Thursday, September 27, 2012

Digging for roots.

Yesterday morning, I made an online purchase. A couple, actually. Z needs a Fall jacket and a winter coat. So I got them.

Then, I purchased a DNA test for my mom.

It's been years in the making.

My Mom, me and Z last week.

When I was 12, I found out my mom was adopted. I still remember that day. My mom was in the bathroom, I was in the kitchen, and my dad was watching a football game in the living room.

It was autumn. Mom's adoptive mother, Nana, had passed in July. I was turning over in my head all I knew of my mom's childhood. It just didn't fit. Some thing. Some things. Her adopted sister Catherine had been up for the funeral. They talked about old times. But there was something off. 

Growing up, I had repeatedly asked about my mom's father. I never got much of an answer. He was young, and white and Italian. Or Spanish. One relative said he was Puerto Rican. 

But why couldn't Nana talk about him? By the time I was eleven, I got up the courage to ask... had she been raped? Nana laughed. That response was so unexpected, it scared me. She told me "no." There was just nothing to talk about concerning my mother's father.

Well, for her. I didn't agree. 

I often wondered why my mom looked nothing like her. My mother, with her fair skin, small mouth, slanty eyes and prominent nose. Nana, with her cinnamon brown skin, full lips, wide eyes, red hair and wide nose. It wasn't the skin tone difference. After all, I have brown skin like my father. It was the fact they looked nothing  alike. Besides both of them being short, they had no similarities with their bodies, either. I decided my mom had to be the spitting image of her dad. Her dad that no one wanted to talk about.

My mom with, up top, my brother Joe, bottom, from left to right, my nephew Justin, my nephew Greg, my sister in law Jenny, and my nephew Nate.

So on that quiet Fall day in 1994, I pulled the oldest kid trick in the book. I went to my dad and sputtered out some stuff on Mom being adopted since she clearly did not resemble Nana, may she rest in peace. And my Dad, still engrossed in the game, responded, "Oh, so she's finally telling you kids about that?" I looked at him with shock. He didn't even bother to look away from the TV.

I ran to the bathroom and burst in without knocking. "YOU'RE ADOPTED!" My mom, on the toilet, looked surprised then started laughing. "Li, why did you just come in? I'm USING THE BATHROOM." To her credit, she didn't yell this, just raised her voice in a way that told me to get out. I was undaunted. "DAD TOLD ME!" With that, her smile evaporated. Tears quickly came to her eyes. "I'll tell you everything when I'm done in here." I quietly backed out and closed the door. I went back to the kitchen and sat down at the table. I felt horrible. I had been sneaky, knowing my dad was oblivious when his Giants play. I just had to know, and now I did. And I knew I was a jerk to make her cry.

She later told me she kept it secret because she didn't want us kids to love our Nana any less. After all, her Mom had taken her in, raised her, cleaning people's homes to provide for her little family. It turned out Catherine was not Nana's biological daughter, either, but a cousin. Nana had been married, to a no-good philanderer with a penchant for drinking too much and beating her. She had been pregnant once, but lost the baby. She couldn't have any more. But God had brought baby Doris to her, and later little Catherine. She loved those girls so much, couldn't anyone tell her that they weren't hers.
 

My mom and Joe at his Christening.
Ever since that day, I wanted to give my mom back something. I couldn't give her back that secret, but I figured there had to be a way I could unlock some of the others. I read Alex Haley and decided I'd dig up some of her roots. I didn't know how I would, but I'd try.

Yesterday, along with the Old Navy baby purchases, I finally reached for a shovel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are Black Pastors Advising Their Flocks to Not Vote?



I found this story particularly interesting since historically, the Black Church, and especially it's leaders, have pushed hard for civic involvement, from voting to civil disobedience if need be. From the New York Daily News:

The Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of the mostly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York, earlier this year. Bernard said President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage "put a question in our minds as to what direction he's taking the nation."

Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That's a worrisome message for the nation's first African-American president, who can't afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
"When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he's taking the nation," said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he's unsure how he'll vote this year.
It's unclear just how widespread the sentiment is that African-American Christians would be better off not voting at all. Many pastors have said that despite their misgivings about the candidates, blacks have fought too hard for the vote to ever stay away from the polls.
Black church leaders have begun get-out-the-vote efforts on a wide range of issues, including the proliferation of state voter identification laws, which critics say discriminate against minorities. Last Easter Sunday, a month before Obama's gay marriage announcement, the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant of Baltimore formed the Empowerment Network, a national coalition of about 30 denominations working to register congregants and provide them with background on health care, the economy, education and other policy issues.
Yet, Bryant last month told The Washington Informer, an African-American newsweekly, "This is the first time in black church history that I'm aware of that black pastors have encouraged their parishioners not to vote." Bryant, who opposes gay marriage, said the president's position on marriage is "at the heart" of the problem.
Read the rest here. This election is fast becoming the most contentious- at least that I can recall.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Next Christians



On Sunday, on my way to church I caught part of On Being which featured a chat with influential Christian writer Gabe Lyons and Focus on The Family's Jim Daly. Yesterday, while making breakfast, I found it online and listened (helps make feeding oatmeal to a fussy toddler and the subsequent clean-up much more palatable).

Anyway, if you get a chance, I recommend giving it a listen. It's long, but the discussion covers a number of pertinent issues facing todays Christians, from politics, poverty, divorce and the Church's declining influence in today's culture.




Friday, September 21, 2012

Circles, Squares & Me

When I sat in that doctor's office over a year and a half ago, being told I should consider terminating my Zoe because I might have a genetic condition that I may pass on to my daughter, I knew deep in my heart, she was- and is- a gift.

I knew that even if some cold, detached doctor did not, could not, would not see her value, she deserved life.

And when she was born, a beautiful, squiggly girl of seven pounds and seven ounces and a long twenty inches, the precious gift I was blessed to carry for thirty-eight weeks entered the world, full of curiosity, attentiveness and hunger.

Zoe Lyne Hope. Zoe means "life". Abundant life.


 The first time I held my precious little Zoe.


The thing is, while I had all the hope in the world for my sweet baby girl, the doctor's advice cut me deeply. Whether she was aware of it or not, she had sent a very clear message. If my daughter should die because she might wind up like me, why should I go on living?

Tough words for me to write, but they were downright terrifying for me to think, believe and finally live. I began to see myself through broken, twisted lens. As my health declined last year, this view quietly took a hold of me, so thoroughly that when I was admitted to the hospital to treat my neurological problems, I felt I was wasting the doctors' and nurses' valuable time. I was squandering our insurance money.

What made me worth helping?

I was on medical leave from work, not bringing in a paycheck.

