The Pink Agendist

by E.B. de Mas, reachable at: pink.agendist@yahoo.com

Lifestyles of the long mid-week lunches in the mountains

Just got back from Venta García. New chef after losing their Michelin listing. The food is outstanding again, so I imagine they’ll get it back. The owner is always pure charm. The place has been in his family for 3 or 4 generations. He sent us a free bottle of wine which was very kind. The prices are incredibly low, as in, the lunch menu is €13. The house red is excellent and under €20. I recommend the roast lamb or the duck confit. The gin and tonic sorbet is also excellent.

On the drive up I thought of the unpleasant comment I received last night. I’ve decided I’m not going to let myself get worked up about nonsense in future. It’s a waste of time and energy. In fact, I’m not even going to respond to comments that I think don’t merit a response. That includes non-sequiturs or baiting.

I wore a white shirt and a blue jacket. The jacket is now off. My hair is longer than usual, which everyone seems to like, so I’m keeping it like this for a while. My waistline is down an inch. 28″ now. I made no particular efforts in that regard, I was perfectly content. I guess I just ate less or lighter in the past month. I look at pictures of myself these days and I wonder what I was on about when I was younger. I used to destroy most photographs. I was utterly paranoid about how I looked. Didn’t like anything. Self-critical to the extreme. Now I look at myself and think “oh well, he’s not so bad.”

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INFURIATING: Argumentum ad lazarum. Poor but honest?

Gustave_Dore_Lazarus_and_the_Rich_Man-460x270

Popular and extraordinarily irritating fallacy. Unfortunately very common (no pun intended).

I’m not sure if it was the Jews or the Christians who propagated this rubbish, but either way, it’s ridiculous. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”- Seriously? I guess that means the Lindbergh baby is out then…

It’s just as bad to look down on someone if they’re from the lower classes than to ridicule them for being from the upper classes.

An individual’s lineage or the number of figures in their bank balance by no means define the quality of their character.

People really need to get a grip on themselves. A while back I posted something about inheritances and how I sometimes think about what effect that may have on my life. I thought I was being refreshingly honest and talking about my feelings on a taboo subject that most people avoid. The idiot du jour at the time was terribly offended (comments now deleted). Apparently I was evil incarnate for 1. being someone who’s going to inherit something and 2. thinking about it.

That position obviously disregards the basic notion that these things are part of many people’s lives. In Spain, for example, where +80% of the population owns a home, inheritance and its effects are a serious issue for the overwhelming majority of the population. So much so that one of the country’s biggest newspapers pointed out this week that since the crisis began 21% of inheritances have been renounced.

I’d also like to clarify yesterday’s 1%(er) accusation that was levelled against me (by the same idiot du jour from the inheritance debacle). My exact words over a year ago were that a popular publication gave two definitions of the top 1%. One was regarding net worth, the other income. I only fit the first. According to my own definition of wealth, I’m not part of the 1%. I’ve had to work (hardish) my entire adult life, and at times I’ve struggled financially, although I won’t deny I’ve always lived in relative comfort. Anyway, where I come from and what I own are really irrelevant to what I have to say unless I start advocating positions which would benefit me in either of those regards.

If I start proposing proposing tax cuts for people who own large homes in Southern Spain, you’re all welcomed to question me thoroughly! 

 

Hurrah!!! A New Book!!!

dewaal

Sometimes I get to do some really fun things. On occasion that means I get sent advance copies/proofs as the one above. That means I get to read certain books before everyone else. Sometimes they’re amazing, as was the case for The Hare and McCann’s Dancer (an account of Nureyev’s life).

(this probably doesn’t mean I’m specialer than you, although, then again, it might :)  let’s go with yes, just for fun!)

Today I was sent one such proof by an author who has (almost at the end of the publishing process!), decided to strike out on her own and self-publish. Incredibly brave. The most interesting factor for me this time is I was told I can speak openly about the book (and in public)- no spoilers, obviously.

I’m diving in tonight, and will let you know how it goes. My first impressions (up to page 6) are of a 1940′s feel, which I quite like.

A Rustic Black Bean Stew for Meeka

blackbeans

Great lentil recipe by Meeka here. I have a black bean version that’s a bit more work, but worth the time. I like to make this in large quantities so it lasts through the week with some clever recycling.

You’ll need:

500 grams black beans (soaked in water overnight)

1 onion (diced)

3 rashers bacon (or pancetta or any fatty cut of pork- diced)

1 small bunch coriander

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1 red chili (de-seeded if you don’t like heat, I do)

Ham stock (I buy ready made, but if you’ve got the time, this is a good version)

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons cumin powder (I usually add more)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Salt & Pepper to taste (BUT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF COOKING, ADDING SALT EARLY HARDENS THE BEANS- and there’s salt in the stock and meats)

Method:

Cook the onions and the bacon (until they’re soft and golden and the bacon is beginning to crisp, respectively).

Put the beans in a large pot and cover with ham stock leaving two and a half fingers of liquid above the beans.

Add all other ingredients

Simmer for three hours (covered with a lid)

Then remove the lid and simmer for another hour so the liquid reduces/thickens

You can play with a number of variations on this. On the first day I serve it with oven-baked spicy (creole) sausages and rice (and a green salad). You can also poach boneless diced chicken breasts in the beans in last 20/25 minutes of cooking. You can braise stewing beef in the beans for the whole cooking time. On the last day I liquidize the left-overs with more ham stock and that becomes an excellent soup.

Before serving I add one (raw) diced tomato, and more fresh coriander.

