Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Magic Gloves and the GOP Race

This has been an ongoing conversation in our home. No doubt it's raging in yours as well. My job? To give voice to the insanity.

Once upon a time there was a game called football. No reason why it was called football, since feet play a minor part in the game. But football it was called.

Now, for a long time, people just ran around chasing the person with the ball. Then came passing. Passing allowed the garnering of greater yardage (important in the concept of "moving the ball"), and at least gave  hope to the "receiver" (also known as a "catcher" not to be confused with a baseball player of the same name) that he might skedaddle into the "end zone" (the place where everyone wants to be) with nary a bruise to his precious skin.

Soon receivers became diversified into tight ends and split ends (not to be confused to anal personalities or the horrors of bad hair)."Wide" receivers (not obese mind you) "spread" the field. This required those who oppose them and attempt to steal the ball for themselves and their posterity, also get specific names such as safety and cornerback, though what these had to do with feeling secure or not being under a dunce cap, is harder to discern.

A particularized problem of said "receiving corp" is how to "hang on" to the ball. Now this in and of itself leads to misdirection, since there is nothing by which one can "hang". The ball being a strange configuration, neither round nor oval exactly nor rectangular. As such, it infuriates the most ardent player/observer with it's (the ball's that is) propensity to go off in all sorts of directions and bounce precariously on the head of a pin before "dying" or tumbling, or ricocheting backwards at the most inopportune of times.

Thus magic gloves.

Well, there were other things before. 

First, back in the cave man days, there was of course one's God-given hand, palm, and fingers which did the job. Said hands suffered as one might expect from exposure to the elements (dishpan hands!), and being stepped on, bitten, and spit on all for good measure.

Balls continued to fall from eager fingers onto the turf.

What to do?

The NFL is about money, and fans like catches not drops.

Enter gloves.

Gloves now, were initially just that, gloves. Designed to do what all gloves do, or should do I imagine... Keep the patties dry, warmer, and free from irritations. And no doubt they worked as expected.

They did not however, enhance in any great way, the ability to catch the oddity known as a football. By now, one hopes you are clear that this football is not what the world knows as football, which is really soccer as EVERYONE in America knows, and given that we are the biggest baddest ass on the block, our definition always holds forth.

So, receivers of all sorts continued their search for ball security.

Stick um.

Yes, I know. I mean seriously couldn't you even call it Miracle Goo?

So they used that until the damn balls got so blessed sticky that even the refs (whom everyone knows come from an island noted for it's care of the blind) said, "hey what the hell is on this ball?" and got another one. Forcing more stick um use, and more sticky balls (don't you DARE go there), and more confused referees.

Now everyone is actually in favor of confused referees, because they are such a humorous lot generally, but the damn stick um was starting to seep through gloves and players said their hands were stuck to steering wheels going home, and they had to sleep all night gripping the car keys because they couldn't let them go. So it was becoming a bit of a problem. (Don't even get me started at all the wide receivers who were being arrested for shoplifting!)

So stick um was declared verboten.

Enter the magic glove.

Channel the Gecko lizard. Think of his tiny little feet.


Each little rib acts as an individual "gripper" (not gipper you fool). Thus if even a finger touches the pigskin (doesn't work on penguin skin I'm told, but don't rely on me on this point), it sticks like glue until peeled off.

Allowing the most phenomenal "catches" which is sorta like this:


Or we could call them "snatches" (DO NOT GO THERE EITHER). Or "picks" but to be fair, picks are not pictures at all but the thing that happens when the QB fails to throw the pigskin near enough to the magic gloves of the receiver to enter into the field of magnetism drawing the ball to the finger tips. With such failure, the ball may pass too near the magic gloves of the "safety" or "cornerman" and be captured for the other side.

What does all this mean?

Nothing much. Or everything, depending on where you lie on the "football is necessary for my life" spectrum.

So, if this means nothing, well, get ready to be really pissed.

This post has nothing to do with the GOP race. But it made for a catchy title no?

Anyway, I don't count these "catches" of much account any more. I just yell "magic gloves" when another amazing, can't be done, sorta catch is seen. I don't like magic gloves.

Now that you mention it, I don't care for the day-glo colors, the "tights"worn now instead of socks, and the fanny packs which seem de rigeur these days so one's lipstick and powder are always available for those touch-ups after a particularly feisty tackle.

I wanna go back to men in leather helmets and no teeth grunting and gouging, spitting, and biting. No more inventive dance routines in the end zone, no more "hey look at me, I did my job of tackling that dude, for which I'm paid 17 million dollars. Aren't you impressed?"

Can you just play the stupid game?


Monday, December 21, 2015

How ISIS Helps Us

If one watched, as I did, both of the presidential debates this past week, one came away slightly confused.

According to the nine-thousand candidates running for the GOP, we are moments away from Armageddon, World War III, or a Hanukkah party, not sure which.

Anyway, they are all super scared and threatening to blow up Russian jet fighters, the sands of Syria, and the families of identified or not "terrorists". It's back to duck and cover and home prep for the coming chaos.

But nobody is trying to sell you a bomb shelter this time. Rather it's guns. Bigger and better, faster and deadlier, guns baby.

Solemnly, each and every one of them tell us that it's guns that will keep us safe. And your sons and daughters lives will keep us safe in the Middle East, where it is imperative we send more and more and more bodies to offer themselves to the gods of oil, who will properly maintain that natural resource for those who know how to use it arightly--the good old US of A.

Yet, on Saturday, the Democrats managed to have a civil, quiet, and at times fairly nuanced discussion about terrorism and how best to resist it.

Fear seems to be winning.

No longer fearful of being as they put it "politically correct" they lash out at Obama, demanding that no immigrants, especially not refugees be admitted to our fairly racist shores until and unless we can be assured that every single would-be terrorist is removed from the possibility of being in their numbers.

Now, when is the last time that law enforcement stopped by to assure you that they were watching your home 24/7 because they were required to make sure that NO burglar  violated your home? or stole your car? or ripped off some green apples from your tree?

Oh, this is different how?

Are you assured that lightening won't strike you during a rain storm? How 'bout whether that drunk driver will happen to be at your stop sign this morning and forget to stop? Are you demanding 100% assurance that these things won't befall you?

Yet you demand the same of the government.

The GOP urges you to at least.

Even though you are probably more likely to get hit by that bus today than you are to fall victim to a terrorist attack, domestic or otherwise.

Where would that stop? If the government is required to assure your utter safety, are they required to assure it from yourself? Are helmet laws, seat belt laws, dietary laws, part of the deal? How far is too far? Should you be limited to home much booze you can buy?

Now you may rebel at this idea, and say, hell no, what I do to myself is my own business. But it's not of course. You right to get stinkin' drunk stops where my right to live without being run over starts. I have some say in all the money you are wasting on treatment too don't I?

My point, I take it, is clear.

So the party of small government isn't really about small government at all. It's WHERE that government intrudes that is the problem. Business? Oh stay out of the way government. My uterus? Come on in and manage my life for me.

Since being afraid to go to the mall or the movie theatre or to the park is insane and not logical as we now see, what say we about those people who are mere seconds away from peeing their britches at the mention of refugees?

A host of men, mostly white, spend an hour strapping on all their guns and ammo belts before they walk their child to the teeter totter, ready at a moment's notice to mow down the terrorist lurking behind the monkey bars.

They do this out of a hysterical terror so great that no amount of weaponry is seemingly enough. With shades of pretending to respond to Call of Duty with patriotic fervor, such men assure us that "they will protect us." The reality of course is quite different.

