13 October 2009

How do you construct your history?

Last night I want to see The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. It was an experience that was both moving and surreal. I was not in Laramie when Matthew Shepard was killed. I was one of two students from Wyoming at a small, Catholic college in Ohio. I spent weeks saying that is not what we are like in Wyoming, not everyone hates and for sure, not everyone is murderous. It was a frustrating experience, because I knew that the small Ohio town I was in was not anymore “ok” with gay people than the state they were vilifying, the small Catholic college was not “ok” with gay people either.

When I moved to Laramie, long before I met, became friends with people who knew the man, the effects of the tragedy of Matthew Shepard’s death were apparent. Hate was not ok – in certain pockets of safe space - but it was not always silent, either. The “it’s time to move on” contingent was already making noises in 2001. It’s time to move on – without passing legislation that prevents hate crimes, without educating people about this type of violence, without facing the fact that prejudice lives among us – it’s time to move on. This voice was balanced, partially, by non-violence pledges and candlelight vigils, but even just a few years after, it was there.

Hearing that voice expanded and mainstreamed in editorials and interviews was one of the hardest things about watching last night’s performance. The frustration of so few quantifiable changes is hard to balance against the lives that were changed so drastically, and, even when it was for the better, out of such tragedy.

It was also extremely surreal to watch actors perform people I knew, whose voices I could hear in the words – but not in the sound of the speech. For me, this act of theatre gave these words even more power – both positive and negative – because it made them more universal. Yes, these were things that my friends had said, sometimes things I had heard them say in person, but they were also the voice of a movement towards justice and human rights. In the case of the more negative comments, they were also things I had heard people say, and in some ways that was even harder – because they are the blocks to progress and prevention, they are the reason that hate crimes have increased, not decreased, they are proof that it easier to ignore tragedy than to be transformed by it, and they break my heart.

Ultimately, I am very glad that I went to see this landmark production – a production that was performed simultaneously in over 100 theatres around the world. Here is a link to the “trailer” on YouTube for a peek at some of the interviews and here is information about the project itself. If you get the chance to see this play performed, go. And think about how you construct your history. Because this is a play about more than just Laramie, it is about all of us.

06 October 2009

Marketing Religion

This came in the mail today:

"FREE Take Home Coffee Mug. Come worship with us, stay for coffee and fellowship and receive a mug as our gift too you."

Apparently, religion has learned from public radio fund drives - if you give people free stuff they don't mind giving to you as much. Is bribery really the best way to establish a spiritual community?

Also, if you go and get the mug, be sure that you don't blog about your awesome new church, as that would be a violation of the new FTC blogging regulations. Not kidding. Info on them here and here.

02 October 2009


So the votes came in on Twitter and Facebook and I decided to make Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes for my evening class this week. Everyone kept saying we should bring food, so I thought cupcakes might be a good initial offering. I found a recipe that fit what I was looking for on Cupcakes Take the Cake. Being constitutionally incapable of leaving well enough alone, though, I had to tweek it a bit. So, here you go - tasty, easy, and even kinda good for you - in terms of cupcakes, anyway...

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup brown rice syrup (if you can't find this, use white sugar and add an extra 1/2 Tbsp molasses)
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs (or egg replacer - flax seed would probably be particularly good)

1 Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line three 12-cup muffin tins with decorative cupcake papers.

2 In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. stir in the oatmeal.

3 In a large bowl, whisk (I used and electric hand mixer) together the pumpkin, syrup, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition.

4 Add the flour mixture in three additions, stirring with a large wooden spoon until just combined.

5 Fill the muffin tins about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the tins to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tins and let cool completely. Makes 3 dozen.


The frosting I used was a complete improvisation. I wanted cream cheese frosting, but didn't have cream cheese, so I went with sour cream instead - similar tangy flavor to offset the spice in the cake.

1 stick butter (or Earth Balance), softened
4 oz. sour cream (or Tofutti Better Than...)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Beat ingredients together, adding the sugar in thirds, so as to not powder your whole kitchen. Add additional sugar to bring frosting to your desired spreading consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes with a frosting knife or spatula.