21 December, 2006

A New Crush...

Whoa, he's hot! I'm talking about הראל סקעט . That's Harel Skaat, for the Hebraicly Challenged. What's more...he can sing! Not that "up and down the scales, I don't even know what I'm singing but doesn't my voice sound pretty" shit. No, the boy has pipes AND control. Click on this entry's title and here my current favorite song. Let me know what you think of it...

03 December, 2006

Desire from the Shtetl to the Kibbutz

The greatest literature not only reflects the inner workings of the authors' psyches, but also those of the greater community. This universality is one component by which literary quality is judged. While universal empathy is desired, a core of truth is a must. This truth is generally found in the lives of the authors and the communities around them.
The early writers in Hebrew’s return to a new position as a language of literature wrote in a time of tremendous upheaval. European Jewry had lost much of its direction. The community had splintered into those who fled from religion, and those who attempted to hold onto the tradition, often viewed as oppressive in its reaction to those whom had broken away. Even those trying to maintain the traditions found themselves affected by the changes in Jewish society and the world around them. In times of change, some long for the days of yesteryear, and some look yearningly toward a new future.
Desire is one of the stronger passions found in humanity. Throughout literature, there exist countless examples of the power which desire wields over man. While human desire can be uncomfortable, its object can say much about those gripped by the desire. In literature, desire is the purview of the author. In literature of quality, there are no accidents; each element of desire is chosen by the author to frame the message that he has chosen. This is especially true of the Hebrew literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The collapse of the communities of faith, coupled with the difficulties of living in a secular, economic society left much to be desired. These desires, both romantic and erotic, forge a microscope trained on a people’s longing for the stability of the past as well as a freedom from traditional restrictions. In some works, the desires of the characters reflect a yearning for a simpler time. Other works describe, through their characters’ desires, the dangers of the disintegration of a religious and moral society. Still others can be seen, through the desires of the characters, as arguments toward a new model, integrating the best of both worlds. In the works of , Simchah Ben-Zion, David Frischmann, and C. N. Bialik, we find a microcosm of the wants and desires found in the Eastern European Jewish community.
In “At the Bride’s House,” Simcha Ben-Zion provides an example of the desires of a simpler time. The tale concerns Yossele, a young bridegroom, on the holiday of Shavuot. The holiday, a celebration of Israel’s receiving of the Torah, helps Ben-Zion establish the Bride’s dual function as a human bride as well a symbol for The Torah. Yossele, the son of a Rabbi, trained in Torah, finds himself onset from every direction with thoughts of his Bride and Torah. “For she was as unforgettable as the Tikun which lay in front of him,” Ben-Zion writes, “she, too, was always before his eyes, for everything in the room, every object large or small constantly made him aware of the presence of this slender girl.”
The level of erotic tension is also built on, in part, by the almost palpable descriptions that Ben-Zion gives. The “rich warm smell of frying butter,” “the rustle of her freshly-ironed dress,” “fragrant, budding springs that bore the scent of paradise,” and the bride’s “grey eyes...veiled by her long, dark lashes” create a sensual world which mirrors the heightened level of description of the Torah’s reception by The People at Sinai. The Bride’s function as both a character and a symbol for G-d’s teaching is handled skillfully. Through the double meaning, Ben-Zion is able to show concrete desire for a life of Torah. Yossele yearns for the simple bride, as well as the life given to, and commanded of him.
The relationship between the young couple is conducted strictly by the religious rules of the community. At one point, Yossele seems overly concerned with having broken the principle of tzeniut by handing the bride a cluster of blossoms. This possible infraction doesn’t serve to overthrow the rules of modesty, but rather to intensify Yossele’s desire for her and to strengthen his resolve to operate within the structures of his society.
Yossele’s desire for a relationship within the traditional laws and one fully accepting the religious nature of the relationship reflects the desire of many within that community to reject the growing secularism of the time. Forget those who would have you abandon the Torah, and embrace tradition and life may be simple and wonderful again. There are elements of another character, however.
Much is made of the Bride’s family’s wealth. This coupled with the absence of books, even a Talmud, prevents the example in the story from being a complete acknowledgement of religious ways. The bride’s background is not as religious as Yossele’s. Even the father of Yossele, a Rabbi, “when he had looked around him at the beautiful objects in the house...had said, ‘The bride, long may she live, appears to be a wonderful person.‘” The Rabbi’s evaluation of the bride occurs not while he’s examining or interacting with her, but rather when he appraises the beautiful possessions of her household. How ironic, that the character most entrenched in the religious norms of tradition most blatantly expresses the modern secular economic values. The modern world cannot be expunged, but Yossele and his bride, both of whom embody the innocent, tradition bound reference to life, seem to face a simpler, enticing future.
An example of a less appealing future can be found in David Frischmann’s “The Dance.” The object of desire in this story is not representative of Torah. A gentile, Putth, “so tall and handsome that all the women and young girls in the cap followed him with their eyes all day long, seeing him even in their dreams” provides the focus of desire.
