And the subject was “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…

And the subject was “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…

Months ago, my Unitarian Universalist minister asked a bunch of us to provide meaningful songs on which she could base sermons throughout the year. Mine, as it happens, was the subject of today’s service.

I chose (off the top of my head) the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A few weeks ago, she followed up with a request that I provide some words to explain why the song had such meaning for me. I thought about her question for days, coming close to the answer and then getting distracted. I went online and searched for a copy of the book I remembered, to no avail.

This morning, after a bad dream in which someone told me my father had died (he’s been gone since 2010), I woke up around 6 and proceeded to diddle around some more, trying to figure out how to approach the subject.

See, when I was a kid, I didn’t understand the meaning of pacifism. I knew the tune and it made me happy that I could read the song’s lyrics and put the music to the words, because I fail at reading music on a regular basis. Music for the musically illiterate, that’s what the Battle Hymn was to me as a kid.

Now, though, it’s got a different meaning.

Here’s the full text of the song. Somehow, the third verse had disappeared from the reproduced version for the service which I discovered when I got there. I added an introductory paragraph to the verse, just before the service started, because I had included it in my words and removing the reference took away from my point.

The original:

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

Here, then, is what I wrote and delivered to my congregation (more or less):

Good morning.

If I could have stolen one book out of the library where I first attended Elementary school, it would have been a small, brown hardcover book of music and lyrics, tucked away on the shelves in the dark recesses toward the back of the room.

I don’t think anyone else ever checked the book out, but I did, repeatedly, because of this one song.

Honestly, I wish I had my hands on the book. I’d show you the illustration of grapes, the multiple verses.

The tune was easy to plunk out on my mother’s piano, even if I couldn’t read the music.

For a kid who was raised without religion, the flowery, grand language of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” spoke to me in a way no other song did. But I don’t remember why.

I remember all the other things…The smell of the library and that book, at least a couple of decades older than I was at the time (and that’s a solid 40 years ago, now), the location of the shelves, searching for the book, finding it and opening to the song again and again.

Nowadays, I think more about Julia Ward Howe’s words and what they did to galvanize a nation in righteous pursuit of freedom at the price of almost 213 thousand lives. It makes me sad to think such bloodshed was necessary. How easily the words of a supposed peacemaker who entreated his followers back then to beat their swords into plowshares could be used to encourage his more modern followers

to do precisely the opposite in that pursuit.

[Not in the song we just sang, but in the original, these words appear:]

“I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”

We do so many things in the name of righteousness, for the sake of freedom or economy, and we sacrifice so many lives to protect these things, I have to wonder: Is there a better way?

I wish I had answers. I have none. Only the memories of a small brown book with lyrics that nobody checked out of the library except me.

As I post this, the sky has gone a fiery shade of pink, which I find oddly fitting.

There are words…

There are words…

In 2005, I lost eight people (either through direct relationships with them or indirectly through my friends). Children, parents, people with whom I was friends, and one I worked with weekly as a parent in a co-op nursery school. I found I couldn’t make sense of some of the things I heard during the funerals I attended.

In January, 2006, I began to attend the Unitarian Universalist congregation I now call home. I’ve begun to make some sense of my reactions, even though I can’t make sense of losses on days like yesterday.

I’ve dealt with loss all my life. Some days I handle it better than others.

Are you having trouble wrapping your mind around what happened yesterday? Feeling numb? Not sure why?

Not feeling anything?

You will.

People grieve differently. They process horror differently.

In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published a book that described for the first time the five stages of grief. When I was in 7th grade, I took a class on death and dying, in part because of my mother’s long-term illness, but nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close member of my family.

I learned a lot when my dad died in 2010, thanks to the hospice nurses in Colorado and the grief counselor I met with weekly near me at home. I understood on an intellectual level what I was seeing, knew the signs to watch for, and knew in my heart when my dad was truly gone for good.

I knew from the descriptions I heard that my mother in law was dying, that same year, because I had already experienced the steps with my dad. And I knew when I was going to lose two more friends in October and November of 2010.

I learned more when my friend Richard died at the end of that horrible year and took away Christmas for me. My greatest gift was the ability to talk with him before he died, and to be there with him and with friends the night before.

