I who may well be...

Musings from the perspective of a human being who may well be not locatable completely within the usual categories of male or female or gay or straight or transsexual or intersexed or exploiter or exploited or supplier or consumer or performer or spectator.

Friday, March 31, 2006

V for Vendetta

This was my favourite comic book when first published in serial form back in the eighties when I was an impressionable young adult; A guide to anarchy that has shaped my life, with its uncomprising call to integrity and defiance of the brutal rule of authoritarianism.

The film captures all this brilliantly, and I look forward to repeated screenings. The brothers Wachowski, who made the Matrix trilogy, have done a superb job of making this movie entertaining, educational, and absolutely true to the original. Details have been changed, as the original was based in a future twenty years from 1980, but it is truer to the spirit of the original work, with its digs at modern goverment-sponsored atrocities, the governmental creation of terrorism and fear, and the vile corruption (and inevitable weakness) of authoritarianism.

More, it is a shining testament and clarion call to the immortality of freedom.

Why writer Alan Moore insisted on being absent from the credits is just a bearded mystic thing I wouldn't understand, I expect.

See it on the big screen, and let your heart burst with joy for the power of freedom.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My local newspaper

Here's a wee article about the folk of my local church who put out the local newspaper and their commitment to social jsutice activism. It's sometimes obvious that I am well in the Flow, knowing and working with these people. Dorothy in particular, who was supportive during my recent struggle with gender normativity (discussed currently on my more intimate blog, http://eunuchlove.blogspot.com/)

The following story is written by Erin J. Tennant and seems to have been published only just today (how's that for timing and coincidence! I just happened upon it when googling for Vlad's email address!)


Missional journos serve secular readers

The fun of interviewing a fellow reporter (or three of them at once) is how little following-up is needed.

You shoot a not especially probing question onto the table (such as, “You must meet a lot of people running a community rag, eh?”) and sit back as your interviewees (in this case, the managing editor and two editorial staff from The South Sydney Herald) lob the issue back and forth, weigh in with quotable apercus and, with little prompting, shift the discussion onto more specific matters that you realise would have been smart to ask about in the first place; such as the labour of love these South Sydney Uniting Church congregation members undergo in providing community service journalism to their area, the hurdles of attracting advertisers to their 16-page tabloid, coordinating dozens of stories from staff and contributors each month using mainly home computers, supplying free monthly circulation to ten inner-Sydney suburbs via a collection of volunteers, or the ongoing effort at building a community profile and sourcing valuable contacts — and all the while backing up their expositions with colourful anecdotes.
Quotes, details, background, colour. Story done.

Yet combining missional work with journalism is a tricky game, particularly if you want the trust of a predominantly secular readership.

“I’m very sensitive that we don’t abuse our power,” explains Vladimir Korotkov, editor of the Herald and minister at the South Sydney congregation. “The stories come naturally, rather than our strategically thinking how can we put a message in there somehow.

“What [my colleagues] agree on is that God is involved in this community and we’re just cooperating with this unseen work of God. It’s like Jeremiah 29: ‘Seek the welfare of the city in which you live ... Pray for it, for its welfare is your welfare.’”

God’s work may be unseen here, but the Herald, circulating since 2000, is holding an increasingly visible presence in the lives of inner Sydney residents, with 17,000 copies distributed each month from Surry Hills to Newtown.

And while their attitude may appear casual (editorial meetings are held at a local coffee shop in Redfern, where Insights caught up with Vladimir and colleagues Dorothy McRae-McMahon, a retired minister and former director of the national Commission for Mission, and Trevor Davies, a long-time resident activist and congregation member) the editorial team assure me the Herald is no slack operation.

Vladimir’s church office is set up with computer, printer and scanner, with broadband internet and fax machine. Trevor and Dorothy do their editorial part from home, staff photographer Ali Blogg supplies the pictures and the remaining editorial content comes via contributors.

Copy is sent to designers in Surry Hills, re-proofed, relayed to printers in Marrickville, and then distributed to homes and selected businesses (by church volunteers).

A glance at recent front-cover stories reveals the tone of the Herald’s journalism: a Cambodian business owner establishes a new life in Australia as a Redfern baker after witnessing the terrors of the Khmer Rouge (July issue); a Redfern policing program fails to address Aboriginal issues (August issue); the local council’s Homeless Persons Information Centre celebrates its 20th anniversary (October issue).

