Monthly Archives: September 2012

Could the Boycott Be Over?

Could Chick-fil-A be turning over a new leaf?

A Chicago-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group reports that the restaurant chain — which was at the epicenter of a media firestorm this summer after its president confirmed his company’s anti-gay stance — has agreed to cease donations to right-wing groups that oppose same-sex marriage.

In a press release, the Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) cites Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno as confirming that Chick-fil-A officials declared in an internal document that the company “will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation.” TCRA reportedly served as an advisor to the alderman as he negotiated these concessions with Chick-fil-A executives, though details of exactly what those negotiations entailed remain unclear.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA, said in the statement. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights. It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”

Said to be titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are,” the fast food chain’s “internal memo” reportedly states that they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”

Among those to praise the document was Rick Garcia, policy advisor for TCRA, though he noted his organization still hoped the company would adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level. “As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal,” Garcia noted. “It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”

TCRA’s statement appears to confirm earlier reports which indicated that Chick-fil-A might be reconsidering their LGBT stance. Last month, reliable sources who did not wish to be identified told the HuffPost Gay Voices team that Dan Cathy, the fast food chain’s president, “welcomed campus leaders to a private luncheon in Atlanta…to discuss diversity, hospitality and the opportunity to find common ground,” though no further information regarding exactly which college groups were present was provided.

The recent backlash against the Atlanta-based fast food chain was sparked by Cathy’s remarks in a July 16 interview with the Baptist Press. When writer K. Allan Blume asked Cathy, the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy, about the restaurant group’s “support of the traditional family,” the president glibly responded, “Well, guilty as charged.”

Cathy went on to note, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
Yet even before the national controversy, students at colleges and universities have been among the most vocal critics of Chick-fil-A’s well-reported donations to groups like Exodus InternationalFocus on the Family and the Family Research Council. In February, New York University student Hillary Dworkoski launched a petition against the fast food chain, calling for NYU to close its Chick-fil-A franchise, reportedly the only one in Manhattan.

Campus Pride, a non-profit LGBT college student advocacy organization, announced this morning that it is suspending its “5 Simple Facts About Chick-fil-A” campaign, which informed students about the company’s anti-LGBT connections.

Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride, who has been meeting with Cathy and other Chick-fil-A leaders over the last six weeks to find “common ground,” said in a statement, “At the end of the day, this is not about politics for Campus Pride, this is about dignity, respect and the campus safety of all students at colleges and universities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.”

Note that absolutely none of this is coming straight from Chick-fil-A headquarters.
A Chick-fil-A spokesman acknowledged Wednesday’s news developments but said there would be no further comment beyond re-releasing a statement made in July. That statement says in part: “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

So what does this all mean? Is Chick-fil-A retreating? Did Moreno really wrestle a concession out of the fast-food chain? And perhaps the most important question of all: Can those who followed the boycott get in line for some of those hot, salty fries?

The Chicago Tribune story, which includes quotes from Moreno, sounds skeptical. The story raises the question about whether Chick-fil-A is actually beating a retreat or simply reaffirming its position that it treats everyone with dignity.

GLAAD — the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, one of the most outspoken voices during the summer uproar over Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay marriage position — released the following statement Wednesday:

“It’s time for Chick-fil-A to join the countless American businesses that proudly and publicly support their LGBT employees and customers,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “This news is the first step in Chick-fil-A making good on their promise to treat all people with true hospitality.”

But the boycott — is it over?


I received an email a few days ago from a filmmaker named Wajahat Ali Abbasi. He is currently trying to find funding for what sounds like a truly remarkable story that the world really needs to be aware of.  Inspired by a true story, ‘Sin’ is a feature film which will bring to life an emotional tale of a teenager who was killed by public hanging along with his partner in Iran because he was gay.

Videos and pictures of this sad incident were released online in July 2005, but the world forgot about it soon after.  Through this movie we will get to know this teenager’s life, whose only crime was that he wanted to be accepted by his society, with his true identity.
Through this tragic story some important question will be addressed; Why some people who are in love don’t have the same rights, as others? Is it just because they are different from what the world expects them to be?
There are no words in any language to adequately convey the level of sympathy, and body-crushing grief for someone losing their life because they are gay or lesbian.  Wajahat Ali Abbasi has a passion for thos project, and I believe that this film has the potential to open hearts and minds, which is the only way equality will become a reality.
To learn more about this project you can check it out on SIN’s Kickstarter page.  There you can not only read about the project, but you can connect with the filmmaker and help fund the project.


