Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Bliss

The two little boys making faces at each other, sounding noises through their rears and noses while sitting at the breakfast table are really two grown men.

That's love for ya.

They also have a hard time "demagnetizing" in the morning and getting out of bed. They make a point of snuggling at least once during the day and can't understand people who don't snuggle at all. And they each bless the day they found each other.

It was several days after my 65th birthday (June 15th, 2012) that I met Chris. He thought I came on too strong, but when I said "I never promise anything, but I'm a great snuggler," he was hooked.

We didn't say the "L" word until Christmas. We lived "in the present" for what seemed like an eternity at the time. 45 weekend visits from Sacramento and 5 parking tickets after meeting, Chris moved in with me.

We got married last March 28 at San Francisco City Hall. This Christmas is our first as a truly married couple.

True Married Bliss - Acceptance

Chris says "hubby" a lot when we snuggle. Oh, there's "Daddy" and "Lover" but "Hubby"is stressed more. "Hubby" is an expression of mutual love ... and acceptance.

Chris' mother, Janice, has accepted me as  part of the family - her new son-in-law. All I can say at this point is that the sense of family that marriage brings is immense: a loving, welcoming family can make all the difference in a relationship. There is no finer show of respect than simple acceptance.

My very first lover's parents accepted me as an in-law back in the days before same-sex marriage became an idea. No one has any idea of how that made a newly out gay man feel back in 1975. My new mother-in-law has helped to make me the happiest man alive. 

Love. Acceptance. Snuggling. ... and making faces at each other. Everyone should be as blessed this Christmas.

Have Yourself A Married Little Christmas Everybody!

For many of the global LGBT community, this Dec. 25th is their first married Christmas. How many? 50,000? 100,000? The  numbers keep pouring in, changing, but the fact remains: this Christmas will be joyous for many more gays and lesbians than ever before. From poor gays in rural America to celebrities in Europe, same-sex marriage has helped make this Christmas very, very special.

LONDON - Entertainer Elton John and longtime mate David Furnish officially married Sunday on the ninth anniversary of the day they entered into a civil partnership.
Joining the real world

To a gay person, "lover", "partner", even "soulmate" doesn't begin to match the term "husband", "wife" or even "spouse". "Lover" is sexual, "partner" is legal-sounding, and "soulmate" is almost too ethereal. "Husband", "Wife", "Spouse" on the other hand, connote reality ... total commitment, you see, is reality.

Of course, there are those who have never actually needed specific terms to define their relationship, but they might have the luxury of living in a community that has accepted them without those terms. They are indeed very lucky, because we are in a world of defining labels, labels which have been in our cultures for literally thousands of generations, labels which can accept or reject a person in an instant ... and forever.  

And joining the real world is all about acceptance. 

Yes, same-sex marriage is about acceptance. And that's why so many right-wing Christians won't feel the same joy we feel this Christmas: the courts have ruled for acceptance in too many states for them to feel too much joy. Acceptance is anathema. It is an abomination. It is condoning "sin." It is the object of unstable hedonists* who wish to destroy traditional values! The subject of same-sex marriage brings out the old saw about people who obsessively focus on others' sin cannot be truly happy themselves.

Marriage In The Spirit Of Christmas

I've often said that the Spirit of Christmas has transcended the traditional. It has become inclusive to the LGBT community in such a way that same-sex marriage holds a place in Christmas. It is perhaps the ultimate in love and acceptance - "good will towards men" - and overcomes many of the world's tribulations to achieve its goals. It never looks to man's "sinful nature" and destruction. For those imbued with the Spirit of Christmas, destruction of man and this world seem very far away.  

This Christmas, there will be those praying for things to change ... back to the way they were when discrimination was the order of the day. They will pray for the sanctity of their own marriages as if some outside force is dooming them. They will pray that their renewed vision of (their own) persecution will sway a righteous public away from social issues like same-sex marriage. They will pretend to pray for us, while desperately praying for themselves. This is a sad Christmas for those souls.

They certainly won't know our joy - the joy of couples whose love has sought acceptance for years - or the hope, that in other states and countries, the human right to love and make a commitment to each other will be honored with acceptance and dignity.

And while they pray, let us pray for the Spirit of Christmas to open up their hearts to experience the joy we feel in marriage, in being ourselves.

* As to the "Harm Factor" of same-sex marriage, the latest figures show that America's divorce rate has declined (the first time in decades), so women aren't divorcing their husbands to become lesbians (ala Pat Robertson) nor are men divorcing their wives for those hirsute hotties. Don't tell that to twice-divorced Attorney General Pam Bondi**, who insists that gays have extremely unstable relationships.
**BTW: Bondi's latest marriage to a gentleman 23 years her senior was "performed" in the Cayman Islands and is speculated to be a tax dodge.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Racial Morality Of Today's Police: Embattled Cleveland Force Sued by White Cops For Discrimination

Think Progress:
Less than a week after twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police officers who thought Rice’s toy gun was real, nine other members of the Cleveland Police Department filed a lawsuit that accuses the department of discriminating against non-African American officers who used deadly force.
Yes, it's another "reverse discrimination" meme, which white members of police forces around the country have used for years. But the timing is impeccable.

The Tamir Rice tragedy has gained momentum due to the Brown and Garner police brutality incidents. Rice's mother spoke to George Stephanopoulos about Tamir and the fact that police not only let her son die, but tackled her daughter, handcuffed her and put her in the police car, only to see her brother lying on the ground without help.

Involved in the shooting of Tamir was police officer Timothy Loman who was discharged from another police force in 2012 for issues relating to his mental stability. 

