Friday, October 31, 2008

Did they say Saudi Arabia?

I would have sworn it was Montana.

Barack Obama Malcolm X Jr.?

This has got to be hooey. I really don't buy it for a second. But you know, it's no sillier than "Sarah Palin is Trig's grandmother."

On the other hand, it would certainly settle the citizenship thing, wouldn't it?

Afterthought: The news media are taking this thing with a spoonful of salt, as they should. But compare how much attention it gets to the amount of ink/pixels lavished on the equally silly and scurrilous Sarah/Bristol/Trig rumor. Apparently they wanted to savor the remote possibility of something shameful about Sarah, whereas the journalistic principles kick in when it's about a candidate they want to like.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Cinema: White Zombie

I'm not a huge fan of horror movies in general. In fact, I haven't even watched the one I'm about to post, although I intend to correct that when I get an hour without kids.

My loyalty in the horror genre is given to H.P. Lovecraft and Manly Wade Wellman, neither of whom makes a very good transition to the screen. The emphasis on the visual in a horror film kind of takes away from any plot or characterization. I know there are serious fans of the genre, but I just can't be one of them.

However, I may make an exception for this "lost classic," which is apparently the very first zombie movie. (Candice, take note!) There doesn't seem to be any brain-eating in it, which suits me dandy. But it has the magnificent Bela Lugosi, only a year after his definitive performance in Dracula and long before his slow decline into Edward Wood travesties.

Most of the cast didn't sound familiar, so I did a little looking around on IMDb. I wonder if this movie should have been called "Curse of the Silver Screen" or something. None of the principals lived long and prospered.

Madge Bellamy was on the downhill side of a very prolific career as a silent film siren. She resurfaced in 1943 to stand trial for shooting the millionaire she was keeping company with. He survived, she get probation, and that was the end of her fame. She died poor and mostly forgotten, just a month before her memoirs were published.

Robert Frazer died at the age of 53 with only a string of forgettable B-films to his credit.

John Harron probably coulda been a contender. His brother's murder in 1920 catapulted him into films, and he hung around with the likes of James Cagney and Pat O'Brien, Hollywood's legendary "Irish Mafia." Johnny did well in the silents, but never got much more than bit parts in talkies. He died of spinal meningitis at the age of 36.

And we all know what happened to Bela Lugosi. The man whose Dracula makes all the others look stale, the hypnotically creepy Hungarian who could mesmerize an audience like a snake stalking a bird, ended up doing humiliating self-parodies to support both himself and his drug habit. He has the sad distinction of finishing his career with the worst movie ever made. Sic transit gloria mundi, I guess.

incidentally, there's a fascinating zombie story here. Apparently they're not just a myth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wanna be humbled?

Read this. Then rethink how much you really give God.

An Esther? Or a Daniel?

My best friend's mom pointed me to Man with a Black Hat, where David passed on an incident in the Sarah Palin tour d'awesome. It's from a pastor of some church in Ohio, who had an encounter with her in Cincinnati:
As he [McCain] moved to my right, Sarah Palin came over to my left side … standing over the crowd and then looking at the little lady who had lost the son. It took a moment for her to shake some hands and people were pushing in all around. Sarah came and got on her hands and knees on that side of the stage and hugged that little mom, telling her, “It was not in vain.” She promised her support.

It was at this moment Sarah Palin reached out for me to help her up, and as I was assisting her to stand, I was now face-to-face with her, and God said, “Open up your mouth and I will fill it.”

Here is what came out:

“God wants you to know that you are a present-day Esther!”

[She immediately began to cry!]

“God wants to tell you that you are chosen for such a time as this!”

“You are called, and chosen to be a leader.”

“Don't lose heart and don't fear man.”

“The news and naysayers and criticizers are going to be very hateful toward you … and in the days ahead they are going to turn up the heat … but do not fear.”

“You are a present-day Esther.” You are an Esther. You are an Esther!

Aaaaall righty, then.

I'm with David on being skeptical of private revelation. I've known too many people who were always having a "word from the Lord on their hearts," who were just as likely to have a word on their gall bladder from Barney the Purple Dinosaur. Then again, I've also known people whom God really does seem to speak through. Whether this guy is a prophet or a loon is kind of irrelevant, though, if what he's saying is true. The two aren't always mutually exclusive.

The pastor seems pretty compos mentis, more or less like any other charismatic Protestant. Like David, I'm familiar with them, and they don't seem weird to me. You just have to speak the language. For the same reason, I don't have too much problem with Fatima and Lourdes. To be a Christian requires a belief in the possibility of miracles. Whether a particular one occurred or not doesn't change that.

