Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paul, Marriage, Celibacy, and Gay Couples

A couple days ago, I responded to a commenter's question regarding my position on homosexuality and the Bible.  Here is what I wrote then.  Yesterday, I followed that up with a blog entry describing my take on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Today, I'm going to wrap this series up with my opinion about gays, celibacy, and marriage.  I originally shared this material on my old Beliefnet journal.  I reprint it here with some minor adjustments:

I once asked myself how 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 applies to gay people (as well as their actual or hypothetical straight spouses): "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion."  I've seen other translations that communicate the last part as something like "burning with passion".  Same difference.

This communicates to me two things:
1. It's best for all to be celibate.
2. Even Paul understood that everyone is not capable of lifelong celibacy.

Het people meet their need for emotional and physical celibacy by marrying each other.  But this doesn't work for gay people, under traditional Christian belief.  We are either placed in the position of becoming unevenly yoked to heterosexual spouses where neither partner is ultimately satisfied or we're placed in a situation where we must live a life of celibacy, whether or not we are suited for it or interested in it.

This is an instance where applied contextual reading of the scripture has lead me to understand that gay couples, like het couples, should be encouraged to marriage if it is determined that they aren't suited for celibacy.

Some people of all sexual orientations are suited for celibacy.  I know both gay and straight people who have voluntarily accepted a life of celibacy because they felt that God called that for them.  But it is not healthy to universally enforce a celibate lifestyle of people who are not called to that lifestyle, whether they are gay or straight.  Celibacy works best as a gift, not a tax.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Get It. It Gets Better...

A few months ago, Dan Savage started the "It Gets Better Project".  It started out simply enough.  Following a recent string of bully-related suicides by GLBT and GLBT-identified teens and young adult, Savage asked adult GLBT folks to pass on a message to young GLBT folks: Don't give up on life, because you will eventually move on and more likely than not, it will get better.  It Gets Better started out on Youtube, but it now, several thousand videos later, it has its own website.

I've seen some pretty touching videos by Savage and his husband, as well as by other gay and lesbian adults.  And, months after this all began, I continue to see new videos produced by folks like the President, the Vice President, Hilary Clinton, the Prime Minister, the US Labor Secretary, the staff at Pixar, the staff at Google, etc., etc., etc.  Now I see that US Agriculture Secretary (and former governor of Iowa) Tom Vilsack has his own "It Gets Better" video:

I get it. It gets better. It got better for me. It will likely get better for the teens and young adults inspired by this message.

But the message has lost its viral appeal. Most GLBT youth aren't going to be influenced by the US Ag Secretary, or the majority of folks churning out these latter day messages. Anymore, too many are taking advantage of It Gets Better's message and attempting to transform it into a political tool.

GLBT teens are savvy enough to know when they're being B*S'ed, and so are GLBT adult voters. If you want to win back disillusioned GLBT voters, actually do something about GLBT issues. Actually pass DADT when you have the opportunity instead of postponing it until the GOP takes control again. Pass ENDA. Protect our families. But don't glob onto a GLBT suicide prevention campaign and pervert its original intention.

I like the concept of It Gets Better and I like the message of It Gets Better. I just don't like what the message has become.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Yesterday, I responded to a commenter's question about my position on the homosexuality and the Bible.  I want to follow up today by re-posting an old online journal entry from my Beliefnet days, which discusses my take on the Biblical story of Sodom & Gomorrah.  I've updated it a bit, but my opinion is otherwise the same as it was when I wrote this a few years back:

I disagree with assertions that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God because of "homosexuality".  Yeah, I get that a roaming gang of Sodomites threatened to forcibly "know" the angels visiting Lot's home...  After the decision had been made to destroy the town and after they had been sent to evacuate Lot and his family.  The general wickedness extended beyond the roaming rape gang.  Especially given what's been written about Sodom elsewhere in the Bible. 

But let's go with the assertion that the attempted homo-rape of those angels was what did in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Does retribution against a single incident of attempt same-sex rape equate global retribution against every other incident of sex or affection by same-sex couples, regardless of the context?

Another concern: What does it say about the worth of women or daughters where the most righteous man in town feels justified in offering up his daughters to roaming rape gangs?  And then becomes drunk enough to bed those same daughters immediately after his wife was turned to salt?  (I mean, he's too drunk to fight them off, but not too drunk to get an erection?  *rolls eyes*  I don't buy it.)

Nutshell?  The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was not proof that gay people and couples are inherently cursed or evil.  These cities were bad places to be.  Strangers were attacked and cast out to die.  The plight of the weak and the poor were ignored.  Pagan idols were worshipped.  In short, there was a lot of awful things going on that had little in common with modern day gay people attending church or walking down the aisle together.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Being Gay and Being Christian

I received the following question earlier this four-day weekend from a commenter named Madalina:
I am new to your blog and did not have the time to read all of your posts, so this is why I am asking the following question. I hope that it does not insult you because this is not my intention, it is just a topic of interest to me.

What is your position regarding the statements in the Old Testament where God says that homosexual behavior is unpleasant to Him? If you have already explained this in some of your posts please point me to them.
I've shared my beliefs on this in the past on different discussion boards and, albeit indirectly, on my now defunct Beliefnet blog, but haven't really discussed the issue here on this blog (at least not as far as I can remember).  I was in the midst of family get-togetherness when Madalina's question was raised.  Plus it's a question that requires a bit of attention.  So I told her that I would get back to her later and later is now.  :)

Keep in my mind that my answer is what it is.  I'm not a theologian and my religious studies have been fairly minimal.  I'm not here to debate my beliefs, though I certainly welcome responses.  Additionally, there's much to the traditional "Clobber Verses" and I'm not going to cover them all (or even most of them) in this blog entry.  However, I will likely update a few old Beliefnet journal entries to further explain my understanding of the story of Sodom, as well as St. Paul's teachings and how I believe it relates to gay families.

I think (and I could be thinking wrong here) that Madalina was actually asking two questions here: what do I think about the anti-gay passages in the Old Testament and how do I reconcile Christian faith with homosexual sexual orientation.  I'll attempt to answer both questions here tonight:

What is your position regarding the statements in the Old Testament where God says that homosexual behavior is unpleasant to Him?:  I'm assuming that Madalina is discussing Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 here.  Honestly?  I put about as much time and attention into following these morality codes and I do with the rest of the instructions in Leviticus.  Which comes off glibber than I am really intending.  Leviticus is a Jewish Holiness Code of behavior.  It helped the ancient Jews stand out from those around them.  Eventually, Jesus Christ came and died for our sins.  A new covenant was created through his sacrifice.  The Christian church is not expected to follow the rules of Leviticus.  We can eat shellfish and pork.  We can wear tattoos on our bodies.  Men can come into contact with menstruating women without violating a religious taboo.  And just as no serious modern-day Christian leader promotes the literal murder of gay people by Christians as instructed by Leviticus, I don't believe that gay people are forbidden from moral sexual expression.  That's not to say that Leviticus doesn't have some interesting things to say about modern day issues like illegal immigration or the death penalty.  I'm just saying that Christ set us free.

