bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (uu: freedom to marry)
[As usual, the actual sermon was somewhat different than what's posted below, what with ad-libbing and on-the-fly tweaking, but the general gist is here.]

"The Poetry of Inconvenience"
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cookeville
Earth Day sermon

Today, April 22nd, 2007... )


* A voicepost of me reading Mary's poem is here.

* Listened to part of The Splendid Table during the drive home, which included a clip of Jonathan Gold talking about his twelve-year-old daughter's love of Italian squid feasts and about other food writers he admires. He sounds very cool and his "triumph of the proofreader" wisecrack makes me even more inclined to like him.

* However, catching up with Gold's writing is going to have to wait. The immediate plan: cook lunch (something with mushrooms and chicken), bake dog biscuits, and work on essays until my brain is goo.

* It's 78 F and sunny here. Here's the start of the Maura Stanton poem ("God's Ode to Creation") that was the meditation text for this morning's service:

Today's the kind of day when I feel good
about that dazzling stuff I've made down there,
everything so mixed up that even lies
turn out to be the truth...
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (feather)
For marymary, who was railing about The Taming of the Shrew a little over a year ago:

...the free will of a genuinely created character has a certain reality, which the writer will defy at his peril. It does sometimes happen that the plot requires from it characters certain behavior, which, when it comes to the point, no ingenuity on the author's part can force them into, except at the cost of destroying them. It may be that the Activity has chosen an unsuitable plot, or (this is perhaps more frequent) has imagined an unstable set of characters for working that particular plot out.

In such dilemmas, the simplest and worst thing the author can do is to behave like an autocratic deity and compel the characters to do his will whether or not. ... [W]restlings of natural truth abound in those romances where the heroine, after treating the hero for interminable chapters as though he were something the cat had brought in, is rescued by him under peculiarly humiliating circumstances and immediately falls into his arms in a passion of gratitude and affection. Knowledge of the very ephemeral nature of gratitude in proud and vain persons and of its irritating effect on the character, prompt the reader to wonder what the married life of the couple is likely to be, after thus starting from a false situation. It is a falsity of this kind that makes both actors and audience uncomfortable about The Taming of the Shrew; whether it is played as burlesque or softened into sentimental comedy, we are still left protesting that "'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so," and nothing will persuade us that characters like those would really subdue themselves to a plot like that.

    - Dorothy L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (p. 69)
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Default)
I didn't get there in time for the pre-show lion-dancing, but the Nashville Shakespeare Festival's production of Macbeth turned out to be quite good. In particular, both Macduff and Macbeth's reactions to the deaths of their wives were affecting, and the staging of the Weird Sisters was terrific -- they were in flowing backlit acid green robes (think fairytale white witches meet Morsmordre), billowing from a balcony, and they chanted rather than shrieked (something I've disliked in other productions). Also, this is the first production I've seen in which minor characters such as Ross and Lennox (sp?) came across with their own personalities -- dunno if earlier productions simply cut their scenes, if I was just more awake for this one, or if the directing brought it out. Now I want to reread the play. But not before bedtime...
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (chrysanthemum curve)
Today's New York Times quotes from letters written to Shakespeare's Juliet:

The sisters [compiling a selection of the letters for publication] found that during the nearly 70 years the letters have been arriving, they have become a reflection of the changing times. In 1970, a girl from Montana wrote, "Five years ago I met a Negro boy, William, at Bible camp." They had fallen in love, she explained, but added: "My parents and friends are against us getting married. William and I have separated many times, trying to get over each other."

In 1967, a Louisiana woman wrote that her husband was in Vietnam, and that she had fallen in love with his best friend. And in 1972, a soldier wrote from Vietnam itself: "I am in a bunker. Outside I hear missiles exploding, bullets being fired. I am 22 years old and I'm scared."

More recently, love in its other forbidden forms has begun to show up in the letters. In 2003, a girl wrote, "I am in love with a GIRL, and in India lesbians are never heard of."

My minister's installation ceremony took place yesterday. The opening hymns (both in Singing the Journey) included Peter Mayer's Blue Boat Home and Harry Belafonte's Turn the World Around (such a happy song! See here for a photo and clip from the Muppet episode); the anthems included a flowing new setting of Be Thou My Vision (Gail's favorite hymn), and the charge to the minister opened with "We three friends from New England are..." (composed by her former study group partners in Boston).

What's uppermost in my mind at the moment, however, is the quote on which Eunice Benton (the Mid-South District Executive) based her "charge to the congregation." By popular Unitarian Universalist writer Robert Fulghum:

To be human is to be religious.
To be religious is to be mindful.
To be mindful is to pay attention.
To pay attention is to sanctify existence.

It ain't necessarily so, of course. But for someone somewhat obsessed with how and when and what drives other people to bear witness? Yes. Yes, it is.
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Default)
"On Shakespeare's Sonnets, and Why Gay Marriage Is Good For Business."
April 23 is often celebrated as Shakespeare's birthday; this year, it will also mark the 390th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. There has been considerable controversy over the centuries regarding Shakespeare's sexual orientation; in this service, we'll look at why it matters, what will be at stake this November, and what Unitarian Universalists are doing to promote marriage equality.

I'll be a building a dossier from the usual raft of books and online resources, of course, but I also know that some of you are already exceptionally well-versed on these topics: if there are particularly references or links you're itching to recommend, please feel free to comment or to send me a holler. I'm particularly keen on addressing domestic partnership benefits from the employer/taxpayer angle -- e.g., data to convince corporate officers (and politicians they influence) that doing the right thing will help their bottom line...


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