Saturday, 30 May 2009

Sex with ducks...

... is, according to Pat Robertson, the inevitable result of allowing gay marriage. Would this be a bad thing? Perhaps not. Garfunkel and Oates welcome the prospect:

I am really pleased to have discovered these two women. Very funny.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

A long overdue and incomplete report...

...has just been released into the decades of abuse perpetrated on children by clergy and nuns in Ireland. Its conclusion is that the abuse, far from being an aberration, was endemic. Thousands of children were affected. I remember meeting a man some years ago. He was in his 50s and still emotionally wrecked by his experiences in the "care" of the Christian Brothers in Ireland. He told me of the recent suicide of a childhood friend and of a memory he had of standing in front of the desk of one of these men of god and seeing blood running down the the back of his friend's legs. They were both eight. He did not say why the blood was flowing.

He spoke about needing to keep the curtains drawn so that paedophiles could not look in and see his children when they came to visit. He lived on the 9th floor of an isolated tower block.

He was not one of the over 2000 who have been to the authorities. He is too scared still.

And yet, the report names no names. Many of the perpetrators are dead but some still survive and will not have to answer for the atrocities they committed. Neither will those members of the hierarchies, both clerical and lay, who colluded with and enabled the abuse. As head of the congregation of the doctrine of the faith, this current pope is culpable as he was in the position to investigate the allegations and report culprits to the secular authorities. He chose neither but threatened any who did so report with excommunication. His recent apology is both highly belated and inadequate. He speaks now of wnating to see the abusers punished. It will not happen and his past actions have ensured that.

When the current furore dies down, as it will, what guarantees can he give that the abuse will not resume? On his past form there are none. Can we trust anything this terminally corrupt corporation says?

I do not think so. And I feel sad for the many honest and caring individuals within the church whose good work has been betrayed by the hierarchy under whose rule they serve. I trust that their innate love, compassion and goodness will enable them to continue to strive for the betterment of others despite the cynicism and realpolitiking of their church. I have met many such and admire them greatly. I cannot understand how they continue within the organisation of whom they are so openly and vehemently critical. But they do.

And that is part of the wonder of being human - and a partial antidote to the poison that has been spread throughout the world, not just Ireland. But it is only partial.

And it can be no more. The church is built upon a false premise and that cannot be remedied.

It can only be abandoned.

Monday, 18 May 2009

please help to save Troy Davis...

... who was sentenced to death in the State of Georgia for the murder of a policeman. He probably did not commit the crime but has been refused a reprieve.

There is still time to petition the Governor of Georgia to show clemency. Please visit Amnesty International USA and add your support.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sometimes I feel like I am pissing in the wind

Well, maybe I am. The last two posts have one factor in common and that is that militant Christianity still, all these centuries after Constantine, has command of the forces of aggression and coercion. In the name of the Christian god of love, gays in Moscow are beaten up and children, women and men in Iraq are killed in their hundreds of thousands. All praise the Lord! Allelujah! He has done a mighty work.

This god of the desert, in his three incarnations, is very strange. I listened to the end of a BBC World service radio programme today in which there was a basic assumption that written, divinely-inspired, scriptures were a good thing, Through them, the presenter was saying, we can engage with the divine - in whatever form he takes. And the word "he" is important here. In the Abrahamic traditions, the "lord" intervenes in history and makes his desire known in sacred books - which must, perforce, since language is always changing, be interpreted by experts. To take one example, a woman koranic scholar maintained that in the injunction that enjoined men to beat their wives the ancient Arabic word used also has the meaning "walk away from". A male scholar denied this. Even a native speaker of modern Arabic needs help with the 7th century language. How many English speakers can, for example, read Chaucer with ease? Most have trouble with Shakespeare who language is only 400 years old.

The programme said, however, that the true meaning emerges from the debates and conflicts between interpretations. Leaving aside the fact that this sounds very much like history b eing written by the victors, it also glosses over the fact that these disputes arfe settled in the blood of those who are perceived to be heretical. And also that the atrocities committed are in a very real sense justified by the books. And the exact opposite is true - the validity of the books is attested to by the bodies of the victims - those who could not accept the meanings that served those who held power.

