Monday, July 30, 2012

Lisa Miller Allowed Her Family Pets to Slowly Starve to Death While She Evaded Court-Ordered Custody Transfer

I have written a few times about the sad Lisa Miller/Janet Jenkins child custody/kidnapping case (here, here, here, and here). I didn't think I could be any more disgusted by this sad situation, but this latest examination of the case in The New York Times really made me sick:
Isabella was 7 when she and Ms. Miller jumped into a car in Virginia, leaving behind their belongings and a family of pet hamsters to die without food or water. Supporters drove them to Buffalo, where they took a taxi to Canada and boarded a flight to Mexico and then Central America...

“Inside, it looked like she had just gone to the grocery store,” Ms. Wall recalled. The curling iron was sitting out and the closets were filled. When she discovered the dead hamster family, she said, she knew they were long gone. “I thought, wow, congratulations Lisa Miller, you did it,” she recalled.
Why not drop the poor animals off at the local animal shelter or outside a pet store or at least bludgeon them to death? Instead she let them painfully wither away slowly through starvation and dehydration. Nasty...

Michele Bachmann Sued by Former Campaign Aide for Allegedly Stealing Private Home-School E-Mail List

Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her former GOP campaign are being sued by a former campaign aide from Johnston, IA, following allegations that the Bachmann campaign stole a private home-schooling e-mail list from her personal computer and used it to campaign for the former Republican presidential candidate:
(Barb) Heki's lawsuit claims that (state Senator Kent) Sorenson (Bachmann's Iowa campaign chair) took a database from her private computer in November that contained names and contact information, including email addresses, of thousands of Iowa families who were part of the Iowa home-school network on whose board she served. Court papers said she had told Sorenson earlier that she would not provide the list to the campaign.

When an email from the campaign was sent to members of the network, Heki was named in media reports as providing the list. She was later removed from the boards of the Iowa network and a national network of home-school advocates on which she served, the paper said.
According to the Guardian, four other top aids are also being sued by Heki, who says they also knew of the alleged theft and worked to conceal it.

Why Did Azariah Southworth Out Jonathan Merritt?

Here is the back-story and here is the reasoning:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Church Cancels Wedding Because Couple Is Black

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson made arrangements to get married at First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, MO. They are not members of the church, but have attended worship services there regularly. Everything was going well for their wedding plans until the day before their wedding. On that day, they were contacted by Pastor Stan Weatherford, who informed them that church members were upset that black people were getting married at their church. As a result, the wedding could not take place at First Baptist Church:
Weatherford performed the July 21 ceremony at another church. "I didn't want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te'Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day," said Weatherford.

WLBT reported that church officials now say they welcome any race. They plan to hold internal meetings on how to move forward...

Wilson told the newspaper that he understands Weatherford was caught in a difficult position and he still likes the pastor, but he also thinks the pastor should have stood up to the members who didn't want the couple to marry in the church.
This is the type of thing that kills a church. The church says it welcomes people of all races. And yet a small group of members (I've read 5-6) had the power to force the pastor to relocate the wedding. I'm glad that the church plans to devise plans for moving forward, but they should have been courageous and had those discussions before they succumbed to racism and became a national spectacle.

The church leadership should have stood up against the racist members. The church leadership should have respected the relationship that it has with the Wilsons. The church leadership should have honored the commitment that it made with the Wilsons to allow them to get married there. But it did none of this. And now First Baptist Church has to figure out how to salvage its reputation. All because they wanted to avoid "controversy".

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anti-Abortion Activists Advertise at RAGBRAI 2012

RAGBRAI just wrapped up. Every July, dozens -- if not hundreds -- of bikers ride across Iowa during some of our most miserably hot weather. It is a test of endurance, but it's also a chance for Iowa's communities to show hospitality to tons of strangers and it's an awesome social opportunity for those bike-riders. I was working at the college in Decorah during the summer of 1993 when RAGBRAI stopped overnight at that community. It was a huge party and it was a lot of fun. But usually my exposure to RAGBRAI is hearing about it in the news.

I was reading a blog article by Patch blogger, Maria Houser Conzemius, this afternoon and learned that there were anti-abortion activists along the bike route late this week:
Several pro-lifers came by with huge, horrifying photos of aborted, mangled fetuses proudly displayed on the side of their vehicle. An elderly man whipped out a megaphone and started proselytizing against abortion on the other side of the street from a vendor who'd set up to raise money for a kids' basketball camp. There were little kids with her, kids under 10, and they were mesmerized by the huge photos of the mangled fetuses.

"Don't look!" their mother yelled at them and told them to go back to the back of the truck. Of course, the kids looked anyway. They'd never seen anything so horrifying, and neither had I.

The mother told the pro-lifers that her kids didn't need to see that. Bicyclists yelled at them as they passed. Both the mother and I walked across the street to give them a piece of our mind(s).

But the proselytizers were filled with self-righteousness, creepy, scary self-righteousness, given the offensive and disgusting nature of their large photos.
Maria didn't clarify where this happened, but another source indicated that it happened in Garrison (unless that was a separate incident).

I wonder how many other advocacy groups show up to protest this or push for that along the RAGBRAI routes? When I went to RAGBRAI, the bikers were mostly interested in beer tents, food, showers, and sleeping quarters. I question the effectiveness of such tactics. It's not like it's outside of an abortion clinic where someone might get frightened away from the clinic by the images of aborted bits of fetus. It's a statewide bike ride filled with people who likely are not struggling with a crisis pregnancy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Story Leads to Outing of Christian Writer

I know I wanted to avoid Chick-Fil-A stories this weekend, but this story has been too facinating to avoid:

Evangelical writer Jonathan Merritt wrote an article in defense of Chick-Fil-A for the Atlantic in which he argued against economic boycotts of companies even when we disagree with their politics (which I generally agree with -- though I have no interest in personally supporting companies who actively support groups like Exodus International and though I have no opposition against discussing stuff like Chick-Fil-A financially support Exodus International for years, I'm not a huge fan of boycotts):
So should the 45 percent of Americans who oppose gay marriage opt for Chips Ahoy! instead of Oreos? Should they begin shopping at Belk instead of JC Penny? If they did, it wouldn't make any more sense than the endless failed calls for liberal consumers to boycott Urban Outfitters, because its owner is a conservative and Rick Santorum donor, or to not order from Domino's Pizza, because it was founded by a Catholic conservative who helped fund anti-abortion causes.