My FMLA time was up, and my last disability payment from having Zoe had come two months before all this.

In Randian speak, I was a taker, mooching off those who truly count, the makers.

Circles and squares. My thoughts were caught in a seemingly endless loop of boxed in despair and brokenness.


Right after getting the tube used for plasmapheresis (dialysis) removed from my neck. It had been in for 9 days.


Oh, how God works through the broken. Through liars, adulterers, punks, whores, murderers, the blind, and the enslaved.

And in a little squiggly five month old named Zoe.

To some I might be a carrier of deficiency and defects. To others, a huge and unnecessary expense. 

To Zoe, I'm mommy, giver of food, milk, kisses, hugs and baths. 

Giver of Life.

The more I have given to Life, the more purpose I have received.

I chose Life, and she gives life to me.



My first time back at church after being released from the hospital.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On that crappy Youtube trailer, the violence across the Middle East & more.

A protester in Indonesia. (Source)

I honestly don't know about the latest round of mess that has broken out across the Middle East and the Muslim World

I don't know what to think.

I don't know what to write.

I do know it was nice to pray about this on Sunday at church.

I also know there is A LOT of other folks out there who have put much thought into it, and have written much, so I'd rather share what I've been reading than pontificate without a point.

 Al-Mahdi boy scouts protest in Lebanon. (Source)

Over at On The Media, Sarah Abdurrahman focuses on the crappy movie trailer of "Innocence of Muslims" that ignited the firestorm, and notices some funkiness with the dubbing.

One thing that is immediately evident from watching the nearly 14-minute long trailer for the film is how low the production quality is. I mean really, it is unbelievable that this movie could have cost anywhere near the reported $5 million that it took to make it. Because the production value is so atrociously low, the terrible audio and dubbing just seems par for the course. But on further inspection I noticed something: seemingly every reference to the religion of Islam in the trailer is dubbed over in post production.

If you watch closely, you can see that when the actors are reading parts of the script that do not contain Islam-specific language, the audio from the sound stage is used (the audio that was recorded as the actors were simultaneously being filmed). But anytime the actors are referring to something specific to the religion (the Prophet Muhammed, the Quran, etc.) the audio recorded during filming is replaced with a poorly executed post-production dub. And if you look EVEN closer, you can see that the actors’ mouths are saying something other than what the dub is saying.


For example, at 2:53, the voiceover says “His name is Muhammed. And we can call him The Father Unknown.” In this case, the whole line is dubbed, and it appears the actor is actually saying, “His name is George (?). And we can call him The Father Unknown.” I assume the filmmakers thought they were being slick, thinking that dubbing the whole line instead of just the name would make it more seamless and less noticeable to the viewer. But once you start to look for these dubs, it’s hard to see anything else.

I tried to watch this God-awful trailer, but by the six minute mark, I wanted to rip my hair out. It's not only offensive to Islam and to Muslims, but it's downright repulsive to movie lovers of any stripe. I think my fourth grade class was more convincing in our Christmas play.



Mark Shea writes:

Inexplicably to me, my neighbor went and got a hammer and brandished it, threatening to beat my head in with it.  He set fire to the sofa I was sitting on, ululating loudly that he wanted me to leave or his god would destroy me and all I love.

I naturally concluded that we are close friends and that I needed to bring my furniture over, as well as a lot of my extended relations, and move into his house.  He is currently out in the driveway setting fire to my car, as well as calling lots of his friends and sending them to the houses of my relations, to set fire to them.  Oh that silly childlike neighbor of mine and his inexplicable mood swings.  Really we are the best of friends.  I don’t see a reason in the world to ever leave his house.  And I think I know what’s best for both of us.  Some people are saying I should just leave his house, take my family, friends and our stuff and go back to my house.  That’s crazy talk.  An enemy is just a friend who wants to kill me.

Some will say, “We have to stay and fight because this is Al-Quaeda!”  I reply, “If this is nothing but Al-Quaeda, now massing crowds in 20 countries then all that stuff we’ve been hearing for years about how we’ve got ‘em on the run and totally decimated their ranks is seriously amiss.”  If, as I think, this is a popular uprising that stretches far beyond the alleged thinned-out ranks of Al Quaeda, then the obvious question is, “How many people in foreign countries have to scream, ‘Get out!’ before we say, ‘It’s your country.  Goodbye.’ and leave.”
We’re 16 trillion in debt.  Time to shrink the Empire.  They don’t want us there.  So why be there?

Ahmed Younis writes:

 When you burn the American flag you burn my flesh. When you speak ill of the Prophets of God, you stab me in the eye.

... We all come to these scenarios from our own life experiences and with all of the information we gather in life to learn to cope with such situation.

Since I was a young man of 15, I’ve been deeply engaged in the situation of Muslim Americans sociologically. The beautiful colors of identity and faith that make up the most diverse religious group of America serves as the core of my personal identity. As an American of Egyptian heritage who chooses Islam as a faith, I once again find myself with a bleeding blind eye and singed flesh on my bones.

I’ve come to find great sadness, not comfort, when resorting to scripture to ameliorate my aches and intellectual dissonance. I have recited so much the Quranic verses about how the killing of an innocent life is like the killing of all of humanity and how it is impermissible to use tactics that are forbidden by Islam to defend the honor of God and his Prophets, that these verses are committed to memory.

I think of the Prophet Muhammad worrying about the absence of trash and filth at his doorstep because it indicated the woman abusing him might be sick and in need of support. The same Prophet that forbade any violent reaction by esteemed companions when a man urinated inside his mosque in his presence to offend him.

For a movie that no one would have otherwise seen, people who claim to follow this Prophet desecrated the honor of a whole nation and tarnished the greatness of our faith. Surely I am not surprised that people who claim to follow a faith can let their banal human emotive reactions to instigation sway them toward injustice. I just hoped my people, having read those specific words in the Quran, would not be among them. This wasn’t the case.

 What frustrates me the most is the confusion I see on all ends... 
 From PBS Newshour:



A Prayer for Peace & Justice:

Eternal God, in whom the whole family of earth is one, breathe your spirit into our hearts that we may establish a global community of trust and fellowship, justice and peace.  Illumine the darkness of our minds that we may see your light, think your thoughts, and serve your glory by advancing the greater good of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Reform, O God, the passions and designs of our hearts.  Let your steady hand guide the nations, and bring forth out of our discord a harmony more perfect than we can conceive – a new humility, a new understanding, a new purity and sincerity, a new sense of truth, and a new hunger and thirst for your love to rule the earth.  Amen.
Grant, O God, that our President and leaders may approach every question of foreign policy from your point of view, that their noblest thoughts may be purified and strengthened.  Help us check in ourselves and in others every temper which makes for violence, and all promptings of self-assertion, isolation, and arrogance, that we may understand the aspirations of other countries, and may gladly do what lies in us to remove every misunderstanding, thus serving the welfare of all people.  Amen.
 Amen, indeed!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I walk the line.


Over at The Church of No People, the ever-brilliant Matt explains why being a political moderate is not a position of acquiescence or of being milquetoast. Also, I have no idea why I'm using SAT words before 9AM, but my Keurig brewed iced mocha coconut coffee is supreme. Anyway:

On Monday, Matthew Paul Turner (you may know him from Jesus Needs New PR) made a political confession:

He hates Christian moderates.

He thinks they’re wishy-washy and they don’t know what they believe.  Or they just want people to know what they don’t believe.  Or they are just hanging out in moderate land before returning to familiar ground on the election.  They parrot talking points without having an original thought.
I have to agree.  That kind of “moderate” would make me want to judo chop him right in his moderate bone (the ossicle).

But I’d like to give a playful, but serious response, because I consider myself a moderate…
…a very extreme moderate.  I’m the most closed minded moderate I know, in fact.  I hope you’re ready because I’m about to open a whole can of moderation on your sorry faces.

I Don’t Ride Fences…I Plow Into Them

That’s right, when it comes to moderation, I am the most extreme moderate I know of.  When it comes to riding a fence, I blast through the fence with a bulldozer.
Because to me, being a milquetoast moderate is completely missing the point.
Being “undecided” in my mind means not knowing whether you’d rather have me punch you in the stomach or the kidneys.
Not having an opinion means you just don’t have the mental capacity for logical thought processes.  I’d rather you be dead wrong than undecided.  At least I can have a debate with someone who’s wrong.
Okay, I’m kind of kidding about all this.  But really, being a moderate in no way means that I don’t have an opinion.

When A and B Both Miss the Point

To me, moderation is not about riding fences or being “in the middle.”  It’s not about bringing both sides together for hand holding and compromise.  It’s not about being “purple” in the fight between red and blue.
To me, being a moderate is an entirely third party.  What’s a color that hasn’t been ruined yet?  Orange?  Is orange being used by a fringe party?  I don’t know, but if it’s not, get ready for a blast of righteous orange indignation to your eyeballs.
Being a moderate is not finding the “middle” between A and B.  It’s about saying that A and B both miss the point in so
me way.  When A is band and B is worse, a compromise between the two is not anything better.  So a moderate, at least a real one, isn’t going to compromise.  He’s going to get some backbone and say to A and B “you’re both wrong!”

proud-to-be-moderate-at-what-other-political-rally-would-you-ever-see-this

Read the rest of this marvelous post here. I can totally agree with Matt. And more and more, those close to me are disagreeing with my moderate views. I get it. I'm not easily typed. I can't be smooshed into some box. Although, I don't think anyone should be put into boxes or divided into left and right- unless they want to be.

I'm reminded of my three year old self being yelled at by my preschool teacher to stop writing... well, coloring, with both hands. "Use your right hand!"

I was confused. Weren't both my hands equally "right"? Why was the left automatically "wrong"? At any rate, Miss Rose's complaints succeeded, and my ambidexterity was obliterated by  1986.

On Facebook, things have become so crazy politically with angry stat updates about the war on women, terrorism and cable news shows, I feel like ducking for cover. I've raised the ire of some friends just be admitting I'm ambivalent about either Romney or Obama. I'm thinking I'm going to have to take a cue from Deborah Plummer and just stay away until after the election:

"Unfortunately, a powerful tool for social exchange serves as yet another forum for partisan politics. I realize that politics have a long history of being divisive, and conversations about politics among family and friends have often been characterized as uncivil. We are socialized to never discuss politics as proper etiquette. And absent controlled classroom discussions most of us, especially as adults, lack any kind of forum to develop and practice the critical thinking skills that are so necessary to understand the complexity of today's governance issues. As a result, we operate out of a flat intelligence that reduces complex political issues to sound bites swallowed whole and spewed out like stimulus-response actions of Pavlov's dog. We then believe that political parities are monolithic and demonize those of the opposing party. And this display of flat intelligence plays out on Facebook. No surprise.

Sadly, another public forum where the full benefits of diversity of thought and expression could be realized are not realized... even among friends."

Yup. I guess my extremely moderate self will soon be singing "Gone till November" as if I were Wyclef, circa 1998. 


A little more about Jesus & the Syrophoenician Woman


After mass on Sunday, I spoke with my pastor, Father Ros, about the story of the Syrophoenician woman and also the blog post I had read that portrayed Jesus in a racist light. He rolled his eyes and asked me to please forward the post to me. By the way, my pastor is a blunt, to the point Dominican dude who use to pastor in the Bronx. I love his straightforwardness and his eyerolls.

He sent me back a few links in response, so I figured I'd share them with you all.

From Lectionary.org:

"We are shocked at Jesus' response.  "Let the children be filled first, for it is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs" (v. 27).  This is one of the most troubling verses in the New Testament. 

Some scholars try to soften Jesus' words, suggesting that this is a well-known proverb that would not sound so harsh in context -- or that the diminutive, kynarion, refers to household pets, implying an affectionate tone.  However, we cannot validate this saying as a common proverb, and it is exclusionary in any event.  Jesus clearly feels it necessary to focus his mission on the Jews.  The time will come when Gentiles will be welcome in the church, but the time is not yet. 

"But she answered him, 'Yes, Lord. Yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.'" (v. 28).  It is a good answer -- a soft answer with a sharp edge.   The woman acknowledges the special place of the Jews, calls attention to her own need, and turns Jesus' words to press her plea.  The kynarion -- pets indeed -- are part of the household and are not excluded from the master's care. 

"He said to her, "For this saying, go your way. The demon has gone out of your daughter."
She went away to her house, and found the child having been laid on the bed, with the demon gone out. (vv. 29-30).  

This woman serves as an example of persistent prayer that refuses to be discouraged when the prayer is not immediately answered.  She provides us with a model for engaging God fully and passionately in prayer rather than simply reciting rote prayers or a laundry list of our needs. 

The woman also provides a stark contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who challenged Jesus in the preceding story (7:1-23).  They had opportunity to see (or at least to hear about) the Feeding of the Five Thousand (6:30-44) and the healing of the sick in Gennesaret (6:53-56), but they chose to look only for ways to find fault with Jesus and his disciples (7:1-23)."

From Christ's Notes:

"Christ never put any from him that fell at his feet, which a poor trembling soul may do. As she was a good woman, so a good mother. This sent her to Christ. His saying, Let the children first be filled, shows that there was mercy for the Gentiles, and not far off. She spoke, not as making light of the mercy, but magnifying the abundance of miraculous cures among the Jews, in comparison with which a single cure was but as a crumb. Thus, while proud Pharisees are left by the blessed Saviour, he manifests his compassion to poor humbled sinners, who look to him for children's bread. He still goes about to seek and save the lost."

And some info on Phoenicia from Wikipedia. So, does anyone out there want to take a stab at this admittedly "hard" bit of Scripture? If so, comment away!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"The Notebook" Director Says Incest is Okay


From CBS Las Vegas:

A top Hollywood director finds it acceptable for people to commit incest.

In an interview with The Wrap, director Nick Cassavetes believes no one should judge a brother and sister being with each other if they are in love.

“I’m not saying this is an absolute but in a way, if you’re not having kids – who gives a damn? Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want?” Cassavetes told The Wrap. “If it’s your brother or sister it’s super-weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.”

Cassavetes added that he does not have experience with incest.

The comments come after he unveiled his latest movie “Yellow” – in which a woman had an incestuous affair with her brother that is in prison – at the Toronto Film Festival. The movie does not yet have a distributor in the states.

Cassavetes also directed “Alpha Dog” and “The Notebook.”

"Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want?" Wow, that's the first time I've heard someone in the pro-Gay marriage camp link it with incest... in what he thinks is a positive way. Actually sounds like the "slippery slope" argument used by many advocates of the Traditional Family...

H/T: Catholic & Enjoyin' It!

Splits & Schisms

 Me after the 8AM service on Sunday. All these pics are of my church, taken by me.


Despite being Unapologetically Episcopalian... well, liking it on Facebook, I've been feeling something like sorrow for the denomination to which my church belongs. It seems every other day there's yet another story about it's decreasing numbers and entire parishes breaking off to become Roman Catholic or join up with other theologically conservative Anglican communities.

And little by little, I've been feeling out of step, too. There was the little devotional that left me at a loss for words. Then there was this post based off of last Sunday's Liturgical Gospel Readings. It was written by David Henson who is currently undergoing training to become a priest. Here's an excerpt:

"Was Jesus a racist?
This might be an uncomfortable question for Christians to ask, but, given this week’s lectionary text, I think it’s one we must ask. And we must ask it unvarnished.
Our immediate response likely is, “Of course not! Jesus couldn’t possibly have been racist!” But Jesus’ exchange with the Syrophoenician woman seems to tell a different story. In it, Jesus calls the woman, who was desperate for a miracle for her child, a dog, a dehumanizing ethnic slur common at the time. No matter what theological tap dance we might create to avoid this uncomfortable truth, eventually, we have to face this stark truth.
Jesus uttered a racial slur.
Part of the difficulty of this passage is that as Christians, we want Jesus to be the simple, easy answer to all our problems and to all of society’s problems. When faced with the complexities of personal and institutional racism, it is much easier to think of Jesus as transcending them all and loving all peoples regardless of skin color or culture of origin.
After all, that’s what our children’s song teaches us. Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight.
But what of the little dogs? Does Jesus love them too?
The difficulty of this passage particularly for white Christians is that we want Jesus to be colorblind. We want Jesus to be colorblind because that’s what we want to be or think we should be. But, in truth, at least in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is anything but colorblind. In fact, rather than being part of the solution to racism or ethnic prejudice, Jesus seems to be very much part of the problem, according to this story.
So what does it mean, exactly, that the Son of God, the Incarnation, the Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, utters a racial slur?
Because that is exactly what Jesus does in his exchange with the Syrophoenician woman. When confronted with the gentile pagan in this story, he explains that his message and ministry are for Israelites only, a comment of ethnic exclusion and prejudice that calls to mind a similar refrain – whites only – that reverberated throughout the South not too long ago.
It wouldn’t be fair, Jesus explains, to take the banquet prepared for his people – the children, the humans – and give it to gentiles – the dogs, the less than human."

In my 14 years of Christian school, and lifetime of attending various churches, I've never heard of such an interpretation of Mark 7:24-37. I never even thought of it in such a way. I think there is a real danger in juxataposing 21st Century Western sociological issues onto Scripture.


I'm not the only one feeling alien. I read an unintentionally (?) funny post on HuffPo by Christina Pesoli. She feels so out of sorts with the Roman Catholic Church she wants a major schism.

"For decades I prayed that the Catholic Church would evolve, but not anymore. Now I'm holding out for a schism, instead. We'll be the Social Justice Catholic Church and they can be the Conservative Catholic Church.
We'll take Melinda Gates, Stephen Colbert, all of the Kennedys, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, John Kerry and, yes (because we have a sense of humor), even Joe Biden. Oh, and for edgy vibe, we'll take Jack White. The Conservative Catholics can have Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan and Justice Antonin Scalia.
In the Social Justice Catholic Church, there will be no more of this nonsense over contraception. Once we've put that non-issue to rest, we'll be freed up to tackle other non-issues, too -- like marriage and gender equality.
In the Social Justice Catholic Church, everyone will be treated equally -- men, women, gay or straight. And everyone will be allowed to marry, even priests. And speaking of priests, no one will be disqualified from being one based on gender or sexual orientation. Priest shortage? What priest shortage?
So, what makes the Social Justice Catholic Church different from any other inclusive and reasonable church, like the Unitarian Church, for example? Two thousand years' worth of rituals and a treasure trove of accessories, that's what. We're keeping all of the cool incense burners, water-sprinkler thingies, holy days, saints and sacraments. Oh, and the wine. We're definitely keeping the wine"
Geez, I'm not even Catholic and I'm shaking my head. By the way, I wrote it was perhaps unintentionally funny because what Pesoli is advocating for kind of started happening back in the 1500's. It was called The Reformation. Martin Luther and John Calvin... Ring any bells? At any rate, she might be more at home in the Episcopal Church. No need for some major theological battle. And we've got "cool incense burners, water-sprinkler thingies, holy days, saints and sacraments", too. Oh, and we've got wine.

See, we've got wine! No Welch's here!

My thoughts about Pesoli are echoed in advice by Ellen Painter Dollar to Rachel Held Evans. Dollar, also an Episcopalian, advises Evans, an Evangelical who is feeling at odds with those like Mark Driscoll and John Piper, to simply leave for a mainline church.

