Monthly Archives: June 2012

Moment of Zen: Reading a Good Book with a Friend

Stonewall Uprising

Stonewall Uprising . American Experience . WGBH | PBS

When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City on June 28, 1969, the street erupted into violent protests that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.

In this 90-minute film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE draws upon eyewitness accounts and rare archival material to bring this pivotal event to life. Based on David Carter’s critically acclaimed book, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, Stonewall Uprising was produced by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.

For more information about the beginnings of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States and the Stonewall Riots, please check out my series of post on Stonewall.

The Answer…

No one guessed the right answer, though Fan of Casey was half right, and I will admit the reason anyway.  I had spent most of the day with friends hanging out at their pool and drinking beer, this the reason for the guy at a pool holding a cocktail in yesterday’s picture.  Quite honestly, I had a few too many beers, so I was not in the right mindset to write a post, so I did a picture instead.  Yesterday, I spent a large part of the day with a hangover.  It wasn’t a bad hangover, but just one of those foggy ones when you just generally feel like crap, and you know your day will be a total waste.  Oh well, sometimes I just need one of those kinds of days.

However, I would like to add that I would have much preferred either SilverEagle’s or Mack’s guesses. Not that I didn’t have a lot of fun hanging out with friends, but I wish I had either been at the beach or with a hot guy. Mack was right in one respect, I was in a very warm climate…it was over 90 degrees here and it will be over 100 this weekend.

Let’s Play A Game…

Can any one guess why there is not a real post here today?
(The picture is a hint.)

The Next Table

The Next Table
by C. P. Cavafy translated by Avi Sharon
He can’t be more than twenty-two.
And yet I’m certain it was at least that many years ago
that I enjoyed the very same body.
This isn’t some erotic fantasy.
I’ve only just come into the casino
and there hasn’t been time enough to drink.
I tell you, that’s the very same body I once enjoyed.
And if I can’t recall precisely where—that means nothing.
Now that he’s sitting there at the next table,
I recognize each of his movements—and beneath his clothes
I see those beloved, naked limbs again.
From C. P. Cavafy: Selected Poems translated by Avi Sharon. Published by Penguin Classics. 

Constantine Cavafy was born Konstantínos Pétrou Kaváfis in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1863, the ninth child of Constantinopolitan parents. His father died in 1870, leaving the family poor. Cavafy’s mother moved her children to England, where the two eldest sons took over their father’s business. Their inexperience caused the ruin of the family fortunes, so they returned to a life of genteel poverty in Alexandria. The seven years that Constantine Cavafy spent in England—from age nine to sixteen—were important to the shaping of his poetic sensibility: he became so comfortable with English that he wrote his first verse in his second language.

After a brief education in London and Alexandria, he moved with his mother to Constantinople, where they stayed with his grandfather and two brothers. Although living in great poverty and discomfort, Cavafy wrote his first poems during this period, and had his first love affairs with other men. After briefly working for the Alexandrian newspaper and the Egyptian Stock exchange, at the age of twenty-nine Cavafy took up an appointment as a special clerk in the Irrigation Service of the Ministry of Public Works—an appointment he held for the next thirty years. Much of his ambition during these years was devoted to writing poems and prose essays.

Cavafy had an unusually small social circle. He lived with his mother until her death in 1899, and then with his unmarried brothers. For most of his mature years Cavafy lived alone. Influential literary relationships included a twenty-year acquaintance with E. M. Forster. The poet himself identified only two love affairs, both apparently brief. His one intimate, long-standing friendship was with Alexander Singopoulos, whom Cavafy designated as his heir and literary executor when he was sixty years old, ten years before his death.

Cavafy remained virtually unrecognized in Greece until late in his career. He never offered a volume of his poems for sale during his lifetime, instead distributing privately printed pamphlets to friends and relatives. Fourteen of Cavafy’s poems appeared in a pamphlet in 1904; the edition was enlarged in 1910. Several dozens appeared in subsequent years in a number of privately printed booklets and broadsheets. These editions contained mostly the same poems, first arranged thematically, and then chronologically. Close to one-third of his poems were never printed in any form while he lived.

In book form, Cavafy’s poems were first published without dates before World War II and reprinted in 1949. PÍÍMATA (The Poems of Constantine P. Cavafy) appeared posthumously in 1935 in Alexandria. The only evidence of public recognition in Greece during his later years was his receipt, in 1926, of the Order of the Phoenix from the Greek dictator Pangalos.

