Monday, January 31, 2011

It's amazing what can happen in a year

I was reviewing old pictures of Nero.  Check this out...

January 2010:

Versus December 2010:

I can barely remember that tiny Nero.  It's amazing how much things can change in a year.

My Open Letter to the Iowa House of Representatives regarding HJR 6 (Same-Sex Marriage Constitutional Amendment)

There's no way with our statewide blizzard that I could travel safely to and from Des Moines.  That's a good excuse, but the real reason I can't travel to the State House to show my opposition to House Joint Resolution 6 -- the proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw marriage rights for gay couples, as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships -- is because I have family obligations that make it difficult to travel across the state to lobby for anything.  Which is kind of ironic...  Anyway, I ended up drafting an e-mail and sending the following message to each State House Representative:

Dear Iowa House Legislators:

My husband Mark and I were legally married on January 9, 2010, in a church wedding here in the wonderful state of Iowa. Both of our sons were such handsome young gentlemen as they stood with us and assisted with our ceremony. We were extremely honored to be supported by so many family members, friends, and co-workers on the very special day that we were able to legally fortify our relationship. Mark and I have shared our lives since 1994. We have supported each other through the advancement of our mutual careers. We have nurtured each other during times of illness and strife. Our journey as foster parents and eventually adoptive parents has been one of the most unexpected, yet special experiences of our life together. I am very proud that we live in a state that promotes marital stability for ALL couples, gay and straight.

I am extremely concerned about HJR 6, which will overturn the Varnum court decision, but also ban any recognition of civil marriages between gay and lesbian couples, civil unions, and domestic partners. Same-sex marriage has not harmed this state. Since Varnum, Iowa’s marriage rates have gone up and our divorce rates have decreased to low numbers not seen since 1970. Outlawing same-sex marriage won’t help or hurt your marriage, but it will utterly destroy my marriage and legally neuter my family. I hear politicians speak out about the importance of “family”. This is your chance to stand up for ALL families, straight and gay. Please vote against HJR 6.

-Jon Trouten

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I made Comment of the Week on the Bilerico Project Blog!

Too cool!  One of the blogs that I like to read is the Bilerico Project.  The Bilerico Project is a group blog of GLBT contributors, speaking from all sorts of perspectives.  One of the contributors posted an article about the lack of GLBT representation in any of the incarnations of Star Trek, which was kind of disappointing considering its reputation for ahead-of-its-time social commentary.  I'm a big Star Trek fan, especially of the franchise's Jan Brady-like underdog: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (which, in my absolute spot-on opinion was the best series of the entire bunch), so I couldn't help but throw in a comment about this topic.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that I made the Bilerico Project's Comment of the Week.  Here's what I said there:
Star Trek was definitely always more about gender identity as opposed to sexual orientation. The J'naii characters in that one TNG episode (which really never made sense to me, but that's just me). DS9 always seemed the most willing to address sexuality issues. There was the Mirror Universe Kira, who was clearly bisexual. Also, there was Dax, who had lived different lifetimes as both men and women. One specific storyline introduced Jadzia Dax to one of her former spouses. Both hosts were female and they were briefly intimate with each other before breaking up again.
Anyway, Bil Browning used my comment and that earlier discussion to initiate a new sci-fi television question for the readership:
Several readers left comments about a Star Trek episode that never made it to air, but let's expand the topic a week bit. What sci-fi show do you think was the most LGBT-friendly?
I shared my new response, which is waiting for comment approval:
I have two immediate choices, though I'm not sure that the first one meets the criteria for a sci-fi show.  My first choice is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially from fourth season onward, when Willow met and fell in love with Tara and later with one of the newbie slayers.  I don't remember much GLBT content beyond that, but it was nice to see a longer-term romance between two young women and it certainly was fairly new for American network TV.

My second choice was the update
Doctor Who series and its spin-off series Torchwood: Captain Jack and then Ianto and then Toshiko and then that other future guy played by James Marsters.  It's not that they had gay and bisexual characters.  The series -- especially Torchwood -- is extremely comfortable with its sexuality.  It doesn't use code.  It's just matter of fact about the whole issue.
Follow the link to Bil blog post and add your opinion about the most GLBT-friendly sci-fi program.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Legislative Forum at the Iowa City Civic Center

I received a call this week from one of my union's organizers asking me to attend and possibly ask a question at the League of Women Voters of Johnson County's Legislative Forum, scheduled for today at the Iowa City Civic Center.  I've been feeling guilty because I haven't been traveling to Des Moines to lobby for anything this session because of work and family obligations, so this seemed like a good opportunity to interact with the state senators and representatives for this area and make sure that they hear some of my concerns.

None of the area's Republican legislators appeared and pretty much all of the legislators who did show up agreed with each other in principle on pretty much everything discussed, even if there were some minor disagreements about priorities and action steps.  Most of the conversation focused on proposed cuts to Iowa's various academic institutions (pre-k, public schools, universities, and community colleges).  I learned of one particular legislator's plan to do away with our state's "disgraceful" school system and instead give home-schooling vouchers to all parents (This is NOT in reference to any of this area's legislators -- I just found the idea of universal home-school to be a scary proposition).

House District 29's Nathan Willems was there.  I wasn't terribly familiar with his before today's forums.  I will say that he's very easy on the eyes.  He did impress me with an early observation that occurred to me shortly after Iowa's Governor Branstad proposed his budget for the coming year.  Representative Willems questioned how corporate tax cuts can be justified in a year where we're barely able to pay for the necessary services that we currently have.  It's one thing to hold taxes at a certain level, but to decrease state income at this point in time makes no sense.  As an AFSCME person noted during the Q&A period, families typically do two things when they find it difficult to cover rising household expenses: they trim their household budget to eliminate things that they want but don't need and they consider increasing their budget to cover rising expenses by getting a part-time job or whatever.  They generally don't solve their budgetary problems by cutting their income even lower.

House District 78 Vicki Lensing was also present.  During the Q&A period, someone asked about the constitutional amendment that is progressing through the State House, which will ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.  Representative Lensing went into an extremely impassioned speech against this whole process.  She praised the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v. Brien judicial response and argued that the whole issue of marriage equality is one of justice and equity and that we need to make sure that all Iowans continue to share equal civil marriage rights, responsibilities, and protections in this state.  She received the morning's first and only round of applause (directed toward a legislator, at least) for this answer.

Lastly, I know my mind is a bit warped by my personal television habits, but the League of Women Voters' forum facilitator (whose name I missed, but I believe it was their board president Polly Horton) reminded me way too much of Eileen from BBC's Jam & Jerusalem (or BBC America's Clatterford, depending on what you're familiar with).  I think it was her hair style, coloring, and glasses that did it for me.  She just needed some League regalia and a motion to end the forum with a presentation on the local cheese factory and the image would've been stuck in my head forever.

Anyway, the thing I heard over and over was that I need to lobby our state's legislature.  A lot.  I just wish the state's capitol was still here in Iowa City.  It'd definitely be more convenient for me.  But it was a good reminder that I need to at least make use of my phone and e-mail to share my story with Iowa's legislators on a variety of subjects important to me, including the marriage amendment, funding for the state's universities and community colleges, and funding for the state's mental health/disabilities services system.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Discussing NARTH: An Introduction

I've written before about Andrew Marin and my participation in his blog.  Recently, I've been posting back and forth about NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality) with someone named "ChrisZ" on this thread.  ChrisZ is a fan of the organization.  I believe that NARTH is little more than an agendized research organization, established to prove a point or at least to make sure that their point is proven (that point being that homosexuality is a flawed condition and in need of a cure).  Somehow the discussion keeps coming back to three different issues:

1. ChrisZ is concerned that the Church needs to stand for universal truth (that truth being that homosexuality is nurture-driven and can be transformed to heterosexuality).  S/he then cites NARTH (which claims that it is not a religious organization, FWIW) as evidence of this.

2. ChrisZ also wants me to concede that NARTH doesn't believe that homosexuality of "bad" (while citing a website titled "Evils in American Sodomy" and a NARTH-related book report that starts out with the sub-title "Homosexuality is VERY ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR").

3. Finally, ChrisZ doesn't like to hear about the how the ongoing debate on homosexuality in the church and in society actually affects real GLBT people.  That might inspire an emotional response and the Truth rises above emotions.  In other words, keep everything focused on concepts and actively avoid talking about people and families (unless it's convenient to do otherwise).

Given that ChrisZ was jumping around to various different discussion topics in that particular thread and that we were running out of space there, I said that I would eventually discuss the issue here on this blog and link back to Andrew's blog.  Husband Mark doesn't see the point.  And I can see Mark's point.  I'm not sure what specifically ChrisZ wants me to respond to, as s/he has addressed several topics in a short amount of space.  But here are some of the various things that MAY be addressed in this discussion: Is homosexuality biologically determined?  Can gay people change their sexual orientation so that they're no longer gay?  Does NARTH believe that homosexuality is bad?  Does NARTH ever believe that homosexuality can be positive or neutral?  Are gay families the moral equivalent of adulterers and drug addicts?  What about bisexuals and transgender people and polygamists?  Did the APA remove homosexuality from the DSM because its members believe that being gay isn't actually a mental illness or did they do it because of gay activists who'd infiltrated the organization and intimidated the other members?  And, of course, everything jumps back to being divided by truth vs. united by a lie.

So here's the thing.  This is my blog.  I'm game with doing the whole NARTH discussion, but I'm not going to continue it if everything gets jacked around with statements of "don't be emotional" or "don't you love Truth?".  Because, if NARTH truly respects the autonomy of gay people to seek a cure or not, then discussing the positive nature of my life and my family should be respected.  Additionally, it needs to be decided whether we're having a religious discussion (in which case, the NARTH stuff -- by their assertion -- isn't part of this discussion) or if we're having a discussion about NARTH, its history, and its work (in which case, ChrisZ's scriptural references aren't really part of this discussion).

I'll start with the easy stuff first:

1. Is homosexuality biologically determined?  I've already shared my thoughts on that here
Do you think that gays and lesbians are born that way?: I personally don't know and I don't think it matters. My hunch? Yes, no, maybe, and it depends on who we're talking about. I believe that many gay and lesbian people are born with genetic predispositions. I believe that our sexuality is affected by issues like how we're raised and what we're exposed to. And I believe that some people make a decision to be gay or lesbians. And I don't believe that it matters. I don't believe that it would make a difference to many Christians if it was determined that we're born gay and I don't believe that it would alter things for most gay people if it was determined that we are absolutely not born gay.
2. Can gay people change their sexual orientation so that they're no longer gay?  I've already answered that here...:
Can a GLBT person change their sexual orientation?: I believe that we can change our behavior. I don't believe that most GLBT folks are successful with their effort to change from gay or lesbian to het. I believe that most of those gay or lesbian folks who have successfully settled down and married heterosexually still struggle with their own homosexual feelings. And I believe that there are some who successfully make the change. But I also believe that many more people have tried very hard for much of their lives to change from gay to het with no lasting success. And I believe that the Church and its members are not very kind when they tell those people that they don't believe enough in or trust enough in Jesus' transformative power, as evidenced by their lack of change.
... and more recently here:
What about the gays and lesbians who sincerely spend years repenting and fasting and praying to be let go from their homosexual temptations? People make it seem like it’s so easy. Turn to Jesus and he’ll set you free. And then the years click by and they’re not really set free.

The truth is that some gay people can become ex-gay and some gay people were made gay, but the truth is that other gay people aren’t going to become ex-gay no matter how much they try and no matter how much praying, psychotherapy, and holding therapies (they engage in). The truth is that there are gay people who are genuinely happy, content, and safe in their lifestyles, even if that lifestyle is something so vanilla as marriage, kids, and career. And the truth is that they are right with God and they are not addicts or prostitutes or adulterers (though many ex-gay leaders for some reason seem to be former addicts, prostitutes, or adulterers; I’m just sayin’).
3. Are gay families the moral equivalent of adulterers and drug addicts?  I already addressed this here.  In my mind, this is a faulty comparison.  Adultery harms the family through acts of deceit and by risking the introduction of negative outside influence like STDs and illegitimate children.  Drug addition harms people through its various symptoms — inability to maintain employment, inability to care for kids or manage one's household, legal problems, and of course the mental and physical effects of the addiction itself.  Gay families are no more likely to inherently harm those in the family than het families.