Experts all agree, people that are not professionally trained, seldom if ever stop a bad guy. Most realize it if it indeed happens that they have no way to identify themselves as a "good guy" and so keep their shootin' irons holstered. The rest, given their intense level of terror, end up effectually neutralized, most sitting in a puddle of urine of their own creation.

So ISIS helps sort out those types for us. They are, oddly enough, just the sort of folks whom psychologists would suggest shouldn't be allowed to even come close enough to a gun to see it.

ISIS sorts out the sort of people who claim to believe such fear-mongering dogma, for the stupid and/or lying people that they are. Either they are too stupid to know better, or they know quite well the absurdity of their claims, but it's really about feeling the fresh air of naked racist/bigoted hate that really turns them on. We need to identify both sorts and keep them weaponless.

Plenty of people suggest to me, hey, live and let live. You're entitled to an opinion. I am too. And if you don't agree, smile and move on.

Do we live in such times where we can abide by the niceties of "don't discuss politics or religion" in polite company? I say no. We don't. We live in frightful times. And we cannot afford the luxury of letting everyone have "his say."

The fact is that there is nothing in the constitution that requires us to all have our say. So I am not compelled to do so, and more so when your opinion is damaging and dangerous. I have a duty, so it seems to me, to alert you of your error with facts and figures. I should not and must not allow you the comfort of thinking you're right so you can return to work on restoring that 57 Chevy, satisfied that you have considered the political implications of the latest Import/Export banking authorization.

All is not well. Your opinions are dangerous, and they hurt us all. We have a duty to inform you of that, stymie further of your kind from thinking you and they are right, and spreading it further without strong opposition.

Our duties as citizens compels us to speak up.

No doubt some will argue that that is merely a self-serving defense of a practice I find particularly embracing where you don't. That may be true, but that by itself does not negate my argument.

Democracy is a hands on sort of political system. It REQUIRES its citizens to maintain real knowledge of world events and alternative ways of responding. It requires not just a citizenry that is trained to operate within it, but one EDUCATED to steering it properly down the road. Those are two different things friends.

We have damn few of the latter.

The fact that you were taught to read and write and cipher in a limited fashion doesn't give you ANY basis for concluding that you have any right to decide whether this treaty or that piece of legislation is good or bad. You have to DO something with those skills of reading and writing. It's knowing HOW and on WHAT to use them that matters. And no, it's not to thumb through the Better Homes and Gardens or Outdoor Life.

I'm sick of memes about a fake "war on Christmas". I'm sick of memes about questioning what we do for others, when we have so many at home in want. (We can do both.) I'm sick of memes that tell me that guns don't kill people. They are stupid, absurd, and meaningless.

I'm sick of things that don't matter at all, but serve to dilute, distract, and misdirect the great unwashed millions who are "not dumb" but little more. Like the proverbial dog and the word squirrel, we are no different. Present us with shiny new toys, new movies, new games, and we are off to the races, with nary a secondary nod to that terrorists that may be hiding in aisles of  Barnes and Noble at the mall. When we got nothing better to do, we get all gangsta on the terrorists as we delight to visions of ourselves as modern Rambos.

Will the madness end? Surely. But no doubt it will be replaced by another "other". The powers that rule the world have good reason to keep you always looking NOT at them.

Wake up, smarten up, speak up.










Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Shame That is the GOP

I dunno about your household, but mine is a riot sometimes.

My husband, the ubiquitous "rational animal" and I, the ubiquitous "burn it down" anarchist, are often at odds politically. This stands to reason of course.

The Contrarian prides himself on NEVER (oops) using absolute terms. He objects to me telling him that he NEVER picks up after himself, preferring the term, OFTEN perhaps or ONCE IN A WHILE. Since he NEVER picks up after himself, I feel well within my spousal prerogatives in whining, nagging, reminding him gently of his failings.

He carries this unreasonable desire for rationality over to the political sphere as well, where, as we all known, rationality usually has no part, and if it does, it's a walk-on part with no lines and pays only union base. This means, that on no account will I get away with saying that ALL Republicans say or do anything other than pee standing up if male (making due allowances for Ms. Lindsey of course).

So, since he's no where around right now, let us proceed to call a spade a spade and an idiot an idiot.

I make no claims to special knowledge, nor accurate reflection and opinion generated by a white-hot recollection of all that I have seen and heard. Meaning, I'm often wrong. I'm wrong about a whole slew of things that I don't care about being either right or wrong about. I care not whether I understand what "rebooting the router" means, nor how that works. I care only that it does, and that the rebooter is not myself.

On politics I'm more right than wrong, and daresay that on some things, I might well mimic my new idol Maude Petre, theologian, who suggested that she believed herself so right in her conclusions about God that it would take God himself to tell her she was wrong. I stand with her, and reject the Contrarian's oft repeated admonition: Don't say, ALL, because it simply fosters more of the division in this country that keeps us from moving forward.

ALL, ALL, ALL, ALL.

There.

That being said.

Given that I suggested that the ceiling for Mr. Trump in his quest for whatever the hell it is he's questing for, was about 25%. That was, I figured the top of his appeal. Now I've oft stated that an electorate/population containing only 10/% intelligent rational people is enough to run any civilization, since we are here and not ---------------------------------> there. In that I jested a bit, figuring that in reality any society can handle about 25% stupid and still limp along despite the constant irritation of stupid people getting in the way.

Well, Trump is up in some polls at least to 41%.

This is scary stuff indeed, if you are my husband. Not so much for me. I'll tell you why.

Trump says a lot of really weird stuff. He says stuff that is outright, downright, racist, sexist, and Islamophobic. He makes it clear he has no clue what the nuclear triad even is, let alone what priorities should exist between the three elements. He says he will build a great fence, and the Mexicans will pay for it. He says he will create deals the likes of which the world has to this point never believed possible. Each of us will get a banana split with cherries on top each Sunday. He says a lot of things.

I have no clue what he really believes about ANYTHING. I've heard him say quite different things if I look at old footage of a few years back.

I do know that he knows (as do all smart politicians) what people are really thinking, or at least that part of "the people" that might vote for you if you tap into their thoughts. And he burps that out in soundbites that excite and grow hard-ons for the loyal down home boys whose carbine is never far from their eager hands.

Now these folks are not educated. They are not natively intelligent either. They are much like dear pets that consistently appear to have somewhere to go, but in reality are just walking around trying to remember why they got up in the first place. They are not very successful people, and they feel bad about that when they see people on the TV with all their shiny toys and acting like it was all normal and such to have such fine things.

So, they look for reasons excuses for why it ain't their fault. It's gotta be somebody's of course.

Trump and company come to the rescue.

The GOP en masse, offers any number of willing "causes" of the plight of the white/middle-aged/high-school diplomaed/working stiff dude. It's women and their uppity ways, it's blacks and theirs, it's Mexicans and theirs, it's gays and theirs, it's Muslims and theirs, and its libtards and theirs. (There could be more, but in the end white boys have limited capacities for remembering too many litanies).

Over and over, the ever-lazier media enunciates after the latest Trump spew, "well that's it. You can expect his poll numbers to drop now. Nobody is going to stand by while he spouts stuff that is unconstitutional, unAmerican, and immoral." Yet the numbers rise.And they throw up their hands in disbelief and wonder and move on until the next time they are sure he's tanking.

So what is going on?

