Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WWJB: Who Would Jesus Brainwash?

So right before I was about to rush out the door to yet another unfulfilling day at the office, Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America stated that they were going to discuss a new documentary that is already playing in the so-called "heartland" of the United States: Jesus Camp.

The name gives me awful flashbacks of Camp Logos, but I digress.

They talked briefly about how this was not brainwashing, as a popular North Dakota radio personality had suggested, but the honest, true-to-life living faith of these 6 to 9 year olds at Jesus camp, weeping over the nations' sins, blessing and praying over a life-size cardboard cut-out of Shrubya, speaking in tongues and crying tears of joy while praising the name of Jesus...

And we could sit here and discuss till we were blue in the face about whether or not these children believe their professions or were manipulated, but no one will ever know the heart of these children. But what we can discuss is: What constitutes "brainwashing," and what constitutes "teaching"?

From Websters:
  1. Brainwash: 1: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social, or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas
    2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship
  2. Teach: 1(a): to cause to know something (b): to cause to know how (c): to accustom to some action or attitude (teach students to think for themselves) 2: to guide the studies of 3: to impart the knowledge of 4(a): to instruct by precept, example, or experience (b): to make known and accepted 5: to conduct instruction regularly in
  3. Propaganda: 1: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person 2: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect
Can you see the difference? One is a forcible teaching, or more extreme form, if you will. It's not simply saying, "This is how one walks" or "This is how one reads." Brainwashing is "This is what one reads and believes" and "This is what you say." Teaching gives reasoning, logic, a foundation with which to take and use. When we teach 2 + 2 = 4, we then teach that child that this isn't the end-all be-all of mathematics. It grows and expounds beyond to greater heights, bigger numbers. What brainwashing says is 2 + 2 = 4, and that's it. Don't ask why. Don't ask what is beyond. "4" is the end result, the means and end. Don't ask why, just make sure you believe it, and then tell everyone else. And propaganda says "You like it that 2 + 2 = 4. It makes you feel complete."

Now, Christian fundamentalists certainly don't have a corner on the market of brainwashing, I think we all know that. And it certainly isn't limited to a religious experience. But does your average, run-of-the-mill person engage in brainwashing? Or is the average run-of-the-mill person a victim of it? And how does propaganda fit into the big picture?

Propaganda is, of course, the best way to brainwash. Repeatedly telling someone over and over again that something is the truth has been proven over and over again to be the way to go if you want to persuade someone (or a group). In fact, we all know that children are extremely susceptible to propaganda (see here & here), whether from parents, teachers, or other adult role models. When Diane Sawyer asked, "You ask for children to be 6 to 9 years old, yes?", Pastor Becky replied, "Under thirteen, preferably between seven and nine." I wonder why that is?

Now, I was never brainwashed as a child. I was taught about Jesus, his love, and all the wonderful stories that went with it. I was sent to a bible camp for three summers, along with all my other brothers and sisters, but it was nothing like Pastor Becky's little Propaganda Paradise. We built model rockets; played capture the flag; had bonfires; and prayed before we ate, and there was a devotional or two. Becky's got them crying, weeping, speaking in tongues, horrified about abortions and gay marriage... One wonders why Becky doesn't teach these kids to care for the homeless, the terminally ill, and the poor (you know, what Jesus did when he was on Earth) instead of trying to "take back America." Did Jesus ever try to "take back Jerusalem" from the Romans? You know, the empire that would shortly be feeding his followers (okay, technically Paul's followers) to the lions and crucifying him on a cross? No. He actually said render to Caesar what is Caesars, and love god and everyone else. Even Paul never advocated "taking over" anything (and we all know my thoughts about him) but just said to pray for your leaders... That's sounds pretty pacifistic to me... Onward Christian Soldiers my ass...

When you take children at prime propaganda age and slam their young minds with "Fight for Jesus," that is propaganda. It isn't simply saying, "This is what we think Jesus would want." They are saying "This is what Jesus wants and you must do it."

Now, of course dear sweet Becky is saying that's hogwash, they aren't using propaganda! From her GMA interview: "People think kids are going to grow up in some kind of ideological vacuum and then when they're 12 years old we can present them with these heavy ideas and they can make a choice. That's ludicrous. They are bombarded on every side from TV to the music they listen to, to the books they read--all types of ideas from witchcraft to evolution to morality. To say we shouldn't say anything to them because they can't understand it?"

Yeah, I bet their really bombarded at Jesus Camp with the evil Harry Potter and his Minions of Devilry...

I remember when I was at bible college, I had to take a course on psychology. You want to take a guess on what the textbook for the course was in 1995? Why Christians Can't Trust Psychology. (You can buy it at here.) And the books I had to read to take piano lessons? Music in the Balance and The Ministry of Music. (At here and here; and while their titles may not sound as scary as the first, they're just as fundie...) Perhaps this is why I could only transfer three credits from the 36 I accumulated?

Regardless, while my parents, conservative as they were, did not engage in brainwashing, they did teach us about the bible and what it had to say. But Pastor Becky? She's a brainwasher, plain and simple... From her web site:

The purpose of Kids In Ministry International is to impart vision to children and adults of how God sees children as His partners in ministry worldwide. The purpose is also therefore to teach, train, and equip children to do the work of ministry and release them in their giftings and callings.

It is also to teach, train, and equip adults to minister to children, teaching them how to train and release children into the things of the Spirit and to find an active place in the body of Christ in all areas of ministry. Those areas include evangelism, mission, the gifts of the Spirit, worship, hearing the voice of God, prayer, healing the sick, and more.

These purposes are to be accomplished through a variety of forms including but not limited to curriculum, books, other written materials, seminars, conferences, schools of equipping, crusades, outreaches around the world, tapes, videos, and the internet.
Now, that doesn't sound like brainwashing, does it? Of course, anybody can make brainwashing sound pretty, can't they?

I just feel bad for those poor kids. I'm betting most of them will end up in therapy for years...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WW III? I Don't Buy It...

and here is why.

We have yet, as an American people been asked to give up anything of real luxury. Sure, oil has gotten kind of pricey. Yes, it's what our entire political landscape is based on right now, but I ask you, dear reader: What have you personally had to sacrifice for your country to fight this war?

We all know someone, or know someone who knows someone, be it a family member, neighbor, friend of a friend (and perhaps even once more removed) who has been in Iraq or Afghanistan. And the thought of losing someone we know, the emotional turmoil and anguish is not something to be taken lightly. War is never pretty, and it is always the soldier and his family who actually are the sacrifice. But what of our lifestyles? Are we truly sacrificing anything?