Putth and the other gentiles in this story do not threaten the Jews, as many of the gentiles of Eastern Europe did. Rather they simply travel with the Jews from Egypt. This does not lessen his function as a symbol for those gentiles. Often, in Eastern Europe, non-Jews coexisted peacefully with Jews. A romance develops between Putth and Timna, one of the Jewish women. Assimilation is not the focus here, as they continue to exist within the Jewish community. Instead, the question becomes one of the appropriateness of seeking a mate outside the community. Timna’s desire exists without question, but should she follow her desire? The women of the community, jealous, quickly resort to lashon hara regarding her. First, the community’s regard for Timna is damaged, and then Putth disappears.
For Timna, wandering and longing follow. As a surrogate, or “EveryJew,” Timna’s plight symbolizes a common occurrence in Jewish history: the inconstancy of gentile affection. As many Jews of The Enlightenment, Timna faces a choice: does she give up what has sustained her in the past. For the Jews of Eastern Europe, this meant abandoning traditional religious practice. For Timna, this is a choice with literal and figurative consequences. If she gives her ring, the gift of her beloved, she gives up the object which has sustained her hope through the wandering. In addition, symbolically, if she gives the ring to create a forbidden idol, she defies the will of G-d. The later reading is another similarity with the Jews who gave up their tradition.
When Timna relinquishes her ring, she is left without comfort. Alone, she seeks the only thing of comfort which she has known: the ring. The ring no longer exists independently. It has become part of The Golden Calf. As Timna dances before the calf, Frischmann reveals the dangers of idolatry and paganism. In the story’s finale, with Timna ecstatically losing herself, the dance, Timna, her memories, and the calf become one. While for Timna, the release seems preferable to her previous solitude, Frischmann’s description, using words like “writhing convulsively,” “cold and afraid,” “stony,” and “maelstrom” do not paint a picture many would view as a pleasant death.
The desire in H. N. Bialik’s “Behind the Fence,” again is felt by a Jew toward a gentile. Bialik is able to portray the desire of Noah, a Jew, for Marinka, his gentile neighbor, as well as to show symbolically the qualities of the gentile world which enticed many Jews of his time. Bialik himself was subject to these desires. In Hayim Greenberg’s essay, “A Day With Bialik,” he describes Bialik’s fascination with a gentile girl. “To have such a child at home,” Bialik told Greenberg, “I am willing to renounce all the pleasures of this world, and if you insist, also of the pleasures of the other world.” While some degree of hyperbole must be attributed to Bialik’s comments, it is beyond doubt that he felt the attraction to the Gentile world.
Bialik’s description of the world of “Behind the Fence” portrays one ripe for interplay between Noah and Marinka. Noah’s community has strayed from tenets of their religious observance. They behave unneighborly to the gentile in their midst. They steal from her carts. The community seems more concerned with the letter of the law, rather than the spirit behind it. Even the physical description of Noah’s family’s house gives evidence to this interpretation. A new roof is built atop the old. The house, “with its new hat and it’s old yarmulke. Both sank into the earth from year to year-as in fact the ever-widening space between hat and yarmulke bore witness.” The new roof, the “hat” resembles greatly the black hats worn by the Orthodox of the time. The “yarmulke,” represents the “truer” Judaism, one concerned with behavior towards others. To the narrator, the distance between the two is growing.
As if in response to Bialik’s admitted attraction to gentile things, Noah is drawn inescapably to Marinka. Her value as a symbol for things gentile is illustrated in a scene where Noah longs to get to Marinka on the other side of a fence. Instead, he "remembered the phylacteries and turned away." The tefillin, phylacteries bound on a worshiper’s body, arguably the most tactile of all Judaism’s symbols serve as a reminder of the religion’s dictates, and Noah does not climb the fence.
Eventually, Noah does succumb to the desire, and he and Marinka consummate their relationship. We’re not informed exactly why, but this does not lead to their marriage. Instead, Noah and a Jewish wife live on the opposing side of the fence from Marinka and Noah’s illegitimate child. The reader is left to wonder if this is how the existence of Marinka came about, with the bitter gentile woman who raised her having an affair with a previous neighbor. Nothing has come of Noah’s desire, good or bad. The status quo is maintained.
In another of Bialik’s works, “The Legend of the Three and Four,” the desire of one of the characters is able to initiate change. In this work as well, the desire is between a Jewish man and a gentile woman. The barriers between the two, within the story, take many forms. The gentile, a princess, has a station far above the Jew. In addition, she is locked in a tower on a deserted island with no entrance reachable from the ground. The environment of Jews and gentiles creates the same obstacles of class for couples of differing faiths. The difficulties of entry into the tower mirror the restrictions placed by gentile and Jewish society on interfaith couples. Instead of flinching from the obstacles however, Netanyeh, the Jew, overcomes them and marries Ketziyah, the gentile. Netanyeh and Ketziyah have the true and lasting union that Noah and Marinka do not have. This is not done with a rejection of religious tradition on Netanyeh’s part. The desire is not malignant. Instead of causing Netanyeh to go against G-d, the desire actually fulfills G-d’s wishes. King Solomon, the voice of wisdom says of paired male and female; Netanyeh and Ketziyah; and by extension, possibly Bialik or some future lover of a gentile:

