Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This I Believe...

My poor mother. She called this morning around 11 a.m., and, knowing I was on vacation, decided now would be as good as any other time to seek the deep answers, and between the bouts of laughter and streams of tears, we boiled down to the true answers she is seeking from my life via my blog...

What do I believe?

Loaded question, I know!

So lets start with some basics, and work our way from there, okay?
1. There may or may not be (but most likely is "not be") a god(s).
This will break her heart, I know. She thinks I am turning my back on something she knows to be true: That God does exist and cares for everyone and everything in this great greenish-blue planet we call Earth. But I counter that "knowledge" of god to say, "How can I turn my back on something I truly don't believe is there?" True, I used to. I grew up taking for granted that everyone knew there was a god, and those who chose not to believe in him (or her, I suppose) were simply being ignorant or obtuse, knowing truly in their heart of hearts there must be a god. It was simply their "sin nature" that prevented them from "knowing" this god.

My sin nature must have caught up with me, eh?

There never will be, never was, and never can be definitive proof of a god(s). That some people "know" is simply where opinion gets caught up with faith, and a dangerous mix ensues in which one should take "blind faith" on anything they cannot know for sure, thereby justifying the previous, first hand belief of "knowing." In other words, by saying you "know" there is a god(s), but saying you can never know completely this god(s), and so anything about him must be taken on "faith" would only harm and not help a belief in this god to begin with, wouldn't you think? Conundrum of the human history, I suppose.

We (as the human race overall, not as individuals) say there is a god(s). But we say he is so high above us, so much more than us, much more than we could ever comprehend, and all we have to go on is our senses and these "letters" he left us in the forms of Holy Books and Revelation. But the only way we get these books and revelations are from people, the very things that can't hope to comprehend or know him. And so what are we left with? A bunch of people who can't know god, but "know" god, and therefore foible blindly around in the hopes that we get something right, something that sounds good, and pray that god(s) will not hold us too accountable for the very reasons we are said to worship him...

I think this is the part in a movie review that would say "buffoonery ensues, but plot lacks direction and able actors." To say you "know" there's a god, but you cannot "know" god, and must rely on people about god and his attributes, personality, rules, reasons, with a healthy dose of faith and naivete mixed in, with salt to taste...? I'm sorry, this just doesn't cut the mustard.

Mom says I am setting up man as a god(s). I shall try to explain why this is also untrue.

2. Man is god, man is devil, but always, man is simply man.
It's hard being perfect, isn't it? We know we will never be so, but we can imagine perfection in ways that seem perfect to us when in all actuality, it is simply just a different way of doing "fucked up." What is the one common denominator in all of our philosophical problems and issues? Man. Who is the one being that tries to interpret, define, and distribute this divine-ness to others? Man. Who is the one that heals and wounds? Man. The one who gives and takes? Man. The one who arbitrarily decides right from wrong, better from worse, and bad from good? Man. It is all about us, whether we like to admit that or not. Not individually, no. That's too narcissistic. Not ethnically or racially, either. We don't like differentiating like that, even though we do consciously and subconsciously. So we divide ourselves up most brutally over the things we cannot explain with logic. Religion. We say our way is the way, our way is it, the end, the answer. And right now, about 7 billion others also think they have the answer, even the ones who profess they don't--like me--think they have an answer.

We, as mankind, are the common denominator. We even make our god(s) like us in every way conceivable, from the Greek gods who were a tad slutty and twisted like a very good soap opera, to the one that made himself like us to save us (talk about making man your god!!), to the ones that simply couldn't give a rat's ass about us if they were so inclined. Our gods are as varied as we are. Coincidence? Or some truly bizarre way of revealing the answer? Maybe after a few more millennia, we'll have enough bits and pieces from all the religions that have come and gone to come up with the one end-all be-all philosophy that makes everyone feel special and loved and absolutely right while allowing for everyone else to also feel that way... Who knows? (Psst! No one!)

Our sense of a perfect divine has changed with the whims, knowledge, and times of ourselves. Why is god so interchangeable, so fluid? Because he is of our own making. Why does the "devil" appear also to be so fluid and time-chained in his abilities to "tempt" and "destroy"? Because he is also us, and of our making. Nothing more, nothing less.

I set man up not as a god or a devil. We do that ourselves, each and every one of us. And I don't believe it's because we truly believe there is a god, either. God is simply our way of coping with not only the unexplainable and unknown, but also of dealing with our fragile egos and sense of "Are we alone?" in this universe. We've always sensed something bigger than ourselves, but not because there is a god(s). But because, just by looking up at a sun, moon, and stars we cannot touch, it is proven that we are small. But because we die and cannot prevent it no matter how much we dance around a fire, chant up a storm, or sacrifice the masses. But because we see so much that is still unanswered, no mater how much we poke, prod, test, and retest. As time passes, we gain more knowledge. Things we used to hold so dear we killed over it now are distant memories and fading history.

Remember when someone dared assert that the world is round? This didn't affect anyone or anything. It didn't change the Catholic Church's salvation message. It didn't cause people to suffer and die. It didn't change the price of tea in China... But people died over this idea.

Saying there is no god will not change one damn thing. Saying there is a god won't change anything either. But don't say you know. Because you don't. You can claim faith, walking on water, answered prayers and the like because you know there's no way to test, prove, or deny any of it (yet). The only thing you know is your faith and your opinions, all thrown together in the casserole of your life. But that's all you know. You know your opinions and beliefs. And that's all any of us will ever know for 100% certain.

3. I like Iced Tea.
Truly, it is the one thing you can always count on that I will drink until my dying day. Like most things today, it causes cancer in some way, shape, or form, I suppose. I'm sure there's a study out about the dangerous effects of drinking nothing but iced tea for weeks on end, but there you are. What does this have to do with Man, God, and Devil?

Isn't it clear? Iced Tea is my god. Without it, I'm the biggest, most grouchy-ass person in the universe. Whole ecosystems have been devastated, species wiped out, and worlds cataclysmically ended due to my "drinking problem." I live and die for Iced Tea, I wake up and drink it, I drink it before I go to bed, and every single waking moment of thirst in my life is satisfied by a gulp of this precious liquid. It needs to be in my refrigerator, in my lunch bag at work, at friends and families houses and parties. I am its willing slave; I am its god, for without me, the tea could never be my god; but without tea, I could never hope to attain a good day without it. Make sense? I'm sure a lot of you will have fun picking apart this analogy, saying why it may or may not work as an analogy, but be that as it may, the nitty-gritty truths apply. (Batteries not included; ice cubes sold separately)

4. Three Things That Are Always True: Death, Taxes, and Fundies
Throughout history, in all of space and time, these are the three things that keep man going.

Knowing we will die keeps us always searching, always looking, always wanting to "know."

There is always someone who has power over us, and takes from us (sometimes with our consent, sometimes without), and our destiny will always be influenced by someone else in power somewhere.

In keeping with the "our lives are always influenced by us" philosophy, fundamentalists are those who are afraid of the unknown and hold fast to the tried and true of their past, usually handed down from previous generations. I'm sure there were several Greeks who balked at the idea of a Hercules being born of god and virgin and that it was heresy. Fundies need not be of the Christian persuasion any more than "liberals" are always godless (which is one of the biggest fallacies making the rounds in Ann Coulter circles today...).

