Thursday, August 30, 2007

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Sylvia: Jay, hey, it's me. What the hell are you doing?
Me: Uh...
Sylvia: Have your fingers fallen off?
Me: What?
Sylvia: I'm tired of reading "Here's Your Sign"! Why aren't you blogging?
Me: Well, I cleaned out my attic, the sun room, burned junk in the barrel out back, rearranged the living room...
Sylvia: So?
Me: Oh, well, I just thought...
Sylvia: Get blogging! I need something to read!
Me: Uh... Okay...
So, before my sister goes mad with the rereading of the last post...

I bring you... The ruminations of my mind during days of end-of-summer cleaning...

The endless, eternal, undying, and deeply satisfying love of Jesus...

No, no, no... I know what you're thinking--"Sweet Jesus, they got him!" Sorry to disappoint. This post is about the message itself. The message Christians around the world preach, extol, discourse, lecture, and sermonize about. It's the supposed reason we were created, the reason Jesus died, the purpose of our existence, the greatest commandment, and the end-all, be-all of our supposedly miserable existence on this planet (besides feeding the dog and the kids, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry...)

It's all about the love they have for sky god, the love sky god showed them by letting his son commit Roman-assisted suicide, and the love they show and share with humanity as they attempt to convert us all, and sell us a condo on a gold-paved street within praising distance of the source from which all theoretical love must flow.

And, from their stand point, not only is it a "wonderful" and "good" thing they are trying to share, it is indeed a necessary and eternally vital thing if they are to continue in a loving eternity after they leave this rock we call Earth...

In other words, not only are they fulfilling "the greatest commandment" by loving god, and then fulfilling the "second greatest commandment" by sharing that love with their neighbor, offering this message of eternal life is well-intentioned. It is a good intention. They want to save your soul. They feel it is their moral imperative, their obligation, their responsibility to tell you, and tell you, and tell you about Jesus. Oh, and about the down side... Full disclosure policy for a lot of fundies...

But is that really a loving thing to do? To ignore other people's chosen beliefs, lifestyles, choices, hobbies, and overall existence by insisting that only they hold the true and real reason? That only they have The Truth, as well as The Way, to a happy and fulfilling life?

Most fundies to this site start off with the obligatory "Better hope you're right or your going to hell." Than after some prodding, some hand-holding, a little coaxing them out of their fundie armor into a human conversation, we find out that their just "concerned." They "love me." They want to "save me." It's motivated by a command from on high and a love that knows no bounds (despite what popular love songs would have you believe, that swimming oceans and climbing mountains has anything to do with it...)

Except... well...

Their god's love does have bounds, doesn't it? That deep, undying, eternal love isn't all it's cracked up to be for want of one very crucial, important factor...


True, it may not actually be a word... So sue me...

Let's say, for shits and giggles, my brother is playing chicken with an oncoming train barreling 90 miles per hour from Denver to New York. Another train, leaving New York for Denver, travels at 75 miles per hour with a one-hour stop in Chicago...

For some reason, he is unable to extricate himself from his place in front of Train A. As the light on the engine shines down on his tear-stained face, am I going to negotiate some type of agreement in which I save his life if he promises to tell everyone he knows not only what I'm about to do, as well as a solemn promise to worship me whether or not I live or die saving him? (HINT: No, I am not...)

Yes, my intention is to save my brother. I fully intend to whisk him out of harm's way... And, using the time model of YHWH, if I have all the time in the world to negotiate this position, and I knew he would be on the tracks unable to remove himself from danger, and had the power to not only stop the train (let alone the power to keep all trains from having such man-killing ability...), how would he actually perceive my offer to save him as long as he promised to have eternal gratitude and love for me for the rest of his earthly life?

Let's also keep in mind that I am able to raise myself from the dead...

How, again, is this actually a sacrifice on my part? How again if this an unconditional, undying love for my brother?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here's Your Sign...

You recall my recent post about the silly signs that the Lutheran church puts up, don't you? (Here.) Well, seems there's a church in New England who is above all that witty sloganing and just goes right for the jugular... Kind of a "What Would Jesus Post" type of thing. Not content to let the supposed ethereal existence of the Holy Spirit work it's fairy magic on the conscious of the American people, they have conferred upon themselves Holy Casper status in an attempt to place the guilt on you that Holy Spirit can't seem to make happen much these days. (Note to god: take your ad off Craig's List... your replacement ghost is in New England...) It would make those damn Puritans from Plymouth Rock proud, don't ya think?

The New England Baptist Church has placed upon their "announcement board" some of these real winners in the past:

Just makes you want to go out and vote Republican, doesn't it? I mean, if one of sky god's very own places of holy worship says we can have Republicans and stop our teenage daughters from committing "murder," well then, it's a happy Sunday all around, wouldn't you say?

This same church reportedly had a sign posted just a few short weeks ago that proclaimed, "If we didn't abort our children, the U.S. wouldn't have to hire illegals." Say it ain't so, Sparky. Really? May as well read, "If we still allowed slavery, we wouldn't need to hire illegals." I mean, it amounts to the same thing: Who cares if it's the blacks or the women's rights--it's all about keeping those dang Mexicans from having a better life!

Another winner the church apparently came up with when Hurricane Katrina hit was this humdinger:

Ahh... Nothing screams out the love of Jesus like blaming people for the weather, right? It almost puts the late Jerry Falwell to shame--all he could come up with was Katrina was punishment for "sexual perversion." (One wonders if Jerry's death was punishment for not saying straight out [no pun intended...] that it was the gay's fault. I know I personally blame the gays--not to mention the feminists--for his untimely departure from our earth...)

You can actually catch the pastor of the New England Baptist Church on CNN defending these signs on this video, where he appeared on CNN just today... One of the things he says in defense of his signs is the following:

"The church is going to be in conflict with a society that rejects the Bible and the truth of Jesus Christ our savior," he said in a recent interview. "So when people say the signs are controversial, we take that as a compliment."
Yes, it's much like when we tell you that you're having a good hair day--no wonder you equate abortion with illegal immigration! This dude is probably one of the master minds behind that stupid bumper sticker I saw recently that proclaimed "Abortion Leads to Breast Cancer." Uh-huh... And brushing your teeth leads to crab grass...

I was starting to wonder where they get these ridiculous notions when the pastor decided to clear it up for me:

He said various church members come up with the messages, which he approves and changes about once a week.
One wonders how many children got left behind in the town of Medford...
In other recent news, a crack-whore trainee commented about cult leaders and "pussy" on this post from October of 2006... I'd almost say I feel violated... I mean, who actually uses the word "pussy" on a gay man's blog? Isn't that a bit like singing "Amazing Grace" in a mosque?

And Now, For Something a Bit... Lighter...

Clicking on the image will open it in a larger window.

I haven't laughed this hard since... Well, I'm not sure when...

Please take the time to visit Russel's Teapot--the guy is a frickin' genius!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mission: Home-possible...

The Mission: Find the Red Oilcloth
Codename: Operation Help Parents
Priority: Lavender
Transmission 1: 1200 hours, 8/19/07
From: HQ, Pocono location
To: Agent Packrat, Bowmanstown Territory
Subject: Location of last known position of the sacred oilcloth of Douglassville.

Mom: Hi, Jason?
Me: Hey, Mom, what's up?
Mom: Well, do you still have that red oilcloth that we used on the old porch at the old house?
Me: Um... I think it's somewhere around here.
Mom: See, we're doing this project, and the one we have here is the wrong size.
Me: I thought they were both the same size?
Mom: Well, apparently we cut off some of this one for another project, but we don't know why or when, so...
Me: Sure, it's around here somewhere. I'll call you when I find it.
Mom: That sounds good, Love you.
Me: Love you to, Mom.
I begin the search in what I think is the logical location of the tablecloth in question: In the Garage of Neglect. My valient search begins with battling squatters as they spin cobwebs to stall my search. Birds fly over my head screaming as I intrude upon their until now sacred nesting spaces in the rafters. Chipmunks and mice scramble before Hawthorne, devourer of anything that fts in his mouth. My search in this Place of Perpetual Storage, where incidentally I find the table this cloth was supposedly cut and made for, is fruitless. I am slightly puzzled, but not entirely put-off...

I next venture into the attic--I'm sorry, make that The Attic. In this second place of Storage Central, more denizens of the dark underworld plant traps to sequester me from their most cherished corners of life. Mouse droppings, shreds of paper, and boxes from Moving-in-day of Yesteryear try to impede my quest for the Sacred Tablecloth of Douglassville, but I press on. Hawthorne sniffs and jumps as he disturbs the inhabitants, and no doubt my movements stirring up the dust don't help matters any. I can see a diplomat would have been a better way to go than trying to invade and imperialize this area, but what's done is done, and all I can do is get what I need and formulate an exit strategy.

But again, my sources were wrong--there is no tablecloth to be found here. After restacking Christmas boxes, crawling through two-foot-high caves of fiberglass insulation and wood framing of square-nailed techniques of Yore, I come to the conclusion that this purgatory for spiders not pretty enough to live on the first floor doesn't hold the cloth--I make a quick retreat as I spot one eight-legged denizen shouting in no uncertain terms that an exterminator would have to be called if I didn't learn to stay in my allotted living space on the first floor. There was even some overheard talk of a Black Widow being called in to handle pests such as myself.

I half-tumble down the stairs as Hawthorne seems to think it's now a race to see who can exit Attic Purgatory the fastest, and I realize that this leaves me the basement, and assorted cabinets and closets on the first floor, to continue my quest. I decide to leave the basement for last, as it is not only the least-likely location for something as important and sacred as a tablecloth, but experiences in that land-of-the-lost in the past (here and here) have shown it is not a place that welcomes me with open arms. I decide to tackle the closets and cabinets.

I start with the two hall closets. I get into a fist fight with some towels and sheets as Hawthorne watches in wonder at my amazing skills of sorting everything from one side to the other. A stack of board games tries to interfere in what they feel is a violation of the sheets and towels civil liberties of segregation, but after the misunderstanding is explained, Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley corporations decide to let me continue my search as they rest on the floor after our brief scuffle.

The other hall closet, while smaller, is less receptive to my diplomatic overtures. An air mattress package slams me on the head, two sleeping bags entangle me in their ropes, while two vacuums forcefully resent being torn from their warm haven from work. And while the search continued to be fruitless, the second hall closet got a firm reprimand and a reorganization in short order, thus assuring myself that future excursions here would leave my head unattacked.

I next move into the spare bedroom. Under the bed, behind the chest of drawers, and a rummage through the winter coats reveal a fire box key, two tennis balls (at which Hawthorne dropped any future investigations at the overwhelming joy of such treasure!), and some wrapping paper.