The Discrimination Case Of The Century!

The lawsuit against the Cleveland Police force by nine police officers for an incident  in 2012

"The City of Cleveland, through the other named defendants, and the other named defendants in their individual capacities, have a history of treating non-African American officers involved in the shootings of African Americans substantially harsher than African American officers," reads the lawsuit, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

The officers in question (13) got involved in a car chase with two unarmed African Americans who they killed after firing 137 shots. Their "demeaning" treatment was exactly three days of administrative leave (with pay) and 45 days of  "cooling off period" during which they performed light office duties. (see  Young Turks account below).

Nine officers were indicted, but they all received a verdict of "not guilty" at the trial.

A Matter Of Race - Duh!

The insolence of white officers who killed unarmed African Americans with undue force is astounding to be sure, but America still has to come to the realization that a great many white police officers are racist - brought up on the sanctity and supremacy of the white police officer. 

Talk show host and activist Montel Williams put it bluntly to Fox "outnumbered" pundits:

“You’re saying money is the problem, let’s talk race. Race is the problem!” Williams added. “In this country, right now today, there are certain cities in this country where, you know, blacks stand a chance of being incarcerated at 100 times more than any other race. Let’s have the discussion.” (Note: notice how the FOX hosts tried surreptitiously to pin the situation on Obama).
In Virginia, an autistic African American male has been sitting in solitary confinement for four years - not because he is autistic, but because he is African American and autistic. His first crime, you see, was wearing a hoodie while waiting for the public library to open.*

Back in Cleveland, the video of Tamir's killing has been released, showing that Tamir was shot within several seconds of the police car stopping. Had a white youngster been seen with what looked like a gun, the matter would have been different: police actions might have been slower. 

The Racist Connections: "Rigid Standards And Adherence To A Strict Moral Code"
The Imperial Wizard of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is guarded about discussing his organization's membership.
But this much Cole Thornton openly shares: Florida cops belong to his Klan group because he said they like its rigid standards and its adherence to a strict moral code.
Ties to hate groups like the KKK and militia groups overshadow white police forces across America, especially the ones in predominantly African  American neighborhoods where many police attribute crime solely to the very citizens they were sworn to protect. True, it may be difficult to separate crime from African Americans in an inner-city culture setting, but white police forces show a particularly subjective attitude - hence Montel Williams' point. 

And as Williams also pointed out: "It's time for a discussion."

*The altercation that ensued left a policeman injured and the youth on the road to more altercations with the law. Reginald Latson has an IQ of 69 and his mother is currently trying to get him placed out of solitary confinement. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Road To A Francis Christmas: Compassion vs. Capitalism or Compassion vs Koch?

With Pope Francis I dedicating much of his reign to compassion to the poor, it's no wonder that much of America's Right have balked. Paul Ryan called Francis' concept of capitalism "naive" and Rush Limbaugh has denigrated the Vatican and its attack on "unfettered capitalism." John Stossel once held a symposium of sorts on the "good" of greed, in which he gave the analogy of a cake with only a small part cut for the lower classes - "why not just make another cake?" But Francis countered:

Now the Koch brothers have entered the fray, with one Washington Post OpEd piece (John and Carol Saeman) insisting that the Koch brothers love the poor as much as Francis (!!):

Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches:

It’s through their association with Freedom Partners that the Saemans have become aware of the Koch brothers’ “deep concern for the least fortunate,” which they express by supporting organizations that “bear the common mission of advancing free enterprise and free societies.” The Saemans write that “promoting limited government alongside the Kochs is an important part of heeding Pope Francis’s call to love and serve the poor.” This despite Francis’ unequivocal statements almost exactly a year ago in opposition to the “free enterprise” ideology.

Of course, the Saemans resurrect the "tough love"/"bootstraps" kind of ideology as the REAL compassion, while scrapping all safety nets and welfare programs.

How very, very compassionate.

And how very, very wrong. The Saemans, it's worth noting, are financial contributors to the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce:

Freedom Partners gave grants worth a total of $236 million to conservative organizations including Tea Party groups like the Tea Party Patriotsand organizations which opposed the Affordable Care Act prior to the 2012 election. A majority of Freedom Partners board is made up of long time employees of the Koch brothers.[6][7][8] In 2012, Freedom Partners made a grant of $115 million to the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

Getting Compassion Right

The truest form of compassion was given in the parable of the Good Samaritan: he did not judge the battered Jew, nor did he tell him that he, and not big government, was the answer. The Good Samaritan just did what was necessary for the Jew to live - to survive. Had he been passing by a Jewish beggar in the road, he would have seen to his food, shelter and clothing. He would not have told him to go out and get a job. 

Francis is scaring people like the Koch brothers simply because he is getting compassion right and people are beginning to question the Koch ideology. And along with the Koch ideology comes the "prosperity gospel" preachers, Christian Right churches assailing "social justice" and a horde of Paul Ryans, Rush Limbaughs, John Stossels, Sean Hannitys, Ann Coulters who praise capitalism as the savior of mankind. 

When will the message hit?

Of course, Francis’ message of compassion will take time: although Black Friday wasn’t as “black” as usual, that doesn’t mean that the American public has chosen to put more of its wealth into worthy causes. Ads for the “perfect” gift will still blare until late Christmas Eve and the kettles of Salvation Army will not see any jump in donations. 

But the Koch pitch of "just as compassionate as Francis" is showing some serious re-branding which may trickle down to some worthwhile agencies. Not the way Francis would like, but progress just the same.

The road to Christmas is going to be very interesting this year. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Cost Of Proselytizing: Millions In Printing, Thousands In Trash Bins and Hundreds Of Postal Carriers With Broken Backs

And billions$ to a nation that doesn't want it.