Perhaps the most original and influential Greek poet of the 20th century, his uncompromising distaste for the kind of rhetoric common among his contemporaries and his refusal to enter into the marketplace may have prevented him from realizing all but a few rewards for his genius. He continued to live in Alexandria until his death in 1933, from cancer of the larynx. It is recorded that his last motion before dying was to draw a circle on a sheet of blank paper, and then to place a period in the middle of it.

New Orleans Pride

New Orleans Gay Pride is sometimes overlooked by the out of town masses for more well-known annual events like Southern Decadence and Gay Mardi Gras. But, The Crescent City has a rich Gay Pride history dating back to 1971 when the newly-formed Gay Liberation Front of New Orleans presented a “Gay In” picnic in February in City Park.  That was the very first such event in the entire state of Louisiana.  Several other gatherings were held throughout the city that year, and intermittently thereafter until it became an annual event in 1978.  The 1978 event, held in Jackson Square, was the first to be identified as “gay pride.”  Later that year, a larger event called “Gay Fest” was presented in Washington Square, just outside of the French Quarter.  

The first street parade was held in 1980.  In 1981, the event moved to Armstrong Park, and was emceed by New Orleans native Ellen DeGeneres.  An event of some nature has been held almost every year since.  In 1995, the celebration was rescheduled from June to Fall.  In 1998, the festival was moved back to Armstrong Park, and in 2002 the parade was rescheduled from Saturday afternoon to Sunday night.

For 2005, the organizing Board voted to move Pridefest back to June.  At the same meeting, it was decided to schedule only a street parade during the weekend, putting the other daytime events on hiatus during a year of restructuring.  There was no parade for 2006 or 2007, with only an organized festival being held.  A parade was once again held during the 2008 celebration, with a gathering in Washington Square.

New Orleans Pride embraces the message in our mission to celebrate and promote the history, diversity, and future prosperity of not only the New Orleans LGBT community, but the New Orleans community as a whole. We are using public awareness of and education about the LGBT community as a way to combat “phobias” and discrimination. This year we are creating ways to increase the interactions between the LGBT and the Heterosexual communities. These new annual programs leading up to and during Pride weekend are meant to include individuals from every walk of life. We are very pleased to be working with area schools gay/straight alliances, both on the high school and the college level, as well as several family related organizations. 

A Sermon by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James

The other day as I was surfing the Internet, I came across the web page of Gary Lynn.  As a 71 year old man, he has a great deal of wisdom to share.  One of the things that struck me was this paragraph from his life story:

These painful feelings haunted me because of my upbringing in various Independent Christian Churches (Church of Christ) located around Los Angeles, California (these included the Inglewood First Christian Church in Inglewood, California and the Knott Avenue Christian Church in Anaheim, California) who proclaimed then and still do that “God’s word says that Homosexuality is against His Plan.” As a result of my church’s teaching I believed that I was defective, that I was in danger of spending eternity in Hell and that I was not good enough for God to love me. Going to church for me was not much fun.  But it was all I knew to do so I soldiered on.  As a personal comment here: As you will see in this web site I have recently found out that the Bible does not say that homosexuality is against His Plan.  In fact all of His committed followers are in His Plan.  God does not play favorites as between His Heterosexual and Homosexual Children. Acts 10:34-35 (New Living Translation) Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God doesn’t show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” and Galatians 3:28 (New Living Translation) “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

As I continued to read about his life’s journey to acceptance, I saw that he had posted a sermon by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James of Lake Washington United Methodist Church, so I decided to read it and see what she had to say.  It is one of the most inspiring, life-affirming, and spiritually uplifting pieces that I have ever read.  You may find it odd, especially knowing that I am a member of the churches of Christ and what their beliefs are, that I am reporting a Methodist sermon, let alone one given by a woman, but this sermon was no doubt God inspired and is universal in its appeal.

Is Homosexuality a Sin?
by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James
Lake Washington United Methodist Church
Kirkland, Washington

Last August, we had a special Sunday in church called “Burning Questions,” in which I responded, on an impromptu basis, to written questions from the congregation. At that time, I also promised to preach a series of sermons later in the year that would specifically address the top three, or most-asked questions submitted on that day. I have to admit, I could not have predicted the ‘top three’ questions that would come my way! They were: (1) Is homosexuality a sin? (2) Is there a hell? And (3) How can we forgive? This morning we begin by looking at the first of these: Is homosexuality a sin?