Next to our bedroom: I restack the 15 boxes of comics from one side of the closet to the other, pick up some clothes from the floor to discover yet another ball Hawthorne must have lost in previous excursions here, and manage to locate the raincoat I thought I had lost last winter... But no tablecloth. I peak under our bed to find the firebox which the aforementioned key holds the secrets to, an exercise mat which, while having moved with us through four apartments and this house, has never been used, and the army of dust bunnies which guard the abdominizer. The dust bunnies have no idea what I'm looking for, but they make a valiant effort to mask any other inhabitants' locations beneath the bed in what I'm convinced they feel is their mission to continue to Underground Railroad for Undervalued Household Items. It briefly crosses my mind to teach the hall vacuums a lesson by making them work for the forces of good by eliminating this army of dust bunnies, but decide it isn't worth wrestling with the sleeping bags again--I move on.

The kitchen holds even more previously unknown treasures--namely, a bread box. I never knew our kitchen had one as there are more than a few cabinets I've never had a need to open as we have more storage here than I could possibly even fathom using. A collection of Star Wars glasses greets me under the bar-counter area, but alas--no tablecloth. I'm beginning to think I don't have it.

I next go to the sun room. This, of course, is a misnomer as there are only two windows both of which face the next door neighbor's brick wall, and almost no sun reaches between the houses on the most sunny of days. It has become the place where things sit as they await a designated Place of Perpetual Storage, whether it be attic, garage, or basement. If the tablecloth were somewhere, it should be here.

Forty-five minutes and three broken vases later, my search continues to be as fruitless as when it began. As I exit the sun room, I spy Hawthorne merrily tearing out the rubber bands of a tennis ball on the couch in the living room. I decide to let his joy last a bit longer, as I don't want him following me to--you guessed it, The Basement of Little Light and Creepy Cobwebs. It is a place not for the faint of heart. The denizens of the basement don't have the same rules and sense of community as those in the attic have. These are creatures of darkness, creatures that have made peace with the Basemantic Ocean, Pipenagra Falls, the fire-breathing oil heater, and, of course, have no qualms about openly attacking a human such as myself, let alone our dog.

A trip to the basement requires preparation: I don a long-sleeved shirt, locate a flashlight, and take a deep breath. Doubts once again cloud my mind: "Do I have this cloth? Am I making up memories in my quest to be procure this scared cloth? Will the Shroud of Turin do in place of the Douglassville Cloth?" But no--these doubts will accomplish nothing. I must continue the search. There's a table in Albrightsville depending on me.

I open the door to the basement and click on the EverReady flashlight. I reach to my right and flick two of the three out of seven switches which actually produce light in this dank region. As I descend on the Stairs of Ominous Creaking, the slow drip of Pipenagra Falls reaches my ears. The eyes adjust to the meager light produced by the two bare bulbs on one end of the basement. The darker, more mysterious regions reflect nothing, but I feel the multifaceted eyed following my every movement. As I reach the cement floor, my eyes pick up a scurried movement in the blackness to my left. I fling the beam of light to where I thought the movement was, and I am greeted by the sight of some boxes. Not being a light saber, I am unable to simply slash through them and kill whatever has decided the old yard sale junk is a worthy sanctuary. I hear a whine, and as I shine the light back to the top of the stairs, I see Hawthorne sitting at the top, a half-eaten tennis ball in his mouth below his creased, worried-looking brow. Whether this worry is due to the fact that he doesn't know where the other half of his tennis ball went, or whether it's because he knows the danger I face in this underground cave, I shall never know.

I decide to start near the pile of yard sale leftovers, as this would be the most likely location for the cloth to be, as the basement holds little else of "home entertaining" value. I use the EverReady as a sword, battling cobwebs as I make my way the fifteen feet toward the precarious stack of cardboard. After I reach the stack, I carefully lift the first flap on the top box, certain that whatever has sought sanctuary here will leap out and tear my eyes from their sockets, all in the name of defending the homeland. But my worry was for naught, and I only spy a few books, some glassware, and a stuffed teddy bear not really living up to the "stuffed" portion of its name. The rest of the boxes hold much the same: varying amounts of -ware items, over- and under-stuffed creatures with varying degrees of evil showing through their thready smile, and other odds and ends--but no tablecloth.

I turn my attention toward the coal bin, where another stack of items sits, albeit non-threateningly enough, just above the hide-tide end of the Basemantic Ocean. After fighting my way through a small army of spider webs and a pipe claiming to be the transporter of water to my radiators above, I reach the small pile. A volleyball net, an old vanity, some more books, and a Fisher Price village center (pre-lead-paint recall vintage) all pass across my vision. I decide to peak into the intestines of the vanity, just in case, and regret doing so as a giant stack of various, antique cleaning bottles make a break for freedom from their Guantanamo-style prison. They don't make it far, and more than a few drown in the Basemantic Ocean, but I doubt many, if anyone, will mourn their loss.

As my nostrils are assaulted by the smell of old bleach and antiquated PineSol, I realize I'm getting nowhere and have searched in every conceivable crevice of my home. I retreat back upstairs and call my parents back in an attempt ot salvage some dignity. As I dial the number, I pick various webs and dirt danglings from my baseball hat and ponder how much a cleaning woman would charge to completely cleanse the underbelly of my home.

Me: Hey, Mom? It's me--are you sure I was the latest owner of the tablecloth?
Mom: Um... I dunno. I thought you were.
Me: 'Cause I can't find it anywhere.
Mom: Well, don't worry about it. It'll turn up when none of us are looking for it.
Me: Are you sure? I feel bad...
Mom: Why?
Me: I dunno.... I could have sworn I knew where it was...
Mom: Well, it's okay, don't fret too much. It's not that important.
Me: But you said you needed it
Mom: Don't worry--I'll check around here again, and if worse comes to worst, we'll find something else that will work.
Me: I'm sorry I couldn't find it...
Mom: Don't worry, it's not that important.
I just wish I had known how "not important" it had been earlier. You know, before the quest had started...

On the other hand, Hawthorne now has a tennis ball and a half left to eat, and I have a breadbox.

Not too shabby for a Sunday afternoon...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Maybe If They Had a Montage...

Maybe it's because the fundies are, and have been, in this limbo-esque status for quite some time... I mean, if you were sitting in the theater for over two thousand years, no one would fault you for thinking, "Good Lord, when does it end?!"

You know, kind of like how I felt during The English Patient.

And don't get me wrong--they packaged the story pretty nicely--lots of sex, violence, death, acts of god, boys who like girls who like girls who like boys... All the good stuff they like to blame Hollywood for that can be found right inside their book. Go figure, eh?

But the climax came roughly around the year 40 AD.

It's now 2007.

It brings whole new meaning to the phrase "anti-climactic." (See? It isn't just you and your significant other!)

Of course, most Christians would probably pick a pretty boring sound track for their montage--you know, nothing that makes you want to gyrate, salivate, or even remotely come close to having a thought about enjoyment, something like "Carry Your Cross with a Smile," or "The Old Rugged Cross." You know, something that really gets you thinking about sad things, horrid things, bad things... ("Dead things, Mikey, dead things!") After all, enjoyment leads to premarital sex, and that leads to bastards out of wedlock, and before you know it, society is pretty much down the tubes. (Of course, we must disregard that Jesus himself was conceived premaritally through artificial insemination to a teenager living in poverty as a bastard whose father was never around... People must not have been reading their bibles correctly...)

And what happens to children born into broken families? They have short lives, spend a lot of it on the wrong side of the law, have no regard for societies rules and obligations, and generally buck the system. Well, son of a bitch! I guess Jesus really was 100% human!

If, however, the montage for Christianity was up for a democratic vote, we might end up looking at something along the lines of "We Don't Need Another Hero" by Tina Turner (being, of course, the Democratic nominee...); I mean, that would generally sum up the fundie Christian view of things, allowing us all to speed through the motions to the Rapture they all feel 100% sure is coming... Or maybe something more inclusive (you know, for the softer, gentler moral majority) like "Hero" by Mariah Carey (the Republican candidate for "Christianity's montage..."). Can you just hear her screeching out "And then a hero comes along, With the strength to carry on..." as we watch the next five thousand years of humanity zip by in under two minutes, all with the grand crescendo as Jesus sweeps out of the clouds with lightning and fire bolts?

But... I mean, really, what have they got now? The climax 2000 years past, and this penultimate scene just keeps rolling and rolling... It's almost like god is a public stock holder for the Energizer Bunny...

Or is it more like the "Song That Doesn't End..."?

Yep, that sounds about right... Sky god knows they keep telling us and telling us, "It's any day now!"

Somehow, I think a montage would have been a much better way to go...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Approach to the World...

I think the issue many fundies have with science (read specifically evolutionary sciences...) is that they try to approach it in the same style as they approach their bibble (aka, infallible word of sky daddy...). They hear something.... oh, let's say, "Homosexuality is an abomination." They say, "Okay, it's an abomination. I'm not gay, so I have no issue with that. I never thought about it before as it has no bearing on my immediate life. It stands." And hence, homosexuality becomes "wrong" in their eyes.

And then they flip on the news and hear about how some scientists think that man's family tree needs revised, something about linear descent, tree branches, a little revision to the thinking prior to some discovery, and instead of thinking, "Okay, so they need to rearrange how they think it happened in light of the new evidence," they instead think, "Oh, so I suppose evolution is wrong. It doesn't agree with how I was taught to read Genesis anyway, I can't see any immediate impact on my life, so therefore, evolution is bunk. It stands."

Of course, this line of thinking tends to be faulty:

Person A: You know, PennDOT put up a stop sign when they should have put up a yield sign.
Person B: But they still put up a sign, and it gets people to pay attention to other traffic approaching the intersection.
A: But it said in the news that they would put up a stop sign.
B: Maybe in light of traffic reports and census data of the area, they thought a yield sign would make more sense? Who knows.
A: But it's wrong! The news said they would put up a stop sign! I swear, all of PennDOT needs gotten rid of. They can't even decide whether there should be a stop sign or a yield sign!
B: But they did decide. Only after the news that a sign was going up did they decide a yield sign makes more sense, and so after looking at the new data that they found out about and read over, they put up a yield sign instead.
A: Are you paying attention? That's a yield sign!!
B: Yeah... and?
A: You can't trust anyone in the government these days. It's all lies.
B: It's a sign. A stupid yield sign. It means the media didn't think the change was newsworthy; it doesn't mean the government is untrustworthy...
A: The hell it doesn't! Who knows what else they've changed?! Should that have been a blinking yellow instead of a fully functioning light at Main and Chew?
B: Uh...
A: See? Who knows what to think anymore!!
Okay, perhaps that's a bit extreme, but you get the gist--a little data comes to light, people start discussing how it changes previously held notions, and the right-wing wants to go back and re-institute the bibble as the end-all, be-all, since nothing ever changes about the creation story (supposedly). "Who needs DNA? Who needs to know about the family tree? Who cares? God said this, that settles it."