I will learn again as I watch one of my earliest friends in this area die from cancer over the next several months.

There are no words that provide as much comfort as a hug and a sharing of sorrow that comes from grief.

None of these deaths were brought about by someone else. None of them was the result of random violence, accidental association, or any other logical reason.

The deaths in Connecticut of twenty children and seven adults happened because someone took it on himself to play god, who had the means to accomplish this horrific act and who had no sense of the long-term, incomprehensible damage he would do, no thought to care about the ramifications of his act.

And more than anything else, he will never know the effect his senseless act of violence will have on our lives, on the lives of the people of Connecticut and most of all on the families of those he killed, because he killed himself, ending his mad spree of death.

As John Dickerson says in his article on Slate.com:

Today Is a Day for Tears, Not Politics The president’s job today is to comfort a nation, not score political points.

If you have trouble processing what happened yesterday, that might be one reason why you are numb. It’s too much to process all at once. You simply can’t do it.

There is no greater act of faith than waving goodbye to your kids on their way to school in the morning, thinking no matter how hard it was to get them to that point during the day, all the petty arguments or smiles you have with them might somehow disappear after they leave your sight.

Somehow, whether you are a parent or not, you can find a way to relate to the tragedy unfolding in Connecticut. Do what you can to come to terms with what you know, what you’re learning and what you will say to others, but take these things into consideration:

Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children

This is unimaginable. Christmas lights are already everywhere. In many of these houses, trees are likely already up, decorated and waiting for laughter and footsteps that won’t ever come on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.

There is still one day left to Hanukkah, one last, bright day when all nine candles burn brightly and then burn out.

Yesterday was the Sabbath, the day some people recognize for giving thanks for what they have, and bless their children.

Today we are left wondering what pushed the shooter over the edge. We are left to wonder whether we are still right to guarantee access to weapons that can do this damage. We wonder how we could have stopped this from happening.

But we’ve been wondering this for years.

We wondered at the tragedies in Blacksburg (Virginia Tech).* In Aurora. And in other places and at other times throughout our history. And I wonder how much longer it will take us to recognize that the question isn’t so much about access to weapons but how we treat our mentally ill and what we do to ease the pain of those who most need the help before they take it out on other people.

This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment. It’s about our attitude regarding those whose brains work differently from ours.

Give yourself time. Hug your kids. Curl up with popcorn and watch a movie. Make it something innocuous. Or play a game with them today.

And let your brain do its work.

When the time comes, give in. You’ll get there. Everyone does.

And then, start to take some action.

David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook, Jason Alexander, an actor I’ve come to respect for any number of reasons, Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station), and others have all had things to say about senseless violence.

When you’re done reading all these things, go sign yourself up for an account on whitehouse.gov and sign this petition:

Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/immediately-address-issue-gun-control-through-introduction-legislation-congress/2tgcXzQC

and this one, too:

Make Mental Health a National Emergency
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/make-mental-health-national-emergency/DLwvxxzJ

[note that the links are dead. Thanks, Trump!]

And after all that, restore your faith in humanity. Because you’re still here and you can.

*edited to fix an error gracefully pointed out by a reader…

One month to go…

One month to go…

The end of November is often too busy to step back and look at where we are. Between prep for Thanksgiving (which came disturbingly early this year) and all the Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday-Tuesday… and so forth, it’s hard to imagine anyone actually accomplishing anything before the Advent calendars start opening on the 1st.

In my life, today is a chance to step back and remember. Two years ago, I lost a true best friend to long-term health problems that might have been diagnosed differently if the ACA were already in place and functioning, and if medical insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industries cared more about the people they serve than they do about their own pockets.

It’s a time for me to reflect on changes in the last year, but most importantly, to review a week or so’s worth of news that could escape attention in all the craziness that leads up to the “Holiday Season” in general.

I’ve been paying attention, mostly on Facebook, so here are some of the highlights (if you can call them that) of November’s last gasp.

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy by Warren E. Buffett

New York Times: SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law

Palm Beach Post: Former GOP chair, governor – both on outs with party – say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was.