On both sides of our latest culture war divide, we must learn to have level-headed disagreements without resorting to accusations of hate speech and boycotts. As Josh Ozersky argued on TIME Thursday, 'businesses should be judged by their products and their practices, not by their politics.' I agree: I don't care how my dry cleaner votes. I just want to know if he/she can press my Oxfords without burning my sleeves. I find no compelling reason to treat sandwiches differently than shirt.
A few days later, blogger/former Christian TV personality Azariah Southworth outed Jonathan Merritt as a closeted gay man:
Exposing this truth of Jonathan’s sexual orientation is not an easy decision for me. I take no pleasure in doing this. As I type this my stomach is turning because I know of the backlash he will receive. I have thought about what all of this will mean for him and for me. I base my reasoning in the importance of living an authentic and honest life. True change in the “culture wars” may come through genuine fellowship and conversations but if there is not complete honesty and transparency when we come to the table than we are simply building a foundation which will soon deteriorate. We must have radical honesty in the character, intentions and identities of our leaders. I truly hope for the day when leaders of the LGBT community and leaders from the anti-LGBT community can come to the table with no secrets or agendas but simply to know one another. As Howard Thurman said, “Contact without genuine fellowship breeds hatred."
Later in the week, Jonathan Merritt was interviewed by a blogger named Ed Stetzer, where he addressed being outed:
In 2009, I was contacted by the blogger in response to an article I wrote about just that--that Christians must love people who experience sexual brokenness. We corresponded several times by email and text for a couple of weeks, some of them inappropriate. When I was traveling through a city near him, we met for dinner because we'd corresponded so recently. As we were saying goodbye, we had physical contact that went beyond the bounds of friendship. I was overcome with guilt, knowing I had put myself in an unwise situation. We never saw each other again and we ceased contact after a period of time.

When I returned home, I saw a Christian counselor to address the events in my life and sort through my childhood and what I believed God wanted for me. I also began to acknowledge to myself that I have sin in my past, sin for which I accept responsibility. Inappropriate texting, inappropriate actions are inappropriate no matter who the other party is. These were my decisions and no one else's. It's from my brokenness, that I feel I can now be transparent, honest, and authentic about these accusations. Those close to me know I have actually been planning to share the story of my brokenness for some time. Because it is part of my spiritual journey. And because it underscores the power of the Gospel to transform lives...

I don't identify as "gay" because I believe there can be a difference between what one experiences and the life that God offers.
I subsequently read -- though cannot find the post or the tweet referencing this -- that the "dinner" between Southworth and Merritt was actually a few shots at a bar.

I'm not a huge fan of outing others. Then again, I don't think it should be a terrible thing for people to know that you are gay -- or ex-gay. I don't see Merritt as this big, bad anti-gay blogger, but he definitely has influence within Evangelical circles and he has written about the sinfulness of gay sexuality and marriage equality -- even while promoting compassions towards those who are gay.

Meanwhile, he's put himself out there, if you know what I mean. If you are struggling with sexual identity and especially if you are making a name for yourself in religious circles, you really shouldn't hook up with guys because stuff like this happen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is Iowa City's Local Government Finally Ready for Urban Chickens?

Urban chicken advocates have been fighting for years to change the city's zoning code to allow for Iowa City's residents to raise chickens in our backyards. I was initially skeptical, but have seen city after city approve urban chicken ownership with very little problems. It has taken nearly three years, but the Iowa City city council seems ready now to begin negotiating the terms of its own zoning code, according to the Gazette:
City Manager Tom Markus said Thursday the city can handle allowing residents to keep a small number of chickens at their homes. “We think we can cobble together enough provisions to both allow it and protect the neighbors,” he said. The City Council will discuss the issue at its work session July 31.

In June, an advocacy group calling itself Iowa City Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping, or I-CLUCK, submitted a petition signed by nearly 1,000 people expressing support for what is commonly called backyard or urban chickens. The city also was petitioned in 2009, but early the next year a majority of council members said they were opposed...

(Council member) Susan Mims, who in the past objected to the city exploring the issue, said she possibly could support a restrictive ordinance. She noted, however, that there are a lot of questions to consider, like what happens when a chicken gets sick or no longer produces eggs. She also said that while backyard chicken supporters have been very vocal, she’s also heard from a lot of people concerned about problems with noise and smell.

One idea city staffers have discussed is requiring anyone who wants a chicken permit to get the consent of immediate neighbors, Markus said. Council member Terry Dickens said his support would be conditional on such a provision being included. “If there’s one neighbor that is against, it, they can’t put it in,” said Dickens, another past backyard chicken opponent.
I'm all for warning neighbors that you want to create your own little coop, but I'm not terribly fond of allowing neighbors to have absolute veto power over one's urban chicken farm. But life is full of compromise, I guess.

Iowa City will survive if and when urban chicken farms get the final okay. I am sure that there will be enough regulations in place to help most urban chicken farmers create safe and secure coops and for the city authorities to respond appropriately for the few who act irresponsibly.

Nero at Daycare -- 07/26/12

I'm pretty certain they kept the dogs inside over at Nero's doggy daycare today, but that didn't stop our poodle from tiring himself out. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Santorum Loves Chick-Fil-A

I have been writing a lot lately about Chick-Fil-A. Frankly, I'm hoping that this will be the last Chick-Fil-A-related blog article that I write -- at least for the rest of the week! That said, I thought it would be fun to highlight one of Chick-Fil-A's biggest fans: former presidential candidate/fellow anti-gay family culture warrior Rick Santorum! TMZ has the goods:
They say you are what you eat, so it's no surprise failed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum loves him some anti-gay chicken. The conservative 54-year-old just showed his support for controversial fast food chain Chick-fil-A -- whose president has been very vocal about the company's support for all things anti-gay lately -- by tweeting, "With two of my boys, Enjoying chick-in-strips and awesome peach shake at Chick-fil-A."

Then, in a reference to fellow GOP evangelical Christian Mike Huckabee's campaign for a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on August 1st, Santorum added, "See you here next Wednesday."
No word if Santorum chased down his chicken strips with some Santorum Salad.

Mike Huckabee is planning a "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" next Wednesday, August 1st. He is encouraging fans to show their support for the fast-food chicken chain. Santorum apparently plans to return to Chick-Fil-A on that day. Meanwhile, others are promoting "Same Sex Kiss Day" at Chick-Fil-A restaurants on Friday, August 3rd. No word if Santorum will participate in that Chick-Fil-A event.

Iowa Woman Charged in Blackmail Plot Against TLC over The Duggars // UPDATED 02/07/11 // UPDATED 07/25/12: Iowa Woman Pleads Guilty to Extortion!

(Originally written on 02/06/12): I really want to know the back story here. Teresa Hunt of Bettendorf, IA, was arrested and charged with one count of extortion. She allegedly attempted to blackmail Discovery Communications over the Duggars and their reality TV show!:
An Iowa woman has been arrested in a blackmail plot for allegedly trying to get Discovery Communications Inc. to cancel the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” or pay her $10,000.

The woman is accused of threatening to release photos of a cast member in “apparently intimate situations” to a magazine...