I know I'm not. This isn't a bad thing, just a fact. But I keep hearing about this war from two very different, but equally bull-headed, factions:
  1. The Christian Fundamentalists who claim it's the "End Times" coming at us full-force as so-called "prophecy" is being fulfilled before our eyes; and
  2. Media Pundits who are claiming we are deep in the midst of War World III with no end in sight.
Now, as to the first group, the Fundies, perhaps there is prophecy being fulfilled; the issue with "prophecy" is that virtually anything can be read into anything and be called a "fulfillment," as it were. If I have a dream about sitting on a bench in a field with my mother staring at a three-legged blue pony with gold hair (an actual dream I had, I shit you not), if thirteen years down the road I'm sitting with my mother on a bench, I could claim this as fulfilled prophecy. Then, if one day, I see a human-interest story about a three-legged pony called Bluebell five years after that, I could also call that fulfilled prophecy. You could claim you had a dream about snorkeling with sting rays, and then you could cry "Wallah!" as you read next week about Steve Irwin's death by sting ray (which, to me personally, seemed very anti-climactic given his track record of being bitten by poisonous snakes and wrestling with crocodiles...), and say prophecy has been fulfilled. Hell, I could claim that when someone betrays me, this was prophesied by the story of Judas betraying Jesus and feel life has come full circle.

I may post more on this later (who ever knew I had so much to say?), but my posts get long enough, wouldn't you agree? :)

But as to the second camp, the Media Pundits: I was watching (and don't ask why cause I have no idea; Rich had control of the remote) Glen Beck on CNN Headline News, who claimed with great certainty that this was WWIII. I willing to concede that perhaps this may be the beginning of what WWIII may be, given especially the tendency of fundamentalist Muslims to get violent when anyone dare call them violent (just ask the pope!) and the increasing violence of jihadists around the world. But until I get a call (or see on the news) that all men ages 18 to 65 are to report for war, that oil will once again be rationed, bread is in short supply, and the price of buying any type of metal at a hardware store will cost an arm and a leg, we are not in WWIII. Maybe the beginnings, but certainly nothing near the violence, the agony, the total world threat yet that both WWI and WWII created, at least in my opinion...

On a related note, Tom had asked me while painting our father's house, if the Army did call me back up (as an honorably discharged soldier) if I would report for duty: Yes. Without a doubt. Would I be happy about it? Certainly not, and would be very vocal about it, both in and out of the ranks. And if they would take me again, as an openly gay man with arthritis rampant in my knees and a complete disagreement over the whole premise of this war, I would go.

I love this country, even if I hate the current direction and the loud-mouthed fundies skewed view of what it should be. But I would fight for their right to be ornery and wrong :)

My only concern is: Would going to Iraq or Afghanistan truly be fighting for America? I'm certainly not sold on that argument, as much as Bush would have us believe it is so, especially given the recent report that I could have told you was true without the intelligence agencies of America! America was in more danger from a turtle infestation than from Saddam Hussein! And while it may be "better" in the small-picture for Saddam to be out of power, the big picture is proving to be more fractured than a Picasso painting! And while I may not be privy to all the "top secret" information that Bush supposedly claims to be dreaming about that gives him the right to treat human beings as dogs, and though I think our interests would be best served in small, concise military movements that would hit cells, bring to justice terrorists, and not involve thousands of soldiers in nation-building, I would still put on my uniform and head out.

Why? Ultimately, it's because the ideals of my country that have called. It never comes down to who sits in the Oval Office, but to us, the citizens. We are the ones who fight daily for freedom by simply expressing our views and exercising our rights. We are the ones who, though hated by the world, show the world why they are still dying to be here. It's not about our flag (so burn it for all I care!), it's not about our Constitution, and it's not about seeing a bald eagle soaring in the sky.

It's about Freedom. The right to be alive. The right to live the life you never asked for in peace and prosperity. To get up in the morning and do whatever the hell you want, and not worry about being arrested because you think Jesus should be in the Oval Office (or at least his incompetent representative); to walk down the street holding the hand of the one you love and not be killed for it (we're still working on that one); to sit and not pledge allegiance to a piece of fabric if you so desire. That is what it means to be free. To stand up for what you believe, and work with your fellow citizens in such a way that allows you all to believe in completely opposite things and still be neighbors; with respect, dignity, and civility.

And while they may not be Americans in Iraq we're fighting for and beside, they deserve freedom. Even though I fundamentally disagree with how Bush went about this whole rigmarole, now that we are there, to leave now would cause more world harm than good (at the given moment; anything can change). Are they in a civil war? If so, we created it, and that's a fact. Do fundamentalist Muslims hate us even more than before? If so, it's because we egged them on. Not that they are even close to being justified in their killing of people, but it's no less true, is it?

The fact remains that if Bush would have paid attention in political science, he would have realized that nation-building isn't the way to go. Economic policies are slower, but way more effective in changing the attitudes of a society. Small, secret military operations to behead cells where they are would have been more effective than full-scale shoot-em-up. Why, if Reagan had followed the Bush policy on what constitutes a threat, the Cold War would have ended a whole lot differently, probably with us giving birth to deformed Americans due to radiation poisoning (if any of us could reproduce after that!!) We would have been pulling down Stalin's statue during a nuclear winter, and global warming would be the least of our problems!

When it comes right down to it, we are stuck there, in a hybridized sequel to both the Cold War and Vietnam. An ideological guerilla war with no end in sight, no strategy worth it's cost in blood, and no goal within scoring distance.

Call me unpatriotic if you will. Call me a hypocrite. Call me a faggot. As an American, that's your right (even if you're wrong!) :)

But don't try to sell me on this WWIII crap. And don't try to tell me that supporting the soldiers means voting Republican or even not criticizing the Dancing Monkey. As a former soldier of our military, I would be proud to fight for the freedom of any people. It wouldn't require lies; falsified intelligence; a C- Yale & Harvard graduate in a suit; or a maniac in a fundamentalist religion. It would only require doing the right thing. Standing up for an Ideal.

You'll know it when we're in WWIII. And that'll be because you will be holding a rifle and building a bomb shelter. And it won't be because Democrats are "weak" on security: it will be because Bush was a bully about it (and not a very good one!) And (even though I didn't mean this to turn into a referendum on idiocy), hope you, my fellow human beings, are paying attention. Bush does not equal what America stands for. We, the citizens, do.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Giants, Giants Everywhere!!

So I was pondering this world-wide flood of Noah's and how it was logically impossible for it to wipe out deep-sea dinosaurs (I am also surprised by the lack of the many Anon's and other fundies take on my last post, but I digress...), not to mention how it fails to provide an adequate explanation of where all the dino's went to begin with, so I decided to refresh my memory about the whole flood story, thinking Maybe I missed something. I have to say I didn't...

I did find an interesting thing, though. Giants. No, no, no, not the football team from New York. We first here about giants in the ancient lands in Genesis:

Genesis 6:1-4: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown.
So not only were the angels able to reproduce (which blasts the fundie theory I grew up with that angels were neither male nor female but asexual [much like Jesus said in Mark 12:25: For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.]), but it means the angels are perv's having interspecies sex. But whatever. When angels and women get together, you get giants: specifically, Nephilim.

And I was like, Oh. Okay. Angel + Fair-looking Human Woman = Giant. Sure. Whatever. This passage is right before the whole "All men are wicked. They be dissin' me hard! Noah, build a yacht with some stalls." And we all know the story: Noah builds a boat, takes two of most creatures, seven of others, and his wife, his three sons, and their wives. That's it. And men and women are crying as supposedly it rains for the first time ever on Earth (according to what I heard growing up... I have no idea where they get this from...), and then the bible says:

Gen. 7:23: And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.
Yep. Pretty much everything (excepting, of course, water-dwelling creatures... go figure...) So one would suppose this gets rid of the giants from before, right? The bastardized creatures made from illicit inter-species sex, right? Hmm... No, you would be wrong. Apparently giants are either tall enough to stand on the highest mountains which were also supposedly underwater (Gen 7:19-20: And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that [were] under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.), or giants came with duck-shaped floaties, and perhaps they ate all the deep-sea dinosaurs to stay alive while floating on the water for forty days and nights... I imagine giants have big appetites, don't you?

So, anyways, supposedly all the giants died. But then, later, as Moses was sending spies into the promised land to see if the people of Israel really could just waltz in and claim it as their god said they could, the spies came back saying, "Uh-huh, no way!" Why? Giants. Up by 7 in the final quarter:

Num 13:32-33:And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, [is] a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it [are] men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, [which come] of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Now, you may be saying, Maybe these are different giants? Maybe gods angels got it on with some of Noah's granddaughters and a new breed was sprung up. Hmm, perhaps. So let's take a look at the word "giant," shall we?

Giant has two different terms in the old testament: The earlier, Nephilim (the word used in both in our quoted passages in Genesis and Numbers), and Rephaim, who made their first appearance in Gen 14:5 (And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that [were] with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,), but it seems like they were taken care of here, through one of OT god's favorite forms of killing: Smiting. God did a lot of smoting and smiting back in the day, but I'll let that one go for now as well... Needless to say, the Rephaim make a few appearances later as well! (Perhaps they had floaties too?; but, wait, they appear after the flood.) In fact, for the rest of the time the Israelites are trying to occupy their land, all different types of giants from differing parts of the promised land are called Rephaim. Nephilim is never used again. How many types of Rephaim are there?
  1. Deu 2:11 Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims. (Anak and Anakim are the same tribe, and the word Nephilim is used earlier for these same giants that dwelt in Caanan, the so-called promised land)
  2. Deu 2:19b-20 for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon [any] possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot [for] a possession. (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; (Strong's says this may be the same people as the Anak, but the Thayer's/Grimm Hebrew lexicon states that these giants were extinct before the time of Moses...)
  3. Deu 3:13 And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, [being] the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. (these giants inhabited northern Jordan, just east of Canaan...)
  4. Jos 17:15 And Joshua answered them, If thou [be] a great people, [then] get thee up to the wood [country], and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. (Southern Canaan...)
That's at least three different regions that Rephaim are inhabiting, all with different names.

Now, where does that leave us, really? Well, either the so-called sons of god got busy with Noah's granddaughters, or the giants survived the flood to begin with. Which is more plausible? The bible never again mentions angels and humans getting busy, which is the explanation for how giants came to be to begin with (but perhaps explains why the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were so keen on raping angels--they'd get giants out of the deal!!), so we're going to have to assume that giants passed their genes on through Noah's sons and daughters-in-law. But, really, how many years passed between Noah's flood and Moses leading the people out of Egypt to Canaan? This conservative site states that between the end of the flood (which they date at 2348 BC) and the exodus to Canaan (which they date at somewhere between 1504 BC - 1254 BC) means that approximately 1000 years passed between the two events. This site states that Noah's flood happened at approx. 4000 BC and Moses didn't start leading the Israelites out of Egypt until 1450 BC, giving Noah and the kids about 2550 years to repopulate the earth with their descendants. Either way, even if we took 8 people, and gave them 2550 years to fuck like rabbits, how many people would actually be on the earth to fight over the land of Canaan?

Noah was still alive when Abraham was born (You can do the math in Genesis chapter 11; Noah lived 350 years after the flood [Gen. 9:29], for a total of 950 years, bringing into question also god's decree before the flood that "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. Genesis 6:3) and Terah (Abrham's father) sent Abram (Abraham) and his mother to live with Noah, and there he was trained in the Gospel of the Kingdom in Ur (where did this city come from only three generations removed from Noah, and while Noah was still kicking? The story goes that after the flood all the people on the earth came from the three sons of Noah...)

Notice that Abraham, when grown, then came out on the plains of Shinar, as he followed god's instructions to leave Ur of the Chaldee, and as he came out on the plains, there were all these men locked in battle. Where did they all come from? And Egypt, where Abraham went on his travels, where did they all come from? You mean to tell me that Ham had time to father all of Egypt when Shem was still working on building the Hebrews? (In all Genesis actuality, Shem is said to be the father of Hebrews, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Persians, & Syrians; Ham is blamed for the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Hittites, and Ammorites; and poor youngest Japheth is the father of Greeks, Thracians, & Scthians [Why only three for him? Did his wife not like putting out??]. I mean, come on now... Even if they did get it on like rabbits, three sons had time to spawn thirteen different nations in only a few hundred years? As you can see from the time lines above, even if we go with the 2550 year span (which doesn't add up according to the genealogy in Genesis), even 2550 years is not enough time for 8 people to come up with hundreds of tribes, thousands of people, and languages; who forget not only that they are all related, but most of these cultures (specifically Egypt and Macedonia) don't even tell of a world-wide flood in their history, let alone a dude named Noah!

Where am I going with all of this?

There was no world-wide flood. The giants may have lived because they weren't in the place that was flooded. The many peoples of the earth were still around because not all of mankind died in the so-called world-wide flood. That's why there were cities, tribes, giants, and lands inhabited only a few generations after being supposedly reduced to eight come from--it's because the world was never flooded. :)


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Musings on Family Comments...

Slightly Updated: now that I'm at home and had the time to flesh out a few of these thoughts a little more...

Comment #1: "Science will always simply prove what is found to be true in Scripture..."
--Tom N. Hughes, my father; while working on his porch one weekend.

I have to say, I forget the actual context of the discussion, but I think it had to do with my brother Tom's reading and my mother's take on And Knowing is Half the Battle post.

