March/April 1999. Los Angeles.
[ Vol. 1 Book 10 ] - [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] - [ Book 2 ]
Monday-Wednesday, March 1-3, 1999
Studio Stuff & Valley Beth Shalom.[Jimmy and I are taking a few days to just be together. I'm not online as much right now. Just checking mail and occasionally posting here and there. I have about 200 emails in my inbox and some of them probably need answering but I'm not motivated to do that right now. So if you've written something urgent, please write again and remind me.]Sunday-Monday morning, March 7-8, 1999.
I got this wild urge yesterday about recording. So I called Randy Tobin and booked two hours of recording time next Monday just putting down some of my new songs. After I told this to the TLS list, everyone started clamoring for copies but I balked since they're just demos. However...
What we decided to do was (and it's all just thinking out loud at this point in the process) but they suggested I sell this little tape and put the money into a CD fund so that I can make a more fully realized CD to sell! If you're interested in helping me get this together, let me know. And also I'm going to get the cast to joiin me. So, maybe we'll finally have Bob's version of "Going It Alone" after all!!
Wednesday night I sang for Valley Beth Shalom for a room full of kids. But just before everyone got there, I asked my teen friend Michael/Marky to sing "Going It Alone." He was so great that... well... when I got to that point in the concert, I said, "And my friend Michael is going to sing this next song... He looked at me like I had just shot him in the chest. He wrote me:Steve, I still can hardly believe that I got to sing with you tonight . . . Besides just feeling nervous in front of you ( you are somewhat of a celebrity you know . . .:) I felt like I didn't deserve to be sharing that song with you and those people . . .I almost began to cry when I got to the microphone and I thought about you and Dickie and Joey and how he could hardly make it through the song . . .I wrote him back and said, "Well, it's perfect when you sing it!" Roberta sent this description to the TLS fanlist:
But I just swallowed whatever I was feeling and tried to use it for interpretation instead . . .I can't tell you how close to heaven I felt while singing that song with you . . .It really is a perfect song . . .doesn't it seem that way to you? You have given me an evening I will never forget . . .I love you!I was honored to watch Steve perform tonight before a large group of kids (ages 12-18) at the largest Conservative synagogue in the Valley. I wasn't sure how the kids would respond to Steve--they were acting so "cool" when they came in and sat down. But then, once Steve began singing his songs and telling the kids about the hows, and whys and wherefores of his life and AIDS and the play, they immediately were drawn to him and the truths he was telling them through his words and his songs. And when Steve opened it up to questions, the kids reallllllly let loose and it was clear that once again and as always, Steve had won them over.Lori said:
Michael/MarkyCohen was there and Steve asked him to sing with him. They did a duo of "Going it Alone" which was so wonderful and touching. A true "kleenex" moment!!! Not a planned thing either--ask Michael who truly was surprised when Steve called him up to sing with him. I know Michael would like to play Mark [in RENT], but I REALLLLLLY think that he would make a PERFECT Buddy!!! WATCH OUT, JEFF!
Dickie came, too, and was called up by Wendy, the adult leader of PEP/LA, to speak about his experiences. The kids were riveted when Dickie told it like it is, when he told them about the drugs and the disorientation and the daily reality of this disease. I think that Dickie is one of the most brave, generous people in the world to share this with the kids. G-d bless you, Dickie!!!
Anyhooooooooo, I took pics and when they are ready I will try to scan them myself or give them to Karen. Took some GREAT ones!!! Steve got a standing ovation and promises from both the kids and adults to come to the show!!! And the Rabbi, too!!!ok, this was beyond words amazing. can i tell you how things end up working out in the most amazing way?
so, i found out about steve's gig late, and figured i couldn't go since i was still working at my other job, so i was bummed. then michael wants to know if i can get fliers out to him. well, sure, but traffic sucked and i was really not looking forward to the trek all the way out there, so i was irritable, hard to imagine, i know.
we finally get all the way out to the nether regions of the valley and brett hears steve sing from outside and gets really excited, which i think is cool because i forget that she has never heard him sing his own songs.
then we get inside, and it's a room full of kids, w00h00! and pep-la is there, so i see wendy and dickie, w00h00 again! then, just when i tell brett that we can only stay for one song and then we have to go, steve starts "going it alone" and brings little michael up to sing with him.
oh my god. michael was amazing, i loved it, the crowd loved it, and his friend, laurie, that he was sitting with cried through the whole song, it was beautiful. quite a moment, let me tell you.
Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.I'm very disappointed this Monday morning. I just got back from the doctor's office and my new blood tests show that my blood sugar is 337. WAAAAY too high. And this is after I was put on a second blood lowering pill, Glucophage a few weeks ago.Thursday-Saturday, March 4-6, 1999.
Dr. Peter didn't want to come to any big conclusions yet because I had eaten a big Jack in the Box breakfast only an hour before. However, tomorrow I have to get a home glucose testing unit -- needle pricks, yucch -- and I start monitoring daily.
I also lost four pounds of weight. But I haven't had my testo/deca shots in six weeks, either. So now I'm repumped. Look OUT!!! I just might get crazy again!!!!!
Tonight I'm really looking forward to my recording session. I'm going to call this tape "The QUIET Tape." Already, in both cassettes orders and pledges for the LA Times ad, the total is almost $1500 -- half way there! Thank you all so much, especially DeAnn Sanders who contributed $500 and Martha Lare & Barbara Eickhoff who contributed $100 each -- and the several of you who contributed $50 and $25. Thank you so much!
Anyway, tonight I plan on turning the lights down low, lighting some candles and having a very QUIET and meditative session. I've had so many requests for "A Simple Faith" that it's definitely going onto the tape. Also, "Near You," the song I wrote for Joey and CeCe and "You Are A Stranger," from the new musical I'm writing. Plus a couple of others.
By the way, Maisey started singing "You Are A Stranger" the other day and it was so beautiful. She might be there tonight. If I can learn it in her key, maybe I can get her to do it too.
CDs, Cassettes, Ads & Easter Seals!Lots of news: First of all, I as I said in the last diary, on Monday I am going into the studio to record (at least) five new songs -- some of which I've done live in my concerts, including A Simple Faith. It will be a simple piano/vocal recording and if you want one, it will cost $10.Monday-Friday, March 8-12, 1999
BUT I am not using this money to fund the CD as I said. I am going to direct this money to pay for a big ad in the LA Times Sunday Calendar. It's been a source of continual frustration here that we cannot get one iota of electronic media in this town. No TV, no radio, no nuthin.
Consequently, the show attendance is beginning to suffer. People just do not know that we are here!
So, I need to raise $3000 by a week from Tuesday and the only way I know how to do that is to offer music in exchange for money. So, here's the deal, don't send money yet. Send, instead, a pledge to email@example.com and tell me if you'll pledge to buy one of the cassettes.
You can also pre-order the new CD for $15. Again, don't send money. Just send a note telling me you want to be included on this deal. So, your email would say, "I want the new cassette so I pledge $10." Or "I want both the new cassette and the new CD so I pledge $25."
If anyone wants to pledge a larger amount for the ad, above and beyond the $10 that would be GREATLY appreciated. I've never done anything like this before, but I felt like it was my last recourse. Martha pledged $100 and challenged others to do the same.
(By the way, this whole idea came from the TLS fans. They said we could do it, so even though I've never asked for money on this site, I guess I'm doing it now.)
EASTER SEALS SALUTE!
Actually, we finally did get one big TV appearance. It's going to be a syndicated special called "HOLLYWOOD salutes the EASTER SEALS." Lots of big celebrity stars are in this special and the finale consists of our cast -- Bob, Amy, Jeff and Maisey -- singing "When You Care" with a big orchestra and the Heaven Bound Sound choir with yours truly standing on the top row singing and swaying!
It's going to air late this month all over the country but the times will be different everywhere because it's syndicated. So keep an eye on your TV guide.
We spent much of the day yesterday down at the taping. It was fun for me because I hadn't seen Alan Satchwell -- he sings the "When a hand..." verse on the Bonus Round CD version of "When You Care" -- in a long time (he lives in Santa Ynez). So while we were waiting, we sat and played the piano and sang for each other.
It was great practice for my upcoming session tomorrow!!