In preparation for today, I gathered together all the materials I could find on this subject. I gathered official denominational studies on homosexuality and the church — not only the United Methodist study guide, but also documents from the Lutherans, Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ. I also made a stack of books with titles like Living in Sin? by an Episcopal bishop, and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? by two evangelicals. I eventually had a stack of books and papers a foot deep on my desk. I spent the next several days reading, making notes, and preparing a line of argument for this morning’s sermon.

But long about Tuesday of this week, I stopped and asked myself a question. What was my goal — what is my goal, in addressing this topic from the pulpit this morning?

As your pastor, I know very well that homosexuality is a tender subject among us. It is an issue on which, as Christian people, we have diverse opinions and often very complex feelings. But I also know that this is a real question among us; it is not just a theoretical one. That’s why you raised it. There are parents sitting here this morning who are wondering why their child is gay, does it mean they’ve done something wrong, and has anyone else ever struggled with this. There are gay and lesbian Christians who are active members of the church, but who live in the closet because they don’t want to lose their jobs, their homes, or your friendship and respect.

There are teenagers here who have contemplated suicide because they suspect they might be gay. Each of us here has our own background, confusion, and experience with this issue. It is time we talked about it.

My goal, this morning is to open the conversation. And this is the thought that occurred to me on Tuesday: what is the best way to begin the conversation? It’s not by presenting a logical line of argument. That’s how you begin a debate, not a conversation! The best way to begin a conversation, in which you want others to feel free to speak their mind, and no perspective to be silenced, is simply speak from your heart, out of your own experiences.

So let me set aside my pile of books and papers, this morning, and share with you at least part of my own journey around this issue. In the months ahead, beginning with the “dialogue” time immediately following church today, I invite you to do the same.

I grew up in an atmosphere of traditional values. My family belonged to a Congregational church in which, week after week, I absorbed a basically mainline Christian theology that emphasized the love of God for all people. I was taught that the most important thing in life is to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In that environment, oddly enough, I don’t remember one word ever being spoken about homosexuality. I don’t even know when I first heard the term — probably not before high school. When I did, it was not with any heavy overlay of negativity — and in this, I have come to realize, my experience is very different from many people. I did not grow up being told homosexuality was shameful or sordid; I never had a bad experience such as being molested by a person of my own gender. Only as an adult do I realize what a tremendous impact such early experiences have in shaping people’s attitudes toward homosexuality.

In fact, I had never met a homosexual person, as far as I knew, even into my twenties. This combination of influences meant that my attitude was pretty much “live-and-let-live.” I didn’t see how it hurt anyone, or how it threatened me, if two people of the same sex wanted to love each other and live together. What was the big deal?

It really wasn’t until seminary, when I was thirty years old, that the issue acquired a human face for me. Her name was Sally. I was a commuting student at Vancouver School of Theology, with a job and a husband and three children in Seattle. I drove up to Vancouver on Mondays and came home on Wednesdays, so I needed a place to stay two nights a week. Sally had a studio apartment on campus that she was willing to share in return for prorated rent. Over the next three years, Sally and I became fast friends.

I had never met anyone like Sally. For one thing, she was much more disciplined in her spiritual life than I was. She got up at 5:00 every morning, which I thought of as an ungodly hour, and left the apartment for a walk or a bike ride, during which she would pray. She bought all her clothes at Goodwill and had only five changes of clothing and two pairs of shoes in the closet. She spent several days a week volunteering in a soup kitchen downtown. She kept a prayer journal. Basically, she put me to shame. But the most appealing thing about Sally was that she loved God. She laughed easily, loved life, loved people, was funny and fun. One night, as we were going to bed–each of us in a single bed lined against the wall, our heads in the corners and our feet toward each other –she asked if I wanted to pray. I had never prayed with another person before–at least, not like that, opening our inner lives before God, in each other’s presence–and at first I was halting and shy. But over time we made a habit of praying together, and it was in the course of those years of praying, of being honest with ourselves as possible in the presence of God, that Sally came out to herself as gay.

It was no problem for me that Sally was discovering this–and I have to add here, that like most people, Sally discovered her sexual orientation; it wasn’t something she decided. Isn’t that true for you, that your sexual orientation is something that just seems “given”? It wasn’t as if Sally woke up one morning and thought, “All things being equal, I think I’d like to be a member of a despised minority.” It was more a process of discovering and owning the truth about her make-up as a human being.

But I soon learned what a traumatic discovery that would be. Sally came out first to herself before God, then to her family, then to the seminary, then to the church. I accompanied her in that process. When the Presbyterian Church kicked her out of the ordination process, I was stricken; how could they say that Sally was not qualified to be a pastor? She was the best student in her class, and a better Christian than I ever expect to be. I knew that she had been gifted and called to the ministry. Then Sally was fired from her job as the Youth Director at the church, because someone sent the pastor a letter saying that she was gay. All I could think at the time was; this is absurd, this is evil. Sally is great with those kids; why would people assume she is not safe to work with them? Why did they think a heterosexual man or woman would be safer?

Things came to a head for me, one morning; when I was standing in the kitchen, pouring a glass of orange juice, and listening to Sally cry her eyes out on the bed. She often did, in those days. Finally I went over to her, sat on the edge of the bed, and began to stroke her hair. I was filled with helpless rage at the world, and fierce tenderness for my friend. I heard myself saying, “Sally, I don’t know what being gay is. But if it’s part of who you are, and if God made you this way, I say I’m glad you are who you are, and I love who you are, and I wouldn’t want you to be any different.”

As soon as those words were out of my mouth, I realized something. I had taken a stand. I knew where I stood on this issue. Sally did not deserve to be despised and rejected; it was the church that was wrong. After seminary I was appointed to serve Wallingford United Methodist Church in Seattle, which had decided some years earlier to become a reconciling congregation — that is, a congregation that publicly states it is open and affirming toward all people, regardless of sexual orientation. From that point on, my learning curve was steep! One of my first pastoral calls was to a young man who had just slit his wrists with a razor blade. He explained that he was a Christian and couldn’t deny it, that he was also gay and couldn’t deny that either, even though he had tried. He had been told he couldn’t be both. His father had called him “human garbage” and that “He was not fit to live”. All I could do, in response, was to get down on my knees and ask for forgiveness for the church, for communicating to this young man that he was beyond the reach of God’s love.

In the five years that followed, I had many such experiences. I had young men with AIDS look up at me with hollow eyes and ask, “Do you think I am an abomination?” I sat with young men calling for their parents as they died, parents who never came. These experiences had a profound impact on me. I kept going back in my mind, again, and again, to my earliest Christian training; the message that God loves everyone, and that Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. He didn’t say, “love your neighbor, unless he or she happens to be homosexual.” He never said one word about homosexuality at all.

Jesus spent his whole life going to the poor, the marginalized, the persons who were called unclean by their society, and demonstrating that God’s love included them. He treated them with compassion. His own harshest words were for the Pharisees who believed that they were righteous in God’s eyes, that others were not, and that God’s judgments and opinions were identical to their own. 

Which brings me to the question of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. There is not time, this morning, to take up that question in depth — we will have plenty of time for that later, in ongoing Bible studies and discussion. But let me say a few things here. The world “homosexual” does not appear anywhere in the Bible — that words was not invented in any language, until the 1890s, when for the first time the awareness developed that there are people with a constitutional orientation toward their own sex.

In the whole Bible, there are only seven brief passages that deal with homosexual behavior. The first is the story of Sodom and Gomorra, which I preached on last fall, which is actually irrelevant to the issue. The attempted gang rape in Sodom has nothing to say about whether or not genuine love expressed between consenting adults of the same gender is legitimate.

Neither does the passage in Deuteronomy 23, which refers to Canaanite fertility rites that have infiltrated Jewish worship. Passages in I Corinthians and I Timothy refer to male prostitution. Two often-quoted passages prohibiting male homosexual behavior are found in the book of Leviticus. Leviticus also stipulates that any man who touches a woman during her menstrual period is to be stoned to death, that adulterers are to be executed, that interracial marriage is sinful, that two types of cloth are not to be worn together, and certain foods must never be eaten.

I know of no Christians, no matter how fundamentalist, who believe that Christians are bound to obey all of the Levitical laws. Instead we are driven to ask deeper questions about how to rightly interpret Scripture, how to separate the Word of God from cultural norms and prejudices — that is, how to separate the Message from the envelope in which it comes.