Judge orders tobacco companies to admit deception

Reuters: Major tobacco companies that spent decades denying they lied to the U.S. public about the dangers of cigarettes must spend their own money on a public advertising campaign saying they did lie, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA

Huffington Post: A bipartisan group of senators made a bid Wednesday to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the United States.

Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II’s internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year’s defense bill.

Michigan Public School System being destroyed. RIGHT NOW.(UPDATE x11)

Daily KOS: If you or anyone you know and care about live in Michigan, or if you care whatsoever about the public school system in this country–or, for that matter, education of our children in general–I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read up on Michigan State House Bills 6004 & 5923, and State Senate Bills 1358 & 620.

Robertson tells Christians: Radiocarbon dating proves no dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark

Raw Story: Televangelist Pat Robertson says that radiocarbon dating proves that the Earth is older than 6,000 years — and he’s telling Christians not to “cover it up.”

On Tuesday’s 700 Club, a viewer wrote Robertson that her “biggest fear is to not have my children and husband next to me in God’s Kingdom” because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.

And finally (because I can’t resist one last dig):

Romney’s final share of the vote? You guessed it: 47 percent.

Washington Post: Call it irony or call it coincidence: Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race is very likely to be 47 percent.


Mitt Romney addresses the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) annual convention in Houston on July 11, 2012. (NICHOLAS KAMM – AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Romney’s campaign, of course, was doomed in large part by comments made on a hidden camera in which he suggested that 47 percent of the country was so reliant on government services that those people would never vote for him.

01/20/2009: Inauguration!!!

01/20/2009: Inauguration!!!

[eta: Started at 11:35am…]

Going to update this entry as things happen, to save your Friends page. Just click refresh every once in a while!

1. I forgot to buy a paper. Anyone willing to share? I’ll pay, of course!

2. I also need a copy of the concert from Sunday. Will take from any given source. YouTube isn’t one of them.

3. “Hey, hey, Bye Bye!” is just cold. Not saying it ain’t deserved, but still…

4. I can’t stop smiling. Can’t say when I felt like that last.

5. I was afraid when I heard the start of the invocation, but it was well thought out and far more inclusive than I was afraid would be the case.

6. Aretha Franklin ROCKS. And the hat is freaking AWESOME!

7. Just got chills from listening to the musicians playing after Biden’s swearing in. We’re halfway there…

8. The musical blending… amazing. Yo Yo Ma was a joy to watch.

But here’s the thing. In the end he was human and fluffed his line, and he STILL managed to kick Bush’s ass up one street and down the next.

I thought Bush was going to cough up a hairball when he described the importance of the Constitution.

And to all the things I have heard so far today I can say Amen and mean it.

The crowd is immense. And I have lived to see this day.

It isn’t all fixed, but we’re on the way now.

9. At 12:56pm, EST, we pruned our American garden by one Bush. And the crowd broke out in “Hey, hey, Bye Bye!” again. [eta: This was just the helicopter flying him to Andrews. The plane actually took off at 2:01pm or thereabouts. I had it in my head to post but I had pizza in my hands at the time.]

They’re on the way to lunch sign the first official documents right now and we can all breathe a little easier.

10. The signing of the official documents strikes me as awfully similar to an orthodox wedding.

11. Wiki and Google have both failed me. I can’t find actual information about the John Williams composition, and the speech isn’t online yet.

Lunch is here. Time for a break. Back after pizza…

12. “Today would be a good day to commit a crime…anywhere else…” sayeth BS. In response to my observation that there’s a cop every two feet down the parade route on both sides of the street. Sheesh!

13. Pat Robertson likes him. Hey, Mikey!

14. The end of the nukular era, for now. Just realized! (and I’m not alone. BS just showed me something similar mere moments ago.

15. Senator Kennedy removed by stretcher from the luncheon. I have a bad feeling about this… (2:43pm) It would REALLY suck if something bad happened today in the midst of this event.

16. I really REALLY want to see DF in the parade but I need to leave here soon and the parade hasn’t started yet.

17. Oh. AND Senator Byrd. This doesn’t look good for either one of them.

I need to leave now, and will sign off until I get to a location where I can watch the parade. Hoping to catch all of it, but it’s all in the timing. Hoping I don’t hear bad things on the radio before I get home…

See you soon!