The Quiet Session.I was flying into Washington Dulles airport on Thursday and suddenly the plane started shaking -- rough weather. But I was reading the new Sondheim biography perched up on the little tray and didn't miss a word. (Having been on a cruise ship in the middle of a hurricane, it takes a lot to shake me up.)Saturday-Wednesday, March 13-17, 1999
Suddenly the plane lurched and went into a dive. A big one. Then we shook a bit, dove again and I stopped reading the book. Instead I gripped my tray and looked around. Everyone was frozen in fear.
That's when I went into a little fantasy. You see, four days ago, Monday, I recorded my new set of songs -- a song cycle -- so in my mind I was just seeing the headlines as the papers talked about the young composer/lyricist being cut down in his prime just as he was abirthing a new work! (By the way, the Sondheim book says that Sondheim was great at presenting his own songs when he was first trying to sell them to investors. He'd sit at the piano and do the whole show by himself.)
I imagined Jimmy accepting our LA Drama Critics Awards for Best Writing this coming Monday with tears streaming down his cheeks, a Scotch in one hand, a Kleenex in the other... (we haven't won yet, by the way; the winners will be announced at the dinner on Monday). The following day I could just see the headlines all over the media!
But back to the recording this past Monday, Randy was engineering direct to DAT. What I wanted to do was go from song to song to song without saying boo to each other but I didn't communicate this effectively to Randy because after I finished "Near You" he started fading the volume. So when I started singing song two, he had to stope me since I couldn't be heard.
I tried to start over with song one but that didn't work. So I resumed with song two saying to him, "Don't fade on me again Randy."
...the best moment of the whole session."don't you ever fade out on me again." steve was a bitch. he's been spending way too much time with lori.
That whole "don't you ever fade out on me again" kinda scared me when it happened. Steve gets intense when he sings. So I didn't want to bring it up, but I am glad you did. I hope he leaves it on the cassette.
It scared me too. I don't think I moved at all from the moment he said that to the end of the take. I can only imagine now what would have happened if any of us had sneezed or something. But I only mentioned it because Steve had joked about it afterwards, saying that he *is* a bitch in the studio. If he hadn't done that, I would have kept it to myself. yikes. But it sounded good on the playback - so I hope he keeps it too.
Civilians! Jimmy, who was in the control room with Jimmy, Dickie, Maisey and Randy -- Karen, DeAnn and her partner Gayle were in the room with me, said he didn't even flinch when I said that to Randy. (Typical creative exchange in the heat of the work.) After Randy stopped me and I snapped at him, I tried starting over again with "Near You" but it was useless. I had already put that one out. (Am I getting this right, Karen?)
that is exactly what happened. steve started "near you" again, and after a few lines, he stopped and said something along the lines of "i can't do that one again, let's just do the next one." and from there, he did the rest of the songs without stopping.
When I started back in, I began with song two, "You Are A Stranger," and kept recording all the way until I had finished song five, "A Simple Faith." It's very stripped down, piano and vocal recorded live. If you listen really closely...
I have a request. I request that when you listen to this tape, you turn the lights down low and listen to it in complete silence, preferably on headphones.
It's just that it's a very intimate recording. (If you listen closely, you can even hear the release of the sustain pedal between songs. There will be no artificial space between songs. What you hear is exactly what happened. I'd finish one song and immediately begin playing the next. I don't know why this is so important to me. All I know is it had to be this way.)
Anyhooo... I've been here in Virginia one day. Got to see Shawn Decker who has a new girlfriend (who is luscious, by the way). Got to meet his oldest friend Josh and hear some music they have made together.
I'm also learning to lance my finger twice a day to check my blood sugar levels. So far, the news is not good. Even though I'm on two separate oral meds my blood sugar level is careening from 360 to 60 to 250 to 165... It's very depressing to tell you the truth.
But sticking myself with the needle turns out to be not that big a deal. When I went in on Tuesday for my little lesson on how to use the machine and the lancet (love that word), I said to the nurse, "I don't want sore fingers! I have to play the piano!"
