samedi, juillet 02, 2011

A Catholic journey to Paganism

Many of us move from one denomination to another, but most of us don't journey quite this far... this is Katie's story.

Although her Catholic identity is part of her heritage, she no longer calls herself a Catholic.

America has a large group of "cultural" Catholics who no longer attend parish churches, either for doctrinal reasons, because they don't like the church's stance on various issues. Recently, the abuse scandals have also been a factor.

What happens to these Catholics? Do they pick other denomination to call home? Or do many simply not become part of another worshiping community? Who is tracking them?

Her story is unique in some ways, and also, perhaps, very much like yours. Feel free to share.

vendredi, juillet 01, 2011

Let's do it? The argument for sex on the casual side

This afternoon, after a week of sober topics, the last speaker in our counseling workshop addressed the topic of sex.

Actually, he talked about sexting and how to counsel high school and college students.

The comments of the students were confidential and they will stay that way.

But what fascinated me was his apparent attitude about sex.

First, if you haven't read my blog before, and are appalled that I'm writing about sex, a heads-up: I'm a very odd duck for a member of the clergy.

Liberal? Sometimes? Conservative? Provocative? Provoking? What she said.

I like ideas -- and it helps if they are really outrageous, or stretch me in ways I haven't been stretched by anyone before (and if that sounds suggestive, get your mind out of the gutter).
Finding kindred spirits who will go out and play with me is something I enjoy immensely.

So some new ideas about sex? I'm all ears.

To some extent.

Call me an old fogey, but I'm not happy, as the mother of a 16-year-old daughter, about the epidemic of sexting coursing through the high schools -- not to mention what's going on in college.

But, as I watched him be interviewed in a t.v. clip by one of the local blow-dried brigade, I realized that he was saying something pretty radical about sex. Really, even more interesting than sexting.

As a society, he asserted, we are becoming much more casual about sex. And I got the sense that he thought this wasn't a bad thing.

Sexting, in this context, becomes a rather edgy form of flirtation. But the sex therapist did say to another interviewer that he thinks teens don't have a clue as to what they are doing when they send each other naked pictures -- not to mention that doing this, under certain circumstances, is currently a felony.

I'm not sure what I think about casual sex -- although I find the American prurience about it disturbing.

Let me just say that I think the argument for it (at least in my experience) is mostly voiced, in our society, by men. I've heard so many guys make it that I tend to mentally turn up the noise machine -- a few babbling brooks here, some birds there.

After he finished his presentation, I went up to talk about him about one of my (professional) passions, polyamory.

Quickly we moved from polys to BDSM, pagans and my curiosity about whether certain religions attracted more "alt" sex practitioners.

It was then that he said something truly astounding to me. Most of us, he said, fall outside the boundaries of normative (or what we believe) is normative sexual practice.

Not 51 percent, mes amis. More like 99.9 percent of us are a little bent -- so bent as to redefine "normal."

Wow. I had to admit, I wondered what I've been missing.

More to the point, I wonder what all of you guys are doing!

After a little chatter about fetishes, he turned to speak to my professors.

But I got his email address.

About time I found out.

jeudi, juin 30, 2011

Three things NEVER to say to your single friends

Beloved married friends, lend me your ear.

I have some advice.

Whether you take it or not is up to you.

It's not that these are new thoughts. They aren't even revolutionary. I think I speak for lots of singletons, or divorced people crazy enough to dip their toe back into the dating pool.

But, because I am so distracted, so very ADD in many areas of my life, it was not until I was driving to a date tonight that I decided to stop brooding, and start ranting.

If you want your single friends to be frank with you, it is smart to avoid saying:

"I'm so glad I'm not dating anymore.'" I am sure your spouse feels the same way. And that you truly feel this way, most nights. But it is does make it sounds like your friend's romantic choices lie somewhere between just-escaped-from- a-mental hospital and washes once a week, whether he/she needs it or not. Poor dears.

And it also sounds a tiny bit smug - particularly to those friends who know the scoop on your marriage. All of us have cracks. Some of us are just a little more cracked by experience than others -- we are seeking someone else who find these scars beautiful.

"You don't need another distraction." Speaking for myself -- yes, I do. Particularly the kind with sparkling eyes, a little bicep, and lots of expertise. Umm. Yes. I wouldn't mind that kind of distraction at all.

And finally, there's what my doctor, a wonderful woman wed happily for approximately 25 years, said to me. "Why don't you just go out to the movies with your girlfriends?" I love my BFF's. But if I just wanted coffee and a movie, I could do Netflix and Starbucks.

There is something delicious about having a member of the opposite sex in my life. Even better than a cafe mocha is...well, you know.

It takes courage to do what we do. It takes patience. It takes the willingness to crash and burn.

Those friends of ours who can see that, and speak from a position of honesty about their own flaws, are the ones to which we turn when we need to speak from the heart -- whether we are ecstatic or down in the depths on the 90th-floor. (Thank you, Cole).

I don't know if guys get these kind of remarks. But I do know that a lot of women would appreciate a hug and the assumption of equality a lot more than aphorisms.

I'm happy to discuss further, if you wish. Meet me at the Drafting Room. We'll order some food to make the beer taste better.

mardi, juin 28, 2011

My new friend

So banish guitars playing sweet melodies
And then please murder the birds and the bees
Unring the bells and then drain all the wishing wells...

Frank Wildhorn Not gonna fall this time

Time is my new friend.

Middle-aged people don't say this much. Mostly, we are trying, with our Botox and diets, our social networking and exercise routines, to outrun it.

Myself, I have an ambivalent relationship with Father Time.

But this summer, I am keeping an eye out for him.

For I know that the hours and the days can heal. And I realize that intense pain can be forgotten by the daylit mind -- although the cells and dreams remember.

In a few months, I will be a different woman. I will have re-collected the parts of myself that got lost, somewhere along the way, or suppressed. I will be able to face what I now avoid, as though it was a bad traffic accident. In a few months, I can drive by the dead flowers and the cross with only a twinge.

Moaning about the weight of this time, writing among boxes and the debris I need to sort before we move out, I got some good advice from another friend. Focus on what you can control, she told me.

I know I can't help my ex-husband, except by picking up the slack when needed -- and I am deeply distressed by his suffering.

But I can pack boxes.

I can meet my writing deadlines.

I can do the laundry and even, damn it, make sure my bank account doesn't get overdrawn again any time soon.

I can take care of the kids, and move.

In the future is a lovely home, and hopefully a healthier ex-husband, and even, perhaps, a guy -- a companion, a friend... a lover.

Embarrassing how I court male admiration, inhaling it like wine. Come the evening (s), soon, when I must tell these men how unready, bruised, sad and baffled I am. I didn't think I was the kind of person who would behave this way -- but I am all female. And this is what many females do.

It's up to you, I'll say. Here's what I can offer right now -- and here's what I cannot. You choose.

In time, I can choose, too -- I look forward to that day.

In the meantime, I count on time, and rejoice in what I can accomplish, small toddler wobbles that will lead, I hope to strides.

lundi, juin 27, 2011

Only connect

Did you know (I found out in my counseling seminar today) that today's teens suffer the same level of stress, give or take a few breakdowns, as did 1960's mental patients?

Scary, isn't it?

And I don't think they are too well equipped to handle some of these stresses. In this case, technology may not be their friend, because it doesn't give them communication skills they need to create healthier relationships.

In a small group chat today, another student told me that her sister, eight years or so younger, arrives at family parties, phone in hand, and spends much of the party texting her "friends" -- but not a lot of time physically communicating with them.

I was surprised (why?) to see that at my daughter' s 16th birthday party, some of the kids just sat there, checking their messages.

How will they operate in college? In the workplace? In relationships?

What about you? How willing are you to reach beyond your technological comfort zone? How much easier to text or email than to make a phone call?

I am rather dazed right now. I don't have much reserve. My level of flexibility is low. I prefer, at the moment, to be alone.

But I know that eventually I will reach out again -- and I won't do it solely via email (or solely through this blog to my readers).

I'll pick up the phone. I'll set up a dinner date. I'll go to the movies. Even now, I am fighting myself, and making those social connections -- because I know the value of them. It is part of my history -- and part of yours, I'm guessing.

But what about our kids? Who will teach them, support them, encourage them, bind their wounds when they try and don't succeed, applaud them when they make a new friend -- if we do not?