There is also a regular faith column that appears within the editorial or as a separate op-ed.
“We cover the poorest suburbs with incredible problems — we’re not going for the sexy headline,” says Trevor.

“We also reach out to those more upwardly mobile who have needs as well,” he adds, citing a recent story on changes to strata title laws affecting Surry Hills residents.

Vladimir: “We’ve been criticised as a Labor rag, but we do attempt to provide a broad perspective of people who represent different political positions. We have a real commitment to core issues which are sliding out of government interests and out of mainstream media’s interests, such as Aboriginal issues, multicultural issues, support for gay and lesbians, and women’s rights.”

Dorothy: “When we see something good and creative and encouraging, when we see a person in the area who’s done a good job over a long time, we tell that story.”

There are certain issues the Herald will shy away from, however, such as stories depicting the deep divisions within the local Aboriginal community. “That kind of story will just perpetuate the stereotypical understanding of Aboriginal people — I just don’t think it adds value,” says Vladimir.

“The sort of people we want to chase down are politicians; the people who wield power,” says Trevor.

It is a formula that seems to be working, with the inner-Sydney tabloid gaining a level of trust among readers that has drawn new attendees to Sunday sermons.

Dorothy: “This [newspaper] is about genuinely loving a raw, struggling community with all its laughs and tears. We are a part of it, rather than observing it.”
Erin J. Tennant

Listening: Giving Geniune Attention to the Other

I've just lifted this text from a page on the web, as it is written by my local church minister and newspaper editor, is a bit about a local woman ("Kathy") who I also know.

Here's Vlad's story, which I liked particularly because of the discussion of Freedom at the end. Enjoy.

~ norrie mAy


Listening: Giving Geniune Attention to the Other
Vladimir Korotkov

Listening: who is this that enters the conversation?

When the small group of SCM people from the recent 2005 national conference came to Redfern for an exposure visit I introduced them to a local Aboriginal woman, aged in her early 40s, whom I will call Kathy. I had organised various visits with locals a few weeks before but Kathy was not one of them.

As I walked to Redfern Railway Station to meet the group just before 9am, I met Kathy. She did her usual ‘hit’ on me as she had done for the last five years. Most of our conversations have been in the street. But they have had a degree of simple depth. I have come to know of her heroin addiction and attempts to enter the methadone programme, the bashings by her partner when he drinks too much (I also know him and, sober, he is a really funny guy who I see regularly on The Block), and her few suicide attempts visibly evident by heavy bandaging and later by the deep scars.

So, when I met Kathy that morning, I asked if she would sit and have coffee with the SCM people and just tell us about her life. Yep, she said, but can you give me some money as well? I did. She did meet us an hour later for coffee in a cafe, but she was now really high on heroin. Although she was ‘nodding’, at times nearly falling asleep, she told us about her life: about her love for her six kids who lived in another State because she was unable to care for them, her fluctuating life, what it was like to live in Redfern, what her habit did to her and what her relationship is like.

What a despairing life, many would say. And the SCM group really felt for her, I could see this clearly. Yet there is a kindness and a beauty in her face, though lined and aged beyond her years, which has always moved me. This is her life. She has a simple and basic faith in God and love for other human beings. Many local agencies provide her with help when she needs it. She is a survivor. Sadly, she is considered ‘scum’ by a minority of locals in Redfern because of her habit.

Listening awry: discerning the other within the listener

For me, listening is paying genuine attention to an ‘other’: an ‘other’ who is different to me and from whom I can learn.

But genuine listening also requires a reflexive awareness of the ‘other of the listener. The ‘other’ being all those aspects of ourselves that are not always evident to us. That is, who am I, and what am I listening with? What are my cultural expectations? What is the context that has shaped my values, identity, culture and behaviour? What are my fears, anxieties and concerns, which relate to my inner self and are about spirituality? How do my gender, class, race and sexual orientation influence my listening?

Many middle class, churched people listening to a person like Kathy would say, what a sad and terrible life. Upon hearing her story, what is activated from within is a desire to change her life and make it hopeful and addiction-free. Of course wellbeing and wholeness is what we all want to bring about. But doing this too quickly and on the helper’s terms is more about the concerns of the helper than the person to whom we are listening. How do we do this with respect and the empowerment of the other?

