A few weeks back, Loretta confronted this guy tagging the northwest entrance to Meridian park with spray paint. She called 911, while fending off his implorings about the significance of his art. She says he left on a bike, with black backpack full of paint and an orange bucket.
Wallingford has some beautiful murals, as well as some ugly walls that could use a beautiful mural. If turban-man wants to express himself, I’d encourage him to contact an affable property owner and offer his services. Heck, I’ve got some spaces that need some perking up, I might pay the right artist to take care of it. But just annexing a public park for your use, not cool.
If you see him around the neighborhood, please let him know your opinion on non-consensual graffiti.
On a mostly unrelated note, this note appeared on a number of cars in eastern Wallingford earlier this week (including mine):
I’ve blotted out the title of the book, because I have no interest in giving advertising to this lunacy.
Despite its apparently homophobic (or homocidal) appearance, it’s not actually intended as an attack on homosexuals. Instead, the book appears to be a paranoid, delusional attack on the Bible and the government, and it’s using the Bible’s purported anti-gay perspective as an attention-grabbing mechanism.
The book’s description starts:
Each year, over 30,000 innocent Americans are eliminated systematically by the hands of the officials who have their hands on the Bible! The ideological Genocide being committed for decades but no one seemed to notice it! Churches, with cooperation with corporations and Government, consider poor spiritual people (The poor workers who become homeless) as subjects and the waste of the economy and if not productive they ought to be eliminated! They steal resources of the people legally by turning papers into Dollars and going in the world shopping!
Whoever wrote this is not whole, and I hope they get the help they need. I’ll say no more about it. Instead I’d like to take the opportunity for a brief tangent down the “does the Bible really forbid homosexuality” avenue.
The most common response from sane people seems to be “yeah, but it also forbids wearing mixed fibers, eating bacon and shellfish, wearing torn clothing, and working on Sundays, but I don’t see you getting worked up about those things, so maybe, just maybe, you’re just using the Bible as an excuse for your homophobia.”
Dead on criticism, but I recently came across another interesting perspective, which is that the various putative Biblical injunctions against homosexuality are, in fact, mistranslations.
Stant Litore (who’s book, Lives of Unforgetting, lends his scholarly knowledge of ancient Greek to a progressive dissection of the holy book), for example, notes that the Greek word arsenokoites is generally translated as “homosexual” in the context of:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [malakoi], nor…[arsenkoites], nor sodomites
1 Corinthians 6:9
However, that word appears nowhere previously or even contemporaneously to the Bible, so confidently translating it can be difficult. It’s a portmanteau of the words for “man” and “bed”, but “first-century Koine Greek doesn’t have the verb ‘to bed someone,’ the way modern English does. In English, we can take the noun ‘bed’ and use it as a verb, and it is understood that when we’re ‘bedding’ someone, we’re having sex with them. That isn’t necessarily the case Koine Greek.”
The preceding word, malakoi, is often translated as “effeminate”, which would give contextual support to translating arsenkoites as homosexual, but there’s a problem here, too. Malakoi is literally “soft ones” and is better interpreted to mean “someone who loves luxury.” Thus, arsenkoites may have instead meant “a man who lies about in bed” (i.e., someone who is lazy and self-indulgent.)
“Sodomite” (qadesh, in the original) is also generally interpreted as “homosexual”, except, again, there is no contextual support for this. Instead, every other use of the term in the Bible is in the context of prostitution, including male-to-female prostitution.
Heading back to the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 seem to take a stand against homosexuality, with the King James translation offering:
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Pretty damning, except that the original Hebrew isn’t so clear. An article in the Jewish Standard explains:
Looking at the precise Hebrew words in Leviticus 20:13, it is fascinating to note what we actually see and what is not there. What the text prohibits is a sexual relationship between a “man” (ish in Hebrew) and a male (zachar in Hebrew), not between an “ish” and another “ish.”
This may sound like quibbling, but where the Torah is concerned, every word counts. Nowhere here do we find the Torah referring to a “female” in discussing forbidden relations; it is “man>woman” in every instance. Only here does the text digress and use “man>male” rather than “man>man,” which is how we have been taught to read the text.
So why is this particular word “male” used in this verse? Is it possible that this is not a prohibition against male homosexuality after all, but rather of pederasty?
This is not a stretch of the imagination. Ancient Greek culture suggests just such a possibility. In that world, there was a popular and common social custom of men of a certain class socializing with younger males – in a context where mentoring, socializing, partying, and sexual activities would or could occur between the two groups.
These specific words – “men” and “males” – were used precisely in descriptions of the Greek custom back then because, at that time, only men who were of adult age and of sufficient substance to own land, vote, and marry, could legally be called “men.” Those who were too young to vote, own land, or marry could only be referred to as “males” under Greek law.
Maybe it doesn’t matter, because, as previously noted, people seem to quote the Bible selectively to support what they believe and to deliberately ignore it when it diverges from their beliefs. Still, if the cultures of early Judaism and Christianity took a more accepting view of homosexuality than modern day culture does, I find that interesting and useful in thinking about our society today.