According to an affidavit, Hunt sent a letter in January to the parent company of TLC describing a musician and providing details of an affair with a show cast member. The program is about a family with 19 children.
I have no reason to believe that this woman has any actual dirt on the Duggars, but it'll be interesting if the Duggars experience some Jon & Kate-like fall out from these accusations. The Duggars have appeared recently on this blog when they traveled from Arkansas to Iowa to caucus for Rick Santorum and later when Duggar Dad Jim Bob Dugger came out against trans-inclusive Girl Scouts.

Edited to Add: I should have checked the Iowa City Press-Citizen before posting this piece. It has even more information about this case:
The letter was sent in January to the parent company of LTC describing Hunt's professional relationship with a 56-year-old musician who performs in Branson, Mo., and providing details of an affair with an unspecified female cast member, according to an affidavit in U.S. District Court in Davenport...

In the letter, Hunt allegedly said that the Duggars "claim to be so Christian so they keep popping out more babies to keep their ratings up."

In the affidavit, an FBI undercover agent called Hunt, saying he represented Discovery and was following up on her letter. She said she was a photographer and was in possession of damaging pictures.

Hunt then sent an email with three pictures attached to the undercover agent, according to the affidavit.

"I have more buried in a box at my parent's home, but it will take some time to go through the boxes to find them. I'm attaching what I currently have on my computer. I hope these are enough," the email said.

In the email allegedly from Hunt, she... has no reason to hurt the cast member "except that's she's on a reality show and pretends to be a right-wing Christian and she's sleeping with a 56 year old man."
That seems to narrow down the list a bit. Time will tell...

Updated on 02/07/11: Here comes the rest of the story. The accused Duggar is Amy Duggar, "an aspiring country singer and the 25-year-old niece of Jim Bob Duggar". I've watched a couple episodes of the show, so I have no clue who most of the Duggars are, but she denies that there's any truth to the rumors that she was photographed with a 56-year-old male musician in "apparently intimate situations":
It's totally untrue. He is a longtime family friend who has always been supportive of my music career. He's a good Christian and it's upsetting that his generosity has been exploited like this.
The Washington Post reports that Radar was apparently offered to purchase the incriminating photos, but declined. Additionally, they describe the photos as "merely harmless snaps rather than incriminating."

Updated on 07/25/12: It took a while, but we finally got some resolution in this case. Teresa Hunt of Bettendorf, IA, pled guilty earlier today to one count of extortion related to this case. Hunt had contacted Discovery Communication, Inc., claiming to have photographic proof showing one of the "19 Kids and Counting" reality TV personalities -- Duggar cousin and aspiring country music singer Amy Duggar -- having a sexual affair with a longtime family friend. She wanted Discovery to either cancel the Duggar reality TV show or pay her $10,000, or else she would lead the pics to a tabloid.

Assuming she actually had proof of the tryst -- and I'm not saying she does -- Hunt would have been wiser to just sell the pictures to the tabloids and made some money that way. Not that it's right either way, but the extortion scheme was just stupid.

Hunt's sentencing hearing has been scheduled for November 9, 2012.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Prez Says Gay Marriage is Destroying America. "It's Biblical!"

First Chick-Fil-A donates millions to ex-gay and anti-gay family causes. Then their president Dan Cathy disses nontraditional families. Then the corporation says that it loves the gays and really just wants to make chicken. Then Dan Cathy opens his mouth again:
It's very clear in Romans chapter 1, if we look at society today, we see all the twisted up kind of stuff that's going on. Washington trying to redefine the definition of marriage and all the other kinds of things that we go—if you go upstream from that, in Romans chapter 1, you will see that because we have not acknowledged God and because we have not thanked God, that we have been left victim to the foolishness of our own thoughts, and as result, we are suffering the consequences of a society and culture who has not acknowledged God or not thanked God—he's left us to a deprived mind. It's tragic and we live in a culture of that today.
I have been criticized elsewhere because I haven't thrown my support behind this fast food chain. And then Dan Cathy asserts that only a deprived mindset would lead to the creation of my family and others like it.

Youth Groups Don't Have to Exclude

GLAAD reminds us that you don't have to ban LGBT youth, parents, or leaders in order to have a great youth organization. Check this out:

Our County Fair is currently ongoing. What a great time to support those in 4-H. If I'm lucky, I'll run across a Girl Scout cookie or two while I'm at it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Story that Kept Me Up All Night

It was a long night last night. I had some indigestion, which initially woke me at around 2:30 AM. Then it was too warm to get back to sleep. I tried reading. I went on the computer again. But I my mind kept racing and I wasn't able to relax enough to drift back to sleep. This is a blog article about one of the things that kept me awake.

I read the Page 3 editorial in the July 2012 edition of ACCESSline and learned that an old friend of mine got caught up in a child sex sting.

I won't be sharing his name here, but here are the basic details. He apparently moved to or visited Florida. He is accused of using a computer to connect with the parent of a 12-year-old boy and making arrangements to have sex with them, as well as traveling to solicit sex acts with these hypothetical boys. The "parent" was an undercover cop and he ended up getting arrested down in Florida as part of a child sex sting that netted 31 men. If convicted, my friend could serve up to 15 years in prison.

I'm completely dumbfounded and a little bit in shock. It seems totally out of character for the man that I knew back in the 90s. We were close enough that we saw each other regularly. Mark and I went to his place to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager and Queer As Folk with a large group of mutual friends every weekend for a while there. We held our commitment ceremony reception at his home. Then he moved away and my only interactions with him for the past decade-plus were annual birthday cards.

My friend is innocent until proven guilty. I am hoping beyond hope that he got caught up in an entrapment scheme with trumped up charges. Assuming that he is innocent of these charges, how does one come out of this type of thing? And assuming he isn't innocent...? It totally calls into question my memories of this past friendship.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Is It About Cake Makers Who Refuse to Make Cakes for Gay People?

I wrote last November about a Des Moines-based cake maker who who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. It apparently went against the shop owner's religious beliefs to work with gay or lesbian customers. Now a similar story is coming out of Colorado featuring a gay male couple who has been refused service by the owner of their local cake shop:
Earlier this week, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig headed to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado to order their wedding cake. The couple — who will take their official vows in Massachusetts — wanted a Masterpiece cake for a celebration with family and friends in October. But after listening to their request for a rainbow-layered cake, bakery owner Jack Phillips turned away their business. Apparently, Masterpiece Cakeshop doesn’t make cakes for gay weddings, but avoided answering questions about the discrimination accusations: “We don’t want to talk about that, so you’ll just have to make something up.”
According to Yelp, Craig and Mullins are not the first LGBT people to run afoul of Masterpiece Cakeshop:
I... feel i need to disclose to anyone with an 'alternative' lifestyle, that this company does not want your business, as they do not participate in making cakes for " illegal" things, such as a commitment ceremony. ( exact quote).