"While I am sympathetic to those who wish to bring reforms, of feminist and other natures, to the evangelical movement, I also want to remind those who are fed up with how women and their voices are welcomed (or not) in evangelical churches, publications, and conversations that there are many churches (that is, movements, denominations, and congregations) where women and other marginalized groups (such as LGBT Christians) don’t have to fight for respect, equality, and a voice. I think many frustrated evangelicals would be amazed (and breathe some huge sighs of relief) to discover that issues that are hot within their circles are non-issues for many other dedicated Christians. And that Christians of an evangelical bent can find a home alongside those other dedicated Christians, even in communities that don’t define themselves overtly as “evangelical.”
 ...  many American Christians are living a lively faith within vibrant faith communities, without having to argue for full inclusion and respect for all people, and without having to navigate many of the gender-related controversies that occupy evangelicals.

If you are fed up with churches in which all you have to do to be controversial is to be a woman who speaks her mind, I invite you to find a different church.

Contrary to some stereotypes, mainline American churches are not repositories of chilly, rote religion practiced by people more interested in tradition than the movement of the Spirit....

... What could be more radical within a traditional Christian community than welcoming those who are unsure of how far they want to commit to this Christianity thing?

Sometimes I miss the energetic, informal worship and easy Jesus talk of my evangelical college fellowship. But I’ve gladly traded those things for a church where the Jesus talk is a little more subdued, but no less vital, and where the gender (or sexual orientation, for that matter) of those doing the talking matters not at all."

Sounds like Pesoli would REALLY like her church.

Maybe there will be a schism, though. Not a Eastern Orthodox vs. Roman Catholic or Roman Catholic vs. Protestant, but a Traditional vs. Liberal.

Sigh. So much for that whole "we are one in Christ" teaching.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On 9/11



I wanted to share this from Mark Shea.

"This September 11 I am foregoing the flags and the Empire and the police state and the jingoism and the eagles and the exploitation of politicians and I am praying for us to search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord. I will thank God for the unbelievable courage of the first responders who lay down their lives like Christ. I will pray for the victims. I will pray for forgiveness for the monsters who did it. I will pray for the troops who, in good faith and noble love of country, went to defend us from future attacks.

And I will pray for forgiveness for the Ruling Class who have cynically exploited all that shock and suffering to enrich themselves, to treat our troops with contempt, to oversee the death of thousands of innocents, and with firm and measured pace, to proceed to enslave us. They will have a heavy reckoning in the Great Assizes and will need every prayer of mercy they can get.

But above all, today I will pray in thanksgiving to Jesus Christ crucified, who can take the worst thing in the world–his own monstrously unjust murder–and turn it to mercy for a race such as ours. If he can do it with that, he can surely do it with the tragedy of September 11. May all who died that day find light, mercy, peace and never-ending joy. And may we who mourn them someday laugh with them at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, when all tears will be dried and the terrorist will be remembered only as a figure of fun like Rabadash the Ridiculous."

Friends For... Now



About a week ago, I stood in my friend Naomi's nearly empty dining room, stuttering and sobbing out a tearful goodbye. K was outside helping her husband and the other guys haul their belongings into the rented U-haul. Our daughters were sitting on the carpeted living room floor playing.

I thought back to five years before when I came over there for a scrap booking party. We were both single professional working girls living on our own for the first time. We went to the same church, were the same age, had both grown up Pentecostal and lived two minutes away from each other in the same city. She was like my long lost White sister from another mister.

And she was leaving me for Pennsylvania.

What made this departure especially hurtful was it also was the latest in a long string of friends and family high tailing out of Jersey. In the last five years, despite Governor Chris Christie's claims of a great Garden State, many of those closest to me have left for Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, California and even straight out the country.

Now, at age thirty, I've been left wondering, "Why don't I have friends? And am I too old and stuck in my ways to make more?"



Yesterday, in seemingly divine timing, I came across this article at the Her•menutics blog by Enuma Okoro. She describes meeting a woman at a writers conference and immediately clicking with her.

"Ruby and I had so much in common, it was eerie. We could have talked for hours as though we were old college girlfriends. There was no question we would exchange information and really hoped to remain in touch. But we also simply had not had enough time together to pretend that a long-distance friendship would follow suit. And yet, it was an enriching couple of hours in which we both felt met by God in one another’s presence. In sharing the gifts and the challenges of our current life stages, we both felt seen anew and reaffirmed in our unique strengths and passions.

Two weeks after my encounter with Ruby, I read an article in The New York Times about the challenge of making friends after age 30. The writer, Alex Williams, makes several valid points about the difficulty various life seasons can bring to how we cultivate new friendships and maintain old ones. But though I could relate to a number of his points, I didn’t agree with his rather depressing conclusion, that “No matter how many friends you make . . . the period for making BFFs, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.”


Yes, the challenge of nurturing friendships when folks move away, couple up, or have babies can be frustrating and at times painful. But as a busy woman in my 30s, I am not looking for the kinds of friendships I had in college or in my 20s, anyway. I am not looking to make new BFFs. I am more invested in the hard work of deepening the old friendships that have seen me through the awkward and beautiful seasons of life. Meeting Ruby is one example of how I am learning to embrace the reality of a shrinking community of friends with the ongoing appreciation that I will probably continue to meet people I’d love to befriend if I had multiple lifetimes. But the reality is, I have just this one. And in this lifetime, I have learned that long-term friendships do require time and effort and commitment.

... In truth, my “Best Friend Forever” is really a conglomerate of amazing friends who nourish my life in essential ways. This is not to deny the difficulties of friendships. Through at times uncomfortable experiences, I’ve realized that some friendships are seasonal, and I continually seek to discern when that is the case. Like anything else, if we try to grasp onto something beyond its season, we often do more harm than good. Certain friendships fall into this category. And as I reflect more and more, I realize I desire to be viewed as one of a handful of deep friends within my social community. I could not bear the unrealistic burden of being any one’s sole BFF.

... We all need people in our lives who help point us toward Christ, and toward living into the fullness of whom God has created us to be. More times than not, the issue at hand is not whether you continue to make new BFFs, but rather how we open our lives, our schedules, and our imaginations to call all varieties of people “friend” as God calls us the same."

Much truth there. And thank God for Facebook, Skype and FaceTime. :-)

I got a shout out!

Thanks to Erin for passing on the link to Rod Dreher. And of course, thanks to Rod for the shout out. And maybe my taking offense was a female thing. Or maybe it was all the corny use of hip hop references. Or all of it. :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kim K & Church



Based on receiving just one comment on the "Why do you go to church?" post, either you all aren't going (like an ever growing number of Americans) or you don't feel like talking about it.

