Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice Quits Christianity; Remains Christ-Follower

Here are some interesting reactions to Anne Rice quitting Christianity this week:

Vampire and Jesus fiction writer, Anne Rice, via Facebook: "For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

UCC President, Rev. Geoffrey A. Black: "Too often we have confused following Christ with defending the institutional church, and we have unnecessarily insisted that we must be of one mind, instead of one heart...  Hopefully, declarations such as Anne's will challenge and alter our definitions of Christian discipleship and, in the process, change the church itself. I, along with many in the UCC, share Anne Rice's commitment to a personal relationship with Christ that affirms life in its fullness and diversity, not denies its beautiful and sometimes complex realities."

"You'd Like the UCC, Anne Rice" Facebook page in a recruiting moment:  "On July 29, 2010, famed novelist Anne Rice renounced Christianity because she refuses to be anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-science, anti-birth control. We share Anne's faith in a loving, inclusive, reasonable God. You'd like the UCC!"  1,330 people have joined that page.  Anne Rice does not appear to be one of them (yet?).

UCC Pastor and Blogger, Tim Tutt: "I'm the pastor of a church, and my blog is public, so I hesitate to say this, but it's true -- our congregation is full of losers, maybe not as outlandish as Miss O'Connor's characters, but full of people with questions about their faith, full of people who maybe didn't fit in other places, full of folks with troubles, pains and problems.

"On the outside, we may look fairly well put together. But on the inside, I get the sense that some of our souls are as mysterious and shadowy as the characters in your books.

"A lot of people in the church I serve would understand your leaving Christianity. What's so impressive about them is that they're always inviting others back in. Not so we can fill up the place (church growth is not always our best thing) and not so we can prove by numbers that we're right (we're no mega-church, and our doctrines may be a little squishy). No, I think the reason is that the best losers, the best quitters, the best failures care about other people in their losing, quitting and failing. Seems to me that's what Jesus was about.

"So, Ms Rice, if you ever want to wander back into Christianity -- or at least into some little corner of it, try this congregation here at the corner of Parmer and MoPac in Austin, Texas. It's a long way to make it every Sunday from your home in New Orleans, but we'd be glad to have a quitter like you. Amen?"

Matt C. Abbott of The Catholic Caucus reacts: "On one hand, it's a sad development, but on the other hand, I respect Rice for publicly apostatizing instead of continuing to masquerade as a Christian. I wish others of like mind would follow suit.  It seems Rice still suffers from 'vampire logic.' Pray for her. And for me."


Blogger and UCC member, Jon Trouten, concludes*:  I've bopped around a little bit, but haven't really found any reaction from any Catholic leaders.  Maybe that response will come given enough time.  I just find it interesting that there seems to be mainly responses from two types of people: entertainment/religious news types and UCC leaders.  Maybe there's more and I didn't dig enough for it, but I would hope that I could get more of a Catholic response besides one Catholic writer accusing Ms. Rice of being an apostate.  But that's just me, I guess.

I wish Ms. Rice well in her new faith journey.

*This is what happens when I blog at 11:30 at night.  I'm such a dork...

Parental Brag Time: TKD Edition

D'Angelo's had another busy week.  On Wednesday, he tested for his green belt.  He told me that it's pretty much a done deal and maybe it is, but I've warned him more than once that he shouldn't be too sure about that for fear of being under-prepared or overly cocky.  Fortunately, D's been a pretty dedicated student of Tae Kwon Do and his commitment to advancing hasn't waned at all since beginning these classes last August.

Tonight was the final class of the summer 2010 session and D' ended it in style: He earned his green belt!  He'll begin learning how to break boards this fall, which is pretty cool and something that I can't wait to witness.  Congratulations, D'Angelo!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Iowa-Based Gay Wedding Reality TV Show Being Shopped Around

I was reading today that realty television programs seem to not only nurture delinquent behavior amongst its "stars", but also attracts increased criminal behavior in the communities where these shows are filmed.  Let's hope that this article isn't referring to all reality TV shows, because there's a really neat gay wedding concept show brewing in Newton, IA, and it would really suck if the crime rate shot up as a result.    ACCESSline reported in its July 2010 print edition that a production company called Coolfire Originals is shopping around a gay wedding-themed show to various networks called "Brides and Grooms". 

I'm a huge fan of shows like "Bridezilla" and "Ace of Cakes".  Frankly, I'm surprised that we haven't already seen a program like this before.  The only show that comes to mind is an old Bravo series called "Gay Weddings", which followed four couples -- two males couples and two female couples -- through the wedding planning joys and nightmares.  We can only hope that "Brides and Grooms" ends up half as good as "Gay Weddings".

Here are some snippets from the ACCESSline print article:
For the past year, central Iowa wedding planner Beau Fodo has helped same-sex couples celebrate their weddings in style.  This fall, the 48-year-old may have a national fan base.

Recently, Coolfire Originas entertainment development company was in Newton, Iowa, filming the first of two Fodor-planned weddings.  Footage of the event will be used for a pilot episode to pitch what's being called a "docu-reality" series with a working title of "Brides and Grooms" to several networks.

If a network picks it up, the show could air as early as this fall...

The pitch for "Brides and Grooms will focus on the dynamics of planning these events, from the logistics of picking a location to the raw emotion of reciting lifelong vows.  "I've had brides burst into tears who said, 'I cannot kiss my girlfriend in front of my father.'  Every wedding has had a homophobic element," Fodor explained...

If the show progresses, crews will follow Fodor as he visits out-of-state couples, which have accounted for approximately 60 percent of the 2,020 reported same-sex marriages in Iowa as of March 31.  Fodor, however hopes to work mostly with locals on the show.  "I want to afford Iowans the chance to showcase their families, friends and hometowns, not just the destination couples from out-of-state...  It's important for me to showcase my state in the best possible light," he said.

Evening at the Johnson County Fair

Mark, the boys, and I made it for the final night of the Johnson County Fair.  I've always been a fan of the county fairs.  I joined 4-H for the sole purpose of getting to show projects every summer at the fair.  Over the years, I showed off photography and landscaping projects and showed dogs and angora goats.  Leslie did 4-H for a few months, but never really got into it.  Now that D's getting a little older and now that he's lost interest in the Scouts, there may be hope for nudging him towards 4-H.  I just need to be extra subtle to make it work.

We usually make it to the fair for a little while each year.  Long enough to grab supper, wander the exhibition stands, and check out the animals.  It rarely lasts for more than an hour.  Mark doesn't like crowds and Leslie's too cool to demonstrate much interest in the fair.  To make up for it, I sometimes sign up for a shift at the county's booth.  Public Health has their own booth.  So does the Sheriff and the Auditor.  The rest of us tend to get mushed together at one table.  I learned a few years ago that nobody approaches county employees about mental health or developmental disabilities issues while at the fair.  More often than not, they have a question related to Secondary Roads.  Stuff like "Is it illegal to cut the grass along X-country road?".  Of course, I have no clue, but you muddle through.  Most of the time, you give out temporary tattoos and candy to the kids.  This year, I forgot to sign up for my preferred shifts in time.  Not only that, but work's pretty hectic right now, so it was hard to find a couple hours in my week to volunteer.  In other words, this visit with the boys was to be my only exposure to the 2010 county fair.

This is our journey:

We started out in the petting barn.  First up was Mr. and Mrs. Peacock.  I heard that they're locked up in this cage because of murder.  Mrs. Peacock did it with iron pipe in the library...  Mark didn't laugh when I told that joke either.

Next up was a couple alpacas.  I was really hoping that they'd spit on Mark or D'Angelo as a gag.  No such luck.

Next up was Mark's favorite barn: the Rabbit Barn!  He always lights up in the Rabbit Barn and D' likes them, too.

We usually whiz in and out of exhibition halls and barns.  Not so with the Rabbit Barn. 

As excited as Mark and D' were, Les could not have cared less.  He just kind of hung in the background listening to rap songs.

The pigs were pretty cool.  I tried taking some pictures of these black ones, but they didn't turn out.

This was my favorite cow.  I love cows.

Observe D's excitement after I splurged and let him play a carnival game.  He complained that the game was too easy, the prize was too tiny, and I was too cheap for not upgrading to a higher stakes game.  Let's just say, that I wasn't terribly impressed with his attitude...  *grumble*  Oh well, we all got over it.

Finally, I loved this "Ugly Cake Contest" entry.  Very cool.  How come they never had contests like this when I was a kid?  Or maybe they did, but I was too busy cleaning my goat.

The fair will be finished after tonight.  I can hear the final fireworks exploding from the fairgrounds as I write this.  I hope that everyone involved with this year's fair was a fun experience!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who is God?

My church, Faith United Church of Christ, began a monthly question series.  Pastor Brian posted August's question of the month this week: Who Is God?:
Okay, that's a big question. But it might be fun to explore some of our understandings of God. Some directions that you might take this question could include: Who is God to you? What is your favorite image of God? What is your favorite name for God? How do think God is active in the world? How is God active in your life? Etc. The list of questions could go on and on. The Bible features many different descriptions of God - and so does our church - so feel free to respond to this question in the way that you feel most compelled. There are no right or wrong responses. This question is just meant to inspire conversation.
I thought I’d already answered this question last week: Odin is God.

Seriously, I believe that God is the Creator of everything: the universe, the planet, the people, the plants, and the animals. I believe that we are saved through Jesus’ sacrifice roughly two thousand years ago. And I believe that God touches each of us through the Holy Spirit, if we remain open to it. I believe that it inspires our creativity, our problem-solving skills, our sense of fun, and our expressions of love and compassion towards each other.  But we can shut ourselves off from the Holy Spirit and we often do just that.

Some of my favorite depictions of God don't actually come from the Bible, which I know should be a terrible thing.  One of the first children's books that I purchased when D'Angelo moved in with us was a picture book called God Goes to Church by Edwina Gateley.  In it, God and one of his angels travels from church to church, all the while trying to figure out why church people worship him as they do.

The next image is completely sacrilegious, but it's also pretty cool (IMHO).  Erik Larsen's comic book Savage Dragon once encountered God.  In fact, that storyline featured a massive foot-to-the-face battle between God and Satan.  I'm just surprised that it took until the late 90s for a relatively mainstream comic book to feature God himself.  Not a preacher or an angel or some other agent for God.  This was God himself and he was a rough and tumble God not much seen since the Hebrew Testament.  And it was pretty cool, IMHO.

Getting back to Pastor Brian's original question, my favorite name for God has been Yahweh, going back to my college days.  I guess I'd heard God called by different names before that, most notably by his human name Jesus, but Yahweh always seemed so primal.  You knew where you stood with Yahweh, for good or for bad.  Plus, Yahweh was pretty kick-butt, kind of like Larsen's God.  Yahweh insisted on our devotion and did not tolerate false idols.  Yahweh appeared physically as the burning bush and passed the Ten Commandments to Moses.  Yahweh led the Jews out of slavery and provided for them during those long years wandering the dessert.  Yahweh just seemed so much more present to me than other depictions of God (Christ excluded, of course).  That's my thought anyway.

How about you all?  Who is God to you?  Feel free to answer here or at the Faith UCC blog or over on Faith UCC's Facebook page.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How can Christians Show that they Care about GLBT People?

This weekend, I was at they gym catching up on my various podcasts.  One of the podcasts that I regularly download is GCN Radio, an ongoing production from the Gay Christian Network.  For the most part, GCN Radio's July 16th episode was a listener comment episode.  There was one caller in particular that grabbed my attention when she brought up Andrew Marin and the Marin Foundation's recent "I'm Sorry" campaign at Chicago Pride.  (Read here where I discussed the resulting controversy, as well as some other posts related to Andrew and TMF.)

Justin and Brian discussed the "I'm Sorry" campaign briefly and then sought feedback from their listeners with a related question: What Do We Want?  Here is the actual question from the radio program: "What exactly Christians need to do to show that they really care?"  Here is my two-point answer:

1. I want Christians to lay off the rhetoric.  Don't lie about us.  Don't say that you love us and then sit quietly when your leaders or fellow lay people make hurtful, stereotypical generalizations about gay people.

2. Don't be so anti-gay and anti-gay marriage.  I don't care if your church doesn't celebrate our families.  I don't care if you disagree with the sanctity of our marriages.  I'm not saying that you have to be pro-gay or pro-gay marriage.  You are entitled to your opinions and your beliefs and I'm cool with that.  I'm not cool with the Church's attitude that its people's religious liberties are being trampled on if families like mine benefit from the legal protections and responsibilities of marriage.  Marriage equality has been legal in different states for nearly six years (longer if you count Vermont's civil unions).  No church has been forced to wed any couple that it doesn't want.  No pastor nor priest has been arrested or fined for speaking out against gay people, our marriages, or our families.  And while I'm thinking of it, why is the Church stressing out about legal protections against discrimination in the workplace for people based on sexual orientation?  Heck, why can't Christians even play softball with gay people without feeling that their religious beliefs have been compromised?

I guess both points collapse into one simple three-word answer: "Please be kinder."

What are your thoughts?  What can Christians would do to demonstrate their compassion to GLBT people?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

NOM loves Families, just not Gay Families

The National Organization for Marriage was in Lima, OH, this weekend with its "Summer for Marriage" tour bus.  Former NOM-leader Maggie Gallagher was delighted that one LDS couple came with their young child:
I spoke with one young couple who showed up with the most adorable baby in tow. He's a law student in Cincinnati and he told me that some things are right, even when they aren't cool, and he feels the need to stand for marriage for the sake of his daughter, and for all the other kids who will suffer, if we lose the truth about what marriage means and what it's for: divorce, unchastity, same-sex marriage are part of a continuum of challenges.
This was contrasted by "Summer for Marriage" tour bus drive/NOM supporter/One Man, One Woman leader, Louis Marinelli's observation about one of the Columbus, OH, protesters:
There was one couple (one of those bolder couples who came into the rally itself) who were particularly disappointing. The two men decided not to just attend the rally but they brought a baby with them. Notice I said 'a baby" because it isn't "their baby". It was clearly adopted. They were white the baby was not.

This baby has been adopted and is being raised in a house of homosexuality and can't even speak yet. Who will speak for this and all the other children who are adopted and are being subjected to a house of homosexuality?

Let's say this couple was 'married' on paper by one of the states that have legalized same-sex 'marriage'. That doesn't change the fact that, according to recent research from San Francisco State University, a great number of same-sex couples, whether they are 'married' to each other or not are in open relationships!

Is this the kind of household we want to be putting adopted children into? Who will speak for these children? Nonetheless, they came. So be it. However, and I'll take my words from the Ohio State Troopers on this one, the couple came to the rally to stand as a "symbol".

What kind of parents use their children as symbols? Coming to the rally and standing there quietly as they did wasn't enough. They had to make a statement - a statement that involved exploiting their own child for their own gain. This is why I will emphasize the fact that adoption exists to give children the parents they need - not to give parents the children they want. These two men are not the kind of parents this child needs.
Let me start out by reminding readers that clearly NOM is not opposed to using children as symbols of their efforts to ban and nullify the legal marriages of gay couples or to claim martyr-status (examples here and here).  Beyond those glaring examples of NOM hypocrisy, I have a few thoughts to share:

1. How dare Louis Marinelli make bold assumptions about these men.  He has no clue if these men are in an open relationship or not.  And he has no clue what they went through in their home study process or how this child ended up in their home.  How dare he assert that they are not "the kind of parents" that their daughter needs!

2. Yes, this child is a symbol.  A physical symbol of someone who deserves the rights, responsibilities, and protections that come with two legally married parents.  NOM and its supporters want the right to legally neuter gay households.  Heck, Ohio already has a super-DOMA law on the books.  They need to see that there are actual people connected to their votes who are harmed by their ongoing efforts.

3. There are lots of kids available for adoption and not a lot of parents seeking to adopt.  Or, should I say, there aren't a lot of potential adoptive parents seeking to adopt newborn infants that don't look like them.  We should encourage anyone and everyone to go through the home study process and determine whether or not they might make good adoptive homes.  My experience is that there are plenty of older (post-toddler) kids of all races (some with disabilities) who need adoptive parents at any given time.  In a perfect world, they would be raised by their married biological parents.  This isn't a perfect world.  There are many reasons why kids need to be adopted.  Sometimes birth parents are too young to adequately parent their kids or they don't have the resources to raise another child.  Sometimes kids are involuntarily removed due to abuse or neglect and their birth parents are unable to correct the problems that led to the kids' removal.  Sometimes kids have disabilities that can't be met by their birth parents.  Whatever the reason for the adoption, it is the interest of all pre-adoptive kids to have as many safe and available adoptive homes as possible.  Instead of denigrating and seeking to eliminate potential adoptive parents because they are gay or lesbian, why not focus instead on recruiting more traditional couples to adopt?

While I'm at it, there is no evidence that gay parents are worse than het parents.  There have been studies that kids do better when raised with married parents vs. single parents, but that's presumably not the situation with the couple pictured above and it's definitely not the situation with my household or with other gay or lesbian couples with kids that I know.

4. I guess I'm just fed up with "One Man, One Woman", Louis Marinelli, and his whole "Summer of Marriage" tour coverage.  What exactly is being discussed at the tour stops?  From the coverage, it seems like they don't want to discuss their programming or their message.  They just want to make it seem like they are being intimidated and shut down by aging dogs and concerned citizens who are directly affected by this group's agenda.  Meanwhile, their tour bus continues to putz around the nation, spreading their message to tiny crowds and using public blogs to insult and disparage concerned parents like the ones pictured above.

My Thoughts on "Toy Story 3"

D'Angelo and I went round and round this week when choosing our weekend movie.  He wanted to see "Inception", but I wanted to watch "Salt".  Then he decided that we needed to see "Grown Ups".  Ultimately, we settled on "Toy Story 3", which frankly seemed utterly depressing from the previews.  Fortunately, it wasn't as down-beat as I'd expected.

Here's the nut-shell.  Young Andy's not that young anymore.  He's leaving for college in a few days and his mom is anxious to boot him out and throw away his junk.  She ends up accidentally donating Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of Andy's remaining toys to a daycare.  It seems like a wonderful new life for our toys, who haven't been played with for many years.  Unfortunately, the daycare is ruled by an tyrannical teddy bear named Lotso, who sentences Buzz and the others to the toddler room where they are tortured and abused.  It falls on Woody to free his friends and to get everybody back home so that he can travel with Andy to college and so the other toys can rest in the attic for Andy to father some kids.

D' said that he enjoyed "Toy Story 3", though he wavered on whether or not he enjoyed it more than the second "Toy Story" movie.  He thought that Lotso's chief enforcer, Big Baby, was extremely creepy.  Maybe too creepy for a kid's movie.  I told him that I agreed, though thought that Big Brother needed to be creepy.  I asked him about the film's resolution and if he thought that the main characters would be better off where they ended up or if they should have gone with their original plan.  D' decided that the toys ended up where they needed to be and that he was content with how the series finished.

