Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On Prayer and Mud Puddles...

What is prayer? I think we all pretty much do know, but just for the sake of those who are feeling particularly obtuse, we're going to define prayer as when you are reaching out to whatever higher power you subscribe to to either:
  1. Ask this higher power for something, or
  2. Thank this higher power for making something happen
Pretty straight forward, right?

People typically engage in prayer during meals (Thanks for the food that I went to the store to buy...), when tragedy strikes (sickness, disease, loss of job...), or when they are just in a great mood (Thanks for letting the sun shine today!). Jesus exhorted his followers to pray to God, Paul exhorted them to pray to God through Jesus, and many times through the bible, people are encouraged to pray for needs, wants, wishes, and for their child's Little League team to crush the opposition (as the opposition prays for the same thing).

I can't help but wonder: Why do Christians, who earnestly feel that prayer is answered by god (in the forms of yes, no, and not now), not simply sit in their car and pray for the car to start? Or, pray that dinner will be ready when they get home? Pray that the cancer will go away instead of seeing doctors and going through chemo? (Some worshippers of sky god do indeed not see doctors following this line of thought...) What keeps these people who truly believe that god intervenes on a daily basis for "the greater good" not pray for daily needs to be met? Why install plumbing when the bible clearly recounts that all Moses had to do was ask a rock? (which the dumb ass hit with a stick instead--resulting in a "Does not follow instructions" on his report card...) Why don't they simply go outdoors and... ask the rocks for water? Why is prayer reserved for either the extremely mundane (dinner) or the extremely urgent emergencies (sickness)? Why don't people pray for god to part the mud puddle in front of the entrance to the store, like the Red Sea supposedly was once upon a time? Or that, when they run out of grape juice (because, god forbid they have some wine) do they not just pray for their bottled water to be transformed?

Is it that their faith isn't strong enough? God said that where one or two ask in his name, so it shall be:

Mat 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Funny how Jesus mentions nothing of the current train of thought of "yes," "no," and "not now." He says, where two shall ask, it shall be done. Makes one wonder why abortion isn't illegal yet, doesn't it? I mean, we all know there are thousands of people praying for abortion to be made illegal--is sky god tied up in legal red tape? or simply hoping for a constitutional amendment to pass across his desk? Perhaps Jesus really meant "Where two-thirds of a majority of humans agree." Perhaps?

I could pray for all my work on my desk tonight to magically be done for me in the morning when I go into work. Well, okay, maybe not me. But my dad could. My mom. Beth, Steve, Adam, Anonymous #1-12 could all get together and agree that this is what they will pray for... But guess what? Their work won't be done. Of course, having prayed about it, they might find the work easier, as meditation and calming of the mind is medically shown to improve work productivity, reduce stress, and release endorphins. And while intercessory prayer cannot be shown to have any kind of effect on world events, time taken for the self to reflect, ponder, or "pray" has been shown to be good for you. Not because of a super power hiding behind the stratosphere, but because that's how our bodies have learned to cope best.

Regardless, many of you will now come on here to claim "answered prayer" experiences (and, really, what were the options of what would happen? Yes, no, and not now?) One of those three would be the answer--in fact, are the answer to anything I desire in my life. I just don't need a supernatural reason to cope, I suppose.

The reason I think they don't stare at their car all day praying for it to start? They know it won't. Why don't they simply ask a rock in the garden for water? They know it won't happen. It's easier to pray about things that have a.) already happened (dinner) and b.) to pray about things that are beyond our control (cancer, heart disease) because we can then declare it sky god's will. Even though it wasn't.

A passing acquaintance just had to put her dog down. Of course, she was very upset, as any of we pet owners would have been. He had terminal cancer that was eating him alive, and so, to spare him the slow death of starvation and pain, she put him down. A few days later we happened to talk again, and I asked how she was dealing with it and such--you know, being a decent person. And she looked at me and said:

C: I prayed about this. I felt it was the right thing to do. God gave me a peace about this decision. (I think you know why I keep her at a distance...)
Me: God gave you peace about putting down Rex? (Names have been changed to protect the identities of dogs who have passed on from being exploited by John Edwards...)
C: Yes. God gave me an understanding that it was Rex's time.
Me: Did he tell you why it was Rex's time?
C: It's not my place to question God. (said with a sunny smile and dreamy look)
Me: I'm sorry, I know you are having to deal with this in the only way you know how, but--
C: Oh, it's okay. God would want me to talk about this.
Me: (wary look) He told you that to, did he?
C: (sunny smile)
Me: If god didn't tell you why it was Rex's time, but you feel there was a reason for Rex's death--doesn't the logic follow that god would want you to know the reason for taking away your friend?
C: In time, I'm sure God will tell me why.
Me: Why didn't you just pray for Rex to get better?
C: Oh, I did. For many nights, my husband and I laid hands on him and prayed for the healing powers of god. But God simply said, No, it's Rex;s time to go.
Me: Seriously?
C: Oh, I know you aren't a believer--I didn't expect you to understand.
Me: So--you truly believe that god wanted Rex to die. You don't know why. You don't even feel you need to know why.
C: Right.
Me: And even though Rex was going to die anyway, sooner or later, you feel putting him down--was an answer to your prayer?
C: Well, of course! (dazzling smile) What else would it be?
Me: Um, your dog dying.
C: But God gave me peace. I knew he was ready for Rex to come home.
Me: So you base all of this on a hunch.
C: No, a peace that passes understanding. (She pats my arm.)
Me: (Pulling my arm away--freakin' touchy-feely people, UGH!) Well, I'm sorry for your loss.
C: Oh, I'll see him again. But thank you regardless. (sunny smile.)
Me: Even though the dog was already going to die, all you did was help him avoid pain and starvation, and pay a couple of hundred dollars to do so, you feel this was god's answer to prayer...
C: (sunny smile) More than anything.
Two people asked. Rex didn't get better. The vet had said Rex was going to die. So they put Rex to sleep. So--if the cancer was the big bad, the people made the decision, and the vet administered the treatment--excuse me, where was the divine intervention here? (Cough! Coping mechanism, coping mechanism!) I mean, I know people need to cope with things they don't understand (like cancer) or are scared of (hmm, also like cancer), but this 20/20 blind sight just swings me for a loop. When will the greater deluded public of humanity realize that we don't control everything, that this does not equal a divine, and that shit just happens?

I'd feel better just knowing I helped my dog avoid a painful, inevitable death. In fact, I've already experienced this many, many times in my life, of having to say goodbye to a friend due to unfortunate shit that happens. So--if its god that handing out the peace, how did I get mine?

Until your god splits that mud puddle for you--or starts your car, or gives you electricity when the rest of the town is in power outage due to the freak snowstorms--you don't have a prayer. All you have is the knowledge that something is going to happen, and it will either be good, bad, or be delayed... And you don't have a prayer...

Monday, January 29, 2007

How Would Jesus Serve?
A Short Look at the Basis of Conservative Politics...

I'm extremely disconcerted. Yeah, I realize that politics swing back and forth between the liberals and the conservatives, one giant pendulum going back and forth on the whims of our society. But the rise of conservatism in the 80's--with the brief lapse during Clinton, but only in the executive branch, really--while it may seem to be on the down swing (finally!) is still dominating the air waves. So I thought, Hmm, all these "faith-based" conservatives and "faith-based" groups, all trying to run the country... Is that how their lord really imagined his legacy? Not that I personally think a lot of them actually run around thinking "What Would Jesus Do?" One look at how a lot of them act in the public spotlight is reason enough to know the thought doesn't occur to them any more frequently than "I wonder what weasels smell like?" But seriously, of all the media coverage devoted to these "conservatives," these "values voters"--how much are they truly concerned with the spiritual things they claim to be for, and how much are they really concerned with the things of the world?

One of the greatest tenants of the bible--throughout all of Christianity in truth--is that of "service to others." A doctrinal sentiment in which, as Jesus supposedly served the masses both in his life and death, so Christians should seek to serve their fellow man. One of Jesus' greatest examples of this was in his washing of his own disciples feet. He was their teacher, their rabbi--but he himself got down on his hands and knees and washed their feet after they ate their dinner. Jesus exhorted constantly that you should treat others how you want to be treated. To love one another. Service is a key tenant of the faith that so many hold dear.

Jesus himself constantly pushed away opportunities to rise to power. When he entered through the gate to the sounds of "Hosanna!" he didn't stick around to bask in the glory. He promptly went to the temple, cleaned house, and left the town. He didn't stick around and begin to lay down rules about how the temple should then run. He didn't call a meeting of the pharisees and rabbis to make sure that strict rules were put into place to keep businesses from setting up shop in the temple entrance. He left.

When the teachers tried to trick him into whether someone should pay taxes or not, Jesus didn't cry, "You should give your money to me!" He said render unto Caesar. He could have easily made a grab for power, yet passed it by again.

Today's Christians, however, aren't interested in serving. Oh, don't get me wrong--there are plenty followers of this dead man who do good, who try to make things better, who do a kind deed if for no other reason than that they know they should (and really, anyone who needs a dead guy to tell them it's just the decent thing to do maybe should have religion in their lives...) No, I'm talking about the Christians who are seeking the power of elected office. To "serve the public" by holding office and making laws "after god's own heart."

