Untangling Threads

Whenever your darling asks you to sup with him “on the town” and the restaurant is named “La GGG”, all I can say is beware.

GGG, in case you were unaware, stands for Gas, Groceries and Good Eats. I can assure you, they are lying about two.

Recently the Contrarian invited me to Chez Troy Store Restaurante for lunch. Ahh, we went in and sat down, finding the seating ample, (no one else was there) and took a seat overlooking the corn field.

Out rushed a cook, (I should say, the cook) and announced: “Oh we don’t serve until 3 now, economy and all. But I can get you pizza or fried chicken or a sub?” Two of those come from those display cases that keep the food warm with lightbulbs. We demurred and walked across to the Dam Bar (yes that’s what it’s called) and ordered the usual saloon fare: something fried or deeply so.

So, it should come as no surprise when last night in the middle of Nature, I cried, “oh damn!”

“Whaaaa?” the Contrarian started from his dozing, muttering, “I am not sleeping, just resting my eyes!”

“I forgot the pearl onions for Thanksgiving!”

“Can I get them at the Troy Store?” he queried.

Yes, he actually said that, asked it, I mean.

With a look of utter disgust, I pouted, “NO, you can barely get an onion there.”

“How ’bout at Sherbon’s? I could run over there,” he offered.

“No, no, she won’t have any either.”

Sherbon’s is a step above Troy, having no gas station and not purporting to offer dining pleasure, but it’s a long way off from being a GROCERY store too.

“How ’bout Center Point Store?” he whimpered.

“No,” I sighed, “they won’t have them either. It’s hopeless.

There was no offer to drive all the way to Cedar Rapids of course.

Such is life in the meadow. You either remember or you do without. I will sure miss my carmelized pearl onions though. Send me some if you can ship it FedEx overnight, okay?

***

I guess I’m doing an about-face on the whole patty down at the airport thing. I  still think it’s mostly silly whining perpetrated by testosterone-laden young men and old ladies whose junk is so old that nobody would want to if they didn’t have to, touch it.

But I heard an argument that made some sense. He (unknown speaker on MSNBC) suggested that it’s good we are questioning just what we are willing to give up in the name of “terrorism.” This is a good conversation, proving we are not so insanely scared that we are hiding in our holes, only coming out with full military protection.

Perhaps, he asks, we might start questioning all that stuff about unauthorized wiretaps, waterboarding, and all those other dark and evil practices that we kinda figure are going on but about which we really would rather not know. There’s a point there I think. I later found the same argument here.

***

The Pope, Benedict XVI is very busy backstepping his way out of the “condom issue.” Some saw some slight movement in his latest remarks that in some cases, such as male prostitution, it might be allowed, as a step in “taking responsibility”. Today the Vatican is claiming that there is no change at all in the position of the Church as to condom use. I suspect that is true. If the fiasco over the pope’s comments about condom use while last in Africa, didn’t bring about a change, then I suspect nothing will.

Odd, how all those who have tons of advisors to, well, advise them, still cannot avoid the sticky wicket. Spiritual Politics has their own take here. If you want to know more, (and you probably don’t) go to Enlightened Catholicism.

***

The bad the worse and the ugly, i.e., the GOP continue to stonewall on the START treat ratification. Editorials across the land, the support of dozens of old line GOPers and revered State Department and Military leaders from of old, have failed to move, so far, one Sen Kyl from AIR-headZona.

One wonders how long the GOP is willing to take the heat to promote their only real goal: the downfall of Barack Obama. Crooks and Liars has a nice post, featuring a roundtable held by Christiane Amanpour.

***

Thomas, at Living Next Door to Alice sends us a must read post from 3quarksdaily. It’s about us, politics, and our doom. While we play at politics, the rich are taking this country for themselves and leaving us to be their servants. We are coming to be a permanent underclass. And that can only lead to one thing.

***

But if the above article is too long, well, this next says basically the same thing and in just a couple of sentences: Justin Bieber was the big winner at the AMA awards last night, beating out Usher. The world has ended, you just haven’t heard the explosion yet.

***

There be times I wish I had me one of them big balls that you do stretching on. But I’d sit on mine as I read Internets. ‘Specially when I read about da stoopid Rethuglians and their being pulled mightily in two directions at once. The FC’s (fiscal conservatives) vs the SC (social conservatives) are trying to direct the old party hacks who give a damn about neither.  Priority One-McConnell and Don’t you dare touch my junket Boehner, are being stretched over the fence and, well, personally instructed to do their respective biddings.  And I’d be bouncing on my ball, sippin’ my soda, and giggling.

What’s Up? 06/03/10

Sooo, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means! Oh, maybe you don’t? Well, it means the weekend is only a coupla days away. That used to be the only thing I frankly lived for.

Now, not so much. Being REtired ( not more tired mind ya) but, as in not working a formal gig meaning job, I don’t pay as much attention to the humpy Wednesday, maudlin Monday kinda thing any more. But it’s hard to shake, cuz the rest of the world seems to, so well, I succumb to public pressure.

Which all means nothing whatsoever. But as usual, I aim to dazzle you with my wordy abilities.

Saying that, hey, ever wondered where all the smart people are? Other that moi and Contrarian here, well, things are probably a little intellectually bereft here in the hinterlands of northern Linn county Iowa. Not to cast aspersions upon my fellow Iowans or nuttin’ . I am not a caster, having no rod and reel, nor a bean to save my soul. Should those things work at saving one’s soul that is. Anyway, The Atlantic has a kinda weird story and charts about where all the smart people live. Take a look.

Oh I got a new word for ya from Dr. McGrath over at Exploring our Matrix. It’s sarchasm. Meaning those who are unable to grasp the sarcasm of what you said. I thought it was a good one. He had a couple of others. It was one of yesterday’s posts I believe. He’s a multiple poster, which might be sexually deviant, or maybe just an addiction. I don’t know for sure.

Apparently while I was a sleepin’ the dang old fundies have been at it again, here in I-O-WA. It seems 834 “pastors” of “churches” in Iowa have sent letters to all candidates informing them of hellfire and damnation opposition, should they not push for a constitutional amendment redefining marriage as between only a man and a woman. It will require that to pass muster before the Iowa Supreme Court. Ain’t these idiots got anything better to do? Like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and such? This comes by way of Rightwing Watch.

Well, dintcha just know he would? Disgraced fundie gay blade, Ted Haggard and his stand by yer man wifey, are planning on starting their own church. I don’t think the New Life Church of which he was the head honcho before the, err, scandal, wanted him back. So, because of public demand he is baaakk. Shall we all say a prayer for the poor souls who will become his newest victims?

Speaking of fraudulent stuff (we were weren’t we?) the Bible and Interpretation has a great article on some folks penchant for stuff that “proves” faith. We are talking about shrouds and pieces of the cross, and other such stuff. If you are religiousy, you might enjoy it.

If you want some heavy duty reading about mind-body issues–how does our brain relate to our our mind–then read a thoughtful post from Robert Lawrence Kuhn, at Science and Religion Today. It’s fascinating if a bit complicated to untangle. Best I can discern is that there is no real consensus among the experts. