Friday, December 31, 2004

oh, barf.

Welcome to!

this is google's cache of countess von aryan's home page (it's been changed since.)

let's hear it for google!


perhaps it doesn't make sense for a christian to make resolutions (i remember a sermon of my father's that mocked the idea) but so what? here are mine:

  • cultivate more introspection. i wasn't very good this past year at self-reflection - it was all yelling, screeding, jeremiad-ing.
  • be more humble. it's so hard when you think everyone around you is woefully wrong and ignorant.
  • be more honest.
  • be less selfish. grumble, grumble.
  • be a better steward of money. grumble grumble.
  • go to church more, especially now that you're going to be a deacon. sigh.
  • don't just pray when you're in trouble. sigh. sigh.
  • cut down the profanity to a more managable level. shit.
  • practice forgiveness. george w bush, i forgive you for being a tool.

i think that's an ok list, right? i have a resolution left over from last year - be kinder to people - and don't know if i actually achieved that, sad to say. so it's back on the list. there could be others (don't think about sex so much, be less snarky, be more respectful of authority) but then i think that would just reduce me to a lump of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

rave on, jesus Life | Christian party animals (you'll need a day pass to read the whole thing.)

i saw this a few weeks ago and thought i'd link to it.

here's a confession. i used to be a circuit girl. gosh i loved it. the music, the dark, the lights, the attention. there is something about being pulled from a mass of dancing flesh to dance on a box while a thousand strobes flash all over your body. next to getting my tattoo, it was almost the most erotic thing to happen to me (going to circuit parties, that is.) won't go into what i saw there or who i was with (not that you can't really imagine all that) but let's just say that, after a while, the affects of it began to pall. there came a moment when the beats weren't hard enough, the lights weren't working for me and, whatever i had just swallowed with a bottle of water in the men's room, just wasn't hitting it anymore.

so that's all over now.

not that there isn't a little flicker when i remember some party (the black & blue party, the hearts party, pumpkin head or sandblast) and remember the wow of it.

nowadays, the only circuit i do is in my local slim & tone.

tsunami relief: some ways to help

should you be thinking about sending money, this is a list of the relief
organizations providing aid to the families of the 60,000 dead and to the one million men, women and children left homeless by this natural disaster.

let's make a difference. because we can.


South Asia Tsunami Relief

AFSC Crisis Fund

International Response Fund
PO Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013


Tsunami Emergency
PO Box 17090
Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090


PO Box 2247
New York, New York 10116-2247



Earthquake/Tsunami Relief

Asia Disaster Response

Southeast Asia Earthquake Emergency

Southeast Asia Earthquake Response


Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund


sell outs: Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion

Screed: sell outs: Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion

gee, who could this be?

read it anyway and get mad.

what are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

so much to catch up on...

this, for starters. so you want the guy who created the FUBAR situation in iraq dickering with your social security? be my guest.

oh, and how's this for gutless wonders? it may be time to switch my party affiliation to independent. maybe they'd start paying attention to me then.

other than that, i had a wonderful holiday celebrating the birth of the Lord. hope you did, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

the memory hole

The Gadflyer: Tear Down the Cross

i remember posting about this earlier this year - and here's another!

how's this for irony: conservatives fight to 'save christmas' yet belly up (along with our president, it seems) with a moonie cult telling mostly black churches to tear down their crosses.


it's a puzzlement.

anger floats

James Wolcott: Wanted: Less Sorrow, More Anger

a friend once described me to another friend: ding's anger floats UP.

gay matt was never more correct. unlike my fellow progressives and democrats, i don't dither with blame. i know exactly whom to give the finger. not the hapless man or woman scraping to get by; not the clueless teenager who makes me fear for the future. my anger is aimed a little higher than that. i don't shuffle and hem and haw and qualify my anger (unless i'm at a work function and then, usually, a few glasses of wine overcomes that little restraint.)

but i failed in my anger the other night and i have my fellow presbyterians to blame. i unfortunately entered into a discussion of walmart and labor practices at a cocktail party at a local pub and it soon gained the attention of two conservative grad students. one i've already scrapped with, arguing over the failure of abstinence-only sex education. the other one looked like a perfectly charming, inocuous, church girl from texas.

until she shrugged, took a bite of her portabello sandwich and said, 'i don't care all that much about walmart. i mean, what else are those people going to do?'

i blinked. 80 different responses blazed on the tip of my tongue. and then i remembered that these were fellow church people, we were at a holiday cocktail party and i didn't know this woman at all. the financial analyst across from me was nervously looking at my face as i squinted at texas barbie and then deliberately turned away and joined another conversation.

my anger, instead of floating into a blazing fury right in her face, festered in my belly and gave me gas.

so here's a new year's resolution for dems and progs: for the sake of your lower GI, let fly the darts and arrows of your fury. get red in the face, spew some bile. get dirty with rage. let your anger float in the air and singe the heavens.

when in doubt...

Brian McLaren: "Doubt: The Tides of Faith" Written for Christian Single Magazine

found this great essay by brian mclaren, another writer i'll have to explore. maybe i'll send a copy of his new book to my father.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

the day is dark and cold and i want to run the clock backwards, back to the time i was curled in my dark soft lumpy bed and everything was perfect. it's advent on our church calendar and we lurch to another christmas. the christians among us celebrate the birth of christ but i admit to feeling decidedly not christ-like or christmassy.

we have lost the war in the middle east, our soldiers are fodder for missiles and bombs; our president still has the ability to rouse hatred and induce vomiting in at least half the populace (oh, for a freakish cosmic accident that will show our POTUS bursting into flame as he touches the bible during his inauguration, the first recorded human combustible); every conversation i have with a conservative brings up bile and contempt and if i am ever to exercise control over my temper i will have to shun them - or resign myself to immediate ad hominem attacks and call them vile, deceitful cramps who would rather lick the brown boot of karl rove than help their fellow man. and where is my side of political spectrum? (crickets, crickets)

there is much to celebrate - life, family, friends, liberty and straight teeth. there is the new boy, who haltingly told me the story of his divorce last night while we sat in a red and green lit tiki room in river grove; he spread his hands, shrugged, and said all he ever wanted was to be loved and isn't that what this life is about? and i could only nod and crunch another pretzel. there is the story of the woman and the carved out baby, but there is also the mini-skirted octogenarian woman in the river grove bowling alley who slowly walked her ball down the lane, dropped it with a thud and watched as it rolled to a strike, as if by a magnet; then she'd turn, shuffle back to her table and flick a smile at her equally shriveled husband who just watched her roll strike after strike after strike. it could have been sad (two old people bowling on a tuesday night) but it looked sweet to me.

there's doesn't seem to be time for reflection this time of year. i suppose that's what the church is for - to slow us down and make us see the world a little differently - it's a world worth saving, with tiny people shuffling to...something.

but, in the words of my roommate, why does everyone who goes to church suck so much?

Rapture Ready


the rapture index is especially keen.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Revealer: A Misunderstanding Between Friends

you'd think that since this is my church, i'd know more about what was happening. but no. all the committees in the presbyterian church sort of make me zone out.

they like meeting more than baptists...

VOA News - Cuban Authorities Retaliate Against US Christmas Display

we can file this under pot calling kettle, glass houses or whatever aphorism is appropriate.

thanks to my friend, jp, for bringing this to my attention.

