Friday, April 29, 2005
Christianity and the State
In a simple or organic church there ought not to be this dividing wall of pretension. I think a new believer is encouraged by the honest description of struggle. It helps them to not feel that such a chasm separates them from those who may have trod the path a bit longer. It removes the tendency to idolize or put a "leader" on a pedestal. In fact, I dont even like to think of "leaders" in this way in a simple church. I like to think of the ground as being level, as each being able to learn from and be ministered to by the other.I don't know what an organic church is, but when I read this, it clarified for me a few things that have been pricking at the back of my mind. One is that Christians do themselves a huge disservice when they don't read their own holy book and decide for themselves what it means. I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't listen to their pastors or to authors or other people. I'm saying, if you don't read and feel comfortable with the knowledge you have of what you're reading, you have no way to test out whether what you're being told is true. The other is that leadership can be corrupting. People who are given power tend to believe they deserve that power. This is especially damaging in a church, because of the current Christian dynamic of encouraging everyone in the church to be meek and mild and followers. If someone with power is abusing that power, it can be nearly impossible for the rest of the church to do anything about it because it doesn't just feel like a rebellion against abusive leadership, it feels like a rebellion against God's order. That's why it means a lot that Twyla insists that everyone should be accountable to each other and minister to each other. It's the only way to guarantee that one person's ego doesn't take over. It's important because the Christian Church in America is in crisis. It doesn't see it because it's got some power, but it's in serious trouble. The Church, in order to be effective, must be active. It must serve the community it's in. For better or for worse, the most active people--cure the sick, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless, feed the hungry type folks--are liberal and those people are leaving the Church in droves. Even now, you can see the effects of that in the growing "angry Christian" face of the Church--folks like Dobson and his ilk who run around so pissed off that the whole country isn't falling in line behind them quickly enough. What does that anger and self-righteousness have to offer non-Christians? Not much. But, you say these churches these angry men lead are growing by leaps and bounds. True enough, but they're mostly poaching from other denominations. That's not really growth. Also, these angry men are, at heart, anti-Christian. They can preach the word of their god with the best of them, but they can't really hear the words of Jesus. Because, if Jesus was about anything, he was about transformation. If you're rich, give your shit to the poor. If you're sleeping around, stop it. If you're organizing your life by the letter of the law, start living by the spirit. Give up the things you think you can't do without and see what happens. My dad has this sermon he sometimes gives, which I love, about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus takes fives loaves of bread and two fish and feeds 5,000 people. He says that the most plausible explanation is the most miraculous, that when one person offered everything he had, other people, who had been carrying around a loaf of bread to snack on later or some grapes to keep the kids quiet or some olives they meant to bring home to their mothers, took our their food and shared it, too. The miracle wasn't making so little enough for everyone; the miracle was getting a large group of strangers to treat each other like a community. Transformation. Give up the things you think you can't do without and see what happens. Do you see what I'm saying now? James Dobson, William Donohue, Gary Bauer, David Barton, and the rest of their ilk are anti-Christian because they will not give up the things they think they can't do without. They don't get that the transformation Jesus preached was not a one-shot deal--be born again and never worry again--but an ongoing process. Transformation. Here they are, these angry men of god, hoarding whatever they can get their hands on--control of women, control of the government, control of public discourse, control of the definition of what Christianity is--and though they can quote you the Bible chapter and verse, they don't dare give themselves over to transformation. There wasn't a thing that Jesus kept hold of. He gave up his family, his career, his religious rules, his society's prejudices, his life, just to see what would happen. It's remarkable, and anyone who would choose to emulate that--to give yourself over to transformation, to let go of everything you think you can't do without, just to see what would happen--ought to be commended. Even I, as a non-Christian, am madly in love with the real transformative example of Jesus. But these guys can't do it. They cling to their power and to their letter-of-the-law and to their same old crap they've been preaching for years. I almost can't blame them. It's a lot easier when things are clear-cut and someone's obviously in charge and the rules are unbreakable. It's easier, but it's got nothing to do with Jesus.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
No Sugar Tonight
Things that have, in the last 24 hours, made me laugh so hard I almost peed
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Blogger Death Match
The Corporate Shill
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Things I Have No Control Over
Monday, April 25, 2005
My First Meme
Unsex me here
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Mushy Post about Mrs. Wigglebottom
The Price of Gas
Saturday, April 23, 2005
A Brief, Frank Statement about Bill Clinton
Friday, April 22, 2005
I Gush About Sweet Acidophilus Milk
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The Shill Answers!