4. What about bisexuals?  I already answered this here:
(M)y husband is a bisexual male. What’s your point?
5. What about transgender people?  I answered ChrisZ in the other thread, but really the answer should have been a rephrasing of the bisexual question: "What about them?"

6. What about polygamy?  How far do you want to take this?  I addressed this here:
Polygamy often gets lumped in with GLBT people, but it’s hardly our issue. I dare you to ask most actual Polygamists (who tend to be quite religiously and socially conservative) how much they support the “gay lifestyle”. I will point out that Polygamy has much more of a presence in the Bible than homosexuality does and it tended to be treated in a culturally neutral way, FWIW. At least it’s a step up from adultery, in my mind.
And that's where I'm going to end this discussion tonight.  I plan to address the following issues over the course of this little series: NARTH's origins and purpose; NARTH's anti-gay political and legal activism; and the removal of homosexuality from the DSM (or "is homosexuality a mental illness?")

25th Anniversary of the Challenger Tragedy

Twenty-five years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up a couple minutes into its mission.  I was asked earlier today what I was up to when I learned of the explosion.  I don't remember much except that I was home sick from school and lying on the couch watching television.  Needless to say, I didn't get to watch any soap operas, sitcoms, cartoons, or talk shows that day.  It was minute-to-minute coverage of the failed mission.  I also remember hoping that the crew survived the explosion long enough to make it safely to the ocean.

D'Angelo's class discussed the shuttle mission today.  One interesting thing that he learned (which he later revealed to me) is that his teacher apparently applied for the civilian teacher spot on the Challenger.  I have no clue how far along she made it through the application process, but obviously (and fortunately) she didn't get the job.  But her small part in Challeger's history definitely helped make this particular tragedy real to D' and the other kids in his classroom.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Former UCC Prez Has Affair; UCC Reform Group Snipes at Married Gays

Several months ago, it was revealed that John Thomas, the former President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, was in the midst of a scandal.  It was revealed that he had been having a long term affair with a former co-worker who just happened to be another higher up in in the UCC hierarchy.  It was revealed that he was leaving his wife to live with this other woman.  And most recently, it was revealed that his ministerial standing has been suspended so that he can work on his issues.

The UCC's main renewal organization, Biblical Witness Fellowship, has been all over this story ("all over" being fairly relative for a website that has only posted four articles in roughly six months).  I've appreciated their heads up over the situation, but I really could have done without the swipe against gay families in their latest missive:
It appears that Thomas has yet to awaken to the real cost of his adultery. While BWF rejects the cynical suggestion made by some other commentators that his enthusiastic support for the same gender marriage resolution in 2005 was quid pro quo for tacit silence or approval of his own relational agenda, his behavior does call into question the credibility of the UCC leadership and what it has promoted. There is a strong indication that national staff people were aware of the situation for some time. When did they become aware and what action did they take? Is there a consensual ethos of permissive relational behavior among UCC staff folks? Were church funds abused when they were used for John Thomas and Lydia Veliko to travel together albeit on ‘church business’? We pray that the church will follow up now with a level of public disclosure that will enable trust to be restored and healing to begin.
Give me a break.  Former President Thomas had an affair and that was wrong.  I would rather that this hadn't happened and I feel terrible for what his family must be going through.  But...

The United Church of Christ's pro-family support of married gay and lesbian families did not cause President Thomas' affair.  The UCC's support of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples was not the result of -- as indirectly hinted at by the BWF -- gay rights blackmail.  The UCC's 2005 General Synod vote affirming marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples came about because the vast majority of Synod participants recognized that marriage is an important relationship for all people.  It's important for the married couple themselves and it is important for both the church and society.

President Thomas definitely spoke out in favor of the marriage equality vote and his affair may well have been occurring back in 2005, but it wasn't general knowledge to the vast majority of General Synod participants.  And frankly, the Synod voters wouldn't have voted for this resolution -- with or without President Thomas' support -- if they themselves didn't want to support marriage rights for both gay and het couples.

BWF's indirect swiping at gay families while directly swiping at President Thomas' adultery highlights a terribly annoying element of the whole "gay marriage" debate.  Social conservatives view gay and lesbian families in the same flawed light as adultery and divorce.  Gays and lesbians don't want to get married so that we can break up families.  We want to get married because we cherish the institution of marriage.  That's not to say that there aren't gay men and women who marry and cheat and break up.  But overall, our interest in marrying is about solidifying our relationships, not knocking down yours'.

Anyway, this whole situation is pretty sad.  I just wish that BWF didn't make it sadder by jabbing at families who have nothing to do with Thomas or Veliko.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chaos War #5: Alpha Flight Reborn!

I'm terribly excited this evening.  Over the past few months, I've been reading a mini comic book event titled Chaos War, which is published by Marvel Comics.  Here's the nutshell: an evil Chaos God threatens to destroy everything in the universe in the pursuit of chaos.  He is ultimately opposed by super-god, Hercules, and several other godlike heroes.  Over the course of this mini-series, several of Earth's pantheons are decimated and the gateways between life and death are pretty much shattered, allowing several dead heroes to join the battle.  Among those resurrected include Thunderbird of the X-Men, Captain Marvel of the Avengers, and most of Canada's premier super-team, Alpha Flight.  The heroes won and I'm extremely excited by one particular panel towards the end of Chaos War #5:

Marvel's not been very kind of Alpha Flight during the past decade.  Several years ago, Marvel killed the team (off-panel, no less) in an issue of New Avengers.  Alpha Flight (Guardian, Vindicator, Shaman, Pucks 1 & 2, and Major Mapleleaf) were cavalierly killed off by an unknown villain known as the Collective.  They didn't get a chance to put up a fight.  They didn't have a chance to sacrifice themselves.  They didn't really get a chance to serve any purpose except ineffective road-block.  And the writer pretty much laughed off any anger issued by Alpha Flight's fans.

To add to the insult, a few months later Marvel published a short-lived Omega Flight book.  It featured the exploits of Canada's new super-team.  It brought back Sasquatch and Talisman and teamed them up with a bunch of American heroes: USAgent, Arachne, and Beta Ray Thor.  Oh, I forgot that Marvel also included a new Guardian (AKA the Collective AKA the villain who killed Canada's first super-team).  That book lasted five issues.  Since then, fans of Alpha Flight have been reading the various X-Men books, which have been featuring a few former Alphans like Northstar and Madison Jeffries (and ruthlessly killing off other former Alphans like Diamond Lil...).  Additionally, Snowbird has popped up occasionally (and kicked butt) over in the now defunct Incredible Hercules series.