Naturally (I should place an "un-" before that), they feel that since they know The Truth, and have The Answers, who better than they to lead the public? Who better than one who can make the "evil liberals" or "evil gays" change their ways except by making laws based on the bible, their main "source" of "knowledge" about "god"? Although Jesus himself said that the law was no longer valid as long as people loved god, and loved one another like they love themselves (Jesus did have some wicked insight into human nature, I give the dude that!), many a Christian today feels it is their duty--nay, their obligation--to try and dictate laws and morality in America, to try to make us "a Christian nation," something Jesus in the prime of his time never even considered! After all, Jesus himself told his followers to shun any type of worldly life--and, it seems to me, a concern for worldly laws and secular rules which certainly makes more than enough room for a Christian of any denomination to speak freely and worship as they wish to--simply goes against the very values Jesus was trying to get everyone to worry about.

Faith plays a huge role in today's politics. All you hear about on talk radio is how the Republicans are trying to win their "conservative base," and how Democrats are "trying to sound more godly" to swing "conservative moderates" (I'm picturing an elephant with a donkey's ears...); all anyone seems to care about in Washington is how "religious" they can look and act for the sake of power. What most fundamentalist Christians are caring about is getting people into office who can legislate a moral code based on the bible; as such, they spend their days trying to peer into the souls and minds of these political wanna-be's, trying to cast public opinion in the most "Christ-like" direction. They are reaching for a power that not only the Constitution never wanted any kind of religious preference to have, but--upon a study of their lord--it seems their man-god never wanted them to have either.

In fact, in all my years of studying scripture, I can't recall Jesus ever hitting the hot-button issues of our day: Homosexuality or Abortion. And, like all the so-called "vices" of humanity, they were more than prevalent in his day and age. I wonder why that is?

Recently, there has been some controversy about one evangelical, fundamentalist pastor in New York; one, I dare say, who seems to have his head on straight despite our differing world views. He has said some of the following:

"America wasn't founded as a theocracy," he said. "America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state."

One woman asked: "So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn't we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?" Mr. Boyd responded: "I don't think there’s a particular angle we have on society that others lack. All good, decent people want good and order and justice. Just don't slap the label 'Christian' on it."
Now there's a man who really follows the precepts set forth in the bible. I have to respect that, even if I disagree fundamentally with his worship practices...

Let's take the example of--oh, I dunno--auto mechanics. Let's say auto mechanics are trying to get legislation passed that everyone must drive a Toyota. They are the safest, most reliable, cheapest, and most fuel-efficient cars out there. They have study after study and test after test that tells them so. People wouldn't stand for it! They'd say, "That's ridiculous! I can drive whatever the heck I want!" But an auto-mechanic would know best, wouldn't they? They see cars day in and day out. They know which ones break down more often. Which types don't fair well in an accident. So why wouldn't we let auto-mechanics legislate the type of car Americans should be driving? They are the "automotive experts," aren't they?

Much in the same way, as Fundamentalist Christians feel they have the answers to cure all ills, to make all things right, to "save America" as it were. And, if they can't "save America," at least they can make all Americans act like Christians by enacting laws that favor their morality--which strikes against the very heart of servitude. Of treating others how you would want to be treated.

In short, it seems to me that when Christians become so concerned about what the world is doing, they are no longer storing up the treasures in heaven, as they are called to--but becoming a part of the world, which they are supposed to shun.

A Christian who decides to enter our democratic government with the sole purpose of enforcing a "Christian agenda" is seeking to hold power over others--not serve the public interest by protecting the freedoms of all the citizens of this country. However, a Christian who enters office seeking to serve the people, all of them, despite what they may personally believe, is following the precepts Jesus set forth--doing unto others as you would have done unto you.

As a Christian, even if one fundamentally disagrees with how one lives their lives, would Jesus have truly sought to change the laws of the land? Or simply lived by example? I personally think he simply would have lived by example...

This may not need said, but just in case... No, I don't believe he was the son of god, but I do believe he was just a dude trying to make a difference. Was he a little nuts with a god complex? Maybe, who knows? Who cares? We can learn something even from the craziest of crazies (i.e., Hitler, Stalin, Jeffrey Dahmer) just as much as we can learn from the not-so-crazies (i.e., your neighbor, your mother, your local librarian...) One must not shun knowledge just because of its source. However, one must always consider the source, in all its precepts and intents.

Not being a follower of the Chritsian faith in any denomination, it disturbs me that so many who do claim to follow have such a hard time with the basic premises of their religion. Dictating moral law was never one of Jesus' goals here on earth. He was simply offering an alternative to the cultural norm at the time. And while fundamentalists may think they are offering an "alternative," what they are really offering is an ultimatum of sorts, one they can't back up. Which makes me wonder--what will they resort to when the pendulum really gets into swing? Once they feel they no longer have a shot at dictating how people should live... What's next?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Something a Little More Light-Hearted
Depending on How You Look At It...

Mom told me on the phone tonight that I needed to post something a little more light-hearted. Something to make people smile and forget the nastiness of Anon #3 (as Beth has so dubbed him, so he shall henceforth be known :D) So, in the spirit of dark humor--my favorite--I present to you the winners of the 2006 Darwin Awards!!!

A little explanation about what the Darwin awards are, in case you don't know:

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it.
I do believe that to be something worth celebrating, so without further ado, here are some of 2006's best efforts to remove stupidity from the gene pool:
1. (17 April 2006, England) There's always someone who thinks good advice doesn't apply to him. For example, if a doctor advises that the one thing you must not do is go near a flame, as you are going to be covered with a flammable material, most people would take this advice onboard, and not strike a match until the flammable material has been removed.

However, Phillip, 60, knew better than his doctor. Philip was in the hospital to treat a skin disease, said treatment consisting of being smeared in paraffin-based cream. Philip was warned that the cream would ignite, so he definitely should NOT smoke. But he just couldn't live without that cigarette."

Smoking was not permitted anywhere on the ward, but Phillip took this setback in stride, and sneaked out onto a fire escape. Once he was hidden, he lit up... inhaled... and peace descended as he got his nicotine fix. Things went downhill only after he finished his cigarette, at the moment he ground out the butt with his heel.

The paraffin cream had been absorbed by his clothing. As his heel touched the butt, fumes from his pyjamas ignited. The resulting inferno "cremated" his skin condition, and left first-degree burns on much of his body. Despite excellent treatment, he died in intensive care.

Using the Darwin checklist:
  1. Reproduction -- if he has children, he's not having more.
  2. Excellence -- this one I'll remember!
  3. Self-Selection -- he was warned paraffin & flames don't mix.
  4. Maturity -- At 60 I guess he was old enough.
  5. Veracity -- Major UK news carriers covered the story.
This ticks all the boxes, and though I feel sorry for the family, his death acts as a warning to others. If a doctor tells you not to smoke, there's a very good reason.
2. (3 June 2006, Florida) Two more candidates have thrown themselves into the running for a Darwin Award. The feet of Jason and Sara, both 21, were found protruding from a deflated, huge helium advertising balloon. Jason was a college student, and Sara attended community college, but apparently their education had glossed over the importance of oxygen. When one breathes helium, the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream causes a rapid loss of consciousness. Some euthanasia experts advocate the use of helium to painlessly end one's life.

The pair pulled down the 8' balloon, and climbed inside. Their last words consisted of high-pitched, incoherent giggling as they slowly passed out and passed into the hereafter.

Sheriff's deputies said the two were not victims of foul play. No drugs or alcohol were found. The medical examiner reported that helium inhalation was a significant factor in their deaths. A family member said "Sara was mischievous, to be honest. She liked fun and it cost her."
3. (August 2006, Brazil) August brings us a winner from Brazil, who tried to disassemble a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) by driving back and forth over it with a car. This technique was ineffective, so he escalated to pounding the RPG with a sledgehammer. The second try worked--in a sense. The explosion proved fatal to one man, six cars, and the repair shop wherein the efforts took place.

14 more RPG grenades were found in a car parked nearby. Police believe the ammunition was being scavenged to sell as scrap metal. If it wasn't scrap then, it certainly is now!
4. (September 2006, Florida) A fearsome mythical giant was felled by a humble slingshot. But a modern speargun vs. an underwater leviathan is another tale altogether, as a Florida man discovered.
Outlawed in 1990, hunting Goliath-sized groupers remains surprisingly popular. These fish can weigh hundreds of pounds, yet there are underwater hunters who choose to tether themselves to such muscular sea creatures. However unlikely a pursuit, the poaching of groupers by divers and snorkelers continues, in defiance of both the law and common sense.

Of this elite group, our Darwin Award winner distinguished himself yet further by disregarding one essential spearfishing precaution. By embarking on this hunt without a knife to cut himself loose, the "fit and experienced snorkeler" was guaranteeing that his next attack on a giant grouper would be his last.

Why anyone thinks it's a good idea to tether yourself to a fish twice your size, I don't know. Some time later, the body of the spearfisher was found pinned to the coral, 17 feet underwater. Three coils of line were wrapped around his wrist, and one very dead grouper was impaled at the other end of the line.