And we’re back…

Retrieval achieved, our new connection is less lovely than we had at JP’s but I’m in my own place now and I’ve finally finished backing up my laptop so I can do one really big thing while I’m sitting here watching the show, and then get other stuff done.

Parade’s just getting to the review stand. Glad I didn’t wait.

(You’ll notice I’ve picked up with a new post. Decided two couldn’t kill folks.)

More after the computer finishes updating…

I’m just a little late, here, but gotta say it anyway…

I’m just a little late, here, but gotta say it anyway…

We watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on the 1st, because my oldest wasn’t up to watching anything the night before. After it was over, the kids begged to watch You’re NOT Elected, Charlie Brown. Originally, I said it was not as good. I was wrong. I forgot how closely it paralleled the 1972 election (was released just before), and I forgot about the Joe Cool appearance. Most importantly, I laughed harder and longer at that than I did at Great Pumpkin.

You’ve still got a day before the election. Go. Find it and watch. You’ll be enlightened…again.

Does anybody here see what I see???

Does anybody here see what I see???

07/03/2008:

1. It’s the 4th. Anyone want to come over and watch 1776 with me? Like maybe tonight??? I need some serious patriotism infusions (like the right kind, not what we’re hearing from Capitol Hill). [ETA: I want to watch the movie – really, I do – but I have to go fetch roller skates from Laurel. If you want to see the movie with me, head to my place around 9pm tonight!]

2. It’s time for a reminder that this whole big mess we’re in revolves around oil.

The war? We wanted to be sure the oil fields of Iraq were in our control. Right? (Oh, no. It was because there were WMDs on the loose. Yeah, yeah…..)

Now that we’ve got control (or something like it), have we improved our situation? Nope! Don’t think so.

And now, what’s the President and his clone suggesting will be the magic solution to our problem? Invest in new energy technology???? Nope.

Let’s go drill in Alaska.

>.< Maybe it's just me and I'm prone to seeing spiders that aren't there, but this whole mess feels in some way contrived as a means to hold our wilderness areas hostage. And the stupid people are falling for it. I can't help but think that the reason we're in the fuel hell we are right now is that this whole war has been about drilling rights. It's convoluted. I have no proof. But I have gut feelings and very often I'm proven right. Every time the Bush-man opens his mouth and says this whole thing will go away if we just surrender the rights to drill in Alaska, my skin crawls. (I predicted this war when the towers fell. Don't remember? Go read what I wrote back then. It was on my web site in 2001. It wasn’t a surprise. Just a confirmation that Evil took control.)

Stupid Republican Autocrats!

Comments:

RB:
Oh, let me depress you *further*… what if it could be proved that the war was *intended* to drive up the price of oil, because the Multinational Oil Companies (yes, the almost-an-Illuminati group from the Steve Jackson game) wanted to force Americans to begin paying something closer to what Europeans have been paying for a while?

But, seriously… hope you get to see John Adams with company tonight, given that he IS obnoxious and disliked.

BJ:
Considering the research i did for a book called Banking on Baghdad, i can say the oil companies do not care about countries. All they care about is profit. During WWII, at least one, which i will not name, sold to both sides. And there are even more outrageous things done by oil companies during war time.

MB:
For my “patriotic” viewing this year I watched “V for Vendetta”

Highly recommended.

BJ:
Good choice!

On the subject of Easter and some of the things I’ve heard…

On the subject of Easter and some of the things I’ve heard…

It’s been a long time since I waxed philosophical. I guess Spring brings it out of me.

First, before I get to the discussion, I want to repost the UU Principles, because I’m going to come back to them in a bit. If you don’t read them now, you might want to go back and read them after you read the rest.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to just say I was UU and get on with it.

Now, here’s what I experienced on Sunday:

I attended two services last Sunday. The first (to which we arrived late because it’s hard to drag small children out of warm beds at 8am) was held outdoors at the home of two of our members. It was cold (near freezing) but there was a bonfire and the sun was gloriously up in a clear, blue sky.