It seemed like a harmless irritation: a "gift" from a religious institution, a proselytizing reprint of a very old work by a "prophetess" - a tome only a few thousand people have read in the past 100 years. It came in my mailbox, addressed to "resident."

It also came to all the other 260 residents in my building. And the 9500 residents in my city's residential development (Park Merced). And about 250,000 households in San Francisco.

My postal carrier gave me tales about how many people were complaining and about how many hundreds more were still in her truck waiting to be delivered.

I looked up the publisher and the organization:

From the website of Remnant Publications:

Over the past year Remnant Publications has been sending mass mailings of The Great Controversy to major cities in the United States. So far we’ve blanketed New York City; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC, with nearly two million copies of this crucial end-time book.
Our supporters made this possible by funding the printing and mailing costs for the books. Now we’re reaching into the San Francisco Bay area in California.
San Francisco is not the easiest community to reach. For years the city has been at the forefront of the gay movement. In fact, 15 percent of San Francisco residents are homosexual. The area is home to the University of California-Berkeley, a hotbed of liberal ideas. It also contains the affluent communities of Silicon Valley, where high-tech companies like Google and Facebook are changing the world on a daily basis.
Only about 20 percent of the people in San Francisco County are affiliated with any Protestant church. There is only one Seventh-day Adventist for every 672 people in this area. We have a lot of work to do to share the gospel in these cities!
The people of San Francisco may not know it, but they desperately need the eternal hope that Jesus offers. That hope is contained in the pages of The Great Controversy. We want to get the message into their hands before it’s too late. (emphasis mine)
In other words, they don't care whether we want it or not. Such is the ideology of the proselytizer.
The Cost Of Proselytizing

Being accosted by a mega-phoned street preacher is one thing, but having him come into your mailbox at the cost of USPS service and revenue is another.

First Class mail volume peaked in 2001[52] and has declined 29% from 1998 to 2008, due to the increasing use of email and the World Wide Web for correspondence and business transactions.[53]

Lower volume means lower revenues to support the fixed commitment to deliver to every address once a day, six days a week. According to an official report on November 15, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service lost $15.9 billion its 2012 fiscal year.[citation needed]

In 2012, the USPS had its third straight year of operational losses, which amounted to $4.8 billion.[51]
Doing The Math
Over the past year Remnant Publications has been sending mass mailings of The Great Controversy to major cities in the United States. So far we’ve blanketed New York City; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, NC, with nearly two million copies of this crucial end-time book.

Since the United States Post Office does not depend upon overt government funding, the cost of mailings is paid for by the people who actually pay postage. Yes, you and me and businesses across the country. Of course, the government gets a discount as well, but figure it out: the cost of shipping a book is the same as 4-5 first-class letters.

Business is affected as well: those pesky catalogs cost money to mail and postal increases are on to the consumer.

So, the Bay Area mailing cost approximately $360,000, while the the cost to mail the same book via "media mail" (for a business), is $672,500.

Project Restore boasts two million copies mailed, covering parts of New York, and Washington, D.C. Two million copies: $2-3 million in printing costs, with up to $2 million in postal revenue lost. Of course, one could argue that if the mass mailing did not take place, then that would mean another $1 million in revenue lost, but the strain put on the USPS and its carriers should be taken into consideration. 2 million books is an awful lot to ship and carry. $1 million may not sufficiently cover costs.

Little Relevance

"It Not Junk Mail! It's From God!"

The Great Controversy has very little relevance today (you should see what it says the results of masturbation are!). Going through the history of the Reformation may be of slight interest to scholars (many who debunk the book for its scholarship anyway), but the general public could care less about who Ellen G. White is or her 19th century expostulations on Wycliffe, Zwigli, or the Waldenses. And a mass mailing about obscure Protestant reformers in a time when history in schools is the poorest subject, makes very little sense. It's also anti-papist in the extreme, leaving a bad taste in the mouth for people who are rejoicing in the current pope.

And having been bombarded by Fundamentalists via the media of the 21st Century, chapters like "The Origin of Evil" "Snares of Satan" and "Can Our Dead Speak To Us?" are shopworn in the extreme.

As well, the above statement by Remnant shows little regard for the facts - or for the demographics of the people involved: there are 7 million people in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and only 30 SDA churches, hence there is one church for every 230,000+ people. San Francisco (750,000) and Oakland (over 1 million) share six. There may be a reason for those abysmal figures: "San Francisco has not been the easiest community to reach" simply because the Bay Area won't support SDA churches. It has been out of the Fundamentalist mindset for many years.

The fact that the area has been a "hotbed of liberal ideas" smacks a bit political besides being a hotbed of gay "sin" which also smacks of being religiously homophobic.

And while it can be argued that SDA churches have had food drives and such, they have not been on the par with established agencies (like St. Anthony's Dining Room). Pope Francis would not be impressed*

A book written by a "prophet" ( and whose "visions" were later attributed by many to be forms of epilepsy) describing the Reformation, tinged with racism, plagiarism and anti-papist sentiments sent to a demographic as a anti-gay, anti-liberal piece of proselytizing: perhaps the true Great Controversy is WTF?

Return To Sender Campaign

14 years ago, a biblical video of the Life of Jesus was sent to over 450,000 residents in Palm Beach, FL. Problem: at the time, 255,000 residents were Jewish.

