Q is for . . .


Queer! What do I mean? Is a person “odd” or “strange,” or am I referring to sexual orientation?

After browsing through resources on the King James and NRSV Bibles, I don’t think “queer” appears in scripture, though I’m confident there are Hebrew and Greek words easily and rightly translated to queer . . . synonyms for odd, strange, peculiar and so forth.

Nowadays it usually refers to sexual orientation. Once—I know this personally—it was only derogatory. In the early 1970s I took a road trip with my college roommate and his sister. I recall driving by a billboard advertising a company with this motto in large print: “We are fast and friendly!” I immediately said, “Or do they mean quick and queer?” All three of us laughed. Wasn’t I a funny guy? Back then, I said something biased and accusatory. Queers, queens, gays, homos, lesbos: all were “bad” people, easily ridiculed, dismissed . . .

Queer has become a positive; from a joke to a jolt of pride.

Especially as a United Methodist, I know this kind of transformation sometimes happens. When John Wesley attended Oxford in the 1700s, he developed a daily routine to strengthen his faith. This regime included prayers, tithing, study and helping others. Wesley’s peers slammed him for being a methodist because of his methodical approach to Christianity. He embraced that sarcastic comment and it became the formal name for his efforts to challenge and rejuvenate the Anglican Church.

A harsh insult evolved into a hopeful identity.

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Draining the Digital Moat

I am planning to remove the strangely named CAPTCHA feature on my blog.

CAPTCHA is what you confront before responding to my reflections. It’s a digital moat around my web castle. When I shifted to using WordPress for my blog, spammers assaulted my realm. They were evil invaders from the far reaches of the Internet, grimly focused on providing information about low interest rates, cheap vitamins I can’t live without and drugs to help a certain part of my body extend to stunning lengths. On one day, months ago, I had 70+ “comments.”

And so you, the innocent reader, needed to fill in an odd collection of letters before commenting. Who wants to do that? Hey, I don’t like to do it at other sites.

A book I’m reading about blogs recommended not using CAPTCHA. Be vigilant, she cautioned, but stay friendly and accessible. She had other suggestions I may try over the next weeks and months.

I enjoy your comments. I want our digital conversation to be easy.

Soon, I’ll drain the CAPTCHA moat. (Even now, I distantly hear spammers sharpening their weapons for the next battle…)

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Churlish Jesus

I’ve never heard my father shout or mutter a “four-letter word.”

Only once has he knowingly and intentionally “flipped-off” another in my presence. Though it happened when I was ten or twelve, it’s vivid for its startling uniqueness. He drove. I sat in the passenger seat. Along a Sacramento-area freeway, another driver swerved in front of our car. That abrupt act caused Dad to jerk his car into the next lane, speed past the offending driver, and then angle back into the lane, ahead of the other car. He raised his right hand and gave the classic middle-fingered gesture.

The 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for August 14, 2011

“It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 16:26)

Stunned me.

Didn’t think Dad knew what it meant. I knew because of friends who “flipped people off” in the schoolyard. Friends’ parents also did it, some with great frequency. So I knew right away what my father had done. And yet, how had he known?

As a kid, Dad was my hero...

My father became physically angry around me . . . once. Other than an occasional spanking—all of which I probably deserved—I was never hit, struck or harmed by Dad. Nada. Zilch. But there was that single time, during Christmas holidays, when we played at the dining room table with a new chess set. On our third or tenth game I checkmated him. He exploded with a roar and his hand swept across the board, knocking the remaining pieces across the table and onto the floor. We never played chess again. I still wonder what really bothered him on that day. Until his dementia in recent years, his anger rarely surfaced in my presence. Continue reading →

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