I'm also a little reluctant to call the lovely Sarah a present-day Esther. There is no secret plot to eradicate Christians from the planet. (At least not a human one; Satan hasn't given up yet.) The parallel doesn't stand up very far. I suspect the good pastor latched onto Esther because she was a woman. But as feminine as Sarah clearly is, she's not approaching office in a traditionally womanly role.

From where I sit, she's more of a Daniel. Daniel didn't have to save his people from overt destruction. They weren't endangered, just a minority overwhelmed by evil rulers. What Daniel did was legitimize virtue by example. He didn't get into authority through godliness; the Babylonians weren't terribly impressed with Jewish spirituality. He got there through sheer competence and honesty. Daniel's enemies had to go to some pretty ridiculous lengths to discredit him, because there wasn't anything legitimate to nail him with. His heroism wasn't as much in what he did as in who he was. He was proof that it was possible to remain true to God and still survive in Babylon. Because of guys like Daniel, the Jews managed not to be absorbed the way the other ten tribes seem to have been.

That's where I see Sarah Palin, win or lose. If McCain wins, she rides into office along with him, maintaining a social-conservative presence in the government. If Obama wins, she's still blazed a trail for women in politics. Never again will it be taken for granted that being pro-life and pro-traditional-marriage disqualifies a woman from being a feminist. (Let the uterofascists howl as they may; they still can't stuff the genie back into the bottle.)

Sarah Palin isn't likely to save us all from destruction. But then, she doesn't need to. All she had to do to win the victory was show up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

For Wharf Rat

When she was smaller, we used to do a lot of driving in a truck without a radio. So we built up quite a repertoire of "car songs," ones we could belt out over the defective muffler to keep fatigue and boredom away.

A while back I made her a CD of as many of those as I could find, but her favorite wasn't on it. Thankfully, the blogosphere contains High-Falutin' Newton, who enabled me to rectify that. Out of his vasty deep collection of Western Swing, here's "I'll be Hanged if They're Gonna Hang Me" by the Tune Wranglers:

I can almost smell the oil-laden exhaust from my old truck just hearing it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Whoever came here from Centerville, leave a comment if you come back by! Or if you're someone who knows me, e-mail me at jbmartin (at) nwi (dot) net. I'm curious to know who in that excellent-but-teeny town is reading this blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

JIb Jab on the candidates

I couldn't play this direct on the site, so I'm trying it on here.

Gay brownshirts protecting society from bigots...

... who show their hatred by participating in the political process as though they had rights. Notice where the story places the blame. Hint: it's not the perpetrators. If those religious fanatics had kept their mouths shut, those poor homosexuals wouldn't have been forced to such extremes.

I expect to see more of this sort of harassment regardless of who wins on November 4. If it's Obama, these earwigs will have the blessing of the government. If it's McCain, they'll be so angry that every traditionalist will be a target. Kind of like burning down the synagogue when the harvest fails. And in blue areas, don't count on the police to be on your side.

Meanwhile, Orson Scott Card offers some possible solutions.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am. Are you?

From Iowahawk:
If it's meta-memes and meta-meta-narratives these media headlice want, so be it. I hope you will join me in expressing a simple bit of solidarity with this guy, Spartacus style. I AM JOE. I am a Wal Mart schlub in flyover country who changes my own oil and unclogs drains without a license. I smoke and drink beer and toss the football in the front yard with my kid, and I figure I can fend my way without handouts from some Magic Messiah's candy bags. Most everyone in my family and most everyone I grew up with is another Joe, and if you screw with them, you screw with me.

Are you a Joe? Say it proud. Leave it on every goddamn newspaper comment section and online forum. Let these pressroom and online thugs know you won't stay silent when they try to destroy the life of a private citizen for speaking his mind -- because for every one of them, there are a million Joe Wurzelbachers. And for that we should all be thankful.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What we have to look forward to

The Wall Street Journal has a chilling look into the future under an Obama regime. I'm embarrassed that it hadn't occurred to me before that with both houses overwhelmingly Democratic, this election will probably eliminate the last check on left-wing power. There are a number of things to be worried about, but what scares me the most is the effect on free speech.
- Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the "community organizer" left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress -- Democratic, naturally.

Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

Now, it's possible that once Obama is elected, he'll lay off the brownshirt tactics against his critics. I'm not betting on it, however. Once he's in power, he'll have to stay there, and to consolidate it for his successors. Expect to see something like the blogger lawsuits happening in Canada against Mark Steyn, Kathy Shaidle, et. al. on the one hand, and FCC licenses being pulled from radio stations that air conservative talk shows on the other. The Internet as a whole is beyond effective regulation, but it's possible to make it too expensive for the opposition to speak.