I experienced this dominance of the listener in the listening relationship in a former congregation. I had organised church members into a number of visitation groups to meet unchurched people to listen to their stories so we could learn about our community. I was with one of a small group who listened to a person who, in my listening, shared an amazing personal story. When we gathered to share what we had heard, I was shocked to hear my group moralising, judging and indirectly ridiculing the person who shared their honest and vulnerable story. I realised that the churched people in my group, whom I was really fond of, were talking about themselves, their values and culture.

I learnt a few crucial lessons from that congregation which dented my own romantic notions: the realisation that we are all deeply embedded in our own contexts and cultures; that we need creative and prolonged exposure to difference and the need to develop more cross-cultural skills; and that there were aspects of my own inner life that needed to be addressed.
What are some of the factors that influence us as listener to control the relationship with the outsider?

From the perspective of the Eneagram, a creative spirituality tool with which I work, one personality type is called ‘the carer’. The carer’s primary attention is on how they can help the other person, particularly if they are in need of support. They are always in danger of listening with one goal in mind: to fix the other person on their terms. What they do not realise is that ‘giving’ makes them feel wanted and that it is motivated by the unconscious need to appear generous. They can repress their own needs. Life’s lessons and spiritual direction can lead carers into an awareness of these repressed needs. Then, when they listen to their own inner ‘other’, they can learn about themselves as much as the other person and care in a mutual and power-sharing manner. Of course, any character-type can fall into this desire to ‘save’ the needy person, and the church is an organisation that attracts such personality types.

Another factor that gets in the way of middle class listeners’ is the notion that we can all ‘progress’ and make our lives richer and ‘happier’. So, when we meet a person like Kathy, we project our values onto their broken lives. Added to this we may feel anxious because such lives challenge our western values and vulnerability. Realities like sickness, poverty, aging and addictions disturb western notions of a good, successful life with a golden future on the horizon. These same disturbing realities exist as much in suburbia as they do in an area like Redfern, but they go undetected because of the need to appear successful and progressive.

Contrary to our middle class anxieties about Kathy, she lives a day at a time, is grateful that she is alive, and while at times she wants to give up living, her daily existence is a miracle in itself. I learn from her small strength and her quiet inner beauty.

Listening, I suggest, is always learning to listen awry. We need to stand in another place, one outside our normal, conscious self, and learn about the other hidden, unconscious aspects of our context, culture, gender, race, class, religion and sexuality that shape and form both our imaginations and our mainstream church and society. If we listen awry then when we ask ‘what do we hear?’ we can understand more clearly how and what we are hearing with.

‘Wow!’ you say, ‘that all sounds a bit heavy when I am listening to people!’ You are right! I am not suggesting we consciously think about all this when we are involved in actual face-to-face listening. All this is backgrounded when I meet and listen to people in Redfern, Waterloo and South Sydney. But unless all the above is processed and I work hard at a hermeneutics of suspicion (uncovering my context, embeddedness and excessive power), work with a spiritual director, my shrink, have some creative self and society awareness, experience cross-cultural training, and debrief with a broad cross section of colleagues, then the work of creative listening will be limited. Sure, we can make people feel good and wanted without any such reflexive awareness, but will mutuality, empowerment and transformation occur for both listener and the listened-to, to the outsider and the insider?

Listening between the factions and fractures

My congregation produces a local, independent, tabloid newspaper, The South Sydney Herald, delivering 20,000 copies per month to 20,000 households. The biblical mandate I suggested to my congregation for our work was Jeremiah 29: 4-7: Jeremiah tells the Jewish people who have been exiled in Babylon, and who are camped along its sewers in extreme heat, that God says: seek the wellbeing (shalom) of the community you have been sent to, for in their wellbeing is your wellbeing. And that is what we do with the paper: take on all the issues in our area and produce a reflective, newsy newspaper. We have an editorial team that gathers news stories, comment pieces, features, entertainment, photos, and advertising from all over our area. We keep overt religious content to an extreme minimum, although we express the values of justice, compassion and concern for the marginalised which many groups, Christian or otherwise, have in South Sydney. This gathering of material regularly engages us all over our area. We always meet in cafes and we listen to people daily.

So, for the five years I have been here, we have just listened, learned … made mistakes, listened and done more listening, strategised, and then acted … so that we can go on providing a vehicle for the various voices and sectors of our mixed community, and especially the poor and marginalised. We always cover Aboriginal issues and stories, multicultural stories, and public housing issues, expressing concern for the homeless, supporting gay and lesbian groups and causes, featuring local stories about ordinary people, being politically involved in local, state and federal government issues.