G-d implanted within them the urge and desire to cleave to each other as one, and when they longed for each other from afar....they knew no rest. Is this not that great and eternal love...It suffers neither end nor destruction, and when it bursts forth and reveals itself, it blazes mysterious roads and paths never foreseen or hoped for by man.

When true desire is confronted righteously, it may open new pathways and possibilities. Desire may be just another method in G-d’s creation.
Tumultuous times inspire many strong emotions. Desire is common in times of uncertainty. When trapped between an uncompromising religious contingent and an often hostile secular world, many Eastern European Jews desired a surrender to the earlier period where religious observance came without question or conflict. Others feared this desire in themselves and their community. Many puzzled with their desires and whether the desires were positive or negative influences. Finally, some engaged their desires and combined the world that they dreamt of with that of their background and forged an often auspicious future. Examples of all of these desires have been immortalized in the literature of the period. As with all things, which interpretations prove legitimate will be decided by history.

06 November, 2006

READ This Article!

Many of you know of my love for LandoverBaptist.com. It's biting social commentary, and, without it, I'd have cracked during the Dubya years and probably sacrificed myself to save you from the stupid asshole. (And no, I don't find the prospect of Cheney as prez more scary than Dubya. At least Cheney is enough of an asshole to force the Democrats to oppose him!)
Well, Betty Bowers is a member of Landover Baptist, and she's written an article on the Haggard scandal. No, not the king who trapped all of the unicorns (although we SHOULD have noticed the similarity in the names!), but the new icon for Gay Men in the New Millenium, Ted Haggard!
Click on the title above and read Betty's amazing article, and while you're at it, pick up some merchandise....My favorite is the "Who Would Jesus Do?" thong.

30 June, 2006


Please EMAIL ME if you have any way of contacting the man on the right. His name is Jonathan, and I met him at Pride. Ain't he gorgeous? If you know him, tell him that he needs to date me! LOL. Seriously, it's probably a lost cause. I gave him my card and I haven't heard from him. He's in the pic with John, my manager's boyfriend.

My Butt!

Ok, so I'd never photograph my own ass, but seeing as how John emailed this to me, I figured that I'd post it....Maybe I'll get a boyfriend out of the deal....

21 June, 2006

Pride Pics

Ok, it's time for me to take a break from studying Hebrew, and I'm LONG overdue for a post. Here are some shots from Boston's Pride weekend:

The first one is my momentary appearance with Keshet, the GLBT Jewish service organization. With me is David, who at this moment, is probably doing a better job of studying for our Hebrew test!