In those final hours, the tables were turned, and the fish was given an opportunity to reflect on the experience of "catching a person."
5. (August 2006, Libreville, Gabon) In August, a congregation's 35-year old pastor insisted one could literally walk on water, if one only had enough faith. Big and bold was his speech. He extolled the heavenly power possessed by a faithful man with such force that he may well have convinced himself. Whether or not he believed in his heart, his sermons left room for only shame should he leave his own faith untested. Thus, the pastor set out to walk across a major estuary, the path of a 20-minute ferry ride. But the man could not swim.
Lacking the miraculous powers of David Copperfield, let alone holy Jesus Christ, this ill-fated cleric found only a Darwin Award at the end of his final path.
And, my personal favorite:
6. (19 March 2006, Belize) Benjamin Franklin reputedly flew his kite in a lightning storm, going on to discover that lightning equals electricity. However, certain precautions must be taken to avoid sudden electrocution. Kennon, 26, replicated the conditions of Ben Franklin's experiment, but without Ben's sensible safety precautions. Kennon was flying a kite with a short string that he had extended with a length of thin copper wire. The copper made contact with a high-tension line, sending a bolt of electrical lightning towards the man. Just bad luck? Kennon's father told listeners his son was an electrician, and "should have known better."
People's stupidity will never cease to amaze or humor me...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

And Now It's Time for Silly Things from Fundies...
The Part of the Show Where Fundies Come Out and Say... Silly Things...

So I'm going to take point by point the three comments I received yesterday from some fundies. Actually, my Mom was one of those who commented, and although I personally don't consider her a fundie of the typical mold, she is a conservative, and therefore has a conservative Christian viewpoint on things, but not a fundamentalist one, of which there is a key difference: She's not what one would call a "militant Christian" of any sort, although she does feel strongly about her beliefs and will share them if asked. Perhaps some of my readers view her differently, I wouldn't know. You'd think with between 50-80 hits per day, some of you would feel more prone to sharing, but I'll digress... :D
My first comment came from Mom, and she wrote:

hello Jason! Hello, Mom! (waves)

i don't know if you are writing this stuff to vent or to get people to respond A little bit of both. It alleviates my boredom at times, but at other times thoughts simply cross my mind and I throw them out there to see what others think. Of course, it seems I only attract a certain type of crowd... LOL!

but i read it and my heart hurts when i read this but i do understand that its your blog. I understand that it hurts you as I don't believe what you believe, and what you raised me to believe, but you also raised us to think for ourselves. I'd rather think and share my own thoughts than spit out pre-fed and pre-digested religious mantras. I know you can respect that, and although I'm sorry it does hurt you, I know you aren't a light-weight and can handle it. You are a strong woman, Mom, and I hold a ton of respect for you, but you know as well as I do what happens when people just hold things in: it destroys families and lives.

well, anyway, i thought of something while reading this and thought i would ask you what harm does it do for people to follow God and His teaching if its not real It does a lot of harm, depending on who the follower is! Ask the poor women burned at the Salem Witch Trials. Ask the doctor's who's clinics have been blown up. Ask the people of the Middle East who fight daily due to who believes what and when. Some people can hold their faith, and use it for their own personal well being, but most--most people cannot. They wield their faith as a shield against reality, and as a weapon to destroy individuals on a personal level. I could go deeper into this, but I think you know what I mean. Some people--they use their faith in their way to enhance their own lives for the good of themselves and those around them (i.e., shelters, youth programs to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs, etc., etc.) while others use it to promote a mindset to destroy individuality and diversity. That's what harm religion can do...

and if it is real and God created a heaven without sin which is His right to keep people out since He created it in the first place?
It isn't good PR, though, wouldn't you agree?

its like if i go to your home you created and started telling you how you should plan your layout and who you can have over and not have over and whatnot. Not exactly. I didn't claim my home was a place where people can rest eternally and worship me as long as they live their lives outside of my home a certain way. See the difference?

i think you know what i mean. I know what you mean, but I think your logic is a bit off...

i just don't understand what God is asking anyone to do that is so awful that people get so balled up over.
Eternal gratitude for something we never asked for, and for a situation he created... if you hold to a biblical interpretation of reality, that is. If you're going to say "The Bible is the truth!", you need to accept the reality of the situation as god presented it: he created this mess, he is ultimately responsible for all of it, we never asked for it, but the onus is suddenly upon us to do something about it? That would be like if you are the CEO of a company: You make a decision that not only costs the company millions, but steals away the employees benefits and health plans, and then you tell them it's their fault that this happened, and they need to work harder to make it right and earn back their benefits even though they had nothing to do with it, and had no control over the decision the CEO made in the first place...

i feel when you are a believer you have more freedom then without the belief.
A lot of slaves felt that way about being servants of white man in the young days of our country... But that's just my take on it...

well, i am sure you will have a lawyers way of answering this whole thing.
Perhaps I should have gone into law, but oh well... :)

but believing in God to me didn't ever really hurt me and i don't think it hurt anyone else That's because you don't use faith as a weapon...

unless you forget you are a sinner saved by grace. i still say if you are around any child or baby you never have to teach them to do bad things but you have to teach them to do the good things.
What you teach them are the socially responsible ways of behaving. Children follow the evolutionary programming instilled in us all when we are born: survival of the fittest. Not too long ago, we learned that sharing things and herding ourselves together offered the best chance of species survival, and I think you would also be able to tell some stories of children who share even though they haven't been taught--it depends on the child's personality. What does a child ever do that's so wrong that they should spend an eternity in hell? Not share their Bobo the Clown doll?

sometimes but i had 5 and you all had to be taught to be good.
Like? Kids need to be taught the mores of their society. Most kids you don't have to teach not to kill--they know that, although there are some that do need taught that, it is relatively few. Most people don't engage in this sort of thing until their much older and do know it is wrong as such... Lets' take sharing: we do teach kids that sharing is important, and not to grab and such, because we have learned throughout the years that sharing leads to a better social situation, so we have labeled it wrong. It s our perception of what is socially okay and not okay which determines right and wrong...
Then we heard from someone who is ashamed of sky god. Apparently, they can share a thought as long as they can't be personally held responsible for it! Anon wrote:

Go ahead and keep telling yourself those lies and you will eventually believe them. Where did I lie? I simply presented another point of view about the whole sky god myth...

Man, you can talk until you are blue in the face, but you cant change the fact that god is real.
Interesting use of the word "fact." You should really learn what a fact is before throwing it around like that--this is how people hurt others with their religion.

Denying god is an easy way to keep on living in sin--it will work for now, but in the long run it will be your downfall.
Didn't we cover this? Threatening someone with something they don't believe in is about the silliest thing in the known universe!

The Bible says "Blessed are those who believe yet have not seen". Blind faith is what you begin with as a Christian, but after you accept Christ and turn your life around to live for Him, He will give you concrete evidence of His existence by setting up residence in your heart.
Said the raving lunatic... Dude, take a moment and listen to yourself! Do you see what you have written? Self-delusion is not a way to live your life! I could say, "Pigs fly." I could believe this with all my heart. I take it on blind faith as I've never seen a pig fly! But then I hear stories of people who have seen pigs fly. I hear on the radio about "UFO's" and other unidentified fly objects. Other people don't believe me when tell them that this is evidence of a pig in flight, but because you don't believe, you can't see the truth staring at you in the face! UFO's ARE FLYING PIGS! Your unbelief will be your downfall, cause when the pigs come back, they only take the believers. The rest of you will spend eternity in Mud Hell, suffocating slowly for eternity, never being clean...

You will never be the same. Why do you think there are so many followers of Jesus anyway? Why are there so many worshippers of Hinduism? Buddhism? Jehovah's Witnesses? You keep getting sillier...

Do you think we all just sit around and hope for the Rapture? (We do that too) Way to answer your own stupid statement, dude.

But, we live in a different way when we are saved because we have the Holy Spirit living in us--why else would anyone remain a Christian? We ask ourselves that all the time, don't we?

If there wasn't 'something' to it, we would all eventually say "this was a load of crap" and do what we want. Yeah, the evidence is all around you. A butt-load of people don't believe the way you do. But you won't look at that, will you? You won't study any other religion because you are blinded by your own. You won't conceive of the alternative because you find it scary. But others do. Lots of people step back and leave because it is a load of crap. But you won't see that either, will you?

But we press on in our faith, because God reveals more and more of Himself to us each day.
More self delusion. The Flying Pigs told me you would say things like this, and they are not happy with you...

God shows goodness to His people like you cannot understand because you don't know Him.
LOL! Okay...

You have to truly give yourself to Him - all of yourself. Obviously you haven't done that, so I suppose I can understand your hostility toward God.
What hostility? Oh, that's right, if someone won't believe, they obviously must be angry, or why else would they not believe? Silly, silly man...

People who are ignorant of something cannot understand it.

It would be a large sacrifice for you to follow Jesus - you would have to give up your gay lifestyle, your filthy language, and probably many other things,
I guess that depends on your take on scripture, doesn't it? I know plenty of gay Christians, I know plenty of Christians who swear... But of course you would dismiss them as not real followers, because they won't fit into your little "Box of Christians," now would they? Way to play Holy Spirit there buddy... I could easily make my life and any type of religious belief mesh like syrup and pancakes, much like you do, but that doesn't make it so. I don't believe because it's illogical, irrational, and above all silly.

but if you gained peace that is beyond all understanding, eternal life in heaven, and a personal relationship with the God of the universe, wouldn't it be worth it? For you, perhaps. I have peace and contentment in my life, although you seem to have deluded yourself into thinking I do not, simply because I don't worship sky god, but whatever you need to tell yourself to get through the day...