My father is a Young-Earth believer. That is, he believes in that the 7-day creation process described in Genesis is literal scripture and absolute truth. That it took seven mornings and evenings (literal 24 hours), everything was created that day in its present state (no macro evolution has occurred), and that dinosaurs simply went extinct (I'm guessing on this last one--remind me to ask my father what he believes happened to the dinosaurs...) I believe the popular term for person's like my father these days is he's a believer in ID.

My issue isn't so much that he believes this. If he had actual scientific theories and hypotheses on the issue, and could say, "Look at this" or "look at that," the point would be moot until an answer was happened upon. My issue does lie in the fact that science has already told him that the young-earth theory isn't only not viable, but a simple purview of human history will blow this theory out of the water--even without a deep discussion on evolution, the big bang, or the gravitational proponents of black-hole/worm-hole density. If you take the literal version of history in the bible and lay out a time line, the earth (and everything on it) is only between 6,000 and 10,000 years old--and if that isn't silly enough--the fact that even with literal interpretation you can't come up with a solid year!--today's man and his artwork and past has already been proven by science to have been in America at least 50,000 years, let alone when we first showed up on earth at all! Most recently, the fosilized remains of a child dating 3 million years old have been found in Ethiopia! 3 million years old! Humanoid, though not human, how does one take this into account while still believing in a young earth? Do you just dismiss it as evil scientists trying to disprove a god? (Clue: Science has better things to do with its free time than try to disprove what you believe!)

How does science know? One method is called carbon-dating. (To learn about what carbon dating is, its reliability, and how it works, visit the following links: here, here, or even here.)

And even if you go with the argument of fundies that carbon dating isn't accurate, please explain to me the following:
  1. The hundreds of millions of fossils that are in display cases around the world. Where did they come from? What happened to these creatures in the few thousand years since god created them?
  2. How did that all the dinosaurs, mammoths, early humans, heavily-armored fishes, trilobites, ammonites, and the rest actually live together?
  3. How did the marine creatures die (like the Nothosaurs, Plesiosaurs, Ichthyosaurs...) during the flood? (i.e., if the earth really is that young, what happened to all the deep sea dinosaurs? The ones that Noah's flood wouldn't have wiped out?)
It's fine that you want to ignore scientific evidence; it's no skin off my back; but don't expect science to back you up when the evidence for it certainly isn't there.

And even further, even if you are going to assume that one day, science will somehow "back up the bible," who's to say which bible reader it is going to back up? One could say it already backs up evolution-believing Christians who take a non-literal reading of the creation days! (perhaps more on that at a later date). So, then, if Bob Schmoe from Irving, Illinois, believes the bible literally says that the animals were made first, then Adam and Eve (as in Gen. 1) and Billy-Joe Blow from Tucson, Arizona, believes the bible literally says that Adam was made first, then the animals, then Eve (as in Gen. 2), and both are hard-core, literal bible-believing Baptists, one of them has to be wrong, and science isn't going to back one of them up! So who's to say when the bible actually has been backed up by science? Of course, then there's taking them as allegorical; or as Gen. 2 simply going into detail about Gen. 1; or as two differing accounts by two different authors as a study of the writing styles and features of the two accounts will lead you to conclude...

Do you see the issue here? It all comes back to someone's interpretation over another, which is why there are already so many damn denominations, it ain't even funny!

So, no, Dad, I'm going to have to say science is never going to back you up until you've decided that it does.
Comment #2: "All things in the universe lead to entropy."
--Brother Tom, later that same day, I believe.

In essence, and in very general terms, he's right. All things lead back to entropy. Hence, I think this makes up a large part of his belief in old-earth creationism (i.e., god had to start it all as nothing seems to be self-starting, only self-destructive). He has been able to marry his belief in the bible and in evolution. But if you look into the second law of thermodynamics, you will see that, not only is entropy a very very slow process in most cases, once there is enough "entropy," or disorder, an MEP happens, or "law of maximum entropy production," in which entropy actually leads to the creation of something else (see here, here, and here).

And not only does creation-type physicality happen at a much greater pace than entropy, the whole law of entropy is based on a closed system; that is, a system that has no influence from an outside source. Now, I'm no scientist, and perhaps some of you may be able to explain it better than my rudimentary understanding of things thus far, but science has never ruled out the possibility of outside forces and their effect upon our universe (be that god, something the universe may be inhabited in, or any of the 11 dimensions that string theory has placed on the table that may or may not be part of the universe; there is also an explanation about why gravity seems to be such a weak force in our universe, and string theory proposes that's because gravity is spread across multiple dimensions, or several universes...). The second law, as stated, is "The entropy of a closed system shall never decrease, and shall increase whenever possible." So if you are to use this theory, which incorporates a whole host of other physical laws, as the basis for stating that someone (namely, a god) as the cause for all creation (even though things create and produce in this world of entropy), you must take into account that
  1. we may not be inhabiting a closed system
  2. entropy is a slow, gradual process in most instances anyway, and
  3. entropy itself leads to creation
Perhaps I am misunderstanding something here, but from what I can tell, and from what I have read on these links and other various sites, entropy is not only not a guaranteed constant (in that, entropy is all there is happening), entropy itself leads to something new and different just through the disorder it causes to happen.

Does that make sense to anyone else?
I'll end it for now--I could keep adding onto this for weeks... Perhaps this may become a running series as well--who knows?

I have yet to hear back from Santorum (probably remembers me from my e-mails of constant disagreement with him, and I got a "form" reply from Specter. My state legislators have said that I could come in to learn or volunteer with them, but I need to work... and volunteering doesn't pay, which means I lose my house... I have to ask myself how much I can do before I sacrifice something (like money) in order to gain something (like office), but either way, I need money...


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Come on, Rose... Tell Me One of Your Boring Stories... That Always Puts Me to Sleep..."

Wendy's been talking to me a lot lately and I cannot figure out why. I stand there sullenly as normal to avoid vapid conversations about nothing in particular until something piques my interest... but lately, she's been initiating conversations. It wouldn't be so bad if she actually told interesting stories, or at least mildly funny, but she doesn't. She chatters nonstop about the stupidest things in the most boring manner possible...

Blanche: No, no, no please. I cannot bear that again. She was listening to her car radio, Big Band, not all talk. There was a contest. Something about a little voice, a lucky number and a dime in a door handle, then Bim Bam Boosh, won the tickets.
Dorothy: Take a lesson Rose. That's how you tell a story.
More people should learn the art of story-telling, don't you think? It's definitely a lost art--one has only to browse through current fiction in any American bookstore and see loads of crap for only $4.95 in paperback...

