Five Quick Takes

Five Quick Takes February 13, 2020


I haven’t really got out of the doldrums I described in my last post (or, indeed, that go back to Advent). I don’t know whether to attribute it to spiritual or natural causes—the latter seem likelier. God knows the incessant, cold, half-hearted rain that’s plagued the Chesapeake for the last month and some hasn’t put me in a better mood. The ongoing and thoroughly despicable corruption of the current presidential administration has been more than a little discouraging too, especially given how many of my fellow believers I’ve seen making excuses for it. And the idiotic decision of several prominent Democrats to choose this, of all moments, to double down on abortion, thus playing directly into the hands of the GOP’s barely-even-pretending-any-more lip service to the pro-life cause, has me furious as well as sad.

What is going to become of this country? How long do we have before our sins catch up to us? Who else is going to pay when our empire collapses?


The Anglican Use calendar, like the pre-Vatican II calendar, has a brief sub-season leading into Lent: unimaginatively referred to as “pre-Lent” is most books, the traditional English name for this period is Shrovetide, deriving from the (now obsolete) term shrive meaning “to hear confession” or sometimes “to confess” (hence also the idiom short shrift, which originally referred to the hasty absolution that might be given to a criminal before execution). I like Shrovetide; it gives you some time to think and sort out what you plan to do for Lent, and I haven’t been able to settle on anything. I might start saying Evensong again, which I haven’t since I don’t remember when. The last few years I took some volume of spiritual reading and divided it into forty-odd sections, one for each day, and did that as a spiritual discipline; I might do that again, though I don’t know what I’d read. Perhaps it’s time for me to take another crack at St Teresa’s autobiography.


On a more positive note, my third book is out! The Seventh Trumpet, a collection of post-apocalyptic short stories, is available via the publisher, Clickworks Press, or on Amazon (where, mysteriously, there is apparently already someone selling a used copy for a few bucks more than the price of a new one). I think it’s my best work to date. You can read a selection from one of its chapters, “Sunset on Yamato,” here at my old site.


I’ve been toying, for some time, with the idea of writing a book on gay issues for Catholics: what not to say and why not to say it, an introduction to the actual (as opposed to the imagined) history of gay rights both nationally and internationally, distinguishing between different kinds of queerness, maybe even trying to explain some of the fundamental issues of trans identities. What gives me pause is the possibility that, in doing so, I may be throwing my pearls before swine. I know this blog has helped people, and I believe that helping one single person makes this blog worth it; that is, I believe that in principle; but I’ve faced a lot of discouragement and exhaustion here. It’s hard to pour your energy, your heart, into something that most people—even close friends—ignore or contradict or dismiss. It’s hard to have confidence that something’s important when other people tell you it’s not or behave like it’s not, because we are wired to listen to other people and not just ourselves. So I guess I’m saying, if you think that book would be worth writing, and that I’d be a good person to write it, speak up! I could use some encouragement.


Someone told me the other day that I should be in porn. I’m mostly confident that that’s a compliment.

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  • Jenna St.Hilaire

    I’d love to read a book that got into the history of LGBT+ issues, explored cross-cultural anthropology of sex and gender and the complex range of queer identities, discussed present-day situation of such identities in the church and the world …. The questions of what to say and not to say seem to be continually relevant as well. I think you’d do an exceptionally thoughtful job researching and writing such a book. If you do it, I’ll be cheering you on. 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the doldrums. I can sympathize.

  • Molly García

    So…this is my first time to ever log in to Disqus to comment on a Patheos blog post and i follow several blogs here. I think there is a real need for this book and I honestly can’t think of anyone else better to write it. Your posts here and on the old site have always been such a tremendous help and encouragement to me. Mass yesterday was so hard, the homily made a lot of nods and virtue signals to any culture warriors in the pews and i broke down crying and afterwards was standing just outside the church doors couldnt make my feet walk to my car. I actually went back in to talk to the deacon who gave the homily about why even though i affirm and believe everything the Church teaches about sexual ethics i dont feel safe to be known or get to know anyone else at Church. I don’t think I’d have ever had a conversation like that were it not for how God has helped me through you. I am going to follow up on the conversation even though I’m not sure it will do anything, but I’m trying to hope because the deacon seemed receptive and not defensive when we talked. But even if the book didn’t have the impacts hoped for with straight catholics, it would be such a resource for queer catholics trying to stay catholic who might need examples of how to verbalize a lot of this.