Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Another Great-Big Vocabulary Word

Okay, class, our Great-Big Vocabulary Word of the Day is:

According to www.dictionary.com, this means "noisily and stubbornly defiant" or "aggressively boisterous."
Let's use it in a sentence! "The chimpanzee's behavior at high tea was obstreperous."
On occasion, I have been accused of such behavior, myself. As unbelievable, my minions, as it may seem.
As this January finishes its whizz past us at supersonic speed, here's wishing you all a very happy February.

A Postscript to Yesterday's Post

It occurs to me that some would question my assertion that it's more important to be a good person than a Christian or a Jew. Let me rephrase this. There is a certain spark of inner honesty, of inner integrity, that must ignite any honest sense of responsibility toward a Higher Power. I call that spark "goodness." And it must exist within an individual before he or she can even reach out in faith to God -- or even seek God.

Was that spark first kindled by God? Of course it was. But some people let that spark go out. The odd thing is that a lot of them call themselves good, religious people.

Organized religion has incorporated a lot of hocus-pocus and abracadabra in its dealings with its subjects. I suppose such stuff might help certain people grow closer to God (hey, whatever works), but it drives far more away from "Him." Christian faith, for example, becomes a matter of praying the right little prayer or reciting the right creed, instead of the deepest and truest part of you responding to God's desire to connect in relationship.

Unfortunately, those in whom the spark has gone out witness "good religious people" in whom the same thing has occurred, and they see -- well, what the heck do you THINK they see? They see only hocus-pocus and abracadabra. No wonder there are so many in the world who see no use for religious faith at all.

So yes, being a good person IS a prerequisite for being a Christian. Certainly not in the sense of "being good for goodness sake" (as in, the prerequisite for relationship with Santa Claus) or of "earning one's own salvation" -- which we know is impossible. But the spark of divine recognition that our Creator first placed within us, at the very least, must yet remain aglow within us.

When Jesus spoke of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" as the one sin which was beyond forgiveness, I truly believe that letting this little flame go out was that of which He spoke. Or, more hopefully, perhaps He meant this to pertain to those who, once the flame had been extinguished, never let it be rekindled. I hope He meant the latter, because that would mean that at least some still have a chance.

If there are many all around us in whom that essential pilot-light has gone out, then it is entirely up to those of us in whom it remains to do the rekindling. We do that by taking from our own and sharing it with them. Those "good religious people" who have no pilot-light of their own have nothing to share with anyone else except empty rhetoric.

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine" is usually dismissed as a fluffy little childrens' song, fit only for being sung in Sunday school over cookies and punch. Perhaps we have shortchanged it. The message it imparts, if we will but let it, touches the very treasure-filled depth of the Gospel itself.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Some Thoughts on Being A Good Person

Yes, I DO believe that there are good people and bad people. Good and evil definitely do, according to my belief, exist. God creates each of us good, but as human beings exist in a fallen state, we are all quite capable of evil -- perhaps even prone to it. I believe that we should aspire to the highest standard of perfection possible, but that since only God is really perfect -- and we are not God -- we are not perfectible.

That having been established, I have a few insights about some very real differences between good people and bad people:

* Good people recognize their obligation to BE good people, first and foremost. Whatever else they consider themselves (Christian, Jew, atheist, Republican, Democrat, etc.) comes strictly after that, and is subordinate to it at all times and in all situations.

* It is a full-time job for each and every good person to STAY a good person. Those who spend their time obsessing over the morality of others are refusing to meet their responsibility to be good people, themselves. Absolutely nobody is saintly or angelic enough to remain a good person -- or even to achieve goodness in the first place -- if he or she is always busy keeping tabs on the conduct of others.

* Good people learn to get along with one another -- despite any differences they may have between them -- for the sake of the greater good. Those who refuse to do this, putting political party, religious denomination, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class or whatever else divides us before the general greater good, are bad people. And this is true regardless of the fact that they may claim they are whatever they are either because they are good people, or because those they oppose are "bad."

* Good people regard an argument, with those with whom they disagree, as an opportunity to arrive at the truth. Bad people simply want to "win," regardless of the truth.

* It is going to take good people -- genuinely good ones, not self-aggrandizing phonies -- to save the United States of America, the Christian Church and the civilized world.

* Just because people SAY that they are good, that doesn't mean that they are. As a matter of fact, the people who most loudly proclaim their own goodness are usually the worst of the lot.

* Being a good person will not save anyone from the wrath of God. No matter HOW good you or I may try to be, we will NEVER be good enough to merit God's favor by our own efforts. We may be saved only by God's awesome and unfathomable grace. Those who use their "Christian faith" to condemn other people have either totally forgotten that, or else they never knew it in the first place. THIS is the real message of Jesus Christ.

It is Christ who offers us the chance for a loving, personal relationship with the Living God. "Being a Christian" won't save you; accepting that relationship, and the grace of God that flows so abundantly from it, is what gives you the hope and promise of salvation. Making it all about creeds and doctrines is an attempt to make it all about us. But it is "about us" only in a secondary sense. Primarily and always, it is about God.

"Only God is good," said Jesus. Who also told us that we "must be perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect." It seems a riddle, wrapped inside an enigma. If only God is good, then how can we even be slightly good, much less perfect?

Follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Live, laugh and love -- extravagantly and with reckless abandon -- as He did. But don't look to our modern-day, self-proclaimed "good people" for any guidance on how to do that. Their forebears didn't know what real goodness is, so they condemned Jesus as "bad" and murdered Him. The self-proclaimed "good people" chose to be His enemies then, and their descendants choose the same path now.

Jesus said that those who follow His teaching and example belong to Him, and that those who don't do not. It may not always be easy to follow Him, but it's certainly simple enough to understand how. Those who try to change the qualifications for being a Christian to anything other than this are neither Christians nor good people. They are the very children of Hell. This describes a great many of those on the Religious Right -- and as children of Hell, they will inherit Hell.

It is also quite possible to be a good person, even if you are NOT a Christian. A great many liberal Christians, by watering down the qualifications for being a Christian, apparently, to simply being good, fail to understand that. And in so doing, they manage to insult every non-Christian good person on the planet.

Whatever it does or does not mean to be a good person, we are always wrong when we define it in ways designed to please ourselves. What's good is not what pleases us -- it is what pleases God.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"A Fun Girl"

Remember the episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Andy and Barney take out "the Fun Girls?" Those two dishy, ditzy blondes who got them into so much hot water with Helen Crump and Thelma Lou? I especially liked the one with the deep, dark-chocolate voice who liked to say, "Hel-lo, doll!"

Well, one of my resolutions for the New Year is to have more fun this year. Last year wasn't much fun at all: I got laid-off by the company I worked for, my dad passed away, and there was a lot of stress over money and legal hassles. In 2006, I'm going to be a Fun Girl. Hel-lo, doll!