And while simple little (useless) proverbs are all well and good in certain places and times, how our ancestors evolved, what DNA and RNA we share, and how we came to be are all very important issues in regards to diseases, genetic mutations, life-threatening virus's, bacteria, and how all of it reacts in certain creatures closer to our family tree, farther in our family tree--you know, medicine, bio-genetics, environmental concerns--the list is endless!

In fact, Kevin over at Memoirs of an Ex-Christian just blogged a great post on how ID fails to get us any closer to knowledge about how to make life better. And he makes a very valid point that creationists don't like to confront:

At face value this does seem like a noble idea: teach both creationism and evolution in schools, and let the kids decide. However, in my view, the problem lies in the fact that the primary aim of school is not to necessarily teach children what to believe, but to teach them what they need to know.
And therein lies the crux of the matter: religion is about feelings, faith, fasting, and "belief." Science is about facts: what we know, what we can verify, what we can touch.

All this is not to say that gut feelings and a little faith aren't good for man--something tells me a gut-feeling or two helped get us where we are today! But when guts and feelings start to equate themselves the same footing as verifiable data, tested theories, and natural law, something dangerous begins to happen: People no longer need a real reason for saying or doing anything (hence the very real fact that religion has caused more wars and deaths than non-religious reasoning...) Does science find out it was wrong? Yes--and rectifies what we know based on what we've found out. Religion, in most fundamental cases, does not. It digs in it's heels, quotes something from the holy book of choice, and states that because they believe, and feel that they are right, it therefore is a fact...

When, of course, it isn't. It may have all started back when people started saying things like, "It's how I feel, it's not right or wrong," which, when speaking of emotion, that's very true--emotions aren't right or wrong, it's how you react in light of what you are feeling, and how the emotion motivates you to act that could make a situation "right" or "wrong."

But then, is "faith" really an emotion or feeling? I think at it's most basic, yes. People don't believe things willy-nilly--they base it on how they feel about what they've heard, how it jives with what they've felt and thought about the world before, and Walla!, you have embraced faith in something--sometimes baseless, other times not-so-much--but always with a certain type of thought-process. Either a thought process that states, "This is what I'll go with until something presents itself to make this issue clearer," or a thought process that states, "Well, okay, there's my answer. It's decided and finished."

I'm wondering what makes people settle for one answer instead of looking and being open to new ones, or changing ones?

Of course, this is where a fundie will jump in and say, "You haven't given our ideas, our faith a fair shake--why aren't you open to those?" In which case I would reply, not only is it water-under-the-bridge for me, and I have been there and have done that, there is nothing new being presented by the ID crowd, nor the fundie crowd--just a blastedly determined group of people who wish everyone would stop thinking things and asking questions so much, as it makes it very difficult to continue to have faith in something that badly needs revising... A rehashing of been-there-done-that would be a regression in thinking, both process-wise and intellectually.

In which case, can I seriously hold it against people that haven't yet progressed past turn-of-the-millennial thinking and pseudo-science, especially in light of the concerted effort by more of those same people wishing to suppress basic facts to keep alive a practically-useless mode of thinking?

I just don't know at this point...

Conversations With a Class-A Moron...

Would you be surprised to know it's over on God V. Darwin with a mindless fuck who doesn't even have the balls to own up to his words?

This is how the argument can be summed up:

Spanky: Jason, you didn't quote the most up-to-date research when talking about the Theory of Evolution. I will now cut-and-paste something to show you that we're still trying to figure out how man's family tree works. So go fuck yourself.
Me: I wasn't talking about man's family tree specifically. I was talking about the Theory, aka Law, of Evolution. Of course we are still learning about how it all fits together, but that's peanuts compared to the Law itself.
Spanky: I'm right, you're wrong. You have no idea how smart I am. Go fuck yourself. You are as bad as Christian fundamentalists.
Me: So because we're still figuring out how the family tree works, all of evolution must be bunk? That's a stupid argument.
Spanky: Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, you always need to be right, Go fuck yourself.
It's much like talking to a hot-air balloon tethered to the ground at the fair--a bunch of hot air trapped inside a sphere, full of itself, but unable to get anywhere with it...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Armageddon It...

Rich thinks I almost died last night.

Despite the fact, I was scared out of my ever-loving wits for a few brief seconds, and it's nice to know that someone who cares is willing to scream like a banshee when they think you've been struck by lightning, isn't it?

Perhaps you wouldn't know.

Let me paint you a picture:

The storm was centered over the brick Cape Cod, it's malicious clouds churning and swirling with a tangible hatred and anger. Lightning flashes and crashes on all sides, and thunder echoes off the mountain angry at it's containment.

The few times electricity is flowing through the lines, the television screams about tornado watches, tornado warnings, flash flood watches, and flash flood warnings... (I'm wondering why some need watching while others need warning, but that's for higher minds than myself who went to school to figure out why some clouds look like Snoopy and others look like Satan's fetus with a urinary tact infection...)

Hawthorne paces back and forth like a sentry from window to window, letting out whines and growls intermittently, as if looking for the underlying rhythm to the chaotic noise that encompasses the living area.

Suddenly a dull roar--Niagara Falls has been relocated to West Bowmans (dare I say, without Canadian consent). As electricity sputters on, then off, and then back on, fighting for the right to flow freely through wires, two lone candles on the coffee table stand against the long periods of darkness.

