Critics say the magic is real in the new London play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which is set in the world of the popular boy wizard and which is earning stellar reviews.
“Potter” is currently in previews in the West End and is scheduled to officially open on July 30, which “Potter” fans know is the day before Harry’s birthday. A version of the script of the show will be released in stores on July 31.
And Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune was also impressed with Parker, writing that he is a “fine actor” and that the effects are impressive, with “characters constantly disappear[ing] inside magic cloaks, the scenery shak[ing] as if one of Harry’s many unpleasant dreams, fire and brimstone arrives when needed.”
Mr. Jones felt it all came down to the messages of Ms. Rowling’s stories. “’Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ works because it centers on, and feels so utterly consistent with, the two central themes of the Potter books. One is that every child deserves a loving family…. Pain, Rowling always has written, is central to the human experience. Its arrival is inevitable. And thus parents cannot protect their children from agony, they only can prepare them.”
Last month, I spent a week in Orlando reporting on the mass shooting at Pulse. I spoke to victims. I stood among the vigils where church bells rang and candles flickered. I watched from a distant table at my hotel, Parliament House, as queer men and women cried, embraced, and cursed the heavy, moist Florida night.
During the seven days I spent in that mourning city, I never once cried myself. I was trained for this. As a journalist, I had covered fires, murders, sexual assaults. Reporters know our job—to authentically retell the story. To speak for those who can’t.
A month later, on my couch, I watched Christine Leinonen take the stage in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I remembered her instantly. I remembered her impassioned pleas to find her son, Drew, in the aftermath of the attack—only to learn her son and his boyfriend had perished along with 47 others that awful June night.
I clutched a pillow and held my breath.
“It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times,” she said.
And then, the tears came.
I wasn’t the staunchly detached reporter I told myself I was. I was a scared, gay son, listening to a mother spell out in unforgiving detail the sharpest grief—the grief of a parent who has lost her only child.
Only after she spoke did I finally realize that I could be Drew, or Juan, or any of the dozens of dead or injured that night in Orlando. My own mother could have been screaming helplessly into a careless night looking for me. My own mother, who told me when I was born that she prayed for two angels—one at my head, one at feet—to protect me, could have mounted some platform to tell the world how her son died because cowards could not be bothered to put in the work to save lives.
What else can we call the men and women of Congress, but cowards? Shooting after shooting, death after death, they have prayed and moralized—and done nothing. They pass no new gun laws, even as the epidemic spreads across every single dividing line in American society today. Take stock of all the victims in the past years. White, black, gay, straight, man, woman, Christian, Muslim, officer, civilian. From children to presidents, no one is safe from gun violence in this country.
The weight of this domestic gun violence, this uniquely American curse, now weighs so heavy on our hearts that even detached, unbiased reporters like me can hardly type the words to describe it without a sense of hopelessness. Can a Hillary Clinton presidency deliver the common-sense gun laws that could lift this curse, as Christine Leinonen believes? I honestly don’t know.
And that’s the scariest part. A grieving mother who left me in tears for my queer brothers and sisters now dead a month still could not fully convince me that America might see a future free from gun violence. I grieved with her; I cried with her. But was I ready to hope with her?
It only takes five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times. How long, I wondered, alone in a dark Brooklyn apartment, will it take for us to feel safe again?
Photo& Videobelow– FormerRep. GabbyGiffords walks to the podium during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. She was raised by a ChristianSciencemother.
Giffords, who was shot during a 2011 attack that killed six and wounded 13, has been traveling the country advocating for gun control ever since the incident happened. TheChristianScienceMonitorhas written several articles on Giffords advocacy for gun control.
Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez, TheWashingtonPost
Rob, The Church must atone for its sin to people of color (1926-1955) as well as its ongoing sin of exclusion and discrimination toward the LGBT community and read seriously what Mrs. Eddy wrote about the essence of identity, and what Jesus pointed toward in Matthew 19:12 that social and gender conditions are things we should observe but not judge. If we apologize not for our past and present “hardness of heart” any article lacks meaning.
…Christian Science Practitioner
July 13, 2016
* Dedicated to all of those who never had a voice, suffered in silence or whom we lost along the way. You mattered and were loved. Never “less than” or “unequal”. Some of you were stripped of your support systems, church and family, and didn’t make it to the human sense. But God was always there accepting you and loving you. I understand that sometimes it was a teacher or parent who tried to take away your hope. But don’t believe the lie and never, never give up! – Rob Scott – Oaxaca, Mexico
I asked myself, “Is there someone who will accept me as I am, with no strings attached or criticisms?” The answer I finally came to was “Yes.” That someone is God, my real Father-Mother. I’m His/Her beloved child.
At the time, I was working as a pizza delivery driver. A large part of our delivery zone was considered a bad neighborhood because the crime rate was high. It was frustrating work. As drivers, we rarely got tipped and were often harassed. Each of us had been robbed at least once.
I then thought, “Well, this neighborhood is unsafe because the people are uneducated, or unemployed….” But every time I placed a label on this neighborhood, I was proved wrong! I was beginning to see that labels were barriers, blocking out the real definition of these people as God’s children, as “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), as Paul also wrote.
I lived in a very diverse neighborhood. Armed with the spirit of Paul’s words, and free from the burden of labeling others, I became family with my neighbors. Now I could extend Paul’s list to encompass my own neighborhood family. It would probably read like this: “There is neither Latino nor Anglo, gay nor straight, Catholic nor Baptist, rich nor poor, smart nor ignorant, old nor young, married nor single: for we are all one in Christ Jesus”!
Have people stopped labeling me? No. Have they stopped trying to change me? No. But I don’t feel helpless about these labels anymore. I feel accepted and loved by God for who I am. You can, too.:)
Alex Cook is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Boston, MA. Since 1997 he has created over 110 murals in the US and abroad. In 2014 he created the YOU ARE LOVED mural project, collaborating with organizations of all types to artfully express that important message. He has written and recorded 6 albums of original songs and performs around the US. Alex is available to paint murals, create works of art, and speak to your school or organization about community building through art and/or the YOU ARE LOVED mural project as covered by TheChristianScienceMonitor. Alex was also an elementary school teacher and prison chaplain.
by Alex Cook
Spiritual Art and Music
(Shared with permission)
Goddamn I’m strong.
Who are you to say that?
I am a man who has, for months and years, been backhanded in the spirit, slapped and spit on, lied to and lied to and lied to.
Tonight is my night. Tonight I will walk out into the darkness. My movements, concentration. Though a dead rain falls and fills the valley with mud, I will, by my concentration, remain dry. A thousand winds blow against me, but my eyes will not squint. I will crouch down, my thighs trembling, my shoulders, my arms. I will move slow, but I will move. Under the radar, under the wires, into the blackness. And I will remember, every moment, my purpose, freedom.
No matter how much I fail, I will succeed. Give me back my life.
I will lie down in a bed of conviction. I will kneel in the garden I can feel. I will not kneel in any other place. And when I find that I am sleepwalking to some graveyard, some brothel, kneeling there mindlessly, terrified, crushed in the soul and spirit by the sleepwalking itself, then I will shake the sleep from my eyes. I will pick myself up and walk back. I will, yes, again, throw off the gargoyles and parasites, clinging and screaming condemnation. My patience is their impotence. I will lay down again in the walls and halls that ring bright.
I will write my steps with ink black as blood. I will not be terrorized. Or if I am, then I will throw off the terror. I will not be terrorized.
I will not give up. I will not complain. And when complaint cries in my heart, leaps to my lips, I will murder it. I will not be ushered back into hell. I will not give up or be a living dead man underneath the currents of waters. I will not sink down into the mud. I will not drift with currents. I will not flail and drown. My strokes, deep and concerted. I will transform oblivion into grace. The mud will fall from me and I will rise like a wave of water.
I will fold my arms inside my chest and pull out white wings, untouched by air and still moist with birth.