I prefer old movies to new ones, and most of the TV shows I watch are ancient re-runs. I almost never miss Perry Mason on weeknights, and of course Star Trek, Voyager's another viewing must (it's not as old as most of my favorites, but it's about the "newest" show I watch). Probably my number one fave, though, is Andy Griffith. Those of us who love the show long to be citizens of Mayberry. But the good thing about the series is that every true fan IS a citizen of Mayberry -- at least in the honorary sense.

I always thought people who joined online groups needed to get a life. But when I saw that there is an online group of re-run watchers devoted to my favorite show, I couldn't resist joining it. At first, I was rather embarrassed; it seemed sort of a frivolous thing to do. But it's turning out to be terrific fun. Now I catch every episode I can, and get to share my Andy experiences with dozens of people who don't think I'm nuts for asking if Juanita at the diner ever actually appeared on the screen, or if anybody knew in which season the Haunted House episode first aired.

And when I say I want to be one of the "Fun Girls," these folks know exactly what I'm talking about.

Old-West Etiquette and the Golden Rule

Here are a couple of observations on what ails us as a society -- and what we can do about it:

In the Old West, people were polite...or else.

I come, of course, from the New West. Full of rude and dirty Eastern carpetbaggers who move into your neighborhood and then make you sell your horses so they won't be bothered by the flies they could have avoided by simply having moved somewhere else. These people brought their homicidal driving habits, their foul air and their crime with them. What have they given back except for horseless cities, urban sprawl and an NFL team that couldn't beat the Little Sisters of the Poor?

The one thing that astonishes me about commentary threads on blogs is how friggin' rude people are. Things have been said to me that nobody -- male or female -- has ever had the guts to say to my face. At least not more than once. Now, I can be pretty rude, myself (I prefer to think of it as "outspoken"). And if somebody wants to ask me outside, I can deal with that. But how do you ask somebody outside in cyberspace?

The Old West has gotten a bad reputation. We hear the name "Old West" bandied about all the time -- as a scare-tactic -- when we fear that civilization is becoming more dangerous. The favorite sky-is-falling cry of the gun-grabbers is "it'll be like the Old West" unless they confiscate our guns. But in truth, people were much more polite to each other in the West of yore than they are today. They darned well had to be.

If some of these blog commenters had said to anybody in old Tombstone or Dodge City the sort of shit they say to me, they'd either have been dragged outside and horsewhupped within an inch of their lives or they'd have been ordered to stand up and draw.

I am kinda careful about shooting my mouth off to people I don't know. It's like flipping the bird at a motorist who tailgates you. Freedom of expression is a wonderful thing. But there are some real psychos out there. One of these days, one of these cyber-snipers is going to make the mistake of getting that nasty to somebody in person -- and when they do, they're just liable to get themselves shot. Nastiness can be a fatal habit.

I'm not saying they ought to get shot; I'm only issuing a warning. People ARE, indeed, shooting each other more and more often. They shoot each other much more often, I would guess, than they ever did in the Old West. Some of the people doing the shooting are psychos, plain and simple. Others are simply damned sick and tired of taking other people's shit. Instead of trying to take everybody's gun away, we'd contribute a lot more to a civil society if we started raising our kids right again.

The real problem with rude people is that nobody hauled them out behind the woodshed when they were kids. Turns out that "spare the rod and spoil the child" makes more sense than the Dr. Spock generation could begin to imagine. These people are poster children for corporal punishment. But shooting them is a pretty drastic remedy for their parents' mistakes.

What's the difference between the Old West and today? People back then knew the difference between the right way to treat others and the wrong way. Their parents taught them MANNERS. Even the baddest of desperadoes had mothers who made them say "please" and "thank you," and they probably tipped their hats to the ladies who passed by. Rude adults are nothing more than oversized spoiled brats.

What we're really trying to do, when we cut rude people down to size, is to practice REMEDIAL PARENTING. The problem is that we either go overboard about it (We don't know how to parent others if we've had bad parenting, ourselves) or else some self-appointed nanny or schoolmarm steps in and sits us in the corner. Most of the nannies and the schoolmarms, however, don't know the difference between right and wrong. Anger is so threatening to them, in and of itself, that they can't tell the difference between someone who's acting badly and someone who's defending him- or herself. This is the reason the Nanny State should never be allowed to confiscate law-abiding citizens' guns.

The Remedy is the Golden Rule.

If ever there was someone who understood real morality -- who knew how people ought to treat one another -- it was Jesus. "Do unto others," He admonished, "as you would have them do unto you." We have come to call this maxim The Golden Rule. Even the most witless child can understand it. Too bad so many supposedly-intelligent adults do not.

I never throw the first punch, but I usually get in the last one. Nobody's proud of a bully, but parents used to have the good sense to be proud if their kid stood up to one. I don't like getting punched, which is exactly WHY I'm never the first to land one. But some people don't learn not to throw the first blow until they've taken the last one. People who will not defend themselves or others are not "kind" -- they are useful idiots to evil.

Does that mean that all rude people are evil? I hope not. Again, I can be rude myself. But there are varying degrees of disregard for others, and though it may begin with rude, you can end up with Hitler. Teach your children to respect others, to treat them as they themselves would be treated, and you are, at the very least, steering them in the opposite direction.

We are behaving like bullies in our invasion of Iraq. If the Iraqi people had had the guts to overthrow Saddam Hussein and fight the forces that want to keep them enslaved, we would have been right in going over there and helping them out. But exactly what is this nonsense about killing people to make them free? If they REALLY want freedom, they'll kick our keysters out of there and run the country by themselves. But of course, the very people who claim that we're not bullies will never stand for that.

"Freedom isn't free," say the bumper-stickers of the cowards who let others do their fighting for them. They seem to think we'll mistake them for heroes simply because they can talk like John Wayne. But there's nothing wrong with the slogan. Freedom ISN'T free, which is why, in order to have it, you have to want it enough to stand up and fight for it yourself.

Of course terrorism must be punished. Evil is evil, regardless of its country of origin. Why the hell didn't we bomb the crap out of Saudi Arabia and Egypt for sending their terrorists over here to attack us? Could it have been because Saudi Arabia and Egypt can fight back?

That wouldn't have daunted our soldiers one bit, but President Pom-Pom Girl won't take any stand that requires genuine gumption. Gumption is something he simply doesn't have. They'd never elect me President, because I'd attack any country whose citizens attacked mine. If your citizens become terrorists and attack our country, an immediate state of war should exist between your nation and mine. It is the duty of those in the countries that harbor terrorists to root out terrorism -- and if they aren't willing to do that duty, then we should treat them the same way we would if they sent their army to attack us.

I hope for the best for the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. If their elections lead to good things, then more power to them. But whether they have democracy and freedom is not my problem. It's up to them to provide those things for themselves, not to me. I doubt they lose much sleep over how much freedom and democracy I have.

We did what we had to do in Afghanistan. And if, indeed, Iraq harbored terrorists before the invasion, then we had every right to bomb them back into the Stone Age. But "giving" them democracy, all nice and wrapped up in shiny paper with a pretty bow? Even democracy freely chosen -- by people who know what to do with it -- is no sure-fire deterrent to terrorism. Just look at what happened in London and Spain.