There is real danger in the written word. For, to paraphrase Omar Khayam, once written and read it cannot be unwritten. I remember many years ago reading a book by Mick Farren called "The Texts of Festival". In this, the central conceit was of a post-apocalyptic world in which the central sacrament was the Rock Festival, at which the few surviving tapes would be played and treated as Holy Writ. Many of the songs were,of course, Bob Dylan and the meaning, say, "Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" would be explained by the- rather wasted - elite. It is a long time ago, and I have not given the book any thought for at least three decades, but Farren had a valid point to make. There is a real human tendency to seek some written formula with which to direct our lives.

If that was where it stopped, there would be no real problem. People have the right to be as wrong - or right - headed as they wish. The problem comes when the book acquires an army and a police force. Then there is a real and present danger for all those who do not accept the stories written therein, or even the particular interpretations put on those stories by those who command the armies and the police forces.

And their armies are big. Those who believe, or pretend to believe, in the values they think the books teach, control most of the media and the legislatures and the universities etc etc.

So, here I am. Pissing into the tempest of intolerance and hatred whipped up by the believers in the books. Everyday, things seem to get worse. I sometimes feel I am wasting my time and would be better to tend my own garden. This is not, however, true. My voice may be small, but I much speak my truth. I must speak to what I believe to be right. I must speak the message I hear from Inanna. That is the least I can do. For there are others also writing - other voices -speaking from their own souls - their own hearts. And the voice of the heart is the only answer to the voices of hatred and division that seem set to drown out the world.

Onward Christian Soldiers..

Hats off to GQ for finding space for this. Periodically, in the build-up to the Iraq war and during it, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon would prepare a digest of the latest intelligence to be given, often from Rumsfeld's own, bloodstained hands, to GW Bush. These would have selected bible quotes prominently displayed on the cover. Leaving aside such trivialities as the constitutional division of church and state, it is a question worthy to be asked how the US media would treat similar reports adorned with prominent quotes from the Koran. Probably as signs of Islamic fundamentalist fanaticism and irrationality and further evidence that we should invade and civiltse them. Motes and beams come to mind...

Anyway, see for yourself

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Gay protest violently suppressed in Moscow

Just what is it about some people that they get all upset and violent about how other human beings find love? I cannot understand it, and never have. According to Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, a planned Pride parade was "satanic". It was accordingly banned by the authorities, who nevertheless allowed an anti-pride parade to take place. Some LGBT activists including, Peter Tatchell from the UK, gathered to protest the ban and were dragged away by police.

Better news from Riga, Latvia, where the first Baltic Pride parade went ahead after world wide protests persuaded the authorities to cancel an earlier ban. A couple of friends who travelled from Budapest foe this event have emailed saying that, despite the presence of anti-gay protesters, they had a wonderful time.

I am reminded of last year's Pride parade in Budapest, in which we walked between two lines of riot-suited police on roads and were subjected to violent abuse and pelted with eggs and tomatoes from some very angry protesters - and there were also others engaged in violent clashes with the police elsewhere in the city as they tried to prevent the parade from reaching its agreed destination. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life - not so much the actual violence as the sheer hatred that was evident. I was in little doubt that, were it not for the protection by the police, very serious violence - up to and including murder - would have ensued.

I cannot understand, and have tried, what motivates such hatred. I can theorise and speak of repression etc but cannot say that anything has been persuasive. My main emotion now, away from immediate danger, is a deep sadness at what I can only see as the emptiness of the lives of those who feel threatened by difference. They are deeply wounded and insecure. That does not, however, make them any less dangerous.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Earliest Goddess pendant found

From today's New York Times comes this image of a figure found in a cave in South Western Germany last September.

Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen, in Germany, who found the small carving in a cave last year, said it was at least 35,000 years old, “one of the oldest known examples of figurative art” in the world. It is about 5,000 years older than some other so-called Venus artifacts made by early populations of Homo sapiens in Europe
In the place of her head, there is a ring - almost certaibly there to accommodate a string or thong. We can only speculate who would have worn her and why.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Day one

I don’t know what I expected to happen after the events of Sunday. Perhaps nothing. A huge anti-climax – a sort of “so what?” The flatness of no real change.

But that was not to be. Various things happened. The first, and least important, was that my coffee machine short- circuited and is now useless. I was not, however, in any way upset – just calmly accepted its loss. That is new.

Then, later in the morning, I was surprised by a sudden upwelling of grief. It seemed to have no bottom and emerged from my throat as a sort of howl. I am tempted to continue using the word “seem” to describe what it felt like but will not. “Seemed” contains a sort of provisionality – a doubt as to the reality and validity of experience. Or a not taking responsibility for my own perception – for my own experience. So it did not seem – it was the mourning for a whole life – for all those whom I have loved and who have loved me. And there have been many of each. It was an acknowledgement and expression of the pain that is within me for my inability to love as fully and deeply as they deserved. For the insecurity and fear that always lurked – causing me to keep a part of me aloof and unaffected. Not to be fully myself – but to hide.

But it was not as negative as the previous few lines describe. For at the root of the pain that I felt was the knowledge that, despite these things, love lies in the centre of my being. Otherwise these failings would not hurt as much. Changing my name, even though the process is far from complete, has given me a new perspective. The old patterns and habits are all associated with the name Brian. None of them, as yet, apply to Idris. Brian was loved and Brian loved. Mingled with the grief was the fear that such love would not be something that I could now find within me. I do not now think that this is so. Love still remains and I can now begin to learn to express it better – give it more time in the open air. More freely give and more freely receive with fewer reservations and provisos.

This is what I felt at the end of the expression of grief. For it did end – for now at least- although I am sure there will be further visits. I felt calm and at peace with myself. I spent the afternoon talking with a former lover, whom I have not seen to really speak to for several months, and that was wonderful. The hurts that had been between us had gone and all that remained was a strong, undemanding and realistic affection and respect.

Then, I discovered that I had lost my glasses. Irreplaceable in the current state of my finances. I had got used to wearing them –they were varifocal for close and medium close work. They were very helpful. I was pissed off. But not overly so. The loss is, in a very real way, unimportant. For close work I still have reading glasses – cheaply obtained in any supermarket. For small print on the computer, I now have to lean forward. To compose this, I am using 200% zoom – so my back is spared. The loss is inconvenient – no more. And I do not berate myself – an old and persistent habit.

Small things, but new things. The decision to change my name was born out of the desire to realise facets of my being that were being hidden and obscured by the effects of decades of negative self-statements. I am not certain that it will work. But it is worth a try.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A major change

As I said yesterday, I was planning to make a major change today. Well, it is done. I have changed my name. Or, more, accurately, I have decided to use my second given name for most purposes - on its own, without family name. There is a long story behind this and it really started the first time I came to Hungary and was brought to a place called Dobogókő - in the Pilis Hills, close to Budapest. An incredibly beautiful place which overlooks the Danube bend - where the river makes a sharp right hand turn to the south. According to the Dalai Lama, this is the site of the heart chakra of the planet. Having come from Glastonbury, which also has claims to this distinction, I was, I confess, somewhat sceptical before arriving. This scepticism was, however, soon put away when I realised that- despite my very little competence in geomancy - both claims were correct and that there was a very strong link, amounting to an identity, between the two. It was then that I knew that, for good or ill, my destiny lay in Hungary.

It was also then that i felt a very strong call to change my name. I resisted, thinking that it was pretentious and unnecessary - my old sceptic reasserting himself. Over the years, however, in ceremony, prayer and meditation, the conviction that this is what I should do, would enter my head - only for me to try to push it down and bury it.

Over the last few weeks, however, it has come back with renewed strength On one list i am on, several people wrote about changing their names. I started thinking again. The, a few days ago, a very dear priestess friend telephoned me from England and in the course of a very long conversation i told her something of what has happened in my life since I initiated as Priest of Inanna. She then asked me what name I had taken. And I realised that this was an important part of the process that I had neglected. The conversation then convinced me that I must remedy that at the first opportunity. Then, the next day, i was invited to a ceremonial day out in the Pilis hills. So this seemed the perfect opportunity. So I began, seriously, to think about it.

As usual, the sceptic stepped in and repeated his old, old story. So I started to speak to people and all I spoke to were encouraging. I asked for signs and they came multifold. My sceptic, battered and bruised though he was, however, did not totally give up the fight and the final decision was still postponed this morning. I did not properly know where we were going and when we pulled into the car park in the vlllage of Dobogókő I just felt that things turned full circle and the process of arriving to claim my new being was finished.

I was told we we were walking to Rám Hill. i have no idea what this means in Hungarian but to someone who has sun, moon, mars and mercury in aries - there seemed to be some significance. Then, after a long ad beautiful walk , punctuated with ceremony, we arrived at the top of a hill. And there was the rock the village had been named after - "the drum stone" which is said to throb with the heartbeat of the planet. I had not bee before. I put my head against the rock and did not hear the beat but was aware that it was vibrating. The stone is situated above a very steep cliff and we sat for a while, resting in the hot sun after our exertions. A final test, I thought, and pulled out my Motherpeace tarot and, with eyes firm closed, pulled a card. The Fool. Not in fact, in Motherpeace stepping over the cliff, however, so that did not seem the right option. Stepping into the unknown, on the other hand, was.

So that was it. A ceremony went ahead and I claimed my name. It is a name of power - in Welsh legend, he was a wizard and giant after whom is named the second largest mountain in Wales. In Welsh, it means "fiery lord". Three times it is mentioned as tbe name of a prophet in the Koran. It has been alleged by some it derives originally from Osiris.

It has always been part of my name, but most of the timeunspoken. Now it will be voiced. It will take time to establish fully and there my well be those who insist on addressing me as Brian. That is OK.

I do not know how or who I will be. I know who Brian is - with good and bad qualities. Most of those may well remain. But there will be something new - qualities that have long been buried. But with the new name, some other qualities will emerge. Old habits ad patternswill lose their power to bind me. They will begin to fade as the new man, the priest and messenger of Inanna, emerges into view.

This, although long contemplated, is all very new. There are doubtless many things that I have not fully considered. For example, Facebook and search engines. Will tose who look for me still find me. I have no idea. OK - I have changed the profile here, for example, and dscovered that all the old posts are now signed Idris. Can that be changed? I will investigate.

Anyway, i will close and it will be signed as I now am



Saturday, 9 May 2009

Things are moving.. (a bit of a teaser)

... and I am seriously contemplating a major change. this is why I have not posted as much as I anticipated when I got back online. I am thinking of doing this tomorrow. Wil let you all know when it is done. (or if it is not)

A wonderful ad for a bank...

... much as I have grave difficulties with them, I must praise this one for its promotion of acceptance of human difference.

Thanks to Aspasia of La Libertine's Salon for bringing this to my attention

Pots and kettles..-hypocrisy alert

The pope has called upon Muslims to against the misuse of religion for political ends. Well, I suppose he should know -the multinational corporation he heads is, after all, the acknowledged world expert in these matters and has been honing its skills since at least the time of Constantine.

There is little more to say about this - so I will just indulge in a small, hollow, laugh.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

my name is brian and i am ....

...a sex addict?

There is a very good article about this here
. Which has got me thinking.

I think about sex a lot. Sometimes, particularly when physical sex with a partner for whatever reason is not available I look at porn. This has, in the past, been associated with shame and guilt. I have striven to hide it. I had read many arguments that such a taste is abusive and akin to rape. For a long time, I accepted these and therefore felt at war with an important part of myself - my own sexuality. Trying to fight it only made it stronger and, I must confess, potentially more abusive. I say this because the attempted suppression gave rise to feelings of anger and aggression. I was denying an important part of myself and was in great danger of transferring the anger that this caused to the objects of my desire, women.

