.@TheMarySue Casually Smears Romance: Twitter and I Respond

Wintersong:

I am a huge romance fan, and particularly adore the work of Heidi Cullinan. This well-cited take down of The Mary Sue’s poorly thought out screed against the genre is a must-read for fans of literature, romance, or actual research.

Originally posted on The Amazon Iowan:

Today we’ll unpack an article from The Mary Sue. “Tropes of Love: Gender Roles in Romance.” Sounds like a wonderful topic. We need more discussion of romance, and gender roles, and tropes are the best! Let’s go.

“I’ve always felt a strange fascination with romance novels. There’s no genre that the general public will associate with bad books faster than romance, with their bawdy covers and superficial plotlines. Of course, that’s an enormous generalization.”

Yes. That’s quite a generalization. It’s also disrespectful, it’s perpetuating an insulting stereotype, and it’s demeaning. Wow. Awkward start. But do go on.

In truth, romance has its good and bad books just like any other genre. Some are brilliant and some will make you feel ill. But there is something special to be said about bad romance novels: they illustrate gender roles better than any other form of media. It’s the books where the…

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Memorial Day [Picture Tells A Story]

Note: This was originally published on 5/24/14 as part of the Picture Tells A Story feature on Bilerico.com

shoots_PTAS

It’s Memorial Day weekend. In the resort town I live in, that means a return of the tourists (and their money), and the true beginning of summer, for all that it will barely break sixty degrees. But of course, Memorial Day is about much more than the local supermarket going to longer hours, or a day off for school kids and bankers.

Memorial Day was created out of “Decoration Day,” during which people cleaned up and decorated military graves, although the 1968 move from observing Memorial Day on May 30th to doing so on “the last Monday in May” in order to create a three-day weekend may have done much to undermine its traditional meaning.

Personally, I wish the day retained more of that meaning, although not because I’m a “patriot” or supporter of our country’s wide ranging and ill-defined military activities around the world these days. Rather, I wish all Americans took even one day out of their year to honor the service of people who’ve died fighting our wars, just or otherwise. And beyond that, I deeply wish there was a day when we could reflect on just what war means for all those involved.

In the words of WWII veteran Eugene Sledge:

As I looked at the stains on the coral, I recalled some of the eloquent phrases of politicians and newsmen about how “gallant” it is for a man to “shed his blood for his country,” and “to give his life’s blood as a sacrifice,” and so on. The words seemed so ridiculous. Only the flies benefited. – With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (Sledge, E.B.) p.144

We hear all the time about “drone strikes” and “death tolls” in places far from home. The horrors of September 2001 aside, it’s one year shy of a hundred of fifty years since war has been waged within the continental United States. That’s a good thing of course, but it does mean that for many of us (myself included) war happens someplace else, and generally to other people.

To give a small sense of what I mean, think about this, World War One claimed two more lives this past March. Workmen at a building site in Ypres accidentally detonated a shell that had lain in wait over ninety years before fulfilling the purpose it was designed for, long before its victims were born. For the people who live side by side with killing fields of any armed conflict, the reality of war is perhaps understandable in way that generations of Americans haven’t had to contemplate.

For all that I’m someone who loves cemeteries as a rule, it seems sometimes that the perfectly neat and tidy graves where we’ve buried our own war dead, erase the humanity and the suffering of the real flesh-and-blood people who lie within.

To quote another WWII soldier:

They lay crumpled, useless, defunct. The vital force was fled. A bullet or a mortar fragment had torn a hole in these frail vessels and the substance had leaked out. The mystery of the universe had once inhabited these lolling lumps, had given each an identity, a way of walking, perhaps a special habit of address or a way with words or a knack of putting color on canvas. They had been so different, then. Now they were nothing, heaps of nothing. Can a bullet or a mortar fragment do this?

I mean this soul–does this spill out on the ground along with the blood? No. It is somewhere, I know it. For this red-and-yellow lump I look down upon this instant was once a man, and the thing that energized him, the Word that gave “to airy nothing a local habitation and a name,” the Word from a higher Word–this cannot have been obliterated by a quarter-inch of heated metal. – Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific (Leckie, Robert) p. 233

Which then at last, brings us to today’s photograph.

Honoring the dead should be about more than tidying up a grave site or having a veterans parade. Perhaps the best way to honor our war dead is to meditate for a moment on life. There’s something indefinably lovely about spring shoots reaching for the sun with determination that belies their fragile nature.

If I was to tell you that I stepped on those same small plants as I was getting up from taking the photo, leaving their stems broken and their delicate leaves bruised and torn, I imagine the image would evoke a different set of emotions than you might have felt when you first saw it.