No matter the century, the size of the population, or the cubic square feet of Pluto's size having any sort of bearing on it's planetary status in this universe, death, taxes, and fundies will always be here, for good or ill.

These are some of my more fundamental beliefs. Take them for what you will. Most of them are beliefs in motion, evolving and changing as I experience this life and live it to the fullest extent I can. But until next time, This I Believe.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Survivor Idiocy; More AFA Bullshit;
I Am Going on Vacation...

So I figure two topics should cover any discussion while I am vacationing. I will only be out of town for the first four days, and be hanging out at home for the rest of my break from work, so I figured these two topics should keep you all covered. :)
So it seems people are up in arms about CBS's "racism" in the upcoming season. Puh-leeze. Where was all this care and concern when the contestants were divided up by age group? Young Men v. Young Women v. Old Men v. Old Women? And how about when they divided up the teams according to gender? The Men v. Women in the Amazon? This isn't "racism" in the sense that people are being discriminated against for the interests of The Man (ahem, Caucasians). This is a game, people. So they divide them up into four teams: Caucasians, Asians, Blacks, and Latinos. An it isn't like these people will stay "segregated" the whole show; they usually united the teams into two after two rounds of elimination. I normally expect this type of idiocy from the fundies, but come on, people! Use your heads! Here are some examples in case you need distinctions:
  1. Job interview: Racism bad. Race has no bearing on job qualifications.
  2. Housing: Racism bad. Race has no bearing on one's ability to own or rent from you (unless you are prejudiced, and even then, it's only perceived as a factor when in reality, it isn't.
  3. Game show: Racism as part of the game this season. A social factor for entertainment purposes; still racism in a way, but no more so than "affirmative action."
In fact, think of it this way: Whites could now claim racism as in past season, 80-90% of the contestants have always been white, and now, due to this new team-breaking up system, less whites appear on the show... Would anyone actually listen to that kind of crap?

What are your thought?

The AFA was on NPR this morning, talking about a new documentary that is out, in which, the woman who was filming the documentary at the time on the NYFD was called out with them to the World Trade Center bombings. She captured footage of rescues, of the fireman in real time as they were trying to cope with the situation, inside and outside of the towers during this horrifying event. And of course, during a crisis, firemen get potty mouths. CBS wanted to air the documentary unedited (i.e., not bleeping out the curse words like "fuck" and "shit," as they felt it would not only detract from and trivialize this very real and personal event, but also to preserve the integrity as well. The AFA said that not only would this be going against the FCC's rules of decency (and they're right, it would), but that they think they should be able to watch this documentary without hearing "cuss words." CBS said they would be willing to pay the fines. I'm still looking for a written article about this story, but if you follow the link to the NPR sight, you can listen to the broadcast that was played on the radio this morning.

But, excuse me?

You want to watch a documentary being filmed in real time during the Sept. 11 attacks, watching people die, explosions, collapsing towers, fires, panic, fear, and death, but you expect to do it in such a way that your kids won't hear the words "fuck" and "shit"? Are you kidding me? This is the real issue? People attack us over their religious values, and you want to then take your religious values and superimpose it onto that?

Sometimes I think their heads are farther up their asses than even I give them credit for.

Does anyone else see the incredulity here, or is it just me?
Well my vacation starts in less than 4 hours, so I probably won't be back here until Monday night, although you never know where I might just pop in and see a computer begging to be accessed...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's Time to Play Everyone's Favorite Game...


On ABC's Medical Mysteries last night, they had a story about a man who looked very, very pregnant.

But was he?

They had to do emergency surgery when, after 36 years of having a very pregnant belly, pain and breathing problems made it necessary for doctors to try to remove the "tumor" from his belly...

What they found is only just this side of shocking.

It seems that for thirty-six years, this poor Indian farmer had been carrying around his twin brother. This is a rare identical-twin complication which usually causes a mother's body to abort both children, but in this case, when they were in utero, his body absorbed the body of his twin brother.

It seems his twins body not only had ribs, fingers, toes, but also parasitically drew blood from his brother to keep his own body alive while inside of him. From the article:

Bhagat, they discovered, had one of the world's most bizarre medical conditions fetus in fetu. It is an extremely rare abnormality that occurs when a fetus gets trapped inside its twin. The trapped fetus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cordlike structure that leaches its twin's blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.

According to Mehta, there are fewer than 90 cases of fetus in fetu recorded in medical literature.
This twin, though without a functioning brain or body outisde of his brothers, was alive.

One doctor recalled that day in the operating room.

"He just put his hand inside and he said there are a lot of bones inside," she said. "First, one limb came out, then another limb came out. Then some part of genitalia, then some part of hair, some limbs, jaws, limbs, hair."

Inside Bhagat's stomach was a strange, half-formed creature that had feet and hands that were very developed. Its fingernails were quite long.
I tried finding a photo online of the wretched looking thing, but would you believe with all the garbage that makes it on to the world wide web, I couldn't find one? Ah, well... They showed a picture of it on the television, so you may all be better off not seeing it, especially if you've just eaten...

Now, I think we know where I'm going with this, but just in case, let me elaborate...

If a fetus is aborted even moments after conception, fundies decry murder and abortion to the high heavens... So did Bhagat's brother have a soul even up to the moment he was removed from Bhagat's stomach? Or did it's soul leave long ago, back when his body was enveloped by his brother?

honestly don't know what to expect in responses here. I was simply amazed at the story itself! Remind me in the future to write about how many human mutations actually occur on a daily basis: We're talking actual cyclop's, headless babies, all kinds of strange and natural things that happen in today's day and age that we never hear about on the news...

But that's probably for a very good reason...

So--did Bhagat's brother have a soul? Or did his soul leave long ago when his body became absorbed by his brother? And what does this mean for the thousands of natural miscarriages that happen daily? For those in comas?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Xmas...

Okay, okay, maybe not quite yet. I do think the retail giants to start the season a bit early, don't you? I mean, whatever happened to Halloween and Thanksgiving? How are we supposed to celebrate witches and serial killers and demons, followed by the slaughter of our lands native people if, right after Labor Day, we start celebrating toys and snow?
But that's not the reason for today's rant, though. It seems the ever-moronic AFA has sent out an "Action Alert" that Sam's Club has come down on the side of "Holiday" instead of "Christmas" for their holiday ads this year--I know! Perish the thought, dear god, you mean they're willing to respect everyone's celebratory beliefs by saying "Holiday" instead of "Christmas"? How American of them! Let's see, how did they word it? Oh yes:

Even though it is August, the Christmas advertising season has already begun and Sam's Club has come down on the side of "Holidays" instead of "Christmas." (Gasp! Isn't that a sign of the coming tribulation?!? Honey, where is my Rapture Kit! I feel Jesus is a'comin' right soon! Did you hear about Sam's Club??)

In the August/September issue of their in-house magazine Source, Sam's Club has one page dedicated to Christmas. But Sam's Club doesn't refer to Christmas as being Christmas. Sam's Club promotes it as "Holidays." (No time for the Rapture Kit, dear! Quick, make the kids repent now! There isn't much time!!)

On page 69 of Source, the promotional plug says: "Coming soon. Plan ahead for the holidays." On the page decorated in Christmas fashion are three products. Sam's Club wants you to buy "Holiday Cards," "Holiday Ribbon," and "Holiday Gift Bags." (Noooo!!! Not the ribbon too!!! Honey, grab the "Christmas Ribbon" and string it outside, quick!! Have the kids repented yet? Have them help with actual "Christmas Cards" too! None of that "Holiday" shit! Oh God, I just said shit!! Damn you Wal-Mart!!!!!)

On the "Christmas" page, the word Christmas isn't used! View the page ad. (I think my left arm is going numb... Honey, do we have Christmas Aspirin??)

On June 26, AFA wrote Wal-Mart (which owns Sam's Club) asking that they not ban "Christmas" in advertising and promotions. Included in that letter was a CD with the names of 201,595 individuals who signed the petition asking for no ban. Wal-Mart, ignoring the letter, did not even bother to respond. (Everything getting black... Momma? Is that you? Has God heard about Wal-Mart and Sam's Club yet?)

Take Action (Sorry, Momma, I hafta go back to my body! The AFA has called for Action to prevent this perversion of December 25th!!! Give my regards to St. Paul, though, and tell him we're gonna defend Christmas on earth just like he would want!!)

It is very important that as many as possible send an email to Sam's Club. Since this is the first Christmas ad we have seen, we will notify major retailers of the number of emails sent. Perhaps our efforts will encourage other companies not to ban "Christmas." (Oh! Honey, boot up the computer! No, not the one we bought from Best Buy! They're "Holidayers" too! Use Pastor Dave's old computer! Ignore the porn sites I saved on there earlier!)

After you have sent your email, please forward this to your family and friends and invite them to help us "keep Christ in Christmas." Share this information with members of your church and Sunday School. (You got it, AFA! Me and the family will have NO holiday ribbons, gifts, OR a "Holiday" nativity! If it don't say "Christ" on it somewhere, it's of Satan!!!)
Of course, it's posts like this that the AFA would love to also call a boycott on, but that is an honor I feel I will never be bestowed. God, it would be an honor just to be mentioned in their board meetings as a possible target of their boycotts. Let's see, how would my speech go?

I would like to start by thanking Satan, for clouding my mind and my genitalia to the god-given purpose of "Dicks Are For Chicks." I would also like to thank the many fundamentalists who have worked so hard to make sure word of my blog spread so people wouldn't visit my blog! You have been true tools--and I mean that in more ways than one from the bottom of my heart! I'd like to thank my agent, Beelzebub, for working long into the night planting dinosaur bones as a tool to lure people away from believing in Creation and into Evolution... And finally, to Rich, for being an evil homosexual who lured me into this hell of an existence. I couldn't have done it without you, babe! And to my many loyal readers, unknowing pawns of the Dark Lord, who, just by reading, have made many more say "Holiday" this year, instead of keeping the Christ in "Christmas." Thank you again, and to those who were in the running with me: Ford, Wal-Mart, Victoria's Secret--(What? You mean they aren't being boycotted even for baring their unmentionables all over the TV during prime time? Maybe next year, Vicky!)--and the many others like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble, who were also nominated for boycotting this year! I can only hope they make you as successful as they've made Disney when they boycotted them!
I also wonder what the statuette would look like? Perhaps a small devil holding a spear in platinum? I always had a thing for brushed gold though... Although I rather like this one...


It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
Everywhere I go...


Even though it's only August, I hope you all have Happy Holidays and Rotten Christmas's!!! (But good Xmas's!!!) :D

Monday, August 21, 2006

Homosexuality & the Bible: The Truth, Part 4:
The Words of Christ

To read earlier parts of this series, please click on the following links:

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 1:
Sodom & Gomorrah

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 2:
Levitical Law

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 3:
David & Jonathan

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 4:
The Words of Christ

Homosexuality & The Bible: The Truth, Part 5:
Paul's Letter to the Romans

So in the course of time and space, Christianity always comes down to one thing: The words of the God of Christianity. You know, the words that appear
red in your bible? (I always thought that added a nice splash of color myself on those boring Sunday mornings, wearing a tie and wondering why preachers were always so long-winded...) Now, I will ask you, dear reader, if you aren't already in a seated position with a safety belt in place and a working knowledge of all emergency exits in your immediate vicinity, I ask you now to take a moment and prepare, for the next group of words may come as a bit of a shock; dare I say, these words may be distressing to your very being.

Are you ready?



Reader? Are you still there?
But, dear reader, you ask, "How can this be? Isn't this the single greatest threat to God's church? Isn't this the one single issue that churches rally around and state as the one thing that could bring America to her knees? Destroy marriage? Create hell on earth?!? How could he say nothing?!?" (This is the point where Tom should say I should tone down the anti-fundie rhetoric in the hopes of reaching a greater reading audience that won't be turned away by my obvious hang-ups and complaint about the fundies... But I just don't feel my posts would have the same--charm?--otherwise...)

Now, dear reader, yes, this is truth. Jesus never said a single word. But let's take a moment to look at a few passages that this man did say (as recorded in the bible, not aired on the nightly news... as Jesus decided to come to earth before mass media and digital recording, which speaks only slightly about his ill-timed coming to spread the word of his message...) that fundies like to use as an argument against homosexuality, shall we? And of course, in keeping with tradition in this series, please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, for nothing is censored here.
Passage 1:

Matthew 18: 15-20
"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
Now, if you ask me, this is a bit of a stretch. Not only is there no reference to homosexuality, there's no reference to heterosexuals either. It is simply a "guide," as it were, for how church members (I'm assuming?) should deal with someone there having a disagreement with. More specifically, though, Jesus says, "If one sins against you." This is a personal matter, something someone has done against you. This is not saying "If someone does something you don't like, do such-and-such." It is saying "If so-and-so has _______ (stolen; cheated; lied; raped; murdered; thrown rocks) you, then do such-and-such." If you study any part of Jesus life in the bible, you will notice he is all about personal relationships. And he is saying if someone has personally sinned against you, this is what you do. The words in the original Greek are "adelphos hamartano eis se," or, better translated, "Brother actively sinning against you." Greek is a very specific language, down to tense. This is in reference to an "active" sin, or, an ongoing issue or problem between you and your brother. Jesus is not saying "Be all up in one another's business and make sure your cribs in the hood ain't happenin'." He's saying, if you got an issue, confront your brother about it. Tell him what's on your mind. If he won't listen to you, find others who have observed this behavior against you as well, and confront him together. If he's still being an ignoramus, then go to your spiritual leader, enlist his help in dealing with your perceived issue between you and your brother. Then if he still won't recognize the issue, treat him like a, in Jesus words, "a Gentile or a tax collector." Another note of interest, Jesus was nice to tax collectors and Gentiles. So, in the end, if you are to follow Jesus words and example, if you can't resolve your issue... Treat him not like your brother, for he is no longer, according to Jesus, but neither do you shun him or kick him out of your life. At least, that's not how Jesus treated the tax collectors and Gentiles. He even made Matthew (ahem... a tax collector) one of his disciples...

Interesting to say the least, don't you think? So not only can you not use this passage against a homosexual Christian (and yes, they do exist) for a homosexual is not actively sinning against you (unless he's trying to bed you and you're not gay; or he's raping/raped you; or, I dunno, something else actively...), but you also can't use it as justification for shunning and looking down on a homosexual person (or, really, any type of person you simply don't like...) Any questions?
Passage 2:

Matthew 19:3-12
Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?" He said to them, "It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery."

His disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can."
Okay, I'm going to take a leap here. I think--I think--Jesus may be talking about divorce. Anybody agree with me?

Fundies use this passage to say, "See? Jesus says one man, one woman! Not Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve!" (Can I just say for the record that I hate that phrase and wish someone would come up with a new rhyme? Let's show some creativity, people!) Okay, so, how else was the supposed sky god supposed to populate the earth? I think we all know man and woman and sex equal baby. But, again, not what the passage is even remotely talking about. Dare I point out, Jesus is actually speaking about the real, ignored, and largely untalked about threat to traditional marriage. DIVORCE.

So the Pharisees (this group of guys who thought they were hot shit and knew all there was to know about the Torah back in the day) said, "Hey, let us test your knowledge. What are the reasons, if any, a man can get a divorce?"

And J.C., he isn't having any of this, so he goes to the basics of the Torah, the creation story in which the sky god said, "And the two shall become one flesh." End of story, J.C. says, except, of course, for "unchastity." Greek is "porneia." (Hmm, why does that word sound vaguely familiar?) Illicit sexual intercourse, in layman's terms. Most everyone reads this as "adultery," but that definition leads much to be desired, doesn't it? The problems of dealing with a dead language, I suppose. Strong's Concordance lists a whole slew of possible meanings, among them "homosexuality, adultery, intercourse with animals" and on and on. Of course, this pretty much means, culturally, a Jewish man back in the day could divorce his wife for pretty much anything he didn't think was "kosher" (pardon he pun...) Pretty much, and stay with me here, since there was no such thing as "gay marriage" back then (though plenty of homosexual relationships back in that day and time), and the discussion was strictly within the confines of talking about divorce and marriage, it is actually hard, within the actual context of the passage, to construe this as "proof" or "doctrine" against a homosexual or their relationships. It actually speaks volumes, though, about what the doctrine of the followers of literal interpretation and truth about marriage and divorce should be in today's fundamentalist churches. And one have only to follow the links in my post about being a glutton for punishment to see some key truths about where the highest divorce rates in the country are--the Bible Belt.

But, back to the passage. It continues, than, with the disciples in an aside with Jesus, saying, "Well, is we can't divorce our women, even for something like 'porneia,' should we even bother getting married?" (Brave men, these disciples. So afraid of their womenfolk, they won't even consider marriage without their escape plan of divorce in place...) And Jesus at first says, "Yes, this is a hard pill to swallow." But it's the next batch of words that are truly interesting. He says, "For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." The Greek word for "eunuchs" is eunouchos, and the main meaning for this isn't "one without balls," believe it or not, although the word has the same root as what we know today as "eunuchs." It's primary meaning in the Greek was "a bed keeper, bed guard, superintendent of the bedchamber, chamberlain." Almost like "the man in charge of the chastity belt," wouldn't you say? :) So what are we to guess from this definition is Jesus' meaning? That men who guard their beds are better off? Jesus is clearly referencing men who give up marriage for a variety of reasons. Some are just that way ("eunuchs who have been so from birth"; could this possibly have meaning for transgendered, homosexual, and hermaphrodite-type persons? Jesus would be seeming to say that some people could not become married and be one flesh due to being that way from birth; not a choice; genetically predisposed, perhaps?), some are made that way by other eunuchs ("eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others"; also perhaps a reference to homosexual persons, who forgo the marriage "to be made one flesh" by choice, and live a lifestyle free from such constraints?), and then monks and nuns and other types of spiritual leaders (made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven; one of the main passages [as well as some of Paul's letters] for the Catholic church's prohibition against their priests and nuns marrying; also speaking about people who forego the marriage bed, but for a higher purpose beyond earthly pursuits and desires). Any way you slice this, Jesus is basically saying "If you get married, you have really no reason to divorce; but if you choose not to marry, here are a variety of reasons why people do so." He's not saying you must get married, and he's also not saying the only reason not to get married is to become a monk. He seems to be acknowledging a whole score of persons and individuals for whom marriage is not only not an option ("who have been so from birth"), but others who choose not to marry for whatever reason, and those that simply forgo marriage to pursue a more spiritual life. And then, and this is the clincher, he says, "Let anyone accept this who can."

Should I repeat that? "Let anyone accept this who can." In Greek, "dunamai choreo choreo," or, in layman's terms, "For those that can comprehend this idea, let them be open to it." I shit you not. That is the most accurate way of putting it I can. Jesus is saying, "Keep an open mind. Marriage isn't for everyone." And culturally, marriage in Jesus' day meant "one man, one woman" as a homosexual relationship wasn't thought of in terms of "marriage" and "civil union." One simply has to look at Part 3 of our series to see that is was viewed, at least in David and Jonathan's case, as a covenant that surpassed what a man and woman could share together.

Ironically, in the very next verse is when Jesus is having the children come to him, you recall? When the disciples try to keep the kids from reaching him? And Jesus replies, "Suffer the children to come unto me." Might the disciples have been thinking, "No! No! Don't let the kids up here! Look at what we're talking about! Sex, marriage, divorce, alternate lifestyles! Keep the kids back!"

And again, Jesus was having none of it. Radical guy, regardless of whether he was god or not.
I have not heard of any other passages of Jesus used to defend the "Homosexuality is evil," but perhaps you have? E-mail or let me know of any other passages in the gospels fundies have used against you, and we will dispel them here for the lies and half-truths they are! Until next time, Part 5 will deal with Paul's letters, and the passages used there.

Thanks for stopping by!

Looking for A Little Lovin'?

I mean, god must be male, right? Otherwise, why would the women of Nepal plow their fields naked in order to appease the gods and get some rainfall?

Yeah, we laugh at this in the Western world. We say, "What the fuck?! Plowing naked, you really expect atmospheric pressure to develop and drop water? Backwoods savages."

But then I read this article where a woman in a chocolate factory in California finds a lump of chocolate that looks suspiciously like the virgin mary holding baby jesus...

Seriously, go look at the picture.

At what point does God say to himself,

"Oh, look, that woman's having a bad day. I know what'll cheer her up! A sign that she is loved... Unlike those women in Nepal." God then leans over the clouds to stare down at the barren fields and shouts, "I wanna see some jiggling breasts there, ladies!!! No jiggle--no sprinkle!!" God then leans back and looks over at Hollywood and the woman making chocolates and says, "Oh, the poor thing. She found the chocolate that looks like my mommy! Yeah!" Claps hands and squeals with delight, inadvertently sending a boom of thunder causing a tsunami in Madagascar. "Oh, well," God says to himself again. "They're just as bad as those Nepal women anyway in Madagascar..." and promptly takes a nap while Jesus and the Holy Ghost run around trying to answer all the prayers for help in many foreign languages...
Or maybe it is just me and god really does work that way. I mean, it did drizzle after they were done plowing au natural, and the woman in the chocolate factory did get a fuzzy warm...

Or maybe, just maybe, we're looking for love in all the wrong places...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Something Fundie This Way Comes...

So I slave at work--a 12 hour shift, I shit you not. Sometimes the customer says Louis L'Amour must be finished by a certain time (despite the fact that he's been so published and republished, not a very good writer, and nobody is just dying to see that latest font that Louis is available in...), so I want nothing more than to just plop myself on my couch for some mindless TV after staring at a monitor all day. It's the least I deserve, I tell myself...

Knock, knock, knock...

Immediately, Hawthorne and Shyanne (my mother's dog whom I am watching this weekend as she sees the wonders of Niagara...) send up a storm of barks that would scare the white off rice. After politely asking them to SHUT UP!!!!!! I peek through the window to see a well-dressed gentleman standing on my doorstep. I figure he's lost and looking for either:
  1. The Bowmanstown Diner, or
  2. His way back onto Rt. 248
After all, these are the only two types of people who have knocked on my door in the past five years of life in Bowmanstown except for the odd school-fund-raising candy bar sale or what-have-you. So I yank open the door, blocking the furballs with my legs and say:

Me: Can I help you?
Gentleman: Yes, good evening sir. My name is Dan Maynard, and I'm from St. Paul's Evangelical Church. Our place of worship is just across the river, and I would not only like to invite you to come and worship with us this Sunday, but also to ask if you have ever heard the salvation message of Jesus?
Me: ... You mean, there's people who haven't?
Dan: Why, yes sir! There are millions worldwide who souls are in peril! I take it, sir, that you have accepted Christ as your personal savior?
Me: (Inner debate ensues... Say "yes" and get rid of him? Say "no" and play with his mind? Act like a mental retard? Tell him these dogs are trained to attack on the command of "Hell-hound!"...) Listen, thank you anyway, but I'm really tired, and...
Dan: Sir--I'm sorry, your name is?
Me: (Sigh.) Jason. Listen, as I said--
Dan: May I call you Jason? Jason, the decision to accept Christ could be the biggest decision you could ever make--
Me: Listen, may I call you Dan? (Tone down the sarcasm! Tone down the sarcasm!... Deep, cleansing breath...) I just worked a 12 hour shift and am really not in the mood to listen to this right now, okay?
Dan: I can appreciate that sir. I, too, have had a long day, knocking on doors, and talking to people about God and His plan for all mankind.
Me: ... (Is someone holding a gun to your head? Scratch that...) And?
Dan: May I come in? I promise not to take too much of your time.
Me: (Say no! Say no!... He could probably use the rest after walking all day... Why are you so fucking nice!!!!) Fine. Can I get you something to drink? I have tea, water, milk...
Dan: Water would be great, thank you.
I walk into the kitchen, and Dan follows me. I think he spots the "Hot Men of America" calendar, because he turns to me and says:
Dan: Sir, have you been swayed by the devil into the homosexual lifestyle?
Me: ("Lifestyle?" Are you kidding me?!?) Okay, Dan, listen, I know you probably have what you think are my best interests at heart, I really do, but--
Dan: Sir, this is not a matter of the heart, this is a matter of sin.
Me: (Cleansing breath, cleansing breath...) Okay, really, I'm going to have to ask you to leave now.
Dan: But, sir--Jason, you don't understand how gravely important--
Me: (Is he trying to be funny? "Gravely important"?) Dan, do I come to your house and tell you what I think of you and your lifestyle?
Dan: --this is. Jesus is coming to rapture the saints into heaven--
Me: That's nice, please, I must ask you to leave, now.
Dan: --and do you want to be left behind?
Me: (Sounds like a heaven-sent answer, doesn't it?) Yes, I do. Leave me behind. (I usher him toward the front door; I'm even so forward as to take him by the elbow and guide him in that direction; I think he fears "Gay germs" as he pulls quickly away)
Dan: May I ask as to when a good time would be to come and talk to you? Some time when you are available for an in-depth discussion about this--life you lead?
Me: Yeah, catch me Sunday morning.
Dan: Hmm. That won't work for me. How about--
Me: (No shit, Sherlock...) Dan?
Dan: Yes? (A smile so big, I do believe he does toothpaste commercials in his spare time; it's a grand waste of a great smile...)
Me: I said Sunday morning on purpose...
Dan: I see. (Now a deep, concerned frown; he needs Toys R Us, I do believe...) Sir, you will be in my prayers.
Me: (as I close the front door) Yours and everyone else's...
I wish I could make this shit up; life would be a lot less drama-filled and much more relaxing. I quickly went around the back to my neighbor's to warn them about the neighborhood salvation army, but alas, I went the wrong direction--Dan had already been there. Jen (my really awesome neighbor) had politely turned him away as well, and told him he might as well skip my house... She's such a sweetheart, but her plan had unfortunately back-fired... You tell a Fundie not to witness to someone, what are the odds they'll listen? Not too good. But we talked about her son's upcoming first birthday, enjoyed the sunset from her deck, and for once, I actually enjoyed doing the "neighbor thing"... I can only hope Dan (and whatever cohorts he will be recruiting to re-invade the neighborhood) don't return too soon... Next time, I may not be able to stay polite...

A Quiz on Religious Philosophy

You are Agnostic

You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you
can control--your own life.
And you tend to resent
when others "sell" religion to you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Can't Religion Mind It's Own Business?

So, I'm feeling a tad better than I have for the past week and a half... But if one more person comes up to me and asks, "What's wrong?" I'm going to kill them.

Is the constant blowing of my nose not a tip as to what could possibly be wrong? Is the hacking of my body as my lungs attempt to evacuate my body via my esophagus not even a tiny clue as to what could be wrong? Use your brains people! You claim god gave them to you, fuckin' use them!!
So, since I was feeling better, I began trolling the web for something to bitch about (cause you always feel better when you have something to bitch about, am I right?) And being the continuous glutton for punishment that I am, I was perusing the Christian Web sites, reading some articles, and I came across this one: Denied infertility treatment on religious grounds: California high court to hear lesbians case. Denied fertility because she was a lesbian? It reminds one of a post I wrote a while back about how pharmacists deny birth control on religious grounds, doesn't it?

But it gets better! Not only did they refuse because she was a lesbian, but to make themselves sound less "judgmental," the lawyers for the right-wing group of doctors at the fertility clinic stated that they didn't deny her because of her lesbianism, but because, and I quote, "they were motivated solely by her unmarried status." Oh, that's sooo much better, isn't it? I wonder if a married lesbian from Massachusetts would have had better luck? I doubt it.

Here is a nutshell: Lesbian wants to have baby. She takes fertility and hormone treatment in August 1999 but was refused intrauterine insemination in July 2000 by the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group. She then went to another clinic and gave birth to a healthy baby boy the next year. Her lawsuit simply asks for expenses at the other clinic and damages for violation of her civil rights. The article also states:

The law is clearly on her side as stated in California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which applies to business dealings with customers. Whether the law equally bans discrimination based on marital status is less clear; last year's ruling on the country club discount said marital discrimination is forbidden in some cases, at least for registered domestic partners. But the ruling came after Benitez was denied treatment.
Either way, as a California court judge once ruled, if "[...] business proprietors who can't comply with a law for personal reasons should change their practices or go into a different business."

Can I get an Amen on that?

So if a woman can't get pregnant because you don't like her marital status or who she goes to bed with, who's next? Anyone who drinks alcohol can't be parents? Anyone who plays cards? Anyone not at church on Sunday? Perhaps people who wear socks inside out?

