Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

So Easy, A Cave Man Can Do It.

Wow. Two blog posts in two days. This is probably a record.

I'm a big fan of the Geico cave man commercials. As a denizen of the litigation industry, I'm not a big fan of Geico, but that's a whole nother blog post. In case you missed the whole series, a couple of Neanderthals wander around modern day society, being tough and cool, hanging with friends, picking up pretty girls, bowling, whatever, and then one of them sees a poster or billboard for Geico Insurance with the tag line, "So Easy A Cave Man Can Do It." Instantly all the fun's over. I think they had a brief TV series that kind of went down in flames after accusations of racism. Something about Rev. Fred Phelps pronouncing "God Hates Brow Ridges," or maybe it had something to do with the Neandertal Anti-Defamation League.

Anyway, the most recent one has a cave man walking up to a display of TVs, pausing to chat on his BlackBerry, then looking up in time to see the Geico commercial. I think this one is my favorite. He tears off his glasses, throws aside his BlackBerry, takes off his shirt and runs out into the rain while the music behind him says something like "I gotta be who I am."

Reason this comes up is that my friend Jackie had a gig today at this Episcopal church. I told her I'd be there because I love to hear her sing, and because her original songs are by turns witty, scathing, irreverent and sad. Course at this one she was going to play mainly religious material but that was okay. It was some kind of "intergenerational healing service", where you pray for tragedies that have afflicted your family in the past and for stuff you've got going on now. Which I can get behind, Buddhist that I am. At least until I saw the long list of "family tragedies," which the priest read out loud. Among them: Domestic violence. Rape. Murder. Suicide, mental illness, homosexuality, lesbianism, drug addiction, miscarriages --

Uh. Hold it. Back up. What?

He kept going. Alcoholism, estrangement of a family member, "spiritualism," witchcraft, Satanism, tarot card reading, divination, having psychic abilities, cruelty to animals, family members that aren't part of the Judeo-Christian tradition such as Buddhists and Muslims; habitual criminal behavior, participating in genocide...

And there I sat, the lesbian Buddhist Tarot card reader with the mild psychic powers and the Wiccan wife who, uh, practices witchcraft. At least occasionally.

I gotta tell ya, I have heard gay people called many interesting things, but gay-person-as-"family tragedy" was a new one on me. I mean, if you had a gay son and you spent most of his teenage years telling him that God hates gay people and so he turned around and killed himself one day, that would be a family tragedy. (And you would be a moron.) But I don't know of any faith that has a ritual of mourning because a niece just admitted that she, uh, kind of likes girls. Likewise psychic powers. I mean, you don't ask to have psychic powers and you don't ask to be gay. You're either born that way or you're not.

And having a Muslim or a Buddhist in the family is a "family tragedy"? Up there with domestic violence, rape, mental illness and forGodsake genocide? Certainly the members of this church are entitled to think that their religion is the correct one, but do they really say to their friends, "My brother in law is a Muslim," and expect the same pat on the shoulder and the "I'm so sorry" that they'd get if they said, "My brother-in-law beat up and murdered my sister"?

Half the time it doesn't even occur to me I'm gay. I'm kind of post-gay. I mean, yeah, I'm married to a woman, and we have cats and own a house together, but we're so boring we could put your teeth to sleep and we live in a 1950s neighborhood with lots of other boring people and I doubt we occasion much comment from anybody around. The neighborhood kids would probably refer to us as "the two fat ladies" before they said "the two lesbians" or whatever less-than-flattering equivalent term kids are using these days. I go to work and pay bills and clean house and do laundry and really lead a rather unremarkable life. If I had to list my defining characteristics, I'd probably put being a lesbian fifth or sixth on the list, underneath being Scandinavian, fat, liberal, a writer, and Buddhist with a Lutheran background. It just doesn't enter my consciousness that often. Until something like this happens and there I am, the cave man from the Geico commercial, putting down my bowling ball and walking off in disgust as the pinsetter that reads "So Easy A Cave Man Can Do It" comes down at the end of the lane.

So I didn't have the option of tearing off my glasses and running dramatically away into the rain to be a cave man. I'm not sure how one runs off and is dramatically a lesbian Buddhist Tarot card reader, anyway, because I am one pretty much every day and I don't think I'd do anything different if I were, say, a polysexual Hindu palm reader. Instead I had to wait for a break in the music so that I could get up and leave without embarrassing Jackie. If she hadn't been there, I'd have left a lot sooner. Or made a scene. Or maybe both. Hard to know. And now I'm home and writing this blog post and trying to decide if it would be okay to mention that the church was SAINT LUKE'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH ON ROYAL LANE AT PRESTON or if that would be bad manners.

I wonder if anybody else there had a gay friend or family member. I imagine so; practically everyone does. I wonder if anybody else there had any idea how casually they were inflicting terrible damage on these folks by equating their gay and lesbian family members with wife-beating genocidal Satan-worshipping rapists. I imagine Muslims get used to being associated with suicide bombers (though they probably never like it) and Wiccans get used to being lumped into the same category as Satanists (even though Satan is a Christian concept that has no place in this pre-Christian tradition). But I hope they don't. I hope they're outraged every single time, and I hope they get in people's faces every single time. There nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, Muslim, Buddhist or psychic. People don't choose these things; they are chosen. So plainly God wants them that way. And if God wants them that way, they aren't "family tragedies." As a Buddhist might tell you, they just are.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Well, this has been an interesting day - fending off nine zillion emails on the whole cave man thing. I just wanted to disclaim here, before I fall into bed like a rotten tree, that I DID NOT MEAN TO SUGGEST FOR ONE SECOND that all Christians are like this, or even that some Christians are like this. I used to be a Christian and I'm not like this and I know plenty of Christians who are not like this. That. Whatever. This was a pretty egregious event but it was one event at one church hosted by one priest who, I found out earlier, isn't even the regular guy there. More on that later. Meantime, remember that dividing up people into groups so as to bash anyone who's different from you is a Buddhist-y no no. Or so my old great-aunt Maude used to say.