One ├╝ber famous who does is none other than Kim Kardashian, who recently made headlines when she tweeted about getting in a little God time. Turns out, there's more to the story than that. From Faith Goes Pop:

"Mom Kris Jenner has talked a lot about being a Christian and taking her kids to church. Talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford, once of Kris’ best friends and the godmother of Kylie and Kendall Jenner, says that the two of them often talk about their faith. Whenever Kim needs an image boost or some good PR, she makes sure to get photographed coming out of a church (including that one time with LeAnn Rimes). The church in question is Life Change Community Church in Agoura Hills, CA. The church has two founders – a public one (Pastor Brad Johnson, who leads services there) and a private-ish one (Kris Jenner). Kris often shouts out Brad on social media, including linking to the Amazon page for his book on her blog for Celebuzz.com.

Lately, Kim is in a new relationship with Kanye West and is trying to give herself an image makeover. On a recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kanye threw out all of Kim’s clothes and bought her new ones that better reflected the style he likes. But those clothes didn’t go into the trash or Goodwill donation box. Instead, they’re being auctioned off on eBay, with a portion of proceeds going to a charity. And that charity is none other than Life Change Community Church. In other words, it’s pretty likely that Kris Jenner – and, by extension, Kim Kardashian – will be “donating” that money right back into their own coffers. I wonder what Pastor Brad thinks about the Prosperity Gospel."

Boo.



In what appeared to be a made for Fox News spin moment, at the Democratic National Convention last week, delegates booed God. Or Jerusalem. Or both. Which really doesn't matter to many conservative Evangelicals, because to be against either is anathema.

So here's a rundown of the story from various POVs from across the web:

From The Christian Post:
"Political analysts tracking the mood of minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos, especially those within the church community, say the Democrats did themselves no favor when it came to matters of faith during the national convention.

Black and Latino Christians have been put in a difficult position over the DNC platform, according to several stories posted at BCNN1.com, an online site "dedicated to reporting breaking news from a black, Christian perspective for the glory of God."

... "My message is this could cost us our election," said Fernando Cabrera, a New York pastor and a city council member from the Bronx. "I see myself as a reformer, and I'm hoping that we can put enough pressure (on the party). And as you know one of the biggest issues is gay marriage."
As was first reported by CBN News, Cabrera believes a pro-life stance and support of traditional marriage are views that members of the Latino and other minority communities hold high."

From Catholic Culture:

"... The boos from the floor were aimed at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was running the convention at the time, and asked for three separate voice votes on the amendment that restored a mention of God. On the 3rd vote, Villaigosa ruled that the “Ayes” had won—by a two-thirds majority.

That ruling from the chair was an obvious abuse of power. It was impossible to say, simply from the volume of voices, whether the “Ayes” outnumbered the “Nays.” To assert that the “Ayes” predominated by a 2-to-1 margin was simply absurd. Quite understandably, many delegates objected to the ruling. So their boos were aimed at Villaraigosa, not at God.

But it’s not quite that simple. This vote didn’t occur in a vacuum. In drafting the original platform, Democratic leaders had removed references to God (and to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel). They didn’t merely forget to mention God; in updating previous party platforms, they made a conscious decision to remove Him. When that decision was brought to the attention of ordinary American voters, outside the orbit of the Democratic Party apparatchiks, it was unpopular. It didn’t play in Peoria. Belatedly, the Democratic leaders realized that they should put God back in the picture. So an amendment to the platform was place on the convention’s agenda.

And here’s where things get interesting: That amendment was controversial! Quite a few delegates opposed the mention of God. Some, no doubt, were primarily concerned about the mention of Jerusalem. Party leaders might have simplified matters by introducing two separate amendments: one to restore a mention of God, the other to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But that tactic would not have suited the purposes of the party strategists. They didn’t want an open debate on God (or on Jersualem) during the convention. They didn’t want to give American voters the opportunity to see just how radical the Democratic party has become. They wanted the amendment approved quickly."

Jake Tapper, of ABC News, wrote:

"GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Wednesday that taking the word "God" out of the Democratic platform proved that the party is "veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize."

After Wednesday's voice vote, Romney's spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that the vote was "unclear" and called on "President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel's capital," which Saul claimed Obama had not done.

Romney's vice presidential runningmate, Paul Ryan, said Wednesday that the omission of God in the DNC platform was "rather peculiar" and "is not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision."

But the word "God" does not appear in the Constitution and is printed only once in the Declaration of Independence, which states "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle" people. The Declaration of Independence also mentions the "Creator."

 


Wintery Knight wrote simply:

"Democrats support abortion and gay marriage. And they haven’t done enough to protect Israel from Iran. But they have to pretend that they are moral people and good allies of Israel in order to get elected, even if their hearts are elsewhere. I understand that."
From Dustin Stockton:

"After three votes, where the vocal votes from delegates were obviously half-yes and half-no, Mayor Villaraigosa, despite needing a two-thirds majority, ruled to include the amendments and the crowd showed their immense displeasure with “boos” and other jeers.

I honestly don’t know which is worse: that the crowd “booed,” or that the Democrats had to pull some Chicago-style politics to get God His honorable mention."
From The New Republic:

"Here is a fact: the 2008 Democratic platform contained a reference to God, as in “We need a government that…gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.” The 2012 Democratic platform does not contain that line.

Here’s another fact: the 2012 Democratic platform dropped another sentence from the 2008 version. That sentence? “We will ensure that public funds are not used to proselytize or discriminate.” It refers to the Bush-era policy, which President Obama has continued, of allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate when hiring employees using federal funds. Most religious conservatives fiercely support that policy (although they do so now silently) on the grounds that it protects the freedom of religious institutions.

Fact: this second and actually substantive omission has not been mentioned by any of the conservatives gleefully accusing Democrats of banishing God. Nor was it reported by David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, who has been busy promoting his “exclusive” about the disappearance of the phrase “God-given.”

Rachel Held Evans wrote:

"Now, I’m a Christian, who loves Jesus and who hopes to honor God with my life, but frankly, after hearing about 100 “God bless Americas” shouted between the two conventions, and dozens of biblical references dropped by both parties, I was just fine with seeing God’s name removed from yet another piece of political propaganda.

Because God is not a flag pin.

God is not a beam in a political platform.

God’s name is not something to use to score political points. It's not something to throw around lightly or to use as a weapon against a political opponent.

As Christians, we need not be threatened by alterations to the wording of a political platform because we don’t measure Kingdom growth by where we find God’s name, but by where we find God’s presence. And no political party has a monopoly on that."

Where do you stand on this? Massively wrong or meh? For non-Christians or non-theists, what's your opinion?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gawking at pedophilia


                                                                          (Source)


In this highly divided political atmosphere, it turns out there is at least one topic that will bring liberals and conservatives together: a very real and visceral disgust for pedophilia.