Vegetarians can omit the meats and simply brown the onions in good olive oil. 

 

 

Anyone up for South African Real-Estate? The Pistorius house is up for sale.

pistoriushouse

 

Terrible story. Did he always have that whiny voice?  His version of events is quite ridiculous. He lives in a gated community called Silverwoods. It’s described as “a high-security gated complex with a three-meter high wall, an electric fence, a guarded entrance, and regular patrols.“- I live in a gated community too. We have alarms and panic buttons to call security. What’s the first thing you do when you hear a noise at night? I check the people/animals with me are there and safe. Then we call security. What you don’t do is arm yourself without checking where everyone is and start shooting at closed doors.

Apparently he’s putting his house up for sale to pay legal fees. Estimates vary between 250 and 300k. I found that surprising. You get a whole lot for your money in South Africa. Try buying something for that much in a Western European capital (or the coasts). I promise the media wouldn’t be describing it as a luxury mansion.

It really puts the world into perspective. I thought he was mega-rich. Tens and tens of millions rich. I think I (and the world) tend to presume that of everyone we see in the media. Turns out he’s a regular person with a good income. Well, a murdery regular person, but still.

 

Harvard DS: Testing Indicates “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” Papyrus Fragment to be Ancient

papyruswifejesus

Most interesting points:

  • A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, “Jesus said to them, my wife” is an ancient document
  • Its contents may originally have been composed as early as the second to fourth centuries.
  • The fragment does not in any way provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, as Karen L. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, has stressed since she announced the existence of the fragment in the fall of 2012. Rather, the fragment belongs to early Christian debates over whether it was better for Christians to be celibate virgins or to marry and have children. The fragment is weighing in on this issue, according to King.
  • The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus—a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued,” King explained.”
  • Twice in the tiny fragment, Jesus speaks of his mother, his wife, and a female disciple—one of whom may be identified as “Mary.” The disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy, and Jesus states that “she can be my disciple.”

Full text:

Testing Indicates “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” Papyrus Fragment to be Ancient | The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.

Excuse me, China, that’s kind of ‘my’ property.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to give permission for anything I own to be photographed, written about, examined or even copied by enthusiasts. (In fact I hope to leave all the better pieces to organizations that will make them available to be seen by the public). The thing is taking an image works best if the owner knows about it. We can usually add important information.

I was mildly annoyed yesterday when someone pointed out that a company in China that sells ‘high quality reproductions’ is offering copies of my Zmurko.  They’ve used a cropped version they got somewhere that completely changes the artist’s composition and vision.

They’re presenting it like this:

fineartchinaIn reality this is a small painting!!!

zmurkoThe exposed shoulder, the flowing fabric, the hint of breast- those are all part of what the artist wanted to express. It’s his point of view. A Berliner showgirl with an attitude. You can’t just cut it down like that.

 

Religious Danger: “Lady Apostle” Helen Ukpabio (endangers children and adults)

witches

 If you missed C4 News last night, you can read about it here.

I think this adds an interesting nuance and touches the heart of the anti-gay (marriage) debate. We have one religion proposing their ‘unique’ vision of the world. In this case She offers “deliverance” sessions, crude exorcisms which have been accused of fuelling witchcraft accusations against children in Nigeria. This week she’s been spreading her message in Britain.

She and others firmly believe they are being true to their religion by engaging in these practices- despite the harm they may be causing to people who fall foul of their standards. They even say: “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.”

What happens when/if they start going a step further? Public campaigns and proposed legislation against witches? Do their sincere beliefs trump the rights of other citizens to be? To live in peace? How would you feel about your child or family member being labelled a servant of satan?

Below is one of her appalling films. In it she implies children/people can leave their bodies at night to meet and practise witchcraft. It’s an ideal theory for pushing her ideology, anyone can be accused at any time.

Keep that in mind when you or anyone else is about to use sincerely held religious beliefs in a way that will impact the life of another.

A Beautifully Gardencentric Day

Spring is really here. We went to the vivero (garden centre) this morning and got three hibiscuses (to put in large pots, 2 for the pool surround), and some indoor plants (begonias and more azaleas). Flowers are starting to bloom in the garden as well. The pergola is half covered in greenery (stephanotis), which is a huge improvement (eventually I’ll get around to getting rid of the white chairs and buying some in a natural material). We also got fresh basil, so we’ll have pesto tonight. It’s been an excellent week work-wise. Two great sales and another two on the back-burner. This means we might be able to increase our 12 month budget reserve to 18 or maybe even 24 months. Result of lessons learnt from the financial crisis…

Apollo Magazine: ‘Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937′, Neue Galerie, New York

“This is an exhibition about an exhibition: the famously – and conspicuously – ‘badly curated’ exhibition of Degenerate Art (Entartete Kunst), opened in Munich, in 1937, by Adolf Ziegler, the National Socialist president of the Reich Chamber for the Visual Arts.

It was organised in parallel with the ‘Great German Art Exhibition’, also in Munich, where the art on show – sanctioned and selected by the National Socialists – was displayed coherently on otherwise clean walls.  The so-called degenerates were, by contrast, hung crassly, jostling wonkily for space on crowded walls, misattributed and incorrectly labeled.”

Full text here

We interrupt this broadcast to ask: What do you think of this house?

Tarn

 

tarn2

 

ignore their furniture!!!

ignore their furniture!!!

tarn4

 

I like it, but is it too ordinary? I’m not sure I see myself in it. That terrace area looks quite nice. Next to it is the kitchen. Then there are two large rooms in the main part of the house divided by a central corridor that goes all the way from one end to the other.  The bedrooms are all upstairs. It’s much more Southern than any of the other houses we’re interested in. Only a three hour drive to Spain, which means decent weather. It’s less than half the size of our current house, which means half the work! That will be WONDERFUL. It’s also on the inexpensive side. That means we’d be able to invest in enough rental properties so that I’d be able to only focus only on the parts of my work that I enjoy (big projects). No more donkey work, having to sell x every month.

Another couple is coming to see our house on Monday, so there’s cleaning to be done. Here we go again… I just keep reminding myself only one client has to love it to buy it.

Anyway, wherever we end up, you’ll get to see the design/furniture selection/reforms process first hand, which should be amusing.

Bias and Ethics in Life & Blogging. The Askthebigot matter is a process, and here’s how she changed my opinion of her.

conflictofinterests

“…to say that someone has a conflict of interest is not a moral criticism, but rather a description of a set of circumstances. That person has a primary interest that he or she needs to fulfill, although other interests may push or pull the person in different directions. A moral failure would be if the person neglected their primary interest and allowed these other interests to rule.” Environmental Health Sciences Decision Making; Yank Coble, Christine Coussens, and Kathleen Quinn

(Thank you for bearing with me. I wanted to do this in stages because I need time to process and decide what I actually think. I still haven’t made up my mind entirely, except for being certain an honest and cordial debate is a good thing. Distilled antagonism doesn’t get anyone anywhere.)

Firstly I’d like to clarify that outing Katy Faust was no group effort. It was done by me and me alone. Not Violet, or Clare, or Ark, or Roughseas. I take full personal responsibility for the debacle. I did it because I believed and still believe that this was a case of conflict of interests. I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to do so in a number of similar cases but anti-gay rhetoric is another story.

It should be taken very seriously because it affects people the most at the point when they’re most vulnerable which is childhood and adolescence. Gay youths deal with a very particular and difficult set of circumstances. The confusion of feeling different, the discovery of a sexuality that doesn’t fit in with the mainstream and the realization one might not naturally conform to the expectations of others. Adding further pressures makes the situation for some absolutely unbearable as evidenced by the suicide rates for gay youths.

I think when anyone puts that demographic at further risk, for whatever reason, they have a responsibility to do so openly. If they’re members of organizations that espouse anti-gay beliefs or make any sort of profit from that ideology, I feel that information must be disclosed.

All that being said, I think the outcome of the situation was positive, because Mrs. Faust’s response to me demonstrated an understanding of nuance I hadn’t gleaned from her website. I’ll let you decide for yourself:

“E. de Mas,

Thanks for writing me, I really do appreciate it. I don’t know if anything will be accomplished by this, I only know that I am to make the effort.

If my blog has not conveyed that gay people are valuable, gifted, precious and worthy of love then I have erred greatly. While I have devoted posts in the past to that reality, clearly it is time to state it explicitly again. I will do my best to convey that truth in my next post.

“You can’t deny that there are heterosexual parents who do a monstrous job at rearing children. Their heterosexuality doesn’t stop them abusing, beating, rejecting, ignoring or neglecting their flesh and blood.”

You are of course absolutely right about this. Heterosexuality does not a good parent make. And conversely, a same sex attraction does not negate parenting abilities. As stated numerous times on my blog, my mother was an exceptional parent. Much of what I do that is good as a parent myself comes directly from her modeling. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me.

“Could a gay couple possibly offer respite in one of those situations?”

Absolutely. Which is why I traveled internationally with a lesbian couple when they were adopting their special needs child. (Also mentioned in several posts.) Do I think their daughter will miss out by not having a dad? Yes. Will she be immeasurably better off in the care of those two wonderful women than in the orphanage? Absolutely. Does that mean that we should promote a family structure where mother or father is absent? In my opinion, no. Do I hate them? Not by a long shot. Have some Christians criticized my decision to support them during their trip. Yes. But my Lord tells me that I not only can, but must, serve those even if we disagree about ideas. (Not to mention, they are just fun to be with.)

Thank you again for your email. Though I don’t know what this would look like, if I can do something to serve or sacrifice for you I will try to.

All the best to you and your partner.

Katy”

Am I wrong to have changed my opinion?

I don’t have major issues with anything she says in that message, even if I don’t agree with every detail. In fact, I think it takes a very considered tone. I’d just point out that in my view there’s no single family model that should be promoted because life is much more complicated than any model. Every single family will have their positives and negatives. I come from a traditional family model and it was traditionally imperfect with women more or less taking a back seat to the men and their wishes/careers. Ideal? Hardly. On the other hand I now see I had some extraordinary advantages in regards to travelling the world and learning and being exposed (first-hand) to science/politics/history/art. Everyone and every family has their own story, some good, some bad- and the gender of the parents is (or isn’t) just one more factor of many.