I so wanted to write a groundbreaking essay wherein I argued that despite abundant evidence to the contrary, she was actually self-aware. But then I revisited Go Fug Yourself, the Salon article on "the most glorious downward spiral in years" and how Britney's issues are mostly about class and classic quote after classic quote (let's just listen to the President and follow our leaders y'all) and then-- she married, and is now having a baby with, Kevin Federline. K-Fed y'all! So, I couldn't do it. She had good handlers there for a bit but "adulthood" has destroyed the charade once and for all. Not a single fucking clue. She thinks she does. But she'd be wrong. [Ooo. Good answer.--B.]2. Would you rather be in Us or Entertainment Weekly?
Entertainment Weekly, and I may specify, I'd like to be included in The Must List issue.3. If you had become a movie critic, would it have pleased you more to give out consistently negative reviews that made you a media darling or consistently positive reviews that were often used in promotional materials?
Consistently negative reviews.4. For some reason (I can't think of a good one), you are forced to give your first-born a "trendy" name. You can choose between Clementine, Payton, and Jasmine, if it's a girl, and Ashton, Brooklyn, and Reagan, if it's a boy. Which do you choose?
Clementine. Living in Chicagoland I couldn't stomach the "Sweetness" nicknames that would come with Payton and any image of Peyton Manning makes me nauseous. Ew. Not an attractive man. And Jasmine? It's a Tiffany for the new millennium. I do run the risk of someone belting out "oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine" but when compared to Payton and Jasmine? I'll take that risk. She just can't marry into the Clemson family. As for boys -- I first thought I'd opt for Brooklyn (although Bronx would be way better -- LE could teach him how to become an expert at the Bronx cheer!) but LE would insist on Reagan, "greatest president of the modern age." That's a direct LE quote everybody. And I married him anyway. [Well, at least he hasn't joined in on the movement to beatify Nixon. Look on that bright side.--B.]5. Hypothetically, would you be more or less likely to fuck Ted Nugent if he were the president of the NRA?
Hypothetically, I would say the likelihood would not change.6. Would you be more or less likely to join the NRA if Ted Nugent were president of that organization?
More likely. I'm the only person I know who watched an entire episode of his reality show. NUUUUUUGE! [Is it wrong that I totally would too? I mean, I know he's insane and is probably a danger to himself and others, and I'm afraid of guns and cried inconsolably the one time I shot one, because the brick I'd aimed at broke into pieces--we'd both be the exact wrong fit for the NRA--but I'd still join if he were in charge. Quite possibly, this makes us bad people.--B.]7. Say that Kenny Chesney is about to release a song about a brief affair the two of you had right after college. Do you tell your loved ones that it's about you or do you just hope that, since they and their friends don't listen to country music, they never hear it from someone else?
My knowledge of country music is limited. As such, I don't really know if Kenny Chesney is cool or not. Therefore, I must answer based on the only thing I know about him: that when the Dixie Chicks hang out at their local bar and play those damn trivia games, their team name is "Kenny Chesney Stuffs his Pants with a Pimento Cheese Sandwich" and as such, I would tell my friends it was about me. True story: http://www.clubnashville.com/rr012703.htm8. If you had to change your first name to anything other than what it is now, what would it be and why?
This question is much tougher than I thought it would be. I'll throw this one out to the masses.9. If you could switch places with anyone you know for one day, who would it be and why?
This one is also really tough! Loyal TCP readers can vote from: a. Jon Stewart and host an episode of the Daily Show. b. Host of Saturday Night Live (what week hardly matters). c. If I was able to also inherit their athletic ability, I would switch with a female Olympic skier, win a gold medal and then make out with Bode Miller (how else would I even get close?). Sorry LE! d. George W. -- maybe arrange for bad things to befall him the day after we had switched?10. For what reason would you ever move to Kansas City?