20 May, 2006

Madonna Tickets and Collectible Gift Box For Sale!

Click HERE and you'll see my Ebay auction page. There, you can bid on a pair of 2 Madonna tickets, THREE ROWS from the Main Stage! Check it out! Tell your friends!

19 May, 2006

Calling All My Peeps!

If you're gay or Lesbian, there's a new version of an online community (like MySpace, but without the Republican ownership). It's called Connexion. Click here to create a profile. You may meet your next Ex! LOL.

12 May, 2006

Has It Really Come to This?

At New York's Kennedy Airport today, an individual later discovered to be a NYC public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, protractor, set square, slide rule and calculator.

At a morning press conference, a White House spokesman said authorities believe the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. The man is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of maths instruction. "Al-Gebra is a fearsome cult," the spokesman said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of mediaeval, with co-ordinates in every country.
As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, "there are three sides to every triangle."

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of maths instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes."

Thanks to Katya for the story.

05 May, 2006

Oh My G-D!

Those of you who saw it know that's all you can say after this week's LOST episode. Until we get our next fix, check out this LOST commercial:


28 April, 2006

This one is too pretty and smart for her own good!

Sure, he's straight!

LOL, I told Zack that I'd tell everyone that we'd slept together when I posted this photo...

Happy Birthday to Rayna!

That means "queen," and she's every inch a queen. Anyone wanting to kneel before the throne?

My Baby D!

I just have too many beautiful friends! Look at this girl! You know that you want to date her....C'mon on...admit it! Well, She is single, but I'll only be letting some quality men near her! I'm accepting applications...

25 April, 2006


I've been thinking lately that, more than any career goal, I'd simply like a husband to make a home with...

19 April, 2006

I'm Going To See The Queen!

I've got third row seats for Madonna!!! I've also got an extra pair of tickets. If anyone is interested in buying them, let me know! Click here or the title above to see my review of her last tour! I'm SO excited!

07 April, 2006

What does it all mean?

I'd print a spoiler alert, but even if you haven't seen the show, actually, especially if you haven't seen the show, this map won't give anything away. Hell, those of us who watch avidly are wracking our brains, trying to decipher everything. To help you out, here's the map....and the title of this entry links to a larger version. (Thanks to Tonia!)

04 April, 2006

Hobart Shakespeareans

A friend reccommended a film to me through our mutual membership in Netflix (which I HIGHLY reccommend to you all. Boycott Blockbuster. They really are a scary company!). I watched the inspiring film about a fifth-grade teacher in LA, Rafe Esquith. He's done some amazing things and truly makes a difference.
Well, tonight at work, guess who walks in and is seated at my table? That's right! Mr. Esquith and students. I was flabberghasted! Now, I worked for Planet Hollywood for 6 years, and met just about everyone. I was more gobsmacked by this teacher than by most celebrities that I've met. The kids were well behaved and fun. See the film and be inspired!

31 March, 2006

How About a Film Review?

We haven't done one of these in a long while...The film is Loggerheads, starring Bonnie Hunt, Kip Pardue, Michael Kelly, and Tess Harper. It takes place in NC, on and near the coase, and has gay content. Obviously, I'm quite connected to the material. I didn't, however, expect to be as moved as I was.
The film is rife with symbolism, which is always impressive. Thinking about the possible metaphors, and the ways that they forshadow possible outcomes in the film, kept the ending a surprise. The acting was solid, and the story is interesting. It's actually three stories, occurring in three different years. They're interwoven really well. So, technically, all around, the film's really very well done. What interests me now, in particular, is how the southern and romance elements impact me now.
I tend to take my southern background for granted, at the same time that I downplay it. So many stories set in the South lack a truly "Southern" atmosphere. This film has it. I see my background in the views, and I feel it's rhythms in the film. The characters are the folks that I grew up with. Hell, Michael Kelly, the actor who plays George, studied and acted at Coastal Carolina University, where I studied.
The romance bits are nicely done, and would interest me anyway, as I'm a romance hog. I'm in an interesting place right now, contemplating my place and romance's place in my world. How does it work/conflict with religion. A forthcoming blog entry to be sure. I highly recommend the film. Check it out at your local rental store.

