July 26, 2011

New views from the High Line

Posted in City life, Explorations, Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:17 pm by chavisory

The High Line’s second section is open!  I visited recently and joined enthusiastic throngs of amateur photographers on a cobalt blue summer day.

This is the view towards 10th Avenue from a garden two stories off the ground.  The High Line is one of our newest parks, constructed on top of an elevated train trestle along the far west side that had been abandoned for many years.  Preservationists lobbied for years to have it refurbished as a park rather than demolished.



I love it for the unexpected view it gives of the city, and for the horticultural ingenuity it demonstrates, how people will try to grow stuff pretty much anywhere in this city.

The High Line is a fascinating testament to the endless adaptability and resourcefulness of everything and every creature in this place.

July 23, 2011

The Christian case for marriage equality

Posted in Marginalization tagged , , , , at 11:01 pm by chavisory

Legal same-sex marriage begins tomorrow in New York, and I love that the Times ran this article (The Clergy Effort Behind Same-Sex Marriage in New York) spotlighting the efforts of members of the clergy on behalf of marriage equality, noting that it’s a common but erroneous belief that churches and religious people are polarized against the advancement of LGBT equality.  While some of the most conspicuous campaigns against equality have been waged by churches, in fact, there are religious believers working on both sides of this issue.

What makes this surprising or counterintuitive for a lot of people is a pair of major misconceptions, perpetrated largely by the preaching of the fundamentalist religious right wing, that moderate, liberal or progressive Christianity is just a watered down version of fundamentalist Christianity with weaker versions of the same beliefs; and that in supporting LGBT equal rights, we’re just capitulating to the permissive amorality of popular culture.

What we want people to understand is that we’re actually doing this because we truly believe it is right.  Not because it is easy or just happens to be popular at the moment.

We are not, as socially conservative preachers often accuse, saying we believe in equality for political expediency, to be popular, to duck uncomfortable criticism, because we’re insecure in our faith or because we don’t know all the same Bible verses from Leviticus and 1st Corinthians that they do.  We support LGBT equality, including in legal marriage, as an expression of our faith, not in spite of it.

We think that the narrative arc of the Bible is one of an ever-expanding conception of grace and compassion for our fellow humans.  It’s a story of each successive generation seeing a new reflection of God in the world and the people around them.  We don’t think that that story ended 2000 years ago, but that we’re asked by Christ constantly to see all people anew as creations of God.

I do take issue with one characterization of the debate from the article, when it says “Yet the passage of same-sex marriage in New York last month, just two years after its defeat here, attests to the concerted, sustained efforts by liberal Christian and Jewish clergy to advocate for it in the language of faith, to counter the language of morality voiced by foes.”

Because we absolutely believe that this is an issue of morality as well.  We believe it’s immoral for the government to create second-class citizens and second-class families.  We believe it’s immoral to withhold civil rights based on sexuality just as it would be to deny those rights on the basis of race or religion.  We think that the bigotry enshrined by the Defense of Marriage Act is immoral.  We believe that to scapegoat gays for divorce, child abuse, and a host of other cultural problems is immoral.  We believe it is a moral edict of our faith to stand up for the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our society.

We are not attempting to undermine morality, but to support a morality of compassion and respect for all of our citizens.

We believe, as Victor Hugo wrote, “to love another person is to see the face of God,” and that nothing can make that wrong.

July 16, 2011

My unexpected summer vacation…

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 11:07 pm by chavisory

…in pictures:

This is my ward for the past two weeks, Patches.  We play a lot of frisbee, which he’ll bring and drop at my feet to notify me when, in his opinion, I’ve been reading for too long.  (I love his mismatched eyes, which are a common trait in his breed.)

Journaling with coffee by the pond in the morning.

Okay, I didn’t do this; I only sort of wish that I had.

Watching the moon set from the front porch.  I can never see the moon anymore without reciting the mnemonic “C for Christos, D for Dios,” from The Lacuna, to tell whether the moon is waxing or waning.  (If the curved side of the moon makes a ‘D,’ it’s being born, like God.  If it makes a ‘C,’ it’s dying, like Christ.)

