Monday, September 29, 2014

Nero Gets Reincarnated! Welcome Fender Blossom!!

Earlier this month, I shared a tragic story by my buddy Stuffed Animal featuring Nero's final sacrifice against the evil witch Carmen Serna. You can read all about it here. That said, I hinted at a rebirth of sorts for my favorite poodle. This blog carried on with the rest of that story...

It's true that Nero finally meets his end in the year 2050, but Sabrina "Bree" Spellman made sure that Nero's soul would live on into the next generation.

Shortly after Nero's physical death, Bree redirects his soul into the stillborn body of the offspring of Lyle Jason Blossom and Rikki Ninja. Nero's reincarnated human name is Fender Carlyle Blossom!

This extraordinary child has some unique abilities. In times of need, his animal spirit kicks in and Fender finds himself with the heightened senses, speed, and agility of a canine. He's young now, but those talents will definitely come in handy as he ages. Especially when you consider who his aunt is... (Hint: Carmen Serna!!)

Until now, Fender Blossom gets to grow up basking in the love and care of his dad and his transdad, under the spiritual protection and tutelage of his godmother Bree!

Don't You Wish Lesbians Had This Much Power?

I saw this 1992 quote from Pat Robertson earlier today and couldn't help wishing that lesbians and feminists had this much power...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Open Letter to the Married Christian Mom Who is Leery about Worshipping at an Aging Church...

A blog article titled "The Church is Responsible for This" by Candice Czubernat was circulating yesterday through my Facebook feed. It tells the first-hand tale of a married lesbian mom, her wife, and their two infants as they search for an LGBT-affirming church. The problem is that they can't find an affirming church that isn't too far away, isn't too liberal, or isn't overly filled with "old people." So she privately grieves and send other LGBT parents to non-religious LGBT community centers. Because she doesn't want to exposed to "old people" germs and because (though she doesn't actually spend any time in the blog article addressing this) she doesn't want to be exposed to "liberal" people (i.e., religious progressives who actually welcome and affirm families like her family).

Lots of people have commented to that article. They either feel her pain or they welcome her to come to their church. More recently, there has been a small group of anti-gay religious folks who want her to know that she and her family are welcome at their church as long as they use quote-marks about the words "wife," "marriage," and "family" when referencing her family and as long as they eventually turn away from lesbianism and get divorced.

But there's another group of commenters who cannot move beyond Czubernat's call for LGBT tolerance; namely those of us who are offended by her lack of tolerance towards those who struggle with "old people" and aging congregations.

I belong to a small church. It hasn't always been this way, but currently we have a lot of old people at our church. I'm in my lower 40s and I'm one of the youngest members. There used to be other families with younger children at my church. There were my boys. There was a lesbian pair with a son & daughter who are roughly the age of my younger son. There were two other kids who were just a bit younger than my younger son. And there were a three other kids just older than my younger son.

And then they all left because they all wanted to belong to a church with more kids. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that for most of them; but that was one of the stated complaints. The end result is that my aging church was left with one pre-teen boy (i.e., my son).

So do I leave a church with people that I've worshiped alongside since the late 90s so that we can seek out another gay-affirming church with more kids? Or do I stay at our church and allow my son the gift of worshipping at a church with a sense of history that includes our family? And if we had left, what does our absence provide for other visitors and prospective members who are seeking a church with diverse membership ages?

And, frankly, what's the likelihood that we'd find another church that's both gay-affirming, that's liberal (because I don't believe that is a horrible thing), and that has an active youth group that my son wants to hang with?

Speaking of church history, check out this picture:

This was from a membership "Stations of the Cross" exhibit that we created at my church back in 2006 when D'Angelo was five. I remember discussing the scene with D' and asking him to drew a picture. I then asked him what it all means and wrote down his words verbatim. One of the sixtysomething women collected that picture and kept it at her home until recently. She just shared it with me and asked me to share it with D'Angelo.

Keep in mind that D' is going through a "religion is a farce" phase right now. Maybe he will grow out of it. Maybe it won't. But his reaction to this drawing was precious. My 14-year-old son read it out loud and laughed with genuine appreciation. He doesn't worship at our church these days, but he belongs at our church and he knows that the old men and women at Faith UCC love him, worry about him, and are proud of the young man that he is growing into.

I would encourage young families to give a second thought to aging congregations. This isn't a "beggars can't be choosers" encouragement. This is a reminder that aging congregations have a lot to teach younger adults and their kids. It is also a suggestion that your presence may make it easier for other younger church-seekers who are leery about worshipping with people on the other side of 50. And (particularly for LGBT individuals and families who are seeking affirming church communities) this is a reminder that several of those fifty-, sixty-, and seventysomething old people are quite possibly LGBT Christians themselves and (assuming you're so lucky) they may be able to offer you and your kids a glimpse into your future.

In other words, stop being so quick to dismiss churches because there are too many gray-haired members. You both have something to offer each other.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Gay-Affirming Pentacostal Church Opens in Cedar Rapids, IA

You all know that I regularly visit the discussion boards at the Gay Christian Network. One of the things that irks me is when GCN regulars worship at churches that will literally kick them to the curb if they ever find out that they are gay, or gay married, or gay-affirming, or anything but ex-gay. I mean, these folks are supporting religious institutions that will turn against them and cast them out. Meanwhile, they criticize faith communities such as the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church that actually will support them and nurture the development of their identities as gay Christians. But I understand their dilemma. They have spiritual needs that are better met by charismatic worship practices. And unfortunately those churches tend to be anti-gay.

There is a third option and it bugs me that more LGBT Christians and straight allies rarely consider: Start a new church that fits your worship needs, but also remains affirming to all. I'm glad to announce that a nearby group of charismatics in Cedar Rapids, IA, have actually done that:
The Rev. Tony White and his partner, Scott Niskanen, know what it’s like to be turned away from the church, and from those leading a Christian life. “There are some hateful people out there, and some of those hateful people are behind the doors of the church,” White said.

That’s why White, a former truck driver, and Niskanen, a retired music teacher, started Showers of Blessings Pentecostal Church, open to anyone but with a specific aim of letting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community know “they are loved,” White said.

“The other night I preached — and this really is the foundation of Showers of Blessings — about John 3:16: ‘That God so loved the world, that he have his only begotten son Jesus Christ, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,’” White said. “I am a ‘whosoever.’ We are all, ‘whosoevers.’”

The church is part of a growing denomination, the Affirming Pentecostal Church, International, and Apostolic Pentecostal denomination founded in Indiana in 2010. Unlike most other Apostolic churches, APCI is LGBT-affirming. Their doctrine, however, follows the same beliefs as most other Apostolic Pentecostal churches.
Showers of Blessings is a small church and so far its worship size has grown to nine.

But it's a start. And it's an important start. It's time for LGBT Christians, our friends, and our families to assume our rightful seat within the collective brotherhood of Christ.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Man Arrested in Iowa City & Charged with Stealing Several Catalytic Converters

Remember yesterday when I complained that somebody stole the catalytic converter off my vehicle? I received a call late yesterday from the Iowa City Police informing me that they found a guy with a truck-full of catalytic converters
According to an Iowa City police complaint, officers investigating the theft of catalytic converters – a vehicle emissions control device – came into contact with 19-year-old Jamari L. Russell, who was driving a U-Haul near Highway 1 West at about 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. In the back of the U-Haul, officers found a bag containing 16 catalytic converters... 

Russell told police he was taking the converters to his mother's house in Chicago, where his brother – who he said stole the converters – would pick them up and sell them, police say. Russell admitted to knowing the converters were stolen. 
The estimated collective value of these catalytic converters falls somewhere between $10,000-$15,000. Russell has been charged with 1st degree theft, which is a Class C felony. He faces up to ten years in prison.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Iowa City in the Midst of Catalytic Converter Crime-Wave!

Apparently, stealing catalytic converters off of cars is the it-crime these days in Iowa City. Larger vehicles that are easy to crawl under are particularly susceptible. I was told that catalytic converters are laced with vibranium or platinum or adamantium or some other rare metal, which attracts thieves. Unfortunately, our family got caught up in this latest crime-wave.

Two mornings ago, Husband Mark went to the gym and had the catalytic converter sawed off our Hyundai Tucson. Keep in mind that this happened sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning in a busy parking lot along a busy street. Someone pulled next to our vehicle, crawled underneath it, performed a few quick strokes, and drove off with a portion of our vehicle's exhaust system!

I often listen to KCJJ radio in the morning. One of their segments reviews the local police reports. I remember hearing police reports about stolen catalytic converters over the past week. I chatted with two separate folks yesterday who told me about friends who'd had catalytic converters stolen off their cars. A quick review of the online police reports shows a handful that were reported just yesterday.

Fortunately, I have good auto insurance with a low deductible. But it bugs me that I even have to go through the motions of contacting the police and my insurance agent and arranging for repairs.

So if you're at the gym or a store or wherever and you notice someone crawling under a vehicle with a saw, call the police. Most likely, you are interrupting a theft. As indicated by the fricking saw.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Final Fight for the Equalizer in KEVIN KELLER #15!

The KEVIN KELLER comic book series was a trailblazer. Starring Archie Comics' first gay teen, this series featured Archie Comics' first same-sex crush, their first same-sex love triangle, their first same-sex smooch, and their first same-sex break-up. The company seemed to struggle with how far they wanted to go with this character, especially during the first six or seven issues of this series.

It always seemed like that liked having a gay character for public relations events like GLAAD's Spirit Day and Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign. But it took them a while to realize that they could figure out a way to spice up Kevin -- if only in a G-rated manner -- and let him be an actual gay teen with the same types of dating misadventures that seem to plague the rest of Riverdale! By that time, the book had lost some steam and readership.