The service was led by both our current minister and our minister emeritus. There was an altar with a chalice which may or may not have stayed lit. The first part had to do with the darkness and light, with the spring and its relationship to our various religious sources. The second had to do with the renewal and rebirth that comes in Spring. An interesting parallel was drawn in the death of Jesus, the symbolic shutting out of the light into darkness (winter) and the subsequent ressurection (spring). This becomes important in the second service, but I’ll get there shortly.

There were additional rituals involved: In the first part, we each took a pen and paper and wrote down the things that weighted us down, and then tossed the paper in the fire to lift the weight of our own stones. You can probably guess what my paper said.

The second part involved taking a small bit of dirt and planting seeds in it, as a sign of renewal. (With my brown thumb these days, I have little hope that the plants will actually thrive, but it was a good thought at least.)

Many of the ancient gods and goddesses were thanked for bringing back the light and then we all went in, got warm and had breakfast.

In an hour and a half we were in the sanctuary, going through the usual rituals of service. Some of the traditions we keep each year (Easter bonnets, new clothes…) come from rites going back millenia.

Then there was the sermon. And in it I put together another piece of the puzzle that, for me, helps to explain what was being taught in 1BC and how it’s transmogrified over time to today’s view.

Rev. S. started the discussion by reading several passages from the bible: The passage about Peter and the denial, and about Judas and his suicide. And then, she moved on to Simon Paul and she shared that some believe he created Easter. That caught my attention.

I know that early Christian leaders often took existing “pagan” rituals and incorporated them as Christian holidays so that those who were not already Christian could relate in some way to the new faith. But somehow I had thought that Easter was somehow different. I don’t know why. The equinoxes certainly have their places in historic religions, though not as high on the list as the solstices. Still, with eggs and rabbits and chicks as universal symbols of Easter, it’s pretty obvious that the whole ancient fertility ritual was incorporated to make a connection to the ressurection of Jesus. I get that.

But what I hadn’t gotten until Sunday was that there was a question about the actual corporeal “rising of Christ” that makes Easter Sunday such a big deal. I didn’t realize how many Christians didn’t believe in the literalness of that event.

Ok, so for me (agnostic that I am), egg dyeing and chocolate are far more synonomous with Easter than anything to do with celebrating the rising of Jesus, but that’s because it’s another pagan ritual and, frankly, it’s fun. But I really hadn’t given it so much thought until this year.

Why is it the belief of so many that Jesus walked on earth again and why do people cling to this as a sign of hope in this sometimes bleak world? I just didn’t get it. Sure, there are ghosts. I do believe in that. But ghosts don’t come back in that traditional sense.

So… Here’s what I heard last Sunday.

What Jesus was teaching was mainly the same seven principles UUs believe. These concepts, presented at a time when Jews were kept under the thumbs of the Romans, were detrimental to the Roman priests because without the attention of the populace, their temples would fall and they would lose their hold on the people as a result (and all that nifty income in the form of tribute to the gods). No priest could safely preach that god could be found inside each person – there would be no reason to go to the temple and pay to be saved.

As I understand it, his basic teaching was that you could find the kingdom of heaven within yourself and to mistreat others was to mistreat yourself. People have misinterpreted what Jesus was saying: “If you believe what I believe, you’ll get there, too.” Instead they heard “Only through me.” Believe in Jesus and you’d be saved. It should have been “Believe in what Jesus is saying and you’ll save yourself.”

So, here we are, with the Romans seeing the following Jesus brought with him to Jerusalem for the Passover Seder, and they saw a threat to their cozy existence living off of believers of the gods.

Interestingly, earlier that week I watched a history channel program on “Machines of the Gods” which made the priest’s role that much clearer to me, so when I was listening to the sermon, I had these images of how the priests ensured people would come (and pay) to be protected.

The 13 desciples (including Judas, at least for a while) believed what Jesus did. Whether Judas did what he did because he stopped believing or believed so strongly that he was willing to martyr himself to forward the cause is really irrelevant. Peter stopped believing and was repentant after Jesus was gone, but only after denying he knew the man as predicted. Paul still believed but couldn’t figure out how Jesus’ death could be reconciled with the concepts Jesus taught.

And then, it struck Paul: He didn’t need the physical Jesus there in order to keep believing what he’d been taught. He still had faith in the teaching, though the teacher was gone.