All we wanted was a cake, and I totally respect the right to refuse service, and I feel obligated to help anyone else avoid what was an incredibly awkward situation by selecting this place for your services. That is simply it ( right, wrong, or indifferent). Nothing more, nothing less. Just want to make an awareness to help avoid putting anyone in that same situation (either them at Masterpiece, or a consumer)

They did say over the phone later, that if someone like me wanted a birthday cake, or something unlike a wedding cake, that they would take our order.
Unlike the Des Moines situation, I have not heard a response from Masterpiece Cakeshop, though somebody claiming to be the cousin of the owner said on Yelp:
the story was also a lie this is based on. One of the people in the couple is the cousin of the owner of the bakery he says they went to and is a competitor so he made this up to help promote her business
Otherwise, there are lots of people now giving both positive and negative reviews of the business on Yelp based off this story. Basically, people who've never been there but who support them for refusing to work with gay men are giving them five stars and people who've never been there but who are angered because they refused to work with gay men are giving them one star. So far, the one star ratings are winning.

I still don't get why small business owners don't want to work with gay couples. Contrary to what they said the Yelper Stephanie S., it is not illegal for a gay or lesbian couple to hold a commitment ceremony anywhere in the United States. They are refusing to perform to simple commercial service for potentially hundreds of dollars over religious differences. But I imagine that they don't refuse to work with people of different faiths, like Jewish couples or Atheists.

Hopefully Craig and Mullins have moved on and found an alternate cake maker. And I hope they spread an endorsement of the business who welcomes their business just as much as they helped to spread word of Masterpiece Cakeshop's refusal to work with gay and lesbian families. It's not enough to know who views our families with disdain. We need to know the businesses that support our families and we need to patronize those businesses.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Octomom Off Welfare Because of New Stripping Career

I wrote a couple months back about news that Nadya Suleman (AKA "Octomom") was receiving $2,000 in monthly food assistance from the state of California to help feed her kids. Many folks were upset over this and she even received a death threat over this issue. Now TMZ is reporting that Octomom is off of welfare thanks for her new career as a porn star and stripper:
Sources tell TMZ ... the mother of 14 no longer needs government assistance thanks to her various XXX gigs. We're told Octo has raked in more than enough cash to support herself -- we're talkin' 6-figs.

TMZ broke the story ... Octo went on welfare​ back in March (resulting in a slew of death threats) claiming she needed the cash to help feed her family. But as of June, her 3-month cycle ended and she chose NOT to renew it.

We're told Octo still stands by her decision to go on welfare in the first place ... but she's happy to show the world it was just a temporary situation.
It's too bad that Suleman has to resort to porn work and stripping to make ends meet, but this is what welfare assistance is supposed to be about: short-term assistance to help people out when they are struggling.

Guess Who's Seeing Paula Poundstone Tomorrow Evening? // Update: My Reaction to the Paula Poundstone Concert

(Originally written on 07/19/12): Comedian Paula Poundstone will be performing tomorrow night at the Englert Theater and guess who will be in the audience?:
Iowa City resident Jon Trouten looks forward to his front and center seat for the show on Friday at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St.

"She is somewhat self-depreciating," he said. "I kind of like her style of humor and her approach to the things around her."
Sometimes in my day-to-day life, I use big pretty words badly. Mark's still laughing at me for my "self-depreciating" quote, but I'm still super excited about seeing Poundstone in person.

For those out of the loop, Paula Poundstone is a stand-up comedian, actress, and regular contributor to NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me." She an adoptive mother and a lover of Pop Tarts.

Updated on 07/21/12: Last night's performance was so much fun! I could tell from the way she structures her shows that every performance is like brand new. Paula does an excellent mix of stand-up routine and audience-centered improv. She had prepared stories and jokes about her kids, the California school system, the Iowa Primaries, her OCD. But then she got into a lengthy discussion with one guy about the problem of Iowa's corn today. Then she found herself squabbling with a hospital phone responder about her surly mood. Later, she questioned a retiree about the meaning behind the corporate name, Hy-Vee, and then became mystified by the notion that people eat food in a grocery store. This was my first time seeing Paula on-stage in person, but I would imagine that there would be plenty of original material during pretty much any performance due to her audience interactions.

Either way, it was a fun evening out on the town.

Iowa City Police Received Bomb/Weapons Threats on Day After "Dark Knight" Mass Shooting

KCJJ reports that there were two separate bomb threats here in Iowa City yesterday morning following the mass shooting at the midnight showing of "Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, CO.

At 10:23 yesterday morning, the Mid-Eastern Iowa Community Mental Health Center reported:
Then at 11:55 AM and 11:56 AM, two separate calls came from outside Longfellow Elementary School:
I checked the arrest reports, but didn't notice anything. If I had to guess, the woman ended up at one of the local hospitals and (according from the disposition report on the 11:56 AM call) they never found the man.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Slam Shut the Doorway to Satan's Spiritual Structure!

I first learned of this through Matthew Paul Turner's blog, but learned a little bit more of the back story over at the Huff Post. According to the Huff Post, a fundamentalist group was giving out this pamphlet at the Comic-Con 2012, warning people of activities that may lead to demonic possession. Check it out:

Some of this is predictable, such as Eastern religions, Freemasonry, New Age religion, Tarot, Voodoo, Wicca, Ouija, and even Harry Potter.

But some of it just leaves me scratching my head. Vegetarianism? Burning Man? "Marihuana"? Levitation? Lycanthropy???

And re-birthing? If its what I'm thinking it is, it's a (somewhat controversial, but certainly not spiritual) process of helping children with severe attachment issues bond to their parents. It just seems odd to find it on the list.

What demonic doorway have you opened, according to this list? I'd love to hear about it!

Gunman Kills 12//Injures 59 at "Dark Knight Rises" Premier in Aurora, CO

I woke to news of chaos in Aurora, CO, and learned that a masked gunman kicked his way through a movie theater emergency exit, created initial confusion using a tear gas canister, and then opened fire on the theater audience, killing 12 people and injuring 38 59. He was apparently wearing some sort of gas mask/head gear and, according to the CNN reports I was watching, was possibly wearing some sort of protective body gear. The shooter had at least four guns -- an "AK type" rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns". His entrance into the theater apparently was similar enough to a scene in the "Dark Knight Rises" movie that theater-goers were initially confused about whether or not it was real or if it was part of the show.

24-year-old James John Holmes was arrested without incident in the rear parking lot of the theater. He indicated to police that there were explosives in his home, though this does not appear to be the case. Authorities are saying that there is no evidence of a second gunman.