The Golden Rule does not dictate syrupy do-gooderism. I don't have the obligation to make your life peachy-keen in every way, but simply to treat you as I want to be treated. If you do me no evil, you'll get none back. But if you are evil (or at least insist upon doing it), I am doing society a valuable public service by kicking your ass. And if somebody else gets to you first, I regard that as the Golden Rule in action.

Somebody will surely point out to me that Jesus also said "Don't return evil for evil." But if you are a rude person or a bully, then the kindest thing somebody can do for you is kick your ass. It would have been better for you if you'd gotten the belt a few times when you were growing up. But hey, better late than never.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"We Are Borg..."

Here is one important thing to remember about political discourse:

If you're in the minority, you're not supposed to have emotions.

Especially not if you're a member of an unpopular minority like gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Someone hostile to our rights will, for example, publicly "report" statistics in a light that provides them with an excuse to oppose us and to imply that we are a threat to society. And when we fight back -- which we (like anybody in such a position) will, at first, be tempted to do with emotion -- they will refuse to reason with us, ignore our arguments no matter how solid, and simply use our emotions against us.

Don't expect those in the majority to be outraged by this. Not even those who claim they support us. THEY would certainly believe they had a right to get angry, if someone tried to pass laws that cheated THEM out of their Constitutional rights and treated them as if they hadn't an iota of human dignity. But never forget that, in their eyes, that is DIFFERENT.

We must do what the vast majority of straight people find next to impossible. We must remain rational, even in the middle of the shit-storm of emotionalism that surrounds almost everything concerning what the government might do to our lives. We live under the tyranny of the majority. They are Borg...they will assimilate -- or destroy.

The question is, how will we get THEM to sit still, listen to reason, and not let their own emotions run away with them? Make absolutely no mistake about it, they believe themselves fully entitled to let their own feelings blow them wherever they take them. No matter who it may hurt. It should be no surprise they don't consider us entitled to our own emotions. A lot of them don't think we're entitled to do anything but die and go to Hell.

I guess the real answer is that we make sure we think before reacting (something I'm not always good at doing, myself). And that when they refuse to listen to reason -- overindulging in the same sort of emotions they refuse to respect in us -- we insist upon holding them to the same standard they wish to impose on us.

I can handle the concept of ALL OF US remaining rational. Man, I can really dig that deal. The only question remaining is: can they?

Nearly every argument (or even a calm conversation) is an admixture of reason and emotion. That's simply because we're made the way we're made. People usually recognize that about themselves -- but refuse to honor it when they see it in those with whom they want to disagree.
But when we're in the minority, and our citizenship is under siege, we must do something your average member of the majority never has to. We must actually attempt to master ourselves.

The Borg, on the Star Trek programs, are horrible largely because they are all rationality and no emotion. Even the "geeks" who often claim they are too smart to get emotional readily recognize that -- which is why they recoil whenever the Borg appear onscreen. And Star Trek is generally best appreciated by geeks, as they themselves proudly admit. The Borg assimilate and dehumanize their victims. They do this by rendering them devoid, not of intellect (which the hive needs), but of emotion, and the individual will that goes along with it.

We have emotions because we are individuals. We have emotions precisely because we are meant to remain individuals, and to stand up for our own, individual selves. If we were nothing but some communitarian collective, then like the Borg, we would need nothing but intellect. One person's " hysterically irrational whining" is another's totally-justified protest. Assimilation would be a horrible fate, indeed.

Tyranny of the majority -- like every other form of tyranny -- destroys not only the subjects, but the rulers. Power without a sense of corresponding responsibility brings out the basest, cruelest and most cowardly instincts in all who hold it. It turns human beings, in the end, into something less rational than the robot-like Borg of science fiction. It turns them into something even less than beasts.

But of course, it only profits those of us in the minority if we recognize this and, like the geeks who so enjoy Star Trek, recoil from it. I don't know if we can stop them from crushing us. But we can keep them from taking our humanity and our very souls. I know that THIS Star Trek geek intends to fight on 'til the end.

If we were less emotional, our adversaries (and even our would-be allies) will have to be, too. If only more of those who criticize gays, Blacks, Hispanics and other "special-interest" groups of over-emotionalism would stop and realize the harm that simply shutting their ears and turning away from them has done! The far Left plays on those so-often-ignored emotions, revving them up to an even-higher pitch. It doesn't really do much of anything for us EXCEPT play on our emotions, but hell, so many other people completely ignore them that I understand the nice, warm-and-fuzzy glow it gives so many of us.

But I will no longer settle for warm-and-fuzzy glows. I want to see results. I refuse to let others denigrate my feelings; I now understand they do this because they are selfish and afraid. It is, however, far too important to us that we lead with our intellect and let our feelings follow. Our righteous anger can be the warp-drive that blasts us clear out of Borg space -- if we can keep from being assimilated in the meantime.

"Resistance is futile?" Let's just see about that!

Monday, January 23, 2006

How About "Just Plain Christian?!"

Everybody's raging about the big fight between Christian Right and Christian Left. Who's right and who's wrong?

What's the matter with all of you people? Do you have brain damage, or are you simply dishonest?

It's not about us. No, it's not about you or me. It's about Jesus Christ. It's about God.

Both Christian Right and Christian Left are human movements, of very recent origin. The Christian Church is two thousand years old. Christian Right and Left are mirror-image, Yin-and-Yang, mutually-reactionary movements. And many of the members of both "sides" are spoiled little children who think it's all about themselves and whose priorities are -- to use a word I almost never utter -- fucked. They all need to grow up.

I wish Jesus would come down and slam your stupid little heads together. Shut up, all of you. JUST. SHUT. UP.

When I pushed off into print and cyberspace as a writer ministering to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered world, I had a very big decision to make. Gays don't fit neatly into any of the comfy-cozy little categories straights have made for themselves. Would I identify, primarily, as a GLBT Christian, as part of the Christian Left or as a member of some forlorn and disowned fringe of the Christian Right? In a society where the average person has the attention-span of a kindergartener and the intellectual capacity of a half-wit, packaging and labeling is supposed to be everything.

I suppose the easiest thing to do would have been to align myself with the Christian Left, as they represent a far bigger share of the "market" than do GLBT Christians -- and they are, as a good number of them keep assuring us, "more welcoming."

But not so fast. I have some huge problems with this. Three, as a matter of fact:

(A) The theology of the Christian Left is vapid, infantilizing and reactionary. It is subject to continual revision (they won't believe tomorrow what they believe today), which Christian Lefties somehow fail to realize means they can't be relied-upon by those honestly seeking to know God or taken seriously by serious thinkers. It is bland, molly-coddling babytalk. It consists almost entirely of visceral and irrational reaction against the Religious Right. And (perhaps worst of all) it seems to recognize no difference between faith (which canNOT change, if its articles are believed true) and morality (which is, indeed, continually evolving -- but ONLY in practice, not in guiding principle).