How do I reconcile my Christian faith with my homosexual sexual orientation?:  One doesn't become a Christian because s/he became sexually active with someone of the opposite gender.  One doesn't not become a Christian because s/he became sexually active with someone of the same gender.  One becomes a Christian when s/he accepts Christ's love and forgiveness:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Do I believe that GLBT Christians have free reign to engage in any form of sexual hedonism imaginable?  No.  Do I believe that GLBT Christians should remain chaste until marriage?  Yes.  Do I believe in marriage equality for GLBT Christians?  Yes.  Do I believe that this is contradicted by the Bible?  No.

But ultimately, all of those questions are extraneous to the issue of my faith in Christ and in God.  I'm a Christian because I have offered my life to Christ and sought his redemption.

My Thoughts on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I"

I recently got back from a family outing up north to visit my family for Thanksgiving.  Before we left, Mark decided that it would be a good idea to put aside our travel preparations and go watch "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I" with me and the boys.

For the most, I enjoyed the movie.  However, I've never read any of the books and there have been an awful lot of "Harry Potter" movies.  As a result, there was a lot of stuff going on that appeared equally familiar and yet confusing to me.  There's just a lot of history and back story for the casual viewer, in my opinion.  And I'd seriously thought that Valdemort had been killed once or twice before this movie, but Mark assured me that he'd been decidedly resurrected in one of the more recent movies.  All in all, the movie was a good one.  The magical effects were brilliant and there was plenty of action mixed with a chunk of cloak & dagger hiding and detective work.  Best of all, there are plenty of shots of Daniel Radcliffe, which made for some nice eye candy.

Harry Potter & Friends Versus Snape
Definitely, check out the movie.  But do yourself a favor and spend some time re-watching some or all of the earlier "Harry Potter" movies.  It will help catch you up and remind you of all the significant individuals standing around in the background.  And then prepare yourself for the fact that the movie ends with a cliffhanger and the second half of the movie won't come out until June or July.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marvel Does Tron

Tron is one of the science fiction movies that I've always felt I should get into, but can't get into.  I've watched it a few times, but never all the way through.  I'm not even sure what it's about, outside of a guy being sucked into a nasty video game world.  But the special effects always looked pretty cool.  A sequel's coming out soon and most likely the boy'll drag me to see it, so I reckon that I'll give it another try sometime soon.

Anyway...  Many months ago, Disney bought out Marvel Comics.  Disney's making the second Tron movie, so Marvel is doing a series of Tron-themed variant covers in mid-December.  I'm a little disappointed that there don't appear to be any Pet Avengers variant covers, but I can live with that particular disappointment.  Some of the variant covers are inspired.  Others look yawn-worthy. 

Here are my two least favorite covers:

The Quicksilver/Avengers Academy cover could have been pretty cool, but there is too much focus on Quicksilver and not enough on his digital trail, IMHO.  And the Ms. Marvel/New Avengers cover is just bland.  If I hadn't been told that it's a Tron variant, I'd have never guessed that it has anything to do with the movie.

Here are my two favorite covers:

The Wolverine/Wolverine cover, on the other hand, looks like a digitalized version of Wolverine.  They took his basic design and adapted it just beautifully into a computer game version of both him and his powers.  And the Ghost Rider/Incredible Hulks cover does another good job of taking a familiar Marvel character and transforming this anti-hero into a computerized demon.  (Though, I have no clue what Ghost Rider has to do with the Hulk, his family, or his comic book).

Hop over to this web link and check out the rest of Marvel's Tron covers.

El Paso, TX, Votes Against Gay Family Health Coverage (and takes out coverage for 200 others in the process)

This is old news.  The city of El Paso, TX, narrowly voted earlier this month to eliminate health coverage for the partners of 19 city employees.  Of course, their bigotry had some unintended consequences:
The ordinance that voters authorized by a 55-45 margin ends medical insurance benefits for 19 gay and unmarried partners of city employees. These workers have received taxpayer-funded coverage since the council implemented that policy at the beginning of the year.

City Attorney Charlie McNabb told the El Paso Times that, because of the broad wording of the ordinance, about 200 people -- including some city retirees and City Council members -- also will lose health benefits Jan. 1 if the voters' decision stands.

Pastor Tom Brown, who headed the citizen referendum, told council the city's domestic partner benefit condones immorality. He says it was never intended to end health coverage for anyone other than the 19 gay and unmarried partners of city employees.
"Gee, guys...  Sorry that you 200 folks will lose your medical insurance because we believe that God wants 10% of you to go without.  Bygones!" 

I mean, do people really believe that God cares if 19 city employees' domestic partners have health insurance?  I'm sure that the cosmos will rotate ever more regularly and Baby Jesus' smile will sparkle a little more brightly now that Adam's getting the boot from Steve's Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy.  Meanwhile, Adam and Steve and every gay family affected by this vote and every gay person who watches from the margins see that the Christian Church is no friend to gay people and is overly obsessed with destroying our families.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

DWTS Votes More Important Than Mid-Term Election?

I recently shared that I have never seen an episode of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.  The only reason I know anything about this season at all is because everyone seems to be talking about one of the contestants, teen mom and Secret Life of the American Teenager guest star Bristol Palin.

Most of the hoopla centers around her continued presence on the show despite her poor dance performances, thanks largely to the online support of Tea Party activists and Homocon Palin supporters.  More recently, allegations have been made that conservative bloggers like Kevin DuJan have been coaching others how to cheat with their online voting.  ABC producers deny that this type of cheating is possible.

I find it humorous that there are people who believe that Bristol's continued presence on DWTS actually represents of win for conservative grass-roots politics.  I also find it humorous that people report voting for Bristol 50+ times for her to maintain her spot on the show, but she herself apparently can't even remember to vote in elections that actually mean something in this country, such as the November 2nd midterm election!

Maybe the key to defeating the Tea Party is to maintain spots on reality TV for any and all of the Palins.  In addition to their TLC Sarah Palin's Alaska and DWTS, they could show up on Big Brother or Survivor.  Maybe a new reality show about raising special needs kids.  Maybe Sarah could co-star in a new Bravo-produced Real Housewives of Juno.  Basically keep them and their fans focused on reality TV shows and silly fake polls so that they all forget the 2012 election.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Are Christians Discriminated Against When Gays Visit Gay Partners in the Hospital?

There's a new rule that requires hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments to allow gay people to be visited by their partners.  It goes into effect in 60 days.  It was drafted in response to incidents of nasty hospital administrators and social workers who denied dying gay people like Lisa Pond access to their partners and children.  In Pond's case, they had the paperwork on hand clarifying her partner Janice Langbehn ability to make decisions on Pond's behalf.  It didn't matter.  Florida was/is an "anti-gay state", according to the hospital social worker, so Lisa died alone while her family weeped far from her isolated bed.

Matt Barber of Liberty Council is flipping out, and the American Family Association has got his back.  According to them, this new rule amounts to special homosexual rights and Christian-affiliated hospitals will be forced to practice grace and charity to sinners; something Jesus Christ apparently preached against during his 30 year ministry:
Barber considers the new rules political theater in trying to create the disingenuous idea that people based on their so-called "sexual orientation" are roundly discriminated against. Faith-based hospitals are not exempt from the rule.