The gunman's victims range in age from 3-months to 45-years-old. Who brings a 3-month-old to the movies? I hate it when people bring little kids to movies. It's not like an infant gets anything out of the movie. There was a woman who brought a toddler to Blair Witch Project and the kid started running around and screaming during the end sequence. People started yelling at the parent to remove the child, but the entire movie experience was ruined. We had a similar experience at one of the Hulk movies and a borderline similar experience at The Avengers. I understand that childcare can be difficult to arrange, but it's not cool to bring little kids to non-kid movies. But I'm digressing...

Warner Bros. issued the following statement following news of the attack:
Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.
I will update the blog periodically as I learn more.

Update: I just heard a press conference while driving out and about. I learned that I had the wrong name and number of living shooting victims. That has been corrected above.

I learned that there are indeed a wide variety of tripwires and incendiary devices throughout Holmes' apartment. His apartment building and the surrounding buildings have all been evacuated while investigators figure out how to dismantle everything. They noted that this task alone could take a few days.

The suspect's attire was described in detail during the conference. He was all in black. He was wearing a gas mask, a ballistic helmet, and protective gear over his chest, groin, neck, and limbs.

I have also heard a couple interviews from one of the second row witnesses who has spoken of a guy getting a cell phone call and going over by the emergency exit to answer it. It was unclear to me from the interviews whether the witness was implying that Holmes was at the movie and using the call to sneak out, get his stuff, and then come back in through the emergency exit or if he was implying that somebody else was getting the door ready for Holmes to arrive.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 07/19/12

Nero has been having a great time this afternoon at doggy daycare. It helps that the heat is a little less oppressive today compared to yesterday. Check it out:

Chick-Fil-A Trying to Salvage Its Reputation

Chick-Fil-A's anti-gay corporate beliefs have been in the news quite a bit recently -- especially after its president Dan Cathy began doing interviews confirming that the business is "guilty a charged" of being anti-gay and anti-gay family and talking about about the arrogance of gay and lesbian couples for seeking marital rights, responsibilities, and protections. This has led to protests and bad media. Now Chick-Fil-A is trying to walk back from Cathy's Baptist Press interview and fix its bad image:

Its worth noting that Chick-Fil-A donated over $3 million to organizations like the Family Research Council and Exodus International between 2003 and 2009. More recently, it donated nearly $2 million to various anti-gay organizations such as Exodus International, Family Research Council, Georgia Family Council, and Marriage & Family Foundation (among other groups) in 2010.

Also (acknowledging that you can't always choose your supporters) Shirley Phelps Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church has finally found something she can get behind -- Chick-Fil-A! That's right. The church community that hates gays, the USA, the US military, and pretty much everything else apparently loves Chick-Fil-A.

Rush Limbaugh: Bat-Villain Bane is a 20-Year-Old Retroactive Attack on Mitt Romney! // UPDATE: Limbaugh Recants!

(Originally written on 07/18/12): Radio personality Rush Limbaugh is well know for making crazy culture war assertions, but this one really made me laugh earlier today. He is now accusing the creators of the new The Dark Knight Rises movie of creating a super-villain whose very name subliminally attacks Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
Rush Limbaugh has come under the impression that the villainous Bane, played by Tom Hardy in “The Dark Knight Risesand Batman's most destructive nemesis yet, is a dig at Bain Capital, the financial services company once headed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that's featuring prominently in President Barack Obama's campaign ads...

"Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing, four-eyed whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?" Limbaugh lamented on his syndicated radio show today.
Bane originally premiered in the 1993 comic book, BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE #1. His co-creator Chuck Dixon calls Limbaugh's comments "Ridiculous."

It's also worth noting that Bane was in the 1997 Batman & Robin movie, though he was overshadowed by Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy.

UPDATED ON 07/19/12: Looks like Limbaugh has had enough ridicule and is now backing off his earlier assertion that Bane was an intentional dig at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney due to his former connections to Bain Capital:
“I never said that!” he declared on his Wednesday broadcast, in an apparent effort to take back his “The Dark Knight Rises” conspiracy theory. “I have had more reaction to [the Batman conspiracy] than anything, including the Fluke thing!” Limbaugh insisted. “It has been — I’ve had my brother telling me that Twitter is going nuts. I’ve been getting hateful email, supportive email. More people are concerned about what I have said or what I didn’t say about a Batman villain than they are about their own jobs. It’s incredible!”
Limbaugh says that he really meant that the Democrats would use Bane to attack Romney and feels vindicated by the reactions he has received. However, those reacting to this story are not reacting to Romney or the GOP. They are chuckling at Limbaugh's own goofy assertions. But whatever works, eh?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chick-Fil-A President Really Doesn't Like Gay Families!

I wrote last week and earlier this week about a local protest of Chick-Fil-A for its anti-gay and anti-gay business model. Sometimes I feel bad about highlighting such protests, but after listening to Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy speak out against gay families, I feel a little less bad. Check it out:
Some have opposed the company's support of the traditional family. "Well, guilty as charged," said [Dan] Cathy when asked about the company's position. "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
Which was followed by subsequent assertions about nontraditional families like my own:
I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say 'we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
I am sure that there are many wonderful people working in all capacities for Chick-Fil-A, but it is clear that their corporate head holds LGBT families with great disdain. I have never purchased anything from Chick-Fil-A and I will gladly never spend a single penny on their food. Chick-Fil-A is disrespectful of my family and others like it. There is no reason for us to sully them with our dirty money.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Boy Scouts of America Still Reject Gays // That's Okay Because There are Other Youth Groups for Our Kids!

Lots of Boy Scouts of America news today. First I learned of a 19-year-old Eagle Scout who got fired on the spot by the Boy Scout summer camp he worked for after his supervisor learned he is gay. Then I learned that a top secret committee of BSA people have been studying this issue and decided to reaffirm their ban on LGBT Boy Scout members and leaders. This is no huge surprise. I predict that the Boy Scouts will not let go of their gay ban for many more years and more power to them, I guess.

I never quite understood the gay ban. If you listen to the BSA, they are trying to keep the group "morally straight". If you listen to their Religious Right supporters, they are trying to protect children from male sexual predators. But I don't see how expelling gay Scouts protects them from sexual predators and I don't see how it is "morally straight" to prevent gay and lesbian parents from being involved in their sons' programming.

I have written before about my son's brief involvement with the Cub Scouts. It's wasn't a bad group and the people were nice, but Mark and I were conspicuously aware that our family could run into problems at any time. So we weren't terribly upset when our son got bored and moved on. Meanwhile, we have been involved with other groups like 4-H and the Special Olympics and my son's Tae Kwon Do club and none of them have batted an eye or expressed any concerns about accepting help or guidance from either our of boys' dads.

I guess that's where I am with this issue. I will not protest or boycott the Boy Scouts of America. Instead, I will be all about buying a couple extra boxes of Girl Scout cookies -- or going to the County Fair and cheering on the 4-Hers -- or helping the instructors get ready before TKD tournaments. I support the youth groups who support all of this community's families, whether they have LGBT or heterosexual parents. Those who would reject us really aren't worth the worry.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sabrina the Teenage Witch Movie? // UPDATED to Include San Diego Comic Con 2012 Information Regarding "Sabrina" Movie!!!

(Originally written on 06/16/12): I'm totally late on this story. I discovered this really great Archie Comics-themed podcast called "the riverdale podcast" on iTunes, which led me to check out the blog associated with the podcast. I checked out some of the blog's older entries and discovered this entry from April 12, 2012, that revealed development plans for a new live-action "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" movie!

I checked out the source material over at Deadline and learned more about this project:
Sabrina The Teenage Witch is getting a makeover at Sony Pictures. The precocious teen witch who originated in 60s Archie Comics, is being recast as a superhero. The live action film will be an origin story in the vein of Spider-Man, about a young girl coming to terms with her remarkable powers.

Scribes Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (they wrote Die In A Gunfight for MRC) will write the script, and Real Steel producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford are producing. Mark Waters, who worked on the presentation that Sony Pictures sparked to, might direct depending on scheduling. Archie Comics’ Jon Goldwater will be executive producer and screenwriter Jeff Stockwell, who also worked on the presentation, will be co-producer.

Sabrina previously had been turned into animated tv series in 1969, 1971 and again in 1999 and the source material was turned into the Melissa Joan Hart sitcom that ran seven seasons. While the tone of the movie will be edgier, they are keeping her talking black cat Salem, who here is a transformed prince creating unique love stories for Sabrina. The project is a priority for the studio with Doug Belgrad and Hannah Minghella fast tracking the negotiations.
I'm a little nervous about this project. As you can see from item #8 of this 10-point list, changing a comic book character too much from her source material can really piss off her pre-existing fans. That translates into long-term critical pans and box-office floppage.

Sony Pictures would be wise to keep Sabrina as a witch, even if she also serves as some form of heroine. But even that is pretty different from the character design that originally made her famous. If they really want to make a film about a super-heroic witch, why not look at Marvel's Scarlet Witch or DC's Zatana?

Anyway, I'm going to keep an open mind and I'll likely be there on opening weekend to see my favorite Teenage Witch in action. I just hope the studio heads don't decide to transform Sabrina into something that she's not.

Updated on 07/16/12: The annual San Diego Comic Con has been going on all weekend. There was a lot of ARCHIE COMICS news leading up to the convention, but I haven't heard too much about ARCHIE COMICS being revealed at the convention itself. I finally did some searching and found out some fun information about the "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" movie that's being planned, as well as information about a Sabrina the Teenage Witch cartoon:
The Sabrina, the Teenage Witch film was discussed as well, and Don Murphy spoke about that. “We really want this character to be a franchise character. This will not just be a one and done movie. We really want to explore her origin more. Where are her parents? What happened to them? She still has her two aunts, but what about the rest of her origin? We talked to over thirty different screenwriters about what they would do with that character. We didn’t want to go the route of the sitcom, so we had to make that very clear to anyone who was developing that film. I hope that at next year’s convention we can do more discussion about casting and such, but right now we’re excited that it is moving forward.”  

A short clip was then shown from the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch animated series. Mike Young said that they couldn’t share yet which networks had picked up the series for release, but it will be American based with an international release. “We wanted to push the show more towards the Buffy end of the scale. She lives in both worlds, the supernatural and Earth, and she has her two aunts. The art development with this show, it’s CGI, is very fresh and we think it will be one of the big shows for next year.” Another series based on Archie in junior high was teased, but no official announcements on that at this time.
I have to say, the more I learn about this project -- especially the movie -- the more excited I am about it. I'll share more details as I learn about them.

Iowa City LGBTs to Protest Chick-Fil-A This Evening // UPDATED BELOW

(Originally Written on 07/13/12): Did you know that you can receive a free meal today -- "Cow Appreciation Day" -- if you go to a Chick-Fil-A fast food restaurant dressed as a cow? Who knew, eh?

Somebody apparently knew and decided to organize a protest of the anti-gay chain restaurant. A group of local LGBT activists plans to show up at the local Chick-Fil-A in Coralville wearing cow costumes adorned with rainbow accessories:
The demonstrators are meeting in peaceful protest in reaction to Chick-Fil-A's publicized support of organizations with anti-gay-marriage stances... According to's analysis of Chick-Fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation gave almost $2 million to various groups in 2010, including the Marriage and Family Foundation, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

The local gathering will be led by Jennifer Miller, an Iowa City resident and member of the I.C. Kings, a local drag king troupe. "It is hypocritical to have a business that pipes its money into anti-gay groups when we as a state have declared gay-marriage legal," she said. Miller was inspired to create the Facebook event "Chick-Fil-A Gay Cow Appreciation Day" after she saw another planned in a different part of the country...

Julia Schaefer, the owner of the Tool Box, an LGBT friendly store in Iowa City, believes the demonstration is a good idea. "I am married to a woman, and I want everyone to have the same rights as me," she said. "It is unfortunate that there are businesses that are against that."

Through the Facebook event, Miller invites any supporters to meet at her home at 5:30 p.m., where she will provide spots, ears, and tails to help people complete their costumes. "We fully intend to have a peaceful event and only a visual presence," Miller said. "I don't expect any opposition."
Miller expect 20-40 people to attend the protest. I'm impressed that they expect that many people willing to invest in cow costumes for the event.

I've never eaten at Chick-Fil-A. I've been aware of the corporation's anti-gay politics, so I have always resisted the urge to sample their products. As Chick-Fil-A has gotten more visible with its financial support of anti-gay family causes, I'm extremely pleased to say that I have never tasted or purchased their food.

Updated on 07/16/12: The Daily Iowan has a great picture of the Chick-Fil-A protest with the following short report:
Katie Ferring wears a cow mask while protesting Chick-Fil-A's decision to fund anti-gay organizations on Friday, July 13, 2012. Members of the local LGBT community showed up in costume as a satirical protest of the company's own promotion giving away free meals to those dressed as cows.
It's unclear from the report whether or not the protesters got any free meals, though it looks like one of them got a drink.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Flavor Flav Uses Airplane Intercom to Promote his Restaurant

Here is an odd tale from TMZ tonight. Flavor Flav was flying home to Las Vegas late last week and decided to take over the plane's intercom to thank the crew for their business and to promote his restaurant, Flavor Flav's House of Flavor:
It all went down on a Southwest flight from Burbank to Las Vegas Thursday during the aircraft's final descent. Flav grabbed the intercom mic -- ya know, the thing pilots give important safety information on -- and addressed the entire plane.

