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Kenaz Filan

Kenaz Filan


Writer, columnist, and interviewer Kenaz Filan is an initiate of Societe La Belle Venus #2. Her most recent book The Power of the Poppy was published by Inner Traditions in 2011.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

They huddled terrified against each other, the way Annamaria clutches my legs when a stranger gets too close.  Out of all of Sandy Hook's nightmare images that's the one that stays with me, the one that haunts my days and chills my dreaming nights.  They held their friends and closed their eyes and hoped the bad man would go away. But he didn't.

Eleven years ago I was in New York during the 9/11 attacks. Seven years ago I tried to make sense of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This one is harder. Atrocities committed for some religious or political cause, bad weather, bureaucratic incompetence: horrible as they are, they are a recognized if not loved part of our lives. This feels more like a great gaping wound in the order of things, a Rorschach blot whose every explanation only leads us further astray.

The usual suspects have weighed in with their favorite solution: we need more (Christian) God in our schools. They forget or conveniently ignore the October 2006 shootings at the West Nickel Mines Amish School and the April 2012 massacre at Oikos University. School prayer didn't stop Andrew Kehoe from killing 38 students at a Bath, Michigan elementary school in 1927: neither did it discourage Walter Seifert from slaughtering 8 students at a Cologne, Germany Catholic school in 1964. 

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I didn't know that about Ms. Lanza, I bow to the weight of your superior experience.
  • Kenaz Filan
    Kenaz Filan says #
    If you were living on $250k+ in alimony annually (as Nancy Lanza was) you'd have very little problem finding therapists to treat y
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    K -- this is a lovely and striking post on a subject that's almost impossible to write about. Thank you. However, I must protest

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

And for some nights she whimpered as she dreamed
The dead thing spoke, saying: "Do not recall
Pleasure at my conception. I am redeemed
From pain and sorrow. Mourn rather for all
Who breathlessly issue from the bone gates,
The gates of horn,
For truly it is best of all the fates
Not to be born."

Anthony Hecht, "The Vow"

***

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Wow. Thank you for sharing such a moving, deeply-felt, raw piece of your life with us. (I live an hour south of Pittsburgh; I almo
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    This is breathtaking, in every sense of the word. May Gaia guard and keep your lovely daughter; I mourn for your unfurled buds whi

Legitimate WHAT?

In the age of mass media, abortion rights activists are at a distinct disadvantage. We are hard-wired to feel protective toward infants.  Images of shredded fetuses and talk of "baby-killing" incline us to sympathy for the poor, helpless babe in the womb. The right to choice, by contrast, is far more abstract - especially for those who don't have wombs.  Just about everybody agrees that murdering children is a bad thing. Not everyone is amenable to arguments that the fetus is really a parasite

Given that, we can be thankful for anti-abortion crusaders like Missouri Representative Todd Akin. Akin has a history of boneheaded bon-mots: he has claimed "at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God" and said uninsured 28-year old cancer patients should "be held accountable for their decisions." But what catapaulted him to fame was his now notorious bit of mansplaining concerning abortions for rape survivors.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Excellent post. I would, though, add one other suggestion for reducing the number of abortions each year: raise better sons, who

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


I have a bunny on my head. Your logic is irrelevant.

Annamaria holds the spoon and waits impatiently for food to appear on its end. She examines it quizzically, then places it in her mouth. A long expectation of peas and pears with yogurt is followed by disappointment. She looks sadly up at us, wondering what went wrong. 

As she matures from infant to toddler (the "twoddler" era, if you will), Annamaria is beginning to understand the rules which govern her new realm. She is slowly, if moistly, mastering the secrets of the Sippy Cup. She has learned that you can make unwanted sunhats disappear by pulling them off and throwing them out of your carriage. She has discovered that paper can be torn into bite-sized, easily swallowed pieces.  (Ask me how I know this.  On second thought, please don't... ). 

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I like "Inner Journalist" as a title; we always called our kids little Demolitionists. That step comes soon; enjoy this one! HUGS.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As she untangles the thorny differences between self and other , Annamaria has also become an active participant in her day-to-day activities.  A true child of the Occupy Wall Street era, she has mastered civil disobedience at an early age.  No longer does she submit passively to the indignities of diapering: instead, she puts her barrel rolling skills to good use. Should an escape spin fail, she has learned how to unfasten the velcro straps which keep the hated Pampers affixed to her behind.  A fist balled in a sleeve can slow down the whole process of putting on a shirt: a foot to the face or to a more tender region expresses her displeasure with those adorable little bell bottoms. 

A major part of the maturation process is learning to submit to authority.  You take turns. You stand in line. You raise your hand before you speak. You show the man with the badge your license, title and vehicle registration. You give the boss your quarterly report. You never pass on a double yellow line or park in a handicapped space without the proper placard. We could not have a complex society - or any kind of society, really - without hierarchies and rules of conduct.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Pensive Annamaria is Pensive

I contemplate the mysteries of life but find no answers.
I seek meaning but find only absurdity. I crave authenticity yet find only illusions. 
Also, my gums hurt.

As she approaches her seventh month, Annamaria has developed separation anxiety.   As a practical matter, this means that she screams in abject terror every time I put her in her play yard and head off to do chores.  As a philosophical matter, it provides fodder for all kinds of useful speculation once the shrieking stops.

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We continue to raise interfaith awareness of our new blog.  Thank you for your support, Cardinal Ratzinger: hope you have a joyous solstice. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Like her maternal grandfather and unlike either of her parents, Annamaria is a morning person. As the first rays of sunrise  color the burnt umber-orange suburban night, Annamaria arises with a faint burbling fuss.  It's a pitiful mew that begins in the pit of her stomach and moves up, a sharp existential whine protesting the cosmic injustices of waking up hungry and cranky with a piss-soaked diaper affixed to your butt.  

Sometimes we're lucky and she falls muttering back to sleep for a few precious moments. This isn't one of those mornings.  As I attend to her diaper I see she's hungry. More precisely, I hear it.  Her whimpers accelerate from fighting cat yowls into something you might hear as the Nazgul king came dropping out of the sky for you. Trying to hold a wriggling Annamaria with one hand while clasping her diaper, I finally manage to get the job done and get her back in her crib.  She screams at my back as I run for the bathroom.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


It's very nice that you have a blog. Now you can make me a bottle.

This is the first post to my new Witches and Pagans blog. Because I am a parent to a 6 month-old tyrant who owns me body and soul, it took me a while to finish. I thought that twenty years of working with lawyers would prepare me for my new career of wiping asses and answering shrieking demands. I had no idea. Dealing with an infant isn't like dealing with a surly partner on a deadline. It's more like sharing space with the Terminator. There's no bargaining with a baby, no reasoning, no putting things off for a more convenient moment. They put you on their schedule by sheer indomitable force of will and 'WAAAH!' You snatch bits of sleep when they rest and keep vigil when they don't, stumbling through a drowsy routine of baths, bottles and bodily fluids.

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  • Tannim Wolfkin
    Tannim Wolfkin says #
    Greetings Kenaz, First off Congrats on the baby. Love the blog so far. Just one question. When the heck do you write it, work on

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