You can become a backer in just three easy steps:
* Step 1: Read through the pledge levels and rewards we’re offering in the right sidebar of the Kickstarter page.
* Step 2: Click the large, green “BACK THIS PROJECT” button to the right of the trailer video at the top of the Kickstarter page.
* Step 3: Enter your pledge amount – and complete the steps for filling in your information. This process takes just a few seconds.


By Nicola Slee

You touched my flesh

with infinitely tender embrace:
with touch of charis,
the caress of grace,
the chrism of bliss.
You sought my face
with your lips,
came closer than breathing
to give me the kiss of peace.
No one loved me like this.
You opened my body
like rain parting leaves,
like the blessing of oil
on a dying man’s brow.
You blessed, broke and offered
the bread of your body.
You ate of my flesh,
you drank of my juice.
You forsook every other
and cleaved unto me.
We are flesh of one flesh.
We are forged of one will.
We are still,
in the heart,
in the bone,
in the dark,
in the tongueless,
wondering place
where two are made one.
We are gift,
we are grace,
we are the face of love.
We are one, we are one.

– Taken from Courage to Love: Liturgies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community, edited by Geoffrey Duncan (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2002). This poem was found at Michael J. Bayly’s blog, The Wild Reed.

Note: In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of several Charites (Greek: “Graces”), goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility. They ordinarily numbered three, from youngest to oldest: Aglaea (“Beauty”), Euphrosyne (“Mirth”), and Thalia (“Good Cheer”). In Roman mythology they were known as the Gratiae, the “Three Graces.”

Nicola Slee

nicola_sleeNicola Slee is a theologian and poet based at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, where she teaches feminist and contextual theology. 
She also works freelance, doing a wide range of writing, speaking and retreat work, with a particular interest in women’s spirituality, faith development, liturgy and poetry.  The author of numerous articles, her previous books include Faith and Feminism (DLT, 2003) and Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004).  She lives with her partner and two cats in Stirchley, Birmingham. 

Boston Marriages

Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Adams Fields
Boston marriage as a term is said to have been in use in New England in the decades spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe two women living together, independent of financial support from a man. The term was less well known before the debut in 2000 of the David Mamet play of the same name. Since 2000, many mentions of “Boston marriage” cite as examples the same few literary figures, in particular the Maine local color novelist Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Adams Fields her late life companion, the widow of the editor of The Atlantic Monthly. There is often an assumption that in the era when the term was in use, it denoted a lesbian relationship. However, there is no documentary proof that any particular “Boston marriage” included sexual relations.

It’s an antique phrase, dating back to the 1800s. In Victorian times, women who wanted to maintain their independence and freedom opted out of marriage and often paired up to live together, acting as each other’s “wives” and “helpmeets.” Henry James’s 1886 novel about such a liaison,The Bostonians, may have been the inspiration for the term, or perhaps it was the most glamorous female couples who made their homes in Boston, including Sarah Orne Jewett, a novelist, and her “wife” Annie Adams Fields, also a writer.

Were they gay? Was the “Boston marriage” simply a code word for lesbian love? Historian Lillian Faderman says this is impossible to determine, because nineteenth-century women who kept diaries drew curtains over their bedroom windows. They did not bother to mention whether their ecstatic friendship spilled over into — as Faderman so romantically puts it — “genital sex.” And ladies, especially well-to-do ones who poured tea with their pinkies raised, were presumed to have no sex drive at all. Women could share a bed, nuzzle in public, and make eyes at each other, and these cooings were considered to be as innocent as schoolgirl crushes. In a 1929 study, Katherine B. Davis reported that, of 1,200 female college graduates who talked about their sex lives, 605, or 50.4 percent, responded that they had “experienced intense emotional relations with other women”, and 234, or 19.5 percent, had “intense relationships accompanied by mutual masturbation, contact of genital organs, or other expressions recognized as sexual”. These women spent their lives mainly with each other. They gave their time and energy to each other. Their practical reasons for not marrying men were strong but their emotional reasons were even stronger. These relationships would probably be known as lesbian relationships now.  Whether any given Boston Marriage involved sex is unknown. 