"Certainly there are Catholic hospitals and Baptist hospitals that recognize homosexual behavior as sinful behavior," he points, "and they do not want to take part in affirming homosexual sin under the strong arm of the government."

Some religious hospitals may have to make a decision as to whether to conform to the rules or not accept Medicare patients. Barber says what the Obama administration is doing is casting liberty of conscience aside and forcing acceptance of homosexuality.
I'm not even sure how to respond to Barber.  Does this new rule violate the "liberty of conscience" of Christian doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators?  Are their religious beliefs being violated if folks like Pond and Langbehn have a chance to say goodbye to each other before one dies?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is America's Military So Phobic that They'll Quit if DADT's Repealed?

That's what Family Research Council president Tony Perkins believes:
The military is not a red state/blue state institution. It unifies our country. It draws its dedicated members from all regions. Still, it is no secret that the military is a socially conservative institution. It recruits heavily from rural areas in the South, the Midwest, and the Inter-Mountain states. In our larger cities, black and Hispanic recruits are encouraged to consider the military — which has historically been a great ladder of achievement for racial and ethnic minorities. These are the very areas and groups who have been most resistant to the demands of the homosexual lobby. These are the very regions and groups who have rallied to our side whenever we put a defense of marriage initiative on the ballot. If these regions and groups do not enlist in our all-volunteer force, President Obama will be driven to the place he does not want to go: the military draft. No action on repeal of the military ban on homosexuality should be taken in this lame-duck session of Congress. No votes should be taken — except to postpone major social changes.
Of course, gay people aren't banned from the military.  We're banned from serving openly in the military.  In other words, those gay-adverse soldiers and officers that Perkins predicts will flee are already serving alongside gay people.  All those soldiers that we hear about who are terrified that they might be forced to shower around a gay man or share sleeping quarters with a lesbian?  They're already doing it.  All DADT's repeal will do is make it so that the gay or lesbian solider won't be booted out if others learn they're gay.

Meanwhile, is Tony Perkins truly asserting that our soliders' and our potential soliders' are so unpatriotic to this country that they will give up on their country as opposed to serving alongside openly gay soldiers?  How pathetic does he think our military is?

18-14: The Heat is the Team to Beat

D'Angelo has been bugging me for a couple school years to enroll him on a basketball team.  This year I finally made good on his request and got him into the Iowa City Rec Division's boys basketball program.  It started a couple weeks ago.  The first few sessions were skill assessment practices.  Then the boys placed on one of four teams.  D's team is the Heat.  And the Heat is scorchin'.

Their first major game was tonight.  The Heat started a bit week and it threatened to be a blow-out.  It was 3-6 at the end of their first quarter.  But the guys rallied and turned things around.  D'Angelo didn't score any points, but he did a good job rebounding and blocking shots.  The final score ended up being 18-14 in the Heat's favor!

The boys have next week off for Thanksgiving Day, but then have a couple more weeks.  Hopefully they'll continue to play like this through the rest of the season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holy Water, Iceman!

Marvel is (slowly) wrapping up its seemingly never ending vampire vs. mutant storyline "Curse of the Mutants", which has been unfolding in its new X-Men title (and assorted one-shots and cross-overs).  Frankly, this storyline could have been wrapped up about three issues ago and I would've been pleased.  Between its totally revamped vision of Dracula, the vamping of my favorite ex-mutant Jubilee, and dozens of pointless issues of filler material, "Curse of the Mutants" just isn't doing it for me.

Fortunately, X-Men #5 has finally picked up the pace and introduced some innovative strategies on the part of the X-Men.  Like sending out only your non-fleshy members like metal-skinned Colossus and diamond-skinned Emma Frost to hold off the vampiric invasion.

However, my favorite element of battle preparation was truly inspired.  Bobby Drake AKA Iceman is one of the five founding X-Men.  He turns into iceman and slides around on ice-sleds and throws snow balls and stuff like that.  Ice is made out of water and there's a certain type of water that demonic creatures like vampires really don't like...  Get where I'm going with this?

Check this out:

What a cool idea, blessing Bobby with the idea that his icy body will become transformed into holy water.  And it ends up working like a charm, though we don't see too much of it in the actual battle.  That would mean that Wolverine would have to take backstage for a page or two.  But Bobby gets a few licks in and it's implied that his attack was single-handedly instrumental in taking out many of the vampire foot-soldiers:

Fortunately for us, X-Men #6 should wrap up this storyline.  Not sure where they're going with the team next.  Recently, we've seen zombie mutants, sentinels, and now vampires.  At this rate, I guess we're headed for a werewolf storyline.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Will GLBT TSA Workers Molest Air Passengers?

That's the big question of the day over at the offices of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH).  Here's a press release about this subject:
CHICAGO – Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) today questioned the propriety of “same-gender” TSA (Transportation Security Administration) “pat-downs” – if the TSA agents doing the “patting down” are homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano went out of her way yesterday to stress that the TSA pat-downs are “same-gender” – mostly to reassure women that men will not be groping them at airports in the name of safety.

“But what about homosexual TSA agents?” AFTAH President Peter LaBarbera responded. “Isn’t it just as inappropriate for a ‘gay’ male TSA agent to pat down male travelers as it is for a normal, heterosexual male TSA agent to pat down female travelers?

“The reality is, most traveling men would not want Barney Frank to pat them down at the airport security checkpoint,” LaBarbera said. “Neither would it be fair to assign Ellen DeGeneres to pat down female travelers. (In the same vein, the Army should no more force normal male soldiers to shower and bunk with homosexual male soldiers than it would force females soldiers to bunk and shower with their male counterparts.)”...

Some observations:

•Perhaps some common-sense, healthy “discrimination” is in order: the TSA should put conditions on employment for self-acknowledged homosexuals – that they not be assigned to pat down travelers so as to avoid being put in sexually compromising situations;
•It would not be workable to assign, say, gay male TSA agents to pat down female travelers – as the latter – thinking the agents to be normal men – would protest that they are being patted down by males. Chaos would ensue;
•Does the TSA know which of its employees are homosexual, anyway, and how? If not, is it fair to travelers who may end up getting ‘groped’ by homosexual TSA agents who are secretly getting turned on through the process?
•Could the TSA be subjected to a sexual harassment lawsuit if the agent who engages in an overly aggressive “same-gender pat-down” – and gets sued – turns out to be homosexual?
The obvious question is why are Barney Frank and Ellen DeGeneres patting down people at the airport?  Don't they have better things to do with their time?

The next obvious question is why this is even being asked?  I've been to prison with my son visiting his birth dad a few times.  We both got frisked.  I have no idea if he was gay or het, but we both got frisked with our collective honor intact.  I'm sure things will be the same at the airport.

Imagine that you're a TSA employee patting down random passengers.  There are people and cameras all around you, not to mention that your job is to safely keep the crowd moving.  Does AFTAH truly believe that any gay, lesbian, or bisexual TSA worker is going to have the time, ability, or inclination to molest passengers in the midst of all this?