Seems like a simple choice to me. Somehow, I thought you'd say that.

Oh yeah, all of us 'fundies' are not blind and stupid--many of us are well-educated. What is a good education these days?

AND...not all of us were taught to follow Jesus from the time we were born - some of us had to find Him the hard way - looking up from the bottom. I'm so sorry you feel that you had a rough life before you found sky god. If it makes you feel your life is better, I say have at it. It's just this hateful way you people have of trying to force everyone else into your box, your "jail cell," as it were, that makes living with people like you so hateful. Learn to let others express an opinion or a thought, dude! Why all the hate and anger at someone who doesn't believe?

You were blessed to have been raised in a Christian home --too bad you are too blind to see that!
I had a great childhood--too bad you're too blinded by faith to see that! Yeah, the myths of sky god were a part of that, but so was the tooth fairy--but I guess you expect me to still believe in her as well, don't you? Silly man...
Then there was Steve. I have a great amount of respect for Steve as an individual, and although he can at times be militant in his faith, he holds himself with dignity, and speaks his piece with clarity. And even though we disagree on a great many things, we are a type of Internet buddy. Steve wrote:

I'm with your Mom on this one. I wouldn't have expected anything less. :D

I really have a lot of trouble understanding how you can be so full of anger and hate
I'm not, though. I think you know that, though.

that you can go on day after day using double talk and convoluted arguments to try to convince people that there is no God,
I'm just throwing things out there for people to think about. If one comes away questioning, fine. If not, also fine. As long as they think about what they believe and why. I'm not saying they have to draw the same conclusions I do, although I personally don't see how that's a bad thing... Only you who fear eternal retribution could read that into it...

when there is so much evidence that there is a God. Steve, you know as well as I do that there's only inferred evidence to a person who look sat things in only one way. Evidence must be examined objectively from all angles and then must be replicated to uphold the facts you think the evidence points to. No one can ever have any evidence of god--that's would imply a lack of faith, and without faith, god has left the building...

It makes me sad for you, Jason.
Don't be--despite what you guys read into my posts, I'm quite happy with life and what it has to offer.

You are missing out on so many wonderful things by rejecting God.
Like... Eternity feeding god bon-bons? I'd rather not, thanks. I'd be missing out on a lot if I did follow the prescribed life of sky god, mostly my wonderful husband and our gorgeous house! Not to mention my many wonderful friends, both Christian and non alike!

Reading your blog for some time now, I am not seeing a happy person.
I think that's because you don't think it possible for a person to be happy not believing in sky god. Which isn't true. Most people used to hold that the sun revolved around the earth, and couldn't even conceive that the opposite was the case. But there it is! Go figure, huh?

Your blog tells me and most everyone else that you are a very angry and unhappy person.
Um, no it doesn't. At least, that's not most of the feedback I get, except form you fundies. I wonder why...

Like your Mom, I pray for you daily. That's cool. If it makes you feel like you're doing something positive, have at it. Even though science has shown that intercessory prayer has no effect on the outcome of events, it's also shown that taking time for yourself in meditation, prayer, or whatever you find to be a great stress reliever is beneficial for the individual, and I wouldn't want you to stress about it.

Thanks for your thoughts and comments, no matter how off topic and ill-thought-out (hello, Anon!), and hope you all have (had) great weekend.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jesus Loves Me This I Know,
Or It's Off to Hell I Go...

Sky god knows we here it often enough on our consortium of blogs and online diaries. "You'll be sorry when Jesus shows up," and "Turn to god or you know where you're going..." with, of course, the understanding being the pits of H E double hockey-sticks. (For you slower readers out there, that means HELL.)

Let's think about that for a moment. Hell. The fiery pit. The center of the earth.

This, of course, is the punishment from the same dude that claims he came here to die so that no one else would (something about that seems to have not worked out so well... Could it be the fact that people still die daily?) Regardless, a host of people from all corners of the globe believe that this is the case: Unless you "repent" due to the unfortunate accident of a naive, nude woman falling pray to a wily snake, you will burn. For eternity. (One almost wishes sky god had had enough brains to not have a silly tree that silly snakes wouldn't have to tempt young naked women to eat from, or, at least, that sky god had given the naked humans some sort of brain to have recognized that snakes don't talk, but I digress...)

Of course, in this grand tale meant to scare young children into listening to their parents, we come to understand the flip side of sky god--that being Satan, the "fallen angel" who wanted to be "like god" (an argument that is sorely lacking an adequate explanation in the self-proclaimed "good book"...) Satan, is of course, the scape goat, as it were. The one we blame bad things on, the reason for "the fall," the evil conspirator behind bad things, dead things, things that go "bump" in the night, and childhood bed-wetting. Of course, Satan's been punished (on delay) to eternity in hell, but for some reason, sky god can't seem to make that happen until his son decides to do a farewell tour, whenever that might be (or perhaps Satan earned himself a "prison working" program of some sort?) Either way, we end up with this god vs. evil type scenario in which sky god is on one end saying "Don't listen to him, I'm the man, I saved you, believe in me or else" and supposedly Satan on the other hand going "What? He's a crack pot--too much ganja weed in the sixties of the gods... Do whatever the heck you want, I could care less..." or, in some stories, he actively tries to get you to "not believe in sky god" because, while sky god can't put Satan in hell just quite yet, sky god can make Satan believe he's winning some sort of war for souls and shield him from his punishment of eternal damnation (which, as previously stated, is pending an appeal in the Zeus Court of Law and Punishment).

Seriously, folks.

Now, let's spin this for a moment (in which case all fundies should now rise up and claim me to be the tool of Satan you believe me to be), and look at this from another perspective. What if Satan is the good guy in all of this, trying to save you from an eternity of servitude to a dude who's ego is only matched by his ability to make rocks too heavy for himself to lift? What if sky god's only real motivation is to have enough people to form a line long enough that he never runs out of hand-fed grapes and palm-branch wavers on those hot, heavenly summers he can't seem to do anything about? Remember, sky god couldn't give Adam and Eve enough brains to figure out how to spot a fake snake; not enough brains to know they were naked; he didn't allow them to know the difference between right and wrong (effectively, he made man an animal; seriously, give it some thought--it's not a huge leap, people); he also can't throw Satan in hell; he couldn't even come up with a plan that didn't involve the death of his one and only son (or so we're told; I happen to believe that if sky god was really a man, he'd have knocked up more than one virgin that fateful day in the "promised land"); and, really, if god makes all the rules, why would he invent a rule that only his son's blood could make things right? He couldn't even make rules to make things right right away! He's still on time-delay! "Just a few more years, folks. Seriously, he's coming back, I swear! No, now don't be like that--I made a promise, didn't I? Didn't I? Did I? Hey, Holy Spirit, break out that book and see if I actually did promise something..."

Some "all powerful" god you got there. Reminds me of the trinkets they sell in the Dollar General. They both do about the same amount of work for the same amount of pay-off.

And then there's this whole idea of "hell" (a fact that, while it has little biblical basis, doesn't stop the fundies from throwing it around like a secret weapon that isn't so secret...) When we picture Satan in today's day and age, he's the prince of this little fiery realm, complete with horns, tail, pitchfork, and, on some makes and models, evil laughter which echoes through the rocky depths... But he isn't really. Sky god is. Sky god made this hell, sky god will be throwing us so-called "unbelievers" into this place, sky god will be making sure to throw away that key once he finally manages to get someone in there, so really--who's the big bad here? The one who claims to love everyone and wants no one to "perish," but can't find it in his heart to just forgive and forget? Or the one who says, "This is hooey. You know it, I know it, they know it."

That's really a kicker, isn't it? Of course, since neither one truly exists (or, even if one simply believes they do not) saying "You're going to hell!" isn't really much of a threat, is it? I mean, if I don't believe they exist, this heaven and hell, how is threatening me with my own unbelief really a motivator to "turn my life around," or whatever the hell it is I'm supposed to do with the so-called "wealth" of knowledge these fundies think they possess? May as well threaten me with flying pigs falling through my roof, or dragons hiding in my pantry...

Look at it that way for a while. Even though neither one exists, Satan really is the good guy in that little tale, isn't he? Saving you from an eternity of saying "Yeah, that god dude is great, isn't he?" and "Wow, god, you're so awesome!" Talk about BORING....

Of course, sky god realizes this. That's why he promises things like "treasures in heaven" and "heavenly rewards," most of which will be grape duty, palm-branch duty, or cleaning out sky-god's-pool-duty. Not to mention cleaning up after all his cats--trust me, you've no idea what an eternity of cleaning out kitty litter boxes will do for your eternity of "hosannas." It's more than a reality check, that's for sure!

But--why the need for such promises? Isn't it enough that he killed his kid (due to his own non creativity in reality-rule making)? Now he promises you "mansions," "streets of gold," and a lot of other rot. Of course, if you have these things here on earth, it's either because you've been "blessed" by sky god, or because you're a tool of Satan--no one can seem to agree which is actually the case, suffice to say they base it on whether they feel they can do just as good a job as the Holy Spirit in judging a man's soul-worthiness... Ironic, that.