Almost every one of the notions trotted out by the Christian Left were very seriously considered, by those at the highest levels in the Church, centuries ago. And they were discarded as heresies or as just plain errors. If we are to consider them anew, let's at the very least do so honestly. Very often, the Left repackages and relabels them with something jazzy, shiny and new and then tries to sell them as brand-new, bright ideas. This is nothing but theological plagiarism.

(B) The Christian Left does, indeed, bring up some very valid points. It sometimes fulfills the purpose of highlighting areas of the faith that the Religious Right (an equally reactionary and erroneous faction, which has failed Jesus Christ to the same degree as have their counterparts on the Left) misses. It provides a crucial set of checks-and-balances against Right-Wing excess and neglect. But because it is so obsessed with the Right, it's like the jealous little brother who has to shout "no!" every time big brother says "yes." Or like that surly fourteen-year-old who just can't get over her anger and Mommy and Daddy.

It's almost comical, how predictable the Christian Left is. If it might shock and piss off the Religious Right, they're on it. How utterly sad that they don't realize they have totally surrendered doctrinal orthodoxy to people unworthy to serve as its guardians. (Indeed, surrendering the defense of orthodoxy to the Religious Right is like trusting the alligator to guard the baby.)

(C) This is the main objection -- and the one insurmountable for me. One of the last prayers Jesus is recorded, in the Gospels, as having uttered was a plea for unity between believers. "May they be one, as the Father and I are One." Those caught-up in the insane fervor of the war between Christian Right and Left are so blinded by the hoopla and brouhaha of the present that they have totally forgotten both past and future. The Church never would have survived for twenty centuries if the Holy Spirit had not preserved it against the damage done by the petty, little squabblers and their ego-inflating little divisions of opinion, and it will never survive into the future unless saner heads (and more important priorities) prevail.

The Christian faith is a treasure precious beyond compare. It has been handed down through the ages, and has now been entrusted to us. We do not have leave to wantonly destroy it for the sake of our childish compulsion to "be right" and to "defeat" those who disagree with us. My primary obligation is to God in Christ Jesus. I am a just plain Christian -- period.

The founder of my denomination, Martin Luther, is often accused of having created disunity in the Church. He was kicked out of the Catholic Church -- he did NOT willingly leave it (a point usually overlooked by those willing to lie about and slander the name of a man who's dead and can no longer defend himself). Most of the reforms he proposed were later adopted by the Church of Rome, which is just plain dishonest in not acknowledging that this makes clear HE WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG. Read my lips, and repeat it after me. He tried to stop those who were trying to tear the Church apart, though ultimately only the Holy Spirit was able to do that.

We do NOT have the right to attempt to undo the work the Holy Spirit is doing. We need to bring together both "sides" -- Left AND Right -- to sit down like adults, break bread and respectfully exchange ideas. You know, like the Christians we so loudly and proudly claim to be. Only by remaining united in what matters the most -- our dedication to following Christ -- will we be cooperating with the work of the Spirit of God. Who will help us to sort out the details upon which we disagree, if we will but act like real followers of Christ.

This is as basic as A-B-C. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

I cannot, in good conscience, sign on to a movement that is reactionary in nature. To do so would be to ally myself with those contributing to disunity and disharmony in the Body of Christ. So the only label I will wear is Christian. JUST. PLAIN. CHRISTIAN. Period, end of discussion.

Now let the REAL discussion begin...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Great-Big Vocabulary Words

Wouldn'tcha know it...the very day after I recommend them to my loyal legions, EphemeraNow has gone and changed its name. It is now www.plan59.com.

I guess the "'59" refers to 1959. They say they want to make it easier for people to spell and to remember. I never had any problem with "ephemera," but I suppose I can see what they mean. There are a great many people in this country who seem to have trouble with "dog" and "cat."

But not you, my loyal bazillions! No, you love big words like "ephemera" -- you CRAVE new big words to learn and incorporate into your-already vast vocabularies.

So here's another fun feature I will occasionally incorporate into this Blog. It will be Our Great-Big Vocabulary Word for the Day. Just to inaugurate this feature, here is our word for today:

Which means, very simply, "honorable," or "with honor." It appears to have been borrowed from Latin, and has been used less than a handful of times in the history of English literature. Most famously, Shakespeare used it in Love's Labors Lost (Costard, Act V, Scene 1):
"O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words.I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon."
I dug up this priceless information at www.worldwidewords.org. Which also says that a "flap-dragon" can either be a bowl of brandy-flaming raisins, snatched up and eaten in an Elizabethan game (think of it as early "Fear Factor"), or the darned fool who eats them.
World Wide Words also claims our word was used by James Joyce in Ulysses, but as it does not specify exactly where in the novel it appears, I am not ambitious enough to go and look it up.
Not all our words will be this long, but I wanted to start us off with a real humdinger. Eat smart, my dear ones, study hard, and someday you may be as radiantly brilliant as the Lormeister (Lormistress?). Or maybe not.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Get Your "Ephemera Now!"

Here is a blog that really is a treat. I stumbled upon it while searching for pictures of houses decorated in the Retro-Fifties style, hoping for some bright ideas on what to do with my own house. www.ephemeranow.com has all of that and more.

There are ads from the midcentury Golden Age of advertising art: pretty people (okay, girls), mouthwatering food, heartwarming, "Ozzie and Harriet" type domestic scenes, and now-classic cars to die for. A lot of humor, some high drama, some early-Sixties Christmas photos of a family that evidently has something to do with the webmaster, and even a few frights (check out the bean-eating "Demonic Tot" on yesterday's posting). Oh, and all the Retro-Fifties-decor you could ever want or need.

I don't know exactly what it is about this blog that keeps me coming back, but rarely does a day go by that I don't check in to see what's new. (It's the "New" selection that gets you into the actual, daily postings.) And I find myself frequently revisiting the old ads. Those from the late Fifties and Camelot-Era Sixties, I find especially beguiling. I was born during the Kennedy years, and the way things look in the advertising of the period is the way they look in my earliest, most-misty memories.

My dad passed away just four months ago, after a lengthy and debilitating illness. And my mom is now confined to the dementia ward of an elder-care facility, in an advanced state of Alzheimer's. It's been a long, long haul from the days when they looked like they do in the photos I looked through while compiling the collage for Dad's memorial. Mom looked a heckuva lot like Jackie Kennedy in those days, and Dad was a tall, Nordic, movie-star-handsome fellow. When the memorial service was over, I didn't have the heart to take the collage apart and put those pictures away.

As to why I spend so much of my blog-surfing time at Ephemera Now, I guess I just answered my own question. The memories of the folks in those pictures aren't merely "America's memories," in some vague and symbolic sense. They belong to ALL of us. Even those of the webmaster, and of the bean-eating Demon Child.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some Random "Babblings"

I was just accused, on another blog, of "babbling." As I said to my accuser, one person's "babbling" may be another's "free-associating." I presume I was supposed to be insulted. But actually, I rather like the word "babbling." It means I'm bothering people. It bothers some people just having to think.

So today I begin a new feature, which will at least semi-regularly appear. They will be shorter than Thinking Points or Eight-Hundred-Pound Gorillas, as befits babbles. And if they don't bother anybody, they'll be a complete waste of my time.

* At least somebody's Democratic Senate career ended because of the Alito hearings. If not, this country really is doomed.

* People who believe the cops should be able to batter down people's doors and haul them off for having been in bed with the "wrong" people REALLY ARE homophobes. And no amount of rhetorical gymnastics can make that any less true.

* If you treat others in any manner you would consider cruel if applied to yourself, then your behavior toward them is hateful. Nobody can peek inside your heart and tell whether you really do hate them or not -- but then again, they don't have to. It is not honest to look at shit and call it "sugar."

* No matter WHAT sort of ruling a Supreme Court Justice may have handed down in the past, on ANY sort of issue, it tells us nothing about how he or she is going to vote in the future. Nothing. No two cases are exactly alike. (Not that those grandstanding ignoramuses in the Senate seem to understand that.) Whether Alito turns out to be a good Justice or not, thank the Lord that, at any rate, he understands the law better than do his inquisitors.

* When you come back into contact with a childhood friend, and find out that she is becoming a Libertarian just like you are, it doesn't necessarily prove you're sane. It just proves that the rest of the world is as crazy as you thought it was.

* Hate crimes legislation is a lame attempt to close the barn door after the horse has already escaped. Had we dealt with violent crime the way we should have in the first place, we would ALL be a whole helluva lot safer. The whole concept of savagery as a form of "legitimate" personal expression originated under the leadership of the very people pushing hate crimes legislation today.

* The entire penal system must be overhauled. It is NOT "cruel and unusual punishment" to make convicted criminals earn their own living and support themselves. And if we made a greater effort to tie the penalty to the crime -- including forcing criminals to make restitution to their victims -- we would see our crime-rate plummet to a level unseen since the Colonial Era.

* When we release rapists, murderers and child-molesters from prison in order to make more room for people caught smoking doobies, we deserve every violent crime we get.

...And one final "babble" for today, continuing a thread of thought I started a couple of days ago...

* The question of whether we believe in God is far less important than that of whether God believes in us.

Expect more "babblings" from me in the future, on all of the aforementioned subjects -- especially the last one.


Just to be on the safe side, perhaps from now on, when I babble on other people's blogs, I'd be better off adopting an alias. Perhaps THAT'S the use I ought to make of "Olive Pitts."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just for Giggles...

My stars! It does, indeed, seem that gay and lesbian Christians upset the applecart in all sorts of interesting ways.

Over at Cathy Young's blog, The Y Files, I have another rabid ankle-biter on my hands. (See http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2006/01/and-speaking-of-supreme-court.html) Cathy has a very intelligent post on an opinion by Justice Scalia, who seems to think that the death penalty is soooooo important that a man on death row should get the needle even though new evidence has surfaced that might exonerate him. She thinks this is scary, and so do I. I commented on the peculiar, irrationally hateful nature of Right-Wing Christian ideologues like Scalia, and in the course of my scattered comments, I "came out" as a lesbian Christian.

I knew what did happen would happen. I knew that one of the folks who regularly read and comment on The Y Files would take the bait -- and straightaway, somebody did. I was informed, by somebody calling himself "Revenant," that I can't be a Christian because I'm gay. Is this individual a flame-throwing, redneck fundamentalist? No, he's a hardcore, militant, Christian-baiting atheist.

Hmmmmm...as Artie Johnson used to say on Laugh In, "veeeeeeddddddy innnntellesting!" Somebody who goes out of his way to ridicule religious belief -- to whom the Bible seems to have little more value than a roll of Charmin -- has taken it upon himself to lecture me about my "tortured" interpretation of Scripture. This eminent personage considers himself more of an expert on Holy Writ than Canon Gene Robinson, the Rev. Ralph Blair, recently-deceased Archbishop Edward Ryle, my own pastor, Renee Geiger or my close friend, theologian and world-renowned scholar on the Gospel of Matthew, Dr. Arlo Nau. I'd like to shake his hand...or perhaps I should drop into a swooning curtsy?

I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence and a huge surprise, but the fact of the matter is that this has happened to me several times before. It seems the only people who get madder than the fundamentalists at the existence of Christian gays are the dogmatic atheists. For whatever reason, we really seem to rock their little world.

Evidently they need their Christians as extreme and closed-minded as possible. I know from personal experience with these folks that an awful lot of them come from strict fundamentalist homes, and that even after all these years, their anger at Mommy, Daddy and the razor-strop has not abated. The fundies and the fire-breathing atheists, together in the same corner -- what a concept! It is, in fact, a concept more common than dirt.

I have been kicking around a rather vague idea for my next Whosoever essay for some weeks, now. Funny how so much of the time, while I'm nesting atop such an egg, something will happen to solidify my vague ideas and point me in a clear direction. Mr. Revenant would, no doubt, call it sheerest coincidence. I call it God.

My little baby chick is not yet ready to be hatched, but a clear idea is beginning to form. There is something to this -- the hostility of the unbelievers toward acceptance of gays, and other previously-marginalized people, in the Church. There is something very real behind the unholy alliance of scoffers and fundies. In its mad crusade to stigmatize gays and lesbians, the Vatican is now desperately scrambling behind the works of that arch-scoffer, Sigmund Freud. It's a sad, sad, sad, sad world.

Still not totally sure just where to take this, but it's immensely enjoyable. I intend to kick it around with some gay Christian friends, and maybe some straight ones, as well. Thinking is such great, great fun that I pity those afraid to try it.

I have nothing against atheists. One of my closest-ever friends is about the biggest scoffer you could ever meet. He would make a wonderful Christian, as he's one of the kindest and most humane people I have ever known. Religious people disgust him (I seem to be a rare and very fortunate exception), and it's a scandal that he -- like so many other decent and noble souls -- has turned away from the Christian faith in disgust. He cites the Church's treatment of people like me as one of the reasons he refuses to consider it, and he is hardly alone.

One thing I will say for my friend, he doesn't begrudge me a place in the Church. He'd never tell me my interpretation of Scripture is "tortured." He knows the Bible better than a fair number of believers do, and he knows whose interpretation is truly the "tortured" one.

Watch this space, in the days and weeks to come, for some possible further ruminations on my developing story. This may turn out, on the other hand, to be one of those pieces that requires little rumination and practically writes itself. I'll link to Whosoever for the final product.

Depending upon how you look at things, this is, again, either a coincidence or a God thing. You know what my opinion is. And I look forward to seeing it borne out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

An Intriguing Idea

I never begin a writing work by picking a title. The concept always comes first with me, and then, when I'm sure I've really got something, I choose the title that seems most appropriate.

But as I was enjoying a fine Greek salad last Saturday night, the light-bulb went on. Wouldn't this just be the perfect title for something:

I have no idea what sort of a story it will be, but you've gotta admit -- the title's got potential.
I will keep my legions of adoring fans posted...

Back to Basics Concerning God

The libertarian blogosphere is full of angry young people -- most of them men -- who diss religious folks and talk trash about God. They spell "His" name "god," no doubt thinking they are being daring. What a lot of pathetic little children they really are.

I'm going to be very clear with you. I will not mince words. Every human being who has ever lived beyond infancy, everywhere in the world and at every time in history, has been faced with one primary choice: to accept God or to reject "Him." Every other choice we will ever make is subordinate to that one, and entirely dependent upon it. There are people who reject God and are honest about it, and there are many, many more who do so and then retreat, in their cowardice, to lies.

Either we were created, and are sustained with every breath we take and each beat of our hearts, by God, or we were not. There is no third option. I choose to acknowledge God, to seek "Him" in relationship, and to thank "Him" for every breath I take and for each beat of my heart. It is a conscious choice, one nobody else could make for me, and whatever else my life may come to, it is the one choice I had to make. Someday I will stand before God, and whatever else "He" will say about me, at the very least "He" will be able to say it to somebody who knows "Him."

Someday those who reject God will also have to stand before "Him." Whatever else they may be able to say about themselves and the lives they've led, they will say it to a Stranger. They will, at that point, be well beyond spelling "His" name with a lower-case "g" and being cute about it. They will be terrified as they have never been. And their terror and loneliness and despair will last forever.

Don't tell me you're gay and people in the Church have been mean to you, so you can't believe in God. That is cowardice, plain and simple -- and dishonesty, besides. There is no sin in being gay, if that is how God made you. But if you believe that how God made you is more important than God "Himself," then you have, indeed, committed the crime against God Paul details in Romans Chapter One. You have exchanged the truth for a lie.

I think that "ex-gay" ministries are a sham and a scam. They pretend to serve God, even as they insult "Him." But I would run right into the arms of Exodus or whatever other "ex-gay" group presented itself to me before I would reject God. There is no relationship, in all the world, that I would choose over relationship with God.

Go back to church and at least give an honest listen to what you hear there. If there are churches you find false, then get yourself to a true one. I think Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are liars. But Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are not God. They, and a great many of their followers, may very well confuse them for God. But that is a mistake I will never make.

An old saying has it that "there are no atheists in a foxhole." I believe every so-called atheist is a liar and a cheat. At least, however, they are less cowardly than agnostics, who want to play it both ways. An agnostic is afraid to hedge his bets by committing to atheism, but too selfish to give God a chance. In all the world, there is nobody more contemptible.

From time to time, I will continue to recommend libertarian blogs on this Blog. When I do, I am recommending their political point of view, rather than their religious beliefs or the lack thereof. I created this Blog specifically as a forum for my political views. But as I am a person of religious faith, don't be surprised when, from time to time, I express a religious opinion.

Don't wait until the end of your life to consider pledging your allegiance to God. I believe in God because Jesus Christ has helped me come to know "Him." No matter how foolish many so-called Christians may be, I refuse to let anyone come between Jesus and me. Nobody can run you away from God if you refuse to let them. And those who try, no matter how "Christian" they may consider themselves, will face God's everlasting wrath.

I prefer to let them face that wrath all by themselves.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Noodles the Poodle -- Another Blog-Reading Must

For some months now, I have been a serious fan of doggy-blogger Noodles the Poodle. He's cute, he's witty and he has a certain debonair charm. Can't spell worth beans, but what the hell -- he can type! Even my own George Washington Schnoodle has yet to master that.

You can find Noodles at http://stupidpoodle.blogspot.com.

I don't know if Noodles is a Lutheran (he's French, so I guess he's a Catholic). He certainly can't be a lesbian. And, judging from the few comments he's posted about politics, he's gotta be a liberal Democrat. So what has he got to do with Born on 911? He's just adorable, that's all. Plus, I like almost everybody from Chicago.

As time goes by, I will bless my few, loyal and hardy readers by sharing with them my eclectic tastes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Some Thinking Points on Being an American

One of the most troubling features of Americans, at the dawn of this new century, is how pitifully few of us seem to understand what America is all about. We have a Constitution, we have a distinct tradition, and there are certain principles that have always mattered to us. Since 9-11, all too many of us seem to have forgotten everything we ever knew.

The President must not have unchecked power. The Constitution makes it clear that there is a separation of powers in our government. Our founders built in a system of checks and balances that keeps the officials in our government answerable to each other, and to us. Any President who is not answerable to either the legislative or the judicial branch is not actually a President, but a king. And any who is not answerable to the people is a dictator -- and a tyrant.

Among a whole host of other pernicious things, the Patriot Act would allow the President to spy on American citizens WITHOUT HAVING TO OBTAIN A WARRANT FROM A JUDGE. Which, especially since 9-11, has been easier than falling off a log to get. The warrant from the judge is no mere technicality; it is the separation of powers -- provided for under our Constitition -- at work. If we can't trust that the judge has our best interests at heart, how on God's green earth can we be sure a President does, either? There's no reason to believe a judge wants us all to get blown up, any more than does the President (who, unlike the judge -- and us -- has a bunker to hide in and a Secret Service to guard him if terrorists do attack again).

The only thing a President can do without a warrant from a judge is spy on American citizens WITHOUT HAVING TO TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR IT. Just pardon the hell out of me if I wonder why Bush (or any other Chief Executive) might be so hepped-up to be able to do a thing like that! They betray themselves as being unworthy of our trust simply by the very fact that they want to.

Traitors are those who betray America. My, my, all the talk we've heard, since 9-11, about traitors! Many of those who support unlimited power for Bush denigrate those of us opposed to it as "traitors." Well, just for the record, let me define for you exactly what a traitor really is. It is someone who betrays their country. Those who would destroy our Constitution for the sake of their own, temporary security are the real traitors to this country, and to everything it stands for.

You have a sacred duty, as an American citizen, to READ THE DAMN CONSTITUTION and understand what it says. If you can't read well enough to understand it, there are always adult remedial reading courses that can help you. It takes neither intelligence nor courage to listen to Fox TV or hate-radio and then regurgitate whatever witless talking-points you have heard there instead of ACTUALLY THINKING IT THROUGH FOR YOURSELF. But then again, if you're that peeing-in-your-pants-and-running-home-to-mama afraid of every terrorist in the whole, wide world, then courage is a concept you may never understand.

America has always stood for great things. We don't need to kill people to get them to embrace our way of life. If we DO need to kill them to get them to do this, then (A) they were not worthy of our way of life, and (B) the whole point is moot, because they are dead.

I am hopeful we can make lemonade out of lemons in Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. But we need to remember something about these people. THEY DON'T LIKE US, and THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND OUR WAYS. American representative democracy grew out of centuries of English common-law tradition -- which in turn had its origins in Greece and Republican Rome. The Iraqis have no such tradition to draw from, so the only way they will ever know what representative democracy is will be if IF THEY LEARN IT FROM US.

They can't learn anything from tyranny from us if we are unwilling to teach them anything but tyranny. As if they don't know enough about that already!

We had all better refresh ourselves about what being an American means. Then at least maybe most of us will know better than to call other people traitors and cowards when we are acting like them ourselves. And if we lose this country, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I am NOT Florida Lori!!!

Oh, good night, nurse!

I don't Google myself very often -- modest soul that I am. But as I've got an essay just out, in the latest issue of Whosoever (www.whosoever.org), making it quite clear that I am NOT the Lori Heine who left her son at the side of a road in Florida because he threw a tantrum over McDonald's Happy Meal, I checked in to see if it is out yet. Indeed, it is. But Florida Lori is still very much in evidence -- and her Google items very much mixed-in with mine.

I feel very sorry for this woman. In addition to being three whole years older than me, she is stuck with a petulant child and, it seems now, a police record for having abandoned him. She also has to live in Florida, where the bugs are the size of Winnebagos and the next hurricane is always just around the corner. But I do NOT wish, in any way, shape or form, to be confused with her.

This is, I must confess, the original reason I wrote "The Cherry Sisters" for Whosoever. The homophobes have enough excuses to attack me, without being able to claim that I have abandoned my child at some busy roadside. I am hardly as virtuous as a Christian ought to be, but for the love of Pete, I've never done anything like THAT.

Okay, we get it -- ha-ha-hah -- this woman tossed her kid out of the car because he didn't like his Happy Meal. Now all you "journalists" who haven't gotten enough of the story can go and play in traffic. I leave all of you at the side of the road.

And for the record, Florida Lori may very well end up getting to Heaven before any of us.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Some Gay Eight-Hundred-Pound Gorillas

Okay, you big apes, so you may not be gay yourselves. Please don't hurt me. But here you are, in the middle of our very tastefully-decorated living room, and so deal with you we must. At least eventually. Am I allowed to hope...?

Sometimes we undermine our own credibility. Not every negative perception of the GLBT community is the fault of redneck bigots or fanatical preachers.

I have never been able to understand, when I read a gay and lesbian magazine supposedly geared for "mainstream" readership, why there has to be an ad showing a naked hunk -- hands down inside his underpants -- or something mind-numbingly similar, on every other page. I say this not because I don't like looking at naked male hunks, but because ads like these no more belong in "mainstream" magazines than gorillas do in living-rooms. Publications targeting heterosexual or general readership would not think of accepting advertising even a fraction as sexually-explicit. If straight people want to see stuff like that, they've got to go look in a porno rag.

Do not tell me, puh-leeze, that GLBT magazines need ad revenue wherever they can find it. Every potential advertiser's dollar is as green as that of every other, yet no "mainstream" editor will touch blatantly sexually-explicit advertising. It's called HAVING STANDARDS. If we were more critical of this sort of nonsense, those who sell ad space in GLBT publications would learn, sooner or later, to seek out their clientele elsewhere.

I am embarrassed to leave copies of gay and lesbian magazines around where my straight friends and family might see them. Since I've been "out" to the entire universe, now, for the better part of a decade, it certainly isn't because I'm afraid they'll find out that I'm a lesbian. But every time some poor, unsuspecting soul happens upon one of these "mainstream" magazines or newspapers, I must once again explain that I've got to get my news pertaining to the GBLT community SOMEHOW. The look this usually earns me is the same one straight guys get when they claim that they read Hustler for the articles.

There was a scene on the sitcom, Ellen, in which somebody came into a bookstore asking where a particular nationally-circulated GLBT magazine might be found. "Try the porno section," the clerk grunted. This was supposed to be outrageous enough to be funny. Too bad there are so many otherwise open-mined folks who would agree with him.

Politicians won't support us if we don't support them. To this assertion, you might reply, "Well, duh!" But you'd be surprised how many gay and lesbian voters still haven't learned this elementary-school-simple lesson.

I can't imagine why John McCain, generally reputed to be a solid and straight-shooting guy, decided to turn on our community by changing his mind and supporting a ban on same-sex marriage. There was a time, not too very long ago, when he stood staunchly in our corner. Gee...d'ya think? Scratch your heads for a while over that one. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians would vote for Satan himself before they would vote for a Republican -- ANY Republican!

One of these days, maybe your average concerned gay voter will learn enough about how politicians think to realize that nobody is going to take a risky position without some real promise of a reward. Our cause is still so controversial than even a lot of the Democrats are deserting us. Maybe those Log Cabin types, who warn that we must make the political parties compete for our votes, aren't such self-hating losers after all.

I will vote for a candidate who stands up for my rights as a citizen. I don't care if he or she is a Republican, a Federalist, a Whig or a Bull Moose. I stop short at Satan. But when you look at some of the fiends gays and lesbians are helping keep in office, it's all too obvious that many of them don't.

You won't meet That Perfect One by placing a personal ad. Gays and lesbians use the personals a fair amount of the time, and understandably so. It's far more difficult to meet Mister or Miz Right when you are gay, and the pool from which to draw is considerably smaller. Some of the time, you really do meet worthwhile people through personal ads. As someone who has been known to peruse them myself, I am in any case hardly in any position to ridicule them.

You may or may not find the love of your life by reading the personals. But one thing is for certain: you will get a very good laugh. You might end up meeting the man or woman who's just right for you. What you will NOT find is one who is perfect. Nor, of course, will they get any closer to perfection when they meet you.

Therein lies the problem. Anybody -- gay or straight -- who's gorgeous, keenly intelligent and successful enough to rate perfection, in just about anybody's book, gets snapped up much too quickly to ever think of resorting to a personal ad.

The "Women Seeking Women" section (about which I am a particular expert) is almost always thigh-slappingly hilarious. Everybody is dainty, petite, sexy, Olympically-physically-fit and -- of course -- "femme." And they are always seeking exactly the same. Now, whenever you use words like "butch" and "femme" around me, to describe even the most theoretical of living and breathing human beings, I automatically subtract fifty points from my estimation of your I.Q. Some women are, indeed, more feminine than others, and there's certainly nothing wrong with being more attracted to feminine women. But if you are so wrapped-up in yourself that you can't be bothered really getting to know the essense of another human being before writing them off with some shorthand brand-label, then you truly are a Shallow Hallie.

For the record, I seem to be what is generally considered a "Soft Butch," and I actually prefer something of the same. I hope that breaks at least a few dainty, petite, sexy, Olympically-physically-fit "femme" hearts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Thinking Points to Start Off the New Year

Without further ado, here are some ruminations as I face 2006:

Can we even have a conversation about compassion? Is it even remotely possible, anymore, for a libertarian, a liberal and a conservative to sit down together, like grownups, break bread in peace and intelligently discuss the subject of what might be best for those less fortunate than ourselves?

Liberals close their eyes, clamp their hands over their ears, and repeat, "I am compassionate...I believe in compassion...I care about the poor..." yada, yada, yada, over and over again. They seem to have an extra bone in their heads when it comes to listening to libertarian views on social welfare. But what is so "compassionate" about relegating poor folks to the "care" of faceless bureaucrats thousands of miles away in Washington? People who skim off the top of whatever funds are earmarked to help the poor (they must, after all, be paid) so that nothing more than a tiny fraction of what the taxpayers put out ever actually reaches those who need it? When you try to get an honest answer our of our liberal friends, again you get the closed eyes, the hands over the ears, and "I am compassionate...I believe in compassion...I care about the poor..."

Would it not be better for those who need social assistance to be helped by those who live right there in their own community? People who know their names, can see their faces, and have heard their stories? What is so terribly "uncompassionate" about volunteer aid for the poor -- administered by people who don't need to be paid for their trouble, so that the poor actually get more than just a tiny fraction of the money that might go to help them?

Most conservatives are not even remotely credible when they rail against tax-funded welfare programs. All they would do is continue to tax the living crap out of the citizenry, leaving us all so bled-white we can't afford to act on our nobler impulses toward the poor, and use the take they get from us to fuel the military-industrial complex or dole out welfare to the rich and corporate. If liberals want to call THEM "uncompassionate," I can certainly relate.

Conservatives simply don't give a shit about the poor. Maybe they did at one time, back when libertarians didn't have to join a different party just to get the hell away from them, but they don't anymore. Unfortunately, when it comes to opposing the Right Wing, their liberal rivals are stuck on stupid. Meanwhile, the vast rift between rich and poor just keeps on growing. We fiddle while poor children starve and the elderly in poverty die of diseases that otherwise might be cured.

Do we REALLY want democracy in Iraq? Only time will tell. And here is exactly HOW we will eventually be able to tell: will we get out when they tell us to, or will we ignore the wishes of the Iraqi people, stick around and go on telling them what to do?

I am fairly convinced that the Bush Administration wants to install a puppet government. They refused to even count the innocent civilians our military have killed, so it is hard to believe they will count the votes of those who have managed to remain alive. If we "give" democracy to those who do not like us, they may very well use it against us. That is the risk we run, and it strains credibility to believe this is a risk the Bushies are willing to take.

Polls indicate that a majority of Iraqis are not yet ready for us to leave. Is this because they love us, or because they have languished in an infantile state for so long that they are incapable of governing themselves? Again, only time will tell.

I hope those purple fingers meant something good -- for us and for them. But in order to learn the truth about this, we will need to view the ongoing situation free of ideological blinders.

Will the "Breck Girl" run? I am positively breathless with anticipation. Senator Edwards is still insisting that marriage must be defined strictly as between a man and a woman. Yet in the next breath, he assures gays and lesbians (whom he has just dehumanized) that he supports their rights. Well, now I really CAN sleep easy.

Surely the good senator knows you don't use laws to define a word. For that, all you need is a dictionary. This is all about rights and responsibilities -- it hasn't a damn thing to do with how some nose-picking yokel out in Bible Belt America chooses to define the word "marriage." People will jolly well go right on defining it exactly as they did before the con artists in whatever legislative body wave their wands this way or that.

Of course Edwards is positioning himself for a run at the Presidency. The Democrats have already designated gays and lesbians as the official scapegoats for why they lost the last one -- we are this past election's Gerry Ferraros. I should have bailed on this party back when they tried to stick the blame for Mondale's defeat on her. They have grown neither nobler nor wiser with time.

Any gay or lesbian American who votes for John Edwards is a fool. Period, finito, end of discussion. But do we have the gumption to stand up against him? Don't even pretend you don't know the answer to that.

As we sail gaily forward into another year, we demonstrate, as a nation, that we are as clueless as ever.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Some New Year's Tidbits

Happy New Year, one and all!

I have no long, coherent entry to post -- only a few brief musings.

This past Sunday, our local Fiesta Bowl Parade blocked the route to church, so I went to the church where I grew up. Nobody I remember was left there, and few in attendance looked to be under seventy. In the ushers' pew, in back, an old guy of about ninety sat there, playing a harmonica through the entire service. It was somewhat bizarre. In the church courtyard afterwards, I saw the scariest statue of Jesus I have ever seen. It was life-sized, and he looked like he was ready to strangle somebody.

The congregation probably paid a buttload for that statue, so no matter how much like a demented homeless person, or a mauler, Jesus looks, I guess they're stuck with it. Had that been there when I was a child, it would have caused me nightmares. The whole experience was still further proof, to me, that you can't go home again.

Has it occurred to anybody else that the U.S. Patriot Act might come back to bite the Right-Wingers who support it in the ass? History shows that few of the rights or freedoms we surrender ever come back again. What happens when some future President, hostile to the Religious Right, decides to wiretap conservative churches and use the "evidence" he or she compiles to revoke their tax-exempt status or toss certain believers in jail? When they cry about how persecuted they are, I, for one, do not even want to hear it.

You simply cannot attack the rights of others without also endangering your own. I only hope and pray the American people remember that before we've turned our entire Constitution into toilet-paper.

My folks weren't much into organized religion. I had to play church, when I was a kid, because they almost never wanted to go. And when I told my dad I wanted to go to a Southern Baptist college, he just about had a fit. "Why do you want to hang around those people?" he asked me. "Don't you realize that religion attracts the very worst kind?"

Unfortunately, he was a long way from wrong. It's remarkable, how nasty a lot of so-called Christians are. When he was young, my father had a problem with alcohol, and the first place he turned (silly him) was to the church. All he found there was judgmentalism and condemnation -- nobody lifted a finger to try and help him, nor did anybody give the least evidence they would bother to offer him so much as a prayer. Finally, he found A.A., and they gave him the support he needed to get sober and stay that way. I can't blame him for never trusting the church again.

Why is it that so many Christians never seem to stop and think about the witness they give to others? Whether it's a statue of Jesus so scary it makes kids pee in their pants, a law that threatens to destroy everthing America stands for or the gleeful damnation of somebody who comes to them for help (but they judge not quite worth the effort), these phoney-baloneys are a disgrace to Jesus and everything He ever stood for.

For the record, let me make one correction. The congregation that commissioned the psycho statue of Jesus does not deserve to be singled out for any righteous wrath. They seemed to be very friendly and welcoming people, and the pastor was so nice, and such a dynamic preacher, that I will probably go back at least a few times just to hear some more of his sermons. I merely mention that statue because it so neatly symbolizes the nightmarishly ugly mess that so many "Christians" are making out of the faith Christ gave to the world.

"When the Son of Man returns," Jesus once sadly asked, "will He find faith left on earth?" Thanks to the Holy Spirit He promised would abide with us 'til He comes back, we can rest assured that He will. But it will certainly be no thanks to many of the sick jokes who call themselves Christians.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Radical Libertarian: Radical Opening Post

Recommending a possible promising new blog. Anybody who wants to help spread the word about the libertarian alternative gets a big hand from me.

The Radical Libertarian: Radical Opening Post