Across the interwebs, bloggers are revolting over a highly disturbing Gawker piece on pedophiles by Cord Jefferson. In it, he attempts to make the case that pedophilia should be viewed and treated as a sexual orientation like heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Rod Dreher of The American Conservative wrote:

"Jefferson’s essay begins with an account by “Terry,” a pederast who talks about how he lured his seven year old niece into a situation in which he nearly raped her. Jefferson ends his essay this way:

The old adage is that the true mark of a society is how it treats the weakest in its ranks. Blacks, women, Latinos, gays and lesbians, and others are still in no way on wholly equal footing in America. But they’re also not nearly as lowly and cursed as men attracted to children. One imagines that if Jesus ever came to Earth, he’d embrace the poor, the blind, the lepers, and, yes, the pedophiles. As a self-professed “progressive,” when I think of the world I’d like to live in, I like to imagine that one day I’d be OK with a man like Terry moving next door to me and my children. I like to think that I could welcome him in for dinner, break bread with him, and offer him the same blessings he’s offered me time and again. And what hurts to admit, even knowing all I know now, is that I’m not positive I could do that.

This “hurts” to admit? Really? I’d say Jefferson’s compassion and cultural politics are swamping his common sense."
On the other end of the poltical spectrum, Christian and feminist blogger Dianne Anderson goes much farther, ripping Jefferson a new one. Referring to that same disgusting opening, she wrote:

"The opening sequence of the article is even worse. It describes a man who groomed and then assaulted his seven year old niece. In excruciating, awful, detail.

I don’t know how it doesn’t violate child pornography laws. At best, the description – purposefully written to be a “hook” into the article – is unnecessary. At worst, it legitimizes and blurs the line between mere descriptive journalism and actual pornography. There is enough there that a child rapist could probably, well…let’s not go there.

Not only that, but I cannot emphasize it enough: the story of the victimization of a child is not the rapist’s story to tell. He doesn’t get to delight in the gory details of his crime again. Giving him such an audience is sick and twisted. Despite his victim not being named, the rapist is, and it gives enough details to know the current age of the person in question. It is not his story to tell, but hers. Telling someone’s story like that – especially the story of an assault as a child– without consent or comment from the victim is WRONG.

Cord Jefferson, I don’t give a rat’s ass if you think it’s “catchy journalism.” Your lede is fundamentally wrong.

I understand the desire to write such an article. What happens to pedophiles in the prison system can often be horrific (the prevalence of rape within the prison system itself is highly, highly disturbing). Yes, the prison system is broken. We can and should talk about the ways in which the prison system fails to rehabilitate and protect the lives of its prisoners. I get that. I understand that this is probably what Jefferson was going for.

But that is not the article he produced.

Instead, he wrote an article that minimizes the crimes of child rapists, erases their victims almost entirely, and produces utterly fallacious analogies ( a pedophile is not like an alcoholic – if an alcoholic relapses, he doesn’t RAPE CHILDREN). It proposes that child rapists face an intolerance for their “sexual orientation,” and that having a “taboo” on their thoughts is part of the problem.

There’s a reason some things are taboo and should remain so – the urge to rape children is not one that needs to be legitimized."
In full disclosure, I haven't read the whole thing. What I did read was so stomach churning, I had to quit. Even for Gawker, which thrives off page clicks to earn money guaranteeing a steady flow of smut, this is low. I'll probably pass on finishing it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I guess we all look alike...

...at least to New York's ABC7 Eyewitness News. Epic fail.

You might be a middle aged white guy into Rap, but you are no Rick Rubin.

In an attempt to read articles longer and more substantive than the ones on the average blog, I've been scouring The Atlantic, The American Conservative, Vanity Fair and Time. Some of the stuff was good, while others, meh. But then I came upon this. This... this horrible, unfunny smash up of faux-sociology, hip hop terminology, misogyny and Republicanism, courtesy of The National Review:

"You want off-the-charts status? Check out the curriculum vitae of one Willard M. Romney: $200 million in the bank (and a hell of a lot more if he didn’t give so much away), apex alpha executive, CEO, chairman of the board, governor, bishop, boss of everything he’s ever touched. Son of the same, father of more. It is a curious scientific fact (explained in evolutionary biology by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis — Willard, notice) that high-status animals tend to have more male offspring than female offspring, which holds true across many species, from red deer to mink to Homo sap. The offspring of rich families are statistically biased in favor of sons — the children of the general population are 51 percent male and 49 percent female, but the children of the Forbes billionaire list are 60 percent male. Have a gander at that Romney family picture: five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes."
I'm no slave to political correctness and do not catch the vapors over sexist jokes. I like off color comedy. I have seen roughly every episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm", and Leon has become my favorite character. And if you've watched just one episode featuring this dude, I'm sure you understand why I'm using it as an example. My point is, I'm not easily taken aback by satirical pokes at popular culture, whether it's about race, religion, sex, politics or whatever.

But that up there? Not only is it actually offensive, it's not even funny. I actually re-read it repeatedly, thinking maybe I was missing something. After the third go round, I realized it was missing a whole lot. Wit, common sense and an editor to stop the madness. Think I protest too much? Here's more:

"From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote. You can insert your own Mormon polygamy joke here, but the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs. Saleh al-Rajhi, billionaire banker, left behind 61 children when he cashed out last year.

We don’t do harems here, of course, but Romney is exactly the kind of guy who in another time and place would have the option of maintaining one. He’s a boss. Given that we are no longer roaming the veldt for the most part, money is a reasonable stand-in for social status. Romney’s net worth is more than that of the last eight U.S. presidents combined. He set up a trust for his grandkids and kicked in about seven times Barack Obama’s net worth, which at $11.8 million is not inconsiderable but probably less than Romney’s tax bill in a good year. If he hadn’t given away so much money to his church, charities, and grandkids, Mitt Romney would have more money than Jay-Z."
The writer, Kevin D. Williamson, uses "boss" more than Rick Ross. Combined with the mention of Jay-Z, I'm wondering if this dude caught a piece of "106 & Park" and thought it gave him some street cred. Or permission for the ubiquitous use of hip hop terms in a cover story in a once renowned right wing publication. It gives neither.

"Some Occupy Wall Street types, believing it to be the height of wit, have begun to spell Romney’s name “Rmoney.” But Romney can do better than that — put it in all caps: R-MONEY. Jay-Z can keep his puny little lowercase letters and the Maybach: R-MONEY doesn’t own a flashy car with rims, R-MONEY does billion-dollar deals with Keystone Automotive and Delphi. You want to make it rain? R-MONEY is going to make it storm, like biblical. Rappers boast about their fat stacks: R-MONEY’s fat stacks live in a beachfront house of their own in the Hamptons, and the bricks in that house are made from tightly bound hundred-dollar bills."
On further thought, maybe Williamson doesn't really want Romney in the Oval Office. He can't. Not with that paragraph.