How often do we hear that even though someone has died, that person is still with you?

Got me, hook, line and sinker. I got it.

And I find it terribly interesting that in the face of what Jesus was trying to teach, the medieval Christian priests took a page from the book the Romans wrote hundreds of years earlier, and suddenly people were paying them to be saved, only through miracles and by coming to the church to pray (and by renouncing everything else in the bargain).

So that leaves me with something else: I am donating money to my church because we do things and because upkeep is expensive. What I pay for in exchange is given in part to maintain the building, in part to pay my minister’s salary, in part for charity to other members (as needed), in part to build for activities we partake in as a group. I don’t pay because I fear that if I don’t, I won’t get to heaven.

For us it’s all about community and not about being saved. Perhaps that’s why we’re so much more interested in making sure our planet is protected. We aren’t all convinced that the place we’re going to is better than this one and that we need to be better about caring for ourselves and our future here, rather than treading water until we go to paradise.

Now I know not every Christian feels that way. I know plenty of people who listen to the message and don’t necessarily idolize or even deify the man. But I can’t help wondering what kind of people would pay so much to belong to a church and call themselves Christian, then turn around and throw in the trash bags full of perfectly good clothing and toys because, after all, they have no further use for the objects. (Collected the bags in my car, from a Curb Alert on Freecycle, because I couldn’t stand the thought that these things could go to a dump.)

Maybe if we spent a little less time thinking about where we’re going in the end, and spent a little more time thinking about where we are right now and what it’s going to be like in the coming years, we wouldn’t be pouring our money into a useless war that only benefits the very few with their money invested in oil.

After all, who would Jesus bomb?

Happy Spring!

Am I a fundy magnet or what???

Am I a fundy magnet or what???

Ok, so today I finally got it together and took the digital boxes and the cable modem to Comcast. My kid went with me (on the way back from school). While we were there, she wished the “nice lady” on the other side of the counter a happy Halloween. Seems to me like a reasonable (and friendly) thing to do, but I got an earful in return about how folks who observe the holiday in question are just devil worshipers in disguise.

Yeah, that’s me.

I pointed out (politely) that it was a harvest festival, and that there were some cultures where folks honored their ancestors (“cults”). She might be interested to know more about the roots of the holiday. I was politely informed that she had Jesus Christ and that was all she needed. Who needs ancestors when you have Jesus, after all.

Whatever.

So, then, while prepping dinner tonight, I get a “poll” call asking whether I’d vote for Michael Steele or Ben Cardin.

Yep. I’m for raising taxes, gay marriage and killing babies in the pursuit of science.

And yes, I will still vote for Ben Cardin, and no I will not vote for Michael Steele. No matter how many times you ask or how unsavory you make it sound to be a Democrat.

I tell you, there are days when I find it VERY difficult to tolerate other religions, much less learn from them. How the hell do they expect everyone to believe what they do when they carry that sort of ‘tude around? No wonder we’re in the trouble we are in this country!

(And yeah, I know, I’m preaching to the choir most of the time on this thing. Just sayin’ is all.)

On this day….**

On this day….**

CNN: Solemn tributes mark 9/11’s fifth anniversary*

The Washington Post: NINE LIVES, 10 YEARS LATER* (Original article updated)

Snopes – Rumors of War: https://www.snopes.com/?s=war

The American Civil Liberties Union: http://www.aclu.org/

and finally

The League of Women Voters: Patriot Act

Today is a somber reminder that people can and do feel free to abuse the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of others.

If you’re concerned about your own personal life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, don’t forget that tomorrow is the Maryland State Primary, and that on November 7 we all, as Americans over the age of 18, have not just the right but the responsibility to vote and direct our leaders.

If you haven’t registered to vote, please do. You still have time to vote in the main election. If you have, many thanks!

The only way we are going to change our leadership is if we tip the balance in the senate and house.

Car, rear view (circa 2006)
Car, rear view (circa 2006)

* Edited because I realized the main page is going to change, but the point is September 11th stories.

** I REFUSE to use the words “Patriots’ Day” – patriots know what they’re fighting for, and make a conscious decision to lose their lives. Characterizing victims like this implies choice.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.