So threaten me with hell. It' hollow, empty, and makes me feel you really have nothing more than blind faith (which sky god encourages--makes you wonder why he bothered to give you a brain, doesn't it? Especially since he never meant for Adam or Eve to use theirs...) and a book of fairy tales...

Oh, wait--that is all the fundies have...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Okay, so it was actually around three in the afternoon. We were still about an hour away from our destination on this bright yet briskly cold Sunday afternoon, and, as always, I had to pee. Something about the motion of the car, I dunno...

So I see one of those handy-dandy blue signs that tell you wonderful friendly things, like "Camping 1 mile on left," or "Beavers Stuffed While You Wait, Next Exit." This one happened to say, "Mobil, 2 miles." Where there's gas, there's a bathroom. Where there's a bathroom, Jason can feel better.

So we take the exit, and just like the friendly blue sign, there's the Mobil. It doesn't look nearly as friendly and clean as the sign that announced it presence; in fact, it looks like it might pre-date gasoline in general. But when nature calls, and it's been on hold for quite some time, we no longer care about greeting her with a smile.

I walk into the "garage" (in quotes due to the dubious presence of running vehicles of any form) and take a quick glance around. I spy an attendant (who looks like he might also pre-date gasoline; perhaps even sky god himself) sitting just above counter level at the far end, where giant signs say "Marlboro $4.95 a pack" and "You Must Be 18 Or Older to View the Top Shelf."

Me: Hey, chief, you got a bathroom?
Old Man: Eh?
Me: Do you have a restroom I could use?
Old Man: Bathroom?
Rich: I'm going to wait in the car.
Me: Yeah, (speaking louder, looking for a hearing aid) BATH-ROOM.
Old Man: Right around back, young man.
I go back outside and walk to the left, and I peer around the edge of the building. No doors. So I cross back in front of the Mobil, passing three broken-looking garage doors painted lime green, a dumpster, and a few things that look like they may have been alive at one time... Peer around the corner. I see two doors, one marked "Wom" and one marked "M" followed by half an "e." Making the mental leap, I reach for "M."

It's locked. I knock and call in, "Hello? Anyone in there?"

I'm greeted by a silence recalled only during child times of waiting for Dad to get home and spank us. That silence that permeates through the bone, and you expect skeletons, giant rats, and Satan himself to be peering at you from a dark corner. Even the sunlight doesn't reach this side of the building, making the creepy "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" feel to the place complete. I pull my should-have-brought-the-winter-coat-but-didn't jacket tighter around my body and walk back past the (dead birds? squirrels?) dead things, the dumpster, and the lime-green garage doors and back into the shop. I see Rich from the corner of my eye waving from the car in a "Hurry up!" gesture, which I always ignore, and do not make an exception now.

Me: It's locked.
Old Man: Eh?
Old Man: Yeah?
Me: YES.
Old Man: I think there's a key here... Somewhere...
Me: Is there a bathroom in here I could use.
Old Man: (stopping the search for the key) Eh?
Me: Nothing.
I wait, doing a small, hopefully inconspicuous pee-dance, hoping that he finds the key five minutes ago. Finally:

Old Man: Here ya go.
Me: Thanks! (dashing back out before he could say anything further)
I no longer care about lime green anything or dead things ("Dead things, Mikey, dead things!") I slam the key into "M" door and...

Fuck it! I scream mentally and slam the key into the "Wom" door. Success! I drain the lizard, a small smile creeping across my face as relief comes in waves and then, more slowly toward the end, spurts. Sweet relief. I read things like "Tom & Stacy forever" and "For a good time call..." I'm especially disturbed by one that reads "Chris suck her own cock." Eww...

And then I stop. I step outside the door and take in the surroundings. Hmm, off to the north, I see nothing. Nothing in the east... Turn, nothing int he west. I round the corner of the Mobil and see... Nothing to the South...

Why? I step into the Mobil and hand the brittle-boned attendant the key back.

Me: Why do you keep the bathrooms locked?
Old Man: Eh?
Old Man: (shrugs) Why not? Gotta keep trouble makers outta there.
Me: (incredulous) Have you ever stopped anyone from using the bathroom?
Old Man: (looks thoughtful) Can't say that I have...
Me: So...
Old Man: Eh?
Me: Never mind. Have a god one, chief.
Old Man: (waving) Thanks for stopping by.
So either sky god's half-brother is not psychic anymore, thus preventing him from keeping out "the trouble makers," or there's some secret trap door that hides the treasure of a lifetime whenever the key is inserted into the lock. In fact, the treasure's probably locked in the "M" room! I regale Rich with my tale of hidden treasures in the almost-deserted looking Mobil, about the booby-traps that probably killed the (rats? mice? rabbits with big, nasty teeth?) animals, the secret lock that hides the treasure when twisted one way, but reveals itself when twisted the other, how no one would ever suspect an out-of-the-way Mobil station for hiding "the loot," whatever the "loot" might be...

Rich told me I need a CAT scan...

Seriously, can you think of any other reason why these out-in-the-middle-of-no-where stations lock their bathrooms? It's either that, or a power-trip of some type, but I can't imagine even sky god on that kind of twisted power trip, let alone his half-brother forgotten at the way-station somewhere south of Harrisburg yet north of Gettysburg...

In the Eye of the Beholder...

The so-called "American Family Association" is horrified--no, let me rephrase--they are "sickened" by a recent clip from a show called "Dirt" on the FX Channel. A few things pop into my head.
  1. Why are they watching a show called "Dirt"? The title alone doesn't sound "family friendly" (whatever the hell that means)
  2. I think by now we all know that non-broadcast channels show homosexual love scenes, as well as straight ones.
To view the actual scene they are "sickened" by, you can see it at YouTube here.

To the meat of the matter: Their real beef is with Ford, or as I think they sometimes refer to it, "The Automobile Maker of the Degenerates." We homosexuals, of course, refer to Ford by this lovely acronym:

The AFA hates that an automaker here in the U.S. caters to us by heavily promoting Ford cars and trucks in gay publications, gay TV, gay movies, Gay Pride parades, and so on and so forth. And why shouldn't they? We have money (or, at least, that's what I've heard--if someone's found mine, please let me know!) They've claimed often enough that because we don't raise children (um, yeah we do!), don't get married (where we aren't allowed to), or other such nonsense that only makes sense in a twisted shade of reality that is nonexistent except in their heads (I would say "brains," but they may be too much credit, wouldn't you agree?), that we have oodles and oodles of money that we burn in the winter to heat our homes and use to buy sexual toys and sexual holidays and "Homo's On Ice" tickets in the winter... Of course, I often wonder why a group so anti-gay thinks they know more about what we do than we actually do! I mean, if I truly lived up to the imaginations of the AFA, my typical day would run something like this:
  1. Wake up
  2. Have sex with whatever I find lying around
  3. Sleep some more
  4. Have sex with something else when I wake up
  5. Eat a breakfast of uncertain origin
  6. Parade nude down the street
  7. Rape a few male pedestrians, most of them underage, on the way to school
  8. Watch (still nude) while little children play on the play ground at school
  9. Rape some of them
  10. Rape their teacher
  11. Order out for lunch, and rape the delivery guy when he arrives
  12. Spend the afternoon as a priest, raping altar boys
  13. Eat dinner in a gay bar, getting drunk (if I wasn't already)
  14. Parade home in the nude
  15. After raping more people on the way home, I sign them up for "Gay Camp" so we can convert more
  16. Wear women's clothing to go out that night and get drunk (again)
  17. Stay up all night having sex with every single male I see, gay or not
  18. Buy a Ford on the way home form the club, raping the car salesman
  19. Sleep
Doesn't leave much time for shopping, work, spending time with friends and family...

The fact that they find two men getting it on as "sickening" is just icing on the cake, if you ask me. I suppose YHWH held a gun to their head so they would have to watch the scene, then tell the world how "sickened" they were. Sickened enough to post it on YouTube, sickened enough to e-mail the YouTube video as an attachment to a purported "3,464,481" members worldwide, sickened enough to tell everyone in their e-mail that "they should take their word" for it that it's "sickening," but here's the link to watch it anyway...

Oh, Freud, you would have a ball with these guys!

I guess after YHWH gives them back the remote for their TV, they'll learn that they don't have to watch shows they don't think they're going to agree with. I mean, if I were like them, I'd be bitching every Sunday about how there's nothing I can watch on TV that isn't some type of "god brainwashing," and that we should be e-mailing our senators and congressmen to get this god-garbage off my TV.

Apparently, YHWH doesn't much care what I'm watching. I wonder why that is? Perhaps he doesn't care about what anyone's watching or doing?

You know, he might not even exist!!!

Please, hold the gasps of astonishment. I know, I know, shocking, isn't it? Perhaps you should all get off your asses and e-mail your senators and congressmen, asking for a nonbinding resolution that all must believe that sky god finds the FX Channel "sickening." That way, you can all act like the good little Fascists you think YHWH would want you to be...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Accept This My Sacrifice, O Porcy, In Thine Mercy...

So after a great weekend in Maryland, I spent most of Sunday night and most of Monday paying my respects to the Porcelain God. I don't know if it was something I ate or just something picked up by strangers somewhere on our cross-state trek, but I felt like I was dying for about 12 hours there...

Of course, Porcy (the Porcelain God) neither complained nor commented about my worthy sacrifices placed upon his altar, whether from one end or the other, and I suppose for that I am grateful--at least I don't have to worry about being slain by my brother because Porcy perhaps liked his sacrifices better than mine, or vice versa!!

No, Porcy took it all in stride and lent me his cool, calming surface to rest my head on, lean on with my forearms, or rest my weary butt on, no matter what time of night or day it happened to be.

Please accept this worthy sacrifice, O Porcy, and may it be pleasing unto thee. Take my pork chops, the double-quarter pounder from Micky D's, the tater-tots that were fried just so. Please accept the ice cream, the almond-chocolate Hershey bar, O great Porcy, and the half gallon of ice tea with lemon flavoring, if thine so please. May they be pleasing unto thee, whether offered from ass or face, and may it be a joy unto you in thy great porcelain-iness...

It reminds me of a portion of Monty Python & the Holy Grail,

A reading from the Book of Armaments, Chapter 4, Verses 16 to 20:
Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, "Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy." And the people did rejoice and did feast upon the lambs and toads and tree-sloths and fruit-bats and orangutans and breakfast cereals ... Now did the Lord say, "First thou pullest the Holy Pin. Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."
Ah, good times, great fun... I think I'm going to have to watch that movie again now that I've quoted it!

Coming soon-- "Secret Treasures of the Mobil Station"... or something along those lines...

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Quiz Time!

Congratulations, Jason!
Your IQ score is 131

This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others.

Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results.

To find out what your IQ is, click here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted...

Phase IV of Christmas officially began yesterday night--and we'll be in Maryland the rest of the weekend finishing up Phase IV, seeing the rest of the family on Rich's side...

Do we atheists know how to drag out a holiday or what? :D

Being as the rest of the winter will officially suck--seeing as how it finally started to snow last night for the first time, and we haven't reached any temps above 40 degrees, and there are no more holidays of any fun or worth to the human race until Memorial Day, I suppose I'll try to have to make the best of it by playing a lot more Zelda...

I even heard that Europe, which was also having some very weird and off-the-wall temps finally got some snow this past week! I'm all for stopping global warming, and since that will only make it even colder here in the future winters of "someday," I'm thinking I'll retire to Hawaii--one of the islands without an active volcano. But I digress.

Phase IV started out shitty, but only because Rich is a typical man who doesn't know how to shop or what to get people. I got home from work last night, looked around the living room...

Me: Where are the presents?
Rich: Right there. On the coffee table.
Me: I don't see any pretty bows or wrapping paper...
Rich: No--I got dad a gift certificate to Netflix, and my mom were giving a check.
Me: ...
Rich: What?
Me: You've had two months--months--to shop for them, and this is what you end up with? A gift certificate and a check?!
Rich: Well, I wandered around for four hours today, and nothing spoke to me.
Me: Spoke to you...
Rich: Yeah, you know, like, Oh, they'll love that! or They need this! Nothing. And since Mom likes to read, we'll give her a check to buy books!
Me: You couldn't get a B&N gift card?
Rich: I didn't want to drive all the way into Allentown.
Me: So your giving your mom... a check...
Me: No.
Rich: What do you mean, no? I've already--
Me: I could give two shits. We're going shopping.
Rich: We have to be there in an hour and a half!
Me: Get in the car.
Rich: Jason, I don't--
Me: Fine. I'll go. Meet me at your parents house in an hour and forty-five...
Rich: No, wait--
Me: Hurry up.
Rich: But why--?
Me: Richard, you don't give a check as a present. That sucks! That worse than sucks. That's shitty.
Rich: Well... (looking chagrined)
Me: Come on...
So we were at his parents' house an hour later with presents they could actually unwrap as opposed to making paper airplanes out of... I could of smacked him, I was so pissed. But it all worked out well, and we all had a great night, so--

Today his assignment was to finish the shopping for the family down in Maryland. In fact, he just stopped by here at work and I told him what he was going to buy for them after he started the, "Well, if nothing jumps out at me..." crap again. Sometimes I just don't know where his head is...

But I love him. :D

So we're off to Maryland, and hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Liberty of the Individual...

A long, long time ago, in a land that seems so distant as to seem legend more than an actual discussion, I had let loose a vent of steam about the religious right and the act of encoding their beliefs into law that denied gays equal protection of their relationships (i.e., gay marriage, as it is so known). It had started a long and rambling discussion between Tom and myself, part of which made it onto one of his posts, which I will quote in part. The nutshell of which, though, is that, just as I disagree with them for trying to encode their beliefs into law, he says that I am also trying to legislate my morals on values onto the public resulting in a bit of hypocrisy on my part. His post said:

I was trying to tell you the other night that when you rail against the fundamentalist for trying to legislate his/her morals or values, you are being a hypocrite. Everyone in this country has a right to introduce legislation that promotes his/her morals and values. The fundamentalist does, and so do you. Your only defense was that your morals and values respect a wider plurality than do those of the fundie, but that is beside the point. It doesn't matter what their morals are versus yours; what matters is that you are trying to do the same thing that they are trying to do, which is legislate your own morals and values onto the general public. You can't get angry with the fundie for doing that which yourself desires to do as well. You can get angry at them for what it is they are trying to legislate, but you can't get angry at them for trying to legislate. All you need to do is redirect your anger and you won't sound so hypocritical.
After many moons (yes, many; this post was written on July 25 of 2006), I suppose I've come to terms with the gist of what he's is saying, and most fundamentally disagree.

And I may be wrong; that is for you fine readers to decide on your own, but nevertheless, here goes.

And I still hold that the key difference between what I would like to see legislated, and what your run-of-the-mill fundie would like to see legislated is more in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution by which our country is governed. But, as Tom said, that is a little (but only a little) beside the point, the utmost of which is the concept of individual liberty.

I have on the top of my blog a little banner which says "Embrace Diversity." I believe a plethora of beliefs and lifestyles are key to a society which is healthy, vibrant, and strong (with the understanding being, of course, that you have a right to live your life the way you wish as long as it does not infringe on another's right to live life as they wish). In fact, this is one of the very premises of our founding document, why we wrote it in the first place: All men are created equal. And in Amendment 14, the Constitution says quite clearly:

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
[emphasis, of course, is mine]
One individual's liberty is no more important, or any less important, than any other individual's personal liberty. In fact, one of the greatest lies told this past century was that our country was A Christian Nation, when in fact we have not been, nor will we ever be, such. The Constitution simply doesn't allow for it. In fact, the Constitution states quite clearly that no religious test shall ever be used for taking the oath of office, and, on top of that, the government can't even refuse the establishment of a religion in our borders, nor prevent the practice of any such religion.

But beliefs are a lot more intangible than that, aren't they? One can very well believe something outside of the context of a church, synagogue, mosque, or any such religious building or symbol. And beliefs are what allow us to thrive as human beings. The fact that we sometimes don't like what others believe is of no consequence on an individual, one-person-at-a-time level (despite claims to the contrary) when one respects the boundaries of personal, individual liberty. Joe Schmoe's beliefs are of no consequence to Jane Brown's as they both go about their day, go to work, feed their children, go to sleep at night, relax on vacation, whatever.

But religion has never been a respecter of individual liberty. Religion is one of "collective," almost "tribal" mentality, as can be observed not only in weekly (or more) group meetings, group prayers, group songs--the very premise of the Christian church in particular is to fellowship with one another, reprove one another, polish one another, keep tabs on one another, lest one "fall into sin." Almost every religion has some sort of mentality along these lines, each with their pros and cons as to individual liberty and sense of self. Several key phrases of the Christian tenants come to mind: "Die to yourself," "Die to your sin," "Live for Christ," and on and on. Islam has many of the same tenants, as does Judaism, each in their own ways. Religions of the world are not interested in individual rights or liberties, but that you do the will of their respective (or one could say all of their single)
god(s). To "fight the good fight" for god, to spread the word not "being a respecter of persons." (I'll be the first to admit, this needs fleshed out a bit more, but this isn't off the mark--just not entirely spelled out as much as I would like...)

And herein lies the true crux. The fundies were upset not too long ago that a man swore on the Quran to uphold the Constitution, something they said the Quran blatantly says one cannot do if one holds to the precepts of Islam. It's almost a shame that their Bible asks them of the same thing: That, when it comes down to God or Constitution, you must come down on the side set forth in the Bible. (One wonders what keeps them from seeing this same conundrum with the thousands who swore to uphold the Constitution on the Bible.)

Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Lev 24:21-22 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I [am] the LORD your God.

Deu 28:58-59 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, [even] great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
Sky god is pretty clear, isn't he? When it comes between law of the land, and law of god, I doubt you'd find a Christian this side of hell to say they'd uphold the Constitution. Which is to say, if they have a chance to make this a country by, of, and for Christians, they'll do so, just so they can have their cake and eat it, too. That's really what this legislation against abortion and gay marriage and various other "taboo" topics are about, aren't they? While nowhere does the bible exhort them to make laws which will force everyone to behave as they believe, this "community" mindset which religion advocates openly may have something to do with the fact they feel they will collectively be found at fault for allowing laws to be passed contrary to the law of their book. And even though a passing of a "gay marriage" law would still allow for them to live by their codes and their so-called "laws," as a "community," they may be found "wanting" even though they would still have the right to call it "wrong," not have a "gay marriage," or even be called upon to partake in an "abortion" or "oversee" a gay marriage if they so chose not to (this is where "freedom of religion" comes into play). Their beliefs and mores are in no way threatened by these acts of others. But they feel that all should abide by their laws for the good of the "community."