None that I can think of. But if someone were to say, you could have Bill Gates' fortune, you just have to move to Kansas City. I would do it.
The Birthday Inquisition--The Corporate Shill Edition
I Give Props to Those Who Deserve It--The All Girls Edition
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Nashville Film Festival
Living Your Religion
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Cupcakes for Everyone!
- "Being overweight is nowhere near as big a killer as the government thought, ranking No. 7 instead of No. 2 among the nation's leading preventable causes of death, according to a startling new calculation from the CDC."
- "But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight."
- "CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity."
Yes, we are going to continue to make fat teenagers (and others) feel like shit about themselves based on false numbers, because it never bothers teens to find out that people in positions of authority have lied to them!
Here, fat teenagers, are some true things you can count on: Masturbation is fun and, since it raises your heart rate, it's like exercise, but it doesn't suck! Sex is also fun and raises your heart rate and, if you can get five or six people involved, it's almost like a team sport. Just be sure to use condoms and other forms of birth control. Also, don't invite clean-cut kids who listen to death metal to your orgies; they will only break your heart.
My point, fat teenagers, is that, while PE is lame and sports suck, there are plenty of exciting things you can do with your body that raise your heart rate and keep your heart pumping hard for prolonged periods of time. Love yourself as much as you can and each other when you can and eat what you want.
Monday, April 18, 2005
I Miss the Dixie Chicks
Adventures with the Gout-Ridden Reverend
Sunday, April 17, 2005
The Butcher Rules Again!
Half a Beer and Home
Friday, April 15, 2005
A Law of Physics?
Thursday, April 14, 2005
We can't let the state be involved on either side. Like I said before, most businesses will realize it's in their best interest to require their employees to sell birth control. Pissed off customers will go somewhere else, and for a lot more than just birth control. They will likely stop patronizing the business completely.I've already said that I think this is unfair to women who don't have the ability to go to other pharmacies, so I'm not going to rehash that again. But as I was responding to her post, I realized that this hits me in such a personal way, that I ended up deleting half my post and deciding to address it here instead. One thing that really bothers me about this debate is that there still is this unspoken assumption that pregnancy is the proper punishment for whores and so preventing pregnancy is somehow letting women off the hook. Why else would this be a big deal? Birth control prevents pregnancy. It doesn't end pregnancy; it prevents it. In the pharmacies I've been in, the pharmacist can ring you up, right at the counter. Do these "religious" pharmacists refuse to sell condoms? If someone hands them a box, do they lecture that person and put the box behind the counter, so that he can't have it? No. Because this isn't simply about preventing pregnancy. This is about making sure that women "suffer" the consequences of their actions. That they are properly punished for being sexual with pregnancies. I hope that those pharmacists' consciences are plenty soothed, fuckers. I swear to god, these "Christians" make me sick. I can't see Janet Jackson's tit on my TV for one second without having to endure two fucking years of "Won't somebody please think of the children?" But apparently we only have to think of the children when it doesn't get in the way of our zeal for punishing whores. Yeah, I'm on to you, motherfuckers. How many times in this whole debate have you heard one person talking about the children? Seriously, think about how weird this is: we're having a discussion about some folks' "right" to refuse to sell other folks birth control. But, except for loose, vague, terms like "unwanted pregnancy," no one is talking specifically about kids being born to moms who don't, at that moment, want kids. Fuck, this is just what I was talking about. Both anti-feminists and feminists think that women are more moral than men. Everyone's all busy fighting about the moral implications of birth control and the denial thereof, but no one is talking abut the implications of the births of those kids, because we all just assume that motherhood is the salvation of all women. Even women who've "fallen" from their superior moral position can return to being more moral than men through the transforming glory of motherhood. So, in this world-view, only pregnancy is a "problem" or "punishment"--the kid is the agent of complete fulfillment. As you all are at least vaguely aware, I have a couple of nephews. They have the same dad, my recalcitrant brother, and two different moms. My oldest nephew's mom never