I may be wearing prison clothes. I may have a number on my back. You think I’m too dumb to move, but all this time I’ve been watching. I know this prison yard. I know the chinks in the wall. I’m breaking out.
I will utter no sound as I pass the guard. Instead I will blind him with my perfection. I will slide a diamond star blade of wholesome eternity between his ugly ribs. And I will walk out the gate. (c)
I asked each member of the my conversation class to speak about their favorite superhero. Most of them spoke of their mom and dad who sacrificed greatly for them to have an education and taught them values and to believe in them self. They are well loved.
As a result, almost every one of them wants to be of service and leave the world a better place by being the change they want to see. I shared several videos from my blog to give them specific examples of how one person can make a difference. From Erin Gruwell to the Navy Seal Commander they saw specific examples of how one person can change the world.
One woman whose father was her hero shared how he left for work at 6:00 AM and returned home at 10:00 PM and did this for six days a week to support their family by working two jobs. He stressed the importance of education to her and her brother as a way out of poverty. This woman stated that her own child just graduated with a Phd from Harvard University.
Another student who looks intimidating and is a boxer shared how he was the one who protected the kids who were being bullied growing up. I asked him why not just join in with the popular kids. He stated because his father was his hero and always taught him to protect the ones who were being picked on. He hopes to learn the dialect of the people in different areas of the country who were wrongly put in prison because they couldn’t speak either English or Spanish to defend themselves. He wants to learn their dialect and then teach them English or Spanish so they can have a voice and finally speak their truth to be set free. He wants to give a voice to the voiceless.
Another student wants to help the homeless and sits with them and engages in a dialogue. He then writes about it in his journal as he wants to be a writer one day.
The students from my class are heros everyday.
And I will always remember one particular Friday when several students were missing due to a terrible rain storm. Thus there was just a small group of us addressing the superhero question. Everyone in this small group shared that Jesus was their superhero and how the seed was planted by a family member. One girl whose father is a minister found her way out of depression with faith and spirituality. She stated that her English score improved dramatically because she is reading the Bible in English everyday. After she passed my class she introduced me to her father in the lobby.
Another student goes out on the weekends and helps the homeless and those suffering from addiction by spreading the message of Hope through faith and spirituality with her church. They have bake sales to the raise money for those in need.
I shared that faith and spirituality is an unobstructed path to Hope. As a crisis intervention and suicide prevention counselor I learned Hope is the major weapon against suicide. I shared that it was my grandmother who was my hero as she was pure love and planted the seed of faith and spirituality which saved my life. I didn’t have to tell them she was a Journal listed CS Practitioner. Interesting that if everyone had shown up that day we couldn’t of had this in depth talk as we were all on the same page with our love for God and His positive impact on our lives.
But there was one individual the following day who was struggling and picked his father as his hero. His father works in the United States and travels a lot for business. This student missed a lot of the classes. He wanted to share his father with the class but his English was not at the same level. The class said they would help him and encouraged him to share. He shared he had not seen his father in ten years and I later found out he is struggling. There was no mention of faith and spirituality.
So what are the two most important support systems to lean on? Family and God. Both of which are lacking in those struggling within the LGBT community. God was used against many of them with reparative therapy and some were literally told they were not wanted in their church. This destroyed so many lives and has driven others to not only hate them self but to utter destitution by being forced to leave home. Many of them ended up homeless on the streets at a young age. Suddenly the false landmarks seemed their only option.
Finally, there was nothing but support for marriage equality when the question came up in class with the ice breaker questions provided by the school.
Perhaps things are changing. Perhaps the support systems of God and Family will not have to be left behind by LGBT youth and love will get through as it did with my students.
But divine Love was always there even for LGBT youth. Some just believed the lie that they were “less than” or “unequal”.
Perhaps it will be your child who will be saved as they realize suicide is not their only option.
We learned from the article the other day by Richard Bergenheim: “There is a lesson in this. We can triumph over adversity or we can succumb to it.”