So, at least in theory, the Boston marriage indicated a platonic, albeit nerdy relationship. With ink-stained fingers, the Victorian roommate-friends would smear jam on thick slices of bread and then lounge across from each other in bohemian-shabby leather armchairs to discuss a novel-in-progress or a political speech they’d just drafted. Their brains beat as passionately as their hearts. The arrangement often became less a marriage than a commune of two, complete with a political agenda and lesson plan.

“We will work at [learning German] together — we will study everything,” proposes Olive, a character in The Bostonians, to her ladylove. Olive imagines them enjoying “still winter evenings under the lamp, with falling snow outside, and tea on a little table, and successful renderings . . . of Goethe, almost the only foreign author she cared about; for she hated the writing of the French, in spite of the importance they have given to women.” James poked fun at Olive’s bookworm passion. But he lavished praise on his own sister Alice’s intense and committed friendship with another woman, which he considered to be pure, a perfect devotion.

Most likely, the Boston marriage was many things to many women: business partnership, artistic collaboration, lesbian romance. And sometimes it was a friendship nurtured with all the care that we usually squander on our mates — a friendship as it could be if we made it the center of our lives.

Some women did not marry because men feared educated women during the 19th century and did not wish to have them as wives. Other women did not marry because they felt they had a better connection to women than to men. Some of these women ended up living together in a same-sex household, finding this arrangement both practical and preferable to a heterosexual marriage. Of necessity, such women were generally financially independent of men, due either to family inheritance or to their own career earnings. Women who decided to be in these relationships were usually feminists, and were often involved in social betterment and cultural causes with shared values often forming a strong foundation for their lives together.

The living arrangements of a Boston Marriage helped its participants have careers. American culture of the 19th century made it difficult for women to have careers while married to men. Wives were expected to care for their children. Society dictated that men and women play very different roles. Men were seen as taller, stronger, richer, and smarter; women were seen as weak and were expected to spend most of their time and effort pleasing their husbands. Even if her husband did not treat her as inferior, society did.

Women who wanted a different, more independent life (and could afford to have one) sometimes set up households together. While the women involved may have seen their relationship as one of equals and designed their own roles, society dictated that one partner in a relationship needed to be superior. Because of this view, one woman perceived herself to be “a man trapped in a woman’s body”.  Romantic relationships were especially common among academic women of the 19th century. At many colleges, female professors were not allowed to marry conventionally and still remain part of the faculty. Academic women also broke with the social view of women as mentally inferior: such a woman was likely attracted to another woman who would recognize her intelligence, rather than a man who most likely would not. Having invested so much of their lives in scholarship, such women could find needed respect for their work and lifestyle among other academic women.

In comparison to heterosexual marriages, Boston Marriages at that time had many advantages, including more nurturing between partners, and greater equality in responsibilities and decision making. Women who understood the demands of a career first-hand could give each other support and sympathy when needed. These women were generally self-sufficient in their own lives, but gravitated to each other for support in an often disapproving and sometimes hostile society.

Jesus’ personality test: What kind of seed are you?

Mark 4:1-20 (NASB)

Parable of the Sower and Soils

He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seedfell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Otherseed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” And He was saying, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”


13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are onlytemporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”