The sad thing is groups like AFTAH invent scare scenarios like this all the time (like when they oppose trans-inclusive non-discriminatory policies because wicked drag queens might hang out in your elementary school's bathrooms "and there's nothing you can do about it!").  The image of sexually predatory TSA employees is largely paranoid and ridiculous, but it raises money and nurtures an ongoing meme against GLBT folks.  We're perverts and we can't be trusted around you or your kids -- Send us money to oppose their agenda.  That's the meme.  It's a stupid one, but it tugs at people's irrational fears.

Here's my message for AFTAH: Grow up.  If you're going to oppose GLBT rights, then pick real winners instead of inventing fake fear-based fantasies like this.  Ranting against gay TSA employees about imaginary hypotheticals makes your whole agenda seem facetious.  You can do better.  At least, you should be able to do better.  Enough...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Matthew 27: 51-53: Did Zombies Invade Jerusalem?

That's the concept being floated in Rob Liefeld's new web-comic, Zombie Jesus:
MATTHEW 27:51-5(3) “The earth shook, the rocks broke and tombs opened and many men and women who had died came back to life again. They left the cemetery and went into the city and appeared to many people there.”

The most disturbing scripture in the Bible revealed! Zombies walked the earth following the crucifixion of Christ! Now the 48 hours following Christ’s Death are revealed!

After the crucifixion, supernatural warfare tore apart the Roman Provinces. Zombie Hordes attacked Jerusalem in search of the corpse of Christ. The Disciples were under siege as the Undead tore apart the countryside and an unlikely hero, LAZARUS THE IMMORTAL emerged to combat the Legion of Dead!
It's an interesting concept, though hardly original as undead revisionist literature goes.  I will admit to never paying attention to those words before in Matthew 27, nor hearing about them in church.  What became of those people who rose from the dead upon Jesus' death?  And what did they actually do when they appeared before the people of Jerusalem?  Frankly, I don't have a clue.  So who am I to argue with Liefeld's vision?  I've read the first four chapters of Zombie Jesus.  I haven't seen any images of Jesus the zombie in the web comic, but I have seen hordes of undead ghouls attacking the citizens and army of Jerusalem, as well as Jerusalem's chief defender, Lazarus.

Here's part of an interview with Liefeld about when he discovered Matthew 27:51-53 himself and came up with the concept of Zombie Jesus:
"I was reading my bible this time last year and that passage [in Matthew 27] leaped out at me as it never had before," Liefeld told CBR News of the origins of "Zombie Jesus." "I called my pastor friends and asked them if they were aware that following Christ's death, the dead rise and walk among the people in Jerusalem. The response I got every time was, 'Yeah, that's a creepy passage, one of those mysterious texts in the bible.' I'm a huge fan of bible history and I've always been bummed out that there weren't the 'further adventures of' Samson, Joshua, David, etc., so when I saw this clearly ambiguous passage, I was like, yeah, I can fill this in, no problem. My imagination immediately took me in a very specific direction and this 'untold tale' was born."

At the heart of "
Zombie Jesus" is Lazarus, a man that was raised from the dead by Jesus in the chapters prior to Matthew 27. In Liefeld's story, Lazarus was resurrected in order to defeat the demonic hordes and protect the physical body of the deceased Jesus Christ from destruction at the hands of Judas Iscariot, who himself has been possessed by the devil and put in charge of the legions of zombies.

"I married [the Matthew 27] passage with another group of verses that clearly state that Judas was possessed of the devil," said Liefeld. "So now I have a zombie army, a devil to lead them and a mission that makes complete sense if I was on the side of evil. Jesus told everyone that he would rise again in three days, and that miracle would prove he was truly the son of God. Well, Judas and the zombie horde are going to try and obtain Christ's remains and prevent him from fulfilling his promise - it's a race to the tomb to destroy or protect Christ's body, depending on what side you're on. Swap out Nazis for Romans and the grail and the ark for Christ's actual body, and it's a biblical
'Raiders of the Lost Ark.'"
You can read Liefeld's ongoing Zombie Jesus web comic here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My New/Old Phone

Cedar Rapids' Gazette recently revamped its website and added this new daily question.  Half the time, they ask questions about gays, gays marrying, judges, and gay families.  Those questions appear to draw the most comments.  Today's question went in a totally different direction: Have you ditched your landline?  Currently, the "No" votes hold the lead at 58%.

My family falls squarely in the "No" camp.  I'm the only one with a working cell phone.  Mark refuses to become a slave to the cell phone industry, Leslie keeps breaking his pay-as-you-go cells, and D'Angelo's too young to own one (IMHO).

When we purchased our home, it came with an older wall-mounted touch tone phone.  About six months ago, we began running into problems with the cord.  It kept falling off when in use, causing us endless hassles.  We ended up having to manually keep the cord connected to the phone receiver anytime we used the phone, which was terribly annoying.  We tried replacing the phone with a newer one from Radio Shack, but the new phone wouldn't work in our older well-mount.  We tried replacing the cord with a newer one, but even those cords kept falling off the receiver.  We eventually settled for taping the cord to the old receiver and doing our best to avoid using the kitchen phone.

Fastforward to last weekend.  I was standing around the church kitchen waiting for something.  One of the church members began taking down the old rotary phone from the kitchen wall.  Apparently, there was something wrong with the ringer and they were planning on replacing it with a new one.  I asked if I could snag the old phone and they gave it to me.

It works like a charm in our kitchen.  Check out this phone.  It's totally vintage.  I love it.  It's so old, the kids don't even know how to use it.  Heck, I don't think D'Angelo had ever seen a rotary phone before last Sunday, much less used one.

I love that the new phone I could find to functionally replace my older phone is older than both my kids, plus probably a decade or so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is BVP really a King Maker?

It's been all over the place.  The three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were up for retention earlier this month were voted out, largely due to thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats and out-of-state money seeders from the National Organization for Marriage, American Family Association, and Family Research Council.  Since then BVP has been crowned by many within the state as a kingmaker for spearheading this campaign against the judges.  I'm also hearing a lot about Iowa voters' overwhelming vote against the Iowa Supreme Court and against marriage equality.

And I'm asking back:  What overwhelming vote?  It was a 54/46 statewide split vote.  That's hardly an overwhelming response.

Which makes me wonder if BVP and his supporters are going to run a little too hard with the results of this retention election?  I mean, BVP's already advising the four remaining justices to get it over with and quit:
The leader of a successful campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices says the four justices who remain on the court should consider stepping down. Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City, the leader of Iowa for Freedom, says he is not asking for immediate resignations.

“But I do believe those four justices do need to think about the message that was sent on November 2, and I believe that they fully realize that if they would have been on that ballot along with their three other peers that they would have been voted off too,” Vander Plaats says, “so as the appointment process takes place, I believe they need to take a look at a timeline and see if that’s something that they would choose to do, is to step down to make sure that they honor the court and they don’t disrupt the court proceedings by not having a quorum...”

Vander Plaats considers the four justices who remain on the court guilty of the same “activism” because they were part of the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling which paved the way for gay marriage in Iowa.

“The former high school principal in me says, if seven kids are guilty of the same violation of the student handbook, but only three were there at the scene when you found them, you still try to hold the other four accountable,” Vander Plaats says...

Vander Plaats took up the effort to oust the judges after losing the Republican primary for governor. He is joining the Iowa Family Policy Center, one of the groups that has fought against gay marriage in Iowa. Vander Plaats, however, won’t reveal his role with that organization until later this month. Vander Plaats says he has told people he wants to “stay in the battle to fight for the family and promote the family as well as for liberty,” and he says he’ll reveal all the details of his involvement with the Iowa Family Policy Center on November 21...

Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit were voted off the court on November 2. The remaining four justices are Mark Cady, David Wiggins, Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel.
BVP is being escorted around to meet prospective 2012 presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee.  He's routinely telling GOP governor elect Branstad how to executively destroy the families of gay Iowans.  He's being quoted almost daily by papers throughout the state for his success.  Meanwhile, his only actual electoral success has been serving as spokesperson on a retention campaign.  He's failed at all attempts to become governor.  He's failed at all attempts to become lieutenant governor.  He's failed a lot.  But he's Iowa's new kingmaker?

My sincere hope is that BVP continues his attempts at muscling himself into Terry Branstad's agenda one too many times.  Branstad hasn't appeared overly receptive to BVP's mechinations so far, I can't imagine he'll continue tolerating them once he regains the keys to the governor's mansion.  Hopefully, BVP will step on enough toes that the state GOP will begin splitting a bit, between the social conservatives who support BVP ongoing attack on gay families and fiscal conservatives like Branstad who are really interested in shrinking government and balancing the state budget.  Gay families will still remain under assault by the GOP, but we'll remain intact for another legislative year while they duke it out and Senator Mike Gronstal acts as a doorstop within the Senate.  That's my hope, anyway...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Preferred TV Shows by Political Party

Check out this list of television programs that I found somewhere on the net.  I have no clue how these lists were assembled or who assembled them.  That said, I looked over these two lists.  With the exception of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I watch NONE of these programs. 

Makes you wonder which political party spends time watching shows like Glee, Real Housewives of ..., Pit Boss, Doctor Who (and assorted spin-offs), Masterpiece Mystery, Rachel Maddow, and Walking Dead?  If I ever find that list, I am definitely signing up for that party.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

By the Numbers

0 -- Number of children being abused in lesbian-headed households, according to an article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.  At least, none of the children raised in the 78 lesbian-headed households in this longitudinal study.  Check out the link, it's pretty interesting.  Obviously, there are abusive lesbian moms out there.  I worked with the child of at least one during my brief stint as a family skills counselor back in the day.  But it's good to have a longitudinal study of planned lesbian families out there, and one that shows no physical or sexual abuse and delayed sexual activity by the children raised in those families.

70+ -- Percentage of US Military soldiers, officers, and family members who are fine with the repeal of "Don't Ask/Don't Tell".  Additionally, no major changes regarding housing or benefits if gay people are allowed to serve openly.  Those who don't want to live or shower with openly gay soldiers would be allowed to find alternate arrangements by communicating those concerns with their commanders.  Unfortunately, the Dems squandered their opportunity to repeal DADT and the GOP won't lift a finger to help our gay soldiers so I'm not very optimistic that anything will change.

39,000 -- Number of tickets issued to speeding drivers via Cedar Rapids' recently implemented traffic cameras.  More than half of tickets issued are to speeders from outside Cedar Rapids, which is causing business owners to worry that people will avoid CR like the plague.  University Heights -- a little town smack-dab in the middle of Iowa City -- had one cop who used to pick up speeders all day long.  And he was quite severe with his tickets.  You could literally be driving one or two miles over the speed limit and you would be pulled out and ticketed.  University Heights had a reputation as a speed-trap and many of us did everything possible to stay away from it.  I think there's real merit to the fear that people will begin avoiding Cedar Rapids because of its traffic cameras.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Can't Christians Mix with Gay People?

I recently read about a half dozen chaplains who resigned their positions as opposed to working alongside a new chaplain who happens to be a lesbian. According to cited source, it would violate their Christian ethics to not resign. That’s six chaplains out a team of 14. The chaplain program was established in order to provide emotional and spiritual support for that police department’s 2,2000 employees and their families.

This situation is hardly unique. Military chaplains have argued against the repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, stating that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly within the military would amount to religious discrimination against the chaplains. Similarly, gay teachers and students are routinely booted from religious schools. 

Which brings up the question: If Christian professionals cannot work serve alongside GLBT people as fellow co-workers, how can we trust them to adequately meet the needs of GLBT clients. Surely, those six chaplains who quit instead of serving with a lesbian must have been placed in the position of tending to the spiritual needs of a gay officer or his/her family member. I guess the question is whether they Christian enough to serve as chaplains for gay officers or are they too Christian to serve sinners? Also, how is it that chaplains are religiously discriminated against when asked to serve GLBT people, but not when asked to meet the spiritual needs of those with different faith traditions or denominational backgrounds (or no religious background)?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friending Your Tormenter

I found myself with a free hour before obedience class and decided to check my e-mail.  Not much except for a new Facebook friendship request and message:
jon...hey stranger! This is **** ****! Wow! I ran across your sisters name and the memories of you came flooding back. I hope this find you doing well! I married **** ****....I'm sure you remember her/him too. I love your profile pic!!!!!
Take care!
I've written a little big about my early childhood and especially from my interactions with kids in elementary school and junior high.  Short story: I was bullied and ostracized by most of the kids in my early childhood and this particular person was one of those kids. 

Frankly, I'm stunned at the moment and unsure what memories are flooding into place this weekend.  Mark tells me that people often don't remember their hurtful behavior.  I can believe this to a point, but I remember things I've said and done to others that bring me shame now.  Mark says that it's easier to look back and feel shame when you've been a victim yourself.

I had to lead the children's message at church today.  I went with the scripture reading, which was Luke 19:1-10.  Jesus came to Jericho.  Among the crowd was the chief tax collector named Zacchaeus, who was touched and transformed by Jesus' ministry.  Jesus asked to spend the night with Zacchaeus, which brought shouts of anger and disbelief from the crowd.  He was known for stealing and mistreating the people of his community.  Zacchaeus offered to pay back those he'd stolen from in the past (with interest) and to devote a certain percentage of his wealth to the poor.

My question to the kids was: Do you think Zacchaeus' neighbors liked him after his meeting with Jesus?  My answer?  Probably not, though God definitely did. 

I compared Zacchaeus' earlier behavior to spoiled milk.  Sometimes you take a swig of milk and discover, to your horror that the milk's gone bad.  You can immediately replace the bad milk with good, but most likely it'll take a while for you to trust the milk again.

Am I suggesting that this person from my childhood is like a glass of spoiled milk?  Maybe I am.  I'm curious about why s/he would even think about reconnecting with me after all these years or hint that there are presumably pleasant memories to rekindle.  I could accept the friendship request and see what happens, but that assumes that the milk's been refreshed and I'm not sure if I want to make that jump.

I prayed with the kids this morning that we give others the time needed to regain trust when we hurt them and that we ourselves offer a bit of grace to others who've done us harm.