married my brother and my youngest nephew's mom refuses to un-marry him. Neither pregnancy was planned, in the conventional sense--though I'm convinced that the second nephew is a result of my brother and sister-in-law's most desperate attempt to keep my mom from kicking them out of my parents' house. Though the three of them, brother, sister-in-law, nephew's mother, were all heavily involved with buying, selling, transporting, and using drugs, though they all had sex outside of the confines of marriage, though they "sinned" in all kinds of spectacular and fun ways without giving their god's wishes a second thought, when each of the girls got pregnant, each of them decided that she should continue the pregnancy and keep the child, because that's what her god wanted. Last Christmas, my oldest nephew watched his mom's new boyfriend beat the shit out of her and put her in the hospital. He's shuffled between my brother and his grandparents' and his mom when they all meet up at a gas station and hand him off. Last I heard, he was living in a hotel room in rural Georgia with his mom and that same boyfriend. My youngest nephew showed up at my parents' house this last time with a cigarette burn in the middle of his forehead. His mom claimed she didn't know how he got it. The worst part is that she probably doesn't. She dumps him with people for days at a time while she's out drugging it up. She often doesn't remember where she left him. When she resurfaces, she hands him off to my brother, who hands him off to my parents (because, when it comes to his kids, he's a worthless fuck), who buy him clothes and heal his ear infections and try to patch him back together. Anyone who thinks that this, this pile of stinking rotting filth my nephews have to deal with, that they have to try to live through--and not just my nephews, but a lot of kids who deserve good lives and loving parents, who deserve better than the shit this world makes them eat day after day--is acceptable, that, because it's "life," it's a better and more moral outcome than a woman popping a pill once a day or a man sliding on a condom, or even a woman having an abortion, anyone who thinks that has one deeply fucked-up moral compass. No, every unintended pregnancy does not result in miserable children. I don't mean to suggest that. A lot of women have kids they weren't planning on, and it ends up being a great thing for them and their kids. But denying women contraception, in effect forcing them to have children, is playing a terrible game of chance with those kids. So, I find it awfully funny that these pharmacists cannot, in good conscience, fill these prescriptions because they may some day have to answer to their great invisible dad (who, coincidently, warned them about hurting kids), but that their consciences seem unbothered by the real-time consequences of their decisions.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The Weird Eye Hair
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Monday, April 11, 2005
The Remake Quiz
Some Songs Depend on the Weather
Friday, April 08, 2005
The Seven Deadly Sins
Thursday, April 07, 2005
My Country Cunt
Things that Happened on Our Walk
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Okay, It's True: Fat Teenage Girls are Ruining America
April is the Cruelest Month
April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.If just read it, it's striking enough--that part about "mixing memory and desire" just gets to me. And, indeed, there is something really cruel about stirring up things in places we've come to accept as dead. But if you read it out loud, it's extraordinary. You have all these soft gentle sounds--ls and ms and rs--breaking up against bs and ds and sts and sps. The words sound like what they're about--placidness being stirred up by spiky signs of life. It's awesome. But to hear my fellow Midwesterner (what's with us running off to England and pretending we're British? We can only hope Madonna reads this and deigns to answer) read this poem . . . Folks, it was hilarious and I still can't look at the poem without thinking of him speaking it out loud. It sounded like he was speaking to us from beyond the grave, like Beowulf had nailed Eliot's good arm to the wall of some hall and so we had to hear the poem from the perspective of a mutilated zombie who wished he were Chaucer's progenitor. "Oaop rrruyl is tha krew uel eist mon-th," he groaned, and though we were all supposed to be deeply touched by his moving recitation, I looked around the room and saw a bunch of other people who also were not sure if this was a joke, and I started to laugh. Apparently, you are allowed to have all kinds of reactions to "difficult" modernist poetry, but, my friends, scholars who've spent their whole lives studying modernist poetry do not appreciate it when you laugh long and hard at Eliot. They also don't appreciate it when you answer, in response to "What's so funny?", "I can't take that seriously. No one from St. Louis sounds like that."