Thursday, June 29, 2006

Williams a 'humanist mole'?

An um, ‘interesting thesis by Andrew Brown in The Guardian to explain the ‘liberal’ Rowan William’s betrayal of lesbian and gay Christians.

One is reminded of Conquest's law, that all organisations are headed by the secret agents of their opponents. Perhaps the archbishop is actually taking his orders from Richard Dawkins, and acting to discredit the notion that a decent Christian can ever say clearly what he means, or mean honestly what he says. But even that, if it were true, would demand an explanation. Before he took this office, Dr Williams had a considerable, and deserved, reputation for straightforward eloquence and direct symbolic action. He had a great many gay friends, not all of whom were celibate or pretended to be. Now that he has turned against them, we have to ask: was he a sleeper for the British Humanist Association all along?

Still, who knows why Anglicans want to remain “in communion” with each other when their views are evidently mutually loathsome!

My thesis is that Williams was chosen as Archbishop of Canterbury precisely because his years as an armchair academic left him with a weakened backbone.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Now we see what they're after

The "Right" Rev. Peter Akinola, bigoted canon of the African Anglican churches, has made quite a bit of news recently on his efforts to bully the American church into rejecting gay people. The US Episcopal church's nomination of a female leader, coupled with its studied rejection of efforts to force out gays, has driven the third-world denominations into paroxysms of rage.

The Advocate offers this fascinating quote:

Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, said in the letter that Anglican primates from the developing world would meet in September to give a more detailed statement on the U.S. church. Akinola, one of the church’s most outspoken voices against gay rights, said that the African bishops have carefully followed what has been said at a U.S. Anglican convention this week in Ohio.

“We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same-gender sexual relationships in civic life,, church life, and leadership,” he said on behalf of African bishops in a statement dated Thursday. “Our churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scripture and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion.”

Akinola's rage must be overcoming his regular PR filter, since his objection to the US Episcopals' declaration on gays is total -- he believes that even allowing gay people to participate in civic life, or secular political and daily life, is "incompatible" with and "cannot be reconciled" by the Anglican Communion. This is not a complete surprise to anyone who has watched the situation in Nigeria, where Akinola has been a primary sponsor of a bill which would imprison gays simply for worshipping or congregating together.

However, it does represent a dire form of cultural imperialism -- just not that which is regularly decried by apologists for the third world. Akinola is trying to bully the American (and Canadian) communities into doing to gays what he's trying to do in his own corrupt polity -- including push them to lobby for stripping away their civic participation in secular/daily life.

This is already shocking enough. What elevates it into the absurd is Akinola's appeal to Biblical literalism and Anglican tradition. After all, he was also one of the driving forces behind getting the Anglican Church to recognize and honor polygamous marriages in Africa -- which not only fly in the face of Anglican tradition, but which are expressly forbidden as adulterous in the expressly Christian part of the Bible, the New Testament.

However, that's not likely to faze Akinola and company. It's not religious purity they're truly after, but rather, a justification of their own hatreds by leveraging doctrine to present themselves as pure, morally superior beings. I am sure Christ himself would have a few words to say about that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Negative Advertising

I’m boycotting Goodfellas frozen pizza.

Admittedly, it’s never been my first choice, because usually even the house-brand at Tesco or Sainsbury’s is better, but occasionally when it’s been on special or other brands are out of stock, I’ve bought their brand.

But the advert I saw on TV last night was so disgusting it made me sick to my stomach. And no, it wasn’t just the sight of pepperoni (which to these vegetarian eyes is pretty grim). It was the attitude of the advertiser.

The advert shows a mock interviewer following an increasingly desperate restaurant owner around a supermarket. He’s apparently attempting to hide or steal or by a range of means, obstruct customers’ attempts to buy Goodfellas pizza.

The “interviewer” asks him how business is going, and when he replies that he has a meeting with his bank manager, the “interviewer” gloatingly asks who called the meeting. The restaurant owner has to confess that it was the bank.

The adverts suggestion is that their frozen pizza (ha-bloody-ha) is driving pizzerias out of business. That is mean-spirited to begin with, but what is worse is the agonising delight they appear to take as they show the increasing desperation and panic of the restaurateur as he faces losing his livelihood.

It is shameful and despicable.

That a giant corporation can, through its advertising agency, ask us as viewers and consumers, to collude in this disgusting display is unforgivable. Perhaps soulless corporate bean-counters get some joy in watching a small business owner being ground down and humiliated by their mass-market junk food, but I don’t.

That the advertising agency even thinks that frozen pizza is in competition with pizzerias is a laughable conceit.

They’re mean-spirited, arrogant bullies and I shan’t be buying their product anymore, and I hope you will consider joining me. Let’s make it “closing time for Goodfellas”.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More gay marriage travesty

My home state of Pennsylvania has voted to ban gay marriage. Interestingly, the state itself is a microcosm of the country -- legislators from Philadelphia and its environs, as well as Pittsburgh's metro region, were generally amongst the "no" votes. Legislators from rural areas, such as "God's country" in the centre of the state and the dying rust-belt towns in coal country and the Erie coast, were in favour. The phenomenon is not uncommon -- the trend is best summed up by the popular cliché that "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh separated by Alabama."

While the party-line vote was slightly skewed towards Republicans supporting establishing gay Pennsylvanians as second-class citizens, Democratic "support" for gays against the bill was far from consistent. In general, geography told more of a story than party affiliation.

My local representative, a Republican, voted against the measure. . . likely to the ire of his party committee.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's economic recovery -- driven heavily by the city's reputation as a burgeoning yet gritty bastion of urban culture returning from its horrifying forty-year decline -- is in jeopardy. With New Jersey and New York right across the river, why are gay folks going to bother to take a chance on Philly? It's still suffering from crime, urban blight, property investment risk, and assuming the Republican state senate passes this amendment, a legal framework which makes partner benefits and personal arrangements of gay couples legally iffy. This is a dreadful situation for a city whose comeback has been heavily reliant on gay couples restoring once-abandoned homes in once-blighted neighbourhoods, and which relies heavily on gay tourism to the point where it markets itself as "a place to get your history straight and night life gay."

New Jersey and New York, in comparison to Pennsylvania, offer healthier economies, provisions under the law for gay couples (New Jersey even has a civil partnership law), lower taxes, and in New York's case, a more prestigious address in its largest city. Philadelphia, meanwhile, remains chained to the revenants in Harrisburg.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's government -- and rural legislators in particular -- have not only gleefully taken a swipe at gay Pennsylvanians, but also undermined the hard-won comeback of my hometown. The political and economic price to be paid will be severe, and for Philadelphians and Pittsburghers alike, undeserved.