The best part ... Flav capitalized on the opportunity for some free advertising and plugged his Las Vegas restaurant -- Flavor Flav's House of Flavor -- and then just listed everything they sell ... like fried chicken and waffles.

He then lead the entire plane in a chant of "Flavaaa Flaaaaaav."
You can hear the audio clip over on the TMZ site.

Hopefully Flavor Flav's House of Flavor in Las Vegas is doing better than his Clinton, IA restaurant. April 2011, Flav abruptly closed his Clinton, IA,-based fast-food chicken joint, Flav's Fried Chicken, after four months of business. Basically, he wasn't paying his employees and Flav told the loca news that the restaurant's owner wasn't "running the business right".

Why Can't Culture Warriors Let Go of Ex-Gay Beliefs?

Ex-gay ministries/therapies have been debated back-and-forth for a few decades now. Religious and social conservatives have created ministries and therapeutic models since the 1970s to help LGBT address their unwarranted homosexual sexual orientations (or, in anti-gay speak, same-sex attractions SSA) and eventually overcome them. LGBT people are told that we can change. We are told that we can be cured if we pray enough or if we dig deep enough. Ex-gay models are paraded around and used as justification to fight our inclusion in the Church, in the institution of marriage, in the military, and in pretty much any other area of life. I have even seen ex-gay beliefs used as reason to dismiss anti-gay bullying efforts.

Meanwhile, the LGBT community watches people come out as ex-gay only to come back out months, years, or even decades later as ex-ex-gays who are usually bitter about religion and their experiences within the ex-gay world. We point out the ineffectiveness of ex-gay ministries, but politicians and religious folks (both leaders and followers) ignore our experiences.

Now big-time ex-gay leaders like John Smid or Alan Chambers of Exodus International admit that ex-gay ministries don't work for most people and still people want to debate the effectiveness of ex-gay ministries. Take, for example, Mission America president Linda Harvey:
Alan Chambers, has been under a firestorm of criticism lately because of several statements he has made lately that reflect poorly on his understanding of the basics of Christian faith.

For one, Chambers has said he doesn't believe a person can change his or her so-called sexual orientation. Now, there's not anything like this invented term called "sexual orientation" in Scripture in the first place, but then he also says that he still struggles himself with sexual feelings for other males. This shows very poor judgment as the leader of this ministry to, first of all, be experiencing this and secondly, to announce it to the whole world.

Of course a person can leave homosexuality; there are thousands of people who have done it and God's word clearly states that he can deliver us from sin. And the proud, open sinner who is publicly proclaiming it as good in defiance of God's word? It is highly questionable that such a person is saved.

Or pro-ex-gay proponent Robert Gagnon:
Robert Gagnon, associate professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary who supports conversion therapy. "It's not going to work for everybody. It might not even work for most people," he says. "But it will work for some people, so we're happy with anything that helps."
And Harvey and Gagnon are not alone. There are church ministries that have broken away from Exodus International this year because the group has admitted that the cure doesn't work. They totally ignore people like Smid, who says that in years of ex-gay leadership he has never seen anyone cured, or Chambers, who admits essentially the same thing but who also acknowledges that the current ex-gay model actually pushes people from the Church. At least Gagnon admits that few are helped by ex-gay ministries. Harvey still claims to the notion that thousands have been cured. I think the difference is that Harvey writes up press releases. Smid and Chambers actually meet with people and see the fruits of these ex-gay efforts.

I understand the Right not taking the word of LGBT activists people. But why are they so resistant to listening to professional ex-gays? I mean, Chambers isn't advocating marriage equality now. He still thinks that LGBT people should avoid same-sex sexual encounters and remain celibate or even seek out heterosexual marriages in need be. He's just being more honest with the notion that most of them are actually going to totally transform from gay to straight.

It seems to me that the Religious Right needs a gay cure. They need homosexuality to be curable or else it's less palatable to reject anti-bullying efforts. They need homosexuality to be curable or else it's unconscionable for them to push straight men and women into mixed-orientation marriages. They need homosexuality to be curable or else they look awful for asserting that every failed ex-gay effort isn't actually the result of that person not praying hard enough for the cure.

That why they cannot admit that ex-gay ministries don't work -- even when the biggest leaders in ex-gay ministries themselves admit that they don't work.

Marvel's Next Big Movie? Guardians of the Galaxy

There has been strong speculation for weeks that one of Marvel's newest plan for sensational super-hero excitement is their space team, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Not the original Guardians, a team of alien defenders living 1,000 years in the future (though I'd really love to see Starhawk on the big screen). No, we're talking about the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy who made their debut about five years ago. Yesterday, the concept art for the planned GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie was revealed at the San Diego Comic Con. Check it out:

I'm pretty excited about this team and I'm assuming they will go up against Thanos or somebody connected to or sponsored by Thanos (the big purple alien revealed at the very end of this summer's AVENGERS movie.

But I'm not super excited about this particular roster (Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot), assuming this is all it is. Personally, I would add the following characters to the mix: Moondragon (Drax's daughter and telepathic fighter), Mantis (precognitive mentalist who communes with plants), and Adam Warlock (Messianic cosmic hero who finds himself split between good and evil).

Either way, we gets to see the Guardians in 2014, which will give us plenty of time to learn more about this cinematic version of the team.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Iowa GOP Senate Candidate Quits // Announces She is Now the Senator of an Alternate American Government

Originally written on 07/13/12: Iowa Senate District 34's Republican challenger to Senator Liz Mathis resigned her candidacy earlier today. It's not that Randi Shannon believes that she can't be Mathis or even that she wants to resign in order to spend more time with her kids or managing Iowa Auto Glass. No, Shannon resigned her candidacy because she has a new job. She is the newly appointed Senator for the Republic of the United States of America and the Republic of Iowa.

Apparently, the USA original government was usurped back in 1871 by a corporation called the United States Corporation and now Shannon and others are reclaiming the original Republic of the USA. According to the Gazette, the Republic of the United States of America seeks to abolish all federal taxes and requires citizens to approve all state and local taxes. According to the Iowa City Patch, Shannon also says that the Republic is also 100% pro-life:
Shannon said she's excited for her position with the republic and will be one of two Iowa senators, four house members, a judge and several police officers that act as "American rangers."

She said the republic has already enacted legislation that declares life beginning at conception in addition to legislation she said she's already voted for — establishing the aforementioned rangers.

Since what she calls the "corporation government" has enacted unconstitutional laws, the republic has constitutional enforcement officers, that you can call if you are pulled over for anything but a felony charge or for injuring someone else.

Shannon said the ranger would inform the police officer that they were violating their oath, at which point Shannon said the officer would have to comply.

When asked if she believes that a Cedar Rapids Police officer would listen to an American ranger, she had this to say: "I do believe that they would listen to them because they know the law," she said.
The Linn County GOP is now scrambling to choose another Senate District 34 candidate. According to the Iowa City Patch, Shannon apparently gave no notice about her decision to step down as candidate or to get herself appointed as Senator for the Republican of the United States of America.