Two other things that the article doesn't mention:
Free exercise of religion: The top priorities on the Democratic agenda are gay marriage and abortion. Now, I know it's not a popular stance for a Christian to take, but I really don't care all that much if the secular government wants to recognize homosexual unions. Other people's love lives aren't really my problem. Nor do I care who wants to share community property with whom, or designate whom as an insurance beneficiary, or any of that. Those are a matter for secular law, not religions to which the principals don't belong anyway. (I think it'd be less hypocritical if the state also recognized polygamous marriages on the same principle, but the polygamy lobby isn't as popular, so it ain't a-gonna happen.)

What I have a problem with is being required to consider those unions a marriage. I don't care if other people do, but my religion defines pretty carefully what is and isn't a marriage, and it's my right to adhere to that. It's also the right of religious institutions to determine whom they do or don't consider married.

This is not a minor matter. Churches that employ paid staff often have a lifestyle requirement that mandates that employees will not violate the teachings of that church. So do church-run schools and universities. When I went to Warner Pacific College in the early 90s, I had to sign an agreement that I would not drink, smoke, attend dances or fornicate. Those things were contrary to the Church of God, Anderson Indiana, which ran the school. (Or as we called it, Church of the Holy Hoosier.) Whether I considered them a sin was irrelevant. It is a church's right to require that both members and employees conform to certain standards of behavior. You don't like that, go to a secular school or work for a secular business.

My church, for instance, doesn't consider anybody married who has been divorced from a still-living spouse. Undoubtedly there are cases where the Catholic Church extends the benefits of marriage - employment or insurance, say - to people whose marriages are invalid under canon law, but there's a difference. A heterosexual marriage, even if invalidly contracted, is capable of being made valid. The ex-spouse could die, or the original marriage could be declared null, or something. For all the Church knows, the couple that was invalidly married last week could be convalidated tomorrow. The couple can be treated as married because there is no definitive proof that they are not. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying it, but bear with me.)

A homosexual marriage, by definition, cannot be valid under Church law. No matter what the circumstances, two people of the same sex are not married in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Period. Does anybody really believe that a completely Democratic government will respect the rights of churches in this? Couple the current trend of mandatory approval with suppression of free speech, and I don't foresee much hope for the right to dissent. As St. Jack said, they'll tell you that you can have your religion in private, and then they'll make sure you're never alone.

I don't have time to get into how an unchecked Democratic regime will affect the abortocaust, but that one scares me even more. To be continued...

See what happens?

Never, ever question The One™:
Real plumbers don't like Joe. Or at least the ones supporting Democrat Barack Obama.

About 100 union plumbers from a Boston-based local plan to knock on union members' doors Saturday in Portsmouth, N.H., and "Joe the Plumber" is certain to be a topic of conversation, said Kevin L. Cotter, business manager of Local 12 Plumbers and Gasfitters union...

"He's impersonating a plumber," Cotter said, referring to Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man who confronted Obama about his tax plans and who became a media celebrity after John McCain repeatedly referred to him during the presidential debate Wednesday night.

Wurzelbacher, however, has paid a price for his moments of fame; news media reports have said he does not hold a plumber's license, has been hit with a tax lien, and would probably qualify for a tax cut under Obama's campaign proposal.

"We will definitely be talking about 'Joe the Plumber,' " said Cotter, whose international union was the first to endorse Obama during his run for the Democratic nomination.

Joe's mistake was asking the Obamessiah a question at a rally that he couldn't answer. In retaliation, he's now being investigated by the state for working without a license (which he apparently doesn't need) and his tax problems are being spread all over the front page. He'll probably lose his home and his livelihood, and I wouldn't be surprised if his boss has to go out of business as well. Because Joe asked questions.

Moral of the story: Support Obama or keep your mouth shut. Or it will be shut for you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And they call this justice?

Let me get this straight. Kevin Coe was convicted of one count of rape and sentenced to 25 years. He served the entire sentence. No parole, no good behavior, no nothing. He wouldn't seek parole because he still maintained his innocence. (There do seem to be some holes in the conviction, and it's the only one that stuck out of some 43 that he was accused of.)

Upon finishing his time, he was brought to court, re-tried, and sentenced, in effect, to life for the same crime. How, other than as a technicality, does this differ from double jeopardy? You can't take a man who has fulfilled his obligation and say, "Well, we've thought it over, and we don't think the original sentence was enough. Back you go." If he has an obligation to serve his sentence, the state has an obligation to let him go free when he's done.

The rationale behind the "civil commitment" is that a man convicted of a sex crime is likely to reoffend, so they'll keep treating him until he's not a danger. It's kind of a pre-em So in essence, Coe has been convicted of crimes that have never even been committed.

Are we still in America, or not?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lower that Cascade Curtain!

Ran across this map today showing the primary vote tallies for Gov. Rossi vs. Christina Gregoire in the Washington primary. If you add up the numbers from all the red and pink (pro-Rossi) counties, they total up to 80,077, or about 7,000 less than King County. Unless Thurston County/Olympia turns red (and the devil will ice-skate the same day), there is no way the rest of Washington can win an election against Seattle. (Even without the cheating.) No matter whom we elect, King County will always have an effective veto.

Eastern Washington needs to secede and form its own state. I'd rather be another West Virginia than be Seattle's bitch. Are there any other brownsider bloggers with me on this?

The young and the clueless

Something the Barking Spider said triggered kind of an embarrassing memory.

The first time I lived on my own, I was 20 years old and had just moved to Portland. Being new to big-city life, I hadn't gotten out of the habit of picking up hitchhikers. (Of all the myriad times I did, BTW, I never, ever had one that was anything but polite and grateful. In retrospect, I'm a little surprised I never got carjacked. Then again, with my car, what would have been the point?)

I was driving to work one early afternoon, going up 20th toward Belmont (quiet, mostly residential neighborhood), when I saw a woman a few years older than me with her thumb out. Naturally, I pulled over and let her in.

"Where can I drop you?" I asked.

"Well, actually, I'm working."

Did I mention that I was naive? And a hick?

"That's okay, I've got time. Where do you work? I can drop you off."

"No," she said patiently. "I mean I'm working."

Now the little light bulb came on over my head. Even I knew what that meant.

"Ah. I see." Blushing furiously. "Well, I'm not hiring, so maybe I'd better let you get on with it."

I let her out at the next corner. She was really tickled and more than a bit surprised that I had taken her at face value. Thanked me very kindly and waved as I drove away.

Looking back, I should have wondered why she would be hitching at traffic going one direction while walking the opposite way down the sidewalk. But then, what did I know?

What the election boils down to

Circumstances are irrelevant. Either babies (and by extension, other human beings) are in and of themselves a good thing, or they are a bad thing. Are they valuable, or are they trash?

Choose which you believe and vote it. Everything else is secondary.

Who's being negative?

We seem to have forgotten how politicking was done in the good old days before right-wing blogs and left-wing media monopolies. You just don't picture those dignified old men in the history books pimp-slapping each other this way.

On the other hand, it seems that not-too-subtly-implied death threats were still out of bounds.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Audacity...

... of Hope Flames!
PORTLAND, Ore. - Authorities have arrested two men after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a 4-foot by 8-foot campaign sign for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in a southeast Portland yard.

Karen Scrutton said she was asleep inside her home at 7956 S.E. 17th Ave. in the Sellwood neighborhood when she saw her sign go up in flames after 1 a.m.

"I screamed upstairs to my husband, 'Gene! Gene!" she said.

A neighbor heard a crash and chased off one of the suspects. Gene Scrutton said his son-in-law found another suspect not far away.

Coincidentally, I lived several years just three blocks away from this house. Lovely neighborhood, when it's not being attacked by Molotov-cocktail-throwing thugs.

Feel the rage!

Hate and anger from McCain/Palin supporters:
At Clearwater, Gov. Palin lathered up the crowd herself. "You're going to have to hang on to your hats," Palin told the rally, according to The Washington Post, "because from now until Election Day it may get kind of rough." Linking Sen. Obama to a reformed radical of the '60s, Palin shrieked her signature smut line, "he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

"Kill him!" a man in the crowd reportedly responded to Palin's rabble-rousing. Her related attacks on the media had already whipped a frenzy among the crowd of about 3,000. Tempers rose to a boil when she blamed Katie Couric's questions for tripping her up as a seeming dimwit. The Post wrote, "Palin supporters turned on reporters ... waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. ... One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

As with McCain's fingering of Obama as "that one," in the last debate, supporters dismiss a white Southerner calling a black man a "boy," as mere words. Perhaps so, but, given the nation's sad, racial history, such language still elicits ire.

"Let's get it on" seems to be Palin's campaign refrain. "It's about time the pit bull got loose," the Post quoted Ken Gow, a 47-year-old police officer who was among the more than 10,000 people at a rally in Carson, Calif.

Compare the reasoned political discourse from Obama's supporters. (I'm not going to try to quote it all; follow the links Michelle has collected.)

How vicious does the left have to get before they're held to the same standard as the right?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Could sure use some prayers

So Christina made our house payment last week, and the mortgage company waited five days to process the payment. During which time we bought frivolities like groceries and gas. Wen they finally put the payment through, it bounced. The upshot is that, as a result of their incompetence, they're threatening intending to take our house if we can't make three payments by the fifth of November. We were out of the woods until today. I'm so pissed I can't even see straight.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

Addendum: I don't think it's an accident that the Internet Monk posted this today. We needed to be reminded.

Huge surprise

So apparently the Obamessiah doesn't just stand for the worthlessness of human life, but it turns out he's also crooked as a dog's hind leg.

A Chicago Democrat? Who'd'a thunk?

Meanwhile, as you can see, the respectable news organizations are all over this story, way ahead of the conservative pundits. Right? Yeah, right.

Born children to rally for Obama

No word yet from the ones he voted to have killed. One suspects they wouldn't be welcome, anyway.


What ever happened to "Thanks for all the fish?"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

He that believeth in me...

...though he were dead, yet shall he vote.

(I saw the headline on the WaPo article, and I couldn't resist.)

Addendum: And he that believeth not will have to shut the hell up.
Well, really, it is simple. With the first-amendment unfriendly Obama in the White House, the Internet-unfriendly Pelosi running the House and as many as 3 SCOTUS judges to be named probably within Obama’s first year in office, the press will face a huge reduction in competition from the alternative media. With a filibuster-proof house the so-called “fairness doctrine” will quickly be put back in place, which will effectively end representation of opposing viewpoints. With Mrs. Pelosi’s previously murmured intentions to regulate internet freedoms and access, even unto her own elected colleagues, the ‘net will cease to be a force in politics or freedom of expression. And the newly revitalized ‘activist’ Supreme Court will uphold all of it.

In other words, with an Obama victory and a Democrat sweep, the press will - within a year or so - once again be “the only game in town.” And with no reason to do so, they will not even pay the barest lip-service to opposition opinion. Hell, they barely do, now. They will become the monolithic monopoly which acts as the trumpet for the Glorious Government of the People’s Republic of America - or, if you like, Pravda West.

I expect we’ll also see a newly minted “crisis” coming down the pike every other week - to keep the nation off-balance and distracted. Fun times.

Once again, as one raised by classical liberals, one who considers herself, still, to be a “classical” liberal, I am at a loss to understand how those who call themselves “liberal” in 2008 can find this unfree, suppressive press acceptable. I am at a loss to explain how the very people who have been hyperventilating about “lost civil rights” - and projecting all manner of suppression onto a Bush administration that never shut down a film, or a parody, or a radio station or a book or play or any media that criticized it so roundly and with so much vigorous hate - are so willfully blind to the maneuvers being run by their favorite candidate. But love is blind. So, apparently is the appetite for victory. Winning “at all costs” - even unto the ends of the scorched earth - will end up costing a great deal, but some don’t seem to care about that.

A President Obama seems to promise a heavy boot coming down hard on dissent and to seriously threaten civil liberties, beyond the first and second. He’s already showing his inclinations in that area. Those of us who dissent will no longer be told “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” We’ll be feeling full-blast the “chill wind” Tim Robbins so prosaically imagined all those years ago. I can’t wait to see what happens to our rights to assemble and to worship. Hey, where 2 or 3 are gathered, and not in his name, there might be a conspiracy - can’t have that.

Akubra tip to Kathy, the wad of gum on the jackboot of censorship.

Christianity outside the cocoon

So Doug from IllumiNations stopped by the paper yesterday and I used up a lot of his time chatting with him. Doug has this amazing quality of making me comfortable talking about faith, which is something I can do on a blog but I'm not good at in real life. (I suppose that's part of what makes him a good pastor.)

I first got to know Doug about four years ago, when I was assigned to do a special publication about the 40 Days of Purpose that his church was embarking on. The conversation shifted from there to my own journey from a mediocre Protestant to a fairly serious Catholic. I enjoy talking with Doug about this, more than with most people, because I never feel like I have to either defend Catholicism or shill for it. It's simply talking with a brother whose Christian walk is taking a different route.

A subject that came up was the tendency of American Evangelicalism to sort of cocoon itself. We discussed a friend of mine who spent his whole life surrounded by members of his own Charismatic mega-church (a church that Doug is well familiar with), and then when he discovered that the world didn't end at the church doors, swung full force into kind of a belligerent Dawkins-style atheism. I don't know how he'll end up. (I understand his mom reads this blog, so Judy, take courage. When He's answering prayers, God gives top priority to mothers.)

One of the things Doug mentioned was that his son had been to a Maronite church while away at college, and been struck with how much the ancient liturgy had in common with his own experiences of Christianity. It was kind of a door-opening experience, seeing that there are Christian traditions out there that are different (and much older), yet not alien. Evangelical Protestantism, for all its influence in our culture, is only a small part of the vast Christian Church.

So between that and the approach of Reformation Day, it seemed like a good time to re-post a letter I wrote to my now-atheist friend in 2006:


Note of explanation: About a year ago [in 2005], a close friend of mine was unjustly dismissed from his job teaching at an Evangelical Christian school. We had a long talk when I heard about it, about the clannishness of such schools, and about the tendency for rules to go unwritten: "the Club and the Code," as he described it. He'd had it up to his kiester with Christianity, and was seriously doubting his faith. This rattled me, because he had been a strong influence on my own faith when we were teenagers, and a sounding board when I became Catholic. A couple of days after my friend and I talked, I sent him this long e-mail. I'm sticking it in here with identifying information changed. I still think what I said then is worth saying.

I've been thinking a good deal about the conversation we had Sunday, and I finally put my finger on something that I wanted to say that I couldn't really formulate at the time. You're welcome to dismiss it as "witnessing," although that's not really what I want to do, at least not in the Sunday School "bring-a-friend-and-get-a-prize" sense.

You're pissed, with excellent reason. You're pissed at a school that screwed you over, and a church that places its focus on "the club and the code," as you put it. In feeling this way, you think you're also pissed at Christianity, but you're not. This is why.

You're not, because you've never really had much experience of Christianity. (I don't mean experience of Christ; that's another matter entirely.) What you've had is extensive experience with a specific kind of Christianity. You've spent your entire life in a cocoon, the walls of which are defined by a small, recently-developed movement that thinks it's all there is. I'm not running down your church or Evangelicalism in general. They do good work, they love the Lord, and they hold to the core of the Gospel, which is redemption by Christ. But Evangelicalism is no more the whole – or even the essence – of Christianity than the third lug nut on your right front wheel is the whole of your car.

What the Evangelical movement of the 60s and 70s that you're familiar with has done is to strip away the visible aspects of the Christian faith and replace them with other visible aspects. The confessional is gone, but there's a coffee bar. The iconostasis is replaced by a video screen. Most tellingly of all, the altar has been eliminated and replaced with a podium.

Christianity is not just hymns and a sermon. It's not about the emotions or the bumper stickers or the intellectual study or the "codes." It's not even just the Bible. Those things are expressions of Christianity, and they're the familiar ones to you and me, but they're only the tip of the iceberg.

Christianity is more than just an American white-bread cultural imperative. Christianity is also ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday, and palms on Palm Sunday, and fires on Pentecost. It's painted icons of Christians who have gone before, and statues of the Blessed Virgin, and Stations of the Cross. It's rosaries and prayer cards and incense and holy water. It's not just the upraised hands of the Charismatic; it's also the dipped knee of genuflection and the sign of the cross and a kissed icon.

How many times have you seen pictures of people lighting candles before a statue of Mary and thought, "What idolatry!" But it's not. It's a Christian practice far older than Sunday School coloring books. The people who come to the Blessed Mother with their requests are Christians holding to a tradition that goes back to the catacombs. Those superstitious people who line up to see a bone of St. Anthony? They're honoring the memory and holiness of their Christian brethren and sistern. Yep. That's Christianity, too. It only looks alien to someone who's only seen one small slice of the faith.

One of my favorite corners of the calendar is the feast of Corpus Christi, where the consecrated host, the Body of Christ, is carried over the heads of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people parading through the streets. To you, it seems weird, but to the vast majority of Christians, it's the most natural thing in the world.

We hear all the time that the Church isn't a building; it's the people. That's true, but it's also a structure built not just out of laity but of priests in robes, bishops in funny hats, and monks in habits. You think of those things as frippery, but they're as much an integral part of Christianity as a preacher in a double-breasted suit. It's also ordinary people; not just the few currently walking around but the ones who have already gone to heaven. The Church, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, stretches not only through space but time as well.

Christian writing didn't begin with Rick Warren, or even with Lewis. Try reading John of the Cross, or Ephraim of Edessa, or (best of all, I think) Thomas A Kempis' "Imitation of Christ." These are a much deeper glimpse of a very deep faith than anything you can get at the Christian bookstore at the mall.

I'm not trying to put together a sales pitch for Catholicism here. For that matter, I'm not trying to sell Christianity at all. If you really are so browned off that you just can't stomach Christianity, then by all means leave, or at least take a hiatus. Better that than to keep chained to something you hate. But bear in mind that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dream't of in your Sunday morning bulletin. You've only dipped a toe into the sea so far. You kind of owe it to yourself to take a look at the whole thing before you dump it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Today's family values post

Your 13-year-old daughter's boyfriend breaks up with her. You learn that he took naked picutres of both of them. Do you:

A) Take a tire iron to the little hemorrhoid until he bleeds from every orifice, or
B) Blackmail him into dating your daughter again?
Police are investigating whether an Elgin woman used nude photos of her daughter's 13-year-old ex-boyfriend as blackmail to get the two back together.

No charges have been filed, but police confirmed Monday they are actively pursuing counts of intimidation, harassment and child pornography possession in the case that originated in Sleepy Hollow...

The probe began Aug. 21 when a couple from Sleepy Hollow reported to police that their son received hundreds of threatening e-mails and text messages after the boy and his 13-year-old girlfriend of five months broke up, according to an officer's sworn affidavit.

The parents told police their son admitted he and the girl had taken naked photos of themselves while dating, sharing them with each other with their cell phones, but the pictures of the girl no longer exist.

The parents said that after the breakup the girl's mother told the boy she'd tell his parents about the images of him and post them online unless the youngsters started seeing each other again.

In another tactic, the mother set up an e-mail account the boy could use to contact her daughter without his parents knowing, according to an officer's sworn affidavit.

With such fine parenting, how could these kids ever have gone wrong?

Monday, October 06, 2008

I've wondered about this

From the Portland Tribune:
A recent Google search showed that commenters on the Internet frequently have referred to Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, as “Sally.”

And if that doesn’t seem significant, you’re probably not the real Sally Palin, Sarah’s cousin by marriage, who runs an up-and-coming yarn shop on Northeast Alberta Street called Close Knit.

Sally’s husband, Greg, is a cousin of Sarah’s husband. The families have had dinner together. “She’s an impressive person,” Sally says of Sarah Palin.

Sally Palin says it’s been downright surreal to turn on the television during the Republican convention and see her last name on banners. But after wrestling with the family connection, Sally, who along with her husband is a Democrat, will vote against Sarah Palin.

“I admire her,” she says, “but I don’t agree with her politics.”

Greg is my second cousin on the other side, through his mom's family. When I first heard about the lovely Sarah's election as governor a few years ago, I wondered if there was a connection. I haven't seen Greg in a lot of years, but we were pretty close as kids. He used to spend chunks of the summer staying with us in Goldendale. Greatness several times removed, I guess.

Was I right, or what?

Back when Sarah Palin's candidacy was announced, I said:
Has anyone else noticed that while our new VP candidate has lived in Alaska since infancy, she was actually born in Sandpoint? (How long do you think it'll be before the media get hold of that fact and make racist innuendos?...)

Looks like it took 37 days. Okay, so this woman isn't mainstream media. She's a professor of history at some college back east, who thinks she knows all about us northwesterners.

Here's the climax of the stupidity:
There is no evidence that Palin was ever affiliated with white-supremacist groups during her years in Idaho or at home in Alaska. On the other hand, the beliefs of ultraconservative, evangelical churches like her family's come dangerously close to those of the Christian Identity movement of those years. Likewise, Palin's husband was a member of a political party whose members favored secession for Alaska, suggesting an affiliation with radical antistatism.

East-coast ignorami are so cute. Think I'll head over to Starbucks and see who's interested in discussing the Biblical insights in Mein Kampf over a double skinny half-caff. Unless my pastor calls to invite me to a lynchin' at the recyclin' center or to go out and drag some of them homer-sexshuals behind his Prius. This bein' the northwest and all.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This ought to slow down global warming

The world will be a little less hot without Miss Brahms in it.

"Ground floor: perfumery, stationery and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, kitchenware and food...

... Going up!"

Pay no attention to the man behind the bomb

Is it still a smear if it's true? In the Obama lexicon, maybe especially if it's true.

Okay, let's be fair. Obama took a beating for being a member of Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright's church, then another for dumping Wright under political pressure. He knows some loathsome people, and that's the way it is. Not really much he can do about it now.

But would the media be trying to downplay it if, say, McCain had had a third cousin who got his hair cut by a guy who once used the same men's room as Eric Rudolph? Every media outlet and lefty blogger in the country would be demanding an account and then calling him a liar for whatever his answer was. If the standard were applied the same way to both sides, it would be a non-issue.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sarah Freakin' Palin

Lifted from Ken:

Apparently the Wilson sisters have asked that their song "Barracuda" not be used by the campaign. Works for me; I like this better anyhow.

What can I say? The woman is just plumb awesome.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I sound my barbaric oink

I used to have an agreement with some of the ladies I worked with, that I was allowed to be a misogynist only on odd-numbered days. This, of course, was before I met my Lovely and Brilliant Wife, who has created in me a genuine appreciation for all that is wonderful in women. (I should mention that our living-room couch is lumpy and too short.)

Be that as it may, tonight I thought I'd revert to my porcine ways with this soundie from the Internet Archive. Gentlemen, you'll want to tell your wives you're watching something on Lifetime or something. It's clean, but it's sexist enough to make your knuckles drag even while you're in front of your computer.

From either 1941 or 1936 (it seems to be in question), here's "Gags and Gals."

A side note: I remember my ex-wife singing one of these songs (the "playmate" one) to Wharf Rat when she was little. I doubt this is how she envisioned it.)

What a pain in the...

The great P J O'Rourke has been diagnosed with cancer, and wait till you see where. Let's just say, from now on, the genius will have to stand to reason.

I could read this man nonstop, were it not that I keep having to put the book down and stop laughing so I can breathe. O'Rourke is the man I'd most like to be able to write like, and never will in a million years. Please get well, sir. America needs you now more than ever.

History repeats itself in the nastiest ways

I have to admit that I've been stuck on stupid trying to find parallels between the current fecal-matter/fan collision and 1929. The circumstances surrounding the Depression of 1873 are much closer, and much more disturbing. I've got my name in for a second job now, and I hope it comes through, because it looks like us ordinary schmoes are in for a grim few years.

A Little Night(fly) Music

With Billy Joel due to play a big-ticket fundraiser for the O-man, this is even more wicked fun. Me 'at's off to the Fly!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The big debate

I didn't get to see it, as we were out at a fundraiser for the local crisis pregnancy center. But the news reports - the NYT, the WaPo, CNN - are all calling it fairly even.

Which means Sarah must have kicked some serious Biden booty. If even her enemies can't find something to claim victory over, she must have won on all counts.

Update: The marvelous Cassandra had this to say:
What did I think of the debate? I would have liveblogged, but I passed out 2/3 of the way through the debate. Woke up this morning naked on a John Deere tractor, bitterly clinging to a King James Bible and a twelve gauge shotgun.

It's getting cold out there.

Which just goes to show you that there is such a thing as being too suggestible. It's never a good idea to agree to drink every time you hear the word, "Maverick".

For her sake, I'll try to type more quietly.

Teach your children well...

Imagine the outcry if this were Jesus buttons.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Movie for the heck of it: Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven

This little piece of cinematic weirdness was one of the first things I discovered on the Internet Archive. The story is kind of disjointed, as it seems like it's two or three stories in succession. It's not that it's hard to follow; more that any of them could have been expanded into a B-flick of its own. First, Texas reporter Eddie Tayloe (Guy Madison) inherits a bunch of money and heads off to New York to produce his play. (Hasn't every newspaper drudge written something he thinks he can sell for his big break?) Along the way he meets Perry (odd name, pretty girl), played by the delightful Diana Lynn, who is convinced he's a bank-robbing fugitive. Or rather, pretends she's convinced and won't be disabused of the notion, which makes the viewer chuckle at the poor guy's attempts to make her believe he's not.

On their arrival in New York, the whole story takes a right-angle turn. She drops the mistaken-identity thing, mostly, and the two of them maintain a friendship that perpetually teeters on the edge of romance. (I was kind of reminded of When Harry Met Sally with the principals from Houseguest.) Meanwhile, the cast becomes a collection of oddball characters that any sitcom would kill for, as he rents a room from three crusty old women and she adopts an elderly pickpocket as her mother. There's a "riding academy" where none of the mounts are actually alive, a hotel with no phones (to force guests to make calls in the bar) and a trip to Coney Island that's not quite a date and not quite not. Madison and Lynn play passably off each other, he good hearted and stodgy and she maddeningly flighty and charming. It's all silliness delivered with a mostly straight face.

The story (or stories) is sweet, but what makes this film fun is playing "spot the character actor." Florence Bates, Lionel Stander, Moyna MacGill (Angela Lansbury's mother, in a rare credited role), Margaret Hamilton, Irene Ryan, William Frawley and Roscoe Karns. Keep an eye peeled at the beginning for a copy boy at the newspaper - that's Audie Murphy, in his first (albeit brief) screen role.

A side question for Texans: the story starts at a Dallas newspaper, where Eddie is the entire Fort Worth bureau. Even so, he's more bored than the Maytag man. Was Fort Worth really that much of a podunk in 1948? (Speaking of the Maytag repairman, look for an uncredited Jesse White as the bar patron that starts and ends the film.)

Here to make your day a little more surreal is Texas, Brooklyn and Heaven:

I think I should start an office pool on this

Never has "winner take all" carried so much meaning. Via Tigerhawk.