11 March, 2006

Spring Threatens

Winter, this year, in New England has not been a friend. Most of you know that Winter is a VERY close second to Autumn, my favorite season. This year, January was the warmest on record in Boston. February, as if to counter, was the coldest on record. Unfortunately, this didn't bode well for the slopes. They've been icy and rainy, alternately. Well, this weekend, as if it was Beltane, Spring threatened Lady Winter, and she seems to have hidden. It was nice. Hell, if The Lady isn't going to offer me mountains to Snowboard on, I'd just as soon trade her in for Spring. He's generally cuter, and allows the cute boys and girls to doff more of their clothes.
A walk along part of the Emerald Necklace unveiled the chair that I'm sitting in. Called "Poet Chairs," these seats face a pond in a cemetary. They're part of an art display, all of which is beautiful. I hope that you all are having as much fun as I've been having!

An Oldie

Click on the title of this entry for a link to my old homepage....It's a blast from the past!

04 March, 2006

Miss E

Here's a photo of the Boston HRC Server Training Team!:

Can't you just see the Skills and Talent!

Above is a solo photo of one of the trainers, and all that I have to say is: Doesn't she look like Riff Raff in those jogging pants? (Private Joke)

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Brokeback Mountain

Why they're afraid? It's simple. Brokeback's might get too much attention. It already has. You see, if gay children are aware of this film, then they will realize that they are not the only one. It's very existence will legitimize them. The trouble is, they'll also remember the reaction to the film. The hatred. The insults. They'll be legitimate, but wrong and tainted. Of course, many believe that much of the reason that gays and Jews have been so influential is the adversity that we've had to come through. The legitimacy may give the young ones strength to survive a dangerous youth and the self-hate that bigotted reactions to their kind have created. Good luck to Brokeback Mountain. While it's debatedly not the Best Picture, it's the Best Picture needed.

20 February, 2006

Was There Any Doubt, Shannon?

Here's my result from the quiz...

You are Cyclops! Strong-willed, disciplined, and

an all-around good guy, you are probably the

envy of most others around you. As Cyclops,

you are committed to your family and lovers,

even if you sometimes lose your patience.

You will find best times with Colossus, with

his sense of virtue, but will be at odds with

Havok due to his insecurities.

Which X-Man Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

17 February, 2006

Seeking Anderson Cooper, Will Be Discrete

LOL! That's right. I'm willing to go back into the closet for Mr. Anderson Cooper. I've never even seen his show, but I've read some of his writing. He can write, is compassionate, and he's a hottie. Sounds like Mr. Right to me. What the hell, I'll shoot for a celeb. The locals don't seem to be chomping at the bit. Anyone have access to the CNN Building?

09 February, 2006

A Blast from the Past

Here's my headshot. I'm a bit scruffier now, but I thought I'd relive the Gen X look:

01 February, 2006

Wanna See A Video?

Hi there! Here's a link to a video of the 'Boarding Trip:


I'm sorry that the video is so small. I'll work on making the next one bigger.

31 January, 2006

Look at Me!

you'll have to agree that I'm jumping much more
gracefully and skillfully, this year.
I'm doing a lot of things better.
This is just one of the most fun!

An Ace on the Boards

Here's a pic of Ruaridh's first time on a board on snow! He really had a nice time in Winter Park. Who wouldn't? It's an amazing vacation spot. Who could believe that it's as affordable as it is?

29 January, 2006

Snowboarding Rocks!

There's Ruaridh and I prepped for snowboarding. I have to highly recommend Winter Park. I've skied or boarded there in 3 separate years in 2 separate decades, and each was an amazing time! I'll try to get some more pics up this week, as well as the story of the trip. Ruaridh's sent me a wonderful video. If I can post videos on here, you'll get it soon.

15 January, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football?

The Steelers truly ROCKED in an eminently watchable football game today. Bring on Denver...in Denver....when I'll be in...at least Colorado. I'm now searching for a ticket for the AFC Championship game. Does anyone have a connection?

08 January, 2006

An Oldie, but a Goodie

Here's a view of me overlooking Edinburgh. I'm on an extinct volcano called "Arthur's Seat."


Here's a photo of The Western Wall, or The Kotel, in Jerusalem. My photos from Isreal and Greece really didn't come out, thanks to multiple trips through the X-ray machines.