 

 

The Christian and the Gay Part II: My First Response to Katy Faust

I was still terribly annoyed about the debacle, and I didn’t hold back:

“Hi, Katy
Thanks for your message, although I’m not entirely sure what you hope to accomplish. Your efforts and website do the opposite of portraying gay people as valuable, gifted or precious people.
You reduce human beings to their sexual orientation as if that’s the be all and end all of human existence.
You ignore the basic notion that life isn’t black and white. That people can be good or bad and their sexual orientation has very little, if anything at all, to do with that.
Perhaps you didn’t personally have a good experience, but that doesn’t mean that that’s the full picture of possibilities. You can’t deny that there are heterosexual parents who do a monstrous job at rearing children. Their heterosexuality doesn’t stop them abusing, beating, rejecting, ignoring or neglecting their flesh and blood.
That’s the point at which one has to ask themselves, what does that mean? Could a gay couple possibly offer respite in one of those situations?
Should we not look at cases individually without prejudices? Couldn’t the gay couple where one is a psychologist and the other stays home possibly fulfill the needs of a troubled child better than a heterosexual couple where both work long hours in a bank?
regards,
E. de Mas

What did the Christian and the Gay say? Part 1 | asktheBigot

First, I’d like to recommend a book everyone interested in politics should read. It’s by Amos Oz. He was born in Jerusalem in 1939, so he’s lived in the midst of very combative politics his entire life, with divisions even within his own family.

He was one of the first Israelis to advocate a two state solution. At the same time he defends Israel’s absolute right to self-defence. Two policies that usually don’t go together. One of the reviews says “Oz argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions, but rather a real estate dispute–one that will be resolved not by greater understanding, but by painful compromise. As he writes, The seeds of fanaticism always lie in uncompromising righteousness, the plague of many centuries.

I can’t find my copy of the book, so I’m paraphrasing, but he says the fanatic is colourblind. Someone incapable of seeing the wonderful spectrum of variety in the world- more preoccupied with antagonism than with reaching out and finding solutions and compromise.

Mrs. Faust and I decided to go for brutal honesty in the hope of establishing a dialogue, or showing how we established a dialogue. I suggested the importance of breaking up the conversation into acts because nothing happens all at once. I’m a suspicious animal by nature. I wasn’t even sure if I should open her messages at first, but I did.

Last week a cohort of bloggers spearheaded by a Pink Agendist participated in exposing my real identity.  Pink then proceeded to slander my husband and my church on his blog.  He published the names and addresses of our home community leaders as well as my friends’ picture.  Though some of these people from my church have probably never read my blog, they were made to suffer because I choose to write about gay marriage.”

What did the Christian and the Gay say? Part 1 | asktheBigot.

P.S. I won’t be posting my part today because we’re having a dinner party for 8, which means I’m swamped- I’ve only just finished laying the table and there are still napkins to iron.

9april2014

Grace Church Seattle, the Faust’s and Progress. Building Bridges.

Soon, I shall be posting something regarding a private exchange with Mrs. Faust. I think it’s good. Kindness, generosity and understanding should always precede their antonyms. One should always, always, be prepared to sit with others to listen to what they have to say.  That’s how true progress is made and how we learn to make room for each other in this very eclectic world.

Stay tuned.

Am I classist, snobby, elitist and do I rub education and wealth in your face? The Importance of Fighting Back

One hopes the answers to all those questions is a resounding yes. It’s entirely intentional; Designed to subvert the oft-disseminated stereotype of the marginal underling gay. When I was a boy, 25 to 30 years ago, this was so endemic it even shaped people’s perceptions of the types of jobs we could have.

Gay men were hair-dressers of florists. If one was wealthy, one could become an art or antiques dealer (aah, the irony), or perhaps a museum curator. We weren’t just boxed in, we were excluded from mainstream society. There was the presumption that the (presumed) flamboyance of the gay man precluded him from working in a boardroom, in a bank, as the CEO of a company. I mean, how could we possibly work at a university if there was a chance we might show up to work one day dressed like this:

cage-aux-folles-1978-05-g (1)

The choices were simple. Either one was discreet to the point of closet-living, or one had to choose a profession and an environment that was unconventional. These limitations encompassed all aspects of life. They even affected how and with whom we could socialize.

Mike and I have been together for thirteen years, all of which we’ve spent in a quite traditional and conservative community called Sotogrande, one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most exclusive residential developments. The first couple of years weren’t easy. I remember people with a straight face saying things like “You’re invited to the party, but you two have to come separately“, or “We’d like to invite you, but would you mind staying in the garden area where it’s more crowded?“, or even “I can invite you when my husband or the children are away“- I’m not sure exactly what they were expecting, whether there was a risk we’d burst into Broadway musical style song, or that we might just start having sex in public view. The prejudices were so absurd, they seem almost funny in hindsight.

Having never been one to take anything sitting down, I decided to fight fire with fire. Sometimes it’s the only way to make people seriously consider the impact of what they’re doing. This took a measure of wit, but me being me, it also took a degree of brutality. To the woman who suggested inviting us when her husband was away, I said “What a relief! I didn’t want to say anything, but I’m not really comfortable with people from that country“. I may have followed that with a comment on terrorists. Her eyes widened in horror, and there began her crusade to prove to me that her husband was a lovely man despite my misgivings regarding his nation of birth. Dearest shoe, meet other foot. Other foot, meet shoe!

It’s a shame that so many people feel prejudice and discrimination in the form of reductionism is an issue that doesn’t affect them, and they adopt positions that are genuinely harmful to others. That’s my problem with websites like Askthebigot and groups like Grace Church Seattle. Someone there said that if my life was ‘great’, why would I waste my time fighting back against what they were doing? The implication being that I had some sort of insecurity. That couldn’t be further from reality. I fight back because it’s only fighting back that we’ve been able to arrive where we are today.

The other day I received an anonymous email from a young man who explained how happy he was when he first heard the gossip of us being here. He was a young gay teen who up to thirteen years ago had only been exposed to the idea of gays living in the sidelines. Like him I once thought the only social role we could have was that of  a companion, a walker. This took the form of accompanying widows, divorcees or women whose husbands were away, to social events. We filled in the boy/girl/boy/girl seating arrangements. That was it.