So she showed me that you poke the SIDE of your finger, not the end of it. And it doesn't hurt either. I still hate it. But now we have to figure out how we are going to control this condition (which has been brought on by Crixivan we think). I chatted with Dickie last night and he said he is seeing this a lot in his support groups. The only solution he's seen is to switch meds. I can't do that yet. I have to wait on the new ones.
So anyway, I didn't die in the plane. It didn't crash. We're not going to get our big headlines about the promising new theatre composer cut down in his prime. Instead, I'll go home and play with the cats, hug Jimmy and we'll go to the big LA Drama Critics Circle dinner on Monday hoping for an award -- and hoping that award will tell the media out in LA that we are worth airtime.
(We have raised $2500 for the big LA Times ad. The TLS fans are really something. All the money that comes in from selling the cassettes is going to the ad -- $10 -- write firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to order one. Only 300 will be manufactured.)
Guess what happened to us? We won!
This is "us," Jim Brochu (Best Book), Michelle Mais (Best Featured Performance), Bob Stillman (Best Musical Direction) and Steve Schalchlin (Best BigHead).
Photo by Lori.
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.When I was growing up, it never occurred to me to me that I, former church pianist and choir director from Buna, Texas would be standing in front of a roomful of theatre critics (in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where the very first Academy Awards were bestowed) accepting an Award for Best Music & Lyrics.Thursday, March 18, 1999.
But it happened on Monday night. I'll be back to fill you in on the whole story but wanted to post this picture. Here are a few more...
The Full Story.This morning, Thursday, I was over at Cal State Northridge singing my program for the Religion Studies department. The professor, Juan, found me through the internet back when I was -- well -- a walking death skeleton wearing diapers and unable to stand. (I did his class mostly sitting on the desk and I played a cassette recording of "The Group." This was before we had even done the first workshop here in L.A).Friday-Monday, March 19-22, 1999.
When he saw me he said I looked ten years younger. (The class this day was held in the music building. A smallish room with a Baldwin grand. The walls were all movable green chalkboard painted to look like music score. Man, I always wanted one of those.) Anyway, it was fun to tell him about our big awards...
The awards. First of all, Maisey and Amy looked like the movie stars they will someday be.
The event was held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a grand old hotel on Hollywood Blvd. across from the Chinese Theatre. And it was in the room where the very first Academy Awards were held.
And across the lobby is the Cinegrill where we held the first staged reading of TLS. So it all felt like home. Marie Cain was there, also looking magnificent. Barry Fasman and Lisa Blue were there. Kim & Ronda, Aunt Michael, Judy Arnold, I sat between Lori and Karen. Alice Harkley the Stage Manager. Relatives of Maisey. We basically had three tables full of people and we were hyper.
I had a personal struggle there at first. They had a buffet set up. Hors d'oeurves. I needed to eat. I had taken my anti-sugar pills; I'm on a weight gaining campaign. I got a Diet Coke and then immediately got in line for the food. I needed to make this a meal but I'm sure I looked like a maniac with these three tiny plates all piled up with chicken, nachos and fried vegetables.
I horded my stash, found our tables (in the back) and sat there in a half empty room gorging on this stuff. If I had been in a room with anyone but actors, I'd have been embarrassed.
People started arriving and soon our tables were packed with people crowded together. The ceremony began but I couldn't really concentrate. It all just seemed so unreal. It was a Hollywood fantasy. This doesn't happen in real life.
Well, they started the awards finally. Someone would read the list of nominees and then open an envelope with the winners. Early on, they announced BEST FEATURED PERFORMANCE -- Maisey's category. This was it. I was thinking if we score on a little one, maybe that means they really do know us. SHE WON.
When they said Maisey's name, from our tables came this SHRIEK that had every head snapping around. She was so graceful. In her lowcut black evening gown. Her speech was emotional and loving. She dedicated the award to many people including her friend Jimmy who died of AIDS and Jenny Craig.
Then Barry Fasman and Bob Stillman were announced as winners for Musical Direction. Barry insisted on going first. He said working on the show was a privilege but that he'd have to refuse the award, saying, "I was only the Musical Supervisor. Bob Stillman was actually the Musical Director. This belongs to him."
Bob stepped up and said, "uh-kay." Then delivered another classy speech about the power of the show and working with the others actors and creative team. It was really good and he looked so gorgeous, decked out in a blue sport coat and nice tie. White shirt.