And if we can feel protective or saddened at the loss of a few small plants in a forest none of you will ever visit, we surely must feel a far deeper sadness at the loss of human lives, and the widespread destruction that so often follows when we make war.

Stand Up, Straight Christians, It’s Time For You To Come Out Of The Closet.

Wintersong:

I’m obviously not Christian, but I do have a horse or two in this race. For starters, I’m weary of seeing my LGBTQ siblings who *are* (or more often, *were*) Christian suffer terrible emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical abuse in the name of Jesus Christ. It’s even an obstacle sometimes as a polytheist pagan in my interactions with folks who follow Christ, as decades of being told by the Christian media that I’m a disgusting, horrible person, whose quest for equality will lead to the down fall of society – and Jesus says so, has left me with an impression that the Christian god and messiah is a hateful, vengeful being who offers hope only to those that fit into a narrow category of existence. That’s such a radical difference in perspective from that of many of the Christians that I know personally that it is hard sometimes to find common theological ground on which to have a discussion. It’s like the opposite of the (probably apocryphal) Gandhi quote: I loath the Christ that I’ve been shown, but quite like some Christians, who are as the saying goes, quite unlike their Christ.

But leaving all of that aside, I’m hoping that more LGBTQ affirming Christians will “come out” so to speak, simply because as a person of faith, I’m dead tired of being painted with their brush. I was raised in an LGBTQ affirming faith, and I belong to a *different* LGBTQ affirming faith, yet simply by virtue of being a religious gay person I’m assumed to be self-hating and/or contributing to a system of oppression, because so many LGBTQ people’s ONLY understanding of religion and faith is that to be a person of faith is to be filled with vileness and hatred towards LGBTQ people. That’s been their experience, both of their milk religion of Christianity, and of how faith is portrayed in American public life by the outspoken Christians whose faith is inseparable from both political activism and their hate of anyone who is different from themselves.

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

Key in Lock


“I’ve been a Christian my entire life, and I’ve never been able to ask these questions, because I feared how I’d be treated in my church. Reading your writing today gave me permission to push back, to start conversations, and to ask for better answers than I’d been given.”
– A reader

I can’t tell you how many times over the past few months that I’ve read a variation of these same exhausted, religion-weary words from people all over the world, from every denomination, every theological tradition, and every church setting.

And though the language and the story and the circumstances may change slightly from person to person, one idea has surfaced over and over and over again; a familiar melody reprised nearly every single day: permission.

Straight Christians, many of whom have spent the entirety of their faith lives unable to address the nagging, persistent, terrifying questions about the way the Church and her theology has laid waste to the LGBT…

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Honoring Our Dead Means Acknowledging War’s Truths

It’s Memorial Day here in the United States.

In the resort town I live in, that means a return of the tourists (and their money), and the true beginning of summer. But of course, Memorial Day is about much more than the local supermarket going to longer hours, or a day off for school kids and bankers.

Memorial Day was created out of “Decoration Day,” during which people cleaned up and decorated military graves in a ritual that is almost pagan in nature. Unfortunately in my view, the 1968 move from observing Memorial Day on May 30th to doing so on “the last Monday in May” in order to create a three-day weekend may have done much to undermine the occasions traditional meaning.

As a shaman whose work includes the Dead, and for me specifically, the wandering Dead, I’m saddened at the diminishing of the day’s meaning. To be clear I’m not someone who would generally be considered a “patriot,” and for the most part, I don’t support our country’s wide ranging and ill-defined military activities around the world these days.

We are generally a society that seeks to sanitize death in a way that allows us to distance ourselves not only from the reality of death, but from the dead themselves. The days when loved ones would clean and dress a body, or have them in the home between death and burial, are quaint memories of a time past. For this reason, among others, I deeply wish there was a day when as a society we could stop and reflect on just what war means for all those involved.

In my view, this whole issue of understanding war and what it means, is particularly important, and at times challenging, for neo-pagans and modern polytheists. We glorify and honor warriors above others in many of our traditions, and I’m not arguing that that’s a bad thing per say. But faith and devotion should, if nothing else, be intellectually, spiritually, and historically honest. If we are going to truly honor warriors, we can’t ignore the reality of war.

In the words of WWII veteran Eugene Sledge:

As I looked at the stains on the coral, I recalled some of the eloquent phrases of politicians and newsmen about how “gallant” it is for a man to “shed his blood for his country,” and “to give his life’s blood as a sacrifice,” and so on. The words seemed so ridiculous. Only the flies benefited. – With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (Sledge, E.B.) p.144

If you think death is any gentler or prettier when it comes from a sword, arrow, mace, or pike, instead of an artillery shell or machine gun, you’re sadly mistaken.

Now more than ever it’s so important to try to understand the brutal, ugly truth of war.

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