We weren’t invited as independent entities. We fulfilled a role. I’ve had the pleasure to see and participate in this change during my lifetime. It happened gradually, and not because people sat back and did nothing. I still remember my anxiety the first few times I hosted. Will they come? Who will come? An uphill battle.

We had the monumental task of demonstrating, proving even, that our existence wasn’t limited to our sexual orientation. People enjoyed the black and whiteness of it, some in the world still do. When they say a gay couple is less capable/ideal than a heterosexual couple, they imply that gender is the single most important factor in a child’s rearing (or to be honest, in humanity). Not psychology, love, comfort, education, support. When they say they’re fighting for the children, that’s what they’re doing. No nuance, no mention that each case is an individual case. That a gay couple could, in many cases, fulfill the needs of a specific child better than a heterosexual couple.

It all depends on the individual cases and by opposing gay adoption (or marriage) in a generalized manner they unfairly and misguidedly reduce our identities to sex- and in doing so create limitations for millions of children in the world who live in poverty and hunger, without anyone to care for them. And I say that with no horse in the race. I’m not a parental type, I’ve never wanted children.

All these years later, I feel we’ve accomplished something. I say that personally and as a community. Since ‘our scandalous arrival’ other openly gay couples (including of the flamboyant variety) have arrived and just blended. None of the gossip, none of the wild rumours. In fact, most are now welcomed with open arms on the assumption they’re probably fun, like a drink and throw a good party. That’s because knowledge is everything.

For years we’ve been the house on the street where children come play with the (many) dogs, where they’re welcomed to use the heated pool- where we work from home so if they need something their parents tell them to come to us. A far cry from the stereotypes that were attributed to gay men in the past. Yesterday we were sitting with a friend in the pergola as her eight year old daughter threw the kong toy in the garden. We saw her being brought home from the hospital. We watched her start speaking. First French, then Spanish and English, now Swedish. When her brother died, they all came here to not be alone after hearing the news. One day we’ll probably see her get married.

No trauma has been had by her growing up in the vicinity of an openly gay couple. I think all concerned would agree it’s been quite the opposite. The little girl told us yesterday we’re her favourite neighbours anywhere and I make the best sandwiches. None of the parents we know have ever had any qualms regarding their children being in our company- and that’s because they know something that the bigots don’t want to know. That we’re people, we’re human. That sexual orientation isn’t the be all and end all of ANYTHING, except of sexual orientation itself.

And it’s not just because we’ve arrived at this point that we should sit back and enjoy and leave everyone else hanging. I feel a personal responsibility to keep going, to keep pushing, to make it so others in our community, far and wide, are able to live in a less hostile world. Something we’ll only be able to accomplish if we fight back against the nefarious efforts of the anti-gay brigade.

 

 

Someone must be misbehaving. Roughseas is going to love this!

I wonder who’s misbehaving?!? They’ve sent out the agreement one must sign when one buys to all the homes. This has only happened once before and I won’t mention names or the colour purple :D

sotorules

 

and

soto2

I love the presumption that one has money/property because it just generously fell on one’s lap.

Here’s Sotogrande:

Flowers, Food & Wine in Southern Spain

irisesandhibiscus My irises look amazing. I should have planted more. Yesterday we had people over for drinks in the garden and what turned out to be an amazing selection of cheeses and saucissons from a little shop called Au Régal Auvergnat in La Bourboule in central France. A kilo and a half of good chesses and a selection of 6 saucissons can do two events of around 12 people each (comfortably, meaning there will be left-overs), and will cost you less than €60. The shop-owner was a bit surprised when I explained I wanted everything sent to Southern Spain- he did a superb job with the packaging. I also found a giant tin of stuffed olives, it’s nearly the size of the kettle. I scattered them along with cherry tomatoes and little pickles around the place- served a decent white and a decent red and that was it. There couldn’t be an easier (and inexpensive) way of entertaining a largeish group of people. I looked moderately chic (in a casual way) in a navy jacket with an orange collar and piping, beige skinny jeans and a white shirt.

A Gay Man’s Defence of Christian Marriage

rings on wedding booklet

Despite the reservations of many, I’d like to offer my full backing to Christian Marriage! Below I’m going to respond to the major objections and also address the matter of Christians adopting and rearing children.

The Principle Objections Are:

  • Christianity is a choice and since no one is born a Christian it’s unnatural
  • Christians have unusual customs, some of which endanger public health and society
  • A Christian marriage isn’t a ‘real’ marriage because Christians changed the definition of marriage
  • Children adopted by Christians could be at risk of indoctrination & child abuse

languages1. Although it’s true that no one is born a Christian, and that it’s exclusively a learnt behaviour, we must keep in mind that there are many things we aren’t born doing. We’re not born reading or writing. We’re not born enjoying all foods. We’re not born speaking different languages. Many characteristics we’ll come to develop in life are the result of our environment, others are the result of our genes; Some will be influenced by both. Taste and food selection are an interesting example of how genetics influence what we choose to eat. The same is true of Christianity. Despite it being heavily influenced by environment, there are certainly genetic factors that contribute to people being religious. And let’s be honest, even if it were purely a choice, in a free society we have to respect the rights of adults to make their own choices.