Then they got to Best Writing category. Jimmy and I were actually listed separately so it's conceivable one of us could have lost, but Betty Garrett announced Jim's name. The place went into pandemonium. Then she said my name and Marie's and John's. Marie was there. John was in Nashville.
Jimmy got up there and it was like a stand-up routine. First he hugged Betty Garrett, telling everyone she is one of the great actresses in the theatre. Then he said he was shocked to see his name with Terence McNally, the other writing nominee. "I feel like I've been nominated for Best Supporting Playwright." He got all googy talking about me still being alive and we hugged in front of everyone.
Marie said something -- I wasn't listening because I knew my turn was last and I didn't have a clue what to say. Jimmy had also thanked all the producers and actors and Rick & Andy from the Laguna Playhouse. Then I suddenly remembered where we were... so I went up to the mic and said, "The Last Session was born right here. In this building. The first staged reading was in the Cinegrill right across the lobby there. Then we took out of town to New York in order to get it ready for our big opening here!"
It was only two sentences. I hate long speeches and I could see the relief on their faces that I wasn't going to make some long list of thank you's.
After the show, Marie said to me, "I want you to take this book and read these names. Last year the best music and lyrics were Ayherns and Flaherty for RAGTIME. Stephen Sondheim is also in there a few times. I want you to read those names and realize that you are now among them."
Naw. It was a fluke. It just happened. I was playing Connected in the living room one afternoon, Jim heard it, wrote a book around it and the next thing you know I had a musical comedy, a website, tours, a new cassette tape...
so what happened to you?
i fell in love with jim
i've tried to hide it from the world
but he is just too funny
Catching Up.I've been so excited telling you the good news about awards and stuff I haven't done a health update. First of all, my fear that I'd have to start sticking myself and checking my blood sugar has come true -- have I already mentioned this? Twice a day now I grab the lancet and poke, drain the blood, stick it on a blotter and shove that into a little meter which tells me the news.
This started two weeks ago after a visit to the doctor showed my blood sugar over 300. By the way, the process isn't that bad. I thought it would be worse. So, one potentially whiny subplot has now been eviscerated from this story.
Also a month ago -- remember when he gave me anti-depressants because I was so depressed? -- he scheduled me to see a therapist. I balked but finally, last Tuesday, went and talked to this guy. I was thinking what the heck am I going to tell him that I don't tell the whole world in this diary???
I showed up at his place and it took me over an HOUR just to describe my life! what with the dying, the not-dying, the musical, the website, the tls fanlist..(where an aspiring teen playwright in Connecticut has already been guaranteed a production of her play in Denver at the theatre where another list member just got a job by making friends with a producer who also joined the list after he heard about TLS and asked if he could put together a production)***deep breath****,the awards, the fans buying an ad in the LA Times by buying this new cassette I've just recorded-- there are so many miracles in my life, as I heard myself trying to describe it all, I realized this story is TOO BIG! Who could possibly believe it? (And where are the damn movie of the week people? I think my story has at LEAST elevated to Lifetime Channel, and maybe even MTV if they'd sit up and take notice how many teenagers are fans of this old songwriter, former dead guy).
Anyway, back in the office, it was exhausting to sit there and regurgitate this stuff to a total stranger who has no context. Now that I think about it, I bet I was a total asshole, sitting up straight and bragging as if to say, "HA, little man. I'm a bigshot bighead songwriter and you're just a little..."
looking at his badge...
"...a teensy little SOCIAL WORKER!!"
I told him to just log onto the internet.
Actually, I did ask him one question. I asked, "How do I keep from becoming a religion?" I cancelled a return visit, though. I don't know if it's because I actually -- believe it or not -- got tired of hearing myself talk (not a possibility) or that I am running from something I don't want him to find.
I did, kinda sorta sound like an evangelist, though. (And by the way, this is very tough stuff to confess out loud to you. I have avoided this posting like the plague. Who wants to paint a bad picture of himself or admit when he's been a jerk?)
Anyway, Dr. Peter doubled all my sugar meds and for the past week, the levels have been within acceptable limits. AND I can see the start of a little tummy starting to poke out. So, either I'm gaining weight or I'm pregnant. (I've been staying in most of the last week).