Now things are looking up for Canada's greatest heroes.  The original team (Guardian, Sasquatch, Snowbird, Northstar, Aurora, Shaman, Marinna, plus Vindicator, minus Puck) are back together and the before-mentioned Puck has been popping up in Wolverine's book just itching for a resurrection from Hell.  It's unclear exactly what Marvel has in mind right now for Canada's greatest super-team, but I can't imagine that Alpha Flight's core team was resurrected without some sort of master plan in mind.

BTW: If you get a moment, check out this awesome review of Alpha Flight's recent Chaos War one-shot comic book.

Will the Gayby Boom + Preborn Genetic Testing = Aborted Het Babies?

I learned about this yesterday on Joe My God and I'm still scratching my head.  Do conservatives think gay people are born that way or that we choose to be that way?  Or does it depend on the argument they are trying to use against us?  The reason I ask if because of this new opinion piece over at World Net Daily, which asks the question: "If two homosexual men want to use in vitro fertilization to conceive a baby and then use genetics technology to ensure the baby is also "gay," while disposing of any "straight" embryos, would the law have any ethical problems with that?"
John A. Robertson of the University of Texas Law School is the chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and an advocate of what his book "Children of Choice" calls "procreative liberty." In a paper for the Washington, D.C., think tank Brookings Institution, Robertson presents a futuristic scenario where advancing science and society's evolving morality could create a once only dreamed-of ethical dilemma:

"Larry, a pediatrician, and David, a wills lawyer, meet in their late 20s, fall in love, and marry on June 15, 2025, in Indianapolis," Robertson writes. "By 2030, they are well-enough established in their careers to think about having their own child. Larry's 24-year-old sister Marge has agreed to donate her eggs, and David will provide the sperm, so that each partner will have a genetic connection with the child. … In the process, Larry and David come to realize that they would prefer to have a male child that shares their sexual orientation." He continues, "The clinic doctors are experts in embryo screening and alteration, but cannot guarantee that the resulting embryos will in fact turn out to be homosexual. To increase the certainty, they will insert additional 'gay gene' sequences in the embryos."
In years past, WND writers had dreaded the day when fickle heterosexual parents would abort their prenatally screened gay babies, just like so many heterosexuals currently do with their prenatally screened babies with Down Syndrome.  Of course, I thought gays and lesbians were the products of distant dads, smothering moms, warped gender-roles, sexual abuse, and purple Teletubbies.  Now the Right is arguing sexual orientation is genetically destined and that gay people will only want gay kids (as evidenced by the non-existent stats of gay parents seeking only GLBT kids through adoption...).

So which is it, WND?  Nature or Nurture?

Nero at Daycare -- 1/25/11

Nero had another fun time yesterday at his daycare program.  You can't tell from the picture below, but he decided to roll around in some unmentionable materials during his free time.  I'm not sure if he was thinking of taking a mud-bath or what, but he definitely needed a bath when he came home.  He still thought it was worth it.  Check it out:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iowa House Committee Approved Marriage Amendment Bill

I don't have a lot of time to post at the moment, but thought I'd better offer up an update on yesterday's committee meeting here in Des Moines.  As predicted, a subcommittee of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee voted 2-1 in favor of a resolution to amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.  Presumably, this will also void my marriage and the marriages of thousands of other gay and lesbian couples.  A full committee of the House Judiciary Committee is expected to pass the bill along to the full House, which is expected to approve this bill sometime next week.  This bill is not expected to pass in the Senate.

Over 200 people jammed the room and argued their cases to the subcommittee, which -- let's be honest -- had already made up its mind.  No word if BVP actually ended up giving any cookies to any gay person or if they were any good.

Monday, January 24, 2011

BVP Wants to Trade My Marriage for a Bag of Cookies

Bob Vander Plaats and his fellow anti-family activists from the FAMily Leader have come up with a new strategy. The Iowa House is going to open up debate on a proposed constitutional amendment bill that would forcibly annul my marriage and more than 2,000 other gay and lesbian couples’ marriage, as well as prevent the state from having civil unions or domestic partnerships. One Iowa and other pro-family and pro-marriage equality folks are going to be in Des Moines advocating against this proposed constitutional amendment.

Of course, BVP is all about the gays and destroying our families. That’s a given. However, he’s willing to offer up what he views to be an even trade in return: a bag of cookies:
The state's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, The Family Leader, which is headed by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, has announced it will hold a prayer meeting in support of the bill in Room 305 from 12 to 1PM. “Several of us plan to bring a token of Christian love (like a small bag of cookies or other treats) to share with homosexual activists who we'll be encountering Monday,” the group wrote in a newsletter to supporters. “It's time we dispel lies about Christians, by tangibly showing love to people who struggle with homosexuality.”
I wonder if he’s going to offer a similar trade to Chief Justice Mark Cady when they get together for their upcoming meeting: his resignation for a bag of chips?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Woman Walks While Texting; Falls into Fountain; and then Threatens Lawsuit

Check out this video.  As you can see, this woman was engrossed in her texting while walking. Unfortunately, she wasn't watching where she was going and ended up walking right into a fountain full of water. It's hilarious:

I was going to post it earlier and then never got around to it.  Then, I found out that this woman is threatening to sue the mall because one of the mall security guards recorded a video of the fall and posted it on YouTube.  Keep in mind, that she's largely anonymous in this video. But not anymore.  She went onto Good Morning America with her attorney and outed herself to the country.

By the Numbers

0 -- Number of offers to purchase Edinburgh Manor in Scotch Grove, IA, from Jones County.  Edinburgh Manor was an residential care facility for chronically mentally ill people based in the middle of the country.  The RCF corporate office bought and refurnished a new property in Anamosa and moved everything to that community a few months ago.  They're right next to the Anamosa State Prison, which is smack-dab in the middle of Anamosa, which is pretty cool.  Check it out next time it's featured on one of MSNBC's "Life in Prison" show.  But I'm digressing...

Edinburgh Manor is extremely cool.  We nicknamed it "the Addams Family House" at my office.  It's old and creaky and needs tons of work.  But it definitely has character.  Especially in October.  If I ever win big with Powerball or Mega Millions, I'm extremely tempted to buy and update the place.  I'd definitely invite the Johnson County Paranormal Team over for an extended investigation.