I decide to try to sleep, even though the air in the house is hot, heavy, and of course, air-conditioned free. Hawthorne, becoming more of a scaredy cat as the years go by, can't bear to sleep in his usual spot and insists on trying to become a part of my spine as the cacophony of noise seems to grow only louder.

Sleep, it must be said, is impossible.

At 1:20 am, Rich arrives home from work, having traveled through the tornadic and flood-prone areas. He regales the dog and myself with tales of fallen trees, washed-out roads, and a silly senior citizen with a hearing problem at the gas station. At this point, I am exhausted and I try once again to find the sleep, but the storm seems to have given up on movement entirely, quite content to try to drown my mountain side sanctuary. Rich thinks that if he's there for the dog to try to meld with, I'll be able to catch some sleep.

That doesn't work. And Armageddon doesn't end.

At 2 am, I get up and head to the living room. Of course, the electricity is still coming in fits and starts, but it's better than laying in my own sweat on the sheets. Rich and the dog follow as the storm, which has been going since 10:30 pm, seems to grow in strength. Wind now rattles the fire bush against the kitchen window, and that combined with the pouring rain, howling wind, and non-stop thunder and lightning, I'm convinced that somehow the tales of the Tea-Kettle Demon of West Bowmans have come true.

It's either that, or Jesus decided that right above my house would be the perfect place for his new bowling alley, complete with disco-laser-light show and Dolby surround-sound. His quest for the perfect game has gone on for well over four and a half hours, and I'm beginning to think he's drunk, which is why he hasn't won yet.
Okay, so it's more like a tapestry than a painting--call me Michelangelo if it makes you feel any better.

But these are the events that brought about the screaming banshee formerly known as Rich. As we sat there in the living room, pondering the shapes of our flickering shadows, I decided that if I couldn't sleep, I should at least be smoking outside enjoying the light show that Jesus has apparently put so much thought and planning into. (Remind me to write a strongly worded email to the commissioner of heavenly bowling alleys...)

I step out onto my sad, tiny front porch of three-feet-by-four-feet, being careful to stay on the actual step so as not to get my socks wet. I pull the door almost closed so as to not lose my balance on the small step, but also keep my smoke from blowing into the non-air-conditioned living room.

And it is an awesome light show. Lightning flashes with the frequency of Lindsey Lohan's rehab stints, and the noise is truly deafening. I blow lazy smoke rings into the driving rain just inches from my nose, and consider calling off of work. It is, after all, almost three in the morning now, with no hope of sleep in sight. As my mind thinks up creative excuses ("There's a tree on my car, can't come in today," or "The road is flooded out, can't come in today..." as these types of things do happen around here every now and then...) a brilliant flash of light and instantaneous noise rips me out of my reverie! I swear that that bolt of lightning was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!!

I feel myself falling backward through the door, and I land on my ass, knocking into the dining room chair with my head. All I can see is this white stripe of light in front of my eyes, and I hear Rich screaming, "Oh my god!! Oh my god!!"

I feel his hands wrench me to my feet, and my first thought is, "Wow, he's stronger than I thought," which was quickly followed by "I must be alive if I'm thinking that!" Hawthorne is barking like mad and Rich is shoving me onto the couch.

"Were you hit? Are you okay? What the hell happened!!? I'm calling 9-1-1!!"

"No, no... I think I'm okay, more scared than anything..."

I keep waiting for the white stripe on my eyes to go away, and am blinking like crazy to try to get my eyes to adjust.

"Let me see your hands--they say you'll have black spots where the lightning went in and out of your body--"

"I wasn't hit, I'm fine!?" I say this without much conviction. Am I just numb? Is my hair standing up like Einstein's? I reach up to pat my hair, but it seems fine...

"Hawthorne, shut up!" Rich yells, but Hawthorne thinks we must now be under attack from this storm which has had him on edge all evening. I've never heard him truly growl and carry-on before, and it's very unnerving, but I see him around my blind spots of white stripes and pull him up on the couch to calm him down.

"I knew smoking would kill you!"

"Hello, I'm not dead!"

"You could be!"

This argument goes for the next few minutes in a vicious circle. As the white stripe begins to fade, I stand up and walk to the front door.

"NO! You are NOT going outside!!"

"Okay, Hitler. I just want to see if it DID hit outside or if I was just--"

"It's still storming! You are NOT--"

"Rich, the day I start taking orders from you is the day I die, now get out of my way, I'm just going to look out the window."

He seems mollified by the return of my attitude (ironic, that) and moves to one side, but stays right behind me, as if at a moment's notice he can wrest me from the grasps of any electrical charge that may decide to come through the front door.

But it was too dark to see what, if anything, had actually been hit by the lightning which had caused me to Mary Lou Retton my way back into my house. Ironically, this gymnastic feat seemed to be all Mother Nature was waiting for. After earning my Silver medal, the rain gradually started to die off, and the lightning started striking with less frequency. We managed to figure out how to set our cell phones as an alarm, since the electricity was still intermittent, and I did, indeed, get up and go to work after only about two hours of sleep.
I should have called off.
When I got home today, I saw Bob and Luthor standing across the street at the garage, and I called over, "Everything okay?"

It seems the garage was hit by lightning, less than fifty feet from where I had been standing. All the garage door openers were fried, all the light bulbs were broken and scattered on the floor inside, and nothing that had been plugged in worked anymore...

