Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Team-Up with Alpha Flight in CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES #5

It's been a while since I've written about Alpha Flight. I'm a fan of the team, but not a fan of their current incarnation over in CAPTAIN MARVEL. They have gone from Canada's primary superhero team to Earth's space-based defenders. Plus, they got rid of most of my favorite members. So I'm curious, but not reading them.

There is a news story trending right now about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It appears that he will be appearing in a short story within CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES #5. This is the comic event that pits Captain Marvel and her friends against Iron Man and his friends over a new Inhuman named Ulysses. Ulysses can predict the future. Captain Marvel and her friends want to use Ulysses' powers to profile future crimes before they occur. Iron Man and her friends believe that it's really not fair to punish people for crimes that they haven't committed yet.

(Of course, Iron Man didn't have a problem with this concept back in the mid-90s when Marvel Comics published FORCE WORKS. Just saying...)

Anyway, Alpha Flight has sided with Captain Marvel. But they want to consult with the new Prime Minister about this situation and this consultation will take place in CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES #5:
Alpha Flight — formally the Canadian peacekeeping force — is supportive of using Ulysses to stop disasters and capture people, but there are also ethical conflicts within the group, (writer Chip) Zdarsky noted. Despite being part of an international agency, the team feels they're "Canadian first" and seek out Trudeau for advice, he added.

"I didn't want this to just be like a walk-on ... rescued by superheroes and he thanks them and that's the end of the story," Zdarsky said. "I think a lot of these real-life appearances in comics tend to go that way. I liked the idea of him actually engaging them in an ethical debate.

"It's a little tricky just because once you start to put words in the prime minister's mouth, we acknowledge that this is basically Trudeau fan fiction," he added.

"I had to kind of think about where he would stand on something like that and how he would handle it. Hopefully, I did a good job. Maybe I'll get a call from him saying: 'How could you have me saying that to ... Iron Man?'"
CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES #5 is scheduled to be published in late August 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pat Robertson: It's Just a Matter of Time Before the Supreme Court Strikes Down All Anti-Polygamy Laws!

I had the opportunity to check out the Bring It On segment on today's episode of CBN's "The 700 Club."

A viewer named Sam posed the following question about adultery and polygamy, which prompted Pat Robertson to predict that it's just a matter of time before polygamy is legalized here in the USA: "In Exodus, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The seventh commandment is 'Thou shall not commit adultery' but men continued to have more than one wife until the end of the Old Testament. My question is: Would that still technically be adultery?"

Here is Pat's answer:
It wasn't. They were marrying these women. And they had multiple wives. The kings did and others did. David had several wives. So that was certainly after Moses and that wasn't considered adultery. 

Which means one of these days -- trust me -- the laws concerning polygamy are going to be taken out because the only reason they have laws against polygamy is because it is said it is unbiblical and it is not Christian and therefore they shouldn't do it. And so if you can have all of the other things that the Supreme Court has ruled on, believe me they're going to say it's unconstitutional to forbid polygamy. 

We look at the New Testament. It says "Man should have one wife and be content with one wife rather than multiple wives." It's in the New Testament. But it wasn't adultery! Because they were married! They got married! The man looked after the wives. They were his wives. He had a covenant relationship with all of them. That's in the Book!
Check out the bolded section of Pat's words. Are those truly the only reasons that we do not allow polygamy in this country? Truly?? If so, then I agree with him that there's really no basis for banning plural marriages in this country.

Of course, it's not that simple. There are many other reasons why we don't allow polygamy in this country. Much of it is based off the federal government's disdain for the Mormon polygamists. But there are also issues of polygamist cults that do plural marriages in the cloak of secrecy and who abuse young girls. And there are also legal nightmares centering around issues of consent and inheritance when it comes to plural marital partners.

That said, even if laws banning plural marriages get struck down someday, I really don't see this becoming a common type of relationship outside of conservative religious communities and poly groups. Beyond that, I really don't see too many people agreeing to opening their marriage up into plural marriages.

You can watch the whole segment here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Faux Pastor Jon's Shared Ministry Worship Service: Looking Back at Rev. Bill Johnson's Ordination // First Openly Gay Man Ordained as Minister within a Mainline Christian Denomination

I've been having one of those weeks where blogging is pretty much impossible to do. Not enough time for anything but work, errands, and special projects. One of the special projects that I worked on this week was worship service at Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City. I've been a member of Faith UCC for nearly 20 years. At Faith UCC, we do something called "shared ministry." In part, it's a reminder that we are to minister to each other in all areas of the Church.

However, shared ministry also takes on a unique function at Faith UCC. Once every month, our pastor takes the week off and a member or a group of members plans and organizes Sunday worship. This Sunday was my shared ministry Sunday.

I had a much different plan originally for worship, but then last week I shifted gears and decided to do a special viewing of "A Position of Faith" (here and here) and talk a bit about Rev. William Johnson. Johnson was the first openly gay man to be ordained as a minister within a mainline Christian denomination. This was back in 1972 within the United Church of Christ. You can read more about Rev. Bill Johnson here.

My church has been an Open & Affirming Church for roughly 25 years. We welcome and affirm all members, regardless of sexual orientation. We have had LGBT members and leaders. LGBT members are allowed to join Council, to lead worship, to teach Sunday School, to do pretty much anything. We've had both gay and lesbian pastors in the past. The church performs wedding ceremonies for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. The issue of LGBT inclusion is pretty much a non-issue for us.

But it was good for our church community to look back and see where we've come and to learn about our church heritage. And it was well-received by those in worship.

You can watch "A Position of Faith" here and here.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Check Out Riverdale Podcast's First Bookclub Episode: Featuring ARCHIE Volume 1!

Longtime readers know that I'm a fan of the Riverdale Podcast. This is the best (and the only!!) fan podcast for Archie Comics. Jonathan Merrifield has been producing this podcast week after week for the past four years -- and I've had the good fortune to appear as a guest on the Riverdale Podcast several times over the past (including last March when I co-hosted Jonathan's anniversary AMA episode).

I had the pleasure of appearing on the latest episode of the Riverdale Podcast. I'm talking about Riverdale Podcast Episode #225!

Episode #225 was the very first Bookclub episode, featuring Jonathan and Barbara Ann and myself. We spent an hour dissecting and talking about ARCHIE Vol. 1 -- which was a lot of fun! You owe it to yourself to listen to this program and hear us talking about Archie's new outlook, Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, Veronica Fish... and "Degrassi!" You owe it to yourself to download this episode of the podcast!

By the way, the three of us are planning to do one or two more before the summer is finished! So keep your eyes peeled for on the Riverdale Podcast website!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mount Union, IA: City Government Votes to Disincorporate

I read a new story about the community of Mount Union, IA, that voted this past Tuesday evening to disincorporate. This is a community of 107 people.

News reports indicate that this decision follows "failed lawsuits filed by the city against an organization that built and operates the city's sewer system." I found a clearer explanation on Facebook about how we got to this point:
It wasn't just sewers. DNR says residents must bring old septic tanks up to date or else face thousands of $ in fines. To the rescue comes RUSS,rural utilities,sewer system or some big name. Put in new sewers, replace house lines,low hook up fees,,,but now monthly payment averaging $100 month or so. Residents are mostly elderly with limited income.before long city is in default for not collecting fees...RUSS sues ,city is broke, can't fix roads,mow ditches,remove snow, pay its own bills. Has no choice but to dissolve. Sadly after liquidation of a dump truck,tractor,city building,,,the sewer bill will still have to be paid.
This decision can be reversed if enough residents sign a petition requesting a special election. Otherwise, state officials will need to work with the government of Henry County to resolve Mount Union's debts and sell of the city's assets.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gay Marriage in the USA -- 06/22/16

Marriage equality went national last summer. Not surprisingly, we've now seen a 33% increase in same-sex marriages since June 2015:
The latest estimates from Gallup released Wednesday show there are about 981,000 adults who are in gay or lesbian marriages, up from 734,000 a year ago. That translates into nearly a half million such marriages — an increase of 123,000 since June 2015.

Nearly one in 10 LGBT adults are married to a member of the same sex, up from 8% last year. That includes 10.5% of gay men and 8.8% of lesbians.

And nearly half of all LGBT couples who live together are married today, up from 38% a year ago. The increase has been slightly greater in states that did not have same-sex marriage until the Supreme Court ruled.
It seems that most of those thirty-three percenters got married within months of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision.

Check Out Kevin Keller's Latest Misadventures in LIFE WITH KEVIN #1!

The day has come. LIFE WITH KEVIN #1 -- featuring the adventures of twentysomething Kevin Keller -- has finally made its debut. LIFE WITH KEVIN isn't your typical comic book. You cannot find it at your local comic book store. You cannot find it at the book store. You can only purchase this title digitally.

I have my own problems with digital-only comic books. I don't mind digitally produced comic books. I just believe that they take away some of the spontaneity of getting a new comic book. It assumes that you like and enjoy Kevin Keller. There is little opportunity for me to discover this character as a new fan.