It is unclear who elected Shannon into her current Senate seat or how the Republic of the United States plans to enact its policies barring outright overthrow of our current government.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 07/12/12

Looks like Nero is having a blast today at doggy daycare. I'm especially excited that he's getting to play with a new red standard poodle! Check it out:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

President Obama Met President Lincoln Yesterday in Cedar Rapids

President Barack Obama was in nearby Cedar Rapids yesterday. But he wasn't the only president passing through Iowa. Former president Abe Lincoln was hanging with the president's other supporters and eventually received a shout-out from the current president:
"Abraham Lincoln is in the house. My homeboy from Illinois and an outstanding Republican endorsee," Obama called to him from the stage when he first arrived.

Abe welcomed the greeting and waved to the president and crowd in very statesmanly fashion.

It didn't take our 44th president long to spot our 16th president. The man stood out among the 1,600 in attendance, dressed in circa 1800s apparel complete with a black top hat and Abraham Lincoln-esque beard.
And why wouldn't Abe Lincoln sport an "Abraham Lincoln-esque beard"?

No word if Lincoln was hunting vampires.

Focus on the Family Demands to See Your Marriage License

Remember back in April when Focus on the Family was reaching out to progressive Christians in an attempt to finesse their bad reputation? Probably not -- either that or you probably don't believe them --- but here is their latest attack on marriage and gay families:

Focus on the Family produced this ridiculous video in which a police officer demands to see the marriage license of a motorist to see if he is sufficiently evolved on the subject of marriage. Focus on the Family is concerned that real people with real lives and real dreams are finding themselves challenged occasionally when dealing with the apparently fake lives and fake dreams of fake gay people.

This is a good video to reflect on if you hear anyone gush about Focus' outreach efforts with progressive Christians and Christian groups.

Priest Who Denied Communion to Lesbian at her Mother's Funeral No Longer Working for DC Archdiocese

This past March, I shared the story of a gay woman who was denied communion at her mother's funeral because she is a lesbian. This is what I wrote then:
Father Marcel Guarnizo of Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Maryland was the officiating priest at Barbara Johnson's mother's funeral. He first denied Johnson the sacrament of communion because she is a lesbian who lives with her girlfriend. He walked off the altar while she gave a eulogy about her mother. He then left after the funeral -- citing illness -- and refused to go to the cemetery to assist with the burying of Johnson's mother. Fortunately, a retired priest raced to the scene and assisted the the rest of the service. In my mind, the refusal of communion was less concerning to me than the refusal to complete the funeral and the burial. Walking off the altar in the middle of the eulogy was awful tacky, too. But that's just me.
I learned today that Father Guarnizo no longer works for the Archdiocese of Washington:
Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, who served at St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, Md., was placed on leave in mid-March for engaging in intimidating behavior... and now he is leaving for good.

“Fr. Marcel Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Russia, who was given a temporary assignment at St. John Neumann parish,” Chieko Noguchi Scheve, director of media and public relations at the Archdiocese of Washington, wrote in an email to “That assignment period has ended and Father Guarnizo is no longer in ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington...”

(Barbara) Johnson, a 51-year-old founding director of a small art center, attended her mom's funeral with her partner of nearly 20 years at St. John Neumann on Feb. 25. When it came time for communion, Guarnizo “issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive communion... I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ‘I cannot give you communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for -- I don’t know how long,” she said...

“It gives me great comfort to see that the Archdiocese of Washington acted swiftly initially not only to point out that his behavior was wrong and not in accordance with their policy but then to suspend him. And this final message from them says to me that, unfortunately, this was not a person that was meant to be in the ministry in this region,” she said. “Knowing that he will not be able to visit such pain on another family in the Washington archdiocese gives me and my family a lot of comfort...”

'The Archdiocese of Washington had sent Johnson a letter of apology within days of the funeral, saying Guarnizo's behavior wasn't correct.
My hunch is that Father Guarnizo is still a priest somewhere. I doubt he lost his career over this situation. I hope he didn't lose his career over this. But I hope he learned something from this incident, such as how to more gracefully address the issue of the sacraments in these types of stressful situations and even about more effectively communicating his own actions (i.e., leaving the funeral mid-eulogy and pre-funeral because of a headache) to parishioners.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nero at Daycare -- 07/10/12

Doggy daycare was enjoyable today for Nero and his friends. Last week was horrible. It was good to run and play for a while, but ultimately the extreme heat was pretty rough on the dogs. It's amazing was a temperature decrease of 20 degrees will do to lift a dog's spirits! Check it out:

Florida Family Association Upset with Marvel over "Astonishing X-Men" Gay Wedding Issue

I learned today that the Florida Family Association -- notable for boycotts of DeGrassi, Disney World Gay Days, and All-American Muslim -- has launched an e-mail campaign against Marvel Comics, Disney, and various comic book websites and stores complaining about last month's Astonishing X-Men #51, which featured the wedding of Northstar and longtime boyfriend Kyle Jinadu. It's not that they oppose weddings in comic books. They just don't like gay weddings in comic books -- though they apparently didn't oppose gay weddings in Archie Comics comic books as the FFA didn't respond to the gay wedding of Kevin Keller early this year.

This is the text of the form e-mail letter that is making the rounds, thanks to the Florida Family Association:
Please pull X-Men #51 which promotes and asks kids to fantasize about homosexual marriage. Marvel’s X-Men #51 comic issue has crossed the line by attempting to legitimize same-sex marriage and asking kids to fantasize about their own homosexual wedding. It is shameful that two companies like Marvel and Disney would deliberately create a superhero homosexual wedding for our children to embrace and mimic. PLEASE have more respect for the overwhelming majority of families who do not want their children targeted with immoral propaganda through comics. My family and I urge your company to pull X-Men #51 from distribution. I look forward to your response.
Keep in mind that Marvel Comics features comic books about the gun-toting, criminal-killing vigilantes like the Punisher. They publish titles like Powers, which regularly feature graphic violence, swearing, full-frontal nudity, and sex acts. They publish recurrent mini-series featuring zombie-versions of beloved heroes who eat and mangle innocents. But the FFA is worried about the effect of a gay wedding issue on their kids. I mean, they're not even worried about Wolverine's stomach exploding on the final page of Astonishing X-Men #51! Wolverine's literal gut-churning injury isn't worth a mention, but Northstar's wedding vows are disrespectful to America's children!

(Incidentally, the FFA cannot even be bothered to get the title of the book they are campaigning against right. Just saying...)

Astonishing X-Men #52 will be released in a couple weeks, so the FFA should get its wish and issue #51 will find itself removed from the shelves of comic book stores everywhere.