I had not realized how much I really needed this almost total break from the world until it happened.  On Tuesday I’m back to the city and back to work.

July 8, 2011

Where I am, where I’ve been, and remembering a book

Posted in Reflections tagged , , , at 11:23 pm by chavisory

I have not meant to take such a long break from blogging.  I wish I could say I’ve been accomplishing something immense and impressive, but I have not been.  I’ve been job hunting, resume-updating, and finally filing for unemployment, thinking, cleaning my apartment, getting ready for an upcoming dance tour, and doing a lot of coffee shop sitting and reading.

Now I’m sort of out in the country, just outside the village of Pawling, New York.  It’s about two hours away from Grand Central Station by train, and a world away in other respects.  I’m dogsitting for a very sweet Australian shepherd named Patches, who, true to his sheepdog breeding, will not let me go anywhere alone, even just to the kitchen for another cup of tea.  He enjoys Parmesan cheese on his food, understands mostly words that start with ‘b,’ and doesn’t understand why we would go outside for any reason–like reading by the pond or pulling weeds in the garden–other than playing frisbee.

It’s raining softly outside while fireflies wink over the grass, which I just stood outside on the porch watching for a while.  The humidity is nearly tangible, and the entire small world of this little community is a deep twilight blue-gray color.  I’m writing and listening to the Counting Crows’ August and Everything After.  I’ve determined that it’s actually impossible to get anything else done with the TV on in the background (I’m way too visually-oriented)…I’ve probably watched more ludicrous television this week alone than I have in the entirety of the last 8 or 10 years (My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Intervention, House, The Matrix Reloaded) and remembered why I do not have and do not want one in my apartment.  Actually, I’m semi-seriously developing a hypothesis that depression is so rampant these days because American television is depressing…I swear, even the commercials for anti-depressants are depressing in their absurdity, to say nothing of the commercials for household cleaning products.

I see deer and rabbits in the yard almost every day, and get almost no usable cell phone signal.  I realize how much I miss seeing stars.

I’ve made cupcakes and given myself a very unfortunate and painful sunburn across my lower back while out working in the garden.  I didn’t think to put sunscreen where there was a gap between my jeans and tank top when I was leaning over.

I’ve become certain, from the distinctly purposeful-sounding rustling and crinkling sounds, that there’s some kind of small nocturnal creature making a home in some stacked grocery bags of junk in my corner of the living room.  The dog is not roused to do anything about this situation for me.  And I don’t just move away, because this is the only place in the house where I can pick up a wi-fi signal.

And I’m wondering out of nowhere if anyone else remembers a certain children’s book.

I remember this book from the year I was in 3rd grade, or maybe 4th, but I’m sure the book was much older than that.  It was on the classroom bookshelf, and I was totally entranced with it.  I read it over and over again.  And yet cannot remember the name of it.

It was told in the style of a series of fables, about a very wise old legal adviser in the Japanese royal court.  People brought seemingly impossible cases to him, and like Solomon, he always had the fair and clever solution.  One case was about a wiseguy trying to circumvent a progressive tax law that taxed people based on the number of doors their homes contained by building a house with only windows.  One was about a court servant who accidentally broke a priceless vase, for which the normal penalty would be death since she couldn’t hope to repay the cost with all the money that she’d ever earn in her life, and one, my favorite, was about a poor man who lived above a noodle shop.  He was starving, but said that as he ate his plain white rice every night, he felt like he was eating a more substantial meal because he enjoyed the smells of the cooking from below so much, they flavored his own meal.  So the noodle shop guy wanted to charge him for the food he hadn’t eaten, since he claimed he had enjoyed it just as much as if he had.

I don’t even remember the actual resolution of any of the cases.  I don’t remember the title of the book or the author.  Googling “children’s book wise old japanese guy” gets me nowhere.  So for my blog friends and pen pals old and young, a crowdsource question:  Does anyone else recall this book?