That said, what would you do?  Accept or decline?  Why or why not?

My Thoughts on "Megamind"

Yesterday was a busy day filled with a trip to the gym, random errands, a visit to the dog park, a funeral visitation, and my church's Harvest Supper/Auction Benefit.  All that said, there was one thing that D'Angelo and I made time for despite all the business.  We had to go watch "Megamind" at the movie theater!  Keep in mind that I've been burned before by unrealized movie hype.  Fortunately, this wasn't one of those occasions.

Megamind poses an interesting dilemma: What's a supervillain to do with himself once he finally defeats his superheroic nemesis?  Is there much meaning behind one's identity as supervillain when there's noone to challenge you or thwart your evil schemes?  These are the questions Megamind (voice acted by Will Ferrell) grapples with after he kills off his lifelong enemy Metro Man (voice acted by Brad Pitt).  His solution? He creates a new superhero for the city named Titan (voice acted by Jonah Hill) who is supposed to resume Metro Man's earlier superheroic role.  Best laid plans of mice and men, yada yada yada, y'know?  It eventually becomes very difficult to tell who's a hero and who's a villain. 

Ultimately, Megamind is about overcoming societal expectations.  Metro Man became the hero because others, including Megamind, expected him to become the hero.  Megamind embraced his role as villain because others, including Metro Man, repeatedly cast him in that role.  But what happens when they what out?  Are these lifetime gigs?

This movie has many parallels to another recent supervillain cartoon, Despicable Me.  Both movies feature conflicted supervillains.  One has a space fish companion named Minion (brilliantly voice acted by David Cross) and the other lords over a legion of genetically modified kernels of corn call Minions.  However, Megamind is the superior movie of the two if only because of the horribly negative adoption messages in Despicable Me.  But Megamind's much simpler "good vs. evil" theme (as opposed to Gru's "evil vs. evil-er" theme) does a much more effective job of highlighting the title character's path towards redemption.  IMHO.

Megamind was an excellent kick-off for the winter movie season.  The artwork is beautiful and the voice actors (those listed above, but also Tina Fey as the brave and inspiring Roxanne Ritchi) are excellent.  It's a great movie, not only for kids, but also for their parents.

Favorite TrailerZookeeper.  It stars Kevin James and features lots of talking animals.  It could be a lukewarm flop, but the trailer made me laugh.

Least Favorite TrailerNever Say Never.  Apparently Justin Bieber has a movie coming out soon of his life and concerts.  I'm sure that someone wants this movie.  I'm also sure that I'm not going to be there.  Let's hope this film comes out before Bieber's music career peaks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Harvest Dinner and Auction at Faith UCC

Just got home from an evening of fellowship and fundraising at my church, Faith United Church of Christ.  The worship committee hosted a Harvest Supper, complete with gourmet chili and various types of homemade cornbread.  On top of that, there was tops of desserts and some very good, but very hot apple cider.  There was also a bit of Merlot, which I'm always pleased to sample.

Following tonight's meal, the worship committee hosted an auction, with a goal of raising $500 for projection equipment to be used during worship service, Christian education classes, or other events.  Most everyone donated some thing or some service for the auction, including homemade pies, homemade wine, homemade bread, homemade cake, a bread basket along with a few other gift baskets, and a photography session.  D'Angelo brought a jar of homemade salsa that he made a couple months back with my mom.  We also brought a fondue pot that I've never used. 

I ended up purchasing a couple hours of plumbing services, along with two jars of homemade salsa (not D's).  D' was really excited because his jar of salsa brought in $30.  I quickly learned that it's not a good idea to bring the boys to auction events.  D' wanted to bid throughout the evening.  Fortunately, he was content bidding on items that I told him were okay and stopping when I told him to stop.  Leslie was another issue.  He kept calling out random numbers for items.  Fortunately, he was largely ignored, but his numbers were confusing some of the bid trackers and I ended up having to give him a talking-to on at least two occasions.

Anyway, the auction was a good success.  I don't completely remember the final numbers, but the church pulled in at least twice what we were aiming for which was totally great!  It was a fun night of food and fun and even more exciting now that we will soon have additional A/V equipment to use during worship from week to week!

Real Life Superhero Civil War Threatens Stamford, CT

A couple years back, Marvel Comics had a cross-over event called Civil War that pitted hero against hero and ultimately resulted in federalized superheroes and hunted unregistered heroes.  At some points during and following the Civil War, unregistered heroes like Spider-Man and Spider-Woman and Captain America were being treated worse than many of Marvel's deadliest villains.  Civil War was sparked when a team of reality TV heroes called the New Warriors raided a building filled with bad buys in Stamford, CT.  One of those villains, Nitro, exploded and killed over 600 civilians, including several dozen school children.  Now, it appears that Fiction is beginning to sculpt Reality.  Check out this bit of Faction:
Super Heroes Battle, Get Arrested in Stamford

You would think that Spiderman and Captain America would fight evil together, rather than each other, but that wasn't the case in Stamford Sunday.

Police responded to a fight involving the famed super heroes early Halloween morning.

When they arrived, officers found Michael Sanchez, 25, dressed as Captain America, attacking a man on the ground, according to police.

A second person, Vincent Decaro, 21, dressed as Spiderman, was attacking Sanchez, police said.

It turns out the victim on the ground was Decaro's father, who had apparently gotten into an argument with Sanchez.

Police broke up the fight, but before they could, Nicole Bitterle, 18, who happened to be dressed as villainess Poison Ivy, hit Sanchez.

All three super heroes were arrested. Sanchez and Decaro are facing assault charges. Bitterle was charged with breach of peace.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Zombies Invade Iowa City (again) and Other Tales of the Undead

Zombies skulk outside UI building
I was whipping all over town with the boys yesterday evening to get flu shots, to drop one off for basketball practice, and to go grocery shopping with the other.  Fortunately, I stuck to the southern half of Iowa City.  Otherwise the boys and I might not be here anymore, at least not in a brain-free diet sort of existence.  Apparently, the zombies attempted an invasion yesterday downtown, which centered around campus and the Ped Mall.  According to the Daily Iowan, roughly 660 University of Iowa students were involved in this attack.  It's unclear from the story how many survived the attack intact or how this particular zombie apocalypse was averted (as evidenced by a lack of zombies shuffling through my neighborhood this morning):
The walking dead have been roaming the University of Iowa campus for almost a week since the infection began Halloween night. The 660 participants — both human and zombie students — are engaged in a university wide game to survive a week of zombie invasion...

As of Thursday night, the human-to-zombie ratio is about even... Though the game was set to end tonight, Hammond said if the count was still somewhat tied, they may continue over the weekend...

"The first day some girl tagged me out of nowhere," said recently zombified freshman Cody Grubbs. "I was disappointed because it happened so quickly."
Poor undead Cody Grubbs was absolutely spot on. These zombie attack come and go so quickly. It's up to humanity to remain ever vigilante against the unliving hordes. Once Iowa City falls, University Heights, North Liberty, and Coralville will have no hope of survival. Then it spreads through the Corridor and pretty soon it's spilling out into Illinois. It's extremely scary.