05 January, 2006

Redact Mountain:Entering the Biblical Debate with a Response to Robert A. J. Gagnon

Phyllis A. Bird writes in "The Bible in Christian Ethical Deliberation concerning Homosexuality: Old Testament Contributions," that "debate is a constituent feature of the biblical canon, reflecting its origins in the conversation of a community over time...That conversation spans a millennium in its recorded memory, but it does not end with the last canonical writing, it continues today.” Bird's views in the work were inspiring to Robert A.J. Gagnon, so much so, that he addressed them in his 2001 book The Bible and Homosexual Practice and again in a 2005 article "The Old Testament and Homosexuality: A Critical Review of the Case Made by Phyllis Bird." Gagnon concludes that "it would appear to be very difficult to discount in contemporary religious debate the OT's strong negative witness regarding homosexual behavior." Gagnon presents some interesting discussions but fails to take into account some possible effects of political, social, and cultural events of the time. I feel that I must enter into the debate of Bird's biblical cannon with a response to Gagnon's review of Bird's work. I contend that, with particular respect to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, that The Torah‘s, or to Bird and Gagnon, The Old Testament‘s, negative witness regarding homosexual behavior is far easier to discount than Gagnon believes.
Despite a cultural bias against homosexuality, I propose that the original Levitical and Deuteronomic references were a response to cult practices and an effort to maintain social and sexual order. When these acts did not go away with the dismantling of cult practices, the social disapprobation combined with fear of a resurgence of the cult to engender a redaction of the first Levitical prohibition to stifle the activity.
It is a popular belief that Leviticus 18:22, , is tied to Deuteronomy 23:18. Deuteronomy 23:18 forbids bringing a male or female cult prostitute into the Temple. Leviticus 18:22 states that “and a male, you shall not bed the lyings of a woman, it is abhorrent.“ The “abhorrent” is, in Hebrew, תועבה. In both of these verses, the word תועבה is used to describe the proscribed practices. According to Bird, תועבה does not signify an evil act, but rather “serves to characterize practices as incompatible with Yahwistic practice.” The description is “common in late Deuteronomic. texts....where it carries connotations of foreign/pagan cultic practice.” Gagnon does not refute the presence of male Temple prostitutes, but he insists that the prohibition of them has much to do with their homosexual acts.
“When the biblical authors rejected homosexual cult prostitutes- and surely not just because they were connected to Asherah, as the epithet “dogs” indicates-they were in effect rejecting the whole phenomenon of homosexual practice.” Gagnon fails to take into account the drive toward monotheism and removal of Asherah as a separate identity from יהוה. It is more probable that the biblical authors primarily supported the removal of קדים because of their connection to Asherah and that the "whole phenomenon of homosexual practice" picked up a heavier negative connotation from the outlawing of the קדים. Coupled with the cultural idea of emasculation of the passive participant and it’s incipient threats to the societal role of masculinity, it is easy to see how bias against the activity could grow out of proportion to it’s occurrence.
If the culture rejected "whole phenomenon of homosexual practice," why wasn’t it outlawed before. Bird observes that, from verse 22’s position in chapter 18 of Leviticus, “it appears that male homoerotic activity was not viewed as threatening to male interests in the family...in contrast to bestiality, which is treated in both of the older law codes.” Gagnon responds with the possibility that "Deuteronomic law crystallized in a period when the only type of homosexual intercourse practiced in Israel was in the context of cult prostitution and even then only rarely." Gagnon overlooks the simpler explanation that private homosexual activity, due to it’s rarity and private nature, did not concern D. With the cultural bias against homosexual activity, an understood “Don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement would have been sufficient to minimize homosexual displays, when combined with the social prejudice. In this argument Gagnon again ignores D’s primary concern of eliminating threats to יהוה.
The “dogs” epithet was transcultural and international. Gagnon places too much emphasis on it’s negative connotation. Such terms may last long after the original connotation of the word has changed. Additionally, the term could have arisen from the actual sexual positions of the קדים, the modern “doggie-style” rather than as a comment on status. Either way, Gagnon makes the colossal leap of assuming that the rejection of the קדים could not have come solely due to their Asherah connection. Surely a culture shifting toward monotheism and surrounded by polytheistic cultures would feel more threatened by acolytes of a competing idea of God than by the sexual activities performed by a minority of the population.