So there it is, ladies and gentlemen--my THIRD near death experience. I realize I have yet to blog about number two (number one can be found here), but suffice it to say that I live.

Although I don't think I'll be smoking on the front porch in a thunderstorm anytime soon...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

In a World Where "Simple" Isn't So Much...

Over on God V. Darwin, Green has asked: I just want to know how you know that there is no God.

Here was my response, but being as we get (mostly) different groups of readers, I thought I'd let you all dissect it, for whatever it's worth to you. I like to share that way. :D

First, a disclaimer: I cannot speak for all atheists anymore than you can speak for all Christians. Just wanted to state that from the outset.

Secondly, this isn't a "simple question" by any stretch of the imagination...

So how do I *know* there is no god? Firstly, I would state I *know* no such thing--I simply regard it as so highly improbable as to be logically impossible. Religions across the board (of which Christianity is a young joiner, yet a popular one...) employ fantastical feats against natural law, basic math, simple geology, and on and on and on, which in turn causes a spiral effect of spin from the religious persons "faith" in that what they believe (whether based on "feelings," "books," or religious teachers) is more fundamentally correct than the very five senses (not to mention our cognitive functions) they claim a deity have given us! And soon, before you know it, religion is down to just plain ignoring the facts, logic, and reasoning behind "anti-religious" stances that it basically boils down to lying, more spin, and the backing of the faithful into the corner of only needing "faith" and a healthy dose of meditation or prayer.

And so while I cannot *prove* the non-existence of sky god, Stellar the Unicorn, or Russels' Teapot, from what I observe, read, study, and learn about, all of the faiths' gods come up severely lacking. And while a small, annoying argument could be made in the "blaming god for his followers" circle of reasoning, I will simply point out that the only way to know a god is through his followers, as a god only has as much power, influence, and existence as the number of followers that claim in his existence.

As a side note, I would also like to point out that what the other persons have posted here is true: That, if you are going to claim that something *exists,* you personally have the burden of proof to show that it does, indeed, exist. Asking persons to *disprove* sky god (which, while not the actual question is the root underlying logic of your question) is a non logical approach to the issue. The basic flaw of the question isn't "Why don't you believe in god?" It's that god isn't a factor, and hence, it isn't an *active disbelief* as much as it is a *non-belief.*

For instance, you wouldn't say "I believe that pigs don't fly." It's a matter of simple fact that pigs don't fly, therefore, you simply say, "I don't believe in flying pigs." You don't actively dis-believe in the pigs. It's just that you don't.

Make sense?

Friday, August 3, 2007

An Excerpt from the Past...

I found my old diary while digging through the darkest innermost depths of my attic, looking for junk to sell on eBay. This was a few months ago, but I simply set it to one side after a "Hey! Look! My old diary."

And then Anonymous asked where my journey started.

And while my journey started a long time ago, this one captures a unique period of my life--breaking up with a girl I was going to marry, my first two boyfriends, some "ex-gay" counseling, a few poems--a very mixed bag, to be honest.

I'd forgotten most of the pain. We tend to do that, I suppose, as people. I hardly recognize the confused, angry, depressed boy that wrote these words back in '97 and '98. And while the memories resurface as I decipher the chicken scratch, some of the concepts and thoughts I once held seem as if they could never have gone from my hand to paper.

But it was a part of my journey, one that many others can probably relate to, and one that others may find foreign and dangerous...

This from 8/5/1998:

[...] I just want to get this all over with. I'm sick of this dragging out and no one at all aware of this inner turmoil. The struggle to gain my gay identity amidst the religious and family pressures & reasonings. Don't get me wrong--I love my family, I even love God in a very distinct way. I also know they ALL (including God) would not agree w/ what I am thinking and wanting to do. I don't blame them, really, either. But how long can the charade go on? [...]
This, a day later:

[...] I see what Q_____ goes through. I try to defend him from the jokes and such, but that brings it's own back on me. I know this is exactly how I would be made fun of & ridiculed if they ever discovered. Why shouldn't they feel that way as the very "life style" I desire goes against all they've embraced, all I've embraced, and accepted as truth?

Which is true, I suppose...

And I still desire it. I am worse than Q____ in at least he has spoken forth about the truth about himself, faced up to it. Of course no one knows about G___ because then he'd be kicked out of church again.

But they all still know he's gay.

Oh, for such freedom... [...]
And apparently, on 9/6/1998, I agreed to enter "therapy" for my "problem."

[...] Had lunch with R.W. today, and we discussed when I would begin counseling with P.C. Tues. night I call him 'cause R.W. wants to "brief" him first. I said that was fine. :(

[...] I'm not sure this is going to "cure" me anyway. How do you cure feelings, emotions, and desires? How does one even ... Futile. Just futile. What if I am, though, by some miracle, cured? After all the years of prayer, all the nights spent in torment, what if the burden finally is lifted? Doubt clouds my mind, but I think that may be the devil.
And these are apparently my first thoughts after my first night of counseling with P.C.

P.C. strikes me as one who a lot of times neglects the emotional aspect of things and leaps right into "practical application" which can be all well & good at time I suppose.

And what will "therapy" actually do for me? Give me a better understanding of why I have the emotions and desires I do? Help me to cope w/ these thoughts? Make them disappear totally? The last is probably impossible, but P.C. thinks it is possible--I can tell he's never had this "problem."

R.W. suggested my "absent" father, and my desire to have a relationship with him is the root of this evil. And here I thought they always blamed the mother? :) What? A little humor isn't called for here?

If my father thought he was responsible for this it would kill him.[...]
One of my darker moments came a few weeks later, in October:

I hate them all, with their "eternal peace" and their "blameless before God" stance. They haven't a clue, have they? I asked P.C. if he even had a clue as to what I was going through. His reply: "I don't care. It's still wrong."

I must remember to ask him how he would feel if someone were to ask him to give up women, specifically his wife. Would he get a glimmer perhaps? Is it fair to blame them? I suppose not...

[...] They say this is the time of year for most suicides. I can easily believe that. So easily.

Would the family cope better with me dead, never knowing about the evil their son has within him? Would this be a kinder way to let go, and give up this evil burden?

Looking back at my list of benefits and losses, I do see I foresaw my loneliness coming... how wise of me... doesn't make me feel much better knowing I was wise, yet not wise enough, or strong enough, to find an alternative. I suppose I'm just a wise fool...
I survived this dark period, apparently. :D There's much more there, of course, but I thought this conveyed the gist without airing all my dirty laundry on the Internet.

I will share one last item from my journal (for now), a poem I wrote in January of 1999. Not that I think it's "the best poem ever," or anything, but I do think it helps convey a little more of the massive amount of depression I was dealing with under the time.

I have poison in my soul
Death is now my companion
I thought this life would find me whole
But I am alone.

I have weariness in my heart
Rhythm has no meaning
I look for someone to keep time in part
But I am alone.

I am despair personified
Happiness is but an illusion
Only the disillusioned are spied to have a glimmer of hope
In not being alone
As I am alone.

I am surrounded by stone
It has encased all but me
Limiting them all, making them clones
So they won't mind being alone
As I am alone.

But what choice have I?
The deception of my "Christian" life?
Or the freedom & despair of the reality of me?
Either way, I am alone.
So very alone.
Talk about your seasonal disaffected disorder, right? But when you think your family will abandon you, and the life you had which revolved around the very church which is telling you how evil you are--I had never had a moment which hadn't been church and family centered, in all my years at this point, never once had I felt so adrift, so cut-off from everything I had ever known...

That, my friends, is just an excerpt from the past of Jason Hughes on his journey through life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I Suppose Someone Else Can Be Right Every Now and Then...

So my sis Sylvia ruined most of my blog fodder this time around... As my husband even admits (even though he'd get laid without agreeing to this), I'm right 99.9% of the time.

But when I'm wrong, I'm wrong... I suppose...

My poor niece now has a bright pink cast as a small token to how wrong I was.

Sylvia, feel free to gloat... (Or, is that what you were doing with the multiple emails? :D)

Oh, that's right. You need back story.

It was a hot summer day, the kind that causes your sweat to sweat. Olivia was innocently playing on the swing set her grandfather had built under the shade of the (semi-)tall oaks when suddenly, disaster struck!

One of the thick ropes holding up the swing snapped like Hillary defending herself against Obama. Olivia tumbled to the ground, landing on her ankle.

Unaware of the events unfolding outdoors, my mother and sister were taking a leisurely breakfast when Olivia bursts through the door, ankle swelled like Bush's ego (except for a reason).

Sylvia, being the overbearing, overprotective mother that she tends to be, went onto full-on red-alert, except...

Back-to-school shopping still needed accomplished.

Enter Jason, Lord of the Temple of Dragons.

Jason, a mere 15 miles to the southwest, had just gotten into his sweltering Mustang for a trip to Wal-Mart for, among other things, a skimmer, weed killer, a T-shirt or two, and some furniture polish.

Because that's how he rolls.

Sylvia, still in full-on red-alert mode rings Jason's cell just as he starts the rumbling engine. Jason is quickly updated on the Emergency 911 situation and says, naively now it seems, "So she sprained her ankle. So? Yes, I'll wait for you guys to arrive to go to Wal-Mart."

The Wal-Mart experience is fraught with disagreement and tears. Olivia is placed in a wheelchair. Mom is egging on the full-on red-alert by downplaying Sylvia's fears of breakage, which only serves to make the full-on red-alert graduate into EMERGENCY UNPARALLELED BY ANYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE.

Jason is quickly, yet very unceremoniously, dumped back at his cape cod, sans weed killer, and three generations of stubborn Hughes women race off down the road.

She had broken her... Lemme see, how did Guilt-Trip E-mail Extraordinaire phrase it? Oh, yes, "fractured a growth plate in her ankle over the weekend."

Sigh. So here on this public forum, I admit that, in agreeing with Mom, it wasn't just a sprain. I have fulfilled my yearly obligation of .1% wrongness, and duly ask for my sister's forgiveness.
In other news, after placing the greater Douglassville area's 6 year old population in mortal peril, we traveled to Maryland to witness the birth of Gavin Benjamin, officially making me an uncle for the 8th time. And although he looks nothing like his brother, he is just as adorable, and thus fears of having a cute kid followed by a child beaten with the ugly stick have been laid to rest without fear of being resurrected.

Of course, at 7 lbs 11 ounces, he was nothing to sneeze at! His poor mother had to undergo an emergency C-section, but both are doing swimmingly well (as that is how they tend to roll...), and on Thursday the whole nuclear family will be reunited at home ("As it is written, so it shall be in the birthing times." --Jasoniticus 12:45a), doubling my mother-in-laws workload in a happy way.

Catch ya's later...