Meanwhile, MSNBC recently revealed a little known secret related to the undead. One of its most prevalent television hosts, Rachel Maddow, isn't just a lesbian. She's a vampire lesbian. Some Youtuber broke the story and Maddow herself confirmed it. Further proof of the need for constant vigilance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Iowa's Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote Fails

I'm finally home from work and tae kwon do and the gym, so I might as well talk about the one issue that's been nagging at me all day: last night's election.  Iowa voted against the three Supreme Court justices who up for retention votes.  I forget the margins, but it was something like 56-45.  It wasn't overwhelming, but it was enough.  Now NOM is crowing after dumping nearly one million dollars into this campaign along with a couple other out-of-state organizations.  You also have homocon gay activist like Gay Patriot proving why most gay people think he and other gay conservatives are fuck wad sell-outs:

On top of that, Iowa now has a GOP governor and a GOP-led state house.  Fortunately, it still has a Democratic-led state senate and the voters soundly declined to move ahead with a constitutional convention.  Thrice-failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who launched this anti-retention campaign following the defeat of his latest GOP gubernatorial campaign, is now urging returning governor Terry Branstad to issue an executive order halting marriage licenses for gay couples and is also urging the legislature to begin the process of amending the state's constitution to ban marriage equality.  Actually, he's got lots of tricks up his sleeves aimed at destroying my family and others like it:
Even if the resolution were to pass the new General Assembly and the Legislature seated after the 2012 election per Iowa’s process to get a constitutional change before the voters, that process likely would take until the 2014 election to make it to the ballot unless a special election was held. “People don’t want to wait four, six, eight years to have their voice heard on this issue,” Vander Plaats said. “They want to have the Legislature let their voice be heard, they want to have the governor to let their voice be heard.”

To that end, the Sioux City Republican who lost to Branstad in the GOP primary election last June said he would like to meet with the governor-elect and discuss the option of having Branstad issue an executive order halting same-sex marriages until the people are allowed to vote on the marriage amendment.

Another option would be to have the Legislature reaffirm the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act “but without judicial review” and have Branstad sign it into law – a scenario that poses legal questions that might have to be resolved and could run aground in the Senate, he acknowledged. Vander Plaats pointed to the federal health care reform act, which includes several without judicial review, as the template for a new marriage statute.
You read that correctly.  They want to make an unconstitutional law (sort of) constitutional by preventing any court from ruling on it.

Can I digress a bit?  I am completely sick and tired of people going on and on about how marriage and the family are under attack by the gays and the remedy for that attack is to destroy gay families.  Whether DOMA is constitutional or not or whether Iowa ever amends its law regarding marriage equality, your heterosexual families are safe.  They aren't at risk for being voided.  They aren't being vilified.  Our's are.  And I'm sick of it.

Anyway, Chuck Hurley of Iowa Family Policy Center believes this election was the result of God's will.  Which is bullshit.  I'm tired of letting people create stupid and false memes and we allow it and tacitly endorse those falsehoods.  My family is just as valid as any other out there.  My Christian faith, beliefs, and identity are truth.  I feel God's love and blessing in my marriage and in my role and husband and father.  I refuse to allow Chuck Hurley or BVP or any other person to use God to attack my family.  It's not going to happen.

Husband Mark keeps telling me that things will be fine.  It will be four years at least before people are allowed to vote on the legal legitimacy of our marriage.  Also, he says, Branstad's not going to be stupid enough to do the executive order or any other tricks.  I'm not so sure, but I'll trust him despite my never-ending pessimism.  I have agreed, for the sake of my sanity, to hope that last night's retention vote was the result of an electorate who doesn't like the idea of gays marrying, but who now have feel sated and won't have this type of energy during the next retention vote.  I will also hold out hope that Branstad and the GOP legislature will focus on things like the economy and not incessantly attack gay families.  And, assuming that the public gets the right to vote on my marriage, I hope more of them than not will realize that marriage equality has existed (by that time) for at least five years without problems and they will realize hold cruel and heartless it will be to involuntarily destroy the families of their fellow Iowans.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Avengers Vs. Pet Avengers is Number One!

I'm really behind on this one.  The coolest super-team I never knew I needed until Marvel Comics created them, the Pet Avengers, took center stage last Wednesday in a new four-issue mini-series!  Avengers Vs. the Pet Avengers teams our favorite team of animal liberators up with the Avengers Prime (Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man) against an overwhelming force of ancient dragons.  It's unclear what Fin Fang Foom and his ferocious forces hope to accomplish with this plan outside replacing mankind as the planet's primary population.  However, things aren't looking too good for the good guys by the end of this first issue.

The dragons in this book were already going to be tough to defeat.  They're big and nigh impervious and they breathe fire.  However, the previews had already revealed the early fates of the Avengers Prime -- Fin Fang Foom magically transformed the three into frogs.  Thor as frog probably has some of his powers, but Captain America and Iron Man are pretty much just a couple frogs (though Cap's at least a bionic frog), so this mission will be ever tougher than normal!  Of course, the beginning of any good story needs to introduce some insurmountable menace and this book introduced lots of insurmountable menace by the end of this stomach-churning fight.

Speaking of Fin Fang Foom as an unstoppable menace, the Pet Avengers should have sent Lockjaw off to recruit Squirrel Girl and her pet squirrel Tippy-Toe to fight this fight.  Tippy-Toe had already been nominated by readers of this blog to become the newest Pet Avenger.  However, check out this scene from Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe's most recent battle in I Am An Avenger #1, where they single-handedly defeated Fin Fang Foom.  It might make for a short mini-series, but at least they'd have plenty of pages to plan Tippy-Toe's "Welcome to the Pet Avengers" party, which would've made it all worth it!

My favorite part of this book involved the Pet Avengers' between-mission down time.  They'd been given a bag of candies as payment for defeating a robber when Hairball tried feeding little Ms. Lion a box of chocolates.  Fortunately, the other Pet Avengers intervened and protected Ms. Lion from eating the fatal treats.  But Hairball's murderous intentions brought a smile to my face.

Anyway, check out this marvelous masterpiece when you get a moment.  You should be able to find a copy at your local comic book store.  And keep your eyes peeled for issues two through four where we'll learn Fin Fang Foom's true intentions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Faith UCC's "Rally to Restore Civility" in the News

My church, Faith United Church of Christ, was in the paper today following yesterday's Jon Stewart-inspired "Rally to Restore Civility" church service.  Here's what the Press-Citizen had to say about the service:
For many like Brandsmeier, Wednesday -- the day after the election -- can't come soon enough. Months of political vitriol, the bombardment of attack ads and the bitter made-for-TV debates will at last come to a close. ... For now, at least.

Brandsmeier and Faith United hosted a "Rally to Restore Sanity" of its own at its Sunday worship service, a small spin-off of comedian Jon Stewart's political event that attracted tens of thousands to Washington on Saturday to celebrate reasonableness over fear and division.

About 30 church churchgoers sang "Give Peace a Chance" and prayed for unity, while their pastor called on them to ignore the loud extremists who make up maybe 20 percent of the electorate and instead honor the 80 percent of Americans who hold common values.