Do you ever take those online personality tests, the ones where you answer a few questions and find out which TV character you are, or which color represents you?  If so, here’s your chance to categorize yourself once more!  Anytime Jesus divides humanity up into categories, the first thing we ought to wonder is, “which one am I?”
So take a moment to think about your life and see which one of these descriptions fits you best.  Which seed are you?
The Path Seed – Although you may have grown up in a Christian environment, God’s word never really took root in your life.  “Christian” has always been more of a social label than a spiritual one, if you even consider yourself Christian at all.  And while you might go to church and visit Christian websites (like this one), you don’t really feel very connected to God.  In fact, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re life’s not that different from how it would be if you weren’t a Christian.  Whatever that passion is that some people have about Christ, that’s not something you’ve experienced firsthand.
The Rocky Seed – You wanna talk about passion?  You’ve got it, baby!  At least sometimes.  You really love God, and you’re totally on fire for Christ… as long as you’re around other Christians.  The trouble is, when it comes to taking difficult stands, you’ve never been very good at that.  You cave into pressure.  A lot.  You’re not the kind of person to talk about Jesus around your non-Christian friends, and you’re ashamed to admit that you don’t really act like a Christian when you’re around them either.  You want to do better, and you know that you should, but it’s just so hard.
The Thorny Seed – No doubt about it, you’re a Christian.  And all in all, you’re a pretty decent human being.  You’re not perfect, but who is?  To be honest, you know you ought to spend more time with God, having quiet times and Bible studies, and you really do plan to do that sometime.  If only you weren’t so busy.  You’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now, and a lot of things on your mind.  You do pray, but mostly quick prayers at certain times of the day or as needs arise.  And your Bible has a bit of a tendency to gather dust in between readings.  But it’s not like you’re not a committed Christian, because you really are.  You just get, well, a little distracted.  There’s school and work and money issues and relationships and health and recreation and before you know it, the day’s over and you never got around to those things you meant to do for God.  One of these days, though…
The Fruitful Seed – A relationship with God isn’t just something you talk about; it’s something you experience.  Every day.  And it’s amazing.  You make time for God every day, often having long, intimate conversations that leave you feeling refreshed.  You study the Bible regularly, and you’re always learning new things during that time.  More importantly, you put what you learn into practice.  God’s love and truth shine through you in a way that even your enemies can’t deny.  And you’re making a difference for the kingdom of God, something that could accurately be called even a hundred times greater than the seed that was sown in you.
 So, which one is you?  Be honest with yourself. To be honest with you, I am more of a thorny seed trying to be a fruitful seed.

Are there things God wants you to change in your life to make it more fruitful?  If so, what steps do you need to take to make those changes?
Will you make them?

Moment of Zen: Just Because


Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if we could shed labels like black, white, Latino, Asian, gay, bisexual or lesbian? We like to imagine — assume, even — that humanity will only ever continue to progress socially and technologically and that one day such distinctions will blur into a pleasant haze of meaninglessness. Are labels really necessary? We se them all the time, but should we?


Tuesday was a difficult day emotionally for me.  It was not just because it was 9/11, but also for other reasons.  As the history teacher at my school, it largely falls on me to answer questions kids have about the events of September 11, 2001.  My students range from my seventh graders who were either not born or just one year olds to my Seniors who were in first or second grade when the terrorist attacks happened.  They always want to know what I was doing when I heard the news, so I tell my story and tell some of the background and following events that they were too young to understand.  They are still too young and naive to understand why anyone could hold that much hatred for the United States, and even at my age, I find it difficult to imagine that amount of hatred.  I read my classes the poem that I posted on Tuesday, because I found it poignant.  I tend to read poems with a great deal of emotion, so there were some tears shed by the end by my students. So that got my day off to a sad beginning.

Because I was in graduate school even back then, one student asked me why I had not gotten my PhD yet.  I explained that though I had planned to have my dissertation largely finished by the end of the summer that Grandmama’s illness, death, and the emotions surrounding that had made it difficult to get much work done this summer. That combined with the fact that one of my friend’s father suddenly died over the weekend and having dinner with my aunt at Grandmama’s houseTuesday night, all combined to create a waive of emotions as I lay down to try to sleep. I ended up crying myself to sleep as the emotions of the day and the thoughts of never seeing Grandmama again hit me suddenly.  I was exhausted physically and emotionally.  I’ve been very busy at the school with some additional duties this year, and I am still recovering from my cold making for a tiring day.

As I fell asleep, I dreaded waking up the next morning with the emotionally draining depression that I expected. However, I guess the mind works in mysterious ways and often knows how to heal.  I had a dream that night, which is unusual that I remembered it so vividly the next day because I rarely remember my dreams.  I dreamed that a dear friend of mine, one who lives far away but that I care deeply for, was traveling to visit me. I remember vividly the details, though odd some of them were.  I remember that he flew into to Mobile instead of the closer airport in Montgomery, and that I had given him directions to meet me at an away basketball game for the school which for some very odd reason, I was playing in or maybe I was coaching or something (that part was too odd to be clear).  I dreamed that I took him to my family lake house and we had a wonderful time together.  I woke up in a much better mood just thinking about him and seeing him.  I hope he doesn’t mind that I shared this dream with you, but it gave me such a sense of joy that it greatly lifted me out of the funk I was in when I had gone to bed.  

