Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shamed But Not Ashamed, Pt.1

There's a scene in the movie, Philadelphia (starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington), where Washington's character, Andrew Beckett, tells the entire courtroom that "sex is everywhere", that even as he was speaking his listeners were thinking about sex even whilst they attemped at 'objective' evaluation of the case.

What's Beckett's point? It's that nobody can deliberate on matters of sexuality without a bias, some predetermined prejudice about what's alright and what evinces an ewwwwwwwwe from us. The subject is way too personal and, whilst we may keep straight faces and look really 'academic', our minds are constantly 'in heat' when discussing sexuality (not least judgments about it)

In such discussions, we try not to snicker (until group laughter relieves us); not to blush (especially if an obviously attractive other is watching). In a word, we want to behave like asexual rational beings, which is to say we try to be non-human in the face of talking about something integral to humanity, sex.

All this made yesterday's Hidden Cameras forum worth remembering, as much for the experience itself if not for the ideas and questions raised.

Sivin jump-started the discussion with the Gospel story of Jesus handling the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery. This famous catch-22 and sand-drawing story with that time-honored solution, "He who has no sin may cast the first stone", set the tone for the forum (as no less than two of the other four presenters used it). There is probably no more accurate parallel in Scripture to the recent case of Elizabeth Wong, shamed into resigning her political position on account of private photographs of her being taken at home.

(What's noteworthy, though, is that for the 2 hours I listened, no one in the audience - including myself - or on the panel brought up the concluding remark to that story, what Jesus said to the woman, "Go and sin no more." - more on this later...)

Sivin also highlighted the fact that we were in the season of Lent (and how potato chips were NOT on his give-up list!). How ironic to be remembering Lent in a forum where words like 'anus', 'lesbian', 'gay', 'queer', 'eroticize' and 'playboy', were used. And yet maybe Sivin's counsel, borrowed from Richard Rohr, is timely: Lent is a time to let go of (not so much chocolate and high-calories goodies, but) our judgmentalism of others and our numbness to their pain.

So the tone was set, the mikes in place (the cameras unsheathed) and the pens unleashed - what did Hidden Cameras reveal?

Part 2 - Made in Malaysia Islam? (Masjaliza Hamzah)
Part 3 - Flashing the Feminist Finger! (Sharon Bong)
Part 4 - Against Corridored Thinking (Andrew Khoo)


blogpastor said...

I can hardly wait for what the hidden cameras will reveal. You have got me hooked!

Sivin Kit said...

if I recall correctly, I did mention the "go and sin no more" part, perhaps in passing :-) not enough to grab every one's attention. But I thought, since we had an interesting panel, more time should be left to them.

For now, the audio should be up soon. I'm beginning to upload some video clips.

Here's one to start off from Sisters in Islam!

Alwyn said...

two pastors staring at me through a webcam - interesting! :)

my bad if i missed you mentioning the verse, Sivin...but i think it's clear (esp. when Irene Fernandez came on!) that it really didn't get much attention...but let's see what the others think