My biggest peeve was with one of the newest characters, Ken.  Ken is a doll.  He lives in a dream house and has dozens of fashionable outfits.  Unfortunately, his manliness was increasingly questioned as the movie progressed with lots of eye rolls and knowing shrugs over his clothing and his flowery hand-writing.  All of this was played up for laughs with the audience.  I get it.  Ken's a girly man and they need to milk that point over and over and over.  God forbid that "Toy Story 3" would Ken as a masculine man who likes to dress up.  Worse yet, God forbid that the heroes of this series accept Ken's gender variant interests without the wink-wink/nudge-nudges.

Anyhoo, I agreed with D'Angelo that "Toy Story 3" ended on a high note and it nudged the characters in both positive and appropriate directions.

Favorite Preview: Smurfs.  I grew up on the Smurfs and I've already contaminated my boys with the Smurfs over on Boomerang.  It could be an awesome movie and it could be awful, but I'll definitely be there opening weekend.  (BTW, did you know that there have already been two animated Smurfs movies?  Back in 1965 and 1976.  Go figure...)

Least Favorite Preview: Alpha & Omega.  An alpha female wolf and her mismatched omega male suitor get relocated and must find their way back to Canada.  Lots of butt jokes, which appeal to kids.  Not so much for me...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marriages Up in Iowa; Divorces Down Since Gays Allowed to Wed

You know how they said that marriage was gonna fall apart back in April 2009 when Iowa's DOMA law was declared unconstitutional and gay couples began getting legally married?  Turns out those predictions were somewhat unwarranted.  Instead, Iowa saw an increase in marriages last year as well as a decrease in our divorce numbers that hasn't been seen since 1970!
Preliminary vital records compiled by state officials indicate 21,139 marriages occurred in Iowa last year – the most since 2000 and the first increase since 2005. The 1,573 jump in marriages over 2008 included the first-ever same-gender unions that took place statewide after the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a state law that defined marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Separate data from state health officials for the period from April 27, 2009, through last March 31 indicated that 2,020 same-sex couples – 728 male partners and 1,292 female partners — were married during that time span while 16,869 opposite-gender marriages were recorded. Records were not available solely for the 2009 calendar year...

Susan Stewart, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University, said marriage rates nationally “have never been lower” so there’s a good chance the new phenomenon of same-sex marriages weighs into Iowa’s increase. “It would seem like a big coincidence if the same-sex couples getting married weren’t part of this,” she said.

Linhart attributed the overall rise in Iowa marriages and the decline in divorces to a trend toward women and men waiting until they’re older to get married. She said rising education levels and higher incomes also help, along with the fact that times of war and economic upheaval tend to push people toward situations and relationships that provide comfort and security.

Mike Hartwig, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center’s Marriage Matters initiative, said he has seen similar factors at play along with a renewed interest among couples to make their marriages and relationships work.

“Young people are really waking up to the idea that two are indeed better than one. They can accomplish a lot more, faster, economically, raising kids, that kind of thing. It’s just a better way to do life,” he said...

Stewart said Iowa’s U-shaped pattern of divorce that grew steadily from 7,188 in 1970 to a peak of 12,071 in 1981 before gradually slipping back down to 7,286 last year reflected the effects of Iowa elected officials adopting a no-fault divorce law in 1970.
So marriage in Iowa is still alive and kicking.  And divorce continues to dwindle in frequency.  I'm really curious to see what the numbers will look like a year from now.  Will we continue to see an increase in new marriages in 2010?  What about the divorce numbers?  I see people -- both gay and straight -- getting married in the Iowa City area all the time.  In fact, I hope to witness several new marriage in mid-August when the Equality Bus comes to my church.  It will be interesting to see if Iowa ultimately ends up mirroring Massachusetts when it comes to their record low divorce rate, despite being the first state in our nation where gay couples can legally marry.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pet Avengers Fight Again!

My favorite super-team, the Pet Avengers, made another recent appearance.  Thor and the Warriors Four mini-series just wrapped up with its fourth issue.  I originally wrote about this mini back in April.  Overall, the entire mini was consistently well-written and evenly paced.  It told how the Power Pack kids, desperate to save their dying grandmother, learn of Idunn's apples of immortality and go on a quest to fabled Asgard to pluck a magic apple.  Of course, this whole thing's been engineered by the fiendish Loki.  He wants the apples for himself so that he can cause all of Asgard to grow old and dye, leaving him as Asgard's only surviving leader. 