St. Petersburg Times

"... the mass mailing demonstrates the arrogance and insensitivity of Christian evangelicals who, as Bishop O'Connell suggested, believe that God is theirs and theirs alone, that only they will pass through the pearly gate and sit on the right-hand side of St. Peter. The Rev. Harris Campbell, a local preacher, exemplifies such intolerance.
Speaking to the Post about the mailing, he said: "We're doing this because it's our fundamental belief that unless a person trusts in Christ, they will not be saved."
The mailing cost $1.2-million, but South Florida fought back with thousands of "return-to-senders" flooding the post office. Some of them were attached to bricks in the hopes that the Jesus Video Project would have to pay additional shipping charges. 

Perhaps we should organize against future mailings of The Great Controversy!

In The End

The SDA mass mailing is only one of many proselytizing mailings that go out every year. In a great article - How To Stop The Charity Junk Mail Monster, Mary Hunt tackles those pesky "gift"-mail pleas for donations. It doesn't touch on the kind of proselytizing mail problem the SDA mailing presents, but it does focus on the sheer volume that religious/non-profit mailings burden us and the USPS with every day. Vast, unsolicited, blanket mailings are not only irritating, insulting (in some cases) and virtually fruitless, they are costing everyone else in postage rates and USPS services. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Exorcising Ann Coulter: Ebola Comments Aren't As Effective As Laughter

"Christianity fuels everything I write. Being a Christian means that I am called upon to do battle against lies, injustice, cruelty, hypocrisy—you know, all the virtues in the church of liberalism".
Yes, that's Ann Coulter without air-brushing or the Fox News filter. Yes, that's Ann Coulter sporting her ubiquitous gold crucifix. No, that's not Ann Coulter trying to look human.

There are some things that even Ann Coulter cannot do.

I have been writing about Ann Coulter for over seven years (some posts below). Let's face it, her outrageous comments are infuriating enough to incite riots, let alone acidic prose in response. They are the stuff of righteous arrogance on crack and so stupefyingly mean-spirited as to question one's faith in humanity. All the facets of a contemptuous bitch who perversely considers them virtues.

And glories in the hatred she engenders against herself.

It is perhaps this iron-clad maiden, seemingly without a conscience, always begging for publicity, is too good for even the most blase writer to pass up: an addiction created by hypocrisy and venal interests so blatant that not to address her would seem inhuman. "Lies" "Injustice" "Cruelty" "Hypocrisy." With everything she's ever written (especially tweets), she herself covers the gamut of evils.

Exorcising A Demon Who Mocks God

For this writer, Ann Coulter has been almost impossible to exorcise from the brain: like a horrible image embedded in the psyche, Ann Coulter and her inhumanity can only be removed temporarily.

And concentrating on worst-person-in-the-world comments are not very effective. For example, while articles about Coulter's egregious ebola statements have gotten many page views, Coulter herself remains un-exorcised from my world. The demon who mocks God is a tough one.

And she does mock God: I've long posited that the only reason that crucifix hasn't burned a hole in her chest is because Ann Coulter's righteous arrogance oozes out of every pore in a gelatinous mass, hardening and forming a shield through which neither Jesus Christ nor any of his teaching could ever get through. At church, she tells God what to do.

So I have to pull out the heavy guns of ridicule (laughter) to erase Coulter for even a short while:

On her persona:

Ann Coulter Channels Margaret Sanger
Ann Coulter To Jesus: Fix Bethlehem First!
A Failed Test of Compassion:Whatever Ann Coulter has it's Worse Than Ebola
Ann Coulter's Condition Downgraded To Beyond Useless
Ann Coulter as evangelist: she turns prospective converts away from Christianity and toward a more compassionate ideology, like ISIS
If we took away the right to read, we'd still have to worry about Ann Coulter's fan base

On her vanity:

She can't go to England: Princess Ann would try to ride her.
Looking at her neck it reminds me to defrost the chicken.
Dude! You may look like a lady, but wear a damned turtleneck to hide that adam's apple!
She's what nature abhors - an old maid, a frozen asset.

And one of my own: Ann Coulter and this author actually have something in common: Phyllis Schlafly hates us both. I'm married to a man - and she isn't.

I feel better already.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Horrific Story And A Minister's Uncondintional Love Highlight Matthew Shepard Anniversary

This could be titled: Parent Hell, Parent Heaven. WARNING: parts of this article are very disturbing.

“You know Kelly, I tell you what. If you die before me…you know what, when you get dead, we’re going to go through your house and we are going to strip it, and that girl won’t have a pot to piss in…you little hefer, you have put my life through hell. Gay shit. I hate gay shit. I am not going to live my life telling you that I believe in two women being married. It is not in the Bible, it is a damned SIN! And I am ashamed you live with a damn woman… You go straight to Hell! Go to Hell, Bitch!”

Kelly's mother has obviously had no feelings for her daughter ... ever. 

Years after being kicked out of her home, Kelly met a wonderful woman named Leslie and they worked through the emotional trauma Kelly had suffered from her mother who had previously tried to "convert" Kelly with reparative  therapy. In the meantime, Kelly resumed a sporadic communications with her mother although she was wary of anything deeper. Then tragedy struck: Kelly was felled by a severe case of lupus and her heart damaged (she is prone to heart attacks). Leslie has been her only support and the two have struggled through enormous medical bills. 

Through her aunt, Kelly learned that her mother had been raising funds through her church, presumably to help Kelly or to at least visit Kelly during a hysterectomy operation. When Kelly received no funds nor any call from her mother about a visit, she decided to call her and tape the conversation as proof to her aunt that no money was forthcoming. What ensued was the terrible tirade above. 