As a result, KEVIN KELLER has been canceled -- though we've been promised a relaunch in 2015. Dan Parent has said that this new series will feature a slightly older version of Kevin Keller. My hunch is that we will see more dating and PDAs in this new series -- as well as the possible introduction of Clay Walker and the army adventures of Private Keller! That's all conjecture on my part, but I think it would be cool!

The final issue of the series -- KEVIN KELLER #15 -- was released last Wednesday. It's a follow-up to last issue's introduction of the Equalizer! The Equalizer is a super-hero identity that Veronica designed for Kevin. Basically, I think she wanted an accessory for her own Power Teen identity! But she got him a costume, and a secret crime-laboratory, and a sexy manservant, and a bunch of gadgets. So that's how Riverdale got its newest superhero!

Of course, Riverdale doesn't have a lot of crime so there's not much for the Equalizer to do except moon over Tony. But his costume and gadgets come in handy one night when Kevin's friend Wendy finds herself struggling with an overly grabby date. The Equalizer saves the night, but then discovers one of the biggest problems about fighting crime in a small-town:

That's right. Wendy recognized his voice. Not only does she reveal his secret identity, but she reveals his secret identity loud enough for the Equalizer's victim to overhear.

The next day, somebody steals a bit of DNA from Kevin's soda and creates a teenage clone of Kevin with superhuman strength and a bad attitude. The clone begins causing trouble in Riverdale:

Power Teen eventually joins the battle and the Equalizer barely defeats his new enemy:

This whole "Nivek" story seems to have missed a step and I can't help wondering if there was a third chapter to his storyline that ended up getting snipped due to the book's cancellation. I mean, who created Nivek? The guy who stole Kevin's DNA didn't look like Wendy's date who discovered the Equalizer's secret I.D. And who has the knowledge needed to create a superstrong teenage clone within days? Dilton? Salem? Or possibly Tony the manservant??

I'm hoping that Nivek shows up again in the new KEVIN KELLER relaunch. It's not that I want to see tons of him in the future. But I definitely would like a little bit of explanation and resolution.

"Holding Out For A Hero" is written & penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Rich Koslowski, and lettered by Jack Morelli. This issue might be the closing of a chapter for Kevin Keller, but I'm excited to see what new adventures he'll encounter in the months to come.

Jackson County Assessor Resigns following Shooting

Earlier this month, the community of Maquoketa, IA, was shaken up when Francis "Gus" Glaser (a former city manager for Maquoketa and current resident) caused a big stir at the Jackson County Board of Supervisors meeting. He was upset about his property taxes and was not happy with the message that he was receiving from the BOS or from county assessor Deb Lane. He fired a gun at Lane, who fortunately ended up escaping injury. He was tackled by others in the room before shooting and killing himself.

We learned late last week that Jackson County Assessor Deb Lane has submitted her letter of resignation. Her resignation goes into effect on January 2, 2015. However, she plans to use accumulated vacation and comp time and will not be returning to work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do Same-Sex Marriages Hurt Iowa?

Two of our local anti-abortion protesters got a letter published in the Press-Citizen earlier today. Their letter references the 72-year engagement between Vivian Boyak and Nonie Dubes of Davenport, IA:
The front page of Tuesday’s Press-Citizen and the Des Moines Register featured pictures and a story of two 90-plus-year-old women who have loved each other for more than 70 years and recently became married in Davenport. A later letter to the editor asked, “How can this couple possibly harm Iowa?”

Jesus told his disciples: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”

It is God who established marriage. They hurt Iowa with their example! It is impossible for two men or two women to consummate a “marriage.”

Not long ago, men courted women for the purpose of marriage and family. Work was considered a blessing, an expression of man’s worth to his family and his community. No life was thought to be complete without showing reverence to God. If a man got a girl pregnant, they were married at the point of a shotgun, if necessary.

We need to go back to those days.

Dan and Donna Holman
It seems presumptuous of the Holmans to assume that these women haven't lived a married life in their 72 years together. They courted each other. They both worked hard during their younger years. They formed a family together, even if they themselves didn't raise any children together. And they are both active members of First Christian Church of Davenport, IA.

I really have a hard time understanding how these two women hurt Iowa -- simply through their decades of commitment.

The quote from Jesus does not have to be prescriptive (how things should be). These women each left their parents' homes, came together to share a life together, and have literally held fast to each other for over seven decades. They shared a life together in every way. It is very difficult for me to see how their example has hurt this state!

Iowa has not been hurt by the example set by Vivian Boyak and Nonie Dubes. Far, far from it. We could all learn a lot from their life lessons!

Nero at Daycare -- 09/23/14

Nero strutted his stuff earlier today at doggy daycare. Check it out: