lying in a pool of blood. Idas’ spear was pinning him to the ground. He grinned up at his brother, and tried to laugh.

Pollux dropped to his knees, then threw himself to the ground, holding his brother.

The two were never seen again after that night.  As years went by, between the shifting words of oracles and the murmur of the sea at night, a story slowly formed.  Pollux had called on the god, his father, as only a child of the gods is able to do.  The god had appeared, and offered to take him away, to the distant and eternal home of the gods. There, he would live forever, in splendor.

But Pollux hadn’t called on his father to ask to live in splendor forever.  He explained impatiently what he wanted.

Very well, the god answered.  There is a way that you can stay with him and not be parted.

For the rest of that age of the world, in memory of the Twins, the people of Leda’s city performed two different rituals. In one ritual, they would make a holocaust, honoring the Twins as they did the gods of the stars themselves: by burning a sacrificial victim.  In the other ritual, the people would pour out the blood of grapes, offering the Twins a libation as they did for the human dead, whose spirits sink through the earth to the netherworld.

The Twins had joined their lives into one.

They had become stars.  Because stars are sometimes are plunged into the darkness of the horizon, disappearing like the dead.  At other times, they shine in the heavens, where, it is said, the gods live.  They suffer both fates and are alive with both kinds of life.

the divine hero twins- first story

Both had weighed two pounds each at their birth.  Several days later, only one of them weighed two pounds.  The other was thriving. They were premature, and special care was being given to each of them. But only one was going to live.

One baby was sickly, it’s face bluish. It cried with out stopping. Not matter who held it or what was done.  The other baby’s face was healthy and pink.

Finally, the nurse, took the ailing twin out of its incubator.   This was not the standard procedure, but she had tried everything, and knew that it had all failed.

She put the baby in the other incubator, skin to skin with it’s sibling.  Still too young to move, the two snuggled together.  The stronger baby wiggled around until her arm flopped over her sister.  She looked like she was trying to hold her twin.

After a bit, the wailing stopped.

The monitors had been showing the vitals of the ailing twin. They no longer showed any such thing.

The bluish face had turned pink.  Wailing had turned to quiet breathing.

Both of the girls lived.

And this is a true story.

the divine hero twins- prelude

At a certain times in my life, I have been very lonely.

Waking up one morning to a large and empty house, sunlight was filtering in through the sheer fabric of the drapes.  It was a gray light.  The day was cloudy.  I pulled my eyes closed and crawled back down under the blankets. This was my day off. I was taking care of the house for an acquaintance. I had no one to see and nothing interesting to do.

Still mostly asleep, curled up in the dark, I started pretending that I had a friend with me. We had spent the night together and were just waking up, drowsy and happy.  Skin smoothing against skin, so delightfully warm, we were both putting off waking up- pretending the day didn’t have to come.  Time had made a nest where we could hide and nothing was going to bother us.

Sleepy in the dark,  I started telling my friend stories.