Bob Watson of LGBTQ Nation penned an open letter to Kelly's mother of which the most poignant of phrases is: 

Your family is plagued with a woman suffering from a terrible disease. The disease is ugly, painful, debilitating and it ruins the heart. That woman is not Kelly, it is you. The disease is not the horrible one of Lupus which Kelly has, it is the disease of Homophobia that you have. 
Bob also brought out the possibility that since Florida (where Kelly and Leslie now live) does not accept same-sex marriage, the mother's threat to leave Leslie without a "pot to piss in" is very real. 

On The Other Side Of Reality:

If I had gay children: 4 Promises from a Christian Parent"

Rev. John Pavlovitz has struck a nerve amongst the Christian Right establishment: a Christian minister who would unconditionally accept homosexuality in his children could not possibly be Christian, could he? No "pray away the gay", no disowning, not a shred of righteous arrogance in his parenting strategy. His theology is so far from that of Kelly's mother as to be a different religion altogether. Then again, he's a Methodist and not a Southern Baptist. 

Here are his 4 Promises:

1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it.
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.

2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them.
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that IS their normal.

3) If I have gay children, I’ll love them.
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.

4) If I have gay children, most likely; I have gay children.
If my kids are going to be gay, well they pretty much already are.

God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.

His blog post is not only worth reading because of these points, but because of the extensive pro/con comments (some encouraging, some righteously hateful) it engendered.

October 7, is the 16th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard. One of the parents in this article is mired in a belief and an attitude that is still taking time to eradicate, while the other parent is forging ahead to a new, loving world. Matthew would be so proud of him. We should all be so very, very proud of him. 

Ebola As The New AIDS: Will The Wrath-Of-God Syndrome Ever Be Cured?

"Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society.” Liberian Council of Churches.

“God does not exist to give us what we want, and if killing off our loved ones is going to help us realize this, then this is what He will do.”
It seems incomprehensible to the rest of reasoning civilization - especially after the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic - that people believe plagues are the "wrath of God." Incomprehensibility, however, often has a hard time coming to grips with reality: in an age that still includes Charismatics and Fundamentalists, the "Wrath of God" is as definite as death. 


Of course, many people see this kind of belief system as a kind of disease in itself - so let's call it WOGS, or "Wrath-Of-God Syndrome." WOGS is prevalent among the uneducated, the absolutists, the terminally isolated from reason and is spread by the righteously arrogant religious - often pastors - who need to instill fear to gain control.

The prevalence of WOGS is everywhere and certainly exists in "civilized" America:

Major Warning! Proof God’s About To Pour Out His Wrath: Ebola, TB, Psalm 83 War, Blood Moon Tetrad, Mark of the Beast, NWO, and More Stunning Evidence.
- a recent post on Before It's News

But while many people laugh at it, WOGS is certainly a threat to humanity, perhaps far greater than Ebola.

Origins: Is The Congo The Root Of All Evil? Did The Apes Sin?

Ebola, like AIDS, has now been labeled a "gay" disease in the sense that the country that accepts homosexuality is sinful. No matter where AIDS originated, it MUST have had something to do with homosexuality.

In an analysis of the genetic history of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, the scientists said the global pandemic almost certainly began its global spread in the 1920s in Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Certain researchers have claimed that the AIDS virus began first in primates.* So who were the sinners in this WOGS thesis - gay monkeys or gay Congolese? Yes, it may seem quite disrespectful to put a terrible disease in such a light, but the real disrespect lies in the people who proselytize WOGS - in their disrespect for humanity. 

Researchers also point to the same area - and some of the same primates - as the origin of ebola, with primates being the hosts of the disease. 

Poor Africa, the hotbed of sin and disease.

Ebola As A Weapon - "It's Obama's/Gays'/Liberalism's Fault"

"All the world needs to know that sodomy and homosexuality is more deadly than the ebola virus that is spreading all over the world. Everybody who stands up and embraces sodomy, BE THOU CURSED WITH EBOLA! Cursed be ye for embracing this!" - Pastor James Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church (Harlem)

Ebola - like AIDS - is now being used as the weapon du jour for many of the Christian Right. No matter that Jesus would have been more sympathetic and forgiving than His Father, GOD WILL STRIKE YOU! And it is being used as a political weapon as well: a hot-button issue to charge President Obama with everything from willful negligence to "intentionally bringing in Ebola to make America more like Africa." (Phyllis Schlafly). Pundits like Ann Coulter** and Donald Trump have shunned compassion for Ebola victims and made medical teams look feeble. 

“First thing I would do is infect every one of those kids with the ebola virus,” she told host Sean Hannity. “The reason why people come to this country is because the government gives illegal immigrants free goodies like welfare.
“I say we give them a free case of hemorrhagic fever instead. If we pump every illegal child in this country full of ebola, parents would think twice before sending their kids to U.S. shores."
Seems like the "Wrath of God" has turned into the Wrath of Man/Coulter.

Will WOGS Ever Be "Cured"?

Education as the cure to the Wrath-Of-God Syndrome may seem too simplistic: after all, it has not yet rid the world of superstition, nor has it entirely coaxed man away from the unreasoning side of what we call "human nature." It has made small dents in the armor of Fundamentalist religion, but can it prove enough to stem the current tide? 

Then again, education is our only hope. 

Men often make up in wrath what they want in reason.

*The Christian Right interpreted that speculation as a gay airline steward having sex with a monkey. 
** OpEdNews 8-8

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Priestly Prince Of Kiddie Porn: A Josef Wesolowski Update

Sometimes when taking aim at a person, it's just too hard to put the gun down. I wrote about Josef Wesolowski last week thinking that one post would be enough, but the EXTENT of his child porn addiction was just recently made public:
The defrocked bishop and former Papal Nuncio arrested by Vatican officials last week reportedly had more than 100,000 child pornography images on the hard drive of his computer. Jozef Wesolowski is the highest-ranking Vatican official ever to be investigated for sex abuse.
Vatican detectives examined the computer that Wesolowski used in his office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic when he was the Vatican ambassador from 2008 to 2012, and made the discovery. Another 45,000 photos reportedly had been deleted and a second stash of illicit photos was on a laptop computer Wesolowski used while traveling, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
The time it took to collect such a stash (and there may be more to discover) is the key: he was nuncio for Bolivia back in 1999, then the countries of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 2002 before becoming apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic in 2008. How could he function in any position while having time to download thousands of pics? How many computers did he use in those countries? How many files were deleted? Even his native Poland wants to know.

They want him extradited as well as the Dominican Republic.

The largest recorded stash of child porn was 1 million videos owned by John Edward Shearen of Florida (4/13), but he was not only a collector, but a distributor. Wesolowski's may just be the largest stash of any clergy in the world.

It boggles the mind.

Poor Francis.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Iron Fist in Francis' Velvet Glove: Former Prelate Under House Arrest in Vatican

Behind Francis I's meek demeanor lies a firebrand when his clergy sin gravely. It just takes time before the firebrand comes out:
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis had ordered the arrest of a former Polish archbishop accused of child sex abuse in the Dominican Republic because the case was “so serious,” the Vatican said Tuesday (Sept. 23).
Jozef Wesolowski, who was defrocked by a Vatican tribunal earlier this year, is under house arrest inside Vatican City due to the “express desire” of Pope Francis, the Vatican said in a statement.
Over thirteen months ago, Wesolowski resigned as the papal nuncio for the Dominican Republic amidst charges that he had sexual abused children.

New York Times:
He was a familiar figure to the skinny shoeshine boys who work along the oceanfront promenade here. Wearing black track pants and a baseball cap pulled low over his balding head, they say, he would stroll along in the late afternoon and bring one of them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero.
He was then called back to Rome and a battle of extradition ensued: the Vatican stated that since he was a diplomat, he could not be extradited to the Dominican Republic and that he would be, instead, tried by the papal court. The Dominican Republic was not appeased:
“From the pure standpoint of justice, he should be tried in the country where the acts took place because the conditions for trying him will not be the same elsewhere,” said Antonio Medina CalcaƱo, dean of the faculty of law and political science of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. “But all we can do is hope that the courts in the Vatican will treat this with the severity that it really deserves.”
Timing Is Everything?

July 7:
“I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not.” 
That was said in the wake of an historic meeting with victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Some didn't think the meeting was sincere enough:
“Over the past 2,000 years, two popes have met with about two dozen clergy sex abuse victims. Very little has changed,” Mary Caplan, a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said.
Many also stated that the foot-dragging of the papal judicial system was discouraging, with one Dominican Republic bishop shocked to see Wesolowski walking freely around the streets of Rome.

But Francis has been working with a bureaucratic, antiquated system, a system of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (scion of the old Inquisition) headed at one time by Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict the XVII). It took a while before Wesolowski was laicized (defrocked), then he appealed the laicization, and a longer time ensued before any trial proceedings could begin (sound familiar?) Also: Wesolowski was the highest-ranking Catholic clergyman ever to be accused of child abuse.

Wesolowski may now be waiting several trials: in the Vatican, in the Dominican Republic and in his native Poland (he was ordained and made bishop by Pope John-Paul II). It is up to Francis, as head of the Vatican state, to determine if he can be extradited to the other countries.

Little Francis Meek And Mild. Not.

America's Christian Right now has another reason to fear Francis: his simplicity and preference for the poor have caused shock waves throughout "prosperity gospel" and capitalist churches and now his determination in bringing errant clerics to justice is sending shivers up the spines of some youth pastors and their leading "bishops.*" They can poo-poo his economics as naive, but not his backbone in the face of corruption.

*Like Eddie Long.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Have No Other Gods Before Me: The Rise And Fall Of Evangelical "Rambo Jesus", Misogynist Bully Mark Driscoll

I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ 
because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up."

The Cult of 'Rambo Jesus" Just Took A Hit

In the latest transformation of theology and within Right Wing Christian circles, the cult of "Rambo Jesus" has emerged as the theology du jour: Fmr. Gen. Jerry Boykin recently characterized the Second Coming as Jesus carrying an AR-15.

Blasphemous to many, the cult has nonetheless become a small epidemic, a virus spread by "emerging church" ministers who want to take on an aggressive, take-no-prisoners stance against progressive Christians, atheists and other religions. It has a "become Christian or suffer the consequences" strategy that relies on strict obedience.

Master of Misogyny

Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill Church (Seattle) came on the scene in 1996. At first the start of "church planting" endeavor, it seemed to grow exponentially, from 11 churches in 1998 to 410 by 2011. Along with Acts 29 (the church planting network) and it's growth, however, other things began to grow: organization, workload ... and Driscoll's ego. Driscoll divested himself of some responsibility, but not the attendant fame and notoriety. He became known as the "cussing pastor", the "Holy Hipster" and the "Rush Limbaugh of Evangelism" as well as an ardent proponent of "Rambo Jesus":

The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”

He also became known for out-and-out misogyny: when Driscoll and his wife, Grace, published a book entitled Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together, it raised eyebrows not only because it described sex in graphic terms (and OK'd formerly taboo subjects like anal sex), but because:
"Grace [Driscoll] is often cast as the damaged and sinful wife who withholds sex from her deserving husband, Mark the hero who is justified in leaving his wife but instead comes along to rescue her." (Rachel Held Evans)

Jezebel ("Worst Guy Ever")

Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture.
They're quarrelsome. They're a nag. And some women — you're a nag. You're disrespectful. You're quarrelsome. Being married to you is like a life sentence, and the guy's just scratching on his wall every day.
First, masturbation can be a form of homosexuality because it is a sexual act that does not involve a woman. If a man were to masturbate while engaged in other forms of sexual intimacy with his wife then he would not be doing so in a homosexual way. However, any man who does so without his wife in the room is bordering on homosexuality activity, particularly if he's watching himself in a mirror and being turned on by his own male body.
Driscoll's blog also had a turn at Ted Haggard's predicament:

"A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him, either,"

Father, Son and Spirit. But some chicks and some chickified dudes with limp wrists and minors in 'women's studies' are not happy because two persons of the trinity have a dude-ish ring."
In early January of this year, it was easy for this writer to give Mark Driscoll the Righteous Arrogance Award simply because of this tweet:

Of course, along with the misogyny, the homophobia naturally follows: Driscoll's touting of MMA (mixed martial arts fighting) for "real" men got people to thinking about Driscoll's own sexuality*:
Religion Dispatches (Elizabeth Drescher)

So it is, of course, ironic that the churches and pastors who are touting MMA are doing so in order to inject some masculinity into American Christianity. What they seem to be missing—or maybe just what they refuse to admit—is that they’ve chosen the one sport on the American scene that is highly sexually charged. And the sexuality in MMA is not hetero.
Anatomy Of A Fall

Driscoll's fall from grace could be traced in these steps:

A Long, Long Hiatus

Last Sunday, Driscoll stepped down from his role in Mars Hill for "six weeks" while a range of charges are being "investigated." He has also insinuated that, at the request of Acts 29 and others, he is "seeking help". Earlier this year, he stated:
In the last year or two, I have been deeply convicted by God that my angry-young-prophet days are over, to be replaced by a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.

The range and intensity of the allegations, however, belie the possibility of a mere six-week hiatus: Driscoll's anger-management issues alone will take months (if not years) to resolve. He may have to cut back on his core belief in "Rambo Jesus," the theology that made him famous in the first place. In terms of therapy, Driscoll has a long, long way to go.

And his forgiveness may be a long time in coming.

Hollis Phelps, Religion Dispatches
All of which is to say, any criticism of Driscoll should also be directed at the system that allowed him to emerge in the first place. Driscoll may certainly be an extreme case among evangelical leaders and evangelical culture more generally, but we should not understand him as an exception.

The "system" Phelps refers to is one in which obedience and control are keys to a theology that strives to gain a foothold among an already strident American Fundamentalism.

an pobvious fail

*My husband, btw, who is a master at judging male anatomy proportions (even fully clothed) has opined that Mark Driscoll is definitely compensating for something. That may sound like a cheap shot, but given Driscoll's cheap shots at women and gays, it might be fitting.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

When "Slipping Through The Cracks" Is No Excuse: The Negligence Of Some Child Welfare Workers

'It was just like every inch of this child had been abused,'
"Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was allegedly beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend, they doused him with pepper spray, forced him to eat his own vomit and locked him in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to court records made public Monday."
But that was not the entire extent of his abuse. You may not want to read the entire L.A. Times article if you are sensitive to the issue because it contains some graphic descriptions of unbelievable abuse, but know that the case has sparked an outcry for reform of a child welfare system that was clearly inept.
When paramedics arrived, they found Gabriel naked in a bedroom, not breathing, with a cracked skull, three broken ribs and BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. He died two days later.
"It was just like every inch of this child had been abused," testified James Cermak, a Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic.
Gabriel's mother, Pearl, said that Gabriel had hit his head on a dresser. 

Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, are in jail awaiting trial for capital murder and special circumstances of torture. 

The torture consisted of heinous acts, the least of which was making Gabriel wear humiliating girl's dresses to school because he liked playing with dolls. His murder has gone viral, because, like another publicized abuse/death - the case of Zachary Dutro Boggess - one of the "reasons" for his abuse was that he acted too "gay". Another reason: a system where "slipping through the cracks" means death. Months before his death, Gabriel wrote a suicide note, but it was dismissed as nothing consequential by child welfare workers (it contained no mode of suicide - kids have to be more specific than that!).  Reports of abuse from teachers were poorly followed up. "Huge caseloads" and "inexperience" were cited. 

"Inexperience". How experienced do you have to be to read a suicide note of any sort and not take action? How inexperienced do you have to be to visit a house more than several times, see bruises and not put the dots together? How inexperienced do you have to be to take the initial testimony of siblings as the truth - kids who are obviously scared the same thing will happen to them? 

The Good, The Bad And The Totally Inept

To be fair, some social workers can only be as effective as the law allows: Child Protective Services vary from region to region according to what authority they actually have. Some parents are very crafty and intimidating (e.g. Fred Phelps - the "Man Addicted To Hate" - repeatedly fended off CPS in Topeka, KS despite warnings from teachers and neighbors). Some truly are over-burdened with caseloads and become duly depressed about their work.  

The workers in Gabriel's and Zachary's cases, however, were absolutely negligent:

Four county Department of Child and Family Services employees will be fired over their involvement in the case of Gabriel Fernandez, the 8-year-old Palmdale boy who died in May, after allegedly being tortured by his mother's live-in boyfriend.

According to a statement from County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, the four include two social workers and two supervisors. Three others involved in evaluating multiple reports of abuse of Fernandez were issued warning or reprimand letters.
DCFS records showed that there had been five previous reports of abuse of the little boy, but that social workers had deemed them "unfounded." A sixth case was being investigated at the time of his death.
Five reports. FIVE. Five reports and a suicide note. 