I will fight till my dying day for you to have the right to say anything you want about me and my so-called "lifestyle," but don't you dare try to infringe on my rights as a human being in the United States under the guise of morality.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness.

Right to Religious Expression.

Not the right to make everyone live by your set of mores and values. The system our founding fathers put in place was to allow for a variety of ideas, thoughts, and lifestyles, even if they never even considered how many varieties we would end up with. But any way you slice it, individual rights and freedoms are a guarantee.

Church-legislated morality is not.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Popcorn and a Terrorist Attack...

So I will not be going to see the new movie, World Trade Center. Why, you ask?

1. I don't like Nicolas Cage. I'm sorry, I don't think he's that great of an actor. And can someone please fix those dark circles under his eyes? I mean, hell, I know I have them, but he makes butt-loads more money than I do. Are you telling me that they can't make him look not sleepy? And try not mumbling for once! It's called enunciation. Try it some time. Hooked on Phonics can work for you!

2. Today the so-called "terror-alert level" was upped to red and orange. Are we really kidding anyone with this crap? "Oh dear god! It's red! It's red! Break out the binoculars! Keep alert!" Come on, they should just call it the "National Airport Delay Alert System," or NADAS. NADAS is the silliest thing since pet rocks! NADAS means NADA! Nothing! It simply means that elections are coming up, nothing more. When was the last time the alert system was even talked about? Hmm, let's think... I do believe it was right before the last time Republicans were running for office. Yep, it was. Can someone please tell me how NADAS has made them feel more protected from the evil-doers? And what is that? "Evil-doers." Could we come up with a phrase that sounds more kindergarten-ish? "Evil-doers"? Why don't we just call them the Meanies? Or the Stupid-heads? What does this have to do with the movie?

We are still feeling and dealing with the continuing loss of life from this tragedy in our history. Here are some facts you need to know, in case you didn't already:
  1. Saddam Hussein has no links, and never had any links, to al Qaeda. (See here, here, here, and here.)
  2. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. (See here, here, and here.) Nothing AT ALL.
  3. Iraq wasn't a haven for terrorists before we invaded. (See here, here, and here.) Saddam wanted nothing to do with Islam, and hence kept the Muslim teachers and leaders from having a strong influence in his country. (See here.)
  4. If Osama was such a great priority for this administration to find and hunt down, why, when we believed we had Osama cornered in the mountains of Afghanistan, did we let the local warlords take over his capture (which they failed to do) and not do it ourselves? Where is the logic there? (See here, here, and here.)
But now, here we are in two countries, "nation building" (something W. himself said we wouldn't be doing when he ran for president [and didn't win] in 2000), failing miserably, unable to stop the "insurgents" (another brilliant term) from killing their own people. We continue to lose soldiers, we continue to see bombings and civilians of these countries killed in mass amounts (And who, by the way, said Israel over-reacted? We invaded two countries for what amounted to just over three hours worth of terrorist attacks; Israel's been dealing with Hezbollah for decades, and we think they over-reacted by invading Lebanon???). Not only are we still dealing with those three hours on September 11th and it's infinite ramifications throughout the world, we have barely begun to build the Freedom Tower, a true tribute and act of defiance against the terrorists. We can't even find the mastermind himself (and Bush is quoted as saying he didn't care where Osama was), but we celebrate the hell out of killing one little leader like al Zarqawi or capturing Saddam, both of whom had nothing to do with the three thousand deaths on that fateful day. And we're going to romanticize the event only five short years after the fact, when we can't even begin to bring to a conclusion all of our actions since that awful day? Not only is it to soon, and shouldn't even be played by a well-known actor like Cage who can't possibly make me believe he's just a New York Cop, but it is almost like trying to place a Band-Aid on the stump of an amputee. It's still bleeding, it's still raw and open and sore and still trying to fight off any infection that might set in. Now is not the time to fit a prosthesis, now is not the time to remember when you used to be able to write with that hand. Now is the time we are supposed to fight the infection and find a way to make it so this never happens to anyone again.

3. I can't stand Nicolas Cage.

Am I making sense? I think so. I'm sure there are people who are ready to see this movie, ready to sense closure by having a feel-good time munching on popcorn and drinking their 128 ounce Coke with free refills. But not me.

I still remember where I was when I heard about the attack on the World Trade Center. I remember trying to call Rich's brother and sis-in-law who lived just minutes from the Pentagon, trying to call friends in New York City, wondering if everyone was okay, not knowing if it really was an attack or a bunch of freak accidents, wondering if the discharge letter I had received from the army the week before would be renigged and I would be sent over there to fight the "evil-doers."

This so-called "War on Terror" can't be won, in my honest opinion, much like the so-called "War on Drugs." Both were ill-conceived, ill-planned, and a fight against something which cannot be fought. To win these wars, you need to win the ideological war, and trading in one ideology for another is never easy, never quick, and almost never won. It takes time, patience, and dialogue, none of which are strong points with our current government; not guns, generals, tanks, and torture in the name of freedom and security. It does take commitment to ideas, not a commitment of troops. It takes us upholding the very values we say we stand for, like personal freedom, accountability, innocent until proven guilty, just cause, and a whole host of other rights and freedoms; not illegal wire-tapping, not illegal torture, not a twisting and word-game of what is and isn't torture, what is and isn't a detainee, not what is and isn't an abuse of power, not what is and isn't a "military tribunal," and certainly not a call to "kill the killers."

Because "killing the killers" is never what America has stood for. Fighting for life, liberty, and democracy is what we stand for; and yes, sometimes killing is needed to defend rights and freedoms. But when we fail to give the countries we "freed" these basic rights, obligations, and freedoms we "stand for," we have failed to be the country we claim to be, and failed what our founding fathers dreamt we should be.

So I will not go to see the World Trade Center. I will not hope for the happy ending that most Hollywood films usually give us with much delight and care. What I do hope is that this country will once again stand up for individuals. Stand up and say no to the torture. No to the holding of "detainees" without trial or charges. No to the lies spoon-fed by our government.

I know our soldiers are doing the best they can with a government that half the time can't even get them the supplies they need, that can't even take responsibility for orders they have given the soldiers. Our soldiers deserve better. America deserves better. The world has come to expect better from us, and right now, and at this time in our history, we have failed.

And I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $10.50 for a reality that we still can't put in our past.

A Short Note About My Mother...

She does worry way too much. She just gave me a call and said,

Mom: You know I love you, right?
Me: Um, yeah... why?
Mom: Well, are you trying to give me a heart attack?
Me:Um.... no? At least, not on purpose... I guess...
Mom: Well, I read your blog...
Mom: Was I a good mother?
Me:Um, yeah.
Mom: (through the tears) Because, I just feel bad that you felt you couldn't talk to us or something...
Me:Mom, every kid goes through things they don't want to talk to their parents about.
Mom: Well, I guess...
My mom is such a sweetheart, even if I think her head is in the clouds way too much of the time for her own good. Did I ever mention that she tried to have me killed twice as a kid? Now, if I still think she's a good mom, despite that fact, tell me she isn't worrying too much.