Recently, the local ministers, the Anglican minister, my associate minister, Dorothy McRae McMahon, and myself were asked by the State Labor Minister for Redfern Waterloo Authority, Frank Sartor, to negotiate with the Aboriginal Housing Company for a way through a difficult stand-off between the two parties. This has meant sitting with both factions separately and listening and then trying to facilitate a process of creative negotiation. I have done some hard and honest talking and challenging of both parties, seeking a way forward. God says: seek the wellbeing (shalom) of the community you have been sent to, for in their wellbeing is your wellbeing.

This has meant working between the factions and the fractures of our community. Although the Aboriginal Housing Company may be considered to be the marginalised group, we have also learnt so much about the politics and power play of even the marginalised. One of my close Aboriginal friends, Annabelle Walker from the Northern Rivers of NSW, once told me her strategy for involvement with the many competing Christian groups in Redfern: You have to have many non-aligned partnerships, she said with humour.

How my faith has fashioned my listening

As a child and teenager I lived most of my life in Australia in a Russian home and socialised within the Russian community. In these early years I felt like I was an outsider, a Russian Australian, and so I learnt to listen so I could adapt and become an Aussie.

Life was tough for me as a kid, difficult enough in a poor, migrant family for me to feel that I could never escape the sadness and pain of it all. Yet, paradoxically, I sensed, in that deep Russian Orthodox manner and without anyone telling me, that a hidden, subtle God somehow, mysteriously, ‘held me from below’ as a sustaining Mother/Father (yes, though I never realised it then, there was this dual gender feeling to the ‘holding’) … and that this God was there for all of us. Then in my late teenage years I discovered Jesus who now, in Ernst Kasemann’s words, means freedom, personal and political. But I am extremely multi-faith-religion-unreligious as well. All this makes me value being a listener, open yet acknowledging the regular existence of bias.

My own experience of marginalisation, my spiritual influences, and in faith meeting ‘Jesus who means freedom’, have all given me a real passion/compassion and interest in other cultures and outsiders like Kathy, and shape my work of critical and creative thinking, empowerment of the marginalised, and cultural and structural transformation.

Vladimir Korotkov is a Uniting Church minister, minister of South Sydney Uniting Church, managing editor of The South Sydney Herald, and occasionally works as a support person for the NSW Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Poor Conditions in Villawood IDC

This story written by me had been embargoed until yesterday, when it was published in the South Sydney Herald. Permission is given to any non-profit social justice agent to republish it.

People imprisoned in the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) are banned from talking to journalists. What the Department of Immigration or the private company, GSL (Global Security Limited), which runs the Centre have to hide is mostly kept hidden by this policy, but visitors talking to these people, refugees and others seen to be in possible breach of the Australian Immigration regime, discover a raft of complaints, particularly about the quality of food and dental care. This following is what this writer has been told by past and present residents of Villawood IDC.

The dentist, employed by GSL primarily to see regular prisoners in the privatized Victorian jails, travels up once every six weeks to see the residents in Villawood. There is a waiting list for this, so one can easily wait twelve weeks with a tooth abcess being treated with nothing but Panadol. Like any private company, GSL is set up to maximize profits for the shareholders, so it is sadly not surprising that detainees with dental problems are more offered tooth extraction than repair.

GSL is paid $130 per day per resident, but many have trouble reconciling this sum with the poor standard of food provided. One person on a vegetable diet was served nothing but corn and peas for every meal, when Australian standards mandate a mix of at least five different vegetables. Another example of lack of nutritious diversity is the serving of fish and chips and potato salad (that is, two servings of potato, no other vegetable). The fish is usually basa, the bottom feeding fish, imported cheaply form Indonesia, and with very high levels of pollution. Australian Health Authorities have warned the public to avoid eating basa fish, due to the pollution. But in Villwaood, residents were fed what was alleged to be tuna salad, five tins between 350 people, stretched out with basa fish.

Catering and other supplies are of "economy" quality at best, bought in bulk, from the cheapest supplier, from basa to shampoo, which is of such harsh quality residents are loath to use it. GSL was until recently saving a fortune on Breakfast (ending at 8am) and supper, until Breakfast was extended to 9am, and supper was allowed to be taken from the kitchen.

A couple of other casual cruelties talked about by residents were that the exercise area in one of the three compounds is a mere 10m by 17m, and that refugees from China are often physically bullied by GSL staff in the expectation that they don’t have enough English language skills to make any complaints.

About half of the people "illegally" in Australia are British backpackers, but the only white people the writer has observed in Villawood are from Continental Europe.

The Australian Taxpayer is filling the coffers of GSL and its shareholders through our mandatory detention policy. Imagine the improved services to schools and hospitals if this money was not being wasted on the pointless detention of people who would otherwise be working and paying taxes! Unfair detention costs us all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Smell of Friendly Man

I went out with my friend Gadget to Oxford Street on Friday night, and made brief eye contact with a few guys, who lost interest quickly, which I put down to them working out how effeminate I am, when they are looking for a man. I woke up crying uncontrollably Saturday morning, cried all morning, and cancelled my planned trip to Villawood (to support the people detained there without charge or fair reason by our racist fascist government), because I kept breaking down in tears, and was not in a state to support anyone else.

Saturday was the day of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. There seemed not to be anything about my sexuality to celebrate. My sexuality just puts me apart from all desirable humans. A sissy boy is just an object of ridicule, not lust. I refuse to get artifical breast impants, I refuse to be dependent on commercially supplied hormones, and I really like my body as it is, androgynous, slim, boyish, girlish, ambiguous, faerie. I insist on just being a girly boy with a quim, but there is no demand for that. My sexuality is just an empty unfed unfeedable unwanted beast.

Trans men, there is a demand for. "Guys with pies", as one phrase has it, appeal to people who like men, because it is masculinity that is attractive, more than a particular plumbing arrangment. Girls with boy's bodies but without the bits boys find interesting (ie the boy bits)... there' s just not much call for it. Well, not with men. Women, yeah, sure, and if only I were gynophilic I would be well partnered. But I'm not, and I'm not, and I haven't been for years now.

Or maybe it's because I am hypercritical, or because I find the preoccupations of ordinary people to be uninteresting, repulsive, or insane (eg devotion to the violence-enforced authority of the state, the breeding activities of actors, or any bullshit physical competition performed by avatars for the commercial consumption of non-particpant fat passive absorbent spectators). Yeah, well, there you go, I'm not the most easy going social creature.

Whatever the cause, I have been without a boyfriend for years, and there is no sign at all of that changing. So, I cried on and off all day, trying to keep the noise down, losing a lot of salt, and often making breathing difficult.

A male housemate came home late, and when I had managed to stop crying long enough to look passably human, I joined him in the lounge room to watch something I'd taped from television earlier. We sat together on the couch for half an hour watching the video. My equilibrium returned. Just breathing in his body odour and/or pheromones seemed to reset my chemistry to functionable. If I was only twenty years younger...But maybe I just need to breathe him in every day or so. He chooses to spend time with me, and seems to like talking with me. He hasn't shown any sign that I'm sexually interesting to him, and that's fair enough. I don't find even my own lovely quim at all as sexually interesting as an erect penis, so I can understand and accept that sexual preference (shaped by gender or sex or race or age or accent or hair style or whatever) often precludes me.

There will be contact improv dance class on Wednesday (I did finally get to a class on time, and have had fun rolling around with my fellow humans at three classes now), and I will be able to inhale some male sweat there too. And probably just getting some fun and friendly human body contact is good for my human chemistry.

I tell ya, I could really do with some more effective strategies to avoid or deal better with these tragic days waking in tears, unable to find an optimistic thought about my feelings.

Or just make sure I sneak a whiff of friendly man on a more frequent basis.

Monday, March 06, 2006

ALP MP Endorses Marriage Equality

OPEN LETTER TO Sharon Grierson, federal ALP member for Newcastle, the first Labor member of parliament to sign AME's (Australians for Marriage Equality) Charter of Equality, publicly (and courageously) committingherself to voting in favour of equal marriage rights when legislation is next introduced into federal parliament.
Thank you for showing honour and respect for all of God's children, in taking a stand to support the right of all adults to form loving relationships and have their actual family relationships recognised and respected.

I'm sure the hypocrites and scribes will vent their tort-bound hatred at you, just as they did at Jesus who dared proclaim that the Law is made for Humanity, not Humanity for the Law. Thank you for following the true example Christ sets for Christians, to insist on fair treatment for all, no matter how upset the religious authorities become. Hopefully, no one get's nailed up this time, but I just mention this aspect to point out to so-called Christian homophobes (who will no doubt be writing to you) that Christ's message is not about homophobia, it IS about resisting authority where that authority is unreasonable, and it is about daring all for Love.

I myself am currently partnerless, but it important for me to believe that I have as much right as anyone else to have a partner and be in a loving relationship. If others can have their relationships recognised in a way that I can't, that diminishes my value as a human being (and makes it more likely that I will be unloved). And that's just not right. You wouldn't allow any child to feel that they are intrinsically worth less than another child.

This is not about holding marriage up as the goal for all, just making access equal, and thus respecting the equal value of all people. (If we cannot agree we are equal, then we cannot be called truly civilised.)

Thank you for making the right, loving, brave, and Christian, stand.
[for more about AME see

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Free Hicks; Charge Downer!

While Howard and his ministers try out ethnic jibes to distract us from their government giving or allowing financial support to Saddam, can anyone in that government tell us why it is allowing a foreign power to jail an Australian without charge for over four years now? David Hicks is still in Concentration Camp X-Ray, while the AWB heads and their government minders live high and free.

AWB, the Australian Wheat Board, has been caught paying Saddam bribery money prior to the Australian (and British and US) invasion of Iraq. The justification for the war was that the boycotts were insufficient to reign in Saddam's capacity for Weapons of Mass Distruction. The boycotts were insufficient precisely because our own AWB was subverting it with greasy kickback deals. The AWB is overseen by the government, but of course now no one can remember anything about it. Meanwhile, David Hicks, a young Australian adventuring abroad and caught up in Afganistan, kidnapped and sold to the US by Pakistani opportunists, still languishes without charge or hope, in a military hell-hole that Bush claims exists magically outside any legal jurisdication, in the hope that he and his warmongers will be able to get away with the sort of sick shit they have been caught doing in Iraq.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bad Policy Costs Taxpayers

Each person locked up in immigration detention costs the taxpayer $130 per day, while they wait for legal rulings. How much could be saved overall if more money was spent on speeding up the legal procedures, and less on locking up innocent people? We may never know, because a less punitive, less costly regime is against the government's racist-sympathising electoral opportunism.

If you think that's harsh, you've missed the latest round of proud ethnic bashing by Howard, Costello and Abbott. They now feel safe enough to openly embrace Hansonism, who has embraced them back. Still, the more inflated the balloon of evil, the closer it is to its end.

More Bent for Lent

At our fortnightly church supper, Dorothy read an article she wrote about Lent (check out tomorrow's Melbourne Age), basically three schools of thought about how one might reflect on Jesus following his course true even into death.

One angle that I get is that I have to stay true to my own course, and not compromise it to alleviate the emotional anguish or slight mental discomfort of unwilling abstinence. It really is a matter of belief, and while the Universe may be trying to bring me the good stuff I want, it is also obliged to bring me the bad stuff I focus on, because it just brings me what I believe in, good or bad. And in my brain there have been a lot of thoughts pretty much amounting to I am not / have not been/ am not likely to be sexually attractive to a healthy man. These thoughts tend to come up whenever I think about wanting a lover, because I then reflect on my record. And they are completely counter-productive.

I think I have to just stay on my course, abandon any conformative notions like going on hormones or dressing as one particular gender or getting cosmetic surgery or altering my behaviour to follow the agendas of others.

Yesterday morning, on waking, I had a moment. I was thinking of God, and I felt that I was in our church with our little congregation, and really felt comfortable and connected to the Universe, that God loves me, and if I put my faith in that, then my beliefs will shift, and therefor so will my experienced reality.

People have all sorts of agendas, conflicting, shifting, some based on love/good feelings/good intent, some unexamined and based on fear. Following them is a pretty dangerous idea. But I can be more in control and mindful of my own agenda, and have faith in God (who loves me, and will bring me the lover I want when I stop sending counter-productive signals), which will increase the quality of my beliefs and my thoughts and what I do and what I pay attention to, and therefor increase the quality of my manifested reality.

I'm giving up other people's agendas for Lent.
I'm giving up any influence of normativity. I resolutely reject the hegemony, and resolve to stay even truer to my own light. And trust God.

I can be uptight or depressed or anxious or desperate... OR I can trust God. That's not a tough choice. As long as I remember to keep making it! (Oh, but the seductiveness of emotional intensity and angst and drama.... yeah, FEH! I want the good stuff, thanks, and to accept no subsitutes!)