Thursday, March 20, 2008

Marianne Williamson Will Not Vote With her Vagina

Or so she claims.

Williamson, the "interfaith minister" (whatever exactly that means) who was raised Jewish and is now connected to Unity and the New Thought movement, insists that Obama's proposed policies are more "feminist" than Clinton's.  She then goes on to redefine "feminist" as, essentially, "feminine."

Let's set aside the merits of her argument, or of her theology, and agree on one important fact:  Marianne Williamson is awfully pretty.  In fact, I think she may be the single hottest interfaith minister I've ever seen.  Years ago, I would have been reluctant to write that, for fear of offending feminist sensibilities -- but glory be, I'm free at last, courtesy of the said redefinition.

Click the link.  Then keep watching as Florence Henderson interviews Charo -- I think my head just exploded.

McCain Confuses Jewish Princess With Candy-Eating Ghost

Another gaffe from the Israel junket:  A day or two after Joe Lieberman had to correct McCain about terrorist training, he had to explain that Purim isn't really the Jewish version of Halloween.

No biggie here -- a secular nation does not require its leaders to know much about religious holidays.  (And McCain, who over the years has had trouble deciding whether he is an Episcopalian or a Baptist, can certainly be excused for ignorance of Judaism, and even applauded for his lame effort to learn quickly about a celebration he doesn't understand.)

But a really strong candidate would have made it his (or, especially, her) business to get these things right -- to know something about the whistle-stop visit to a religious celebration, and much more to the point, who our real enemies are.  

Can we risk yet another president who refuses to do his homework?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Reality-Based Community is Still in Danger

John McCain's campaign for President is based on support for the Iraq occupation, which he claims represents the mature judgment of a senator with decades of foreign-policy experience -- and which makes it especially embarrassing when he makes elementary gaffes regarding foreign policy.

But it goes beyond either a display of ignorance or a slip of the tongue when, having been corrected about who is training whom in Iran, he continues to repeat the same false information for the rest of the day, as reported by HuffPo.

Apparently, his strategy is to combine Bush's bellicosity with Bush's contempt for the facts.  How delightful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Low the Mighty Have Fallen

An important public figure has been caught, red-handed, in behavior that is both legally and morally suspect. Prosecution follows, but it pales beside the public humiliation -- and the outrage of the crowds, who scream, "But we looked up to you!"

Eliot Spitzer, you say? Roger Clemens?

No. Dawn Wells. You may remember her as Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island.

Apparently, the former Miss Nevada was caught driving erratically and in possession of a little marijuana. She claims the drugs were left in her car by a friend and/or hitch-hikers, and that she was swerving all over the road because she couldn't find the heater in her new vehicle. We believe her, because -- well, after Julie Newmar, and maybe Yvonne Craig, it was Dawn Wells who made our early adolescence possible.

The judge gave her five days in the slammer for reckless driving, along with probation and a $410 fine.

Click the link for what may the single cutest mugshot of all time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"Our Most Thrilling Poet"

Claire Tomalin thinks it's Milton.

I suppose that depends upon what thrills you. If prolixity and Puritanism (granted, a freakishly un-puritanical Puritanism), then Jack's yer man. But we at the Egg find more thrills in fourteen lines of Donne (we're thinking of the vastly underrated Holy Sonnets) than in any given book of the Paradises. And if willful obscurity is what thrills you, there's always Pound.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Yet ANOTHER Gay Anglican Bishop

Depending, at least, upon one's definition of "gay."

The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, late bishop of New York, was a major figure in the Episcopal Church. Born into great wealth, he was a Marine war hero who disappointed his family by pursuing life as a priest rather than a businessman.  As an inner-city pastor, he was active in the struggle over civil rights.  As bishop, he spoke and acted on behalf of the great cities, when they suffered from the flight of both money and people to the suburbs. 

On a personal note, I might add that a New Yorker profile of Bishop Moore published in the 1980s helped move me on my way to seminary.  Reading it, I said "That is the way I understand Christianity, and that is the kind of work a Christian ought to do."

There were, however, some things about Bishop Moore that were not covered in the 1986 profile.  For better or worse, that was rectified this week by his daughter, the poet Honor Moore, in another New Yorker piece.  She reflects on her father's life, death, and ministry, as well as on their sometimes difficult father-daughter dynamics.  She also reveals that, in addition to his two wives, Bishop Moore had sexual relationships with men that extended over many years.

Reactions to this last revelation have been curious.  A Times reporter found one of Moore's old parishioners who said, essentially, "We all knew, we just never said it aloud."  Well, maybe.  But it seems that most people, including his family, weren't part of that "we."

The excellent religious-press blog,, has a good takeout, but the numerous comments degenerate into a meaningless semantic debate over whether Moore was "gay," "bisexual," or something else.  Yawn.

At the other end of the spectrum, several of my friends have tried to draw attention away from the bishop's sex life, and toward his religious life -- noting especially his profound reverence for the Eucharist, which the article describes in a few lambent passages.  But of course a bishop who loves the sacraments is not news; we expect that from our bishops.  A bishop who hides something important about himself -- now that's news.

Honor Moore's memoir her father would be well worth reading even if there were not a hint of scandal in it.  In quick, short strokes it paints a touching picture of Moore not only as a priest but as a husband and father.  Her childhood understanding of his vocation is especially affecting:  how his towering height made her think he was closer to God; how he seemed a different man when he changed out of his vestments or clericals.  But, at least for now, most people will read it for the sexy stuff.  

And surely Honor Moore knew that they would.  When the entire Anglican communion is in upheaval about the ordination of a single out-of-the-closet gay bishop, the publication of evidence that one of its modern heroes lived at least part of his life deeply in the closet is surely intended to provoke reflection.

So let's reflect.  Was Bishop Moore's ministry diminished by an attraction to other men?  If so, one would be hard-pressed to show how.  Or was his ministry diminished by the practice of deceit, carried on over many years?  And what about his soul?  Could Moore have been strengthened, both a bishop and as a human being, by a church and a society that permitted him to be honesty about who he was?

On the other hand, perhaps Ms Moore is trying to tell us that a public airing of one's deepest emotional life is not essential to effective spiritual leadership.  She suggests pretty strongly that her father's two marriages were hurt  by the conflict between his love for his wives and a certain  -- ahem -- limitation to his physical interest in them.  But she makes it clear that the sacraments he celebrated were still precious, and that his leadership in the church was still visionary.  Keeping secrets hurt him as a man, but we cannot see clearly how it hurt him as a bishop.