It's simple really. Forget what Trump believes. I doubt it's what you or I thinks he believes. But he KNOWS what THEY think. In this he is no different than knuckle draggers like Huck or Randy P., or Cruz, or Rubio. He may be unlike Benjie Carson, whom I contend that history is proving is nothing but a idiot savant. They all KNOW what THEY think.

All the rest except Trump rely on the tried and true "code" for alerting their base that they agree with what THEY think, without being so crass and rude to say it out loud. Also they know, that EVEN IF there are a WHOLE LOT of THEM, it's not enough to win national elections. So they use the code. They are for your "freedoms" "law and order" "pride of work" and all the other slogans that stand for "hint, hint, nudge, nudge, we hate 'em too".

They, in other words, play the game.

Trump, thumbing his nose at the entire political enterprise, simple says what is actually lurking in the sad hateful minds of the mob. "They're rapists, they kill our families, they steal our jobs." He says it in technicolor with no nuances, no filters. It's raw hate, and it's the true beliefs of an enormous number of Americans. They HATE political correctness, because  then they have to wait until they are among friends to use the words they really think in.

His base will not go away because he says exactly what they crave to hear. They applaud the removal of the "code" in favor of the real words they long to give an "amen" to.

And here's what's worse.

Ted Cruz, knows this base and wants it for himself. He won't use the words, because in his stupidity, he actually believes he can be palatable to more than 50% of the electorate. He will play the game of code, while being nice to the Donald, all the while plotting and scheming to be the recipient of that great hate. His hands are eager to embrace it. His heart is eager to lead the people to God's kingdom on a hill filled with all the rest of his Dominionist rant.

And the rest are not far behind.

They all to one degree or another support torture if we need to use it, more troops dying over seas to prove that we are still the biggest bully in town. They all agree and continue using the code words that alert this great swath of haters that they count.

They call Trump names. The more desperate the campaign the louder the outrage at Mr. Trump's limited understanding of world politics, his impractical, unconstitutional, and yes, even inhumane plans. They attack at his effrontery to gain acceptance among the very sort of sick sad humans they want to court.

And yet.

They either dodge, or admit. Admit what?

Oh, if Trump is the standard bearer for the party, yeah, they will vote for him.

Because that is code. That is code for, and if he doesn't get it, please remember me when you cast your vote. I am just like Donald, just cleaner. Or smarter. Or whatever.

That designates the entire GOP as not having the moral rectitude of your average ant eater. To suggest that even a Donald Trump is better than a Martin O'Malley for instance, is insane. It's untrue. It's absurd. And if they say it, they don't mean it. What they do mean, is that I can play in the mud with you folks, but I'm trying to remain neat for those independents and the stray Democrat whom we can hold by appealing to their visceral fear of socialism and death squads.

This is the shame of the GOP. That it ends up standing for nothing at all, except it's willingness to play down to the lowest common denominator when it comes to human existence. It is a party bereft of compassion, empathy, forgiveness. It's a party devoted to rewarding those that feed it--big business, all the while pushing the lie that giving more to the haves will somehow rebound to the poor.

It is willing through it's climate change denial, to see future generations reduced to poverty, and then death, all because campaign contributions from oil and gas interests arrive monthly as needed.

If you cannot call a rabid dog such, then you aren't much of a champion of anything are you? If you can't put it down, stopping its rampage that increasingly aids our enemies and gives comfort to them as well, well, there isn't much to be said for you. You are crass individuals in love with your own rhetoric. You made your choice years ago, when you decided that a good life could be had  on the country's dime.

That's why Trump continues. They have no guts to even try to stop him.

And in the end, he does our work for us. There is no doubt who won't win in 2016.







Saturday, December 12, 2015

This Crazy Thing Called Faith

What do you have faith in? Anything? Nothing? The usual?

Are faith and belief the same thing?

I have been reading some stuff on faith, and more importantly (at least to me) doubt. How do they fit, relate, contradict each other?

Faith is a journey for sure. Anyone who claims it for an end is selling themselves and God short. Oh sure, the evangelicals of the rightie-tightie persuasion will affirm in loud and clear voice that they have no doubt. The louder and more vociferously they announce it signifies but the true terror they live in that they won't be believed. Think, thou protest too much.

We believe in God. We have faith that God is worthy of that belief. Blasphemy? No, just honesty. The fundamentalist is incapable of such honesty, because fear rules them so fiercely. Fear that if they allow one smidgen of doubt to be recognized, God will surely abandon them. Such a God they create.

To believe means to choose to accept certain propositions and doctrines. It doesn't mean that you don't question them, incessantly in some cases, but question them we do and must. For we are thinking beings, thinking about another thinking being. We are the creation of that being, and we long to understand.

The Church, by long and troubled contemplation announces the doctrines and creeds that it concludes reflect true belief. That of course doesn't mean they actually know true belief at all, but they have a worthy history that allows them to claim some superiority, since no one can match the amount of time it has spent on such issues.

Still, the Holy Spirit blows as it will.

We are urged as Catholics certainly, that nothing should supplant our earnest, well-thought out, well-prayed through conclusions. Yet, we are then assured that in most cases at least, the Church should be respected and looked to as more likely to have found truth than the average person's paltry attempts. All Christians should at least agree that constant attention to the big questions are in order. We cannot and should not give over this responsibility to any institution, no matter how benevolent it appears.

In the end, faith is personal, dependent upon the developed relationship between Creator and creation. The Church offers it's expertise and experience, but the walk is ours.

Faith is lively when it is full of questions and in tension at all times. We wish a God who "knows" the outcome of life, yet we cling to our need to be free to make choices ourselves. We want the assurance and safety of a universe all wrapped up and tied with a bow, yet we rebel at any notion that the game is "rigged and fixed."

We are growing with God. Perhaps God is also growing, learning, and adjusting. We certainly are, or should be. When we spake as a child, our notions were childish. As we grow into our personal and collective adulthood, we should begin speaking as an adult, and our thinking should grow up as well.

In any case, what once concerned us is solved, and then a bit further along, something else concerns us, and we struggle once again to bring into agreement new insights and new conflicts. We reread scripture, looking for clues for our new questions and perhaps some old bugaboos.

We let it be when we are fragile and weak, we push on boldly, sure that both God and we can take it, when we are strong. We live in grace, offered, rejected, ignored, toyed with, fondled, left until tomorrow. We are after all human.

I struggle with many issues. I find myself in extreme disagreement with my Church on many issues. That leads to a "go it alone" attitude. Yet Church is also community, a concept reflected countless times within sacred writings, as well as in the Trinity itself. We don't do faith rightly it seems alone. We cannot nod and smile as we sleep in on Sunday, assuring ourselves that we are "spiritual" not religious.

Religion is getting a very bad rap these days. Everywhere you look, the extremists within faith traditions use this powerful tool to entrap followers into their rigid thinking, "doing it for God" so we claim, all the while we seek our own ends, be they belonging, power, money, or misguided assurances of ultimate truth and finality. So many need to KNOW, to be certain.

The need for this certainty leads to the  radicalizing of  sacred books into manuals for extending one's beliefs to encompass all comers, willing or otherwise. It leads to fundamentalism and its inherent limitations. One must reject any possibility of doubt, for doubt means failure. Doubt is no faith. So they say.

But of course this is not true. It is just convenient. It serves to prevent the exodus of disaffected believers or to their maturing, if lucky. It keeps them docile, malleable, lead able. We need to grow if we are to do more than give glib responses to creedal demands.

Walter Brueggemann, OT scholar extraordinaire, writes that the OT suggests a God in conversation with His creation. God asks questions. Humans lament, argue, deny, refuse, bargain, accept grudgingly. Look at the prophets and what they endured. How they begged to be released from the calling. Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It is our nature, and perhaps God's as well.

I am in deep contemplation of many things again. I am returning to "churchy" things, if not permanently, then for as long as it seems good and valuable to me. Last week, we returned in liturgy to the opening chapters of Genesis. God, enters the garden and cannot locate his creation. He calls out "Where are you?"

That question hit me between the eyes, for it spoke to exactly where I am today. I am trying to figure out where I am in this world of faith, with all its troubling aspects. Some move to agnosticism--whatever God is or isn't is beyond me! or worse, atheism--"I'm taking the easy way out. If I can't prove God, than I'm going to forget it as impossible and not worth the time." Some struggle with the question, until some satisfaction is reached. Before a new question arises.

This is the way of faith. The right way of faith I would contend. I may be no nearer the resolution of anything, yet I feel the better for the trying. I feel clearer in my mind why I do or don't do, think or don't think, say or don't say things. It settles things for a time, even though I know the time will be limited.

God, to me at least, will always be such. Fascinating yet just out of reach. I will never draw a picture of God that is true or satisfactory. I will only in the end fashion? or uncover some notion of God that works for me at that time and place. That is all that is necessary. To know that this God is adjustable, to meet my needs, as I struggle to understand. is enough. That truth is enough today.

This journey is done in fits and starts. Highs and lows distribute themselves along a continuum of feeling presence to utter absence. I'm somewhere along that line at every moment. I feel okay with being in many places along it at any given time, and then wildly at odds with where I am, and ready t move.

I like thinking that God learns things. I love it that God doesn't pretend to know everything. I am okay if God can't fix everything, or maybe even nothing. Sometimes at least. God remains the moving target that I can barely get sighted in on before He surprises me once again.

I keep my bags packed. God tends to want to travel at a moment's notice. It's best to be ready.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Stand Up and Count the Ways

A week or so ago, I posted an amusing little meme of which Facebook is full of. It can be about just anything. How spiritual are you? Are you an honest person? What profession should you have chosen? Where should you be living? What is your "animal spirit"?

Many of these things are posted each week. And like many of my friends, I answer some of them, purely for amusement usually.

Some, so I conclude, merely rifle through your public pages in Facebook and magically discern who or what you are by what you have said in the past.

Anyway, this one was entitled "what kind of friend are you?" and it determined the answer by looking at my wall history. The results were funny to me, but apparently my response gave people pause. So much pause in fact that they said not a word.

The results of my inquiry were that I was

My response was this:

I am so NOT loyal...I'm actually a terrible best friend...I am an only child, I never learned to share...I am selfish. I am self-centered. I am me first oriented. I make small exceptions for my husband and dogs...other than that, I am a rotten friend...don't bother me unless I call you first....seriously...pretty much I am telling you the truth...

Now, first of all, what I said is essentially true. I am not necessarily proud of that, but it is true. I have no loyalty to my country certainly, finding such a thing rather odd and misbegotten as an idea in the first place. I do not mean that I will not stand up for a friend when they are unfairly maligned in my view, but the part about "always being there for? well, no that is not me.

I'm not sure why nobody commented. It may be that they were appalled at my statement and recoiled in disgust. It may be that they felt uncomfortable with my admission and figured the less said the better.

Yet I meant it as no arrogant Trump-like bit of bravado. As I said, I'm not particularly proud of this. But I am not the least ashamed of being myself in public. I despise the idea of public and private "faces" if you will.

Catholicism, or more particularly, my acquisition of faith wrought changes in my life, as one would expect. I took seriously the idea of reflective examination of conscious, which is part of the faith "routine" common to my tradition. Introspection is a valuable tool and one that as we age, hopefully we get better at. It's rather difficult to stop making the same mistakes if you aren't thoroughly grounded in why you are making them.

So, through meditation, and just plain long bouts of thinking about who, what and why I am and why I think and do as I do is a common experience for me.

 I believe that God's love is unconditional, I believe mine for myself must be as well. It is necessary to drag out and examine in detail all the dirty places as well as the clean ones. All the dark must be exposed to the light if you will, if it still will return to darkness when the light is dimmed. And as I stated above, one's dark places cannot be permanently lightened without critical examination in as ruthless a manner as possible.

First impressions, first explanations are seldom the real ones. The probe must be deep.

Some years ago, perhaps 4-5, I used to argue regularly with a fellow a bit older than I who chose to deny climate change. Our discussions sometimes deteriorated into rather unkind shouting matches. One day he posted asking if I was aware that I was not liked by a number of people on that particular page.

I laughed, and said, I was not particularly concerned about who liked me. He was dumbfounded. He couldn't understand how any "normal" person wouldn't care what others thought of them. I couldn't understand why a "normal" person wasn't well past such nonsense by his age.

Age does funny things to people. Seeing the sand running ever faster out of the hourglass causes some changes in how one lives. I have no time for stupid. I have no time for people who annoy me. I cannot any longer care what anyone thinks.

To a point. There is always a point. Rank and file, I don't give a damn what anyone thinks of my politics or my faith, or my lifestyle, or just about anything. But that doesn't mean I don't care about improving myself among those that matter!

I care what my husband thinks. And I have a list of people I know, who are so much better humans than I will ever be. Their opinions all count a lot. If any of them were to tell me, that I was not "likeable" or I was not "honest" or any other trait that I deem essential to have, I would be most distressed, and I would spend the appropriate time sifting through their opinion, and thinking carefully and deeply about the validity of their claim.

I would do this because I have done this. More times than I would like to admit.

Look, we are all human. We all make mistakes. We are all (if we believe Star Trek's The Enemy Within, [season 1, episode 5]) a composite of good and bad traits. And we need both sides of us to be complete. Which is not to say that change is wrong, or unattainable.

If I am more open with my foibles than most, account it a well-studied interior on display. I am not embarrassed nor ashamed. I am not proud either. I am who I am.

Each and every one of you is too. You may carefully hide the bad, but we know it's there. I'm not chastising you in any way, I'm merely stating the obvious. And to the degree that ANYONE is bothered, ashamed, and determined to hide from the world their awfulness, I say--DON'T. You're not worse than pretty much anybody else.

I speak out on these personal things only to let others know that they can relax too. They're normal. You are not some horrible witch because you always take the best pork chop when no one is looking. Or a slightly extra size piece of pie. Or that you hid your sister's favorite doll and never did tell her where it was when you were eleven.

Being authentic is essential to me now. It was not when I was fifteen, and probably not so when I was twenty-five. But by sixty-five, I think it's rather time to be honest with myself, and if myself, then why not the world? There is no honesty in the pretense surely of being "normal" in all respects.

I'm not a loyal friend. My friends, such as they are, especially those of long duration, know this about me. They perhaps don't condone it, nor even like it much, but they know it's me. I know why I am that way. I make efforts, small as they may be to wear off the rough edges of my failing. I perhaps should do more, but that is not the point here. But I don't utterly believe it is wrong of me to be the way I am.

We are all such grand composites of so many things. We have each of us, our quirks, and eccentricities. They are our unique assets actually, the things that set up apart. We have phobias and bizarre spiritual beliefs. Who is to say which are good or bad even?

If knowing that I am a selfish person, admittedly so, helps one person to stop beating up on themselves and accept themselves, then I have served some purpose in my public mea culpa. Surely some traits we have are destructive, and we should tame them, eradicate them if necessary, but understand them we must. In order to do this, we have to accept that they are real, and that they inform our choices and decisions.

The devil you know is better than the one you don't.

What say you? If you wish, just list all your bad points and that will surely make me feel like a pretty good person in comparison.






Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rummaging Through My Personality

I've talked a bit about this before. So it should not come as any great shock to those who have hung out and read my shit for some time.

I was born way late.

I mean in human history. Even by creationist standards of six thousand + or - a few hundred years. But way, way late when it comes to real history, as in fourteen billion years. That is late dude.

What do I mean by this? (It's always best to ask and not assume.)

See, if I was one of the first hominids who traipsed across the grasslands of Africa, the so-called Savannah, walking upright, showing off for all the world my new-found not-knuckled-dragginess for all to see, there would be plenty of accomplishments I could list that alas are well beyond me now.

I could have concluded and enunciated to my fellow hominids that it would probably be better to shit downstream than up when the lady hominids are washing out the carved out bowls we use to eat from. I could point out that I realized that that star over there on the horizon always seems to move across the heavens starting in the dry season, and then migrates much like the water buffalo, across the plains.

See, I could discover new stuff, as a non-professional person and be pretty darn sure that I was the first person who thought that new thing. Today? Well, I am just as sure that every seemingly unique idea that pops into my busy head, is in fact an old idea thought of by someone else, perhaps thousands of years before I gasped and screamed "what a ride!" as my mother screamed her final push to "get this damn thing out of me!"

Well, another appearing "unique thing" I thought of the other day, is this. I'm probably the luckiest generation alive today.

Let that sink in.

I think it's true.

Why? Oh deliciously you can't wait for the answer can you?

Simply this:

The state of the world is such that I think my generation may be the last whose composites will in fact mostly live to die of old age. I'm not sure that that will happen much in the future.

Yes, yes, I'm more than aware that probably each generation at some point, feels that the world is going to "hell in a hand basket," (oh do please enlighten me on the genesis of that phrase.) I recognize that life never turns out as we thought, we get disappointed (where are the hover boards?) at the lack of discovery of important stuff like teleportation, and travel to distant stars. We realize that we wasted so many hours, days, months and years chasing false prophets, false dreams, and false truth.

And the world continues to spin, and the next generation will make the same claims.

But, I'm not so sure.

There have always been nativist movements in this country, sometimes quite large. There have always been bigots and racists and wrong-thinking dopes on every subject known to man.

I was recently reading Susan Sontag's essay on "What's Happening in America?" and on her "Trip to Hanoi" and I was struck by the sameness of the arguments, the insipid stupidity of the usual rabble of misfits we call Americans. We marched against the war, and working-class masculine bastions of dumb, ranted at us to "love it or leave it." We did neither. They are back at it today, this time, inviting all people of color, or liberal persuasion to do the same.

Nothing changes.

But things do change.

We communicate at a rate that would have boggled our minds even in the 60's. We are aware of everything everywhere, every time. Idiots gather on websites and chat rooms to discover that they are not as mad as they thought, since others share their insanity. Somehow, if you accumulate enough numbers your insanity turns to brilliant analysis. Multiply that by a few thousand and you see that we have a crowd of crazy people who can work together for the first time to destroy the world.

And they seem pretty much about doing just that.

And we are all getting quite frightened.

I used to be okay with the crazy, since I could bask in the knowledge that the people who say such insane things have families and forever more they will be the embarrassment of those who come after them.

I found perfect delight in saying, "I hope you live to have your grandchildren condemn you for . . . ."

But it may literally be true now.

Truly, I don't much give a damn. The planet will or will not be destroyed by fools, and I'll be dead anyway. Not my problem. But I grieve for those who come after.

We have a mass shooting now every day. EVERY DAY. And we do nothing. We do nothing because we are too busy, too sedated by toys, drugs, alcohol and what passes for entertainment. We say we care, but we ain't in the streets.

The Democrats call for "sane gun safety regulations", the Republicans can only complain about mental health failures and jihadists. But NOTHING can stand in the way of the most important right ever given to a human being--the pseudo-"right" to have as much weaponry as you can afford. The folks who claim they are drowning in taxes and can't possible spend another cent on feeding the poor, can spend between $1-3000.00 bucks for the latest assaulty-lookin penis enhancer.

Bullshit.

Nobody in history ever thought the 2nd Amendment was about this. Until the NRA decided that teaching gun safety, the point of their existence, when shortsighted when there was so much money to be made if only they could convince stupid people that guns meant safety and more guns meant more safety.

We have more guns than any nation on earth. We are not the safest, in fact studies prove clearly that countries with more guns have more deaths from guns.

But I'm not here to make the arguments. They have been made countless times before. The Right is gleeful at this last attack, since the names of two of the perpetrators are Middle Eastern, and they can turn this into a diatribe against the President for not being "tough enough on Islamic Jihadists." Democrats, as I said, will moan about the fact that 95% of all people agree with some controls. But nobody will do a thing.

I'm just sick at heart.

How are you feeling these days?

Am I weird? Well I guess that depends doesn't it?






Saturday, November 28, 2015

Imma Ramble On About Whatever

I seem to have my writing mojo back. I didn't exactly lose it, but I was just bored with the subject matter I guess. Movin' here had nothing to do with it. Blogger is adequate, and from past experience, has less interest in it's free services, and so, hopefully perhaps, they will leave it the fuck alone, and I can stop having to refigure how to do shit.

Once upon a time, in another land, I used to do blogs every day, with short snippets of info and appropriate links to read further. I don't intend to resurrect that format, but I am just dropping in and out of subjects today, so be forewarned.

There was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic. We will get the usual bullshit from the GOP...."when are we going to address mental health in this country?" they will lament, while pocketing a roll of bills from the NRA. Thank You! for your contribution. Meanwhile we will continue to die as ammosexuals and their ilk continue to line their basement walls with assault "type" rifles, and high-powered clips for when their rage exceeds their give a damn restraints. The vile verbal assaults launched against PPH by GOP front runners will have been, of course, no contribution to the climate of hate that brought forth the PPH shooter.

People continue to wonder at the ability of Trump to withstand what would seemingly kill a normal candidate--his unrepentant race baiting, and every other kind of baiting known and developed. No matter what he says, his polls don't drop. The answer is quite simple. While Trump continues to claim that his remarks are not meant to offend, his base sees them as just that, and they are the things they whisper among themselves but dare not say in public. Trump says what they want so desperately to say. White men are very afraid, and fear always turns to rage and outrageous behavior. Nothing new here.



I'm told the ancient argument over whether we should let our dogs lick our faces continues. I recall that Brun usually did yell at Binda and Yorn for letting the damn wolf slobber all over the baby. "Put that baby back in the cave," Brun yelled, "and keep that mangy wolf outside where he belongs!" Now it's all parasites versus the healing power of dog saliva. Brun wouldn't have cared, he just enjoyed ruling the roost with bluster.

I noticed a surge in Trumps numbers a few weeks ago. I think it had to do with his taking up of the since the beginning of time habit of swearing. People like swearers. Especially when it comes from unlikely sources. It was not considered "appropriate" to swear if one were a politician. Look for more swearing coming your way. Hot Damn!

They say there is a comeback of the great white shark in the Atlantic. All I can say is, "Yay, more Jaws movies!" I was thinking of "Ratatouille Meets Jaws on the High Seas" or "Unlocked Jaws: the Story Behind the Mechanical Fish".