Agnostic Mom touches on this briefly in a recent post. She says:

During a recent airing, talk show host Dennis Prager spoke to a man who apologized to his son for "giving a worse America to you than my father gave to me."

A worse America? This wasn't a new concept to me. Having grown up all around conservatives, I've heard this complaint many, many times. People lament what they perceive to be a decline in American values over the last forty years.

Although there may be a small amount truth in the statement, I have to wonder if it is really so, overall.
She goes on to point out a lot of strides this country has made over the last forty to fifty years in the way of rights and freedoms for collective minorities as well as for the individual. But, alas, we've been hearing this lament for years from the conservatives, mostly within the context of "walking away from the laws of god" type of way. But America has never been about the laws of god. It's always been about individual liberty. The right of people to live a life free of both religious and governmental interference. Only a cursory reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution makes that plain as the nose on a face. But, then again, religion has never been a respecter of the individual:

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Romans 2:11-12 For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

1 Peter 1:16-17 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear.
This is definitely not in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution. Dare I say, it is the antithesis as such.

And hence, my disagreement with Tom's conclusion: That I am a hypocrite for being against them able to legislate their morality, while pushing for the legislation of my own. The very fact that we are a country who respects persons and does not respect mob mentality or group think, any type of legislation that would take away from a persons right to live the way they wish would be a hypocrisy for me to justify or get behind. The fact that I only support legislation that allows for diversity in freedom (as opposed to legislation which prohibits any type of freedom for persons) makes it nonhypocriphal. Now, if I were to support a ban on straight marriage while actively seeking a law to legalize gay marriage, therein would be a hypocrisy. If I were to support laws that take away a woman's right to bear arms while at the same time urging for a law that would make atomic weapons available at WalMart for only men, that would be hypocrisy. If I would advocate legalization of gay marriage with the intent to force conservatives and fundamentlists to perform such ceremonies against their will, this would be the hypocrisy I think Tom reads into my intentions...

But it is not a hypocrisy to advocate for legislation which expands individual rights while being against legalization to limit them. When laws only add to the rights we stand for while at the same time not taking away previously held rights of other groups (whether minority or not), this only adds to the spirit of the letter of our laws. Not laws from a book written by desert nomads or Roman citizens in persecution. Not laws written by crazed persons seeing angles and finding scrolls in Egypt. Laws written by our founding fathers. Laws that respect the individual. Laws of liberty.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Is It Cold in Here? Or Is It Just Mary?

You gotta love Texas. (Note sarcasm.)

As we all know, many of the religiously devout tend to see god and his family in all sorts of things where he (or they) most likely aren't. But this was one that should get some kind of award: I'm thinking we could name it "Silliest Worship of Graven Image" or "Sky God's Mom: The Frigid Years."

From the article:

But folks in the small West Texas town of Morton say they’ve seen the “Holy Mother” made of ice inside a freezer at the local grocery store.

It started as one drip from the ceiling of a freezer at Morton Thrifty Foods grocery store. Now it has become quite the sanctuary for a lot of Catholic believers.

“I wanted to cry when I saw it,” said Stephan Santos, who was visiting the ice formation. “My mom has all saints in her house. But this one just got to me.”
"Visiting the ice formation." What does one say when visiting an ice sculpture? A little conversation starter to break the ice, perhaps: "Excuse me, um, frozen Virgin? Would you care to pass that milk that's behind you? This one's expired. Thanks!"; or "Excuse me, Virgin? You're blocking the Dannon Yogurt." I guess everyone's reminded of a simpler, gentler time when Virgin's were expected to be very cold to keep their virginity exactly that! A time when one's uterus was owned by one's father or husband, and only then could the ice thaw...

Store employee Alma Avalos first spotted the formation in the back freezer of her store, noticing what had been a few drops of water from the ceiling that had frozen.

“I went in there, and it started forming like some kind of ice, and then Friday I went in there, and it was shaped like that,” Avalos said.
Imagine that! Water dripping into a freezer makes (drumroll, please!) a Stalagmite!!! Never would of thunk it, would ya?

As more and more people heard about the “Virgin Mary,” they started coming in droves to see her, and the grocery store moved her into a freezer in the frozen foods section.
Here that? Mary no longer hangs out in the back, she's front and center, next to the Jell-O pudding pops and that dead pig they just sliced up. And let's face it, she's probably right at home. She did give birth in a barn after all.

Some have had their prayers answered after visiting the ice statue.

“I had a lump in my breast, and yesterday, when I went home, it disappeared. I don’t have it no more,” said one woman.
Well, dad-gum! Why, I don't got it no more either! Where do they find these people, anyway? Oh, that's right, the brainless were on a pilgrimage to see a lump of ice, I forgot.

Yeah, I can see the resemblance... you mean, you can't? You must need god, my friend... (or, at least, an over active imagination and some faith...)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Near-Death Experience Number 1:
Chicken Pox

It all started in that time of bliss, that time of childhood, that time of...

Jason's Yesteryear's...

I think I was about six or seven. I was in second grade. We had recently learned about this horrible disease called The Chicken Pox, and I remember hearing my teacher, Mrs. Logan, say, (among other things), "It's much worse if you don't get it until you're older." This apparently made a great impression upon me...

I prayed for The Chicken Pox. I could only imagine how horrible it would be if I didn't get it until I was older! (And, of course, to a seven year old, 15 is older!) I even remember putting it in the "prayer request" box one time at least once, hoping sky god woul dmake me sick to spare me from it being worse when I was older... (Oh, the ironies...)

And wouldn't you know it... All five of us came down within weeks of each other... with The Chicken Pox. If I was seven, that means Tom was eight, Michael was five, Sylvia was four, and Cynthia was three...

(Brief segue:) My poor mother... (End segue.)

I was one of the last to get it, actually. And I only got a few spots, not like my siblings. (I still have two spots on my tummy from it; I did have four until Near Death Experience Number 2: Appendicitis, but that's another story...) I suppose everyone thought I was free and clear...

A few days later...

My knee hurt. Hurt something bad. I remember going to bed, and I called out to my parents before they closed the door and turned off the light, saying: "My knee hurts." I was told to go to sleep...

I woke up the next morning. My knee hurt! Much worse than last night. I guess I was running a small fever, or maybe they still thought I was getting over The Chicken Pox, as I was home from school. I was sitting there eating my (Yuck!!) Cheerios with (Yum!) tons of sugar poured over it to make it edible...

Me: My knee hurts.
Mom: It's probably growing pains. (I had been taller then my older brother since I was three--I was growing fast...)
Me: It really hurts bad.
Mom: It's growing pains. You want some Tylenol?
Me: My knee hurts bad.
Mom: I'll get you some Tylenol. Go lay on the couch.
Now, sky god bless my mom, she was babysitting four preschool children that day (as, apparently, five of her own was not a big enough challenge...), and I know they were sitting there playing with their various toys and whatnot. Four small children is a lot to keep track of (unless, of course, your my mom...) and she still had time to get me some Tylenol...

I think I fell asleep on the couch. The next thing I remember was not my knee hurting--my knee was on fire with pain!!!! I had never known such agony before! I think my mom knew now that this was no "growing pains." She ripped off my pants, and, in her words, "my knee was the size of a softball." Picture that briefly if you will: A seven-year-old's knee, the size of a softball... Oh, and red. And painful.

I was screaming in pain.

Next thing I remember, a bunch of women were at our house. Mom had called all the mother's of whom she had their offspring there. I don't know if they gave her a hard time or not (we all remember how career women of the 80s thought they had to be tough and own shoulder pads three inches higher than their ears...), and, even though I was in pain!!!, I also had to pee!

I'm seven. I have no sense of timing or a terrific sense of bladder control. So, between my sobs:

Me: Mommy, I hafta go to the baffroom.
Mom: (Incredulity) Now?!
Mrs. Orner: He's sick?
Me: I hafta pee!
Mom: Hold on, honey--
Mrs. Orner: Well, what's wrong with him?
Me: I HAFTA PEE!!!!!!
Next thing I know, my pants are pulled off, and three grown women are holding me over the toilet, staring at me with concern, alternately staring at my volley-ball-sized knee cap, and I no longer hafta pee... In fact, I'm sure that I'll never hafta pee again...

I blacked out.

I remember waking up with a sudden THUMP! I was on a stretcher. Several people were around me. I think I had one of those oxygen things on my face. The sun was shining, glaring off the mask... I blacked out again.

I woke again in a hallway. A all-white hallway. People in white were a few yards down the hall, answering phones, looking at clip boards. An old man in a wheelchair waved hello to me. Mom was standing beside me, running her hands on my head. I couldn't hear her, even though her lips were moving... I blacked out.

One month later:

I don't remember much of the past month. From what I've heard, Mom was a wreck. Actually, she was A WRECK. She spent most nights at the hospital at my bedside. Grandmom constantly badgered her about neglecting her other four children (mostly because she was stuck babysitting them, and she wasn't exactly what you would call "child-friendly").