snakehandling2. I know many are terribly disturbed by various Christian practices and customs. We hear stories about Pentecostal Pastors handling snakes and dying. We hear about the Catholic Filipino Good Friday reenactment where people are crucified. Glossolalia, transubstantiation, being dunked into water. Although it’s true these are all quite unusual practices, it would be unfair to ascribe them to all Christians. We should also keep in mind that water dunking, in and of itself, doesn’t have particularly negative consequences. Just because a behaviour is practised by a minority doesn’t mean it’s wrong! Of course there is the matter of Christians spreading STD’s including AIDS, primordially in Africa, because of their refusal to use condoms. This has become a public health matter and the best way to fix it is education. Some Christian sects already approve of the use of condoms, we have to work so those who do not, understand the importance of doing so! It would be unjust to associate all Christians to the spread of AIDS.

biblical marriage3. It’s certainly true that Christians have changed the definition of marriage. They adopted Roman Legal marriage practises and transformed them into something entirely different, into something of a religious nature. Then various sects changed the meaning even further. Some prohibit divorce, others allow it. Some require virginity. Others believe in polygamy. Each group has its own definition which sometimes means their definition is fundamentally different from other groups. I say that’s entirely fair. Each group/individual’s view of their marriage is something they’re entitled to! All we should concern ourselves with as a society is that there’s a legal framework offered by government that allows two citizens who choose to commit to each other legally, to have certain rights and obligations. This is necessary due to issues of tax, inheritance, access and making decisions in the event of illness etc. Just because a religious person’s private definition of marriage doesn’t match your definition or the legal definition, doesn’t mean their marriage should be any less valid legally. And let’s not begin the silly debate regarding whether we should call marriage between Christians by a different name. We don’t call a marriage between Orthodox Jews a Jarriage, after all!

babybap4. Whenever children are involved, people get emotional. This makes the matter of adoption particularly contentious. I know people are afraid that Christian parents will force their children to become Christian. People are also concerned about the many cases of child abuse discovered in the past few years. Again we have to remember that we cannot paint with a broad brush. There will certainly be Christians who allow their children to choose  what they believe for themselves. There’s also no causal link between Christianity and child abuse. Although abuse did occur, it wasn’t because they were Christians.

A great many people in the world are concerned with Christianity and its effects on society today. Questions of marriage, liberalism and culture wars are at the top of the headlines everywhere. Fairness and justice mean we cannot and should not apply standards of examination to a single group that we apply to no others. That would be the very definition of discrimination and bigotry.

Thank you for bearing with me. This was an exercise to illustrate the specious nature of arguments that seek to marginalize a given group from society.  You probably recognize all the charges above from often being levelled at members of the LGBT community. This line of reasoning may seem superficially plausible, but doesn’t really hold water. We could change the word Christians for Gays, Teachers, Blacks or Speakers of Norwegian- and adapt the argument- and what we’d be left with each time would basically be rubbish.

The only plausible future for a specious argument is becoming a dubious fact. 

Zero-Sum Game. The Perverse Pseudo-Morality Promoted by Grace Church Seattle, The Faust’s & Other Anti-Gay Groups

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

“In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s).”

It’s not applicable to all aspects of life, but it’s certainly applicable to time & money, as those are finite resources. When you plan out your day, in most instances, one event will have to take precedence over another. When you budget your monthly expenses, you will most likely have to make choices. If your bonus is used for a new car, it can’t also be used to make home-improvements.

Nowhere is zero-sum game more evident and distressing than in the case of religious institutions. The battle over California’s Prop. 8 cost US$83,000,000. One side was fighting for legal protections for existing relationships. The other side was fighting to ensure that the relationships of members of the LGBT community not be entitled to protections regarding health, inheritance and the basic rights and obligations the law affords heterosexual couples who decide to legally commit to each other.

As John Becker eloquently wrote: “Proposition 8 wasn’t just some random, innocuous ballot initiative — it was a cruel, animus-driven crusade to strip a disfavored minority group of an existing and fundamental right. The campaign to pass it relied on lies and gutter-level fear-mongering, flooding the airwaves with images of smiling children accompanied by ominous warnings about how much they’d be harmed if voters didn’t enshrine marriage discrimination into the constitution.”

Those 83 million dollars could have been allocated to other causes, even very serious causes like disease, hunger or poverty. After all, the USA has 31 million people living on the edge of hunger. The time expended on fighting over what, before the law, is nothing more than a legal contract, was directly and indirectly responsible for a monumental waste of resources.

And this is where people like the Faust’s and Grace Church Seattle come in. Every cent and every minute they spend on their destructive endeavours aimed at marginalizing the LGBT community from society- a process they embark on by mangling logic, spreading nefarious myths and promoting ignorance- is time and money that they do not use for productive causes.

In the past few months Mrs. Faust used an inordinate amount of time for these destructive pursuits. She created a website, for which she paid. She engaged an ‘editor’, she drove members of her circle to participate in her anti-gay propaganda, she made an appearance on a radio show promoting her venture. And the question we’re left with is what sort of ethics or morality is this that impeding two adults from signing a legal contract that only affects the signatories is of a higher priority than assisting those in great distress?

Here is where the magic happens and where they spread this perverse and disgusting vision:

gracechurchstreetview

 

Shameless Victimism, The Faust’s & The Anti-Gay Grace Church Seattle

(Picture has been removed at the request of Katy Faust)

What you see above is a map. A map of what Grace Church Seattle calls home communities. On their website they describe these groups as “mini-churches: the leader is like a shepherd who leads the group to be dedicated to living the Gospel in community – also known as Incarnational Community (a group in which Jesus Christ incarnates Himself). We ask that these groups be based on location, be open to newcomers, and prayerfully seek ways to intentionally serve and reach out to the neighborhood in which they live.”

If you examine the GCS website, you’ll find a wealth of interesting material.  The indoctrination curriculum (they call them questions) for their home groups is particularly interesting. For the week of March 30th, one of the questions included was “Can Christians be Demonically Possessed?”

The more you look through their website and juxtapose that on Mrs. Faust’s now exposed scam, and Mr. Faust’s reaction to those events, the more one thing becomes clear: their methodology.

  • ‪ Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  • ‪ The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel.
  • ‪ The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (they are ‘saved’ whilst everyone else is ‘lost’).
  • ‪ The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
  • ‪ The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying, deceiving etc.)
  • ‪ The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
  • ‪ The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  • ‪ The group is preoccupied with making money.
  • ‪ Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  • ‪ Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
  • ‪ The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

The list above is taken from Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups – Revised Edition by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. They’re the most widely recognizable methods of psychological manipulation used by cults/sects. Most of these tactics are codified by GCS’s Membership Covenant, others can be gleaned from the delusive practices of leaders and members of the group.

Also worth highlighting is their total disconnect from reality. Despite having very rigid rules and regulations, they exempt themselves from those rules while asking that they be applied to others. The Faust’s endeavours are particularly fascinating in this regard. Mrs. Faust was creating and enforcing a hostile environment for LGBT children, teens and adults, but doing it from anonymity- and Mr. Faust now claims that exposing her is cyber-bullying and intimidation.

Note the contradictions in his writing, used to justify Mrs. Faust’s behaviour while attacking others:

“Now there are people out there who refuse to show a real picture or use a real name and they like to hide behind a computer screen and say things that a normal person would never say in a face-to-face conversation. But for some reason when they get behind their mask and write in a pseudo-screen name they become emboldened to say what they are really thinking and feeling with emphasis!!!! Robert Putnam calls this developing a Cyber Super-Ego. I call it another form of bullying.

One reason people develop a screen name might be out of fear. And this fear is real. There are people out there savvy enough at using the internet to destroy, intimidate, or strike fear into people (and sometimes they do real harm). These people don’t like what certain people are saying and once they realize they have been out reasoned in a discussion they resort to name calling or worse, and sometimes try underhanded tactics such as getting information about people to unmask them posing a potential threat to their family, livelihood, reputation, etc”

He begins by implying anonymity is wrong when he falsely attributes it to other people. Followers know I’m anything but anonymous, having certainly been bored to death by my stories regarding my family history, Mike’s life as an actor in the RSC and beyond. Endless bad mirror pictures and pictures of our house from every angle imaginable. Many of you probably even know our dog’s names and where we go out to eat! But that fact doesn’t bridge Mr. Faust’s disconnect from his cult world to reality.

He then changes direction and implies that anonymity is only bad if done by other people. His wife is obviously not one of those behind the mask, emboldened by anonymity! Her anonymity is based in benign fear.

Isn’t that a clever trick? These people are experts in distortion. He projects his wife’s behaviour onto people who weren’t doing what she was doing, calls the behaviour wrong, and then finds a way to say “but if she did it, it’s totally justified!”. The rules that apply to others don’t apply to those within their sect.

This is an example of the Faust’s and Grace Church Seattle’s warped world view and how they use it to benefit themselves and further their agenda- in the next few days I’m going to continue analyzing their practices and the material they make available on the internet for a more in-depth look.

 Further Reading:

  1. “Can you hear the piteous weeping? The wronged tears? Those poor bigots are under attack. Those who are prejudiced against gay people are having their constitutional right to say so trampled. It’s a terrible injustice: you can’t believe that gay people are lesser without some pesky homosexual objecting and “bullying” you into believing that equality under the law is a venerable aim.” :In Gay Rights Fights, Bullies Love to Play the Victim by Tim Teeman
  2. “And while I am not easily shocked, I have been quite horrified to read how obsessive and deluded some of these people are. If they had their own way, they would impose religious law in any Christian country (and the rest of the world if they could beat Islam, for example) and civil rights would go out of the window” :Lies, damned lies, and ‘The Bible’ by Rough Seas in the Med
  3. “I am angry and offended, even outraged, at the rampant abuse of people, especially children, to deny them their own humanity. Ordinary people are the “flock,” the “fallen,” the “unworthy,” the “sinful.” The reason they are so labeled? Because they are guilty of Original Sin and if they do not repent they will burn in the barbeque pits of Hell for all time. (Yes, I am talking about you Christians.)” :Why I Am an “Angry Atheist” by Steve Ruis

The Anatomy of Bigotry: Religious Mafia Protection Rackets

racket

So there we go, it’s all out in the open now. And there’s nothing like a bit of sunlight and fresh air to remove that terrible stench from Astroturf. I say out in the open, but let’s keep going, because I don’t think it’s quite out in the open enough.

First let’s examine what happened. A religious posse formed, led by the wife of a pastor at a sect/cult called Grace Church Seattle. This group of self-styled crusaders had encounters on the internet to put forward their message: They’re against gay marriage. More so, they’re against homosexuality, but they mask that stance hiding behind the gay marriage issue. In communicating their propaganda they engaged in omitting, hiding, lying and deceiving. One pretended he wasn’t religious at all. Others pretended they didn’t know each other and just ‘happened to agree’ with the same forms of bigotry. Their intent was to fraudulently create the impression of an organic grassroots movement (with no hidden agenda).