Rose: I have a story to end all stories about when someone wouldn't sleep with me.
Blanche: Ok Honey, but PLEASE keep it in ten words or less.
Rose: OK. I will.
Dorothy: Ok then Rose, let's hear it. In ten words or less, when did a man not sleep with you?
Rose: The time I was radioactive.
You don't start off by asking me how I am, do I have trees in my yard, or even bushes, and then take fifteen minutes to explain to me how you are going to turn your bushes out front into giant pumpkins for Halloween. Not only did you take too long, you bored me to tears. I ask you, is my life that non-valuable to you that you would want to bore me? If fact, the sad part is, your life should be boring to you, too, but you're too stupid to realize it...

Rose: This reminds me of something that happened back in St. Olaf.
Dorothy: Oh, Rose, stop! Rose, why is it that every time one of us makes an observation, the first thing we hear from you is "Back in St. Olaf?" I mean, did it ever occur to you that maybe we're tired of hearing "Back in St. Olaf," "Back in St. Olaf," "Back in St. Olaf!"
Rose: Gee, no, I... I'm sorry.
Dorothy: Oh... .that's okay.
[pauses for a moment to rethink her approach]
Rose: Back in that town whose name you're tired of hearing...
Dorothy: Rose!
Have I mentioned I miss having Kelly at work lately?

Sigh. Back to work...

Dorothy: Oh... but you thought we'd be interested in the story of little Yimminy? The boy who was raised by a moose...?
Rose: That moose not only raised little Yimminy, he put him through medical school.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Full Weekend = No Time for Blogging...

So a few things happened this past weekend in my life, and I will share them with you in a brief synopsis of each:

1. I Became an Uncle Again!!!
Okay, this actually took up none of my time except for a brief phone call to my sis to make sure everything went fine. The answering machine assured me that it did. His name is Nathaniel Lewis ____, and he is my fifth nephew, 7th neph/niece overall! Yeah Hughes Clan!!! Weighing in at 7 lbs, 3 ounces, and 19.5 inches long and balder than Mr. Clean, he is the second addition to my youngest sister's family.

2. Seafood and I Had An Argument
At about 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, I woke up with a killer stomach ache. It was gone by about 10 a.m. while pounding away at shingles on my father's roof (I was more of a lovely assistant than an actual construction worker--I hate heights). But from about 4 to 6:30, my stomach wasn't upset or roiling; it HURT. Rich wanted to run me to the emergency room, but I declined. You see, last night (Friday night), we were over at the in-laws and had a freakin' fantastic feast! Salmon with butter, garlic, and a host of other herbs and spices, shrimp cocktail, crab casserole, baked potatoes, green beans, and chocolate-pudding pie for desert. It was the mother of all dinners! (No offense, Mom!) All that along with three glasses of wine, and my stomach was like, "Yo! Uh-huh, I haven't adapted to pizza and hot dogs and Iced Tea just so you could whack me upside the head with all this Omega-3 amino acid crap! I'm on strike!" Needless to say, this prevented me from being quite as lovely an assistant while working on my father's front porch (losing sleep to a rebellious body part will do that), but I made do until...

3. I am NOT a Touchy-Feely Person
But apparently my mother's (Swedish?) neighbor is! I've met Mary a handful of times, she is one of the few people that I think live up in the Pocono suburb my parents inhabit year-round. She stopped by this past Saturday as we were eating lunch between building my father's new front porch. She walks up and her and mom and yip-yapping (Mary more so than Mom), and Mary is standing right behind me. She is yapping away and places her hands on my shoulders. Then, not only does she have her hands there, she begins rubbing my neck and shoulders!!! FOR AT LEAST FIVE MINUTES!!! I felt like saying, "Listen, lady, I know you're older than Jesus, but since I don't even know you, and I'm not this touchy-feely with even my best of friends, let alone Rich, stop molesting me!" But I didn't. Luckily it ended when Mary had to feel up another neighbor.

Granted, I have a large "personal space" area. If you are within ten feet of me, you are too close, and I will adjust where my feet are placed accordingly. But when you're trapped in the middle of a table and old women decide to take advantage, what's a homo to do?

And, perhaps it's me, but are any of you the touchy-feely type? Why or why not?

4. Chores, chores, chores...
So on Sunday I managed to get my lawn mowed, the laundry done, the dishes clean, and still watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I am that good. (okay, okay, Rich helped!) But between all that and the premiere of the Amazing Race (which, being the slut for TV that I am, couldn't pass up), it's a small miracle I'm here at work this Monday. Of course, as every day last week, I will have OT tonight, which means there will be no thoughtful, insightful (always debatable), or otherwise controversial posts for another few days unless something supernatural happens to the work flow here at work. So, until next time...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This Is Only A Test...

so we can teach Rich how to comment on my blog.

If this were an actual emergency, a disco ball would drop from the sky, aliens would show up with a cure for all of our ails, Cher would be playing 24/7, and Bush would never have been shoved down our throats by the Supreme Court.

So remember, this is only a test. :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sorry, Kia... I Couldn't Do It...

It started about a year and a half ago; I was going on and on at work about how Moulin Rogue was the greatest love story I'd ever seen on film: the satire, the music (yet not a musical), the love, the passion--everything!

Kia, of course, didn't believe me. So I told her she had to watch it; she had a condition: I had to watch The Ring. It was already a well-established fact that I hated horror movies. Couldn't stand them! In fact, when I was younger, when my two brothers and my one sister would rent horror movies, I would suddenly have to take a really long bowel movement. Luckily, my mom always kept the bathroom absolutely stocked with the latest in Reader's Digest. Or I would suddenly take the opportunity to get some alone time on the Nintendo on the downstairs TV. Perhaps read a book. Sure, they made fun of me: "Aww, poor Jason, he's scared! Hahaha!"

In the face of such laughter and scorn, the first couple of times I tried to sit there and covertly close my eyes, ever-so-slightly shift my position so my ears would also be covered. (FYI: this doesn't help anything...)

So it started: Kia would give me a horror movie to watch, and I would give her either a great comedy or romantic comedy to watch, as she seemed to suffer from the exact opposite of my movie condition: a hatred of comedies and their off-spring.

So this time around, she had to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I had to watch Saw. I was actually supposed to watch this movie and Saw 2 while I was on vacation, but I wasn't about to ruin my vacation with that!

And tonight, my husband took advantage of the opportunity to rent Saw. He, of course, loves horror movies, but out of respect for my subconscious & conscious, he only rents them on days when he has off and I'm at work. But he knew it was on the list, knew I had made a commitment to Kia, knew he had to run out to get the Chinese food (Mmm, Mmm, Mmm--General Tsao's chicken, please!), so he picked it up--the Chinese and Saw.

