Posts Tagged: religion

The Best Time I Got Sent to "Pray-Away-the-Gay" Bible Yoga Camp

The yoga class was being hosted in Chinatown, something that seemed fitting; the universe has a sense of humor like that. I walked past my favorite dumpling place and zipped and unzipped my leather jacket as I walked. It was 10am and Chinatown was pretty much deserted. I had a lot of space to think. Yoga. Me. Again. I wonder if I’m going to cry in the middle of Downward Dog.

I have nothing against yoga. It's just that I was introduced to it in a punishing way by my mother. In high school—I guess I was about 14 at the time—she was slowly beginning to catch on [...]


A Conversation with Philomena Lee

In the ‘50s, Philomena Lee became pregnant outside of marriage at the age of 18. She was sent to an Irish convent to have her baby, and after that, worked off her expenses in the laundry, permitted to see her child for an hour each day. Against her will and as part of a large and secretive program of forced adoption, the nuns gave her young son away when he was three years old. Philomena was able to track down her son—a successful lawyer and former chief legal counsel to the RNC—only after his death. Her search is the subject of the movie Philomena, starring Judi [...]


Flannery O'Connor's Letters to God

For all of the deep fundamental religiosity in the work of American writers like Dickinson, Melville and Thoreau, Flannery O'Connor remains one of the only (and perhaps the only) national literary figure whose personal faith was lifelong and orthodox. The New Yorker recently published excerpts from the prayer notebook O'Connor kept as a 21-year-old studying at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and although the piece is subscriber-only online, it's definitely worth seeking out a copy if this is a subject of interest to you. A bit from the beginning:

I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push [...]


Jim Behrle Wants to Know

1. Jim Behrle: I am moving to New Jersey! And I will have my own room for the first time in a while. Is it OK that I plan to decorate my room like an 11-year-old boy? Would that be a turnoff to the ladies? Or just people in general? I'm 40 now and am trying to tuck my shirt in lately, but I'm just not sure that it's me. So I bought some posters: Vinny Testeverde of the Jets, Derrick Coleman of the Nets, Bobby Bonilla of the Mets, and Martin Brodeur of the Devils. Sports heroes all. I've had a Spiderman comforter for a while. And a Burger [...]


"You are proof enough of God": A Formerly Hasidic Woman Writes to Her Covered Self

I was recently on a New York street and of course noted the scattering of covered woman among the passing thousands, in scarf, veil, hijab, bonnet, wig. One was Hasidic, in long sleeves and closed neckline and stockings in July, with a little hat on top of her wig. I was in jeans and a black T-shirt, my graying hair windblown.

Now those women discomfit me in the same way I’m sure they can discomfit others. They represent denial of battles hard fought—for birth control, abortion, equality in any public forum, to dress how we want without being objectified, or just to be heard. […] But covered women are my [...]


The Journey to Salvation Mountain

Yesterday, Leonard Knight, the man who built Salvation Mountain, died at the age of 82. 

The trick is to say this exact thing, I said. What seems to be the problem, officer? And you have to call him officer.

I’m not going to call him officer, Avi said.

What about the hash? What if he checks inside the car? Cathy asked.

Everybody just be cool, Avi said. He rolled down the window.

The cop beamed his flashlight into the front seat. What’s your nationality?

I’m American but I was born in Israel, Avi said.

And your mom? He motioned towards Cathy.

I’m not his mom, she said. [...]


Interview With a Feminist Mormon

Natalie is a 23-year-old feminist Mormon who lives in Boise, Idaho.

Let’s talk a little about your upbringing. Where did you grow up, and what was your community like?

I grew up in Boise, Idaho. Boise is unique in that it has a large Mormon community but it’s not a Mormon town. So, at my high school there were 2,000 kids and around 500 of them were Mormon.

Did you know any women growing up who were feminists?

Publicly? No, I don’t remember any of my young women leaders saying that they were feminists. I’ve had some young women leaders who were kind of tomboys, but in their lessons they [...]


A Campy Pirouette and A Scissor Leap: An Appreciation of Jesus Christ Superstar

Let’s get the obvious out of the way immediately: Jesus Christ Superstar is the greatest film of all time.

Growing up, I looked forward to Easter for two reasons: candy, and our annual Good Friday JCS screening. My immediate family at the time was composed of one serious Catholic, one agnostic, and me, a bizarre child so obsessed with Christianity that I insisted on dressing as a semi-obscure Biblical character for Halloween (it was Miriam, sister of Moses). This movie—the 1973 Norman Jewison-directed cinematization of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s rock opera based on the last days of Jesus Christ—was our favorite, and remains so to this day, in [...]


Interview with a Pastor on Spiritual Grammar, Mysticism and Coming Out

Sean Lanigan is soon to be ordained in the Episcopal Church and is building a new spiritual community for young adults in Long Beach, California:

So we’re meeting because you went to Yale Divinity School with Jessica Misener!

Yes! Divinity school was interesting. Great, and interesting, and everyone was having crises all the time, including me. I’d come out when I was 16, and all throughout college I was trying to figure out my relationship with God. Everyone said, “Go to divinity school and you’ll figure it out.” And of course, divinity school is both a really good and really bad place [...]


Lord I Lift Your Camp On High

This is the third installment in a series about summer camp.

There was a certain way that the old floating dock looked—the blue stubbled water carpet gradually unraveling, the well-algaed, oil-slick sides, the cracked plastic at its corners—that told me that it was a.) super dangerous and b.) the best, most important thing. You weren’t allowed to go on the floating dock, which the underpaid and overworked lifeguards tethered to the dock with a 50-foot piece of rope, without a counselor until you were 13. I mean, you weren’t allowed to do a lot of things at camp until you were 13—but once you were, it became a [...]