Monday, October 22, 2007

First Tinky Winky . . .

J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter books, recently announced that she'd always thought that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is gay. (Click here to see how Publisher's Weekly reported this story, and here for a New York Times piece about how the blogosphere is responding.)

Some are saying that she should have been more explicit about it; others are calling it much ado about nothing. I, for one, am glad to know and glad that it was never more of an issue. (I'll happily admit to being a huge fan of the series!)

There are so many things that go into a person's identity and our sexual orientation--or "affectional preference"--is but one piece of it. Does my being a one-time french horn player make me unfit for military service, underserving of the same opportunities to rent or buy real estate, or unable to make a life-long commitment? Does my being a lover of comic books make me a poor choice to be a preacher? (There are impressionable youngsters around, you know.)

I know I'm being silly. One's sexual orienation is considerably more important an element of a person's identity than whether or not one plays an instrument or follows the exploits of the Batman. Still, it is only one element, no matter how vigorously some try to make it the defining element.

I am glad to know that Dumbledore is gay. It's one more think I know about this "person" I've come to admire. And I'm glad that I didn't know before this, because there was absolutely no way in which his sexual orientation played any part in the story.

As is so often the case.

In Gassho,


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All Work and No Play

One of my favorite quotations comes from the poet Louise Bogan. She wrote,

"I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering;
surely the strange beauty of the world must somwhere rest on pure joy."

I had to post this photo of the Elders as a counterpoint to the more formal shot I used in my last post.


A New Day Dawning

I have written before about stories from the news that have given me hope--that someone somewhere is crazy enough to get into a lawn chair rigged with balloons and go for a ride, that someone else will get on a Torro mower and drive from Alaska to Maryland. These things, I've said, have been for me like the sight of a blade of grass that has pushed its way through the asphalt--a reminder and the promise that life will always be free.

Yesterday I came across a story that I had heard nothing about but which fills me with true, deep hope for our future as a species and which feels to me a signal that a new day is indeed dawning. In July, on Nelson Mandela's 89th birthday, Mandela and several others announced the formation of a new group--The Elders. Like traditional elders for our global village, these women and men have come together to "support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair."\

The list of founding members is indeed illustrious: Nelson Mandela, Gra├ža Machel, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Fernando H Cardoso, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, Muhammad Yunus.

"This group," quoting Mandela again, "can speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and behind the scenes on whatever actions need to be taken."

A brief video introduces the group, and a press release gives more details (see "Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu announce The Elders .")

I think a remark from Desmond Tutu, the group's chair, puts it in perspective for me:

"Despite all the ghastliness that is around, human beings are made for goodness. The ones who ought to be held in high regard are not the ones who are militarily powerful, nor even econcomically prosperious. They are the ones who have a commitment to try and make the world a better place. We--the Elders--will endeavor to support those people and do our best for humanity."

This may sound corny, but I really do think I'll sleep better tonight.

In Gassho,