But I guess that this story will eventually be compiled in a print trade paperback. So that should allow for more tradition comic book readers.

LIFE WITH KEVIN features Kevin Keller on the evening before his first job. He's done with high school and he's graduated from college. He has his own vermin-infested apartment in New York City. And he's about to start his new production assistant/copy editor job at NYC-TV! Basically, he's a glorified gofer!

His first day goes about as well as you can expect for an Archie comic book! Kevin oversleeps. He gets doused with water. He rips his clothing while biking to work. He finds himself running the errands that nobody else wants to do. And he ends up making a fool of himself on national TV!

Meanwhile, we meet his new neighbor Chris -- a handsome young man who may or may not be interested in Kevin. He learn about an ex-boyfriend named Michael who will surely create drama for our star. And Kevin finds himself with a new roommate -- a newly poor Veronica Lodge, whose daddy cut her off financially. And why wouldn't you move to New York City when you have zero pennies to your name?

LIFE WITH KEVIN is "classic Archie." Artistically, it's clear that this is a continuation of Archie Comics' old line of comics. So this is a great opportunity for those who prefer to the "classic Archie" style to show the publisher that there is still an interest in their non-relaunch titles.

Also, this is the first of four issues. This is not an ongoing title. But it's a fun mini-series with promise for more adult adventures featuring Kevin Keller. Don't get me wrong. This isn't "Looking" or "Queer As Folk." But it's easier for Archie Comics to get behind romantic misadventures of their most famous gay character now that he's in his 20s than when he was in his teens!

"You're Gonna Make It After All! (Maybe)" features script, pencils, and colors by Dan Parent plus inks by J. Bone and letters by Jack Morelli.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Muscatine, IA: Sheriff's Office Report Mysterious "Men in Black" Along County Highways

The Muscatine County Sheriff's Office reported that they have received numerous reports of mysterious "Men in Black" near Muscatine, IA, in the recent past:
We have had several reports of "men dressed in black" entering the roadway in rural Muscatine County. We don't have any new information about these people, but we have also seen several posts on Facebook about the same type of activity. It would be extremely helpful to the Sheriff's Office, if you witness this type of activity, that you call 911 immediately. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Weeding through Facebook comments, this appears to be about people "wearing black with hoodies and jumping out of the ditches" on Highway 22. Other reports say "They are on foot jumping out of ditches as you are driving past them and then they have more people up the road waiting and they'll jump out as you drive by and watch you." Other people report that these men in black have appeared in people's yards and driveways.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Star Trek" Actor Anton Yelchin Killed in Accidental Car Collision at Age 27

Sad news tonight for fans of the rebooted "Star Trek" movie series. 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, known for his role as Chekov, was killed in a car accident earlier today:
His publicist Jennifer Allen confirmed the news in a statement: "Actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a fatal traffic collision early this morning. His family requests you respect their privacy at this time."

Yelchin was pinned by his own car as he left his home in Studio City for a rehearsal, said Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Houser.

"A fatal traffic collision occurred," Houser said. "It was the result of the victim's own car rolling backward down his steep driveway, pinning him against a brick mailbox pillar and security fence.
Paramount Pictures issued a statement regarding Yelchin's death:
All of us at Paramount join the world in mourning the untimely passing of Anton Yelchin. As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and he will missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and family.

Iowa City: Faith UCC at Iowa City Pride

Against my better judgement, I found myself organizing a booth at the Iowa City Pride Festival for my church, Faith United Church of Christ, yesterday. Church members prepared snacks and volunteered time at our booth. I was in charge of coordinating the volunteers, setting up the table, and bringing the water.

Of course, I didn't realize until yesterday morning that the church's banner was tucked away in some secret pocket. But Sherry (next to me in this pic) and I improvised and a makeshift church banner was drafted for our table!

With the exception of an hour and a half break in the middle of the afternoon, I sat at the booth with various members of our church (not to mention Husband Mark and little Chevy). Normally we just assure people that the food and water are both free and that we're not fishing for donations. We still got some of that.

But we fielded a lot of questions this year from people who were curious about our church. What do we believe? How would we describe our church? Is it trans-friendly? Is the membership mostly along the LGBT continuum? How do we respond to people traumatized by other church communities?

We gave out a lot of brochures and related materials. Hopefully some of these folks will check us out soon. Or they will find another church that meets their spiritual needs.

All in all, it was a great day and the time went quickly. Plus, we had plenty of shade for most of the afternoon. Bonus!!