beautiful monsters: August 2006 Archives

August 31, 2006

in the dark

The blackness is still here, still as thick and as dark as ever. My ability to cope fluctuates from hour to hour. Every day there are times when I think I知 not going to make it through. But most days there are times when I can manage, when I blog, or go to lectures, when I even laugh a little. I think that makes it harder, lonelier, because people think I知 coping. I can pull myself together on the outside. In fact it痴 automatic, like a reflex. There are a few people who I feel like I can be how I am feeling with; my parents, my therapists, my minister. But the rest of the time I try to seem ok. The darkness still gnaws away inside, but on the outside I put on a mask, I start acting. Like a part in a play. I know my lines so well. I can be completely broken, utterly without hope, hitting my head or screaming in desperation. But as soon as the phone rings, or I have to go out into the world, I pull on my coping suit. Sometimes I feel like I知 watching my body from a great distance. Like a puppet, she talks to people, and smiles, and then when they leave I want to call after them 塗elp me, I知 not really ok, I知 drowning. I want to cry out, all the pain I知 in. But I知 frozen, in the distance, and somehow my body is smiling and waving good bye.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

wrong way

It痴 just struck me, lately, what was wrong with my experiences of church as a teenager. I mean, other than the music... and the homophobia... and the spiritual slayings... it went deeper than any of that.

I started to think about it during a lecture that Lloyd Geering gave at St Andrew痴 this week. I知 not sure if I can remember it all correctly, but you can buy a copy of the lectures on CD (contact St Andrew痴). Anyway, he said that the 撤auline stream of Christians, (who, decades after the death of Jesus, wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts) changed the focus from the message to the messenger. In his presentation on 典he Quest for the Historical Jesus, Lloyd explained that there痴 a reason why Jesus is reported as telling people not to tell everyone that he was the messiah: Because, when the gospels were written, there would still be people around who knew Jesus, and knew that he said no such thing. So they wrote it as though it was a secret between Jesus and the disciples, so that was the explanation for why people hadn稚 heard him calling himself the messiah.

All the stuff about Jesus being the Way, the Lord, my personal saviour, never really sat right with me. So I was pleased when Lloyd said that those bits were all written in by Paul et al., and the more reliable accounts are those of Thomas, James, Didache, etc, who focus on the message, social justice, loving our enemies, feeding the poor.

That was the problem with my old church experiences. We were so busy worshiping the messenger we forgot about his message.

Someone on the last Living the Questions DVD said that there are 2 types of Christianity. One that asks 努hat can God do for me? (save me, personally, from damnation, lift me up, bless me, etc). The other asks 努hat can I do for God? (social justice, love). I used to belong to the first group. We never talked about the unjust distribution of wealth, or about being inclusive, or about disarmament. We talked about our personal testimonies, how we were saved, and then we went about our mission of saving others. When I look at the verses that are underlined in my old bible, they are all about what God can do for me.

The other, scarier problem was the lack of questioning. The Bible was the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. And the minister or youth pastor or visiting leader痴 interpretation of the Bible was not to be questioned. If I didn稚 believe something, if it seemed wrong to me, I prayed that God would help me to have faith and believe it. I didn稚 ask questions, I didn稚 explore things myself. I listened to what the leaders said, and then I went home, and tried to make myself believe it.

I知 glad that now I have found a place where I am encouraged to ask questions, and where I can question our leaders. And I知 glad that instead of focusing on saving people for the next life, we are concentrating on walking the way of love and compassion in this life.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 10:41 AM | TrackBack

August 26, 2006


The Illustration Friday topic this week is 途un. I知 not a sporty person, but I did get a big run in my stockings last night, on the way to hear A Band Called Dave play at Paramount. This is the only time you are ever going to see photos of my legs. Ever.


This was my second idea. Ok, I cheated, I was feeling lazy and didn't want to get up and actually draw something. I stole the kid, Cadence, from deliberately random thoughts, and photoshopped her a little. She痴 cute, huh?


Oh man, this topic could go for ever. has 179 definitions for 途un" and then some.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

note to self:

do not try to completely reinvent stylesheets at 2am.

(thank god I saved a copy before I turned it into custard)

Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:38 AM | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

small things

They put chestnuts in icecream. With honey. Why didn稚 someone think of this before?


A few days ago my room was tidy. It was lovely. I loved it. Now It痴 not. The mess seemed to happen all by itself. The tidying seems to require so much effort.


the t on my keyboard is very relucan onigh.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

August 23, 2006


In an effort to prepare myself for Presbyterian General Assembly next month I've been reading a bunch of books about homosexuality and the Church. The ones that claim to represent the middle ground make me sad, because they all seem to believe that a "love the sinner hate the sin" approach is not a contradiction.

