May 17th, 2009


[MFA GLBT] Kiss the Moon (Chan di chummi) [2009-05-09]

I was going to also see Trinidad but I woke up (having gone to bed at like 1:10am) at 12:19pm (the film was at 1:30pm, and it takes about an hour for me to get to the MFA).
LGBT Film Festival
Kiss the Moon (Chan di chummi)
3:30 — 4:50 pm
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Remis Auditorium

Kiss the Moon (Chan di chummi) by Khalid Gill (Pakistan/Germany, 2008, 80 min.). Kiss the Moon portrays the lives of Khusras, members of a close-knit subculture of transgendered women in Pakistan. Well aware of the complex and ancient cultural traditions of Pakistani society, the sizeable Khusras community struggles to maintain a harmonious relationship with society, but often at noticeable odds. Kiss the Moon demonstrates how it feels to live in a world where life is divided into a rigid binary of masculine and feminine, crossing gender boundaries to discover the true essence of being: the desire to love and be loved.
The woman who introduced the film said that these people in Pakistan probably wouldn't understand themselves to be "transgender" the way we understand it in the West but would understand themselves as "Third Gender," which carries with it connotations of mystical powers, though there is also the universal experience of alienation and not having good access to medical care and etc.

One of the older Khusras said that they used to be much more respected but now folks are very influenced by cable tv.

We watch one scene of some Khusras dancing to bless a baby boy, and I was unclear as to how much everyone wanted the Khusras to be there -- in part because I don't know the culture, so I don't know if some of what I was reading as hesitancy is just part of the social norm performance (like, when at the end the lead dancer gives the mom back the money, saying it's too little, but ultimately she does take it and says that the mom will have another baby boy next year and so she'll be back next year to dance for that boy).

In one segment, a number of them talked about Khusra community and how they are loved there better than they are by their birth families.  But later, one of the older Khusra (called a "mother") explains that each Khusra has a man, without a man life as a Khusra is very difficult.  The interviewer asked if this leads Khusras to go into prostitution, and the mother said yes but she disapproves and is glad that her girls aren't doing that.

Despite the intro-er's talk abut "Third Gender," my impression was that the Khusras truly think of themselves as women.  Some of them even said as much, including talk about having a "female soul."  Some of them talked about how they do all the female domestic work and their families like that, but when they go to become part of a Khusra community their families are all scandalized and don't want them to do that.

There was some talk about being castrated (Nibran Khusra), and one who had had it done said that she felt a feeling of purity, of being free(d) from sin.  Another talked about how much she wanted to have herself castrated but she thought surely there must be some purpose for something that God has attached to your body.

Most are given a new name when they become part of their Khusra community.  One said she never had an identity card made, said when an official asks for her identity card she just claps once and that indicates that she is Khusra.

There was also some uncomfortable race stuff underneath.
One Khusra wished she had been born white, because she thinks they're prettier.
One Khusra talked about wanting children and had a picture of two white, blond, little kids (one boy, one girl).
And in a segment talking about love, one has a photo from the Titanic movie (Leonardo DiCaprio kneeling and kissing Kate Winslet's gloved hand) up on her wall.

[Rest and Bread] Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch [2009-05-13]

Psalm 100 -- instead of all the "Lord" language (which Molly isn't particular about but which Laura Ruth doesn't like) we said "Yah," which is apparently a way to say YHWH that is respectful to Judaism.

The Sacred Text was the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts [8:26-40].

Listening to the story, I was struck by:
1) The bit about the eunuch saying he can't understand the passage he's reading without someone to explain it to him (which actually sits somewhat uncomfortably with me).
2) The eunuch invites Philip into his carriage would you like to see my etchings?

Laura Ruth's Reflection:
* She said that Philip was a deacon (tending to the physical and spiritual needs of congregation -- I, um, had not realized that was the role of deacons ... I fail at congregational polity?).
* She mentioned that he had 4 daughters (and thus presumably a wife) and friends (he introduced Nathaniel) -- he was a regular person, like us.
* She said she did some research on eunuchs and they might be gay.  She said they were considered a "third gender," and I think that's the point at which I became cranky.  (Though I was also like, "How have you never researched eunuchs before?  Doesn't everyone who's queer and Christian do a whole load of research about how to reconcile those?"  When I told her this afterward, I said that I know I'm totally projecting.  In talking with her later about eunuchs etc., I remembered but didn't get a chance to mention the "Some are born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs, some make themselves eunuchs..." [Matthew 19:12] bit.)
* She talked about moving closer to God, and how sometimes we're the eunuch and sometimes we're Philip.
* She said that Philip was willing to be whisked away, and I called her out on that afterward, pointing out that if God whisks you away, you don't exactly get a say in that.  She said she thinks you do, actually, but she takes my point -- and I said that as I was saying it I realized that you might get a say, the Scripture is silent on that, as it is on so many thing (I then voiced my frustration that we're told that Philip explained the Isaiah passage to the eunuch and the eunuch converted, but we don't actually get Philip's explanation ... could I get some pointers, here, New Testament writers?).

