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July 2010

Target & the HRC Equality Index

Queerty explores whether Target just proved that the HRC Equality Index is worthless as buying guide.


I have not joined the Target boycott.  I'm still thinking about it.  Am I to then shop at Wal-Mart, which has a worse record and all sorts of other things that bother me (but I still shop there on occassion)?  Target has much that I do value, including good policies for how they treat LGBT employees. 

In a world of sin every institution participates in evil.  We all do.  There is no way to exempt ourselves from it.  That is why we stand in need of grace. 

I've joined plenty of boycotts, especially when the act is egregious and I am free to make other choices.  But sometimes we aren't free.  And Christian theology teaches us that.

Asking for It

This starkly powerful poem concludes The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon:

Lord God whose mercy guards the virgin jungle;
Lord God whose fields with dragon teeth are farmed.
Lord God of blockheads, bombing-planes, and bungle,
Assist us to be adequately armed.

Lord God of cruelties incomprehensible
And randomized damnations indefensible,
Perfect in us thy tyrannous technique
For torturing the innocent and weak.

God of the dear old Mastodon's morasses
Whose love pervaded pre-diluvial mud,
Grant us the power to prove, by poison gases,
The needlessness of shedding human blood.

More great work from Cormac McCarthy

Last night I stayed up till after 1 a.m. finishing The Crossing, book two in the Border Trilogy.  Here are some lines and paragraphs from the book that I found beautiful, haunting, or incredibly well-written.


He was but some brevity of a being.


The old man by whatever instinct stood on ground at once blessed and fraughtful.  This was his choice, this his gesture.  All agreed his testimony was a powerful one.  The strength of his conviction was plain to them.  In his words there was little measure and little of restraint.  In his new life the libertine was out.  Do you see?  By his arrogance he had engaged the living thing.  On that perilous ground he had made of himself the only witness there can ever be and if some saw in his eyes the rapture of madness what else would one look for in one who had enjoined the God of the universe on ground of that God's own choosing?  For that is always the nature of such ground, perilous and transitory.  And it is indeed so that you make your case there or nowhere.


his way through the world was so broad it scarcely made a path at all.


Nor does God whisper through the trees.  His voice is not to be mistaken.  When men hear it they fall to their knees and their souls are riven and they cry out to Him and there is no fear in them but only that wildness of heart that springs from such longing and they cry out to stay his presence for they know at once that while godless men may live well enough in their exile those to whom He has spoken can contemplate no life without Him but only darkness and despair.  Trees and stones are not part of it.


Do you believe in God?

On godly days.


He nodded.  He knew her well enough, this old woman of Mexico, her sons long dead in that blood and violence which her prayers and her prostrations seemed powerless to appease.  Her frail form was a constant in that land, her silent anguishings.  Beyond the church walls the night harbored a millennial dread panoplied in feathers and the scales of royal fish and if it yet fed upon the children still who could say what worse wastes of war and torment and despair the old woman's constancy might not have stayed, what direr histories yet against which could be counted at last nothing more than her small figure bent and mumbling, her crone's hands clutching her beads of fruitseed.  Unmoving, austere, implacable.  Before just such a God.

Inviting the Wrath of the Gods

Hospitality and neighborliness are fundamental human virtues.  Our most ancient ancestors got that.  In ancient literature nothing invited the wrath of the gods more than violations of these virtues.  Last night Michael and I had such an experience.

We went to dinner with a church member who lives in a condo unit near the hot dining area in town.  We walked to dinner and had a really nice time.  When we got back his neighbors were having a garden party.  As we walked up one couple said, "Ken, your visitors car just got towed."  At first we thought they were joking.  Then we realized that the car was gone.

Quick calls to the towing company first resulted in us not being able to get the car last night.  Then they said we could.  It would be $200. 

Seems that the resident is supposed to give the guest a pass to park.  The wife of the president of the condo association came over and, oozing with arrogance, said with extreme condescension to the church member, "Really, it is your responsibility." 

He said he had never had a problem before and that he had had people come and go often.  She said, with further condescension, "You have led a charmed life."

On the way to the impound he told us that he didn't understand, because he had told that very couple that his minister was coming to dinner.  He didn't understand why they hadn't told the tow truck to wait.  It is not like the area was full.  Of the ten slots, only four cars were there.  And one other, a truck, didn't have a permit. 

I said it was even stranger when you realize that my car has a UCC clergy sticker in the window.  So, they knew he had a guest coming, that it was his minister, and here was a car with a clergy sticker in the window.

When we got to the lot we were first surprised to see that the ticket had Ken's actual address on it.  Our car was not directly in front of his unit.  Then the driver told us that he was just driving through the condo unit and wasn't even looking at permits, when he rolled down his window to chat with the people who were at the garden party.  He said that the president of the condo association had come over and told him specifically to tow the red car.

Our friend was embarrassed, angry, and shocked.  I still can't wrap my head around the violation of fundamental human ethics, the evil, the jerkiness involved.

Plus it seems even weirder to treat a clergy person in this way.  Normally we are afforded a little more respect and deference.  One should feel a little nervousness at such a violation against someone who is a moral and spiritual authority.

Add to it-- the truck which also did not have a permit was still parked in its spot this morning.

All I know is that the universe has a way of correcting these violations of hospitality and neighborliness.  (Maybe I've been reading too much Cormac McCarthy).