Some unanswered questions from conversations recently:
Is there such a thing as a lesbian icon?
There were a group of mostly straight or at least non-scene women out with a gay man, and we were trying to get him to explain the gay icon thing. Like, why are most gay icons straight women, such as Cher, Madonna, Judy Garland and so on, and not, you know, actual gay men? His theory was that a gay icon needs to be flamboyant and overtly sexual towards men, but preferably projecting a happy, confident image, as opposed to the angst and emo typical of the few male artists who actually talk directly about gay themes.
Somebody asked, what about lesbians, are there any lesbian icons? I could only think of celebrities who are either well known to be lesbians such as Ellen de Generes, or actresses who are known for lesbian roles, such as Alyson Hannigan. But they are not really icons in quite the same way, I think. I did end up offering to make a playlist of lesbian themed music, though, so any suggestions welcome.
How do they make holy water?
This is from the picnic. Of course we all know that it requires a priest who has to bless the water. But how exactly does it work practically? Does the priest bless a large volume of water and then divide it up into lots of little bottles, each of which is holy? Can the holy water be diluted with normal water, and does that make the mixture holy or unholy? Or does the priest have to bless exactly this particular water in this particular vessel? Is there a maximum amount that the priest can bless at any one time? Does the holiness stick to the water forever, or does it have to be water that was blessed recently? Is it different for Catholics and Protestants?
I hope these questions aren't irreverent; we really do want to know. But they might the kind of questions that only make sense in a conversation between Jews and geeks, and completely miss the point of how Christian theology works.
Why, yes, I am supposed to be working. I'm hoping that interesting speculation on these questions will provide a minor distraction, but not enough of one to keep me from getting any work done at all...
In other news, I have reorganized my flist a bit. I hope this won't lead to drama; I promise that I haven't removed anyone due to being offended by them or thinking badly of them. It's just that that sociological theory that says people can only really handle being connected to a community of about a hundred people seems to apply to LJ as well, at least for me. I had twice that number, and I came to the point where I just had to admit that there were some people I wasn't getting to know, however much I admired them. Of course, by removing a few dozen of the people I interact with least, I haven't actually made my reading much easier to manage. But just to make it absolutely clear, you're entirely welcome to keep reading if you find my journal interesting, and indeed if we start getting into conversations I'll probably add you back. Equally, if you don't have time to follow me I am not going to take offence.
My ideal is to have around 80 to 100 friends and carefully read every word they write and comment and join in discussions. But to get to that level would require cutting people I can't bear to do without, and I can't help myself meeting new shiny people and wanting to add them too, so I'm still really over capacity. *sigh*
A friend of mine describes preparing for a service, and going "argh, we need some holy water!", to have his wife gently remind him that since he had recently been ordained priest, he could make some himself ;-)
"This is from the picnic. Of course we all know that it requires a priest who has to bless the water. But how exactly does it work practically? Does the priest bless a large volume of water and then divide it up into lots of little bottles, each of which is holy? Can the holy water be diluted with normal water, and does that make the mixture holy or unholy? Or does the priest have to bless exactly this particular water in this particular vessel? Is there a maximum amount that the priest can bless at any one time? Does the holiness stick to the water forever, or does it have to be water that was blessed recently? Is it different for Catholics and Protestants?"
Holy water is water that - through being blessed - is set apart for a religious purpose. A priest can bless holy water for a single occassion (i.e. the rite of Asperges (sprinkling, in lieu of the Confiteor (the general confession of sin) before Mass, or a Baptism). A priest can also bless a larger volume of water, contained in a plastic tank, say and one can help oneself to it (bring your own little bottle) In theory I suppose a priest could bless a limitless amount of water, but because it must be set apart for a holy purpose this implies a priest would only bless an amount of water that one could actually use for a purpose. I don`t think there is a maximum volume set anywhere in either holy tradition or canon law, but common sense applies. As far as mixtures are concerned, yes, as long as the added 'normal' water does not exceed the volume of originally blessed water. How long does the Holiness stick? I suppose for as long as the water is still water and not fetid moldy gooie stuff. Or, more strictly, as long as the water can still be used for a holy purpose, and it generally can`t if it's skanky.
Ooh, thank you! I should have thought of Wikipedia. But ok, there actually are rules about diluting. And the thing where it has to be set aside for a purpose means there can't be any case where the priest just makes a big batch for whenever it happens to be needed. And it stays holy until it gets skanky, also makes sense. I feel educated!
Good point about real Protestants. I'd forgotten about proper European Lutherans, I'm so used to Anglicans who are basically Catholics except not listening to the Pope.
Thanks for the rec! We should compare notes when it's done. Do you know about Project playlist? It's not perfect, but can be quite nice for quick and dirty sharing samples of musical taste in internet discussions.
I move people who talk more than I find them interesting to a separate filter full of photo communities, RSS feeds and whatnot and read it about once a day. People who don't have much to say can stay on my default view whether or not I find them especially interesting when they do have something to add.
This is a good idea, defining a category of people who talk more than I find them interesting, because "too much" is clearly going to be in a different place for people I already have a strong connection with than for people I've met once at a party. I already have a default view and a non-default view, but I don't think that distinction helps me, partly because I don't have enough self-discipline to restrict how often I read the non-default.
I think you are solving a different problem from the one I actually have, though. There were about 30 people on my friendslist who are generally interesting, and talk just the right amount, but left me feeling that I didn't really know them any better after reading their LJs for a few months. I didn't really feel any inclination to comment on their posts, and they rarely commented on mine. I would like to keep these people until I do know them well enough to feel connected to them, but I just have too many people. Moving them into a rarely checked filter would just make it even less likely that I'll ever get to know them. The plan is that if I remove them, more of my LJ time will be spent talking to people and strengthening existing connections, rather than all of it being taken up by just reading really interesting posts from people I don't know.
The body of Christ may be stored; you have to put it in a, um, *thing* (tabernacle?) that is specially wossname for the purpose. But because it's usually wafers rather than normal bread it keeps fine. You take it out and use it next time, or take it 'round to sick people. Plus you can keep it this way so that if a non-priest has a service they can give out the body of Christ (which only a priest can consecrate).
The blood of Christ may *never* be stored consecrated (obviously you store the wine prior to consecration) nor thrown away. It must be drunk, this is normally done by the people who hand it out (Eucharistic ministers?) and the priest. I guess you could ask for volunteers if you stupidly consecrated a whole bottle when only 5 people wanted to receive.
You are daft. I don't think there are any lesbian religious icons, cos I'm not aware of any open lesbians being venerated as saints or similar. But I could be wrong. But thank you for making me laugh when I was struggling with paper wrangling.
Oh, thank you, I shall certainly go and look for those. I was going to start off with some pretty obvious stuff, Indigo Girls, Ani Di Franco, kd lang and so on. More recommendations are always great, as much for me to discover new music as to help with the playlist!
As for refined tastes, well. The person who wants the playlist seems to be asking me a lot of questions about lesbian culture; it seems marginally more likely that she's dropping hints that she might be interested in exploring her sexuality than that I am seriously the first out queer woman she has ever met. I don't want to give her the impression that the whole lesbian scene is very aggressively and crudely sexual, but equally I don't expect a 30-year-old Swedish woman to be fainting in horror at anything explicit!
Navratilova! How did I ever forget her?! Thank you for that link. I didn't know about Valerie Singleton. If the article is right, it suggests that lesbian icons have to be actual lesbians, which is an interesting contrast.
I think I have just realised something that's going to turn another one of those collections of mildly dumb ideas that I occasionally quote for purposes of being mildly amusing into an actual novel. In this case, a mildly dumb novel, but, well, I haven't actually tried to write broad comedy before, so we shall see. One of these years.
It is the fault of this post and this comment, though.
Well, according to a recent meeting of Wychwood old gits 'looks feminine, shaves infrequently, sounds like a lesbian to me', is an accurate description. All I need now is for people to know who I am and I'm all ready to assume iconic status.
Of course, given my generally shy and reticent nature, this may prove a problem...
i dunno. i'm a lesbian, but i'm not really overly involved with lesbians as a community.
Marija Šerifović (the one who won eurovision last year, if you watch it, and the one who opened this year's eurovision with last year's song and a neat act with brides and grooms) would make a great lesbian icon. She says she's straight, but that doesn't stop gay males with their female gay icons. So I'm voting for her.
Indigo Girls definitely has to be there! I will check out Šerifović too, thanks for the recommendation.
I think I'm probably not the best person to introduce this woman to the lesbian community, because like you I'm not really part of that community or culture (and anyway I'm bi, not lesbian). But giving her a playlist and sharing what information I do have can't hurt.
I often wonder about Holy Water blessing rules, mostly from the point of view of Buffy fanfic though rather than theological concern I'm afraid. Like, could you bless a river for example? The water on someone's clothes? Etc. Not looked it up though...
The term 'Gay Icon' might be a bit misleading: 'Camp' icon fits better as they seems to be the aspirational figure for the archetypal vamp tranny. As such, there's a degree of irony and self-mockery in the near-worship accorded to (say) hot video footage of Deborah Harry onstage by determinedly monosexual gay men in clubs in London.
I doubt that anyone knows, exactly, this came to be.
From a personal perspective, I think an image or a personality qualifies as 'iconic' if it elicits a widespread cultural memory of being a teenage boy in serious need of a cold shower and a brisk run around the games field.
As society has become more accepting - and teenagers have become better able to acknowledge their own nature - it may well be that the next generation of 'gay icon' figures will actually be male rather than female. But I'd wait and see, rather than pretend I can make reliable predictions.
As for the lesbian community - who are probably a far more diverse population than the men - there may be a very different experience of growing up with 'pin-up' figures from music and the media. I'm not sure that teenage boys and girls respond to images - in the broad sense of the term, public persona as well as published pictures - in quite the same way, and being gay adds several layers of complexity to the responses. If, indeed, there is a 'typical' way of being gay at any age.
It is surprising that none of the usual suspects - all those androgenous boy bands pitched at schoolgirls as teenage idols - are turning up a decade later on giant video screens in the clubs... But then again, how the hell would I know?
Here's a prediction though: none of MTV's simulated-lesbianism-as-soft-porn performers will ever be heard of in the gay clubs, male, female or mixed.
But did you know Baptisms don't technically need Holy Water? Any water is good. Hell, they don't even need priests- "In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or deacon, but even a layman or woman, nay, even a pagan or heretic can baptize, provided he observes the form used by the Church, and intends to perform what the Church performs".
I've performed baptisms before. It's a great party trick. Rememeber it only works once on each person tho.
Mm, thanks for those resources. Much more fun and more informative than Wikipedia!
I was aware that anyone could baptise; I have read stories of non-Christian nurses baptising very sick babies because they knew it would help to ease the parents' grief. Please do tell me when you baptised people, I'm intrigued!
Holy water comes from good aligned clerics or paladins casting the Bless Water spell, so you get 1 pint at a time and consume 25 gold pieces worth of silver as part of the casting (the 25 gp worth of silver rule is clearly a game balance hack to stop scribb1e's idea of super soakers for dealing with undead: some people consider it a bit of an ugly hack). Interestingly, some people have house rules that lawful or chaotic clerics can create Axiomatic or Chaotic water, which I think is geekily excellent.
I'm not sure what happens if you dilute it (or bless more water than 1 pint). For balance, I think I'd either rule the positive energy is diluted (and hence its efficacy against undead, which is the main reason you'd be carrying it, right?) or that the holiness goes away as soon as you intermingle it, as per Haggai 2. Maybe if you intermingle it with pure water it dilutes, and anything else does away with the effect. That sounds about right.
BTW, almost anything anyone says about all Anglican churches is wrong: you probably won't find The Square Church reserving the sacrament or insisting that all the bits get eaten after the Eucharist, because that sort of thing smacks of Popery. I have seen big founts of holy water at the entrance of places like Our Lady and the English Martyrs (the big Catholic church near the chemistry department in Cambridge). Catholics tend to get a bit on their hands and then cross themselves on entry. It must cost the RCC a lot of silver.
*glare* I don't need to ask LJ for opinions about D&D, the whole point of that is that it only has one holy book which helpfully provides clearly defined mechanics for all the theology!
On the other hand, I do need to poll my friendslist for information about Christianity, for exactly the reasons in your last paragraph. There is definitely a big range in how Catholic-style approaches can be within the big tent of Anglicanism, so thanks for your examples. (I actually know OLEM a bit, cos a good friend of mine was confirmed there when I was at school.)
once i figured you were talking actual people icons and not LJ-userpics, i been keeping it at the back of my mind all day. it is quite an interesting question, even though, at first, it didn't appear to be. because everytime i think of people, or criteria, it seems to shift a bit. i guess for someone to be a lesbian icon they have to be reasonably widely acknowledged to be admired or held-up by lesbians. it doesn't work if i worship someone but no-one else ever finds out. so the first issue is that lesbians as a group are perhaps not that vocal, or universal in their views, so it's hard to see who the icons are. some basics thoughts on criteria though - is the icon a lesbian? someone who is out and proud, who fights against prejudice, that seems like a good criteria (Navratilova, KD Lang)*. on the other hand maybe it's someone sufficient numbers of lesbians find attractive, lust after, worship, regardless of their own orientation (Uma Thurman, Chloe Sevigny, Cat Power)* - one suggestion, unusual in that i have actually heard her talked about by others, and even though not out seems to be well... liked, is Jodie Foster. or maybe someone who has raised the profile of homophobia but is not a lesbian (Billy Bragg)*, actually he's the only one i can think of that works. i think it works because quite a few lesbians i know like him a lot. he is right-on and fluffy and caring and liberal and i dunno, fits one of the lesbian stereotypes. or maybe it is someone who has qualities lesbians admire or seek out. now this one seemed to be the most problematic, because the ones i thought of were just women who are strong women, who don't pander to men, who might push the mainstream idea of how a woman should behave. most visibly as musicians (Patti Smith, Annie Lennox)*. but in this criteria i can't differentiate between lesbian icon and general feminist icon. basing it on your take on gay icons, you could take lesbian stereotypes, and see what they refer to - but i think it is not particular people you'll find so much as archetypes - for example 30's to 50's pin up girl, 50's/60's cool American guy, so there are people who made each look/attitude famous, that might work - Betty Page, James Dean, perhaps?
a last one, not sure if this is very universal (there must be a better word than that - i mean something that is applicable to more people than just me!) is people with whom we feel a kind of resonance or identity, typically from adolescence. for me anyway, lesbians in the public eye seemed to be few and far between in teenage years, or at least, i didn't feel that i could identify with them, and i felt much more comforted by gay singers - Jimmy Somerville, Andy Bell, PSB. which seems a bit wierd. but they were out there! and i like pop. and i am not really lesbian. so, it might not be typical. possibly the best ever - Dusty Springfield. i'm not sure she is in any criteria. my criteria have failed. oops.
Ooh, thank you! This is a really thoughtful response. I really love the way that my silly questions have turned into interesting discussions about Christian theology and gay culture.
I agree with you, there isn't a vocal, cohesive lesbian community to the same extent that gay men have. There are political lesbians, who are really second-wave, separatist feminists, and as you say, their icons are feminist icons. And there was historically a "dyke" subculture which is very masculine; Wikipedia, which I don't trust entirely, agrees with you that James Dean is a lesbian icon. I think for the most part, though, lesbians are just people who happen to be attracted to women, or else tag along as part of general queer or LGBT culture (where they may be a bit marginalized, just as women are in many other walks of life.)
People whom many lesbians lust after but who are straight don't really seem to be lesbian icons. At least, I personally would rather have people who make the world safer by being out, or at least who are strong and independent, like your feminist examples.
For my part, when I was a teenager I was nursing a nice little crush on Simone de Beauvoir; although she was in fact bi, I don't think she fits a reasonable definition of a lesbian icon! Dusty Springfield is lovely, though. I'd be very happy if she were an icon.
Given that I don't comment much on your journal - or you on mine - I'm grateful that you've kept me on your list. I really enjoy reading what you write, your LJ is a different style to any other on my FL and you make some really interesting points in your discussions and link to other fascinating journals.
And I agree with everyone else about holy water ... it's a bit like communion wine in an Anglican church, where the priest blesses a small amount in addition to that which is used at each service he presides over and that amount is holy and can then be used at later services that day, or to be taken to the sick and elderly who were unable to make it to the church.
I asked bibliolicious, and she suggested Jodie Foster, although that more generally the criteria are "strong, sucessful and out" (on which Jodie Foster scores two out of three). She also endorses the Xena suggestion.
1 - I second recs of Melissa Etheridge and the Indigo Girls. kd lang may also be useful. The Ditty Bops? And possibly Scissor Sisters, depending on how you're defining your categories :)
2 - I see that people have answered this one quite fully, but I must still SAY MORE! We have a font, which we fill with tap-water; that's then blessed, and we use it for baptisms and asperging (sprinkling the congregation) and things like that. We also scoop some of it out to go in a big jug at the back of church, from which people can fill small bottles. Basically, it's whatever is practical, but the holiness is fairly persistent :)