She actually goes through the links I have to the right over there, and she was reading my comments on Dar's blog about how, when I was little, I came home from school one day and told her I wanted to marry Ryan. She doesn't remember this apparently, and feels that she was a bad mother for
  1. Not remembering this and
  2. Thinking that she must have somehow failed as a mother because she told me that that's not how things work with people
Maybe she blocked this memory out, who knows? All I know is, not remembering a conversation between you and your seven year old (or somewhere thereabouts) does not a bad mother make, especially when you have four others all vying for your attention. This small talk we had in the kitchen didn't make me who am, nor do I think it had that great a role in shaping my future. Even if I hadn't said those words to Mom, would I still have come out any earlier? I highly doubt it. If anything, it simply reinforces the fact that I was gay long before I knew what the word even meant.

Mom, you have a great heart and are a simply wonderful person, as well as a great friend with whom I disagree with a lot of things on. You are not responsible for me being who I am. You helped shape me, gave me my great sense of humor, my mind that wanders from subject to subject without clear and linear connections, and bad bones! :D

I love you, Mom, and hope that you don't continue to feel like a failure. You did the best you knew how to do, especially considering your mother! I would be a failure of a son if I didn't tell you that!

Here's hoping this post doesn't make your heart stop! :D

Remind me at some point in the future to share about my near-death experiences... They are great stories!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Thoughts About the Soul...

So I was graced by another e-mail from Adam, who just simply wanted to let me know, in case I was unaware, that I was going to hell...


I guess that's fine if he believes that. I mean, what are the chances that his beliefs will affect my afterlife? Two words: Not good.

If I were to go to hell, that would require my having a soul, or a spirit, that would live on after my passing. Now, I'm not here to say that we do or do not have a soul, per se. But I remember reading a blog somewhere (I think I linked to it through the blog Out of Christianity) that wondered, Where does the idea of a soul come from? From whence do we derive an immaterial part of our material worlds and senses?

I am also reminded of a quote of Mark Twain's:

"One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed it--they also believed the world was flat."
--Mark Twain
He may have a point.

The idea of a soul, or that there is an afterlife, is an ancient, if not immortal thought in and of itself, throughout the history of mankind. As archaeologists and other scientists peruse our past through artifacts and writings and buildings, religion and the afterlife have been recurring themes in almost every, if not every, culture. Ideas that there were gods, goddesses, and deity's that watched over us, showed pleasure or displeasure of our actions, sending harvests and plagues at a whim... and that one day, after our bodies perished, our soul would either be sent back to another earthly body, or be face-to-face with the god(s) to either be rewarded or punished.

So... where does that leave us? Why, again, do we derive a part of ourselves to be immortal when all our senses tell us all things pass away?

One of the most fundamental immaterial things about us, as people, is the ability to think. The ability to construct complex "thoughts" are quite immeasurable (despite what proponents of standardized testing would have you believe). They cannot be weighed, touched, smelled, heard, or seen. We can try to gauge how well our mind can process certain types of thought, but thought itself? Completely immaterial.

So the marriage of our physical selves with our nonphysical abilities and proof's of existence is certainly something that has been around for quite some time. But, while we can "think," and certainly our physical world shows proof of our abilities to do so, what cannot be shown, or has yet to be proven, is the "proof" or "ability" to live on past our physical bodies...

And beyond that... what would be the function of the soul or spirit? Recent brain analysis and studies have shown that a great deal of our personality is actually a function of the brain... (You can also see here and here). Your brain is your personality, molded and shaped by not only your emotional and physical world in which you were raised, but your brain chemistry, and how your brain processes information and the signals it sends flying across your cells...

Most people, when they think of "I," or themselves, identify themselves through personality traits (i.e., I am caring, I am funny, I am shy...). People are their personalities. And your personality is your brain. But most people think of their brain as part of the mortal, or material, world. Not as their soul. And the soul is always intrinsically defined as that part of you, or you yourself, which will continue to live on after death, which in default includes your shyness, your funny bone, your dry wit. But if your brain is actually in control of these parts of ourselves which we deem as immortal, what is left for the soul to actually do or be?

There was an episode of Grey's Anatomy in which a man had to have brain surgery, and when he came out of the surgery, instead of being the kind and patient man he was before, was quick to anger and very non-social. And while the TV show may be mere fiction, this storyline is actually quite well documented in medical fields. People change, their lives and personalities change when the brain is messed with...

Ergo once mentioned that the idea of afterlife only exists because, being as we cannot comprehend not existing, we therefore imagine a life for afterward, because we cannot fathom not thinking, not feeling, not existing. We cannot fathom not existing, and therefore, we must continue to exist even when all we know and all we see disappears or goes away...

Hence, the idea of a soul. Because, we know our bodies fail us. (Mine is failing me right now with a mid-summer cold!!) So we needed something separate from that, something that didn't depend on our bodies to carry us over to the great afterlife, the eternal bliss we imagine must be...

Now, I'll get into the specifics of why I don't believe there could possibly be an actual heaven or hell later, but for now, we are dealing with something that doesn't exist (at least, according to standard scientific and medical knowledge...), so heaven and hell become moot until we can decide if soul is actually what we are, or if we are simply mere creatures of chemical reactions that cease to occur when the body does die...

It is kind of scary, to know there is an end, a finite wall of which we will all run into. But it also makes life seem even more precious, doesn't it? To want to make the most out of this time, this unasked for existence, this unneeded path we all share in...

This will require further thought on my part, this is simply a random group of thoughts floating across my neurons right now, but if you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Bats in the Belfry: Redux...

So, this is how things have been going...

The next afternoon when I got home from work, I mentioned to Rich about the unearthly demon who had invaded are home and possessed our dog into some type of manic frenzy (leaving out the part where the dog takes flying leaps from the dining room table scattering much-beloved 70s and 80s era toys...). His response? Ha! Laughter, yes, dear sweet laughter.

This same afternoon, our dryer decides it needs a long vacation form the dreary world of tumble-the-cotton monotony, so what do we decide? After three days of not being able to dry our clothes in a more traditional method due to thunderous clouds and rain, be decide, It's hot in the attic--let's hang the clothes up there!

So I grab some rope and a flashlight (Or, if your my father, you pronounce this flesh-lit), move some stuff around to create an open area, keeping an eye out for Satan incarnate, and strung some rope around the place... I also take down the ratty curtains hanging in the windows to let in some natural light (while also hoping Batty Batterson will burst into flame at the touch) and open the windows with much pushing, grunting, and an amount of testosterone normally required for convincing drunk elephants to stand up and walk home...

Rich brings up the hamper, dripping with water, and we begin the hanging process...


I duck for cover behind an old cardboard wardrobe left behind by previous owners (and incidentally reminding me of that Malcolm in the Middle episode where the hundreds of "bow-ties" fly into their house...). Rich cries, "What was that?!" Hawthorne answers gleefully with a bark and a growl, and off they go, pulling down clean laundry and string every step of the way.

And you thought catching a bat in a full-ceilinged living room was easy? Try a cape cods second floor where you can barely stand up straight in the center of the ceiling surrounded by boxes filled with "collectibles" from a certain someone's neurotic childhood (read: Rich).

I begin the process once again of yelling for Hawthorne to take a chill pill (Umm, yeah, I said chill pill, what's it to you?), quite ineffectively I might add. Rich takes one of the old towels and tries "wafting" it over Batty as he flies by, also ineffectively...

As we're banging into boxes with Rich trying to hover over them protectively, Hawthorne takes a flying leap--

He's got the bat! He's got the bat!