Spike Lee says women on campus should go on sex strike to protest the incidents of rape on campus and the oft-times "sweep it under the rug" mentality of university officials. Looks like somebody has been reading Lysistrata again! Aristophanes would be so pleased.

Benji Carson has been licking his wounds lately. Seems nobody is quite keen on his "I'm reading a book on foreign policy" answers. So he's off to Jordan to meet some real live refugees, so he can, ya know, "understand". See I can explain his drop in the polls. Old white guys all said, "I'm really liking Carson", when really they meant was "You can't call me a racist, you can't call me a racist, you can't call me a racist." --NOW..Well, once that is established, so the white racist believes, he can then move on to whom he REALLY likes, which appears to be Trumpet and Cruz'n for a kingship. Trumpet is happy to feed them racist bones, while Cruz? Oh he is the next best thing to Benjie himself, dark enough to be "one of 'em" so the white racist in a sense gets a twofer, all the while the wink, wink, nod, nod, assures them that secretly he is against them blacks too.

Hawaii will be the first state to ban the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. Exceptions for movies and zoos. Animals were ecstatic at the news, but most got too drunk to interview. Others worried about how much it was gonna cost to return to their home continents. Seriously, no more elephants dancing or tigers roaring on command. I'm down with it for sure.

There will always be a place for the oddball shop which carries such a strange collection of oddities that you always want to see what's new. Bookstores will continue in some fashion for those of us who swoon to the touch of real hardcovers. But most stores are going the way of dinosaurs I am afraid. No amount of  "shop local" will change that. Let's face it, the ease of one finger shopping and no shipping is here. When it started getting  here by design in two days, brick and mortar were effectively doomed. Soon we will order groceries everywhere that way. Americans are LAZY.

Interesting issues at Princeton over the Woodrow Wilson issue. You can decide that how you wish, but the question remains. Do we make allowances for the "tenor of the times" or do we hold all to a standard of decency and moral rectitude across all ages? Do we allow for "some good and some bad" in human beings? Is it important to take down old "traditional" forms like the confederate flag? Should we strike down old racist rock sculptures of civil war Southern "heroes"? How far back do we go? Do we keep some as reminders of how far we have come? Do you think "slave" memorabilia should be only in official museums?, black only collections? Is a white collector by definition racist? I like to ask questions.

I get a kick out of imagining the inner dynamics when the Bush's get together to strategize over Jeb's fucked up campaign. Does Dubya snicker? Does Jeb turn red and stammer? Does Barbara wipe the spittle from the old man's chin while he berates Jebbie about "listening to proven winners"--namely the old men who worked for him? Does Barbara demand them to stop pickin' on Jebbster? I bet it is most delicious.

Only eleven percent of likely Republican voters support the Presidential pardoning of Both turkeys this year. That is neo-con-ism to the max. Is kill the only think the GOP knows? And if you thought to make exception because of their stand against abortion, think again. A study in Texas establishes that maybe twice as much, but at LEAST 100,000 women have tried self-help abortion methods since Texas has made it next to impossible for poor women to find a clinic to meet their needs. That makes them a culture of killers regardless of subject.

It's hard to care what Marco Rubio says about much of anything. Mostly I expect to find him out back behind the garage smoking cigarettes and swearing with his buddies. He's a child among juvenile delinquents, and seems to be learning the trade quite well.

As I mentioned in a blog about the first thanksgiving, most of what we "know" is bunk. The Pilgrims were having a celebration regarding their good harvest. The Massasoit heard the gun fire and went to investigate with some warriors. They discovered the happy Pilgrims, went out and shot some deer, and then joined in the feast. There might have been a turkey, but mostly it was venison, fowl, and fish, along with some of the veggies harvested. No cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. And no forks.









Friday, November 27, 2015

Angry Old White Men, and the Women Who are Amused

Well, I say, I seldom agree with Ms. Lindsey, although I find her hugely amusing. This time I do. I think I just read the other day, that officially, white people are no longer a majority in Merika, and ain't that a shame?

That depends of course. On whose ox is being gored.

Now, I have mixed feelings here, and we should all be clear. I am married to one of those old white guys myself, and all and all, I find him more than acceptable in general and in the specific if you are so nosy as to ask. He's a guy whose head is screwed on mostly right, and who never has taken any special comfort in his skin color, nor has it generally informed his thinking about most things.

We are, however, all, somewhat a product of our environments. We are more a product, I would allege, of our minds, and how we process that environment. I am no genius on this, but I've never been one to blame it on someone. I'm master of my own ship and steering my own course. For better or worse.

So, I can say without hesitation that my old man is a good'un, if you ask me at least. And I have never heard any woman who knows him suggest that he was one of those pasty lily-livered, misogynist, dogs that plague the world, yes even the world of today.

But he is the exception not the rule. Of that I am pretty much convinced.

The rule is most white men of an age, are downright ass hats. They try mightily to remain in a world their daddy introduced them to, where men were manly and women were womanly, and never the twain should meet, except in missionary like zeal. Women cooked and cleaned and men raked and mowed. Women shopped for groceries and men changed the oil.

I like this dichotomy pretty fine in some ways, since I don't like to rake or mow or change for that matter. I have no interest in learning the intricacies of not electrocuting myself when messing with wires. I simply don't mess with them. I don't care to learn of your mitres and cookies and other woodworking words.

But as a feminist woman, I do not like you white guys at all. You make stupid jokes, and then accuse me of being politically correct and no fun at all. You assume authority over me by tradition and "the way things should be." You ask me to read the bible more carefully and "know my place." Mostly you want me to be a slutty vamp and then tell me it's my fault if some sick bastard can't keep his pathetic dick in his pants cuz I wear my skirt too short.

So, all in all, I'm enjoying the great fall of the white male.

Of course they aren't falling nearly as fast as they should. Rich, and educated white men aren't falling at all, and probably never will since rich seems to always manage to steal a boat and get out of the drink unscathed.

And you white working stiffs ain't doing nearly as bad as you think you are. You still rule the working class roost when it comes to jobs.

But you literally hate what is happening to Merika, cuz your opinion is not solicited nearly enough. I mean how can they not see that the high-school educated?, manual laborers, who bowl for recreation, and take a big rifle to kill Bambi, aren't  experts on nuclear disarmament and the import/export quotas problem. I mean you have OPINIONS dammit.

But dear pasty white dude, your opinion matters less and less. Hispanic opinion now matters. Black opinion matters. Gay and lesbian opinion matters, women's opinion matters. Heck, I do believe that hamster opinion probably matters more than yours.

It's a shitty generation to be a white guy.

I get that, but I'm not very sorry for you. For you have raped and pillaged, stolen everything not nailed down, and murdered anyone who stood in your way. All for having a fifty-fourth variety of Trix on the shelves.  You have tried noble pronouncements of protecting kith and kin, but seriously dude, you did it for yourself as you always have.

A recent study suggests that you dudes are living in the past. You actually believe that things were far better in the 50's when we were pretty much openly racist, when women were "good little girls", gays were closeted, and immigrants were still mostly coming from Europe.

You are all living with a case of the sad.

You are drinking and drugging (oh big Pharm loves you! ) to an early death.

You were not ready for this.

It is no surprise. You got all the eduKashun you needed or wanted in high school, and so you had no idea you were on the road to perdition or extinction, you choose. We (all the others you have ignored) have been watching these demographics for years, and knew you were doomed.