Brandsmeier said "partisan, polemic rhetoric" is doing a disservice to the nation's civil discourse, and he said it seems to be getting uglier with every election.

"We're often told there are two sides to everything -- Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives, pro-war versus pacifists, pro-choice versus pro-life, and the list goes on and on," Brandsmeier said. "It's not like it's not real differences, but I don't think we're all at war with each other."

Mary McInroy, who attended the worship service, said she is tired of the "us and them" mentality that often mars the political conversation. "I don't know if I see any way out," McInroy said. "Even on Wednesday, that animosity is still going to be there, and that troubles me."

Church member Marlene Neville said she appreciated Stewart and fellow comedian Stephen Colbert's use of satire "to bring a message that there is unity and diversity."

The service featured a scripture reading from Galatians 3:23-29, in which the apostle Paul called upon the two feuding factions in Galatia, the pagan Greeks and the Jews, to set aside their differences and unite under a faith in Jesus.

Brandsmeier drew a parallel, saying today's climate in the U.S. is just as divisive as it was in Paul's time in Galatia.

"We can honor our differences and celebrate our commonalities," the pastor said. "In Paul's letter to Galatia, he tells them we are one with Christ. Baptism in Christ obliterates the divisiveness of our country, and calls for harmony."
Predictably, an anonymous PC commenter named GMWinchester tried attacking Pastor Brandsmeier and derailing the "Rally to Restore Sanity's" message.  He pulled up a couple random quotes from Brian's blog and from another blog and implied that Brian is a hypocrite:
As many Democrats, are kicked out of Washington this week (Brian) suddenly wants to Restore Civility?



Now the Cathlics of the world straight up disgracin me
Just because I waved my finger at the papacy.
My people got riled up over this Reformation
Thats when Leo threatened me with Excommunication.
I warned yall that Rome best agree to the terms.Ninety-five theses but the Pope ain't one.
If you havin Church problems then don't blame God, son
I got ninety-five theses but the Pope ain't one.
I responded with the following comment, which seemed to be enough to end the discussion:
Re: the 95 Thesis rap: It was linked to his blog in reference to the anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 thesis posting, which was the birth of the Reformation movement. It was meant to demonstrate that such material doesn't have to be delivered in a dry academic fashion. (here's the specific entry: ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com/2010/10/95-theses-and-pope-aint-one.html)

Re: the "brutally honest" blog. It showed support for then candidate Obama, but none of the outrageous rhetoric that "Rally to Restore Sanity" (and yesterday's church service, which was inspired by the Washington DC event) gathered against. This whole thing wasn't about people not saying anything about their political beliefs. It was an opportunity to stand up against the crazy, character-destroying rhetoric. Stuff like "Bush is a Nazi" or "Obama eats aborted babies". Democrats and Republicans can actually interact with each other and be friends (or at least friendly) with each other.
Anyway, the irony of message-snuffing distraction in the comments section of an article against message-snuffing was an extremely delicious way to begin the day.

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Blogging took a back seat yesterday to church, dog park, dog obedience class, pumpkin carving, candy-begging, candy-begging-part-two, "Sherlock", "Walking Dead", and exhaustion.

Halloween started two days earlier.  A couple co-workers began urging everyone to dress up in costumes on the Friday before Halloween.  I was initially resistant to doing this as I had to go to one of the local hospitals to meet with a client and a social worker, but eventually agreed to come up with something.  Not much, but something.  I ended up going as a Wal-Mart cashier, wearing the cashier-of-the-month vest that I earned during my three-month-credit-card-pay-off stint back in 2000.  There were some other good costumes, most notably two Dorothy Gales and one football player.  Unfortunately, most people (including a couple who pressured me into coming up with a Halloween costume) didn't dress up at all.  But I got candy for my efforts, so it all worked out.  :)

Later that evening, Les took off for the evening a costumed dance party at his high school and then spent the night with a friend.

Mark and I made arrangements for a babysitter Saturday evening so that we could attend a murder mystery & auction over at Pilgrim Heights in Tama County.  I was a little frustrated heading into the evening.  When I'd originally called, I was told to dress with 1929 in mind, but otherwise dress "conservatively".  I started thinking Thin Man/Nick & Nora.  I updated my suit.  Mark rented a tux.  Then I began reading some of the promotional materials yesterday that had appeared in the Tama County over the past couple weeks.  They were urging folks to dress in bibs, overalls, and farm clothing...  I was stressing out over that, but Mark told me it was too late to do anything about it and we'd already spent the money.  Turned out that we were one of the more overdressed couples at the event, but most people weren't in period costumes.

The evening ended up being a lot of fun.  Mark and I were cast as A.C. and E.C. Honeycutt of Honeycutt Brothers Bakery.  We were fond of moonshine during those dark prohibition years and needed to protect a secret that we'd been seen at the murder victim's home buying moonshine on the day of his death.  That wasn't much difficulty.  Nobody asked us about it.  But it was fun to goof around with the other participants and the meal was excellent.  Fortunately, I forgot my checkbook so I didn't have the opportunity to bid on any auction items.  About three different folks managed to purchase about 85% of the auction items.  This one twink made the mistake of waving across the room in the midst of one bidding process.  The auctioneer took pity on the poor kid and didn't stick him with the accidental $90 auction bid.  Like I said earlier, it was a lot of fun and I'd gladly do it again (though I'll leave the suit at home!!!).

D' and Les spent the evening carving pumpkins and playing war games with their babysitter.  Nero actually surprised me and didn't bother Jim too much.

D' and I ended up carving the last of the pumpkins late Sunday afternoon.  About 5:30 PM, I realized that I had forgotten to purchase any candles, so I had to rush to the store and purchase a couple over-priced scented candles.  The fortunately avoided crisis of the candle-less pumpkins was thankfully averted and I had time to eat a baked fish fillet before taking D'Angelo out for an evening of trick-or-treating.  (That's him over to the right wearing a faux "Scream"/grim reaper costume.)

The trick-or-treating was successful.  We originally were originally just going to walk around the block, but then we found ourselves deciding to check out one side street or another.  Lots of the houses ended up giving D'Angelo a ton of candy as they weren't getting too many folks on their particular side street.  Eventually, D' decided he'd had enough and we made our way home.

D'Mon and his demonic poodle
About 15 minutes after getting home, Les came running downstairs in his shorts and a t-shirt and asked when he'd get to go trick-or-treating.  Mind you, Les is nearly 18 and had previously told me that he was too old for Halloween.  Turns out he wanted to go to one of his teacher's home, which was all decorated with spooky lights and graveyard props and mechanized monsters.  I told Les that I'd only take him if he got into a costume.  He rushed upstairs and put on his old stand-by costume: military fatigues.  We grabbed D'Angelo and drove to Mr. B's home.  Once that was over, we decided to check out a few more of the houses in that area of town.  It ended up being close to eight o'clock before we ended up getting home.

After that, the lights went out and I collapsed on the couch to watch a couple programs.  Mind you, watching Walking Dead right before bed was a terrible idea.  Both Nero and I were spooked during our final walk of the evening at 11 PM and I ended up having zombie dreams throughout the night!

Happy (belated) Halloween to everyone out there!