But, much like the time he caught the mouse in our kitchen, as soon as it wiggled in his mouth, he releases it with a puzzled expression on his face...

And Batty flies directly out of the open window...

We all trade looks, and I'm sure we're all thinking, Why the hell didn't he just fly out in the first place?

But then again, my blog would have less fodder, wouldn't it?

I'd like to thank you all for your thoughts and comments when the fiasco began, but it seems like e didn't need traps, bait, or a hole in the roof via my father's rifles to rid ourselves of our demon...

Just a window, and a dog who doesn't like to eat things that wiggle...

As a side note, the dryer won't be fixed until the sixteenth. We rewashed the clothes and hung them in the attic once again, this time to much less drama, I'm happy to report...

And, being that I didn't need the holy water after all, I won't be converting to Catholicism...

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Living with AIDS...

Isn't that a great phrase? No, I'm not cruel, maybe unusual, but never cruel... I should probably explain.
I just finished watching all six hours of Angels in America, a wonderfully dark, poignant, humorous movie about politics, religion, and social stigma in the mid- to late eighties--but mostly it deals within those contexts and AIDS, and five very different gay men. The death, despair, the craziness of it all. If you straighties can get past the whole gay thing, I highly recommend it. I almost believe it should be required to be watched.

I only know of one person who ever died of AIDS. That's really saying something. I know of four people who are living with AIDS. I've known them for about six years, when I was first building my own personal social network of friends. When AIDS first arrived on the scene and began kicking some ass, to live six years with it was unheard of. Drugs were astronomically high (and still are, don't get me wrong!), treatment was unknown and relatively poor considering the social stigma that went with being a person with AIDS...

The only person I have ever known to die of AIDS was my uncle Tim. And I only ever remember meeting him once, I think when I was about ten. You see, when he came out of the closet in the eighties, my great-grandfather kicked him out of the family. From what I know, which is little, his wife and he separated (I don't know whom left whom), and he wasn't technically allowed to see his parents until my great-grandfather died of lung cancer.

And even when he was "allowed" back in the family, he didn't have very long to enjoy that time. He had AIDS.

My grandmother, I remember very clearly, was afraid to have her brother eat off her plates and drink from her cups. She bought special plastic-ware for him to use whenever he happened to visit. I was in eighth grade, and we were learning about AIDS in school at the time, about how it was contracted (sexual fluids and blood), how to avoid getting AIDS, and why the likelihood of contracting it through normal social contact was almost unheard of and impossible. I remember clearly telling my grandmother about how she was being silly, about how she couldn't get AIDS from uncle Timmy by eating lunch together, and she spun around, holding the special plastic-ware and said I didn't know what I was talking about. She said, "No one knows how they get it, these doctors don't know! They are making this up, trying to cover for your uncle's bad behavior!"

I remember that this was also the first time I thought grandmom may not have all her ducks in a row, and may be even missing a few fries from her happy meal. But I dutifully shut up, being the quiet, nonconfrontational child that I was (and still tend to be), and pondered her words.

I remember later that same school year, there was a school assembly in the auditorium, and the speakers asked people to write down their questions about AIDS and pass them to the front, and the questions would be answered and looked through at the end of the assembly.

I wrote, "Is being gay genetic?"

I already had more than an inkling about what my cross to bear was, about how uncle Timmy had AIDS because he was gay, and I didn't want that fate. I didn't want to be kicked out of the family, I didn't want to die, I didn't want to eat off plastic plates at Grandmom's house and have her look at me like I saw her look at Uncle Timmy.

At the end of the assembly, the woman running the show said, "Someone asked if gayness is genetic. That is a stigma about AIDS that we need to stop! This isn't about being gay, this is about a sexually transmitted disease that can kill you!"

I felt ashamed for asking, but it didn't stop me from being upset about not knowing if this was to be my fate.

I am older (and I hope wiser!), and I know now that being gay is in no way associated with AIDS, but irresponsible sexual and drug-related behavior is, despite what a fundie would have you believe. It is not a gay cancer, it is not a wrath or judgment from the sky god; it is just another disease that we need to find a cure for.

My mother has wonderful memories of Uncle Tim. He used to take her dress shopping and such... I only ever met him once, on our back deck of the house. Since I was only eight when I met him, I didn't pay much attention. He was just another grown-up there to see my parents...

I feel a deep sadness, though, whenever I see a movie dealing with AIDS and HIV back then. I wonder if someone was there to hold his hand through the pain, through the lonely nights when he knew the end was coming. I wonder if his partner (if he had one) or maybe his ex-wife and children helped care for him... I wonder if he believed he was going to hell. I wonder if he felt any hope, any love, and sense of compassion from the fucked-up family he was born into...

Maybe Mom can shed some light on this. I have no idea, and I've never asked. Maybe because I'm too scared to know what the truth might be. That no one was with him. That know one held his hand, cleaned up the blood and vomit as both the disease and the pills' side-effects wracked his body. That maybe no one washed his sweaty forehead with a cool cloth, told him he was loved, told him not to be scared...

In this day and age, that I, as a gay man, only know one person to have died of this disease, and that back in the day of ignorance, I think is a small miracle. That the four men I do know who are living with AIDS have enjoyed mostly good health and great spirits is a great step from only 15 short years ago...

It is not a cure. And it should not be viewed as a free pass to go ahead and contract the disease, whether naively ignorant or willfully stupid. AIDS still isn't something you want to live with. It never should be something you have to live with, much like any other preventable disease...

But the fact that now, today, people can continue to live until there is a cure, that is a wonderful thing. Not the best thing, but still wonderful...

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Some Idiots in India...

So I don't know how "freedom of religion" and "freedom of speech" work in India (perhaps Ergo could shed some light on this as he lives over there currently?), but apparently a fashion designer was arrested in Mumbai because some religious nuts were "offended" by religious quotes on some clothing...

From the article:

Ahmedabad, Aug 2 - Police have registered a complaint against a Mumbai-based fashion designer and two shops for 'hurting religious sentiments' by designing and selling clothes with sacred Hindu and Jain texts.

Two religious groups, the Rajnagar Jain Sangh and Bharatiya Dharmarakshak Sena, late Monday night lodged a complaint with the Navrangpura police station here against Designer Dipen Desai, his firm Veda and Mantra and the two city-based garments showrooms for 'hurting religious sentiments', a police official told IANS.

On behalf of their organisations, Rashmin Shan and Abhay Shah complained that the printing of the Gayatri Mantra and Navkar Mantra on clothes was an insult to the Hindu and Jain religions.

Police have filed the complaint under Section 295(c) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), relating to hurting religious sentiments.

Police said they were searching for the owners of the two showrooms here that were selling the contentious clothes.
Seriously? They arrested some dude because of words on clothes?!?! It sounds like the two who complained have a little too much free time on their hands if their busy being "offended" by some articles of clothing... Is it truly against the law to "offend" people these days?

Because when the Muslims were all up in arms about the Mohammed cartoons, people didn't back down then.

And we shouldn't now, either.

If you are free to state your religious belief, I am free to poke fun at it, point out logic-gaps, and print the stupid words on some fucking T-shirts, people. Of course, this wasn't in the U.S., but how many fundies out there who are reading this would just love to have me arrested for offending you, hmm?

That's what I thought.