But we didn't tell you, because your solution to most everything is to bomb it to death. Or undersell it. Or define it as somehow other and lock it up, drug it, or kill it, whichever is most convenient.

We just waited. For the inevitable.

We take no great joy in all this. Oh hell. yes we do, but we have no need, beyond this sort of flaunting "I told you so". We enjoy it as much as anyone does who has been abused and misused and make a joke of and lived to see the day called "comeuppance".

We make no claims that we will do better, but I suspect we will. We don't glory in our new-found power, for we were required to become informed while you were busy swilling Bud and thumbing through Sports Illustrated Model edition. We know that while you fiddled, Rome indeed burned.

The corptocracy that now controls you also controls us. That is our enemy, if it is still not yours. It will take a few more frying pans upside your heads to direct your attention to the real enemy.

Step up and be the first to be "enlightened".

Read all the dreary details of why white men suck at "Nostalgia is Killing the White Working Class."

And if you don't see the irony in that, well, we expected that.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ironies on this Thanksgiving Day

Ah, the day of Thanksgiving has arrived. We are all primed for whatever version of the holiday that now kicks off the Christmas shopping season. We are teased by football and classic movies of the day. We assemble with friends and family and we feast, we gab, we connect. We gather the stories of Thanksgivings past and family members still with us and not. We laugh, we argue, we eat.

Thanksgiving is a non-aggressive holiday. It can appeal to everyone, without reference to race, creed or faith of any or no kind. It is all you want it to be, or none of what others find correct. It is your day.

Yet, we have our myths don't we?

Some part of the myth always starts with this:

Pilgrims came to America, in order to escape religious persecution in England. Living conditions proved difficult in the New World, but thanks to the friendly Indian, Squanto, the pilgrims learned to grow corn, and survive in unfamiliar lands. It wasn’t long before the Indians and the pilgrims became good friends. To celebrate their friendship and abundant harvest, Indians in feathered headbands joined together with the pilgrims and shared in a friendly feast of turkey and togetherness. Happy Thanksgiving. The End.
Almost nothing of this is actually true, or at least it barely clings to the truth.

The Pilgrims were disaffected members of the Church of England who wanted to separate from that state church. Such was not acceptable in the England of King James, who was ironically pursuing one definitive "bible" translation that would unite his kingdom under one "interpretation". I say ironic, because the Pilgrims which included the then child William Bradford, were utter fundamentalists. They would flee England and King James believing their very lives were at stake. They would rely on their Geneva bible, but eventually the KJV became "the" bible of the fundamentalist movement.

After slipping away to the Netherlands (they were not free to leave without express permission of the sovereign), they gathered together informally. They worked at mean factory labor, but tried to live in some community of as they understood the early Christians did. They decided after some years, that the Netherlands was not the "promised land" and they started looking for alternatives.

Obviously the ultimate choice was the new lands of America. They went there,  to be free themselves,  but additionally,  to establish a theocratic state of their own. They often secured passage for their own dissenters and others wanting passage to the colonies. They remained largely separate from these others, as they instituted laws making it a offense to the community to not attend church.

The Native populations were rapidly becoming victim of European diseases, and whole settlements of Native peoples were wiped out. The surrounding tribes became suspicious of the colonists who were moving along the eastern seaboard.

The Pilgrims, given their rather dismal initial numbers were fearful that as they sickened and died during that first winter, the Indians would become aware of their straits and attack.

A new myth was created.

What was done with the dead? According to the myth, the bodies were taken out late at night and buried in the corn fields, with corn being planted over them to mask the fact that they contained bodies. This to fool the Indians as to their numbers.

The truth? The dead were taken out to the surrounding woods (also the nearly dead who would surely die), and set up against tree trunks and muskets placed in their hands. From afar they were to look as sentinels guarding  the settlement.

The first Thanksgiving?

Oh it did occur. Contrary to the fairy tale told to grade schools and above, we were not all friendly with the Indians. The Pilgrims  were in league with one tribe only, the Wambanoag. They had been devastated by plague and were being pressured by nearby tribes who saw an opportunity to take their lands. So the Wambanoag joined with the Pilgrims in a non-aggression, mutual help compact.

One day, in the late fall as the Pilgrims were harvesting crops for the winter (some of which the Wambanoag had taught them how to plant), Massasoit, chief of the Wambanoag showed up unexpectedly with a band of his warriors. They went out into the woods and killed a few deer and returned and ate with the Pilgrims. That constituted the first Thanksgiving.

It was not remarkable to anyone at the time. William Bradford, who would be the governor of the colony for most of the rest of his life, made no mention of the fact in his diaries which he kept faithfully since his childhood. Nor was it included in his history of the colony which remains the basis for most of what we know about Plymouth colony.

In fact, Thanksgiving was not declared a holiday until Lincoln, who did it as a measure of unity to a union in disarray and war.

What I found most ironic in learning the truth of this group, had nothing to do with these myths and stories however. It had to do with marriage.

As you know, fundamentalists drive the conversation when it comes to marriage equality and they claim that the bible clearly mandates that marriage can only be between a man and woman.

Irony?

Yes. Because William Bradford married in the Netherlands before the journey to America. His was a civil ceremony done by the local magistrate. Why was this?

Because Bradford was an extreme literalistic, and his examination of the bible indicated that at no place or part had God ever spoken about marriage being a religious act. Therefore, Bradford assumed (quite correctly) that marriage was a civil act. This was the normal interpretation I might add, for years later the Catholic Church finally relented and began to bless marriages because people wanted the church to bless their civil unions. They would arrive on the steps of the parish church and the priest would come out and offer them a blessing.

Bradford thus exercises first among those that would settle in America, the idea of separation of church and state.

Kind of puts a factual clunker on the fundie notion today that God has declared marriage to be "between one man and one woman". Again, it is wishful thinking on their part, but to, I would contend, gloss over the homophobic fears of those that claim it as their truth.

Just a bit of fact to set some records straight.


The readings today tell the story of the ten lepers. They plead with Jesus to heal them. He sends them off to the high priest. One returns, goes to his knees and praises God and Jesus. This one, is a Samaritan, hated by Jews, unclean by definition. Jesus praises the foreigner among you who by his faith is more attuned to God's good mercy than the rest of the Jewish lepers are. 

If we take the Thanksgiving myth, regarding as true, then we see the perfect example of Jesus made anew. The Natives welcome and care for the foreigner among them, recognizing we are all "neighbors" as Jesus intimates in his recognition of the Samaritan leper. 

Now we have the opportunity to welcome the foreigner who needs us to survive. Will we do as Jesus asked us? Or will we play the trickster as the early Puritans did? Will we welcome and care for the Other among us as Massasoit did? Or turn away Syrian women and children? Will we be the other lepers who failed to realize that God had just acted in their lives and give thanks? Or will we be like the Samaritan leper who was overwhelmed by the charity of God and worshiped in adoration? 

Which will we be? 




Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Bring Comedy Central Home

We were sitting in the comfort of our living room. It was an average day. No angels had floated by, no unicorns had trampled the herb garden. All in all, quite normal. 

We were watching a football game. We were not drugging or drinking. We were quite sober in outlook and demeanor. What happened next, well you decide what it means.

Out of nowhere and apropos of nothing this ensued:

He: "I recall the saddest thing I ever saw." 

Me: As I tried mentally to associate that statement to Larry Fitzgerald running a crossing pattern near the 35 yard line. I failed to see the connection, so I did what I always do, and always later regret. I responded, "What was that?"

