Please Pass (over) The Nuts (3) ~ Late Evening Thoughts

I, along with many others, watched (in my case overwatched) the inauguration of a new President on the 20th. (Yes, I was still watching at the 10th Presidential dance! If their feet didn’t hurt, mine certainly did!)I was hopeful that a new beginning might signal a new start in areas where so much has been lacking. As a gay and fundamental Christian, I believe I have a Biblical obligation to pray for my leaders, even those I disagree with. As an American, I feel I have an obligation to hope and pray for the best from my leaders, and to “hold their feet to the fire” if they are not doing their best.

The cynicism that I posted about last, had even gotten into that area where I could no longer even look at any of the governments – federal, state and local – with any degree of objectivity or hope. In the amazing book “Language In Thought And Action,” the author talks about when we have cast someone in the role of the “enemy” ALL communications/actions by them are immediately suspect and are filtered through the lens of how I view the “enemy” regardless of the truth.

So, I began to climb out of THAT hole and back to the level playing ground of attempting to see what was truth and what was not. And based on the last several years of watching government, not an easy task ~ not an easy task at all.

Over the last couple of days, two instances of people working on the premise that someone is the enemy and all communications are to be dismissed as lies and deceit have really hit me. Both are disturbing in many ways, but most disturbing to me as to their own lack of humanity and belief in people. Both would claim that is not true, but sadly both would be wrong.

The first came from a supposed christian (small c) self-appointed leader. Joseph Farah is the founder of a very conservative web-site WorldNet Daily. It has a number of contributors who echo the views of the founder. That’s not a problem for me, as I will defend their right to say what they think, just as I will defend my right not to read it. I will also defend my right to comment on it, and give my view of it.

Back in August, I posted about christian hate and christian witchcraft. Christian witchcraft to me is asking the Almighty (however you regard that) to do something “to” another rather than “for” another. It’s charging into the Throne Room ~ demands in hand and expecting that regardless of the Person on the Throne’s attitude/statements/desire we will get what we want, when we want it and, “oh yes, make that yesterday” because I say so. In this case Joseph Farah does something a little more insidious than that. He cloaks his witchcraft in a seemingly nice Christian outfit, with a few well chosen verses thrown in for good effect. He is asking ~ Well, here’s the article. . .

Joseph Farah Pray Obama fails
Posted: January 19, 2009
1:00 am Eastern

Many American Christians believe, as an article of faith, that we are to pray for the success of our leaders.

It has become a sort of conventional wisdom among soft-minded believers. The biblical proof-text for this misguided way of thinking is Romans 13:1-4:

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

What could be more clear-cut? At face value, it would seem the Bible is telling us government is a God-ordained good and that we are not to resist its terrors.

Many a coward has been bolstered in his conviction against challenging tyranny by not reading too deeply into the Scriptures. Yet, nowhere does the Bible ever suggest evil rulers are to be obeyed. When the rule of men conflicts with the commands of God, the Bible leaves no doubt about where we should stand.

That’s why I do not hesitate today in calling on godly Americans to pray that Barack Hussein Obama fail in his efforts to change our country from one anchored on self-governance and constitutional republicanism to one based on the raw and unlimited power of the central state.

It would be folly to pray for his success in such an evil campaign.

I want Obama to fail because his agenda is 100 percent at odds with God’s. Pretending it is not simply makes a mockery of God’s straightforward Commandments.

So you will not see me joining in the ritual of affirming Obama and his mission in public or private prayer this week – or any other week.

Instead, I uphold the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:14: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” And I take warning from Isaiah 9:16: “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.”

And please don’t tell me about “rendering unto Caesar.”

It’s important to consider the circumstances and the audience behind Jesus’ instructions to “render unto Caesar.” The Sadducees were attempting to trap Jesus into advocating open contempt for Caesar. He recognized their wicked and hypocritical little game and answered them with a totally truthful response that astonished everyone.

But think about it. There are two components to Jesus’ words. We are to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” but we are also to “render unto God the things that are God’s.” Well, everything ultimately belongs to God. But, most of all, this injunction by Jesus instructs us that government laws cannot trump God’s laws – ever.

If government commands you to do evil, as a Christian you must resist. There is no alternative. Citing the “render unto Caesar” line is an apologetic for accountability to God – nothing more, nothing less.

Furthermore, it needs to be pointed out that in America we don’t have a Caesar. Never have, never will. You see, our system of government is called a free republic, and it is based on the concept of constitutional self-government. We have no “rulers” in America – except ourselves and our God. We believe in the rule of law, not the rule of men.

This is an important distinction, not a semantic one.

Nowhere in the Bible does it teach us to obey evil rulers. Nowhere.

This is a time for principled biblical resistance, not phony Christian appeasement.

If, indeed, Mr. Farah is the Christian he claims, and not the christian he seems to be representing here ~ there’s a very strong disconnect from the reality of Scripture. I’m not going to head into a theological argument here, that will be for another time. But I will say time and again The Bible makes it perfectly clear that indeed we do have leaders and we have an obligation to pray for them.

He also conveniently ignores the number of instances where Biblical characters not only DID support what Mr. Farah would consider to be evil, but actually in some cases ruled WITH them.

Yes, there is a time for resistance – but this is not one of them.

And a final thought on this man ~ if, indeed, the President WERE to fail would he stand on his cyberspace rooftop and shout that God had answered his prayer? I rather doubt it. . .

Then, today ~ I ran across this gem from someone who should know better, or is so desperate for ratings or sell his material that he would grasp at straws to accomplish his ends. Rush Limbaugh (remember him from the prescription addiction/pharmacy shopping episode). had this to say about being asked for a 400 word article on what he hopes from an Obama administration:

So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.

Again, this from the man who indicated a number of years ago that dissent was equal to terrorism ~ I suspect echoing the press secretary right after 9/11 who warned that “Americans…need to watch what they say, watch what they do.” They were chilling words back then and became even more so during these last years.

I’ve discovered I’m not as young as I used to be ~ my body keeps reminding me of that daily and going out and about reminds me of that as well. One of the things it has done is allow me the luxury of looking at things with very different “eyes” and outlook. These people are sad in different and similar ways.

I’m not joining the “cast them into the fiery pit of hell” crowd because dissent is a natural and important part of the American political process. What I, and I hope others, will do is to point out the hypocrisy and errors of their dissent.

And, alas, to pray for them.

The Great Morality Question ~ Late Morning Thoughts

There’s the Pillsbury Bake-Off, the Pun-Off in Austin and a small town in Minnesota has started the “Think-Off.”

This challenging contest began (as far as I can tell) in 1993 with the question: “The Nature of Humankind: Inherently Good or Inherently Evil?” According to the website, a priest, a newspaper editor, a 15 year-old cheerleader and a former tribal police officer made such strong arguments that the audience couldn’t decide if mankind is good or evil, leaving the question forever unresolved.

Since then such questions have been “thought-off” as:

1994: “Does Life Have Meaning?”

1998: “Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?” (again from the wegsite) A record year, the 1998 Think-Off received over 820 essays, and the final debate was broadcast live on C-SPAN. As the country grappled with the spectacle in the White House, the Think-Off audience and the C-SPAN viewing audience, agreed with a soft-spoken priest from New York–honesty is not always the best choice

2002: “Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword? (and the web site says) Paul Higday of Richmond, Virginia said No. It’s not a matter of which has the right, but which has the might. In today’s world it takes the sword to change societies so the pen can flourish. In order for the pen to be mightier, the people in whose hand it lies must be ‘entirely great’, said Higday, referring to the 19th century novelist Bulwer-Lytton who said, “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword?”

The event is organized by Minnesota’s New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the cultural and creative opportunities of rural Americans. New York Mills is a farming town of some 1,200 people in central Minnesota, about 170 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Anyone can enter by submitting an essay of 750 words or less. Four finalists will be chosen to debate the question on June 13 before a live audience.

Last year’s question was “Does immigration strengthen or threaten the United States?” The audience decided Craig Allen, of West Linn, Ore., was most convincing with his argument that the system of immigration and immigration policy is broken, that it encourages illegal immigration and poses a threat to the country.

Here’s how it works … go to –> this website <– and you can read previous essays and debates. There is a link to the entry form –> here <– . You compose a 750 word essay on this years question ~ “Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?” You submit the essay and it will be judged along with all the others received. And the four finalists will be chosen to debate the topic on June 13th before an audience that will decide. At least one of the debates has been broadcast by C-Span and given all that happened in 2008, I suspect this years topic will generate a lot of interest.

The prize for the four finalists is travel, lodging and $500. They also will appear in the parade on the 12th of June. The final prize(s): Gold, Silver & bronze medals and title of “America’s Greatest Thinker”.

From the website again:
“Entering the competition is easy. Just submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1, 2009 (postmark date). You may send your essay in one of three ways: through the mail to Great American Think-Off, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567 or email to nymills@kulcher.org (no attachments)”.

My challenge for this year ~ enter this contest . . .

A Disappointment ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I was so hoping that we had moved beyond certain backwater behaviors, that some how we as a people had gotten beyond certain things in our lives that hold us back from reaching our own potential and allowing all others to reach the potential within themselves.

How wrong I was …

I’ve been following the controversy over Rick Warren – fed in part by Rachel Maddow (who might be heading down the road of becoming the Ann Coulter of the left). I’d been reading about Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich being guilty and defiant at the least of idiotic conversations and possibly more.

But these paled in comparison to the stories about Republican Chip Saltsman, a candidate for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee distributing as CD titled “We Hate the USA” and includes songs referencing former presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

According to The Hill, other song titles were: “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish Banner.”

The big main song according to reports was “Barack, the Magic Negro.” (to the tune of “Puff, the Magic Dragon)

Saltsman’s lame excuse was “political satire” and “I think RNC members understand that.”

Sorry sir ~ They might, I do not. It certainly didn’t make it any easier when I found out that the Rush Limbaugh ‘s radio show had played it first back in 2007. While this is the kind of racist behavior I would expect from Rush and gang, for someone who wants to be considered a serious contender for Chairmanship of the ailing RNC and the ailing party, it certainly was not one of the better ideas he might have had.

The song had it’s genesis in an article by David Ehrenstein (who’s Father was a Jew and Mother an African American with white Irish roots) who often writes about homosexuality in cinema and in the article talks about the “magic Negro” of cinema and somehow Mr. Ehrenstein makes the leap from the silver screeen to the politcal stage. You can read the article —>here<— And he certainly would have been upset if someone had written about the "Magic Jew" problem…given his ethnic background.

All this was coupled with realizing that we as a people, have NOT really progressed to where we should be in this day and age ~ and I’m including BOTH sides of the ethnic divide. I hear African Americans say things in public that if someone else were to say them would cause immediate backlash of all kinds. I have gotten e-mails from people I really love containing Obama jokes that not only are tasteless, but border on racist. These kind of things hold someone up to ridicule and show how little we hold them in regard.

SIDE BAR: I need to say here that I do understand satire and political satire…those are both vibrant and valid forms of expression and speech. What is involved here is neither. Satire really doesn’t work when it only involves characteristics that someone can no change. For example, Barack Obama can NOT change the color of his skin or his ethnic heritage. Jokes about either are not satire..they are more the old saying of “keeping the uppity in their place.” (THAT ring a bell for anyone around in the 60;s?) The fact that Prince Charles ears are rather large and obvious serves as “quick identification” in satire, but if was the only thrust of the story or sketch would not be satire, but rather cruelty.

If goes back to what I have written about before, this kind of behavior simply allows “us” a sense of “control” over the person we have labled as “the enemy.” And allows “us” to label them, put them in a box and decide how all behavior toward them will be.

All it does is belittle, cut down and move toward humiliation of people. And for those that are listening (especially children or youth), they form the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable to behave in a similar manner. And why shouldn’t they? After all they see/hear the actions, speech and “satire” , so it must be alright. It must be “cool.”

This reminded me of the lyrics of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific and I think they are more true today than when they were written:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Is there a place for satire and political satire? Absolutely!! Satire is a wonderful lens to hold up the mistakes and foibles that the great and near-great and the not-so-hot make. But merely denegrating someone or holding them up to contempt for my own amusment or sense of control isn’t.

Dear Lord ~ January 20th can’t come soon enough and according to a poll just released 75% of the people asked can hardly wait for the 20th as well!!!

Blue, Blue – My Love Is Blue ~ Early Evening Thoughts

After having been away for a “few” weeks, I thought my return to the blog would be somewhat unnoticed. Two emails quickly settled that idea. So, as promised ~ an explanation of “blue” ice . . . And while I explain this, my vice-president is at an undisclosed secure location.

In the 80’s I worked for a major airline. Which one is somewhat immaterial, but I will offer the hint that it was in bankruptcy at the time with the pilots doing very interesting things to let everyone know we were operating that way.

Those of us in reservations were an unusual group of people. Because we were not at the airport, we were considered somewhat apart from the rest of the world. Although, in our customers minds we were the ticket counter and as such should be able to see people who were there or, in one case find out if someone had left a briefcase on the floor. I was sitting next to the person who got that call, and hear him say: “OK, let me look – OMG someone just walked off with it . . . ” When he finally got the person on the phone calmed down and got him convinced that indeed he really wasn’t at the airport and wasn’t able to check for the missing item – he’d earned a trip to his supervisor. . . and not a pleasant one either.

As reservation agents we had a fairly powerful reservation system to use. We had access to multiple “windows” which allowed us to look up various types of information and display them all on the same screen. We could look up flights in one, fares in another, airport weather in yet another and return flights in a fourth.

As reservation agents we were supposed to only work on screens that had to do with the business of reservations. Alas for the airline, that was NOT the case. It wasn’t too long after I started working there that I was introduced to the “dark side” of the system. (cue theme from Jaws here. . . )

We were connected to the various airports, hotels and car companies who all had sites resident in the system. There was no Expedia/Travelocity connection that allowed someone to go directly to another reservation system. All entries involving cars, hotels or such involved requesting what you wanted and pushing enter. At that point an electronic message would be sent (as I told my travel academy students) to the Valhalla of all computer requests – Actually ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated)located in Chicago who would, in their own sweet time, send back an answer.

That’s a long way around to say that hotels and cars kept quite a bit of detailed information available – all on “pages.” They were updated by that company or by the airline itself. What was discovered was that – with a specific entry – we as reservation agents could update them as well. And a completely immediate, unmanageable and totally private system of IM’s were born.

One that was used a lot was XXX car company – page 100. That XXX would ever get to that page was pretty slim – as in none. The chance that the reservations office supervisors or later the travel academy people would discover what was going on – even less.

That was an amazing world – IM’s before IM’s had even been invented, conversations with people from all over who knew of the place and some very seedy, funny and downright erotic stories and such. The kind of talk that would get one banned from AOL … but very few knew about it.

That, however, is for a later post — especially how those private conversations came back to bite me in the butt and cost me a job.

Blue Ice – quoting from Wikipedia: “Blue ice in the context of aviation is the frozen material formed by leaks in commercial aircraft lavatory waste tanks, a mixture of human waste and liquid disinfectant that freezes at high altitude. The name comes from the blue color of the disinfectant, and is a sardonic reference to the Blue Ice line of products used for cooling ice chests and similar applications.

Airlines are not allowed to dump their waste tanks in mid-flight, and pilots have no mechanism by which to do so; however, leaks can occur. There were at least 27 documented incidents of blue ice impacts in the United States between 1979 and 2003. These incidents typically happen under airport landing paths as the mass warms sufficiently to detach from the plane during its descent. A rare incident of falling blue ice causing damage to the roof of a home was reported on October 20, 2006 in Chino, California.

On January 28, 2007 at the Timberlanes subdivision in Tampa, Florida, under the approach path to Tampa International Airport, a red Mustang automobile owned by Andres Javaze was struck by a large block of ice estimated at 50 pounds which crushed the rear of the vehicle. A neighbor named Raymond Rodriguez reported hearing a whistling or whizzing noise as the ice fell from the sky before impact and watched as it smashed the vehicle. However, the chunk of ice was not blue and is not thought to have fallen from an airplane. The incident is being investigated by the FAA.

Blue ice became known to many people from the last 2003 episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under, in which a foot-sized chunk drops on an innocent bystander. It is also the title of a 1992 film where Michael Caine’s character describes the concept of blue ice,and it also described on the tv show MANswers .”

Now, as reservation agents we had access to a lot of information, but nothing that involved maintenance or inner workings of the airport. . . until someone discovered that (long before blogs) someone at the airport was writing the “Blue Ice Newsletter” in the computer. Whoever was writing this had an acid sense of humor, biting wit and a complete command of what was happening on the ground/tarmac and mechanics role in the controlled chaos.

Who knew that airplane parts were interchangeable from one type of airplane to another? Who knew that “tug” operators (those zippy little luggage and plane pushing/hauling carts) could do so much damage. Who knew that it was possible for a few mechanics to service more planes than they should have – and get them in the air. Who knew that by canceling a return flight of an overseas trip, they were cannibalizing the parts into other aircraft – sending them on their way and when they returned, the parts would be pulled and the return trip of the overseas flight would “continue.”

The author of “Blue Ice” knew, and it was written in black and white – well, more green – and was intended for airport personnel only. Don’t ever put a members only sign on a site like that – at that time reservations would find out about it and pile in. And we did. We could find out about cancellations before anyone else and other interesting tidbits about what to fly and what might be best avoided.

Ever since then – “blue ice” has come to mean to me, something that simply continues to unfold in a highly dramatic and damaging way. Something that appears to be complete chaos – without form and void. Something that will simply not go away. Even when the tanks have been pumped. (OK, just how did you think those tanks on aircraft got emptied? By the blue ice elves?)

And since it’s a mixture of excrement and disinfectant – the analogy is right there in plane plain sight.

— more to come

And The Ice Continues To Flow ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I’ll have more to say about all this over the next few days ~ I’m using the excuse that they need to play out a little more (my story and I’m sticking to it). I continue to watch the unfolding of the “sturm und drang” of the Illinois Governor. the auto hand-out . . . uh . . . bail-out, home foreclosures, the frothing at the mouth TV talking heads (with or without a grip on truth and/or reality), the money lost in “helping” the banks survive and such.

What started as a slight feeling in the back of my brain finally moved to the front (a sometimes arduous journey!) and I was reminded of one of the most famous and effective theater posters of ALL time.

Nothing like a little ‘Liza crossing the ice to get things going!!!

–More on this later!!

P.S. I was going to title this And The (Blue) Ice Continues To Flow, but I’ll explain that later as well . . . .

Please Pass (Over) The Nuts ~ Late Morning Thoughts

Christian Hate And Christian Witchcraft

Christian Hate:
This week the Westboro Baptist Church (God Hates Everyone Except Us) founded by Fred Phelps (Godhatesfags.com) tried to go into Canada to hold a hate-filled protest at the funeral of the innocent man who was decapitated on a bus trip. Quoting from Paul Gackle,Winnipeg Free Press as published in the National Post:

Residents rallied Thursday to protect the family of a young man murdered on a Greyhound bus last week from a posse of radical religious protesters planning to portray Tim McLean’s death as God’s wrath.

Earlier this week, the Westboro Baptist Church – an organization branded as a hate group and infamous for protesting the funerals of slain U.S. soldiers – announced they would picket Mr. McLean’s funeral to let Canadians know that his decapitation was God’s response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and adultery.

But Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of church’s founder, Fred Phelps, said a small group of protesters was stopped at the Canada-U.S. border on Thursday afternoon.

“They won’t let us in, but we have a group that will cross in another spot,” she said. “They’ll have to strip search everyone who crosses that border or they won’t know who we are. They’ll have to see the WBC (Westboro Baptist Church) tattoo on our butts.”

The resistance to the planned funeral protest started on Facebook yesterday morning when Jim Cotton, a resident of Winnipeg Beach, launched a page asking city residents to help protect Mr. McLean’s funeral. . .

. . . Mr. Cotton was outraged and asked Winnipeg Facebookers to circle around the seven picketers tomorrow and pray for Mr. McLean’s family.

By mid-afternoon Thursday, Mr. Cotton’s page had over 100 friends. Rodney Taylor, an Ottawa resident, found the page and pitched in.

Mr. Taylor phoned the Prime Minister’s Office, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day’s office and border services, asking them to keep the Westboro group out of the country. He also created his own Facebook page urging other offended Canadians to follow his lead.

“These people are callous, vicious and shouldn’t be let into our country,” he said. “We have freedom of speech, but they are inciting hate.”

Mr. Taylor’s plan worked. Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin said his office was flooded with phone calls yesterday from angry Winnipeggers.

“These people [from Westboro] are almost as crazy as the murderer,” he said. “If they are here to disrupt the social order, that constitutes grounds to deny them entry. There is no redeeming virtue in the message they are bringing.”

According to Mr. Martin, Mr. Day’s office sent an alert to border patrol to “look out” for people with signs and pamphlets that fit the hateful messages that the church promotes and to keep them out of the country.

“In the opinion of his office, coming up here with the message they’re articulating constitutes hate speech,” said Mr. Martin.

Members of the Kansas-based fundamentalist sect were already planning to picket in Canada prior to last week’s bus slaying. The group was scheduled to protest in Toronto Thursday night at the opening of playwright Alistair Newton’s “The Pastor Phelps Project: a fundamentalist cabaret”, which satirizes their leader’s fervent anti-gay stance. . .

. . .In 1999, the Canadian government said it was powerless to prevent Mr. Phelps from entering the country when he was planning a protest in Ottawa over a Supreme Court ruling extending rights to gays and lesbians.

At that time, the government said the minister could only make exceptions at the border to grant people entry who might otherwise be denied, not deny people entry who would normally be admitted. . .

. . .The Winnipeg Police Service said they were not planning to block the funeral protest if the group successfully crossed the border, but they were prepared to be on hand if necessary.

This hate group was a no-show at the funeral ~ citing concerns for their safety – but in actuality they must have realized that they lost the opportunity for publicity as 250 Winnipeg residents were on hand to protect the funeral and the family.

What troubles me so much is that this group – while spewing hatred for everything and everyone that doesn’t believe in them are now trying to export this brand of hatred. Adding insult to injury, they are also spewing in the name of God, that God has already decided who is going to Heaven and who is going to Hell, so it makes no difference what you do – (unless you’re a Westboro church member – which automatically grants you access through the Golden Gates). I’m not going to get into the murky waters of predestination and/or pre-ordination. But rather the manner they are going about it.

The church itself (as a non-profit organization) is supported by the donations of its members and those who share their perverted view of God’s law and God’s attributes. And without publicity, their donations would, in fact, start to dry up. Trained as a lawyer, Fred Phelps was disbarred in 1979 by the Kansas Supreme Court, which asserted that he had “little regard for the ethics of his profession.” Which says a lot to me.

Once a group moves from sharing what they believe and trying to beat people into submission of ONLY what they believe ~ they have moved into being a cult, not a belief. But to this group of hate-mongers it makes no difference. They have become publicity whores and donation driven. How else could he and his family afford all these trips to perform at “20,000 protests” (their claim) and put fairly well done videos on the web? Being non-profit gives them incredible tax advantages which helps fund their activities.

But here’s what troubles me the most. What is it within people that makes them believe in this kind of activity and speech? Is it within each of us to fall into this kind of trap? Is there something within me that festers and decays that would allow me to live in that kind of hate and fear? That’s the troublesome question. I have some very strong held beliefs, could those turn into a driving force pushing me “over the edge?”

–thus endeth part one of today’s meditation

Please Pass (Over) The Nuts (2)~ Late Morning Thoughts

Christian Hate and Christian Witchcraft ~

Christian Witchcraft ~

As I grew up in what would be considered a fairly conservative family, church was always present in the schedule of our household. There was Sunday School where I argued with my teacher over the length of the days in Creation. Church services where I watched the church split one Easter Sunday morning.

But often there was the prayer meeting/Bible Study night. which was very interesting to me growing up in the 40’s – 60’s. There were the ladies that looked as if they hadn’t smiled in 20 years – much less laughed – announcing that they were so glad they had the JOY down in their hearts. There was gossip disguised in request form to make it legal ~ “Let’s pray for Sister Thomas to have strength as her husband has been seen with another woman.” As I was somewhat young to really understand this, it was later in my own struggles with what I would believe that I came to these realizations. And it was late in the struggle that I came to understand the last of these ~ Christian Witchcraft. “And let Sister Abigail’s husband be stricken with a disease that will keep him from drinking every again. Let any mouthful of alcohol make him deathly sick.” “Do what it takes to turn Sam around – be it disease or even death.”

Later I was to realize the audacity of those kind of statements. The sheer impertenance of the approach and the fact it was simply practicing witchcraft ~ of a Christian kind. This was moving beyond asking God to do something FOR someone and into asking God to do something TO someone. And it was a minister who labeled that Christian Witchcraft.

Recently – Stuart Shepard, who produces videos for Focus on the Family and hosts a video segment titled Stoplight, –> released a video <– asking people to pray. Not a bad thing in my opinion, but it was WHAT was being asked that really bothered me. He is asking for everyone to pray for rain the night that Barack Obama speaks outdoors at the Democratic National Convention.

We’re not just talking a little rain either. This man would have us ask for a torrential, flooding downpour. Something of epic proportions . . . that would, of course, destroy the theatrics of the evening. Talk about asking God to do something TO someone. So, somehow, we are being asked to perform a rain-dance prayer of some kind in order to ruin someone’s time in the limelight?

Regardless of what you believe, the Bible is quite firm ~ that kind of behavior is a real no-no. And in the Old Testament (and the Torah) the penalty for it and participating is rather profound and life-ending. (Of course, tacking Christian in front of it makes it perfectly acceptable right?)

Before the e-mails start coming, let me say this – I am NOT against prayer ~ I am not against prayer. What I am against, is using it as a weapon to hurt or damage someone. I know all the theological arguments, and I’ve used some of them. But, in this case and using prayer this way I am saying is wrong – wrong – wrong. What I am against, is using prayer as some kind of weapon against someone who is innocent or has not wronged in any way.

So often, we barge into the Throne Room with our demands in hand, often based on very shaky ground to demand from the Creator something we feel we have a right to or should have . . . handing the Almighty (of any religion) a contract that has neither been signed nor seen.

Mr. Shepard tried to pass off his video as “boyish humor” – but it seems to me that both he and Fred Phelps have forgotten on of the major tenants of the New Testament mainly ~

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.Matthew 5:43-45

–thus endeth the 2nd rant

Golden Eggs (2) ~ Early Morning Thoughts`

Last night I recounted a fable about the golden goose that laid golden eggs.

[While many people see the story as a warning against greed or even the more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you will be.] . . . I suggest that within this fable is a natural law, a principle – the basic definition of effectiveness True effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose).

If you adopt a pattern of life that focuses on golden eggs and neglects the goose, you will soon be without the asset that produces golden eggs. On the other hand, if you only take care of the goose with no aim toward the golden eggs, you soon won’t have the wherewithal to feed yourself or the goose.1

At this point, I basically had an epiphany about some of what I had been doing in the past and even recently. (Epiphany can be a “nice” word for getting smacked in the back of the head with a 2×4)

I learned there are three kinds of assets – physical, financial and human.
Three years ago, I purchased a good computer. Later I purchased a very good monitor…(not to play World of Warcraft, of course) And over time, I’ve given some thought to their maintenance and upkeep – but not as much as I should have. Now, the computer is in need of some attention, by someone that is a little more knowledgeable than I am about serious maintenance. I was actually looking at the short-term and had started to run this asset down. Of course, I can say the same about my body – and trust me there is a LOT of work to be done there. (major overhaul for 600, Alex)

The next asset is financial. And I’ve had to make some changes there as well. Not that I, at this point, have to worry – but if I were to continue living my life as if tomorrow didn’t matter, I would soon be having to worry about tomorrow. Of course, our ability to earn and manage money is a financial asset as well. But, there will come a time when perhaps I won’t be able to earn money and I don’t want to do things that will get in the way of the now.

A year and a half ago, I took a job as a by-the-week apartment manager 1) because it was supposedly right up my alley and 2) it was going to pay me a salary that was much higher than the level of the job seemed to be. It was what seemed to be a good opportunity. Lots of promises were made and I signed on at the interview. The fact also that I had been without work for sometime might have played a part in it as well.

Now that I look back – especially with the golden goose in mind – I realize that this fable DOES contain principles. The properties were owned by a slumlord less than honorable group of people. There were serious maintenance issues, etc. I thought at the time, if I can only get the rents collected, keep the tenants happy keep moving people into empty apartments and get whatever maintenance needs accomplished I can within the system that I would be fine.

Right at the start what was being produced (the rents) was getting much more attention than the capacity to produce (the apartments). And as I look back over some of my posts about the place, I knew what was going to happen much earlier then I admitted it to myself. And now, I’m doing in six days what “normal” apartment managers do in four weeks. And each week I got the privilege of starting all over again.

So now, I’m fighting my ability to collect rents/fill apartments/evict those who don’t pay/keep the central family office happy (what is being produced) by my constant frustration over what isn’t happening and my feelings of sheer terror at losing the job and not having an income (producing capacity) as well as being determined to please the “boss.”.

Up until the last several weeks (the change due to a lost lawsuit about overtime) managers were basically on-call 24/7 and worked seven days a week. Something was going to give, and I can tell you – as far as the family was concerned – it wasn’t going to be what was being produced.

