This weekend:

    A lot of this post is political in nature, but since it’s more of a personal journal entry I’m putting it here instead of the Political blog.

    The last few days have been blur, but a good one.

    After getting off work at OCU late Friday night, I drove to Seminole to crash with some friends from the Rural Greens. The next day we all drove to Shawnee for first event of the Caravan of Rural Oklahomans, the Shawnee Joyful Jamboree for Peace.

    The three of us got to the park in Shawnee at 9 a.m. It was nasty cold (not as bad as it had been, but still plenty cold) but we finally got ourselves psyched up and set up our protest at the busiest intersection bordering the park.

    The first hour or so was a little bit of a bummer. We were glad that we were there but were also wondering if we would stick it out until dusk.

    Then everything changed, when a middle-aged American indian man came to visit with us. He told us it really encouraged him to see us out there and said that he had been an actvist when he was young. (His stories of direct action protests against the BIA were incredibly inspiring.)

    After he left, a local attorney (and an OCU alum) joined us. He had heard about our event from his mom on email and wanted to join us. He stayed with us for awhile and was later replaced by a local college student who had recently moved here from the Sacramento, CA area. This guy was a welcome sight, not only for his presence but also because he brought his boombox (with Bela Fleck and Flecktones cued up). There was such a good vibe about him.

    Throughout the rest of the afternoon other folks would join us. Some would just come by to talk, others to stand with us in solidarity. We had a broad range of ages, ethnicitities, and genders represented. All together we had about 15 folks participate in our come and go, sunlight to sunset protest.

    Of course, passing drivers responded as well. Probably 3/4 of those who responded were friendly, either waving, giving a thumb’s up, or flashing the peace sign. The best responses were always from the kids (such a sign of hope to see those kids wave, especialy hen their parents are scowling at us) About 1/4 of the responses were negative.

    A couple of the more interesting neutral remarks were:

  • A man pulls in front of us, gets out of his car and yells to us…”Are y’all Christians?” — I yell back, “Yes!” (but really should have said only, “I am” as I’m don’t know if everyone else present would have answered that the same way.) — The man looks dejected and says, “ok,” gets back in this truck and drives off. What I keep wondering about, is what would have happened if we said “No!” or if we said, “No, we’re Muslims!” The whole thing was very, very odd.
  • Talking about religion we had several interesting encounters with devout Christians of a fundamentalist (maybe charismatic/pentecostal too) The first of them was a woman who talked to us for a long while, urging us to study everything on this war (implying that we had not) and that she didn’t know if she supported us or not but she would be praying for us. (which is cool)
  • Another person walked up and asked each of us seperately whether we were pro-life or not. We each gave our responses (a fairly broad range of viewpoints represented.) This woman then proceeded to tell those who were pro-life that they had a right to be there but that the pro-choicers did not because they were hypocrites.

    We went back and forth with her some (I told her it goes both ways, and that I think pro-lifers should be anti-war if they want to be consistently non-violent.) Finally before leaving she told a pro-choice person that “I’m sorry, you do have a right to your opinion if you pay taxes.” (hehehe, of course that leaves us thinking that if you’re a homeless unemployed slacker, you’re screwed. No rights for you.)

    Here were some of the negative/hateful things said to us…

  • “Nuke them all and let Allah sort them out.”
  • “F-ing Hippies” (said while flipping us off)
  • “What will you do when they drop that s*** on us!?” — I think the funny thing is the author of that utterance seemed to have no clue how Saddam would drop his **** on us, since Saddam doesn’t have any B-52’s in the hangar, and certainly no aerial refueling capabilities to make it half way around the world.
  • The bothersome remark was from a very angry lady in a giant SUV with her young daughter sitting in the passenger seat. She actually stopped her car in the middle of the intersection and said through the window, “Do you like living in this country?”

    We said, “Yes.”

    I don’t remember all of her exact words in her reply, but she said something along the lines of that she fought for the rights of people like us. (I wish I could remember her exact words but the main thing that stands out was the venomous hate as she reached across her daughter to point her finger angrily at us.)

    I then yelled at her, “It’s called the first amendment.”

    She yelled back, “I know what it is” but then went on to explain how we don’t know anything and that we have no right to our views on war.

    At this point, one of my friends had enough and said, “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    The angry driver replied, “I know everything!” and sped away.

    That whole interchange was incredibly disturbing. Partially it upset because that lady was so, so hateful and took our very presence in such a hateful way. It also upset me though because I saw how angry I was becoming at her for the things she said. I doubt I ever would have been violent in that anger, but I would say that the anger that bubbled up was not a good thing. Most of all I was upset that her daughter saw her mom respond so hatefully towards us.

    It is so hard to know how to respond in these situations. Most of the time when people said mean stuff to us we would either just ignore them, or sometimes wave and say, “We love you!” (which really freaks them out to say the least)

    But in the case of the angry SUV-driver, her anger was so personal and so directed at us, it was hard to not respond back with anger. I don’t know how one should respond really. Should we defend ourselves if someone is defaming us or just take it?

    Lots of questions, but not very many answers.

  • Anway around 5 p.m. we packed up our stuff and headed to Abuelita’s for some yummy Mexican food. We all were sore and cold (my feet were numb hours later) but the food did help. After that we drove back to Seminole to my friend’s house to chill out. We ended up watching the HBO movie The Laramie Project, a movie that told the story of the brutal killing of Matthew Shephard in Laramie, WY, and its aftermath. I had seen an earlier MTV movie on this incident but the Laramie Project was much better.

    The movie didn’t try to recreate what happened like the MTV movie did, but instead was a portrayal of a NYC theatre group who spent a year in Laramie interviewing folks in the comunity. The script was based on the actual words of those interviewed.

    It is hard to put into words how that movie touched me. I am not one to cry in movies, but this one… oh my… I am having problems finding the words here… I guess it is still too fresh to explain adequately.

    I guess the parts of the movie that were the most moving were of the local gay man who told of the growing crowd who marched in Matthew’s memory at the end of the Univ. of Wyoming homecoming parade, and also the absolute horror of that evil hateful bigoted man, Fred Phelps who actually dared to picket at Matthew’s funeral and trial. As a Christian, I just kept being rivted over and over and over, to hear that awful man using scripture to say such awful things about Matthew. It just seemed so horrible, and especially to see the little kids holding the hate signs was so just too much. It was hate breeding hate, generation after generation.

    Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story (which I won’t go into here because I don’t want to ruin the story) but let’s just say that the people of Laramie responded loud and clear against Phelps in an incredible act of love for Matthew’s family.

    And finally of course the trial, when Matthew’s father presented a statement in the sentencing stage asking that Matthew’s killer be given two consecutive life sentences instead of death. At that point I could not control my emotions anymore.

    The movie has left me aching inside and questioning so much. One of the things I shared with my friends that night was that I feel like my head and my heart are at war with each other. My head knows the clearness of scripture concerning homosexuality and the importance of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing, yet to me it troubles me how that attitude was likely a part of what led Matthew’s killers to kill.

    I don’t know. It all seems whack to me. Straight men like myself find it easy to judge gay men and say they should change, yet at the very same time we keep on lusting after women and having sex with them in our mind. Then most of the time, when we do have actual sex it is either a selfish act of self-gratification or it is an exploitative act of using someone else. And what is messed up is that we can’t (or rather don’t) control ourselves. I’m not saying it is impossible to exercise self-control, but rather just that we don’t change our behavioral patterns. We keep doing the same old thing, over and over and over.

    So, I’m left with more questions… Why did God give human beings such strong sexual urges if he doesn’t want us to use them outside of marriage (which right now doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me)? Why do some people have strong sexual orientations that don’t line up with the norm? Did God mess up or did He make them that way?

    Most of all, how can you “love the sinner, hate the sin” and not in effect hate the sinner, since sexuality is such a deeply rooted part of who we are as human beings.

  • OK, that’s enough theological questioning. I’ll probably return to that topic later. Anyway, that was my weekend. Today (Sunday) has been ok. I need to get busy pronto on my latest major project for LR&W which I very much dread. Not nearly enough time left for that puppy since it is due on Tuesday.