Zachary Dutro-Brugess was murdered in, of all places, a homeless shelter. His abuse was reported by his older sister who had been abused as well, but not by the shelter.

While [Jack] Schwab [Director of the Good Neighbor Shelter in Tigard, Oregon] says that the staff never saw anything that could be reported, it's hard to believe that such abuse could have gone on without the staff having even an inkling. And even those inklings can be reported.
Negligent Abuse

What happened to both children might have been prevented, had people paid attention. Unfortunately, we can't make lack of attention a crime, nor can we make negligence or ineptitude a felony. To some, the firing of two social workers and two supervisors was enough in Gabriel's case. To some, the consciences of the Good Neighbor Shelter will deliver justice. 

To Gabriel and Zachary, however, justice may not have been served.

Just a thought.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Last Week in Bigotry: From Cursing Gays With Ebola To Righteously Phoning In Pain To A Grieving Mother

Note: Some parts of this article are NSFW

The conflagration in Ferguson, Missouri (perhaps rightfully) overshadowed other incidents of racism and bigotry in the country last week. Michael Brown's death and the subsequent reactions by Ferguson and law enforcement have been news fodder for every media:  everyone seems to taking a polarizing stance, with very few pundits in the media taking a moderate tone. For example, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson* of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny called Brown a "thug" just like Trayvon Martin.

Rev. Peterson is African-American.

Right Wing Watch
"I've said from day one that Michael Brown is a thug," Peterson declared, using as evidence "the fact that he was running from the cops, period, because good folks do not run from police officers, they follow their instructions."
Rev. Peterson has obviously never lived in an inner city.

Of course, we all know that Michael Brown was really a "menacing" giant hopped up on marijuana because Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association says so. But there were moments when Christian pastors (not Christian enough for Fischer) who participated in protests risked arrest and one Christian minister was shot with a rubber bullet trying to mediate.
The Callousness Of It All

But there were other incidents of racism and bigotry, maybe not as notorious as Ferguson, but just as damning ... and callous.

Yes, Pastor James David Manning is still with us in Harlem, spewing hatred via the Word of God (in itself, blasphemous, but Manning certainly doesn't see it that way). He added Ebola for good measure later on in one of his broadcasts.

Not to be outdone in the realm of the callous, Rev. T.W. Jenkins told the mother of a young man that his church would not bury her son because he was gay - over the phone while she was next to her son's casket at the wake the night before.

Huffington Post:
Kendall Capers found no hope at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church after the death of his husband, Julion Evans, who died at age 42 from amyloidosis. Evans' family are members of the New Hope congregation in Tampa, Florida, and Capers arranged to have the service there.

However, the funeral was abruptly canceled the night before it was scheduled to happen. The family was informed with a phone call from New Hope that said that it would be "blasphemous" to hold the service at the church, reported KCCI.

The cancellation came after members of New Hope noticed Evans' obituary, which named Capers as the "surviving husband," according to WFLA.
Bill to stone gays to death introduced in Kenya

Yes, it's actually on the docket. Kenya has yet to learn from its African neighbor, Uganda, what the consequences are for showing such medieval inhumanity. The idea, of course, was imported from the U.S., but Rev. Scott Lively disavows any involvement.

Anti-abortion Bigotry Tunes In On Robin Williams' Death

From RH Reality Check:
"Kevin Burke [contributor, Pro-Life News]drew the card this week with a repugnant attempt to blame the suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams Monday on, you guessed it, abortion. ...In the article, Burke focuses on the fact that Williams had a girlfriend in the 1970s that had an abortion, which Williams brought up in a Playboy interview in 1992. From this information, Burke wildly speculates that pretty much every sad or bad thing that happened to Williams was because of this abortion....The fact that Williams was unabashedly pro-choice is also rationalized away in a nasty manner..."
Oh, the lengths to which people will go ...

Bigotry Gone Viral

The following video is certainly NSFW and probably the most virulent anti-Muslim rant to go viral. It spawned a plethora of shocking comments, but it may have spawned a social media star: her name, Debra Wilkerson has become synonymous with hatred and so has given birth to some supportive video responses. The one below may be a parody, of course, but there are still people out there who actually believe that the victim of Debra's hate could have been a terrorist because he was Muslim. (This did, of course, happen in the state of Alaska where one former governor espoused waterboarding as baptism). 

Since the video has gone viral in only the last 48 hours (1.2 million views), there is no word from Debra as to how she is dealing with the notoriety. While some say she was under the influence of something other than pure hate, any explanation for this kind of behavior would be considered lame. "The crazy racist lady" may be in hiding for some time. 

Hatred No Longer In Hiding

Thanks to technology and the openness of social media, hatred has been hard to hide: responses to bigotry like the Ferguson situation are vivid and immediate. Cover-ups are more difficult. Tempers are shown as raw and unrelenting. Even politicians have to be very, very careful of what they do and say: the ones that don't care (like Sarah Palin), pay the price in scorn and humiliation while trying for their "niche". 

The only thing we have to fear today is becoming numb to the bombardment of hatred that still fills the country. 

From Wikipedia:

On September 21, 2005, Peterson penned a column for WorldNetDaily, in which he suggested the majority of the African-American people stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina were "welfare-pampered", "lazy" and "immoral". ... Peterson has also thanked "God and white people" for slavery—adding that if it weren't for the slave trade, blacks might have never made it to the United States—and described traveling on slave ships as akin to "being on a crowded airplane".[8]