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Madonna

Madonna – Rebel Heart – Review (Club Section 200 Row D Seat 14)

IMAG0037We arrived at the Bell Center before 8 p.m. Our seats were in the Club Section, half way up the room, above the first section of seats, and between those and the nose bleeds. Prices started at $150.00 @ for Club seats. We got great seats for what we paid for them.

DJ Diplo spun some records for an hour prior to the show starting promptly at 9:30 and ran exactly 2 hours, start to finish. The stage was backed by a full wall panel of screens reminiscent of past Madonna shows. The walls move left to right and up and down to allow set pieces to be slid onto the stage from behind the set.

The runway consisted of a cross/heart shaped configuration with two false floors in the stage allowing for set changes and moving people up and down throughout the show. It was a simple light set up hanging in the ceiling. The lights hanging on stage were a bit more complex.

The floor of the stage was square and opened and closed, rose and fell, and had projection screen that went along with the back stage wall panels. For several numbers the stage rose diagonally which allowed the set to be tilted towards the audience.

It was quite spectacular.

The projection screens along with the stage were some of the best settings I have seen on a stage. And Madonna is very well known for screen technology to go along with the show. What you see on stage only makes the presentation all the more better.

It wasn’t as massive as the stage set of Confessions. That entire stage set up and configuration was much more massive than tonight’s simple set. The projection screen technology was the best part of the show production.

The opening scene, with all screens screaming, opened with ICONIC, featuring a voice over by Mike Tyson. It was pure production value !!!! Madonna was lowered to the stage in a cage from the ceiling. Probably one of the best numbers in the entire show. Like I said below, the stage set and the projection screens on the back wall and on the floor, were the best part of the show.

However …

I was not wowed by the show. It kind of left me flat. I knew the music she was singing or not singing because of several montage pieces with active screen montage and sing overs. The set list included a bevy of old music, set to new melodies and styles.

There were whole sections of music that was retooled out of the original keys and styles, into a mish mash of cha cha cha, latin style presentation, that really did not do much for me. At several points in the concert, the oldsters who were sitting in our section were on their feet dancing in the aisles, if there were aisles to be had.

I really was not moved to get on my feet at any point in the show. BAH !

She sang almost the entire Rebel Heart, save one or two numbers that did not make it into the show. However during some of the video montages, the actual production video, was shown backing other tracks that were sung or presented as sung.

I lost perspective sitting in the crowd, versus seeing it live on film. We were so high up from the floor, that I was having to choose whether to watch the simulcast on the video screens above the stage or watch the floor show going on below us.

My camera did an ok job at some of the photos below. it is a first generation cell so it is not as swanky as the new phones on the market. By the time we got home, entire film clips of the concert that we had just left were online. So there were very savvy social media folks recording live video and uploaded it already.

I still think the Confessions Tour was and IS my favorite tour, for production value.

Yes, every good gay man should see Madonna once in his life to knock her off our Gay Bucket Lists. It was an ok show. Like I said to hubby on the way home, maybe it will warm on me once I see the concert on film. I will remember it better getting to see it from the stage perspective and not from so far away.


Madonna – Rebel Heart Tour – In Pictures

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Sunday Sundries … The Last Step, Music, and Everything Else

bs bees 2The B’s Bees … Live Concert Friday Night

Watching your friends grow up and become who they are meant to be, and having played a part in that upbringing, makes me a little proud. It takes a village, and on Friday night, the village showed up to celebrate one of our own, in his Album Release Party.

The little club called “Upstairs” not far from home, was a great experience. It probably seats no more than maybe a seventy five people at once, with the tables and bar area filled to capacity. We dined on good food, we had great conversation among friends, and we marveled in the brilliance that is the group of musicians who played new music for us.

My friends are not only smart, they are brilliant in their own ways. I am really proud to call them my friends. A good time was had by all.

This weekend marked another first for us. I haven’t been to a live concert since before moving to Montreal. On Saturday we scored tickets to Madonna’s next concert, “Rebel Heart,” which plays in September. Madonna is one of those artists that every gay man must see in their lifetime. Cher, Bette Midler, Barbra, and a few others are required attendance. I got to see Bette back in the late 90’s.

So that is a thing …

We are really enjoying our new HD experience. Our tv habits have changed slightly, seeing we have channels we did not have before the switch. But we need to amend our package to enable more channels that are closed at this time.

Mother Nature is not finished with the snow as of late. We got a brief taste of Spring last week with positive temps, over the weekend, temps dropped, and that’s not the only thing that dropped, we got about five inches of snow last night. Temps are going to dance above and below freezing this week. UGH … when will it finally end ???

I departed as usual, and had to stop for milk on the way out. Our groupies showed up for read and discussion prior to the meeting. We were missing a number of folks on the night. Some of my friends came out to the meeting, and I took notice of them when they showed up, because I had not seen some of them in some time. Once again, the adage proved true, that if people stop showing up, it is a foregone conclusion that they might drink again …

Tonight, that was definitely true.

It doesn’t take much. One momentary lapse, one moment of indecision, and a drink is close at hand, and that little voice says to us …”Aw, you’ve got this drinking thing licked … You don’t need those meetings any more …” How about another one for good measure ?

The whole idea of the Twelfth Step, from one of my friends, is to become a better person.

I was in the chair tonight, as our gal who usually fills that position was out, and I was elected chair for the evening. One must be graceful under pressure, as friends get up and take chips again, after a long period of sobriety.

We are finishing up the steps this week and next. Step Twelve is a twenty page read, so we did half tonight, and the rest next week. We did not quite get around the room.

When I think of Step Twelve, the first thought that came to mind as I was reading this portion of the read was the line from A Vision for You, that

“Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”

There was a good reason that for a long time, I went to meetings, and did service. But that’s all I was doing at that time. I needed someone to tell me what I needed to do to get into the game in a new way. I had to return to the basics. Read the Book, Say my Prayers, and Work Hard at the game of sobriety. Well it isn’t a game, it is a solution for living.

I did all those things that I was told to do, God took care of the rest.

I finally had ears to hear and eyes to see and words to share. That didn’t come over night. Working with others, in twelve step fashion, did not come overnight either. I needed a message within me in order to share the message with another human being.

It is one thing to hit a meeting and share inside of a discussion. This, yes, is also a form of twelve step work. This work is on a different scale than working one on one with one person at a time.

When God saw fit that I was ready to give it away, my guys began to show up in my life, in one way or another. For the first time I was confident in my words, and in what I knew, but that was just a start. Over the last year, I have worked on my words, and the way I relate to my guys.

Working with others is a twenty four hour a day job. When ever Where ever for however long.

When the phone rings, I answer it.

This Winter has again proved it’s not the BIG things that take us out, it is those LITTLE things that sneak up on us from underneath. This is called the broken shoelace syndrome.

It’s not the bitching partner, but the broken shoelace that takes us out …

The words … Constant Vigilance are so important.

I do what ever I can. But sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

So it falls to the words I use and how I use them that will either help or hinder.

I have to know how much of me to put forwards, and how little as well. I feel like, to explain it better, I must find that “tremulous balance of just enough and not too much.”

That perfect amount is not always possible. Which is why I must practice daily.

The more I work, and the better my practice, the easier the balance comes.

It isn’t all about me, and never usually is. I must decrease so that He may increase.

I’m a little grateful, a little proud. A little sad, but a bit relieved.

All of our folks are sober tonight. And that is a start for the week.

More to come, stay tuned …


M.D.N.A. (Edit Listening Party) …

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven, and the pains of Hell. But most of all because I love Thee, and I want so badly to be good.”

Here are the tunes I am liking right now:

  • Masterpiece
  • Girl Gone Wild
  • Turn up the radio
  • I don’t give A …
  • I Fucked Up
  • Beautiful Killer
  • Love Spent / Acoustic
  • Give me all your luvin’ (Track 1) / Track 2

Track Listing:

  • Girl Gone Wild – HOT !!!
  • Gang Bang – Massive !!! If you act like a Bitch then you are gonna die like a Bitch !!! BANG !!!
  • I’m Addicted – Boo Yah !!!
  • Turn up the Radio – Great
  • Give me all your Luvin’ – I love it
  • Some Girls – Good tune
  • Superstar – Good tune
  • I don’t Give A … – Whoa !!!
  • I’m a Sinner … Very Austin Powers !!!
  • Love Spent – very Madonna
  • Masterpiece – I think it’s my favorite track YES !!!
  • Falling Free – it’s ok
  • Beautiful Killer – Love it !!!
  • I Fucked up … Yeah Baby !!!
  • B-Day Song – Bubble Gum Pop !!!
  • Best Friend – it’s ok
  • Give me all your Luvin’ Track 2
  • Love Spent Acoustic – Excellent !!!

So it’s here … and I put a copy on my phone and now I am sitting here listening to the CD. I may have been premature until I actually sat down and listened from beginning to end one track after another, because at first I Dj popped through the tracks (a bad dj habit) to see what I want to play at a club for the floor, its a trick I learned a long time ago. It is growing on me and may become a new favorite in the evolution of Madonna. The Bad Girl Madonna is appealing.

The interspersion of religious language here and there are indicative of Madonna to make a statement about faith and God. She opens the album with confession words and goes into bad girl mode almost immediately. It feels so good being so bad, thought she is trying hard to be good.

The tracks flow very nicely from one to the next. I quite like it actually. I could learn to love this album. She did a good job. It is different from her other albums over the years. But I have my show/music/concert favorites.

  • Blonde Ambition
  • The Girly Show
  • Ray of Light
  • Confessions on a Dance Floor
  • Hard Candy
  • M.D.N.A.

I think I am a little partial to Hard Candy for the show itself. Secondly The Confessions Tour for the music. Ray of Light is up there too. Every album is another incarnation of Madonna. I guess I have to listen to it a little more closely, and I will do that over the next few days. It is worth the money paid. If you love Madonna, then buy the album.

We all grow up, and for all of those boys and girls who grew up when Madonna was an MTV star … she has come a long way since the 1980’s. Madonna has evolved again. I want to see how she presents this music en show …


Life is a Mystery …

Everyone must stand alone, I hear you call my name and it feels like….

HOME ….

It was pay day today. Hubby spent the afternoon running errands, getting pills and doing shopping for the house. Our toilet seat is broken, and if you hit it the wrong way, it slides right off the pot. I need to go buy a new one tomorrow. Maybe I will get a cushy toilet seat if they have them in stock.

I worked on my first presentation paper for my Ecclesiology and Hermeneutics class tonight. I have to say that this class has been a challenge. But from the outset our professor threw out the plan book and decided then that she would allow the spirit to move us in the direction he saw fit.

I have told you that the Theology Department is fighting a battle to save its own life. If secular interests get their way, we will loose our department. The powers that BE are trying to stop them from taking that away from us.

My professor is a truly remarkable woman with class and pride. We started class with some simple discussion about ecclesiology. She leads the class with the T.A. and we sit around the circle and talk when asked. It was a great first hour. Then we broke for coffee…

During the second hour we each presented our papers to the class for critique. Next week is our last class. We are having a symposium. The second hour turned out to be something absolutely random. There was no script to follow, and the roll call was also random. She went from one side of the circle to the other, and one by one, everyone spoke. One girl read some poetry, another cried when she spoke… Everyone was moved last week when Catherine sang the Exultet.

We were supposed to share a partial synthesis of our journaling that we have been doing each week this whole term. With each reading we had to write something. Tonight was the first run of our ideas and observations. She took notes and interjected when need be.

But everything changes as the spirit moves us.

With a class of 17, around a table, in the basement of the department, it is quite snug. There is no where to hide. Participation is a given. Over the term, we have all participated in honest dialogue. We are learning what it means to have discourse. Ecclesial and Civic.

Everybody was there tonight. And so was God. It was brilliant.

Everybody was moved to tears. Several of us had been gravely ill over the last month, and survived. The emotion in the room tonight was palpable. Like I said there was no plan, and the shares came one after another, in no certain order. But the way each person came in progression from one to the next was nothing more than miraculous.

The way we all spoke was incredibly moving, and my prof was besides herself with gratitude and pride. She threw away the plans from the get go and let god be God. Tonight she was rewarded for her efforts to make this class nothing short of miraculous.

I was the second to last person to share in hour two. When it came to me I spoke about Karl Barth, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Luther. I talked about last weeks entry about God speaking and Catehrines singing and what that meant to me.

This entire term for me has been trying. Trying to find my way in the grand scheme of things. And finally last week, God spoke to me after a good amount of on my knees praying. I’ve been reading studiously. I’ve been writing my journals and following along to the best of my ability. And my classmates have been learning along with me.

Lent has come and almost gone now. And I have learned a few things about myself. I know how to find God. Better yet, he knows where to find me.

We have another class next week, and my prof was going to go with a plan, but after tonight’s shares, she threw caution to the wind again and told us this…

“Do what you think you should do…”

So we have to write a 10 page Synthesis of our journaling, and if tonight was any indication of what she will be reading, this will be an easy grade, if we hit the mark correctly. No plans, just going with the feel of it. Could it be any easier?

There is a pay out when you trust God, really throwing it all out the window and saying, ok God, here ya go, do what you need to do…

It was spectacular. I love theology. I think.


No Regrets …

2424

It’s human nature…

And I’m not sorry [I’m not sorry]
It’s human nature [it’s human nature]
And I’m not sorry [I’m not sorry]
I’m not your bitch don’t hang your shit on me[ Its human nature]

You wouldn’t let me say the words I longed to say
You didn’t want to see life through my eyes
[Express yourself, don’t repress yourself]
You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room
And silence me with bitterness and lies
[Express yourself, don’t repress yourself]

Today is Tuesday. Rev. Joyce is at the UN working. And Tuesday Beginners will be short one member tonight. On Sunday I tendered my resignation by letter and turned my keys in to the group.I bought a can of coffee and set all of my group materials in the cabinet and locked it, then I calmly and quietly walked away for good.

When Rick goes to set up he will get those letters, my files and my keys. Nobody wins when one member leaves. I just could not justify staying and sharing one more day of my sober experience with kids who take people like me for granted. I will not be taken for granted again.

They can all go fuck themselves… I am through.

No regrets …

I am NOT angry at all one bit. It’s over and I have walked away …


I Am Because We Are

Tribeca Film Festival Link Here

[IAMBE] | 2008 | 85 min | Feature Documentary

Directed by: Nathan Rissman

World Premiere

Interests: African Documentary Health Issues Social Issues Women

Moods: 6 Cross-Cultural Crusading Empowering Inspirational Poignant Topical

www.iambecauseweare.com

Cast & Credits

Director: Nathan Rissman
Principal Cast: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr. Matthews Chikaonda, Madonna
Executive Producer/Writer: Madonna
Producers: Angela Becker, Madonna
Associate Producer: Grant James
Editor: Danny B. Tull

Program Notes

In southeastern Africa, the landlocked and densely populated country of Malawi is under severe distress. In a country of 12 million people, an unprecedented one million-plus children have been orphaned by AIDS, and malnutrition and inadequate medical treatment still run rampant.

The multitalented Madonna assumes one of her most impactful roles yet as writer, producer, and narrator of this eye-opening and heart-wrenching documentary. Under the confident direction of first-timer Nathan Rissman, we journey with Madonna as she exposes the harsh realities of a half-forgotten country by introducing us to its future-Malawi’s children.

As she bears witness to the lives of these special children and their extraordinary will to survive, Madonna shares her own personal thoughts, making for an incredibly intimate and emotional cinematic experience. While analyzing all sides of the dilemma and the cultural challenges facing Malawi as it relates to the world, the film is a testament to human interconnectivity and social responsibility-a call to action wrapped in a well crafted and visually beautiful film.

Leading experts such as President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and Dr. Paul Farmer offer memorable insight, but the real driving force of the film is undoubtedly the children’s riveting stories, which will stir audiences and, at best, rouse them to action.

— Genna Terranova


Hard Candy …

Release Date: 29 April 2008

I got an advanced copy of New Music coming to an HMV near you will be this little CD called Hard Candy, the next offering by Madge. And if you are like me, an avid Madge fan, you may find this offering to be a tasty tidbit of music. The track list is as follows:

  1. Candy Shop
  2. 4 Minutes
  3. Give it to me
  4. Heartbeat
  5. Miles Away
  6. She’s not me
  7. Incredible
  8. Beat Goes On
  9. Dance 2Night
  10. Spanish Lesson
  11. Devil Wouldn’t recognize you
  12. Voices

The disc opens with an electronica gastronomical tasty bit called Candy Store. A very tasty raw dance it tune with a little rap involved. Moving on to the 1st released track 4 Minutes and the long awaited duet with Justin Timberlake. I have to say the video did not move me very much. But this song is the back track for a Sunsilk shampoo commercial here in Montreal. Give it to me, is very poppy and dancy. You can imagine a dance floor with lits of lights and dancers on stage ALA Hung up. You have a little electronica keyboard which is a nice touch on the track. Heartbeat opens with the beat and a great little grove which I happen to like. It has a great swinging four time beat, a groove I can see myself dancing on the Metro to. This may be my favorite track on the disc.

Miles Away opens with a little guitar, I really like the guitar. Ala La Isla Bonita from the Confessions Tour. I kind of like this tasty rift of music. Yes, I have to say that this is a close second on the listing. She’s not me, has a 70’s like vibe to it ala “Music” from Confessions, rhythmically well done, and in true Madge style the harmony is tasty.

Incredible, another electronica piece in staccato fashion, with the beat on the down low. I like the bottom base beat on this track. It is a very simple track with a multi-layered effect which is kool. The ‘Beat goes on’ carries up forward in the musical journey it has some great beats and vocals. Dance 2 Night opens with Justin telling Madonna that he is going to take her to a club, another duet on the track with Mr. Justin. It is smooth and on the down low. The track is reminiscent of “Erotica” from the Confessions tour, a slow groove with great harmony and vocals.

Spanish Lesson, guitar in hand and a little Spanish style musical rifts, La Isla Bonita, it is bouncy and salsy like in style. It’s ok. The “Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You” has a very Justin opening, haunting and dark, with a low down beat, I like this track. You can tell on this track that it had to be inspired by Justin, A very “What Comes Around Goes Around” like beat to it. It is a very kool track with some great beats. And to end out the disc “Who is the Master and who is the slave” track called ‘Voices,’ it has a very haunting rhythm with a down low beat and great synthesizer backing this beat.

In reading the reviews from the UK, some listeners were not impressed with Madge in the ways that every Madge concept has to better the last. They weren’t so sure that Hard Candy had accomplished that after the great successful Confessions on a Dance Floor and tour. This disc is not a “Confessions” like offering but does stand on its own, and I can see several tracks making it to radio play.

Buy the CD…


Report: Anglican Head To Meet ‘In Secret’ With Gays

gene_robinson.jpg

THIS is NEWS!!! 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The leader of the world’s Anglicans reportedly with conduct a “secret” communion service in London for gay clergy and their partners.

The Times newspaper in an article to be published on Tuesday says that Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will hold the service at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. The parish is home to many of the country’s liberal and wealthy Anglican elite.

The paper said the service will take place on November 29 and include an address by the Archbishop that is titled “Present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the Church.”

Those attending will be there by invitation only, the Times notes, adding that they have been warned not to disclose any of the events or discussions which take place.

A list of those attending has been vetted by the Archbishop’s staff and and will be shredded.

Disclosure of the service will likely acerbate the already deep wounds between Anglican liberals and conservatives as the church appears to be inching closer to schism.

This week Williams will attend the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. 

The meeting comes  just ten days before a deadline imposed by conservative Anglican factions around the world for the Episcopal Church to guarantee it will not appoint any more openly gay bishops.

Tensions between liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Church have been increasing since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003.

Anglicanism’s national churches, called provinces. are loosely bound to one another in the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury its titular head.  Appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government, the Archbishop is little more than a figurehead.

Rowan William’s tenure has been marked by growing differences between right and left in the Church – seen mainly as a struggle between those provinces in the Developing World and those in Industrialized Nations.

Conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, oppose gays and females in the clergy, and believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Nigeria has the highest number of Anglican’s outside of the UK and about half of the Church’s members are in the Third World.

When he meets in New Orleans this month with American bishops Williams will attempt to work out a statement that will be acceptable to both liberals and conservatives – something most church observers say is impossible.

Earlier this month the challenge in avoiding a schism became more difficult. 

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi consecrated Virginia-based conservative John Guernsey as a bishop of a breakaway Episcopal group of 33 congregations in the United States that will recognize the Church of Uganda’s authority.

In Kenya two American priests were consecrated as bishops in the US as African conservative churches continued to poach dioceses in the United States. 

 A string of conservative parishes in America have broken from the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves to the African Anglican provinces.

Last month the Episcopal diocese of Chicago included an openly lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop. 

Next year bishops from around the world are scheduled to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

In July the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said its bishops will boycott the meeting.  

©365Gay.com 2007


Report: Anglican Head To Meet 'In Secret' With Gays

gene_robinson.jpg

THIS is NEWS!!! 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The leader of the world’s Anglicans reportedly with conduct a “secret” communion service in London for gay clergy and their partners.

The Times newspaper in an article to be published on Tuesday says that Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will hold the service at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. The parish is home to many of the country’s liberal and wealthy Anglican elite.

The paper said the service will take place on November 29 and include an address by the Archbishop that is titled “Present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the Church.”

Those attending will be there by invitation only, the Times notes, adding that they have been warned not to disclose any of the events or discussions which take place.

A list of those attending has been vetted by the Archbishop’s staff and and will be shredded.

Disclosure of the service will likely acerbate the already deep wounds between Anglican liberals and conservatives as the church appears to be inching closer to schism.

This week Williams will attend the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. 

The meeting comes  just ten days before a deadline imposed by conservative Anglican factions around the world for the Episcopal Church to guarantee it will not appoint any more openly gay bishops.

Tensions between liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Church have been increasing since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003.

Anglicanism’s national churches, called provinces. are loosely bound to one another in the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury its titular head.  Appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government, the Archbishop is little more than a figurehead.

Rowan William’s tenure has been marked by growing differences between right and left in the Church – seen mainly as a struggle between those provinces in the Developing World and those in Industrialized Nations.

Conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, oppose gays and females in the clergy, and believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Nigeria has the highest number of Anglican’s outside of the UK and about half of the Church’s members are in the Third World.

When he meets in New Orleans this month with American bishops Williams will attempt to work out a statement that will be acceptable to both liberals and conservatives – something most church observers say is impossible.

Earlier this month the challenge in avoiding a schism became more difficult. 

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi consecrated Virginia-based conservative John Guernsey as a bishop of a breakaway Episcopal group of 33 congregations in the United States that will recognize the Church of Uganda’s authority.

In Kenya two American priests were consecrated as bishops in the US as African conservative churches continued to poach dioceses in the United States. 

 A string of conservative parishes in America have broken from the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves to the African Anglican provinces.

Last month the Episcopal diocese of Chicago included an openly lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop. 

Next year bishops from around the world are scheduled to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

In July the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said its bishops will boycott the meeting.  

©365Gay.com 2007


All is Right in the World

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I slept in today, UGH! But I did get to my evening class with Sara, my Celtic Christianity class, which I totally enjoyed. Sara’s classes are comfy and warm and cozy that you come in and you sit and allow the feeling to wash over you that “all is well in the world.”

That doesn’t speak of an easy ride mind you, but one of conscious thought and work. I have been reading the course pack and through tonight’s discussion we have learned a few things. That there is more to Celtic life than we may have known. That each reading in the book is set in its place for a reason.

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Imagine standing before a forest, you boys out West can better understand this than I can paint a picture, but Sara used the forest imagery tonight. And I remarked how each reading, if laid upon the one prior paints a picture in successive layers of reading, and information. And the readings tease you to walk into the forest and turn leaves over looking for further clues to the real truth of the Celtic.

We are invited to start exploring the forest for clues to our study for this term. It is not all so easy, and reading about the past – we must use our lenses of hermeneutic suspicion, to read each text and article with a critical eye. I used that term tonight, and Sara giggled to the rest of the class, “oh Jeremy, you are so clever, aren’t you!” I had to explain this strategy with my fellows.

It’s all good…

And my young warrior from the West came to visit! You can check out his blog, The Life of Robert Wesley, he is a very special friend that I have known for some time.  Joy of joys he has decided to continue writing!! YAY!!

On the way home I hit “Came to Believe” in time for the second speaker, just so I had some time to sit with myself and be quiet and listen to another speak about his trials and tribulations about recovery. I just wanted to sit and listen, which is always a good thing to do when possible.

Over all is was a great night. Now I am gonna hit some dinner and chill out…

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A photograph from the Portfolio of Robert Wesley from B.C.


Something short and sweet …

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I was sick again this morning, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep which is what I did – so I missed my morning class. But I am up on the reading and I also have the lecture slide from P.P.T.

Saturday I rented some movies, Sophie Scholl and Click with Adam Sandler, we love Adam Sandler movies. When I went to pay they were playing Home Alone in the store because we are hitting chilly weather, it seems that people are getting ‘into the spirit’ a little early!

Yesterday while we were out shopping we stopped by the video store and I found a special edition of Home Alone with deleted scenes and behind the scenes episodes which are really great. And I also picked up a box set of Charlie Brown: a Charlie Brown Christmas, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!! Woo Hoo!!

Last evening before Big Brother, we watched Home Alone, and like any good person would I was sobbing by the last scene with my tissues and all! I am such a softee…

There are 99 shopping days until Christmas…

I am off to class in a bit…


Baghdad Burning … (Is Safe)

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Baghdad Burning… 

Leaving Home…


Two months ago, the suitcases were packed. My lone, large suitcase sat in my bedroom for nearly six weeks, so full of clothes and personal items, that it took me, E. and our six year old neighbor to zip it closed.

Packing that suitcase was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do. It was Mission Impossible: Your mission, R., should you choose to accept it is to go through the items you’ve accumulated over nearly three decades and decide which ones you cannot do without. The difficulty of your mission, R., is that you must contain these items in a space totaling 1 m by 0.7 m by 0.4 m. This, of course, includes the clothes you will be wearing for the next months, as well as any personal memorabilia- photos, diaries, stuffed animals, CDs and the like.

I packed and unpacked it four times. Each time I unpacked it, I swore I’d eliminate some of the items that were not absolutely necessary. Each time I packed it again, I would add more ‘stuff’ than the time before. E. finally came in a month and a half later and insisted we zip up the bag so I wouldn’t be tempted to update its contents constantly.

The decision that we would each take one suitcase was made by my father. He took one look at the box of assorted memories we were beginning to prepare and it was final: Four large identical suitcases were purchased- one for each member of the family and a fifth smaller one was dug out of a closet for the documentation we’d collectively need- graduation certificates, personal identification papers, etc.

We waited… and waited… and waited. It was decided we would leave mid to late June- examinations would be over and as we were planning to leave with my aunt and her two children- that was the time considered most convenient for all involved. The day we finally appointed as THE DAY, we woke up to an explosion not 2 km away and a curfew. The trip was postponed a week. The night before we were scheduled to travel, the driver who owned the GMC that would take us to the border excused himself from the trip- his brother had been killed in a shooting. Once again, it was postponed.

There was one point, during the final days of June, where I simply sat on my packed suitcase and cried. By early July, I was convinced we would never leave. I was sure the Iraqi border was as far away, for me, as the borders of Alaska. It had taken us well over two months to decide to leave by car instead of by plane. It had taken us yet another month to settle on Syria as opposed to Jordan. How long would it take us to reschedule leaving?

It happened almost overnight. My aunt called with the exciting news that one of her neighbors was going to leave for Syria in 48 hours because their son was being threatened and they wanted another family on the road with them in another car- like gazelles in the jungle, it’s safer to travel in groups. It was a flurry of activity for two days. We checked to make sure everything we could possibly need was prepared and packed. We arranged for a distant cousin of my moms who was to stay in our house with his family to come the night before we left (we can’t leave the house empty because someone might take it).

It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.

We didn’t sleep the night before we had to leave because there seemed to be so many little things to do… It helped that there was no electricity at all- the area generator wasn’t working and ‘national electricity’ was hopeless. There just wasn’t time to sleep.

The last few hours in the house were a blur. It was time to go and I went from room to room saying goodbye to everything. I said goodbye to my desk- the one I’d used all through high school and college. I said goodbye to the curtains and the bed and the couch. I said goodbye to the armchair E. and I broke when we were younger. I said goodbye to the big table over which we’d gathered for meals and to do homework. I said goodbye to the ghosts of the framed pictures that once hung on the walls, because the pictures have long since been taken down and stored away- but I knew just what hung where. I said goodbye to the silly board games we inevitably fought over- the Arabic Monopoly with the missing cards and money that no one had the heart to throw away.

I knew then as I know now that these were all just items- people are so much more important. Still, a house is like a museum in that it tells a certain history. You look at a cup or stuffed toy and a chapter of memories opens up before your very eyes. It suddenly hit me that I wanted to leave so much less than I thought I did.

Six AM finally came. The GMC waited outside while we gathered the necessities- a thermos of hot tea, biscuits, juice, olives (olives?!) which my dad insisted we take with us in the car, etc. My aunt and uncle watched us sorrowfully. There’s no other word to describe it. It was the same look I got in my eyes when I watched other relatives and friends prepare to leave. It was a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, tinged with anger. Why did the good people have to go?

I cried as we left- in spite of promises not to. The aunt cried… the uncle cried. My parents tried to be stoic but there were tears in their voices as they said their goodbyes. The worst part is saying goodbye and wondering if you’re ever going to see these people again. My uncle tightened the shawl I’d thrown over my hair and advised me firmly to ‘keep it on until you get to the border’. The aunt rushed out behind us as the car pulled out of the garage and dumped a bowl of water on the ground, which is a tradition- its to wish the travelers a safe return… eventually.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

Syria is the only country, other than Jordan, that was allowing people in without a visa. The Jordanians are being horrible with refugees. Families risk being turned back at the Jordanian border, or denied entry at Amman Airport. It’s too high a risk for most families.

We waited for hours, in spite of the fact that the driver we were with had ‘connections’, which meant he’d been to Syria and back so many times, he knew all the right people to bribe for a safe passage through the borders. I sat nervously at the border. The tears had stopped about an hour after we’d left Baghdad. Just seeing the dirty streets, the ruins of buildings and houses, the smoke-filled horizon all helped me realize how fortunate I was to have a chance for something safer.

By the time we were out of Baghdad, my heart was no longer aching as it had been while we were still leaving it. The cars around us on the border were making me nervous. I hated being in the middle of so many possibly explosive vehicles. A part of me wanted to study the faces of the people around me, mostly families, and the other part of me, the one that’s been trained to stay out of trouble the last four years, told me to keep my eyes to myself- it was almost over.

It was finally our turn. I sat stiffly in the car and waited as money passed hands; our passports were looked over and finally stamped. We were ushered along and the driver smiled with satisfaction, “It’s been an easy trip, Alhamdulillah,” he said cheerfully.

As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?


Connected…

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A little “Inspiration!”

This post has been running through my head for a couple of days, and I have put up some thoughts here, only to take them down, for fear that they would be read by particular readers. I feel like a school boy as of late, because I put my hand out and invited a new friend into my life, and there is a ritual to introducing new people into my circle.

Coming Out is still a daunting experience, at age 40. Every time I sit to write this post I get tongue tied and skiddish. Classes start and you try to find commonality with your peers and eventually one or two people step out of the fray and it is like God saying, “here you go, you wanted to meet new friends, well here they are!”

Over the next few days one gravitates in the direction of said people in class and you start with pleasantries and speaking to each other after class, and eventually something clicks and a friendship is summarily born. But for me, in religion and now theology circles, I am still an outsider.

Having to “Come out” to new friends is always daunting because you never know how people are going to react to your interest in them. Why would someone like me make a concerted effort to get to know someone – I can answer that question simply by stating that in listening and participating in class, “commonality” is usually my first connection to any one new that I want to get to know.

So I invite new friends to come here and read. Over the last few days many of my historical posts have been accessed from the memory banks – someone is reading about my history. My stories about being diagnosed, my life story and my AA story and as well, my parental sins page. Someone is interested in who I am by way of what has happened to me over the last fifteen years.

I proposed the “getting to know you” in the form of an invitation to my blog to break new friends in, so that they have a full understanding of where I am coming from and possibly begin dialogue and further discussions. I also invite my friends to break bread. Sharing a meal with someone is, in my book, a very important part of friendship. Many of my present friends also feel that sharing a meal is an integral part of our relationships. Going for coffee or having a meal together is a logical step in “Christian community.”

Silence is deafening.

The weekend is upon us and I haven’t heard back from my fellows and I can’t help but wonder that I have freaked them out by assuming that someone would want to engage me because of certain differences in out respective lives. Maybe I have hit a sore nerve or maybe the fact that I am observant of people and situations and I listen to what things are shared in class and outside of class.

I’ve stayed away from posting to allow my fellows to have time to read and sit with what they have read, following the traffic patterns, it seems today that the past has not been accessed in over 24 hours. I wonder what will happen if the weekend goes by and those people I have invited into my community decide not to engage. Life goes on and we must accept what people decide to do with information they have been given.

I am powerless over people, places and things…

Knowing that we are all adults and it is 2007, I was sure that we could make friends with people without having to worry about judgments or moral issues. I can’t change what has already happened and who I am today. I guess the topics of Gay, AIDS and Homosexuality will make good fodder for discussion in my Christian Ethics course, seeing we all attend this class. Maybe this will be a learning situation for everyone involved.

We all want for people to like us for who we are and not be put off by factors of our lives that they might not find acceptable. I am making assumptions here, but ant good man with HIV knows how to read signs, body language and signs. It is a gift that we were given long ago by the creator so that by peoples actions and reactions, we could judge their character and know whether to cut them loose or bring them closer.

I don’t know…

I did not expect to be emotionally caught up in this new friendship. But I am only human. They say never assume, and maybe I did assume that commonality would outweigh difference, that as adults we could find commonality and discuss what may bother us or what is bothering us already. God puts people in our paths for a reason, I guess I will have to wait and see what transpires in the coming days.

Like I said the other night,
I will be heartbroken if my fellows do not rise to the mark.


Final Thought of the Night …

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“He has told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you – to do justice, to love steadfastly, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8