This week I'm also going to design thelabels for the new cassette. I'm calling the recording itself "The Quiet Session" but that's not the name of the song cycle, the first draft of which, is what's on the cassette. I haven't titled that yet. (If you're still confused, don't worry. It's not important information).
In case you haven't heard, we went OVER our projected $3000 for the ad. It will be going into the Times this coming Sunday and will trumpet our getting the Best Book, Score, Featured Actor and Musical Direction from the LA Drama Critics Circle. That's all awards are for, by the way, to help you get more work and more audience. (I used to create awards at NAS for just this reason, to help aspiring songwriters.)
Also, this week we hired a new "Jim" for the play. P.M. Howard finally resigned. That long drive from Laguna was totally getting to him. Paul Steger is his name!Saturday-Monday, March 27-29.
Here is what the cast looked like on:
"HOLLYWOOD SALUTES THE EASTER SEALS"
Easter Seals & New Cassettes.The cast looked and sounded like stars on TV this weekend. I've been wanting to share them with the world forEVER but so far, this show was the only TV appearance we've been able to get. And MAN! Did they pull it off.Tuesday-Friday, March 23-26.
And this broadcast happened the same day as the new ad in the LA Times came out which was paid for by fans of TLS in exchange for a sneak preview of the new song cycle on cassette.
The small words which did not scan say, "This ad paid for by the fans of The Last Session."
Speaking of which, on Monday I was able to approve the master recording. So, there is a chance I might have them ready for mailing by this weekend. I'm so excited about these songs. I visited my mentor/friend John Bettis this past weekend and played them for him.
I've been changing my eating habits. My Steve's Famous Sourdough Breakfast sandwich, (which my friend Kerri calls a "cholesterol fatbomb") has now become a broccoli omelette sandwich with broccoli replacing the sausage.
At each meal, now, vegetables have become the primary item. It's just so weird. In the south, we only serve veggies deep fried. My blood sugar is more under control, too, so I'm becoming more functional.
Here are links to the screen captures of the show that Dickie did. They're in the images file in the los_angeles folder.
Steve as Vicki?It was Wednesday. Jimmy and I were down at the theatre for a rehearsal to get our Tryshia understudy into the role for two performances this weekend. But there weren't enough people for a full rehearsal and I was really screwing up as Gideon because -- well, I haven't done the role in awhile and the others on stage didn't know the show any better than I did. She and I were the only cast members there.Tuesday-Tuesday, March 30-April 6, 1999.
Finally, Michael Buster, who understudies "Buddy," came in and so did Bob who thought it was only a music rehearsal. So we put Bob on the piano and I got to play Vicki.
The only weird moment was when it was ME (as Vicki) asking BOB, "So we get an [explanation of why Gideon is committing suicide]?" To stand there while he tells me, "I'm tired of this disease controlling my life..."
As he was saying it, I was feeling it and he was looking right into my eyes -- and I could see his eyes changing as he "read" (in my eyes) what I was feeling. Man, no wonder people love acting. It can be a very cleansing and illuminating experience.
Thursday night Paul Steger debuted at "Jim" and he's so different from P.M. He's a little guy who talks with a quick, high nervous voice so he adds quirky lightness to Jim's sarcasm. He also had the bass parts down! He's a really good musician.
Baseball, Hot dogs, and Easter Concert.
Steve at Dodger Stadium
What an exciting day Sunday was! First the cast sang the Star Spangled Banner just before the Dodger/Yankee game. Jimmy and I had Dodger dogs for the first time! Here's a shot of the stadium videoscreen with Maisey singing:
And here is Ronda and me sitting in the stands. You can see Kim and Steve Braverman (TLS sound guy) behind us:
And here is a pic of me with Paul Steger who is now playing the role of "Jim" in the booth:
As you can see, he has quite a bit of personality that boy. Finally, here is a shot of the Easter concert.
Photos by Gail.Wednesday, April 7, 1999.
The concert itself was somewhat successful. But to tell you the truth, I was a total nervous wreck. There is something about these songs -- nothing that's on the surface -- that strikes some really deep chord in me.
First of all, I asked the people in attendance to allow me to play through the songs without stopping for applause. I hadn't counted on what a nerve-wracking experience something like that can be. By the time I got to song three, I was ready for a strait-jacket.
After I finished singing, I went backstage and had to lean against the wall. My heart was pounding and there were tears streaming down my cheeks. Hmmm. Maybe I had a nervous breakdown!! That would be cool.
Anyway, this week the new cassettes containing The Quiet Session arrived so I labeled, signed and numbered them myself -- all 300. DeAnn put them in the mail on Monday and hopefully everyone will have theirs by the time they read this.
I'm looking forward to the reactions.
Holy War on the Internet.When I first put my site up on the net, March 1996, it felt to me like I was jumping into an ocean. It was already so vast! So many people had already been there!
(I was really sick back then. I was sicker in person than I admitted in my diary because I wasn't admitting it to myself.)
What I discovered was that even sick in bed, I was living a virtual existence that had no less mobility, texture, humanity and importance than so-called "real life."
I would have three IRC rooms open at one time, a browser chatroom, email, etc. and that first year, I met hundreds of people. From professors to housewives, from activists to preachers, nurses, students, Christian, Jewish, atheist, musicians, singers, directors, composers, you name it.
Because of The Last Session, I entered into the gay/Christian debate online meeting participants from all over the country. I didn't have a clue how terrorized most churches were and are over this issue.
There is a war raging and it feels like everyone has totally lost their mind. In the Methodist Church, for instance, "Gay-affirming" pastors are getting defrocked so they feel their ministries are being destroyed.
But pastors I've corresponded with on the other side, "pro-transformation," fear they'll be forced to affirm gay relationships against their own consciences if the "other side" wins this war. Everyone equally feels under assault.
Well, "we all lose the war," no matter what one is fighting over. Neither side is seeing the other for who he/she actually is. Each side accuses the other of perverting the scripture. Each side believes the other is simply affirming his or her own prejudices.
I've met affirming and transforming ministers. Each one has been honest, real, sincere, and totally devoted to their beloved Methodist Church. (Disclaimer: My grandmother is a Methodist).
Because of how vicious some of the fighting as been, the transforming minister I've spoken to, for instance, is shell-shocked. He can't believe he is being attacked as a bigot and hatemonger by the affirming side. He feels his approach to scripture is both honest and traditional, not based on prejudice. He feels like no one is listening.
But Rev. Dell, the minister who was defrocked for conducting a ceremony for two men, also feels his voice is not being heard.
He is a Methodist pastor whose church is in a gay community of a large city. His membership is half gay. Because he sees many gay people sacrificing their lives in the bar scene or the party scene, he believes it's vitally important to affirm healthy same sex relationships as good role models. (He also believes it's scripturally sound).
He believes the transforming ministers do not understand that he is trying to serve the needs of his congregation honestly and spiritually.
Right now, if everyone stays on the present course the church will split down the middle. But I believe there is a way out of this.
For instance, they could have a different debate. The "Do we have the courage to allow diversity within the denomination in order to keep it from blowing up?" would be a good start. But do the affirming ministries have the courage to allow for the presence of transforming ministries?
Metamorphobia is one of the newly coined words on the landscape. It's people who are afraid of the concept of change. I'm not afraid to admit that people change. I've met more than a few people who told me they "discovered" they were gay after leading a straight life.
If someone has an honest religious belief about sexuality, should they not have the right to pursue that belief without ridicule? Whether it's to try to change their sexuality or to embrace it (or ignore it)?
I hate talking about sex. People get so obsessed with it, so fearful and weird when sexual issues overwhelm.
I no longer see the world divided into "pro-gay" and "anti-gay," pro-Republican and pro-Democrat, etc.
The world in my eyes now consists of warmongers and peacemakers. I am against gay-affirming warmongers. I am against exgay warmongers.
I support dialogue, respect, and recognition that there are both reasonable and unreasonble people on each side. I believe if churches split it is because they have not seen a better vision, a more compassionate and loving solution.
Can normal folks, unafiliated with the political and religious forces work behind the scenes to make changes in the dialogue?
Yep. We've already started.
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