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind.
And o’er earth’s troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
In the Islamic State, gay men have been executed by being thrown off buildings. Others have been stoned as crowds cheered.
“In my society, being gay means death,” one Iraqi who escaped from Islamic State control told a United Nations panel.
But in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in American history – in which a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS killed 50 at a gay club in Orlando. Fla., Sunday – Hassan Shibly offered a starkly different view.
The executive director of the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Los Angeles Times that, in America, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community has stood at the forefront of the fight against Islamophobia.
“The reality is, we both have the same enemies that promote fear and hate against us, and that have targeted both communities for violent acts,” Mr. Shibly said.
Now, he said, the Muslim community will return the support.
That, we can be sure, was not what the terrorist intended to accomplish.
In 2004, the last thing Nayyef Hrebid, an Iraqi translator for the U.S. Army, and Btoo Allami, an Iraqi soldier, expected to find in their war-torn country was love. But that’s exactly what happened.
“The beautiful thing is that even though we were in danger and could have lost our lives at any moment, our love made us forget and fight for a better life where we’d be together,” Allami told NBC OUT.
Their unlikely love story is the subject of a new documentary, “Out of Iraq,” which was screened at the United Nations on Thursday and will premiere on Logo Monday night. The film follows their journey from their first encounter on a battlefield in Iraq to their marriage in the United States a decade later. The journey, however, was not an easy one.
After meeting in 2004, the two men quickly fell in love and carried out their relationship in secret for safety reasons. Members of the LGBTQ community are severely oppressed in Iraq – a recent survey found 43 percent of respondents in the country believe being LGBTQ should be a crime.
Then in 2009, when militants started targeting Iraqi translators, putting Hrebid in an increasingly dangerous position, he was granted asylum in the U.S. and fled to Seattle. Allami, however, had a much longer road to asylum. The film follows the emotionally painful and physically dangerous years the two men spent apart, as they tried every option they could think of to be reunited again.
“We would like the UNHCR to implement digital recording for translations in interviews, and to expedite their application processing for LGBT refugees,” Hrebid said.
During a panel discussion before the “Out of Iraq” screening at the United Nations, UNHCR Deputy Director Christine Matthews said the agency hopes to make the film part of training materials for UNHCR staff.
“‘Out of Iraq’ highlights gaps in our agency that UNHCR must learn from. We recently launched a huge effort to sensitize staff and target the best process to address LGBT refugees,” she said.
Now happily married and living in the U.S., Hrebid and Allami are also seeking to improve the lives of refugees. In the past year and a half, they’ve sponsored eight refugees, hosting them in their home, helping them find jobs and helping them enroll in school.
“A lot of people helped bring Allami and I together; it’s now our time to give back,” said Hrebid.
Some people suffer trial after trial, yet they never give out the sense of being victimized. Others suffer one setback—or many—and they are victims for life. The injustice, the irrationality of evil, the emotional and physical scars, are something from which they can’t seem to shake themselves free. Yet Christ, Truth, is knocking on the door of our consciousness, and if we’ll listen but a moment, we’ll know there is a way out.
Spiritual sense, which we all have, presents an uncomfortable fact: we can’t be victims unless we give our consent. “But I’m deaf!” “I was raped!” “I was discriminated against!” “I was hit by a drunk driver!” “I never gave consent to that!” You are right. But none of those kinds of things can actually make us be a victim. In my dictionary, the word victor comes after the word victim and its derivatives. There is a lesson in this. We can triumph over adversity or we can succumb to it.
If we hold to the Christly fact of God’s control of life, the arguments that once chained us to a sense of victimhood will be undermined and will disappear. Perhaps the argument comes, “My life has been ruined.” The Christ-like fact counters it, by saying, “No, my life is fostered by God, perfect good. God has not stopped caring for His idea. His supply of good is undiminished and fully available.” Or perhaps the argument is, “It’s too late for me.” The Christlike fact counters, “No, a day with the Lord is a day full of blessings and goodness.”