As I began to spiral downward from all that was going on – to say nothing of what I was fighting mentally that I didn’t even realize – I have to say that my rent collections were the best in the entire system of apartments (in three states). I had a positive balance on the spreadsheets – the bible of the owning family – and everyone had basically paid all that was owed and some were even ahead.

–more on this tomorrow
_______________
1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey pg. 56

Golden Eggs ~ Late Evening Thoughts

With tropical storm Eduard bearing down, people are beginning preparations for what may/might happen … where I live in Houston, we will probably have plenty of rain and some wind. As with tropical storms/hurricanes they have a tendency to keep their intentions fairly close to the chest and don’t play their cards until the last possible moment.

Lat week I finally got a copy of a book that has been available for a number of years. I have e-mailed the author for permission to do some quotes from the book, but tonight I wanted to start with a story the author tells. It was a story I’d heard a number (?!) of times before – but where I am on this journey now – this time it really spoke to me on a number of different levels. (with apologies to Aesop and others)

There once was a man who by being blessed with good fortune was given a goose in exchange for some work that he did. While he was not happy with only getting a goose, he thought it would at least make a good dinner as it seemed very fat and actually quite content.

He took it home and placed the goose in a box by the fireplace so that it could stay warm and stay within sight.

In the morning when he looked in the box the goose had been in – he was astonished to see a golden egg. One golden egg. Knowing this was quite valuable, he took it into market and sold it for quite a good sum of money. He was pleased.

Each morning he checked the goose’s box and each morning there was yet another golden egg – each as valuable as the first one.

This went on for sometime and eventually the man became somewhat impatient. Rather than having just one egg a day, he began to wonder why they goose didn’t lay two or three. . . or even more.

He began to realize that the goose must have either gold inside or a lot of golden eggs. So, early one morning – right after the goose had laid yet another golden treasure, the man killed it.

He quickly cut it open expecting to find a treasure that would make him rich and powerful for his entire life. He was to find nothing other than what any goose or living creature would have inside.

And now, he was left with a hacked up goose not fit for cooking and no goose to lay golden eggs.

For years I’ve heard the “moral” of the story as “greed can overreach itself” or “haste makes waste” or “what some people have is never enough.” But there is a very different approach to the story that really had me evaluating my life and somethings that I’ve done. Not that they were “bad”, so to speak – but perhaps there might have been a better way…

–more tomorrow

By the way – I thought you might enjoy the Indian version of the story – this was translated and published in 1895.

The Golden Mallard
from The Jataka

Once upon a time when Brahmadatta was reigning in Benares, the Bodhisatta was born a Brahmin, and growing up was married to a bride of his own rank, who bore him three daughters named Nanda, Nanda-vati, and Sundari-nanda. The Bodhisatta dying, they were taken in by neighbors and friends, whilst he was born again into the world as a golden mallard endowed with consciousness of its former existences.

Growing up, the bird viewed its own magnificent size and golden plumage, and remembered that previously it had been a human being. Discovering that his wife and daughters were living on the charity of others, the mallard bethought him of his plumage like hammered and beaten gold and how by giving them a golden feather at a time he could enable his wife and daughters to live in comfort. So away he flew to where they dwelt and alighted on the top of the central beam of the roof. Seeing the Bodhisatta, the wife and girls asked where he had come from; and he told them that he was their father who had died and been born a golden mallard, and that he had come to visit them and put an end to their miserable necessity of working for hire.

“You shall have my feathers,” said he, “one by one, and they will sell for enough to keep you all in ease and comfort.”

So saying, he gave them one of his feathers and departed. And from time to time he returned to give them another feather, and with the proceeds of their sale these Brahmin women grew prosperous and quite well to do.

But one day the mother said to her daughters, “There’s no trusting animals, my children. Who’s to say your father might not go away one of these days and never come back again? Let us use our time and pluck him clean next time he comes, so as to make sure of all his feathers.”

Thinking this would pain him, the daughters refused.

The mother in her greed called the golden mallard to her one day when he came, and then took him with both hands and plucked him.

Now the Bodhisatta’s feathers had this property that if they were plucked out against his wish, they ceased to be golden and became like a crane’s feathers. And now the poor bird, though he stretched his wings, could not fly, and the woman flung him into a barrel and gave him food there. As time went on his feathers grew again (though they were plain white ones now), and he flew away to his own abode and never came back again.