"Bain is a financial firm, but Romney wasn’t some Wall Street bank-monkey with a pitch book. He was the guy who fired you. He was a boss, like his dad, and like his sons probably will be. Barack Obama was never in charge of anything of any significance until the delicate geniuses who make up the electorate of this fine republic handed him the keys to the Treasury and the nuclear football because we were tired of Frenchmen sneering at us when we went on vacation."

Again, references to the almighty power of the inherited Y chromosome. And "boss". And a passing insult at voters. Niiiiice.

"Look at his fat stacks. Look at that mess of sons and grandchildren. Look at a picture of Ann Romney on her wedding day and that cocky smirk on his face. What exactly has Mitt Romney got to be insecure about? That he’s not as prodigious a patriarch as Ramses II or as rich as >Lakshmi Mittal? I bet he sleeps at night and never worries about that. He has done everything right in life, and he should own it. And by own it, I mean put it on the black card and stow it in the G6 — or at least in first class, for Pete’s sake."
Oh yes, because fat stacks and siring boys are the necessary prerequisites for Commander-in-Chief. *Eyeroll*

I hope for the integrity(?) of The National Review, Williamson stays far, far away from BET, Vibe or whatever bit of urban media he's been imbibing on and learns the difference between misogynistic crass and comedic class.

I guess I'll be sticking to my regular blogs.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

[Insert Name] is President, but Jesus is Lord

Just read an awesome post by Karen Spears Zacharias and I have to share part of it here:

"If listening to talk radio doesn’t make you reach for the bottle of anti-anxiety script, you might want to check your pulse. Perhaps you are already in a coma?

I’m not going to name any hosts names because this really isn’t a partisan thing. A talking head is a talking head and they err on all sides of the political spectrum.

The host of the show I heard on Tuesday’s drive baited his audience with this question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

The overwhelming majority of callers said that they were much worse off than they had ever been in their lifetimes. Fear was the primary emotion among the callers. Oddly enough the other thing they almost unanimously agreed upon was a trust and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apparently that trust didn’t give them much hope, however, because nearly every caller spoke to the horrible conditions of this country and its citizens.

The host always asked them why they thought they were so much worse off. Here’s a few of their answers:

- We are worse off because of our debt and you know who is responsible for the debt crisis? NASA, that’s who. Get rid of NASA and we’d have enough money to pay off our national debt and feed all the people of the world.
- We are worse off because we have a president who supports same sex marriage. I have a friend in the Marines. He said that when he first joined that it was illegal to be gay and in the military. Then we went to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Then we made it legal to be gay and in the military. He says he’s getting out before they make being gay mandatory.
- We are worse off because of the dumbing down of America’s schools. I mean when a kid gets grilled because his name is Hunter.
- We are worse off because we have an evil Muslim in the White House. It really scares me because he is allowing all these Muslims in the country under false pretenses. The U.S. is the largest Muslim country in the world. It won’t be long before they rise up and begin to fight us from within our own country.
- We are much worse off because we are no longer a Christian nation. We need to get back to our roots of trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, that’s for dang sure.

Because I’ll tell you the whole time I listened to these callers, bless their troubled hearts, all I could think of was exactly what was it their faith offered them?

More despair than hope.
More worry than peace.
More fear than faith.
More self-righteousness than grace.

Listening to the people who sit around listening to talk radio made my own heart quiver.

How in the world can anyone think being a person of faith is a good idea when people like this, bless their trouble hearts, carry on in such a negative, anxiety-ridden fashion?

If Jesus is really our Lord, does it really matter much who our president is? I mean when it comes to our own personal peace and hope and such?"
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear NBC



Dear NBC,

I'm writing you this letter because I'm very concerned. Over the last few days, I've been re-watching the past three seasons of "Community". I've laughed watching Britta, Abed, Troy, Annie, Pierce, Shirley and Jeff grown into their characters.

Britta has gone from being all kinds of serious to being all kinds of seriously funny. Underneath her "Save the world!" exterior, there's some selfishness and a whole lot of silliness. And love.

Abed is... Abed. He's still weird and always will be. But he's also the only really sane one.

Troy was so one dimensional in the early episodes, Mister Ex-High School Jock. But I've watched him take on more responsibility, discover skills in AC Repair and Plumbing, and fall for Britta.

Annie is still uptight and still a nerd, but she's opened up by rooming with Abed and Troy and exploring her feelings for Jeff. Plus, she totally kicks butt in paintball.

Pierce, bigoted, sexist, homophobic racist that he is, has grown to love his junior college study group as family, even living with Troy for a year, and has shown despite his shortcomings, is a giant compared to his bizarrely segregationist, ivory-topped now-dead dad.

Shirley moved from bitter divorcee to reunited, forgiving wife and mommy of three. Although she's still fiercely devout in her born again Christianity, she's opened her heart and life to those of various or in the case of Britta, no faith.

And Jeff... so he's still pretty slick. Still would rather talk his way out of a test over actually studying. But he's grown. Not nearly so shallow or callous. Giving even, allowing Chang to live with him for a while during season two. He's opened not just his zipper, but his heart, having a meaningful, if brief relationship with a cute professor. Caring for Britta. Nurturing and encouraging Annie. Building a true friendship with Shirley that has grown far beyond silly gossip. He's played dad to Abed, big bro to Troy and watchful son to Pierce.



Over the past three years, I've come to not just look forward to watching their crazy hijinks- from send-ups of "Pulp Fiction" to "Law & Order"- but to make them part of my routine. For me, "Community" is Must See T.V.

So NBC, I'm scared you're going to ruin it. Just like you did to my "Heroes". Oh, don't think for even a minute, that I've forgotten how you butchered that show. I WILL NEVER FORGET. It is my Maine.

I also haven't forgotten how you didn't give "Law & Order: LA" a fair shot. Putting it on, then pulling it off. Then when Dick Wolf gets it right, complete with a super awesome opening theme, you CANCEL it! Look, I will NEVER forgive you for that.EVER.

So, I'm asking, pleading, demanding you not to ruin "Community". I know it's weird. I know it doesn't give you the ratings of whatever stupid "reality" show you're pumping this second could. But it will give you some cred. It will give you some of those coveted "18-35 year olds" your advertisers care so very much about. And it will continue in the footsteps of your former Thursday night glory- bringing America primetime laughs.

Thanking you in advance.

Signed,

Alisha D.

P.S. #Sixseasonsandamovie 
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What I'm Listening to Right Now

What I'm Listening to Right Now
"Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album" by Lupe Fiasco

What I'm Reading Right Now

What I'm Reading Right Now
"Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets"

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