14 October 2002

Hey, Canadians, happy Thanksgiving! According to my dog calendar, at least.

And happy birthday, Zed!

It was a sad, sad day to be a baseball-watching M'rissa yesterday. The Twinks knocked themselves out of contention, and the Cards lost another one. Sigh, sigh. Well, the first round was great, anyway.

I had a weird moment yesterday, watching the Twins lose, when I realized that baseball broadcasts have a good deal in common with epic oral poetry. It was Koskie that did it. They referred to "Koskie, the former goalie, gets a stop on that one." And I was about to be annoyed at their total inability to stop harping on Koskie's former goalie status, when I realized that it was pretty much like "wily Odysseus" and dawn spreading her rosy fingers. Humanity has been doing this for centuries, millennia. We're used to certain standards in the epic poems we read because they're the ones that people decided were really good and wrote down. Nobody wanted to keep the poems of Demetrios The Shmuck, so we're used to recorded versions of oral poetry that's more or less intersting, and that level of discrimination is not in effect when networks choose broadcasters. But the meme coming into play there is flat-out unkillable.

I'm not saying that baseball broadcasting or sports broadcasting in general is the oral poetry of today. That's too facile -- the two have some clear differences in social functions as well as in form, inspiration, and content. And in some ways, I think oral poetry is the oral poetry of today (although, oddly, in some ways not). But I am saying that some of the memes that worked in the creation of oral poems in past settings are also pretty good at creating baseball broadcasts, and I find that interesting. I wonder how many other memes cross over between those two.

I woke up in the middle of the night with my arm completely numb. I'm not sure how I slept on it to get it that way, and that was a problem itself, because after I flopped it around and rubbed it and hung it over the side of the bed to get the blood flowing again, my muddled little half-asleep brain was quite clear that it was A Bad Thing and shouldn't happen again, but was not even clear in what position I had been sleeping when I woke up. So it was difficult to get back to sleep, not knowing what else I was going to screw up accidentally.

I think I know what it is about working late in the day lately. It's been consistently better to work in the late afternoon and early evening, but it hasn't made sense to me, because I'm still that dreaded creature, The Morning Person. It's about (gasp) relaxation. In the morning, I'm rarin' to go. I know I have a day ahead of me, and I want to Get Things Done. And I can work when I'm in that mood, but it's much easier and more fun when I'm not in that mood, which seems to come about when I've "given up" in the evening, when I've assessed how I've done for the day already. Hmm. Maybe dispensing with the assessments would be a good step, but I'm not sure how to get there from here.

Yesterday's church service was just plain awful. I have never before felt that being a woman alienated me from a church so much as I did yesterday on "women in the church Sunday." First of all, I object to the very observance -- it's patronizing in concept, and it was patronizing in execution. The new pastor started out with a long ramble about how women kept the houses Jesus slept in. Wooo. Then we sang a song about how women have been the mothers of really cool people. Woooooooo. (Parenting is important, but we already have two Sundays set aside to appreciate parents -- Mother's Day and Father's Day.) There was no mention of tent pegs. The visiting seminarian gave a good sermon on how becoming the institutionalized state religion changed the structure and character of early Christianity. That was the high spot. But in the entire service, there was not one feminine image of God. We kept using masculine images -- Father, Lord, King -- but no feminine ones. So, y'know, let's appreciate women, poor dears, too bad they're the sex that's less like God. The kicker was on the back page of the bulletin. There was an announcement that there's a grounds clean-up day for next Saturday, with several outside chores listed, and that the ladies are invited to come and clean the kitchen.


So as we were shaking hands with the seminarian on our way out, I complimented her on her sermon, and then I said, "I only wish we could have had some reference to the fact that God is not a guy." She said, "Oh, well, that's hard...but we're making a lot of progress!" Hard. Really. "Oh, God, Mother of us all, give all of Your children loving hearts...." See? How hard was that? Not very. I came up with it in less time than it took to say. And evidently what they're making a lot of progress towards is nothing. Progress towards nothing is just not that impressive, I'm afraid. This is one of the times when the difference between zero and one is much bigger than the difference between one and two. It's not that there were some feminine images or references and I was complaining that there weren't enough. It's that there were none. I've seen progress before, and that's not it.

Complicating matters, there are people who want the same thing I do but think that the way to go about it is to stop using any gendered imagery to refer to God. I don't want to do that. I like the "Father" metaphor. I just like the "Mother" metaphor as well. Both are important. Both illuminate characteristics of the divine and of a human relationship with the divine.

It's hard to say this kind of thing sometimes, though. It's very hard to talk about religion, especially with as frustrated and occasionally betrayed as I've felt in the last five years.

This reminds me of an editorial essay the Merc ran yesterday, about the "Barbershop" controversies. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, in one scene that movie, an African-American comedian makes fun of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of Rosa Parks. According to one essay I read, the other characters jump all over him. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were extremely offended and demanded that the studio cut the scene from all future releases of the movie. (Message: censorship is fine, as long as your skin is the same color as the skin of the person you're censoring.) And the essayist, himself African-American, was talking about the taboo he had noticed in his community, on criticizing other black people in public. He talked about how he thinks it's essential that people feel free to do so, but how great the pressure is not to.

I've had some of that. It's a different context, in terms of our culture, but I've run into people who think that non-Christians will think less of Christians if Christians disagree with each other or criticize each other on anything. Church unity becomes an ultimate goal in this case, because any disunity can encourage "outsiders" to criticize "us." But the quotes ought to give you a clue to how I feel about that: I think it's bullshit. I think it's a silly, stupid idea to divide the world into "Christians" and "not," as if either group is at all homogenous. If other people, on whatever side of that dumb divide, try to make generalizations based on what "Christians" or "non-Christians" do or don't do, as groups, they should be dissuaded from it as gently as possible but as firmly as necessary. (Firmly, not roughly.) I think it's a worse image to have anybody think, "Oh, this group of people doesn't have varying opinions on anything -- they all have to march in lockstep no matter what." And when some Christians believe that it's fun to molest small children, or that people who don't show up for church on Sunday are going to burn in the flames of hell for all eternity, or that you become more special if a guy in a purple shirt touches your head at the right time, or that God is a giant Guy In The Sky, I think it is more than fine to distance myself from the folks who believe those things. It's good to distance myself -- and to point out that I'm not the only one doing so.

Sigh. Ah well. What I really want is to go to a coffeehouse and sit and drink a mocha and do some freewrites and then work on my book. Unfortunately, the nearest coffeehouse is twenty minutes' drive away and plays its '80s music way too loud. The nearest viable coffeehouse that I know of is Berkeley or Palo Alto or Concord -- about equidistant, I suppose, depending on mode of transportation. Forty-five minutes. Running around on BART is just not something I do on my own whim, usually. With Mark, or Timprov, or both, sure, or to meet up with someone. But just because I feel like it? No, no. I can sit at the kitchen table, maybe have some banana bread in the oven for the smell. If I have to, I can try to substitute Borders in for a coffeehouse (but it's all shiny and...I don't know, just not quite right).

I am trying to will a coffeehouse into existence near wherever we move next. A nice coffeehouse, with perhaps a scone or two, maybe a sandwich that I could like...oh, no, no, no.....aaaaaack! I did it again. Now I'm hungry for the Italian veggie sandwich from The Chestnut Tree, the defunct coffeehouse in St. Pete. I want the bread and the dressing and all of it, and they made all of it from scratch, so I can't even go buy the bread and try to get the rest of it right. It's just gone, possibly forever.

And it had such nice walnuts, too.


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