Friday, December 17, 2004

care of the poor

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Buying Into Failure

one of my earliest sunday school memories is learning the beatitudes. the southern baptist convention sent us teaching materials and included paper jesus' and apostles and pharisees who would all stick to felt watercolor-washed backgrounds. so here's jesus, stuck to a felt landscape, and there are the random people, also stuck to the felt, floating at his feet. and that's how i learned the beatitudes, with the picture of jesus teaching others to care for the sick, the elderly, the infirm, the defenseless.

when did that picture get replaced with a muscular and callous portrait of christianity stomping all over the poor?

defenders of this callous disregard soberly recite, "the poor will be with you always", as if this exuses us from action. we'll also always have disease, death and stupid people. to acknowledge a deficit isn't action. we must do more than just say, hey there's poor people! how about helping poor people?

or did jesus not say anything about that?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

morning commute

there was a woman on the bus monday night, the #66. she sat at the front of the bus and was in the middle of testifying to the rest of the bus. all the other riders were scrunched to the back, avoiding her eyes. she said, 'i used to be a liar, a thief, verbally abusive, and stressed out and now the love of jesus has redeemed me and i just want to tell you about the love of jesus. he can give you a new spirit, a good spirit. he can make your life whole again. all you have to do is cast your trust on him and give your life to him.' and so on.

when a passenger de-bused, she'd stop her story to smile and say, 'god bless.' they'd either smile nervously or say it back.

i went out the back door. i was uncomfortable. i couldn't help it. i've always been uncomfortable with public testimony - especially when it looks crazy. when i was a teenager, my youth group would get together every so often to do some witnessing role play. total nightmare. one day, a church leader told me i needed to be more of an example to the younger girls who needed to see me witness more. i just nodded and moved away from him.

there is no performance fear; i've given conference papers, taught and led presentations. i've given speeches to labor organizations, reports to university administration and hectored an english department. like my preacher father, all i need is a soapbox.

but all of these things make sense to me. testifying or witnessing? this makes no sense. my own conversion is barely understandable to myself, let alone to a complete stranger. my own wobbly christian faith is barely sustainable to me, much less some bored guy on a bus who just wants to get home in the cold night and have a beer. and the weird logic of witnessing - someone else's faith depends on hearing the story of my faith - creeps me out.

it's like the guy who told me once that i had a christian duty to tell all my gay friends they were going to hell. when i asked him why, what will change spiritually for either one of us, he had nothing to say except that i'm supposed to.

perhaps we've won a little heavenly gold star; we've shared our wretched tale of sin and redemption, forced it on a stranger and then we say, you too could live the life of grace i'm living now! we look crazy, like the man on those commercials for enhanced erections. ("look at bob! he used to be limp and lifeless - a vienna sausage. but now! he's got wood!") whether someone responds to us seems to be beside the point. the point is the telling. i think. what's the point again? honestly. i've forgotten.

the woman from the bus monday night was on my bus again this morning (the # 65); i couldn't believe it. i sank behind the person in front of me and watched her tuck her bus card inside her shirt, settle in, take a look around and announce, 'good morning everybody. i just want to share a little of my testimony with you all. i've made a change in my life and i need to share it. jesus saved me from a life of sin...'

when my stop came, i left out the back door.
if i see her again i will freak. out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

hey, what about me??!!

who the hell is star parker??

apparently, according to the worldview festival bio sheet, she has turned her back on a life of welfare, abortions and waitress fraud. oh, and she's black!

hey how come no one at worldview fest wants to talk to me?? i've never had an abortion, i've never been on welfare, i've never even been a waitress and i'm black!! and asian!! (two ethnicities for the price of one!) i even sang in the choir!

i'm a fecking inspiration, too! praise god!

(thanks, badchristian!)

just this once

so churchgal had a date sunday afternoon. hate to say it, but all the politicking has been bumped off the radar the past couple days by a 37-yr old divorced guy who likes wearing leather pants and directs the choir (and the community orchestra) at a catholic church on the north side.


churchgal may be smitten.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

i wanted to write about the whole full quiver movement, but it was too upsetting.

instead i've been caught up in a discussion at the new democratic network about the direction of the party and there's a guy on there who thinks reproductive 'choice' is a public relations nightmare that should be eradicated if dems want to win.

i think my head is about to explode.
(in fact, this explosive rage i've been feeling whenever i run across jackasses is getting to be a problem.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

and while i'm on the topic...