It’s amazing what a good dream and happy thoughts can do for a person’s mental state.  It was a wonderful experience, even if it was only a dream.  Have you ever had a dream like that which turned your whole mood around?

Thomas Eakins: Gay or Not?

Both the high school and college US history class I am currently teaching are studying the Gilded Age.  This means that the realist painter Thomas Eakins came up in my lectures. Since I know of his works, especially The Swimming Hole above, I began to wonder about his sexuality.  His paintings are certainly homoerotic, so was he gay, bisexual, or heterosexual.  I did an internet search to see what I could find. 

Eakins was married, but from my research it seems that his sexuality remains a matter of gossip even today. The males in his paintings, close friendship with Walt Whitman, stories from men who claimed advances, and belief that a naked woman was the most beautiful form in nature—‘except for a naked man’—give some reason to pause (Eakins also photographed and painted nude ladies).  His brother-in-law, Frank Stephens, prompted even more allegations by accusing him of incest. While the accusations of incest were never proved, the charge itself was enough to have Eakins removed from a Philadelphia art club. Some have speculated that Eakins had a long-term love affair with another former student, Samuel Murray, who was later a well-known sculptor and became Eakins’ devoted nurse in his last days.  

Always ingenious, Eakins devised endless ways to put naked or nearly naked people in his pictures. He painted a brutally realistic crucifixion scene; a group of men naked at a swimming hole; a sculptor in his studio with a young female model (and chaperone); and classical figures in a meadow, with and without their togas. On two occasions he depicted patients stretched out under a surgeon’s knife, and throughout his career he painted thinly clad male athletes in the heat of competition.

Eakins constantly strived to create convincing illusions, and long before it was fashionable, he used photographs to further his goal. He often succeeded too well. In 1876, Eakins portrayed world-famous surgeon Samuel Gross in the midst of an operation, and submitted the portrait for the art display at the United States Centennial Exhibition. But the judges saw simply a bloody document and sent the painting to a hall for medical instruments. Today many people consider “The Gross Clinic” the finest painting Eakins ever made.

About 10 years later, Eakins presented an idyllic scene of men swimming in the river for one of his most important patrons, but the patron politely sent it back, asking for a painting that he could donate to an art museum someday.

Now “The Swimming Hole” is one of Eakins’ best known and most popular images. It is a horizontal canvas, smaller than your sofa is long, showing six naked men and a big red dog, swimming in a river on a sunny day. One of them appears to be Eakins himself.

Viewers must have always seen that it expressed great pleasure in male companionship. These days, when homosexuality is an open subject, the painting, and the photographs that show the same setting and subjects, appear to indicate Eakins’ own sexual preference. Many call him one of the first gay artists in America.  Is this a fair assessment? Probably not.  I don’t know whether Thomas Eakins was gay or not, but I’m sure he would be dismayed by all this acclaim. Because more than anything else, Eakins wanted his art to make people uncomfortable, even angry.

As a teacher, Eakins demanded that his students draw and paint nude models, and he even asked the students to pose nude for one another. But that does not explain why he pulled the loin cloth off a male model to show a room full of female students the shape of a male torso. Or why when a female student, Amelia Van Buren, asked about the movement of the pelvis, Eakins invited her to his studio, where he undressed and “gave her the explanation as I could not have done by words only”.  It does explain why a public scandal flared, and why he got fired.

A few years after that, Eakins again made his students pose for photographs, though they were just the young sons and daughters of his brother-in-law, Will MacDowell. But why did he keep on making photographs after MacDowell asked him to quit? The incident caused a permanent break, and Eakins was banned from seeing the children, or visiting their family again.

These are just a few of many incidents in which Eakins’ apparent devotion to principle outweighed his commitment to his students, his job, his patrons and even his family.

There are other troubling stories. Eakins chose to make a portrait of Louis Kenton, the man who married his wife’s sister and beat her so badly she left him. Eerily, the painting is one of his best. On another occasion, a student who posed for her portrait publicly claimed that Eakins had promised to leave his wife and marry her. (The portrait was not finished.) Another young female student died of a suicide, though no one ever established a clear connection between the art lessons and her death wish.

Eventually, the American public came to accept realistic painting. Eakins was rehabilitated for history, and since the 1930s, he has been known as a modern rebel, ahead of his prudish time.