Apparently, for most of that first month, I had been dying as none of the doctor's could figure out what was wrong with me. (Now would be a good time to point out that
  1. There was no white light
  2. No angel standing by my bed
  3. No dead relatives beckoning to me
At least, not that I remember...)
Surgery had been performed, a ton of pus had been drained off my knee, tubes were going in and out of me in every--every--conceivable hole in my body...

I had Internal Chicken Pox. For the next month, my teachers came to tutor me in the hospital. One time, Miss Cox brought me a strawberry milkshake from McDonald's... I threw it up all over her (Hehehehehe!!) Mrs. Logan took over the tutoring (Hmm, wonder why?)

All the other kids on my floor were there to have their tonsils removed, so, as none of them could talk (and they were all in-and-out so fast I couldn't make friends with any of them), the nurses were my best friends. They would bring me Jell-O pudding pops anytime I asked for them (to actually help put meat back on my bones--I was anorexic thin, apparently...)

I was released after yet another month on crutches. Those crutches would be with me for another three/four months until I learned to walk again.

And, turning 31 today, I have passed the age when I was told I would need to have a replacement knee put into my body. (Hey! It's a happy milestone in what could be just another year!)

I still tease my mom over this: "It's just growing pains! Have some Tylenol!"

I'm not sure what life would have been like for the rest of my family had I not lived. I doubt Sylvia or Cynthia would even remember who I was, as they were so young. But I just know, this was one of the most profound experiences of my life, though I wouldn't appreciate that until I was much older. The sacrifices my parents had to make, even my evil grandmother, no matter how unwillingly. But I know that this, combined with Near Death Experiences Number 2 and 3, have helped me to learn not only to appreciate my life more (who wouldn't appreciate life more after almost dying?), but also to be less concerned with What May Be After. As What May Be After is just that: What may be. And not only can What May Be not have any bearing on What Is Now, it also shouldn't be used to in any way deter, overshadow, or command What Is Now. What Is Now is all we have, all you will ever be given, for all anyone knows.

And I intend to continue to live it to the fullest. I know that everything I have today, I have it not because I almost died; I have it because I lived. And that's a big difference in outlook...

Thanks Mom and Dad, and to the doctor's whose names I don't know, and most likely never did know. Thank you for saving my life and allowing me to reach this milestone, this age. I don't know what your lives may have been like if I had died, but I know my life is wonderful, in part, because you continue to be there...

Medicine has made some wonderful advances since Near Death Experience Number 1. Do you know they now have a vaccine so that no more children will go this the agony I did? I'm glad I'll never have to see any of my nieces or nephews go through my experience...

The moral: Don't just assume it's growing pains!!! and
Live life in the now. You never know when you will have no more "nows" to live in...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Staring Down the Barrel... At a Ghost?

I'm on the cusp of turning 31... That's three decades and one year that I have been on this planet we like to call Earth, for lack of a more gregarious term (such as "The Happy Place" or "Unpredictable Cacophony of Life-Bearing Rock Land")...

In celebration of my three decades and one year (two days early), I was at Mom and Dad's today, helping my father on the continuing saga of The Deck. Of course, if any of you know my father, it isn't a simple matter of ripping down the old deck and putting on a new one. It involves:
  1. Ripping down the old deck
  2. Deciding piece by piece which boards can be used again on the new deck and
  3. Ripping out any offending nails in those pieces
  4. Adding three feet to the living room
  5. Bringing out the roof 6 feet to cover the new front porch
  6. Making it pretty by adding weird angles and nifty decorative beams
  7. Replacing all the windows along the front
  8. Adding a new back screened-in porch
  9. Bringing out the roof, along with a new dormer
  10. Changing where the back door was located so we can add a second bathroom and some new closet space
  11. Re-shingling the entire roof (including new areas over the front porch and screened-in porch)
  12. At the same time ripping out the old sky lights and putting in new ones
  13. And then building a deck, complete with more odd angles, to connect the new front porch and the new back screen-in porch...
And now you know why we've been doing this since last spring...

Of course, we five of his off-spring knew it was only a matter of time before a project like this started when they moved into the new house in the Poconos... Dad couldn't go ten years at our old house without doing some kind of addition or remodeling project which, of course, always involved his herd of children (kind of like how farmers used to make their wives pop out a dozen or so to work the farm... Dad had us for the remodeling of his home... :D)

We've learned a lot over the years about the proper way to nail, screw, bolt, run wires, measure (twice), cut (once), and so on and so forth...

After a hard days' labor, we retired to the kitchen (looking out through new windows, as mentioned earlier), and had some of Mom's wonderful lasagna (she won a blue ribbon or something for it at a church bazaar... I dunno), and, as always, the subject of... yes, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts, came up.

My mother is not only a firm believer in the after-life (sky god, jesus, holy spirit, demons, angels... you know...) as well as in spirits and ghosts of those who have (to use a popular term) "passed on." I, on the other hand, while allowing for it as a possibility, don't think of it as a high probability. One case in point is the nefarious Slipper Incident, which Mom alluded to in her comments on my last post...

In short, the Slipper Incident can be summed up as such:

Once upon a time, in a not-so-special basket in an eclectically-decorated not-so-extraordinary bedroom, there lived six (perhaps seven) pairs of slippers. On the very bottom of this not-so-special basket were slippers made in loving, if garishly colored, yarn. Never worn yet always treasured (due to an uncomfortable tightness of the ankles and soreness on the soles), these were on the bottom, as duty never required for them to be called into service by the upper five pairs.

The upper five pairs consisted of (from lowest in the basket to highest) a yet-to-be-broken-in pair, another yet-to-be-broken-in pair, a slightly used but newer pair, and an every-day use pair. And, beside this not-so-special basket were the Tigger Slippers of Ages Past (who wouldn't fit into the basket, though whether due to claustrophobia on Tigger's part, or just due to Tigger's rather large craniums hanging out in front of the slippers, one may never know).

One not-so-special day in the not-too-distant past (like, a week or three ago), Mom was going about her daily morning routine, which can be summed up as such:
  1. Get up.
  2. Put on slippers (top pair in basket)
  3. Pet dog (Shy Anne)
  4. Go to restroom
  5. Drink loads of coffee
  6. Get a shower
  7. Drink more coffee
  8. Do whatever she had planned for that day
On this particularly not-so-special day, when Mom exited from her lime-green tub (yet to be remodeled--give it another ten years), she noticed something awry as she crossed the hall back into her bedroom...

One of Grandmom Hughes's lovingly made, garishly colored, yet always treasured slippers was sitting on the floor, by the bed, quite a distance (let's say, five feet?) from the not-so-special basket...

One word pops into Mom's head: Ghost. Now, whether this is Grandmom Hughes's ghost, Grandpop Zartman's ghost, or simply a ghost who likes garishly colored yarn-type items, one may never know.
Immediately, a call went out on the line: Mom's seen spectral anomalies in her home. I'm not sure how many of my siblings place stock in ghosts, and how many place not-so-much stock in ghosts, but as stated earlier, I am of the not-so-much variety. Several possibilities popped into my mind:
  1. It was simply caught on the slippers pulled out that morning and dropped off after Mom made her way out of the room
  2. Static Cling
  3. The cat (Roadkill) decided she wanted to play with the garishly colored yarn-type item
  4. Or any other number of reasonable, every day explanations...
Mom was adamant. "No!" she cried. "They are on the bottom. There are four other pairs of slippers on top of them. There is no reasonable explanation for how they got all the way over there from the bottom of the basket."

Trust me, things almost got heated.

Dad doesn't say much. He does have to live with her, after all. :D I explained how, why I thought it was a possibility that some spectral form from the past of the living had taken quite a shine to Grandmom's slippers, the number of rational possibilities were not only as equally possible as the ghost theory, the ghost theory was not as plausible as other explanations were.

She asked me what those explanations were. I said them. She repeated her "bottom of the basket" scenario. We went in circles for quite some time. We were actually discussing the Slipper Incident at the family Christmas get-together, and I threw at her an equally possible explanation (though just as nearly improbable) as her ghost theory: worm holes. A worm hole opened on the bottom of the basket, and reopened five feet away in her bedroom.

I'm still not sure why she'll accept ghosts, but not a worm hole...

She still thinks I just need a good haunting...

I'm staring down the barrel of thirty-one. My mother thinks all I need is a ghost. I'm wondering if it's returnable, as it certainly wasn't on my wish list for my birthday...

She made me watch some Discovery TV show called "A Haunting," which was really just a story about a woman having a nervous psychosomatic breakdown after a break up with a boyfriend--and obssesses over her ex-boyfreinds dead brothers' picture... so much so that her young, impressionable daughters start seeing ghosts... and she "finds out" through some type of medium that not only is her ex-boyfriends dead brother hanging around, he thinks she's "the light" that all ghosts are supposed to go toward, but interstingly enough, he is also being used by another ex-boyfriends ghost from a past life who killed her and wants to see her suffer in this life... And while I was laughing uproariously at the silliness of it all, I know my mother thinks this stuff is true...

This falls under the category of "I Do Not Understand, But I Love You Regardless of Your Life Choices." This is the same category she places my gayness in, so it's kind of a nice balance...