Deliberate Childlessness: Moral Rebellion With a New Face

i want to write about this later.
when i'm not full of rebellion against the natural order of my ovaries.

no. way.

QuiverFull .com

speechless. utterly speechless.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


This is a good collection of all the ways the right is moving against women's reproductive choice.

(as in choosing to reproduce... geez.)

the magnitude of anti-woman (misogynist) thinking behind this net of legislation is stunning. poor women, single women, young girls and overburdened married women are eventually going to be funneled into a narrow channel of patriarchal laws that define female sexuality in only one way: married and not her own.

i'm also stunned at the lack of action in the women around me. these are laws that affect all of us and yet we haven't become angry enough to demand that our rights are protected. just think - women have enjoyed reproductive freedom for only 31 years. that's just my lifetime (give or take 5 years.) if all of these laws pass, i could possibly see a MAN take away my right to make decisions about my body and what i do with it. yet, my sisters are worried about 'what if he's just not that into you?'

what bullshit.


a smoking gun of sorts.

if you're not exhausted by the war on terror or the many machinations of this, our blighted administration, then feast your eyes on this report. take a close look at pp 22 and 43.

of course, this report is totally unmentioned in our press. sigh.

Monday, December 06, 2004

really?!? (pt 2) Life | Frist backs review of abstinence programs

you can almost smell his reluctance, can't you?

i can't recall if i've written about this before but two months ago, i found myself in the middle of cru wine bar having a very LOUD discussion with a slightly more conservative fellow churchgoer about sex ed while the rest of our committee looked on in bemusement.

me: studies have shown that kids who go through abstinence only sex ed programs not only end up ignorant about the basics of sex, they are the ones who contract sexually transmitted diseases!
him: then they shouldn't have sex until they're married!
me: marriage isn't a prophylactic against being ignorant about the basics of sex or stds!
him: what are you talking about?
me: uh, marriage isn't a cure-all for sexual responsibility?
him: i don't know what you're talking about.
me: what? sexual responsibility. (i repeat a few more times)
him: (blank blinking.)
me: sex ed isn't just about condoms. it's about how to make healthy choices about your sexuality, your body.
him: that's the most selfish thing i've ever heard. why would a woman in a marriage need to know about 'healthy sexuality'?

sigh. there's almost no point when the conversation is so lopsided, is there?


The New York Times > National > A Question of Faith for a Holiday Parade

i can see it now, holiday parades across the country turning into religous v. secular melees, pastors and mayors hurling songs, invective and the little baby jesus crashing to the street, only to be stampeded by the local high school band.

get a grip, people. it's a fecking parade.

slightly off topic, i remember caroling when i was growing up in los angeles. imagine a small south central choir, driving all over compton and crenshaw, rushing out a few carols ('come on, hurry up before the gangsters see us!') in the cold dark wanting just to get back to my family's house where hot chocolate and cider waited for us.

surreal and possibly the best urban christmas ever. that was when i loved the church. now the church disappoints me in practically all aspects.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says (

i think this is my favorite part of the article:

One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

so it's not enough that these programs are teaching kids that you can get pregnant through casual touching; they're also telling girls that a boy's confidence is more important than their own.

what the hell?


James Wolcott: Pointers

he's a little harsh on jesus as a deficient philosopher, but i don't think jesus was here to be a philospher anyway.

in other religious news, i've been nominated to be a deacon at my very large beautiful church. i laughed my ass off when i got the phone call. then, when i told my father, he actually cried.

a friend told me of a thing they call intercessory prayer; most deacons avoid this duty because it may require them to actually pray with someone in crisis. (oh, presbyterians. so in touch with your emotions.) i actually look forward to it.

what else...what else? ah. the UCC tried to air a commercial on their church's tolerance for everyone (ahem) and CBS and NBC refuse to air it because of its controversial stance on...tolerance.

this world is absurd and we are so stupid to follow it, we deserve whatever horrid comeuppance is out there.