However, Loki didn't consider that his machinations would herald in Ragnarok AKA the Twilight of the God AKA the end of the world!  And nobody can herald in Ragnarok quite like Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent!  It's been prophesied that Jormungand will take down Thor at the end of the world and frankly he's not that picky if a few frost giants and Asgardians get in his way.    Without hesitation, Thor flies into battle against Jormungand with the Power Pack kids at his side.  Well, all of the Power Pack kids except team leader Alex Power AKA Zero G.  He quickly realizes that they can't save Asgard by themselves.  They need additional help.  They need unrivaled super-heroic excellence.  They need the coolest super-team alive!:

Alex could have wished for any super-team to fight by his side.  The Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four...  Heck, he could have even wished for the Skrull Kill Krew.  Instead, he summoned the Pet Avengers (Lockheed, Zabu, Hairball, Lockjaw, Ms. Lion, Frog Thor (AKA Throg), and Redwing)!  Turns out that their appearance was less the result of summoning and more the result of coincidence, as explained by Frog Thor:

Fortunately, the Pet Avengers are more than willing to join the battle to save Asgard.

Thanks to some timely assists by Frog Thor and some clever problem-solving by Power Pack member Julie Power AKA Lightspeed, Idunn's magic apples were retrieved from Loki, the Asgardians were restored to their immortal ages, the Midgard Serpent slinked away, and Ragnarok was averted!

I was musing the other day that the Pet Avengers are really making the rounds these days.  They've battled Thanos, the Golden One, Red Ghost's super-apes, and Franklin Richards' garbage monster, as well as the God of Mischief Loki and the Midgard Serpent.  In a few weeks, they'll be teaming up with the regular Avengers and going up against the mighty Fin Fang Foom.  Not too shabby for a group that lacks even one opposable thumb!

Summer Camp, Part 2

Leslie just got back from a week at Camp Courageous over in Monticello, IA.  I meant to bring my flip camera to Camp Courageous to get Les' immediate reaction, but I forgot.  But I did get an interview shortly after returning home from camp:



Camp Courageous is a really nice year-round camping program for adults and children with disabilities.  We've been involved with Camp Courageous for nearly a decade.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

God Hates Nerds, but Nerds Luv their Comics

I was going to blog about this earlier, but got distracted.  For whatever reason, members of the Westboro Baptist Church decided that they were going to take a break from protesting the funerals of gay men and US military soldiers and take on America's next most powerful enemy: the comic book industry.  Yes, the Phelps family decided that they were going to protest the San Diego Comic-Con today.  Here's their reasoning:
Are you kidding?! If these people would spend even some of the energy that they spend on these comic books, reading the Bible, well no high hopes here. They have turned comic book characters into idols, and worship them they do! Isaiah 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. It is time to put away the silly vanities and turn to God like you mean it. The destruction of this nation is imminent - so start calling on Batman and Superman now, see if they can pull you from the mess that you have created with all your silly idolatry.
This was probably one of their more Biblically-reasoned excuses that I've read in a while.

If you know anything about comic book conventions, you already know that comic book fans are very passionate about their comics, tend to be creative, and love to wear costumes.  About 5 Westboro protesters showed up.  Compare that to the two dozen or so counter-protesters that showed up to support their fellow comic book idolaters.  And the counter-protesters did not fail to impress.  Check out this crowd:

Several of the counter-protest signs were standard counter-protest images, but some of these images are pure gold.  For example:

or
Frankly, the one below was my favorite:

The partially obscured text reads "ODIN IS GOD. Read 'The Mighty Thor #5'.  There was a similar sign in the crowd that I couldn't quite isolate.  It read "Jesus was nailed to a cross.  Thor has a hammer."  Silly stuff.  Then again, the whole protest was pretty silly.