I知 not sure that I feel enlightened any, but it has lead to several marginal poems.

Note for non-Presbyterians: at the end of September the NZ Presbyterian church is meeting to vote on various matters, including whether homosexuals can be elders and ministers etc.



If I let my heart slip
between the cracks of my ribcage
and slide under
the boards of the floor

If I return love with bitterness
or worse, nonchalance

If I become numb
let ice crystalise on the surface
of my skin, and push its building blocks
through my blood

If I build a wall so thick
that no tremblings of love
no tingle of affection
no skin, no kiss can reach me

Will it be enough for you
to stop

hating the sin
in me?


Loving the sinner

Where do you draw the line?
Was it the first crush?
Youth Orchestra, the girl who sat opposite me
her slender fingers, strong grip on the bow
the way I could always hear her note, pull it
out of the swelling of sounds.

Perhaps the movie I saw
with my best friend, and on the screen
two girls kissed. Is it that moment of revelation
when everything made sense? Or the moment immediately
after, when my best friend said one word,
"Gross!" and I shut my mouth, swallowed my secret
for several years.

What about the first time I told
my secret, that dizzy feeling, not knowing
would it change them? Our friendship?
Would it change me? Words last
longer than feelings.

Was it the first time I gave a girl a poem
filled with sun and the scent of crushed
manuka, the joy of her laughter.

My first kiss. Awkward, uncertain,
my lips too dry, my hands shaking.

Yes, we undressed one night. Is that the moment?
When we realised another person could love
all our pain?

Or after that
the breaking

and then the apology, the gentle steps
the laughter returning.

Maybe it comes later still?
If someone loves me back
so deeply we become
bodies, minds, homes, bank accounts
maybe a child?

And even later
after we name her
Maia, or Poppy May

the day we start to teach her
that God is like
a rainbow
of Love.

Is that it?

Is that the point when you池e allowed
to hate?


Love the sinner hate the sin
Love the sinner hate the sin
Love sinner hate the sin
Love sinner hate sin
Sinner hate sin
hate sin
hate sin
hate sin


Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:36 PM | TrackBack

fuzzy things

Han痴 Dawn of the Knitted Dead and Shaun of the Knitted Dead wooly tributes are completely adorable. Aww those little mouths.

As are the little creatures at Mad Mad Crafter痴 flicker site. The little goat(?) thing is my favourite. Or maybe the Scruffy Ooak Cat The Angry Rabbit is just scary. Very. Really. Those little teeth.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 11:23 PM | TrackBack

Social Justice

Cross posted from Living the Questions Blog. Do you like the pretty banner? I made that!

典he arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
- Theodore Parker quoted by Martin Luther King Junior

We had an interesting discussion in this session about whether you can get to peace or get to justice through non-peaceful means. We disagreed in the end. My personal view is that you can稚. I think you have to actively create peace, and you can only do that by being peaceful, not by forcing an end to violence. But people cited the end of World War II and the independence of Bangladesh as examples where perhaps the ends justified the means. It痴 complicated, yes. I hope that there are other ways. I think of the Bereaved Families Circle in Israel and Palestine, and the hotline they have created. Anyone can pick up the phone and talk to someone on the other side of the wall. That痴 creating peace. Because suddenly the enemy has a voice, and becomes a real person, with hopes, dreams, a family they become harder to bomb. I think that if we invested as much time, money and energy into this sort of initiative, instead of 菟eacekeepers with guns, maybe it would make a difference. But that痴 just my opinion.

Someone in our group commented that if you say you池e against the Israeli bombing of Lebanon to someone who supports it, they automatically assume that you are for the Lebanese bombing of Israel. So not true. Grrrr. We also talked about whether you could buy and sell peace. I think we need to sell it. We need to make it attractive, financially as well as in other senses. But that requires a complete turn around of our whole system of value. We have to take into account human value, and environmental value, as well as monetary value. Long term value, and I知 talking generations, not weeks or months, rather than just short term profits. And I don稚 know if that is going to happen. Not any time soon. Except it is already happening, in small pockets, all over the world. That gives me hope. We need to give examples of peace too, make it easy, 撤eace and Justice for Dummies. I think that痴 why the victims of injustice can become perpetrators. Because they don稚 have good examples to follow. I guess, as Christians, we have the example of Jesus.