He: Showing no signs that he was the least aware of my mental gymnastics, he gravely continued, "it was on the old Ted Mack Amateur Hour. You remember it of course?" 

Me: The statement, more fairly a question, obviously was meant to elicit a response from me. Being of a certain age, (aren't they all? ages that is, certain), I was well aware of Mr. Mack and his talent show. One could of course quibble with the word talent here, since apparently neither Mr. Mack nor his sponsoring network were the least interested in paying for real talent. Thus, the unsuspecting public, in those early years of TV, had little choice but to view what Mr. Mack and his no doubt able group of "talent finders" passed off to us as amazing feats of entertainment pleasure. 

At this point, I figured I was being taken down the shaded lane of "gotcha" but like the lamb going to slaughter, I was unable to resist the lure of shiny things. Before you ask, I have no idea what shiny object the lamb was unable to resist, but it was the first metaphor that popped into my head, and damned if I care if it fits. 

I answered his question with "yes," though I am quite sure, he saw the fear in my eyes.

He: "Well, it was a one-legged tap dancer. But he had no peg leg. (As you know, there have been rather well-known examples of peg-legged dancers of all assortments. If you didn't know that, well, I can but decry the failures of YOUR parents in not teaching you such important things.) No, he, stood there on crutches, and wiggled his shoe, causing a tapping sound upon the floor." 

Me: "That is sad," I agreed.

Yet, I saw, as I said those agreeing words, that a twinkle could be seen in his eyes, and his lips definitely curved upward just a tad, and for all the world looked remarkably like a smile. If I were to be nuanced about it, I could easily add, smirk, sly grin, or something similar. Actually cross all that out and just say mirthful, a word not sufficiently used in the modern era. 

"You seem to find it amusing?" I queried, now thoroughly puzzled. 

He: "Well, yessssss," he offered tentatively. I was sure that there was a "don't you?" in that long intonation of yes. 

Me: "So you recognize that the correct emotion would be sadness at the man's plight and that he is reduced to begging for charity by tapping his foot, but your actual response is amusement? In other words, KNOW the right response but choose not to conform yourself to it? Would that be it?" 

He: "Yes, yes, of course that is right. I do KNOW it was a sad display." And then with some slight bit of forethought, he added, "I'm not a monster after all!" 

Me: I sat up straight and stared. He was now openly chortling.

Now if you have never had occasion to see someone chortle. I highly recommend it. It's that sort of guffaw (oh shades of Mittens Romney), that turns the face bright pink, the eyes bug a bit, the lips quiver, and the diaphragm locks up, causing a near choking, that brings a slight sheen of tears to the eyes, as the lungs recover their monotonous in and out, and the throat unconstricts just in time to avoid a serious spewing forth of spittle. Do always look for the opportunity to enjoy a good chortle.

Once again, of course I had been had. 

There is no telling how long this particular gem of a joke had been lurking in the recesses of his very strange and one-of-a-kind brain. It's best not to ask, nor even think of such questions. It has been shown quite clearly and awfully that having more than one loose nut in the house, spoils the entire family. 

Here's to you from the smoky limpid pools of my private cave of reality. 



 



Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Enough is Enough


It started innocently enough:

She: I actually have Facebook friends who are planning to leave the country now. 

He: I'm not sure I agree with that.

She: Why?

He: Why is now different than all the reasons before? When we learned of the genocide of the native population, why wasn't that enough? The turning away of Jews in '39, half of whom died in the ovens. Why wasn't that enough? Why is now enough? 

I know when enough is. It has nothing to do with events that make us ashamed of being American, make us run toward the light upon the hill and pray we can find sufficient instances of self-less sacrifice to make up for our atrocities. I know when enough is enough.

He waited expectantly for me to continue.

When you KNOW that the people whom you elect care nothing basically about what you think or want or need. When they are beholden in every respect to the corporate interests that pay their way through donations and lucrative post-Congressional lobbying jobs paying hundreds of thousands if not millions in salary. 

When the vote means nothing since every study being done shows that the average folk have almost no influence on decisions in Washington about ANYTHING, while lobbyists get a good return on their investment to campaigns. 

In other words, when we know certainly that all our elected officials are bought and sold or so close to it that they do nothing simply because it's "the right thing to do," without first asking, "are the oligarchs okay with it?"

He nodded slowly. 

There is another, I murmured. 

What's that? he asked.

When you no longer believe that the Judiciary is independent. When the first thing you want to know about any decision is who appointed the majority and the minority position on this case before all else. Because you believe that that fact alone will inform you as to what and why that decision was made. 

When a decision is judged by the judicial philosophy of the majority as a "good" decision, or as a "bad" decision. The good one is from your side, but is cloaked with the aura of "rightness" based on the logic of stare decisis and morality. The bad one is from their side, and it's "wrongness" is attributed to pure partisan bullshit. 

When you have reached that point, then I think you can confidently say, that you no longer have any connection to the moral philosophy of the nation in which you live. 

Sadly, many of us have come to that point. 

If I were younger, I'd probably think seriously about leaving. 

Which raises another new specter.

It's a difficult one. 

You have been warned.

So when you reach that point, the point of believing that your vote is meaningless (except in minor degrees), and you believe that the ultimate judges are corrupted, well it seems to me your choices become quite limited. 

You can of course, chuck it all. Simply divorce yourself completely from the political arena, return to your knitting and volunteering at the senior center (which is really just a holiday of gossip and keeping "busy"). Ignore politics. 

It's too emotional, too stressful. I have no voice. I shall wrap myself in my baking and gardening, and blah blah, oh grandchildren, and let the world go to hell, grabbing as many instances of enjoyment in family and friends, and leave it to "them" to argue about this stuff.

That's one way. 

Or, you will take up your cross and go boldly into the arena full tilt, devoting as much of your free time as possible to making some difference somewhere, content that you are fighting the good fight, and if others do as well, somehow we will right this ship listing so far to starboard that she is in imminent danger of capsizing. 

Or you can leave, moving to a new land with new customs, who is no super power nor with any allusions of becoming one where people are "normal". I have no doubt that one will discover that this too has its own can of sour milk lurking beneath the facade of normality. 

That's a hell of a choice I believe. Retreat into one's cocoon of isolation, thumbing your nose at the world and retaining only that which soothes the senses or at doesn't ruffle the feathers, or admitting that it is OUR job, ours individually as much as collectively to DO SOMETHING to make a change for the better. 

Is one moral and the other not? Is escape to a "new land" immoral? Is it a cop out? Is it the only sane way to preserve sanity in a world gone mad? 

Unlike the fundamentalist who manages always to interpret his/her problems away so that God ALWAYS smiles benignly upon their choices, the rest of us has to wrestle with either of two things: what would God have us do, or what would being a human being require of us. Either one is a fair representation of doing the "right thing" the "moral thing". 

It is so very easy to see why some opt for leaving the country. I refuse to judge anyone who does. I have no outstanding defense that somehow my meagre words amount to sufficient "doing of the right thing." I know those who are working their asses off in attempts to better the lives of others. I know my efforts pale in comparison. 

Can we assuage our guilt of laziness and selfishness by throwing our money at these problems? Is that equal to the laborers who are the on the front lines? I have no clue about that either. It raises another interesting question for the believer certainly, though it may as well for the atheist moralist. 

As usual, I have no answers, but I think the questions bear examination. 

Where do you fall? 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

We've Moved!

Please go to http://afeatheradrift.wordpress.com to see all other posts, from March of 2008-November of 2015. This will be our new home.