13 -- Number of whopper "misstatements" and outright lies muttered by US House Representative and possible Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann.  They were compiled by Minnesota Public Radio, so Bachmann's probably being victimized by the Media (but likely not).  The list includes stuff like when she asserted that Obama's recent trip to India cost us $200,000 per day or that illegal immigrants are covered by the recently-passed health care reform law.  Don't feel too bad for Michelle.  When called on her lies, she changes the subject to President Obama's untruthiness.  And she generally gets rewarded by voters and rightwing media sources.  So it's all good.  You can read more here.

15% -- The EPA just approved the use of 15% Ethanol in vehicles.  I've been an Ethanol supporters and consumer for years and am pretty pleased with this development.  Check out the link and you'll find both Democrats and Republicans from Iowa supporting this decision.  I know that there are concerns that food prices will go up, but really it's good for the state that our food products are being consumed.

60 -- Apparently 60 people have applied for the three vacant Supreme Court Justice positions here in Iowa.  According to the Gazette, it's a diverse bunch.  Some were inspired to apply because they didn't like the Varnum decision.  Some were inspired to apply because they were upset by the anti-retention movements.  Others seem to have non-gay marriage priorities like gambling or pharmaceutical interests.

1,200 -- Number of Iowans who have told Iowa's legislature to move on and forget about impeaching Iowa's remaining Supreme Court Justices (actually the number was 1317 last I checked Justice Not Politics' website).  They plan to present this group letter to both the State House and Senate.

1976 -- Did you know that Planned Parenthood published a Spider-Man comic back in the 70s?  It featured the alien menace of Prodigy, who used his "magnetically monotone" voice to convince teens to have reckless unprotected sex and become overwhelmed and pre-occupied by their multiple kids to fight against his alien invasion (or something like that).  Fortunately, the web-spinner was there to fight back against Prodigy's free love scheme.  Check out the link for the full storyline.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Iowa GOP House Seeking to Ban Gay Marriage, Civil Unions, AND Domestic Partnerships

We've been anticipating this development for a couple years.  Iowa's Supreme Court struck down our state's DOMA law back in April 2009, which allowed gay couples to begin applying for marriage licenses.  Back then, both our state Senate and House of Representatives were controlled by the Democratic Party.  In November 2010, the power shifted to the Republican Party in the House.  True to form, the GOP has set its collective target on Iowa's gay and lesbian families.  This week, all but four GOP House members co-sponsored a bill that would, if approved, amend the state's constitution to forcibly void my marriage and the marriage of thousands of gay and lesbian families.

Predictably, the GOP isn't just targeting our ability to marry.  They want to make sure we can't establish alternate legal protections and responsibilities for our families.  This constitutional amendment would not only prevent the state from recognizing our marriages, it would also ban the state from recognizing civil unions and domestic partnerships.  Which seems petty, in my mind.  But they think it's important to make sure that gay families have no legal standing or protections:
But the resolution they've prepared is more sweeping than that, a move intended to help place finality on the issue of the legality of same-sex unions, said Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, who is the lead sponsor of House Joint Resolution 6. "I think the biggest issue is that if that (a same-sex marriage ban) is carried forward, and then Iowa does civil unions and recognizes that as a substitute status, then, from what I've seen in other states," people would come to consider same-sex civil unions as equal to marriage, Alons said.
Interestingly, the president of the NAACP State Conference for Iowa and Nebraska fully supports the decimation of gay families.  He believes that we, like two-income families, erode families.  This despite the fact that marriage numbers have gone up and divorce numbers have gone down in Iowa since marriage equality became reality.  But they need to destroy our families in order to bolster their families.

Fortunately, the Iowa Senate is controlled by the Democrats and the Senate Majority leader, Mike Gronstal, continues to say that the constitutional amendment won't come to the floor.  Additionally, Iowa's constitution is difficult to amend.  Proposed amendments have to pass through both the House and the Senate in two consecutive General Assemblies and each assembly is two years before going to voters.  So we're looking at 2014 at the soonest.

Wouldn't that suck?  I could be married for nearly five years and then have my neighbors vote on the existence of my marriage.  Just a depressing thought...

It was a good reminder to read this article on the subject in the Iowa Independent website tonight.  This type of resolution isn't anything new:
A constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has been repeatedly introduced over the years, coming closest to being passed in 2004, when it cleared the Iowa House but fell one vote shy of passage in the Senate, with four Republicans joining all 21 Democrats to kill the measure that year. The next year, the Republican controlled Iowa House passed a gay marriage ban, but an evenly divided Senate never took up the bill.

Democrats were in control of both legislative chambers from 2006 until January, when Republicans captured a majority in the House and promised to once again push a gay-marriage ban quickly. However, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to never allow such an amendment to come up for debate. Democrats still have a 26-24 majority in the Senate.
So what's the lesson here?

1. This isn't the first time.  The GOP has struck out at our families before and failed.  They don't have to win this year and they won't have to win in the future.
2. We need to support our allies and our allies are in the Iowa Democratic Party, especially the Senate.  We need to help them win back the House and increase their numbers in the Senate.  And we especially need to throw our full support towards one of our most prominent supporters: Senator Gronstal.
3. We need to continue talking about our families.  Iowa needs to see married gay men and women and hear our stories.
4. We need to point out the stupid rhetoric (like the nonsense spouted by Rev. Ratliff of the NAACP) repeatedly and often.  They talk about the erosion of the family.  We point out that marriage numbers are up and divorces are down.  That's opinion vs. actual fact.
5. And we need to tell our otherwise supportive GOP-aligned families, friends, and co-workers to tell their party legislatures to back off our families.  I had plenty of Republicans come to our wedding last year.  They support our families, but they also tacitly support a political party that spends way too much time trying to outlaw our families.  That's not cool and our friends need to know that we don't believe it's cool and then they need to communicate that to their representatives.

Nero at Daycare -- 1/20/11

Nero enjoyed another fun-filled afternoon at daycare today.  Check it out:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Name is Jon and I am a Homosexual

Did you hear about the Catholic group that came up with a 12-step program for gay men (not lesbians)?  The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs has begun the "Twelve Steps of Courage", which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous' 12 steps:
...(Rev. Larry) Brennan says the program is not for people comfortable with their gay lifestyle. “The people we want to reach are those who experience this as a burden,” he said.