I made it till he kidnapped the daughter and the mother and I just picked up the remote and shut it off. My hands were trembling. I immediately went out to smoke (taking the dog with me to scare off potential serial killers hiding in the shadows), with Rich saying, "Baby, are you okay? Bab--" as I slam the front door shut and light up. He knew what was wrong, but he's a talker (much like my mother--oh, god, I married my mother in male form!!!) and wanted me to express my feelings... I am not a talker. (I know, I know--you wouldn't know it from the way I ramble on here, but I'll digress for now...)

Not only do they give me severe--and that is not and understatement--severe nightmares, I think it has a lot to do with my overall personality.

I am, and you can ask anyone who knows me, the Eternal Optimist. I see the good, the potential, the rosy-side every single time. I enjoy the good, the beautiful, the happy (which begs, I suppose, my friendship with Darkmind... Hey, even super villains have a rosy side, right? :D).

I know we, as humans, have the potential for so much evil, so much bad, so much-- there must be a better word. I certainly don't need to see it glorified on my TV screen--just take a look at some of my artwork--I come up with some pretty dark stuff on my own! (well, maybe it isn't that dark to you, but to me...). Anyway, it's probably deeper than that; I should probably get a shrink or something; I'm not sure. It's not like I was accosted or something and tortured--far from it! I've had a great life so far! But something in these types of movies just terrifies me to my core.

Now I will argue till I'm blue in the face, and Tom will disagree, that The Ring was probably one of the dumbest and nonscariest movies I've ever seen. That, as I mentioned earlier, was near the beginning of my and Kia's little movie-exchange program. Bored me to tears, actually. Why is that so different from, say, Saw or Nightmare on Elm Street? (yes, yes, yes--I found it extremely scary--no need to make fun, my brothers have already been there, done that...) I'm still not sure. Maybe I never will.

But I just couldn't do Saw. Maybe I'll try it again while the sun is still up tomorrow when I get home from work (assuming there's no overtime...) This usually doesn't make a difference, but I like to think, as the Eternal Optimist I am, that it will.
As a side note, I found a few websites (here and here) that give general overviews of how to run for office--very general--so I will be e-mailing my Senators tomorrow or Wednesday to ask for their thoughts or suggestions, if they can spare the time. I also have to think about where I will start: city? state? school board? This will probably take weeks of looking up requirements, laws, and such. I will try to keep you all posted as I take this journey, insomuch as a journey it becomes.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

So Did You Watch It?

I watched CBS's 9/11, you know, the one that wasn't a right-wing based "docu-drama" filled with lies and half-truths like ABC's Path to 9/11.

I think, any of you who truly know me, know I cried like a baby.

And what really pisses me off to no end is the fact that the American Family Association said CBS's show "contains much obscene language." It didn't. Yeah, there were a few "fucks," maybe an "ass," a "shit" or two... In fact, if you can't understand Brooklyn-eese, you probably heard "fookin'," a "shat" or two, and "ass" only once that I can remember.

This is what the AFA was upset about. They don't even mention the fact that ABC's so-called "docu-drama" shouldn't be taken seriously, and that much of the show was fictionalized. They don't say a word about it. I guess they're happy with right-wing half-truths--Lord knows the AFA tells enough.

But I think what is scarier than everything isn't the fact that their children would be seeing what religious extremism can lead to; it wasn't the fact that they'd be talking about people who died trying to save lives; that they talked about death, the fires, the exhaustion, the brave people from all over the country who pulled together at this time of crisis to help each other. No, the AFA was upset that the FCC might not fine CBS for the obscenities, and that their kids might hear the word "fuck." They even tried that "slippery slope" shit on their website, stating that "the 'in context' argument that CBS is using to allow the profanity would allow any network to show explicit sex in airing a documentary about pornography." [Paraphrase; it's late and didn't have time to look it up on their website; feel free to look for it yourself.]
I've made a decision: I'm going to look into running for a public office. I don't know if it will lead to anything; it very well may not. But I no longer will be content to bitch from the sidelines. I'm going to be e-mailing some people this week, maybe make a few phone calls depending on feedback I get from the e-mails...

No, Mom, I will not cause a civil war in this country... I will be trying to start a revolution. I'm tired of the deceit, the lies, the fact that we are now engaged in two wars, both of which were fucked-up from the get-go; that oil companies still get tax-breaks while making record profits and Americans pay three times as much as they did ten short years ago; that politicians look out for whoever can give them money, and not the American people who elected them. I'm tired of cheap promises; "the way things work in D.C."; I'm sick of being a second-class citizen, someone who works hard to pay his taxes, pay his bills, make ends meet, hope maybe to try to get a ahead just a little bit, yet I get shafted when I can't marry the one I love; I'm sick of the "my job is hard" whining of the supposed commander-in-chief; STOP WHINING ABOUT HOW HARD YOUR FUCKING JOB IS AND DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE!!!!! WE KNOW IT'S HARD--SO IS TRYING TO RAISE A FAMILY WHEN YOU CAN'T MAKE ENDS MEET WITH EVEN TWO INCOMES!!!!!!!!!! PEOPLE FUCKING ELECTED YOU (THE SECOND TIME AROUND--CERTAINLY NOT THE FIRST!!!!) FOR WHO KNOWS WHAT REASON, AND ALL YOU DO IS WHINE!!!!

I'm fucking sick of it.

I'm sick of you, Bush.

I don't know whether I'll even be considered "electable," especially since I'm not a church-goer, and that's a huge thing with the American people. But I'm going to try.

I'm tired of sitting, like the rest of America, and doing nothing but complain about our broken system.

I'm going to try to fix it.

I don't know how yet. But I'm going to try.
Does anyone know if they make a book called Running for Public Office for Dummies?

Friday, September 8, 2006

A Drive-By Hallmarking...

So today was Kelly's last day at the office. She will be greatly missed by myself as she was someone I truly enjoyed working with. She has finally had her dreams realized: she has carried a baby to term and is due in only a few short weeks.

Erin and Emily had a little office party for her on Wednesday, which was nice, I suppose. I thought it a bit cliche, but Kelly seemed happy and surprised about it, and no one can fault her for that. It's nice to know that people care, even if you don't give those people who care much thought on any given day, am I right?

A couple of office workers asked her if she would bring the baby in to be shown off after it was born (she is one of the few who didn't want to know what she was having; hence "it" as opposed to him or her). She nodded and such, and I said, "Oh, that's just tacky! Don't do that!" She laughed, but everyone else looked at me like I was the Grinch who stole Happy Thoughts or something. I'll be waiting when everyone returns from lunch to hear, "That was mean!" or "That wasn't nice! Don't you care about Kelly's baby?"