I liked Borg痴 comment that when we argue about whether Jesus was a spiritual or a political being, we miss the point. He was both. His politics flowed out of his 妬ntoxication with God. I think you can have passion for Justice without passion for God, or at least without believing in God. Of course I think that having a passion for justice is of God, from God, is God. But my atheist parents wouldn稚 like me telling them they were being Godly. Is it possible to have passion for God without passion for justice? I don稚 think so. I think you壇 be getting it wrong. But I admit, that痴 a fairly arrogant and dangerous attitude. A lot of the people who I think are misguided about God firmly believe that I am the misguided one. I think it was Marcus Borg who said that in the USA 1% of the population own 43% of the wealth. Then he went on to say it wasn稚 about making the middle class feel guilty about people poorer than them, it was about empowering and educating the entire 99% to be pissed off about the imbalance. I liked that, because I feel so much guilt, and I don稚 think it痴 a very productive emotion. It can be crippling. Sometimes I feel so guilty about all the bad things I知 doing (like buying sweatshop clothes, not giving every cent I have to charity) I find myself incapable of doing anything good. I just want to crawl back to bed.

I loved what our group facilitator said, about Rosa Parks, how she did such an ordinary thing but it triggered a huge wave of justice. We have to live our lives as if our every action, however small, like sitting on a bus, could trigger a bigger movement.

The DVD finished with this beautiful grace from Argentina:

God bless to us our bread
And give food to all those who are hungry
And hunger for justice to those who are fed.
God bless to us our bread.


Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:28 PM | TrackBack

August 12, 2006


I致e decided to have a go at Illustration Fridays. This week痴 topic is 菟lay.


Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:29 PM | TrackBack

living by the zoo

The lions were restless last night. I had safari dreams.

Woke up to the gibbon going off like a car alarm.

Now the monkeys, squabbling.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 08:18 AM | TrackBack

August 09, 2006


My friend Chris is dead. Everything on earth is wrong today.

I can稚 believe it. I can still hear his voice, his chuckle, see his grin in my mind. I saw him, only a few weeks ago, he was happy, he looked good. Alive. He had cancer, we had a few months warning, but it still doesn稚 seem to make any sense. For the past few years we致e lived in different cities, and still feel as though I could pick up the phone, and tell him all my problems, and he would take them apart and analyse them until they didn稚 seem so huge. I can稚 get my head around it.

Chris was awesome. When I was a 3rd former, and he was in 6th, I used to go to bed at night, and ring him up (we both had phones in our rooms) and we would talk until we had to get up for school the next morning. We didn稚 hang out that much at school, we both had friends our own age, but at night, on the phone, he was my bestest bud. Philosophy, religion, poetry, psychology, sex, we talked about everything. He was the first person I came out to. OMG, I had forgotten, he was the first person I came out to. Wow.

It was one of those all night conversations, and it took me the whole night to work up the nerve. Finally, as dawn seeped into the sky, I managed to stutter it. I think my exact words were 砥m, you know um sexually... I think I知 more attracted to girls. I honestly don稚 remember what he said. He probably analysed it all, came up with some conclusion about whether I was bi or lesbian or just curious, I have no idea. I just remember that it changed nothing. He was still my bestest bud.

He was also remarkable because he was a close guy friend who I didn't have any fucked up sexual experiences with. Or any not-fucked-up ones, for that matter. I tried to kiss him once, but he didn稚 let me. We were so close, and we would hug, and hold hands, and sometimes cuddle for hours, but he never crossed that line with me. I was so messed up I didn稚 know there was a line there, it痴 only looking back now I think that, for a teenage boy, he was some kind of miracle.

One of my favourite memories is of walking through the Redwood Forest in Rotorua one night, and there were glow-worms lighting up the banks on either side of the path, so many and so bright, lighting the path. It was magical.

In recent years we致e mostly communicated online. And Chris spent so much of his life online that since he died the IRC channel he frequented most has had the topic/heading 迭IP Christopher and the death notice in the Herald read 鼎OWAN: Christopher James Stockdale (My Old Sock). That was his online nick, but anyone who didn稚 know him must have thought it was a strange thing to put in a death notice.

I致e been searching for something tangible to hold on to, something he gave me, but most of my treasures are buried in boxes, here or in Rotorua. All I could find was this gold necklace that he bought for the girl we both fell for. She wasn't in love with either of us, so instead of fighting over, we sympathised with each other. Anyway, he bought her this necklace, I remember him describing it over the phone, asking if I thought she'd like it. He said every 5th link had a plate instead of a loop, it sounded weird but it was pretty. It had something hanging on it, a charm, a sparkly flower, I think. Anyway, she wouldn稚 take it so he gave it to me. Kind of a random, back-handed present, but it made me laugh. I didn't like the charm, but I still have the chain. It's so thin and delicate, I'm scared it will break if it catches on my clothes.


Oh Chris, what am I going to do without you?

When we were old we were going to have a cottage together, with a cat, and a stream with a bridge so we could play Pooh-Sticks. He was the kind of friend who was always going to be there.

His mother says it was peaceful, she says 塗e just didn稚 take the next breath.

God I値l miss him. I miss him already.


Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:04 AM | TrackBack