During Communion, Laura Ruth gave thanks for, "Christ's life, Christ's death, Christ's birth, and Christ's resurrection."  When she said "Christ's birth," I kinda looked over (I was in the chair closest to the altar) and stifled laughter (the usual statement is giving thanks for "Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection," so she had clearly forgotten the opening phrase and then slotted it back in when she remembered) and she looked at me kinda like, "Yeah, I know."

Sixth Sunday After Easter [2009-05-17]

SCBC Adult Ed this morning was another Miracles of Jesus video, this time John 6:1-15 (the feeding of the five thousand).
* The narrator talked about how Philip was a really practical kind of person (these days he would be an accountant or something) and Andrew only had a little faith but he did have faith (he didn't believe the little boy's lunch would feed everyone, but he did bring the little boy to Jesus), and I was reminded (yet again) of the chapter in Mark Allan Powell's Loving Jesus on having little faith.
* I felt like he read way too much negativity in to Philip, but he suggested that Philip felt like, "If these people showed up and didn't think to bring a lunch, that's not my problem."  The narrator imagined Jesus saying in effect, "you are not your brother's keeper but your brother's brother."
* The narrator said, "Jesus hadn't invited these people.  In fact, he had tried to avoid them."  I would actually take issue with that, but I did kind of like the idea that whenever we go to God we will never be refused, never be turned away.
* The narrator said that we just have to take a tiny step toward the impossible and God will multiply that.

In the discussion afterward, Owen said that probably what happened was lots of people had a little, and they were inspired by that witness to share what they had.
Not for the first time, I thought, "You might be too liberal for UCN" -- because it was like we weren't even entertaining the possibility that Jesus did a literal laws-of-nature-defying miracle.


CHPC was underwhelming, as usual -- though LizL. accepted a Call to pastor at First Presbyterian, Waltham, which she says is about 30% GLBT (mostly T), so during Coffee Hour she said, "I need to get hooked up with your people.  The welcoming people.  The people of welcome."  She's a straight ally feeling a bit out of her depth.


CWM, in contrast, was FUCKING AWESOME.

Telynia and Leyalyn were heading up the stairs as I was coming out of the bathroom, and I swear Telynia said, "Hi, Elizabeth."  I had no idea she knew my name.

Jeremy preached on Genesis 26:1-6, 18-22.
He opened talking about names, telling the story of a church where he worked with children once, and the children all wrote their names on a piece of paper and asked him to call roll -- if he could pronounce their names correctly (this was not a white-bread community), indicating that he valued them, then that indicated to them that he had value to offer them.  Yes of course it's unfair to ask an outsider to know how to pronounce names that are foreign to them (though once you have told the outsider how to pronounce your name, of course they should work hard to get it right), but I think the story is a powerful reminder.
Other notes:
"wells of justice run dry when we crease to drink from and maintain them"
"stopping the flow of someone's fresh water was a serious crime -- an act of war"
"Isaac renamed old wells to reflect present reality"
He said it reminded him of Braveheart -- "they can take our wells, but they can't take away our freedom to name them" ("they may take our lives, but they can never take away our freedom").  I said I'd been thinking of the Firefly theme.  Jeremy said I got a +1 geek points for that :)  Jen later got one for knowing how to pluralize "locus."
He quoted the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of those of old, but seek what they sought."
"don't you want more than the wars of our fathers?"
"we may lose some wells along the way that are too choked up with pettiness and hatred to be redeemed."

During the Communion liturgy, I was struck by the line "Resurrecting God, we give thanks that you could not be contained by those who sought to entomb you.  You broke forth from the silence of the grave; before you the stone was moved, and the tomb of our world was opened wide."  It reminded me of one of Jeremy's recent-ish posts, actually.

Jeremy handed me the Cup, and I asked if he didn't have some pun on wells such that he wanted to be the one holding the Cup and he said no he didn't.  I haven't been a co-celebrant at CWM in ages, so I was casting about for what to say to the congregants as they took the Cup, and I ran through four or five (The Cup of Salvation, The Cup of Blessing, The Cup of Joy) before coming up with, "New wells for new life."

Dinner wasn't anything extraordinary, and I left around 7:30 or something, but I liked Jeremy's sermon A LOT, and even on underwhelming days I am consistently glad to be there.