I should clarify that this was by no means any great feat of investigative work on my behalf. All it took was a tiny bit of research for me to realize that all these independent opinionators of ethics and morality just happened to be sending their messages out from the same geolocation. On some occasions, from the same IP. I put that together with my previous knowledge of how these hate groups operate, and the rest is history.

It’s interesting that these people/groups feel all this dissimulation is a necessary part of their tactics. That speaks for itself. Websites with hidden registrars, no mention of their sects, a whole range of deceptive tactics- all in the name of their ethics, I suppose.

Make no mistake, this is the classic schema of a mafia protection racket. Whilst goons broke shop windows in the still of the night, only to offer protection to shop owners the next morning. These henchman foster and foment an environment where minorities are dehumanized, excluded and persecuted. This demonization is what feeds them and pays their mortgages. The leaders of these groups are opportunists, the more fear and hate they rally, the more money they make at the end of each month.

I have much more to say on the matter of these deceptive and disgusting practices. But I’m double booked today. We just finished a lunch, and we’re also invited to dinner this evening, so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile I leave you with this amusing document from the sect in question. Note how in the first item one has to submit to never disagreeing with doctrine. Which is why, my friends, their activities are the sham of an authoritarian regime. In North Korea, everyone also thinks the dear leader is total fabulousity.

gracechurchobligations

 

 

Internet Shills: Beware of the Fake Debate. What to keep in mind before engaging with anti-gay rhetoric.

I never get tired of telling this story because I think it’s an extraordinary depiction of psycho-social manipulation. Back in 2004/2005 when we were campaigning for gay marriage in Spain, we had the wind at our backs. Public support fluctuated between 65 and 70%. Support in those under 40 was even higher. The internet and social media reflected those figures. Which is why we were so shocked when it seemed like the internet had been flooded by a tsunami of anti-gay propaganda.

To make a long story short. Two Spanish anti-gay groups called Hazteoir (make yourself heard) and the Foro de la Familia had gone to bed with American Evangelical Anti-Gay organizations. Not only were they now pushing the same tired propaganda, but they’d gone so far as to set up (as in hire) people to spread their message of hate and exclusion.

Their organization and method which helped them cause such a stir was also their downfall. Just as recently exposed by the French press in the case of the anti-gay and artificial Manif pour Tous, their message was scripted. And when I say scripted, I mean like this:

click here for the entire French version of the script

click here for the entire French version of the script

The contrived tone of their message, the propagation of debunked myths and their  inability to respond to anything outside the script meant that soon enough people were onto what was going on. They were shills and puppets on one side, and on the other manipulators bent on using xenophobia to make a personal profit.

Their conniving isn’t limited to internet forums. Most recently, in the case of the anti-gay Manif pour Tous in France, they announced they were made up of the members of 37 organizations representing all sectors of French society. Le Monde took a closer look at those claims only to discover that 11 of those groups didn’t exist at all. Of those that did exist, only 15  had any sort of legal status. And of the one’s that had legal status, all were linked to religious or extremist right wing movements. So much for being representative of French society!

pewresearch2013

2013 Pew Poll. Not quite in line with what the Manif pour Tous want you to think. And BTW ¡¡¡Viva España!!!

All of this is to say beware. Their methods are many. Astro-turfing, click-baiting, fabricating controversy et al. Their success depends on their fraudulent activities being given air-time, so my suggestion is not giving them what they want. Or at least don’t do it on their terms. If you want to respond to something, do it your own way, on your own territory. Otherwise you’re giving them a platform and driving traffic to their nefarious message.

Do I have anything to say on the new Holy Grail claims?

The goblet in the Basilica of San Isidoro in León, northern Spain

Yes. The two ‘historians’ in question are trying to sell a book they co-wrote. Even they admit that there’s no evidence of the existence of this particular item during the first 400 years of its alleged existence. What they also don’t address is that commerce in fake relics was a booming industry throughout most of Christianity’s history- particularly between 500 and 1500.

I find this sort of thing terribly annoying and borderline depressing. Maybe I should come up with some sort of ridiculous and badly researched, Dan Brown style, conspiracy theory- and write a book about it.

I imagine they’re educated enough to know this sort of speculation is entirely un-serious.

Who Qualifies as a Real Christian?

Catherine de Medicis observing the aftermath of St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Catherine de Médicis observing the aftermath of St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

It seems apparent that Christians of various denominations focus much too much time and effort arguing with those who are not in any way bound, interested or convinced by their religious ideology; And as their interpretations of the bible are entirely irrelevant to those of us who don’t subscribe to their religion, I think it would be a step in the right direction for them to focus on those who are.

My first suggestion is the revival of the Protestant vs. Catholic question. Before addressing any issue regarding those outside Christianity, one must first decide who is a real Christian. CARM says that:

“CARM’s position is simple. If a Roman Catholic believes in the official Roman Catholic teaching on salvation, then he is not a Christian since the official RCC position is contrary to Scripture. Therefore, as a whole, Roman Catholics need to be evangelized. They need to hear the true Gospel. They need to hear that they are not made right before God by being in a church, or by being baptized, but by receiving Christ (John 1:12), believing that Jesus has risen from the dead (Rom. 10:9), and that justification is by faith (Rom. 5:1) and not by our deeds (Rom. 4:5). It is only true faith that results in true works (James 2), not the other way around. Roman Catholics, like anyone else, need to trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins and not the Catholic sacraments, not the words of the priest, not the Pope, not Mary, not the saints, not penance, not indulgences, not the rosary, etc. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).”

I imagine Catholics will disagree and take a very different stance. So who’s the last man standing?