The final Biblical text that deals with homosexual behavior is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, in which he unequivocally condemns homosexual behavior. The background for his understanding was the common Roman practice of older males ‘keeping’ young boys for sexual exploitation, which he was right to condemn.

But even if this were not the case, even if Paul knew about and condemned all forms of homosexual behavior, even the most loving, what then? Paul also told women not to teach, not to cut their hair, not to speak in church. Do we follow his teaching? He told slaves to obey their masters not once, but five times — are we prepared to say today, as Southern slave owners argued 150 years ago, that slavery is God’s will?

The fact is, I am not a disciple of Paul. I am an admirer of Paul, but a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul himself says that we should not follow him, but Christ alone. So I come back, again to the life and teaching of Jesus as the center of my faith. In that light all other biblical teaching must be critiqued. There are seven passages about homosexual behavior in the Bible, all of which are debatable as to their meaning for us today. There are thousands of references in the Bible that call us, as Jesus commands, to love our neighbor, to work for peace and reconciliation among all people, and to leave judgment to God.

When I was pastor at Wallingford, I put biblical and intellectual foundations under my “heart” experience of knowing Sally. In those years I also came to appreciate a community in which both gay and straight Christians could worship together, serve on the Trustees, sing in the choir — simply be human together, trying to grow in the capacity to love God and neighbor without fear. 

As a result, when you ask me, “Is homosexuality a sin?” My answer today is: “No.” I may be wrong, and I ask God’s forgiveness if I am. But I don’t believe that sexual orientation has anything to do with morality, any more than being blond or tall or left-handed does. Homosexuals as well as heterosexuals can be involved in sexual sin, including promiscuity, infidelity, and abuse. And homosexuals as well as heterosexuals can love one another with faithfulness, tenderness, and integrity. The same standards of moral behavior should apply to Christians, straight and gay. That is what my life experience as a pastor has led me to believe.

When a homosexual couple comes to meet with me in my office, then, and asks, “Will we be accepted in this church?” I can answer, “I will accept you.” But I can only speak for myself. What shall I say on behalf of our whole congregation?

Shall I say, “Yes, you will be accepted here, as long as you aren’t open about who you are and who you love?” Shall I say, “Yes, you will be accepted here, but you may not serve in any leadership positions.” Shall I say, “Yes, you will be accepted here, but whatever you do, don’t hold hands in church. Only heterosexual couples are allowed to do that.” Shall I just say, “No.” Or, perhaps, simply, “Yes.”

The only way we will arrive at a consensus on how this question should be answered is by taking time, over the coming year, to examine ourselves, study the Bible, think, read, pray, listen, and share our diverse life experiences with each other, asking together what God is calling this congregation to do and be.

*   *   *   *   *

The Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James, Senior Pastor, began her ministry at Edmonds United Methodist Church of Edmonds, Washington, in July 2007. In twenty-five years she has served four congregations in the Pacific Northwest, most recently First United Methodist Church in downtown Seattle. Her education includes a M.S. in Counseling, an M.Div. from Vancouver School of Theology, and a D.Min. from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Her dissertation was entitled, “Preaching to Post-Moderns: a Conversational Art.Kathlyn has three grown children and three lively grandchildren. Her passions include preaching, worship, inclusiveness, social justice, creation theology, spiritual formation, and pastoral leadership. She is an avid birder, traveler, reader, journaler, beachcomber, and vegetarian cook. 

Alan Turing: 100 Years After His Birth

Instead of my usual “Moment of Zen” this Saturday, I am going to honor Alan Turing, who was born 100 years ago today. As a gay man and a blogger, it is only natural for me to post about Turing today. I’m sure I am joining many bloggers who will celebrate his centenary today. He was a hero of the Second World War, one of history’s great geniuses, and a tragic figure in the quest for GLBT equality. If you go to Google’s homepage today, you will see that the Google Doodle is in honor of Turing and his contribution to computer science.

From the day he was born one hundred years ago today—23 June 1912—Alan Mathison Turing seemed destined to solitude, misunderstanding and persecution.  Alan Turing is a name with which a great many people are familiar, but probably not enough. His name was nearly erased from history sixty years ago, though partially revived in the 1970s.  A highly accomplished mathematician, codebreaker and computer scientist, he has been hailed as a pioneer and hero in the fields of modern computing and sexual politics. And while you might not think that those two subjects necessarily complement each other in true strawberries-and-cream style, both are vital to understanding and appreciating the man who helped crack the Enigma code during World War II (and pretty much invented robots).

Turing’s world was markedly different from the one in which we live today. In fact, much of the technology which we now take for granted can be traced back to him in some way. Ever heard of an algorithm? You can thank Alan Turing for that little gem, who originated the concept in a paper while at Kings College, Cambridge.

Best remembered for his work at Bletchley Park in wartime, Turing devised the electromechanical Bombe, which was able to find settings for the Enigma machine, enabling encrypted German messages to be deciphered – which proved to be an invaluable resouce.

After the war, Turing went on to explore the possibilities of artificial intelligence, publishing papers on the subject and creating the “Turing Test”, which determined whether the responses of an artificial intelligence could be told apart from the responses of a human being.

But Alan’s highly celebrated career was marred and ultimately cut short by a tragic personal life. In January 1952, Turing met a man called Arnold Murray outside a cinema in Manchester. After a lunch date, Turing invited Murray to spend the weekend with him at his house, an invitation which Murray accepted although he did not show up. The pair met again in Manchester the following Monday, when Murray agreed to accompany Turing to the latter’s house. A few weeks later Murray visited Turing’s house again, and apparently spent the night there.

After Murray helped an accomplice to break into his house, Turing reported the crime to the police. During the investigation, Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray. Homosexual acts were illegal in the United Kingdom at that time, and so both were charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885.

Turing was given a choice between imprisonment or probation conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted chemical castration via injections of stilboestrol, a synthetic estrogen hormone.

Turing’s conviction led to the removal of his security clearance, and barred him from continuing with his cryptographic consultancy for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British signals intelligence agency that had evolved from GCCS in 1946. At the time, there was acute public anxiety about spies and homosexual entrapment by Soviet agents, because of the recent exposure of the first two members of the Cambridge Five, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, as KGB double agents. Turing was never accused of espionage but, as with all who had worked at Bletchley Park, was prevented from discussing his war work.

Unfortunately, the fact that Turing had helped save countless lives and secure a win for the Allies during the war did not prevent him from becoming utterly ostracized by his government and peers. He was relieved of his security clearance and forbidden from continuing his work at the Government Communications Headquarters. Two years later, Alan Turing was found dead.

On 8 June 1954, Turing’s cleaner found him dead; he had died the previous day. A post-mortem examination established that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning. When his body was discovered an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and although the apple was not tested for cyanide, it is speculated that this was the means by which a fatal dose was consumed. An inquest determined that he had committed suicide, and he was cremated at Woking Crematorium on 12 June 1954. Turing’s mother argued strenuously that the ingestion was accidental, caused by her son’s careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have killed himself in an ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability.  Hodges and David Leavitt have suggested that Turing was re-enacting a scene from the 1937 film Snow White, his favourite fairy tale, both noting that (in Leavitt’s words) he took “an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew.”

LGBT campaigners are still petitioning for an official pardon of Turing’s indecency charges, although as yet the answer is “no”, with Lord McNally defending the government’s decision by stating that he was rightly prosecuted under the law of the era. But while a pardon may not be immediately forthcoming, John Graham-Cumming did at least succeed in procuring a public apology from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

Brown responded by writing about Turing at length in a piece in the Telegraph, stating: “Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour.” Harder still to believe, as we celebrate all that is great about Britain this year with the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games, that a man could suffer so much at the hands of his own country, when it owed him such a debt.

The word “legacy” can be bandied around and overused from time to time, but in this instance it could not be more apt: not just for the debt of thanks we all owe to Alan Turing for his wartime work but also for the opportunity that his life story offers; the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and prejudices of the generations that came before us, and ensure that they are never repeated.

In the words of Gordon Brown: “On behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

Funny Friday: Hot and Busted

Some of you may not find this funny (I do), but I saw this picture on a blog called Hot and Busted.  Can anyone guess what he was busted for?  Nonetheless, I think he’s cute. What do you think?

The Excellence of Love

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (NASB)

I believe that everyone should take this chapter of the Bible to heart, literally. There are many criticisms of Christians and the Bible, but honestly, these basic concepts of love are what all religions and philosophies are about. Christians who condemn and judge others are merely picking and choosing the parts of the Bible they want to adhere to, and ignoring the core message. Most of the time, we should just get back to the basics of humanity and humility.