By and large, however, this anger was directed inwards. At myself as a man. For a long time, I saw my desire as intrinsically abusive - for, after all, I wished to hold and to penetrate - to lose myself in a woman's embrace - to feel her body enfolding me. I wanted to gaze upon a lover - to smell her and to taste her - to celebrate her and to celebrate the desire that arose within me. I wanted to feel totally and completely alive. And this I felt, at a deep level, was wrong.

This conflict stayed with me for a very long time and only began to be resolved in recent years. It may seem paradoxical but the more I have accepted the reality of the Goddess, the more I have accepted my own sexuality as a man and the freer I have felt to express it. Shame is, day by day, becoming less and less strong and I am becoming more and more real - no longer hiding in the shadows but accepting my place in the sun.

And yes, I still think about sex. A lot. And make love as often as I can - glad beyond measure that my body still works as it should. Sometimes, I look at pictures of naked women. Does this, to get back to the start of this posting, make me an addict? I think not, but if I am, then I really do not give a damn. I refuse to continue carrying any bullshit patriarchal shame, even when given a feminist, or psychotherapeutic, gloss.

From the very small beginnings in Akron, Ohio, when the two co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous first met, there has been a huge growth in the addiction industry. It has spread its tentacles into almost every human activity. I myself spent ten years in AA and learned a lot from it. Addiction can kill or seriously impair life- that is a fact. People die from drink and drugs. And addiction can occur in other areas, be they gambling or food. Or sex.

I remember hearing in AA from people who thought that their desire for a couple of whiskies at night was a problem. I could see that they considered it so but could not for the life of me understand why. They could afford it. Neither their health nor their ability to lead a functional life seemed in any to be impaired. So what was the problem?

There is a real desire in our culture to have some sort of pathology. A label. I have felt it myself. When I said, "My name is Brian and I am an alcoholic", I felt part of an in-group - defining myself as something other than the rest of humanity. It was, strangely, a feeling of liberation. I had a disease and was no longer alone but had found a group with whom I could identify. I had, at long last, a label. No longer a simple oddball, I had a diagnosis.

And at that point -when my physical condition was severe - that diagnosis was appropriate. It, literally, saved my life. I was able to grow - to find meaning outside the bottle. I was able to find love for and from another and to build a sense of self worth that had hitherto been absent. I had been, literally, an addict to alcohol.

There is, however, a hell of a lot of nonsense spoken nowadays about dependence. I remember being struck with this when a mother was accused of being "co-dependent" because she wanted to see her only child off at the airport when there was a real chance that the child would decide not to return to the UK. The only word for this is "crap". And dangerous crap.

To love your daughter is not a pathology. And neither is the desire for sex. Human bodies contain receptors which react to external stimuli and create physical and psychological responses. In some people these reactions are stronger than in others. For just as the ability to sing in tune varies from person to person so does a capacity for sexual desire. Some people are perhaps natural celibates and others are like butcher's dogs. This is simply human variety and should be more a cause of celebration than distress. For a very small minority excessive and obsessive desire may create major problems. For such there should be help. Perhaps for them the diagnosis of addiction could be appropriate.

My belief, however, is that the disease model, borrowed from AA, has simply become the latest incarnation of the vile anti-sex doctrines of patriarchal religion. It is anti-life and anti-joy. It is especially pernicious in that it has appropriated much feminist and humanist discourse. It is nevertheless nothing more nor less than Augustinian puritanism. And, as such, is totally contrary to the freedom and joy which, as children of the Goddess, is our birthright.

I'm back...

... and it is good to be so. It has been a strange month and in some ways rather rewarding. For one thing, I have not felt the self-imposed imperative to publish something and then to wait - often fruitlessly - for reaction. I have read some books. I have spent time thinking rather than reacting. My partner has seen more of my eyes and less of the back of my head. All this has been good. But I am glad to be back.

There is a lot that I have wanted to write about and this will appear, - all being well - over the next few days.