Over the years, many organizations have appropriated AA’s 12 steps to reach out to people with addictive behavior, such as shopaholics and workaholics.

The Catholic Church’s Twelve Steps of Courage is another version of AA’s steps. Participants admit they are powerless in overcoming same-sex attraction, ask God for help, and make amends to those they’ve hurt, among other steps.

Though new to the Springs diocese, the Twelve Steps of Courage has been part of the Catholic Church since 1980, when the late Rev. John Harvey founded Courage International...

“This is a population that is underserved,” Brennan said. “They are not comfortable with the gay agenda and not comfortable with family oriented (events).”

A 12-step program for lesbians may also be created if there is demand for it, Brennan said.
Of course, we're left with the question of whether or not being gay is an addiction.  Do gay men neglect work in order to score their "next fix" (presumably their next ping of the gaydar)?  Are married gay men neglecting each other by being gay?  Do gay men experience physical or mental withdrawal symptoms when they haven't had sex in a while?  And what makes being gay addictive, but not being het? 

And why isn't there any need for addictive lesbianism?  Maybe I just single-handedly solved the mystery of gay male addiction: XX chromosomes.  Neither het males nor lesbians become addicted to their sexual orientations because women are essentially walking sexual methadone.  Gay men have no women, hence the addiction, hence the need for a 12-step program.  Maybe instead of going to Twelve Steps of Courage, gay men should invest in estrogen patches.  Or at least touch up their drag skills.

Anyway, here are the steps:
*We admitted that we were powerless over homosexuality and our lives had become unmanageable.
*We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
*We made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him.
*We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
*We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
*We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of our character.
*We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
*We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make direct amends to them all.
*We made the direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
*We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
*We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of God's Will for us and the power to carry it out.
*Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Personally, at risk for remaining insane, immoral, and defective (their words), I'll wait for the patch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 1/18/11

Nero had another fun day at Lucky Pawz today.  First, he played with the rest of the pack in the snow-filled playground:

Then, he shared some laughs with this lab.  Check it out:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Iowa's New Chief Justice Agrees to Meet with Marriage Inequality Activist Chuck Hurley

Chief Justice Cady
Iowa's new Chief Justice Mark Cady has agreed to meet up with longtime anti-gay activist and "the Family Leader" leader Chuck Hurley.  Predictably, both men have different reasons for agreeing to this meeting.

Chief Justice Cady plans to spend the next couple years reaching out to politicians, community leaders, and citizen groups to educated folks about the role of the judiciary.  This meeting is part of that outreach effort:
“We’ll meet with all Iowans,” Cady said during a weekend appearance on IPTV’s “Iowa Press” program. “What we’re trying to do is open up our court system because I truly believe that that will be a way to give greater confidence in our court system.”

According to Cady, last fall’s judicial retention was a “wake-up call” for the court.

“We approached that retention election much like the judges and the judiciary has approached things. We tried to stay in the back, do our work and do it in a competent way,” Cady said on IPTV. “The retention election revealed something else to us and we have to make sure something like that doesn’t happen against because it’s very destructive to our goal and our mission and our duty.”

Chuck Hurley
Meanwhile, Harley plans to explain to Cady why he and the other Supreme Court Justices should resign in disgrace:
Chuck Hurley of a group that recently changed its name to The FAMiLY Leader says he’ll ask the chief justice to “pray and search his heart” and Hurley says he’s confident the justice will then resign...

While Hurley plans to ask the chief justice to resign — and to convince the three other justices to follow him off the court — Hurley doesn’t expect the meeting to be confrontational. "And as far as getting into hateful personality, casting aspersions, that’s not who I am and I don’t think that’s who Mark Cady is,” Hurley says.
I cannot imagine either man will end up being successful with either stated goal (education vs. resignation).

Hurley has been operating in Iowa as a professional anti-gay activist for as long as I can remember.  As recently as this summer, he argued that gay sex was more dangerous than smoking cigarettes.  Cady is the current number one target of marriage inequality activists as he was the Supreme Court Justice who actually penned the unanimous Varnum v. Brien decision in 2009, which struck down the state's DOMA law and allowed hundreds of gay and lesbian couples like me and my husband to apply for marriage licenses and enjoy the rights and responsibilities of legal marriage.

Iowa Tea Party Rallies Against Gay Marriage

Remember when the Tea Party was a libertarian-bent group less concerned about social issues and really only interested in reducing government debt, spending, taxes, ear marks, and repealing government health care reform?  Apparently that is no longer the group's primary goal.  Iowa's Tea Party -- which already generated some controversy this past summer when it posted a billboard equating President Obama with Hitler and Stalin -- hosted an event in Council Blufffs yesterday where its supporters rallied against gay families:
About 35 people gathered at the Mid-America Center to hear speeches from State Rep. Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, and Danny Carroll, lobbyist for the group Family Leader. “I’m a Christian, social, fiscal conservative,” Pearson said. “The social and fiscal conservative values work.”

Speakers at the event called on Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, to allow floor debate on a resolution to ban same-sex marriage in the state. A resolution is required for the constitutional amendment process to move forward. Gronstal has stated repeatedly he will block such a debate, saying that the Iowa Constitution should not be amended to deny rights to people...

While she supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage, she said,
she would prefer that a ban come through the legislative process because that would be faster...

The rally was sponsored by the Des Moines-based Iowa Conservative Alliance and its subsidiary, the Iowa Tea Party. Organizer Ryan Rhodes said they held the event in Council Bluffs to encourage people to hold Gronstal accountable.
Here are my thoughts on the issue:

1. I thought the Tea Party was an economic and spending movement.  They need to make up their mind, I think.

2. What is Representative Pearson talking about?  Iowa's Supreme Court ruled that our previous legislative attempt to ban gay couples from marrying, DOMA, is unconstitutional.  If DOMA was unconstitutional before, why wouldn't it be unconstitutional again?  Is she thinking that a new set of judges will find a subsequent DOMA law to be constitutional minus a constiutional amendment?  Or is she not even really thinking, but instead spouting off nonsense?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who Knew? Johnson County has its own team of Paranormal Investigators

I had heard of Syfy's Ghost Hunters and A&E's Paranormal State, but I never knew until this past week that my own county has its own ghostly investigation team: the Johnson County Paranormal Team.  Not only that, but they've been doing their investigations for a couple years and have their own program on Iowa City's Public Access channel.  My husband Mark tried telling me that this group led an unsuccessful effort to hunt for ghosts at the old Johnson County Poor House (only to be rebuffed by our local residential care facility for the chronically mentally ill, Chatham Oaks -- which, though it would have been cool, I know some of the folks that live there who definitely wouldn't be able to cope with that type of investigation so it's probably just as well), but it turns out that it was another group of paranormal investigators.  Regardless, the Johnson County Paranormal Team has its own local following and regularly communicates its findings to the public on its television show and at various local forums.

