Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Common Sense Christian

I really like this woman....

Episcopal News Service
Sunday, June 18, 2006
From Columbus: Jefferts Schori's 'Reign of God'

By Pat McCaughan

[ENS] Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori's vision to lead the Episcopal Church comes straight out of the prophet Isaiah's vision of the reign of God and includes such United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as eradicating poverty and hunger.

"The poor are fed, the good news is preached, those who are ostracized and in prison are set free, the blind receive sight," Jefferts Schori said June 18 during her first news conference after her election.

The Presiding Bishop-elect fielded questions on topics as wide-ranging as creationism, human sexuality, her call to the priesthood and why she became an airplane pilot.

Elected to the 2.4 million member church's top post on Father's Day, Jefferts Schori said she became a pilot after her father promised her flying lessons if she completed college. "I flew as recently as last Saturday ... a Cessna 172," she said.

She drew upon her experiences as an oceanographer when asked how she'd reconcile with those who oppose her ordination and episcopate. While researching the living habits of worms, squid, octopus and shrimp 30 years ago, "a cruise captain wouldn't talk to me because I was a woman," she recalled. "That lasted about 15 minutes. We got over it."

"My training as a scientist has given me the gift of looking at the world carefully, and investigating. I take delight in the incredible diversity of creation, delighting in the view from several thousand feet above the earth."

When a reporter asked how the "average Anglican who is a black woman under 30, earns two dollars a day and is evangelical," might react to news of her consecration and to her consent to Gene Robinson's consecration, she responded: "If the average Anglican is as you describe, she is dealing with hunger, inadequate housing, unclean water and unavailability of education. Those are the places I would start. The issue of sexuality comes along much higher on the hierarchy of needs."

About creationism and evolution, she said: "Evolution most definitely should be taught in school. It's a well-tested premise and the best model that fits the data available. Creationism can't make that claim. I believe in the creeds. They say God created the world, but they don't say how."

About homosexuality, she said: "I believe that God welcomes all to his table, those who agree and those who disagree. The Episcopal Church always has been a strong voice for including a variety of opinions; the marginalized are welcomed at the table."

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is senior correspondent for ENS and serves as associate rector at St. Mary's Church in Laguna Beach, California.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Achieving Your Potential

I'm a Gallup Groupie. I have become fascinated and slavishly enthralled to the Gallup Organization's literature on recognizing talent and strength and, relatedly, how to create an environment in an organization that creates the greatest outcomes for the organization. (That, not coincidentially, is tied to providing a good working environment for the members of the organization.) The book dealing with the organizational setting is First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. It's a fascinating subject and I fully recommend that you read it if you manage people. But today I want to tackle a specific element of the Twelve Questions that resulted in the book Now, Discover your Strengths. This book is about discovering and developing your natural talents.

This is all based around research that Gallup conducted approximately 10-12 years ago. Gallup found that people who were considered the best of the best in their profession (and this included people in all different types of positions: policemen, managers, housekeepers, teachers, lawyers, customer service representatives, etc.) no matter what their age, race, gender, or profession had careers that catered to, and allowed them to focus on, (for most of the day anyway) their natural talents and strengths. Those talents of course varied from profession to profession and even within professions (say a stockbroker at one firm versus another firm) because of the requirements, philosophies, or desired outcomes from specific organizations.

Gallup defines talent as any naturally reoccurring behavior, thought, or feeling that can be productively applied. When we employ our talents, we enjoy the activity we are engaged in, time seems to fly by, and we obtain a large amount of happiness and satisfaction from using the talent (or from the outcome of the talent). Talents can be developed into strengths with practice and the addition of skill and knowledge. Gallup isn't certain how our talents develop; certain scientific rationales exist for how the brain forms neural pathways, but if our talents are genetic or aquired through our environment is not fully clear (sound familiar?)

So far, with one small exception, this doesn't all seem very queer does it? Well, hold on, I'm getting there.

In their research, Gallup found a couple hundered different talents and from them derived 34 themes. Donald Clifton and others then developed an assessment instrument to help determine what your most dominant themes are - you receive your top five themes after taking the assessment. (The instrument is available online only. A code to use the Clifton Strengthsfinder is available with each new copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths. (If you choose to order a copy and want to take the instrument, DO NOT order a used copy.)) Gallup only gives you the top five so you will narrow your focus.

The idea is that you quit focusing on where you are weak because you will only ever make marginal gains on them. Instead, you focus on what is natural and enjoyable because these are your talents and work on them can yield significant results, your talents become strengths, enabling you to be the best of the best in what you do. It's a very different way of thinking and one that makes a lot of sense once you consider the basic premise.

This core concept: focus on what comes naturally to you - the things you can't NOT do - and you can go beyond exceptional - has tremendous application to queer life. Are you a little femme? Maybe a good deal butch? Enjoy doing hair or arranging flowers? Enjoy building and repairing? Enjoy fashion? Barely capable of matching your socks? Are you a great conversationalist? You just want to settle down with the guy/girls of your dreams in a suburban bungalo? Then, do it, enjoy it, celebrate it, or quit worrying about it. If it's the way you are, then capitalize on it. Find a community or organization or workplace that lets you be you and you will shine. It's when we deny those things that make us US, when we try to supress those qualities that we stumble, worry, and ultimately fail.

So, here in the month of Pride, I say be proud of who you are. Capitalize on your innate characteristics. Find people and places that let you express yourself. (Oh, and let's not be snobs to those who are different from us - let's appreciate our uniqueness.)

Go Little Sis!

My little sister is on a float in the Atlanta Gay Pride parade today. How did my little sister, who is straight, end up in a pride parade long before her older (and only) gay brother (who probably never will)? Because her boyfriend is in a Rocky Horror Show troop. Isn't life strange?

Thanks for supporting all the queens and trannies, sista-love. :)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fish, Fish, Fish

Tim Fish is an up and coming indie artist. He's actually been around for quite some time, but it just starting to get some of the attention he deserves.

So far his seminal work is Calvacade of Boys, a series detailing the lives of several different gay men. It's a very entertaining read. Some of it strikes home as very accurate despite occasionally falling into a stereotypical short-hand. You can really see Tim's progress as an artist and writer through the course of the series. I fully recommend it for anybody who enjoys slice-of-life comics, romance comics, and almost any gay man I think would enjoy it.

His latest release is Strugglers, which is actually an updating and amplification of an earlier work of his, Meet Me in Saint Louis. Strugglers is a prequel of sorts to Calvacade. It focuses partly on Tighe during a phase in his life when he's just graduated college and not yet fully dealt with his sexuality. It also is the story of his two roommates, Alison and Tracey, good friends and recent college graduates trying to make it in the indie music scene in St. Louis, Missouri and also dealing with the realities of post-college life.

Strugglers is very much the coming-of-age story, a collegiate Huck Finn in some ways. Although the indie music scene lifestyle of these characters is one that I don't know much about or really even relate to much, I still found myself engrossed in their story. You really begin to care about each of them and get frustrated when they don't make the decisions that are best for them. (I found myself particularly frustrated with Tighe, but that's probably my own projections.) Although this is an earlier work than Calvacade, it feels a bit more well rounded, quite probably because of the additional material that Fish has added to fill out the story more. The new material is pretty obvious because Fish's art current art style is a bit more clean and a finer line than his earlier work. The change is noticeable without being jarring and I found the comparison of styles interesting. Fish's style feels loose and bold, but is actually minimistaclly expressive and full of movement; you can feel the constant dynanism of his pages.

Strugglers might very well escape your radar, but you would be making a mistake. Even if you're not interested in Fish's exploits of gay romance in Calvacade (and you really should, it's quite good stuff), you're still certain to enjoy Strugglers if you've ever wondered what you were going to do with your life.

Fish also has a collection of short pieces he's done in Something Fishy This Way Comes, which is due out in August. Any local comic book shop retailer should be able to order it for you. If they refuse, you can order it through Fish's own website.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Goodbye, Mary

Can my virtriol towards Mary Cheney cause me to post on her even though I don't want to give her any more attention than she's already undeservedly getting? Apparently so; the woman is worse than the dismissable psychopath Coulter.

My only comment is that in every interview with Mary that I've heard or read, she comes across as dissembling, disengenuous, and inauthentic. It's clear that because she was born into a station of wealth and priviledge, she's never truly thought about or worried about the injustices being perpetrated on her and every other gay and lesbian American. She could have offered a memoir demonstrating nuance, conflicting priorities and loyalties, and articulate introspection, but opted for something safe, shallow, and political.

A person who can express intense anger over John Kerry's (admittedly political) mention of her sexuality but cannot muster any emotion over the leader of our nation supporting legalized discrimination is either foolish, has severely hindered mental or emotional faculties, or is so rich and priviledged that she doesn't have to worry about it. I'm tempted to vote for all three. This woman has not just passed up opportunity after opportunity to speak out on behalf or use her influence to help gay and lesbian Americans, she has, through action and inaction, worked against the LGBT community.

Mary, you are the viper under the flower. You seem harmless and friendly, but you're nothing but poision.