But his work continued to raise problems. There were all those nude photographs. Why did he do it? Many paintings of many subjects looked too photographic. Was he cheating somehow? There were portraits of women who looked intelligent and miserable. There were men who looked like objects of desire.

At last, in our new century, we’ve grown so tolerant of ambiguity, and photography, that the uneasiness is gone. The photographs are no longer a cheat, they look charming, and we enjoy the matching game, searching out the pose he stole and put in a painting. His naked male friends are almost sweet, as they stand on the river bank, posing like Greek gods. We don’t flinch when we discover that his wife Susan was content to play along, posing nude in the studio, and outdoors with his horse. We don’t mind that Eakins posed nude himself, and we see plenty of him, front and back. The scandal makes good gossip, and all the tired women could so easily be our mothers, or our friends.

Remember 9/11

Two thousand one, nine eleven
Five thousand plus arrive in heaven
As they pass through the gate,
Thousands more appear in wait
A bearded man with stovepipe hat
Steps forward saying, “Lets sit, lets chat”
They settle down in seats of clouds
A man named Martin shouts out proud
“I have a dream!” and once he did
The Newcomer said, “Your dream still lives.”
Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
Others in khaki, and green then say
“We’re from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine”
The Newcomer said, “You died not in vain.”
From a man on sticks one could hear
“The only thing we have to fear.
The Newcomer said, “We know the rest,
trust us sir, we’ve passed that test.”
“Courage doesn’t hide in caves
You can’t bury freedom, in a grave,”
The Newcomers had heard this voice before
A distinct Yankees twang from Hyannisport shores
A silence fell within the mist
Somehow the Newcomer knew that this
Meant time had come for her to say
What was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day
“Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Watched our children play in sports
Worked our gardens, sang our songs
Went to church and clipped coupons
We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
Unlike you, great we’re not”
The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Stood and said, “don’t talk like that!
Look at your country, look and see
You died for freedom, just like me”
Then, before them all appeared a scene
Of rubbled streets and twisted beams
Death, destruction, smoke and dust
And people working just ’cause they must
Hauling ash, lifting stones,
Knee deep in hell, but not alone
“Look! Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman
Side by side helping their fellow man!”
So said Martin, as he watched the scene
“Even from nightmares, can be born a dream.”
Down below three firemen raised
The colors high into ashen haze
The soldiers above had seen it before
On Iwo Jima back in ’44
The man on sticks studied everything closely
Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
“I see pain, I see tears,
I see sorrow – but I don’t see fear.”
“You left behind husbands and wives
Daughters and sons and so many lives
are suffering now because of this wrong
But look very closely. You’re not really gone.
All of those people, even those who’ve never met you
All of their lives, they’ll never forget you
Don’t you see what has happened?
Don’t you see what you’ve done?
You’ve brought them together, together as one.
With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
“Take my hand,” and from there he led
five thousand plus heroes, Newcomers to heaven
On this day, two thousand one, nine eleven

Raising the Flag at Ground Zero

The horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 forever changed the landscape of the Manhattan skyline and life in America as we knew it.

But in the chaos and rubble where the World Trade Center no longer stood, Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin captured an unforgettable image of hope — three firefighters raising the American flag.

Standing defiantly against the gray and white landscape of devastation, these dust-covered men and the vivid red, white, and blue of Old Glory instantly became a symbol of American patriotism.The Record’s photo of these three heroic rescuers – Brooklyn-based firefighters George Johnson of Rockaway Beach, Dan McWilliams of Long Island (both from Ladder 157), and Billy Eisengrein of Staten Island (Rescue 2) – also became a global message that life, and America, would go on.The photo, which appeared Sept. 12 in The Record, has since graced the pages of many other newspapers as well as national newsmagazines. Network television has repeatedly displayed the photo during its round-the-clock disaster coverage, comparing it to the famous image of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Franklin, an eight-year veteran of The Record, took the photo late in the afternoon of Sept. 11, after spending hours at the scene. He was walking toward the debris of the World Trade Center when he spotted the firefighters.

“The shot immediately felt important to me,” Franklin said. “It said something to me about the strength of the American people and about the courage of all the firefighters who, in the face of this horrible disaster, had a job to do in battling the unimaginable.”