Here is how the Johnson County Paranormal Team got together and what they do when they get together:
By day, the four members of the team are average guys, working together at the University of Iowa and juggling family, work and finances like the rest of the living world. But two and a half years ago, a strange experience at their workplace morphed into a defining moment for the four co-workers, said team member Greg Reisner.

"We were working at one of the dorms, and Joe (Mihm) came in one day and said, 'I think there is something weird going on in the hall.'"

Certain incidents- a loud noise, a slamming dresser drawer, a sudden and drastic drop in temperature- had no ready explanation, said Reisner, but the idea that they could be caused by something unseen intrigued him. He asked his co-worker if he had any interest in the paranormal- those experiences that lie outside the realm of normal understanding or scientific explanation.

"I asked Joe if he was into that kind of stuff, and he said he was, and mentioned his brother was too," said Reisner.

"We all decided to meet together one afternoon in May," added team member John Mihm. "We took notes, and decided we would form a team and start getting equipment together to conduct investigations"

Now, in the shadows of the night, armed with electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, high-quality audio recorders, video cameras and digital cameras and thermometers, the Johnson County Paranormal Team become ghost hunters. Their expeditions are recorded and later formatted for viewing on Iowa City's local access cable television station, Channel 18. Their program airs each Saturday night at 11:30, and is fittingly titled "Soul Seekers".

Typical investigations involve using equipment to record the sights and sounds at a site where paranormal activity has been reported. The Mihm brothers take EMF readings to search out unusual electromagnetic fields, use audio recorders to later listen for electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and take digital photos, which could provide evidence of orbs or abnormal flares of light. Team member Sean Haussmann runs the video camera, taping the action at the scene and the movements of the team. Reisner uses various additional pieces of equipment, including a K2 meter and a digital thermometer to detect "cold spots," a sign that something ghostly might be near. After all the data is gathered at a site, which usually takes a couple of hours, team members take it back to their home computers for analysis. Review and analysis of the data requires intense concentration and long, tedious hours. Reisner eventually gathers and edits the content for the next installment of Soul Seekers, as well as the Paranormal Team's collective profile on MySpace.
They have since been joined by a fifth team member: a psychic named Cat Sinclair, who receives psychic impressions during investigations and who occasionally communicates with the deceased.

The Johnson County Paranormal Team seems to be less about solving paranormal mysteries and more about gathering information and passing it onto clients and the general public.  They don't appear to charge for their services and it appears that they are willing to go wherever they're asked.  They also don't assume that every creaking floor or housebound hot spot is a ghost.

It looks like the group hosted a forum about their recent activities last night at the North Liberty Community Library.  Unfortunately, I didn't catch wind of it until late yesterday and was unable to attend.  Somewhere between 70-90 people attended and listened to the results of their most recent investigation of an old house in North Liberty:
Reisner said he received a text message about the home and contacted the city to see if he and the team could check it out. North Liberty city officials were happy to help, he said...

The team spent four nights in the home and Mihm said "not a whole lot happened" outside of hearing a something that he said sounded like hissing. Upon reviewing their audio, Mihm said after the hiss they could detect something that sounded like an exhale. "It was kind of creepy," he said. "I don't know where it came from."

The real activity happened when Sinclair came to the home. Sinclair told the audience she doesn't learn anything from the team about the location beforehand, because it can "color" the impressions she gets. Sinclair said she was "pulled" to the kitchen where she sensed the presence of a woman singing. Upstairs, she detected the presence of a young boy. Sinclair said her abilities are limited to only sensing the presence of "earthbound" spirits, which she helps to cross over to the afterlife when they are willing to go. Sinclair said she was able to help the young boy pass over.
The Johnson County Paranormal Team sounds really cool and I plan to learn more about this unique local group of ghost-hunters.  I'll post more about them as stories and investigations occur.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nero at Daycare -- 1/14/11

Nero roughhoused with another standard poodle today at daycare.  Check it out:

Dude, You Need Some Romance

I haven't posted much over the past week, largely due to having a nasty cold and being overly medicated on cold & flu medicine.  A couple days ago, someone left a comment on an old post about a conservative Des Moines-based radio talk show host.  You can click the link to read my original post, but it essentially was about the time I called this guy's talk show and spoke out for gay adoption and against a proposed bill that would have banned gays and lesbians from foster parenting and adopting in the state of Iowa.  The commenter posted the following comment:
Jan is great! I heard this and you did not avoid anything. The truth is "Gay" is miguided and ripped off people by the political class. There is no scientific evidence you were born this way but there is evidence you would be a efeminate male. Truthfully I don't want to have sex with my wife, it does not do it for me, does not mean I should act on it. I want a different type of girl, but it would be immoral. God loves you as you are and so do us conservatives. But you are making a choice. If you are not it would be rape. So there should not be special rights until we find out you are born this way. Right now you are a man and DO have man rights. You are a great guy I am sure, but I reason over emoting, and it is not the best situation for children for the reasons Jan listed. Peace out Jon!
I have some obvious disagreement with most of this anonymous commenter's statement, but frankly the part I keep coming back to is what he says about his wife.  This isn't the first time someone has told me how turned off s/he is from his/her spouse.  Far from it.  The implication is that they are miserable and I should be, too.  Every time I hear this, I wonder why these people are telling me about their revulsion and why they aren't communicating this to their wife or husband. 

I didn't choose your wife.  You did, presumably for a reason.  You fail to honor your wife or your marriage when you get grossed out over your wife and then complain to others about it (or worse yet, hold it over others like a badge of honor).  Talk to your wife and figure out how to bring back some of that magic that originally brought you two together.  Bring back the romance.  Treat each other well.  That's how your honor your marriage.