As she was getting into her car in the parking lot, she told me that she didn't have plans to engage in such social awkwardness as showing up where she used to work to show off what she was able to squeeze out of her body. We shared one last laugh before she got into her car and drove off to prepare for Mommyhood.

As I walked back into the office to the breakroom to eat my token two-hotdog lunch with cheese, I saw a small blue card propped up on the counter. It was from Kelly, thanking everyone for their good thoughts and wishes. I asked the fat slob in the breakroom if she had just placed it there, to which he replied through great big gobs of mystery meat and splattering bread crumbs that it had been here when he came in.

I just smiled. She truly is a woman of taste, stature, and character, not to mention a wicked-awesome sense of humor...

She's going to make an awesome mother!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

And Knowing is Half the Battle*...

That's probably a trademark phrase, and if it is, someone should let me know and I'll change it (although it happens to be really really fitting for this post...)

What is knowledge?

Cori brought up a really great point in her comments under my This I Believe post (which also might be trademark... "Knowing" if they are or not may cost me the war, I think...) She wrote:

[...] I always struggle when people talk about what we can 'know' and not 'know'. I guess the very term 'know', and what we mean by knowledge varies somewhat. For example, (and its hard to avoid cliches, sorry!) how do you 'know' your mother loves you and does that kind of 'knowing' differ from your 'knowing' that there is such a thing as gravity? [...]
Knowledge is defined by Websters as:

  1. the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
  2. the range of one's information or understanding [answered to the best of my knowledge]
  3. the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : COGNITION
  4. the fact or condition of having information or of being learned [a person of unusual knowledge]

I think when we talk about knowing whether or not there may be a god, a lot of people who believe in such a god speak of him or her as if they know. My mother is one of these people. She knows god exists and has a very personal walk with him through the minutiae of her daily life. But when we look at the definition of knowledge above, we can see she (and many others like her) are missing a few key aspects in regards to this knowledge: namely "the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning." What they feel they do have is "the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association."

Cori's example of "knowing my mother loves me" is definitely not something I can look up in a book and read about. This isn't something I can take a college course on, test in a laboratory, or even base a degree on (unless your name is Dr. Ruth). So how do I know my mother loves me?

Some may call it a natural feeling, some may call it intuition or common sense, others may say, "How can you not know? What kind of a silly question is that?" Love is typically shown and verbally acknowledged; my mother not only says "I love you," but she sacrifices of herself to do things for me; she buys small gifts; she calls to chat; she shows a myriad of verbal and physical acts to show her love, not because she feels she has to or needs to prove it to me or anything. She just does things out of her consciously perceived knowledge of what love is and should be. I believe this falls under the "fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association" part of the definition. Through repeated experiences and association, I have come to know of my mother's love for me. Some may think this is a given, but one only need look at some of the lives children lead in this country (and world) to know that a mother's love isn't always there, nor is it always unconditional when it is there. It is also something that is not just a given under any circumstances, otherwise people would never doubt love and what it means or how it affects their lives. "Love," I believe, is not only a learned condition, it is more than anything an active choice. (I may post on this later, but for a quick summary, see the next paragraph; otherwise, continue your adventure below the following paragraph...)

There are some people in life we cannot stand. They get on our very last nerve; they find our buttons and not only push them, but push fast and repeatedly. And some of those people in my life, I share blood with, and I have to choose to love them; otherwise I simply wouldn't bother or care about these individuals... and that can be very very hard to do sometimes. I think you know what I mean here. "Love" is not simply something that is felt (although on the surface it may seem so, and at times may the whole extent of "love" we feel for a given person), but for true love to be realized and actualized, it must be a conscious decision and action...

Hmm, that tangent went longer than expected, but I think it exemplifies what a knowledge and experience of "love" is, and how "knowledge" plays a factor. But if not, feel free to express it below on comments! :)

Now when we speak of a knowledge of a god(s), a lot of us say we "know" god through experience and association. But "knowing" god--and this I feel is key to why "knowing" god simply isn't knowledge but something else entirely--not only takes into account the "can't study, can't test, can't learn" scenario of my mother's love for me, it also is only "experienced" (and I use that term loosely here) in the mind of any given individual. What you see as an example and showing of your god's love for you may be just a daisy growing in the cracks of an alley in inner-city New York. Or perhaps a chocolate candy in the shape of Mary. Or maybe something like being the only miner to survive a cave-in in West Virginia. Who knows?

It's all subjective. God never sends an e-mail letting you know he loves you (Hey, Jason, this forward made me laugh so hard I stomped my feet in the Indian Ocean and flooded the Philippines--again. LOL! Love, God): it's a feeling you get when you stare at the daisy. God never leaves you a voice-mail extolling the depths of his love for you ([Beeeeep] Hey Jason, God here. We still on for burgers after the Wednesday night service? Give me a ring or a prayer or something; otherwise me and the kid are hitting some strip joints in San Fran after smiting a few Palestinians--thanks!): it's a feeling you get when reading the Christmas story. God never pats you on the shoulder (physically or metaphorically) (Hey, Jason, way to go! Now, to really get on my good side...): it's a feeling you get when you feel you've done the right thing ...

My mother actually pats me on the back. She leaves me messages on my voice-mail saying she loves me. She sends e-mails just because. I don't think she's loves me because I heard a pretty bird singing in the park; I don't feel her love by listening to the wind in the trees. Not only is the physical realm the extent to which I am shown my mother's love, it is the things she physically does that extends to me her love for me. It is in the physical realm which she also occupies and from which she affects my world in measurable and easily objectively viewable ways to which my knowledge of her love is confined.

We can never know of anything which isn't in the physical realm, and we certainly can't take a physical trait and/or attribute and/or thing and assign it to a nonphysical, nonobservable being and say its an act of love or a knowledge of said being. And while we will also never know everything there is to know about the physical realm, the things we do know are only based on the physical realm; and anything we imagine we know outside of the physical realm can only be based on the physical realm which is the whole reason society's concepts of god(s) always changes through time. Because god and his attributes and his rules and laws and such are what we imagine they are and should be: based on our perceptions of our physical world; our present concept of right and wrong based on what we like and dislike about our physical world; and our knowledge and gained perspective on ourselves and our world.

You can never know anything about god(s). You can never test god. You can never prove (or disprove) him or her because they are not in the physical world [i.e., the four dimensions of our existence].

You can't claim a knowledge of god. You can only claim perceived imaginings, faith, and belief. And for some, that's all they need, and that's fine. I'm not here to tell you what your reality should or should not be (unless it infringes upon my perceived reality in a detrimental way).

I am here to simply say,

Stop Saying You Know.

Claim belief. Claim faith. Claim whatever the hell you want (no pun intended). But to say you know is not only misleading, I think it tends to make your god(s) seem less godly, and thus, less marketable, and ultimately, more like the Pet Rock than a deity...

As always, this is just my two cents, and if you have something to add, something you disagree with, or something totally off-topic but even remotely interesting, please feel free to let us know.

For further musings and posts about knowledge, imagination, and the physical world, see Imagination Vs. Reality by me, Musing on Metaphysics by Ergo, or even Reality Versus Imagination and Illusion.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

We Are Living in a Material World...

I have to say, I am only a part time fan of hers. Most times I think her songs are kinda catchy, but never enough to make me run out and buy her albums. I mean, she was big back in the day, but now, she's an over-the-hill wanna-be-hip has-been, right?

And she proves me wrong once again.

Remember back in the day? Her song, "Like A Prayer"? When conservatives like my father were all bent out of shape because she made out with a black Jesus who climbed down from the cross just to bed her? Wow! Not only did my father take the time to reiterate how we shouldn't be listening to Eagle 106 (the hottest radio station at the time when we were growing up) as it was "of the devil," but our pastor did a whole sermon on its evil and blaspheming message! Of course, as I pointed out ions ago, you can hear this song played between Josh Grobin's "You Lift Me Up" and Paula Abdul's "Straight Up Now Tell Me" on all the easy listening stations across the country, and the conservatives don't make a peep about boycotting them... When did Madonna making out with Black Jesus become non-blasphemy and not-all-that-important? You would think blasphemy would be blasphemy both in the 80s and now, despite the hip-hop decade change. Wouldn't the blasphemy be all about the material of the song and not the popularity of it?
Well, she's done it again. Madonna apparently stages herself as being crucified on her current tour around Europe, prompting, dare I say, "Much Ado About Nothing" in my honest opinion. Christians from all over Europe are protesting, and even looking into whether or not they can prosecute her under their laws for blasphemy. Homo say what? you ask. That's right, in some countries, apparently it is against the law to offend Christians (something like what happened in India not too long ago; boy, would I have been behind bars for quite some time!!) Now, I haven't heard of when her tour is supposed to hit the states, but I can tell you, I'm quite looking forward to the furor that fundies will raise when it does!

I even heard on NPR a story about how one Christian woman, though, was quite happy with the controversy being stirred up. If you click on the "Listen" button on the page link to the story, you can hear the entire commentary. Needless to say, though, she isn't a fundie, just a Christian with a good heart and an open mind....

Of course, we all know what will happen, won't we? After the tour ends, the song "Live to Tell" will once again be played only on easy-listening crap stations, probably between a Michael Bolton crap song and a Celine Dion crap song, and conservatives listening won't think twice about what Madonna may or may not have been doing with that song in video or on tour; they'll just mindlessly tap their feet to the beat while sending out an "Action Alert" for the AFA about the evils of removing Christ from Christmas...

And the rest of us will roll our eyes, hoping that the fundies find some better material to bitch about.


Saturday, September 2, 2006

My Life So Far With the Ever-Blooming Iris; A Tribute to Marc

I love to garden; it is one of my favorite pastimes. I have roses, hostas, lilies (of the valley, as well as of the tiger and Asian persuasions, among others), ornamental grasses, and on and on (and on...); rainbows of color surround my front door (and are gradually working their way around the sides toward the back as I live in this house longer!), with one grand exception: the Ever-Blooming Iris I purchased from Spring Hill Nursery.

I've always had great luck with their plants, seeds, and bulbs; this is not a warning about an evil company selling bad products. Indeed, this Iris is the first issue I've had with a plant from any catalog or nursery in a long, long time.

I planted this particular Iris two years ago. Yes, two years ago. It holds a place between the wine barrel of impatiens and a Joseph's Coat climbing rose, just beneath the living room picture window. It is backed by red azaleas and fronted by Northern Lights Grass and white creeping phlox. The soil is good, and surrounding plants are bursting with life and color, but the Ever-Blooming Iris?... To its credit it has remained green. It sends up new blades.

And for the first time, just this week, while Ernesto continues to pound us with rain and wind, it's first flower has opened. It is gorgeous! Ahem, correction: it was gorgeous.

Enter Hawthorne, that great bundle of energy and joy that is my dog. It is his appointed duty to ... water? ... my plants. He makes his rounds every morning and evening, giving each small grouping of life a zing of piss as if to say, "Without my juju, you would be nothing." He is very thorough, hardly ever missing any particular flower or leaf. Just this spring, my white Asiatic lilies took a beating as Hawthorne just had to plant his paws firmly in the center of the group to make sure his urine penetrated the depths of the deep forest of stalks as they burst forth from under the Willow tree. Some survived to bloom, others made their way into a vase on the mantel, and some--let's just say I hope they return next year, with the addition of a cute little stone wall that will offset the graceful curves of the Willow and the sharp, deep green leaves of the lilies...

The Iris, it appears, though claimed to be ever-blooming, may have the ironic twist of fate that keeps some from ever living up to their potential (let alone their names)...

Stomp! Twist! Stomp, stomp, stomp! Pissssssssssss... Stomp, Dig, dig, dig, stomp!!!

While I dive into the flower bed, knocking my bad knee squarely on the top corner of the wine barrel, Hawthorne, in an attempt to avoid my swinging arms to shoo him from the destruction, backpedals directly through the remaining clump of Iris leaves and darts around the side of the house to hide under the Blue Spruce.

She was a beautiful flower. And a rock wall will not be aesthetically pleasing where she will attempt to resurface next spring...

A good friend has passed away this week. Marc, from Voyeur Nation, has departed this Earth. He had his share of bumps in the road. An abusive father, an organ transplant, many surgeries and procedures... But he was always in a great mood. Sure, he had his down-days, but even then, his sense of the ironic and silly shined through, making others laugh and talk and learn. He also had an ongoing "Musical Friday Flashback" series that always educated me on music from back in the day (read: the eighties). He was also always redesigning his blog, taking pleasure from learning new codes and combos of HTML to achieve great effects. He is also the one who had the idea of a blog of gay men sharing in their thoughts and journeys through life, in which the blog Gay Men Rule was born. He may have been bed-bound at times, but he never stopped learning, reaching out to others, laughing and sharing. He was a courageous, caring, wonderful person that will be sorely missed, and greatly loved and remembered.

I only knew you for a few short months, Marc. But I won't forget you. Thanks for being part of my life.

I would also like to take this extremely belated opportunity to apologize to my awesome sis-in-law, Ann, for missing her birthday back in July. Also, happy birthday to my husband who doesn't read this blog (so I could call him a pig-headed stubborn mule and he'd never know it!) who has turned a grand ol' 35. Happy Birthday Ann and Rich!!