“Yahwism rooted out, as a matter of principle, those elements in her religious ideas which had become infected with...the fertility-ritual“ and “the sexual rites that were it’s issue.” Scholars reason that much of these portions of the Bible were “to set out...the idea that the rites practiced...must disappear along with ...other forms of religion, and that the only sanctuary should be the Temple at Jerusalem.” This reconciles easily with some biblical scholars’ consideration of the Priestly Code as an alternative to the JE epic designed to promote centralization of the cult in Jerusalem and Aaronid supremacy. Gagnon also takes exception to Bird’s characterizing תועבה as “applied only or even primarily to antiquated notions of ritual purity.” תועבה is, in his words, ”generally applied to forms of behavior whose abhorrent quality is readily transparent to contemporary believers.” I view this comment as an appeal for the dubious “natural reaction of disgust” that religious fundamentalists describe as engendered by the idea of male homosexuality and I find it beneath one of Gagnon’s scholarship. In all of the sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18, which are described, as a group, as תועבה in verse 26, only in the verse mentioning sex between males is the word תועבה repeated. Surely Gagnon does not imply that contemporary believers find sacrificing their child to Molech (verse 21) as less abhorrent than anal sex.
Bird view is that "the two lists of sexual prohibitions within the Holiness Code (Lev. 18 and 20) point to changing views of sexual relations in response to social, political, and religious conditions." One possible reason for the new law: Patrilineal inheritance of the land. “If their system of land tenure fails..., the ‘sons of Israel’ will find themselves to be landless.” While Leviticus 18 was written, the focus was surely to prevent threats to יהוה and the Temple. Afterwards, the perceived threat to population of the land could have created the perceived need for redaction. This is supported by Milgrom, to whom "the basis for the ban....is the need for procreation."
While there were Temple Prostitutes, homosexual intercourse, by it's rare nature and the societal pressures for its participants to, in addition, marry and maintain a family posed little threat to the family structure. Only later, after קדים were outlawed, did H redactors include the death penalty and both participants. It is probable that the newly unemployed קדים, as well as their clients, may have continued the activity outside of the cultic boundaries. Without קדים, the continued occurrence of homosexual activity could have confounded the H writers. It is believable that they, being heterosexual could not conceive of a man choosing to have male-to-male sex for any reason other than the cultic purposes. If the law as written was serving it's purpose of preventing cultic prostitution, but the continuing homosexual activity masked this, it would have encouraged the writers to redact the prohibition to include both participants as well as to include a greater penalty. Bird supports the idea that Chapter 20 is from a later redaction of Chapter 18, writing “The two lists of sexual prohibitions within the Holiness Code point to changing views of sexual relations in response to social, political, and religious conditions.” Gagnon himself allows for the possibility of Chapter 20 as a separate creation: "Some distance may be placed between the two chapters, assigning the latter perhaps to a period when the social nucleus in ancient Israel shifted from the family to the community and then to the state."
Gagnon makes an issue regarding the low status of the קדים and the Near East's propensity to allow men of different status to engage in coerced sex. His response to the question "Why not permit...high-status men to coerce sex with low-status men...?" completely ignores the threat to masculinity. The implied threat is not to the status of the individual, at least not the greatest perceived threat, but rather to the status of all males. If a male is allowed to be dominated sexually, then males can be dominated. It removes the quality of being inviolable from "maleness." In a culture so concerned with masculine dominance, this threat held enormous magnitude. Even today the threat remains. The same cultures where machismo is elevated have the lowest incidences of open homosexuality. The current "Down-Low" phenomenon exemplifies the continued existence of this trend.
The world’s first out Orthodox Gay Rabbi, Stephen Greenberg sees this threat to masculinity as the impetus to the bibles regulations of homosexual behavior. He compares the laws in Leviticus to Deuteronomy 22:5, where men and women are prohibited to wear clothing associated with the opposite sex. “It seems more likely that the two prohibitions, cross-dressing and male homosexual relations, are both abominated because they both threaten gender-role identity.” Male-to-male sex threatens up-ending of the social sexual order. “If the great male-female divide is at stake, if the acting-acted upon dichotomy is debunked, then everyone is affected. Male sexual intercourse then becomes not only a grave personal sin, but also a collective threat.”
Other scholars agree that the Levitical laws are used to maintain the position of males and females within the social structure. Gagnon argues that “it is evident that gender differentiation, not status differentiation, took precedence.” According to Gagnon, "it puts another male, at least insofar as the act of sexual intercourse is concerned, in the category of female rather than male. It is nothing short of a rebellion against the way in which God made humans to function..." His comment on the way that God made humans to function immediately brings to mind the modern existence of those males unable to achieve an erection in a heterosexual context. They obviously were not "made to function," by God, in this way. Gagnon admits the danger of male-to-male to the sexual order, but he misses the fact that, in Israelite society, Gender differentiation is status differentiation. Few argue the difference in religious and social status of ancient Israelite man and women.
According to Greenberg, “intercourse...confirms the hierarchy and reifies the difference between men and women...If being the recipient in intercourse makes a woman into a woman, then it makes a man into a woman.” I take this argument a step further. If the casting down in the social order can be done to one man, it leaves the door open for all men to be degraded. Homophobia stems from this idea. In modern parlance, individuals refer to Homophobia as individuals afraid to be propositioned sexually by homosexuals. The actual fear of homophobes is in being perceived, themselves, as homosexual. This represents a far greater threat. If a male is homosexual, then he holds the status of a woman, much lower than the male status to which he is entitled. “The ‘normal’ male in our social formation...is engaged in a constant project of demonstration to himself that he is not queer....This is quite different...from socialization in a society where it is assumed that men do desire other men but it is forbidden to do anything (or some things) about that desire.”
Greenberg insists on new translations of the sexual words from the prohibitions. The Hebrew words for “the lyings of a woman,“ משכבי אשה, are not found elsewhere in the bible. There is an instance of משכבי זחר, but not the corresponding משכבי אש. In his new translation, “the lyings of a woman” takes on an intention for humiliation. Why then was this not clear in the original text? He ascribes this to the lack, at the time, of the writers’ ability to perceive women being penetrated as demeaning. According to him, “there is simply no way to speak about the sexual penetration of women in intercourse as potentially humiliating and demeaning in cultures where women are beneath men in the hierarchy and where, by their station in society and in the creation itself, they are made to be mounted and penetrated.”
Some use the creation stories, women’s creation, and their function as mothers to justify anti-homosexual bias and interpretations. I contend that, were the problem with "homosexuality," even if unknown as a concept, then lesbian sex would have been addressed. The lack of reference to female-female sex not only serves as evidence that preventing homosexual, in it's modern sense, mingling was not a dominant priority, but also that, in many ways, those acts of women which didn't directly affect men fell below the radar of inclusion in the canon. Gagnon himself must admit that the condemnation is not applied to lesbian intercourse. "It could be taken for granted that Israelite women would go on to marry men, regardless of what experimentation took place with other women before marriage. Female -to-female eroticism would thus constitute no danger to Israelite family structure. With the modern understanding that Homosexuality is not “catching,“ as well as the less prominent emphasis on procreation, this seems to support the inclusion of prohibitions against male-to-male sex for reasons unimportant in the modern world.
While modern religious authorities disavow, with varying force, the sociological factors of biblical authorship, the existence of said factors can be applied to why and in what form the laws were included in the Torah. A living document must be interpreted through a current lens. Therefore, modern understandings of homosexual nature, combined with an understanding of the culture in which the Torah was given lead the way for a more welcoming interpretation of the Torah’s treatment of consensual, non-idolic homosexuality. It only waits for modern religious authorities to take on the task.

Happy New One

The holiday season is over. Whew! I need a break. It's time to focus on the upcoming semester and my classes. Work should be fairly calm for awhile. I'm sorry that I've been away for so long, but it needed to be done. I've been working pretty diligently on a paper. I'll try to post it. Maybe you'll enjoy reading it.
I hope to have some new photos for you soon. I'll be heading to NY and CO soon. Ruaridh's coming over from Scotland and we're meeting Matt Ball and Silent Bob for some fun in the snow.
For Football, Bama won and the Steelers are in the playoffs! Life is good.

I'm currently worried and praying for Ariel Sharon. Please share your positive wishes.

May the current year be your best ever!