Nero at Daycare -- 1/13/11

Nero apparently got startled at daycare yesterday.  Check it out:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Culver Says Goodbye and Iowa's Supremes Receive Standing Ovation

Governor Chet Culver said his official "goodbye as governor" speech in Des Moines today, touting all of his accomplishments during his term in office (Something he should have been doing a lot more during the actual campaign, if you want my opinion.  Just saying...). 

The folks at One Iowa packed the State House with marriage equality supporters, which led to some interesting events.  Iowa's four Supreme Court justices received a two minute standing ovation today from Democratic leaders and various citizens.  It was noted through various sources that most of the Republicans in the audience sat and scowled at the justices.

One Iowa hosted a Freedom to Marry Lobby Day today, something I didn't hear about until last night but likely wouldn't have been able to attend due to the weather and work obligations.  Still, I wish I lived closer to the Capitol sometimes so that I could do stuff like this.  I'm not too hopeful about winning too many GOP hearts and minds with stories of our families, but our state's Democratic leaders definitely need to be thanked and supported for their continued support of all Iowa's families.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Comic Alert: "Skaar: King of the Savage Land"

I haven't read too many issues of the Incredible Hulk since Peter David left the comic book's writing duties.  Since then, the Hulk has spawned a whole family of gamma-based buds, including She-Hulk, Red Hulk, She-Hulk II, Red She-Hulk, Skaar: Son of Hulk, and Hulk Bunny.  I'm vaguely interested, but not enough to buy any of it.

Until now.

Check this out.  Marvel is releasing a five-issue mini-series starring Hulk's savage son called "Skaar: King of the Savage Land".  This cover alone is totally worth the price of admission (so homo).  Beyond the cover, the mini includes some of my favorite Marvel characters including Devil Dinosaur, Moonboy, and Zabu of the Pet Avengers.

Here is how Marvel describes this upcoming comic:
The Son of Hulk will stake his claim in Skaar: King Of The Savage Land, the new limited series from writer Rob Williams, Brian Ching, and more! Ka-Zar has ruled the Savage Land for years, but Skaar is coming to challenge him for the throne and he’s not the only one either. Prepare for a showdown of epic proportions in the unforgiving jungle known as the Savage Land.

“The Savage Land is a time capsule containing every lost wonder in history, and Skaar is going to crack it wide open! Forgotten gods, dinosaurs, robots, and more than one lost Marvel hero rediscovered,” says Marvel Editor John Denning. “It’s gonna be an inter-tribal war that will literally reshape the landscape of the Marvel U!”

If Skaar wants to be king, he’ll have to contend with the most savage of creatures, the most barbaric of foes, and of course, the king of the Savage Land himself—Ka-Zar in Skaar: King Of The Savage Land! And if that’s not enough, expect two issues of Skaar: King Of The Savage Land in one month for twice the gamma-irradiated savagery! With covers by Ed McGuinness and Michael Komarck, these issues cannot be missed!

Skaar: King of the Savage Land's definitely going to be on my April pull-list.

Wanna Chat?

So I'm eating my Lean Cuisine Lasagna with Meat Sauce and decided to pass time reading the back of the package.  It was then that I came across the following message:

For those who can't read the fuzzy image from my cell phone camera, there's a little blurb on the back of the box: "Wanna Chat? We are supported by NESTLE'S worldwide commitment to becoming the very best nutrition, health and wellness company.  Contact us at..."

Which of course brings up the question, what do you chat about when you call the folks at Lean Cuisine?  Do they cheer you on with your diet?  Do they lecture you about the various food groups?  Is it kosher to vent about work or love?  I'm really curious what people chat about -- or even if people call to chat -- when they call the Lean Cuisine chat line?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1st Wedding Anniversary

One year ago today, Mark and I became legally married.  It was our second wedding (our first commitment ceremony was held back in 1997, back when our state was governed by DOMA), so a lot of the pressure was off.  It was nice to have a "do over" and try a few things that we didn't do the first time around.  It was also nice to have family at our 2009 wedding.

In many ways, nothing has really changed.  Our family has been together for 12 years (longer if you take into account our dating years).  We already had kids and a house and our jobs and the pets.  But I do notice a difference in how we're treated by friends and (especially) family.  It's clear that I'm no longer viewed as the perpetual bachelor by my mother and grandmother and to a lesser extent by my siblings.  That's not what we sought out to accomplish when we legally married, but it's definitely a side effect of the wedding.  I do feel more legally secure now that we're married and I feel better protected for those unexpected moments where a marriage license exists to back us up.  But we've been a family for years, even if it took the law over a decade to catch up to us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sacrilegious Communion Elements (or Welcome to my Current Favorite Soda)

By now, you've probably heard this story.  The makers of Doritos were running a contest for their Super Bowl commercial and one of the ads depicted a scenario in which the pastor of a failing church comes up with a divinely inspired and ultimately successful scheme to replace the communion elements with Doritos chips and Pepsi Max soda.  Catholic bloggers freaked out and the ad was eventually yanked from the competition.  And I'm still wondering why this ad was deemed to be anti-Catholic given that the pastor was called "Pastor" and not "Father", he was wearing a wedding ring, and one of the "priests" giving communion was a woman.  I could be totally wrong, but that wasn't a Catholic church.

I'm also wondering why Doritos and Pepsi Max can't be used as communion elements.  In all my years of receiving communion, I've seen communion wafers used, but I've also seen all sorts of breads used.  You're telling me that a loaf of sourdough bread and a bottle of grape juice can be consecrated, but a bag of chips and a bottle of soda can't?  Do I believe that substituting chips and pop in place of bread and juice  can magically turn around church attendance?  No way.  I just don't see it as a sacrilegious act.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Feel free to let me know if I am and why.

Speaking of Pepsi Max, I am totally addicted to the stuff these days.  I was really big into Diet Dr Pepper for a while and then gradually shifted to Coke Zero.  Several months back, the vending machine at work got switched to Pepsi products and since then I'm totally hooked on Pepsi Max.  Just another reason why I'd be cool with it if my church decided to try Pepsi Max for Sunday morning communion.

Nero at Daycare -- 01/07/11

Nero had another fun week at daycare (and got to show off his fresh haircut!).  Check it out here: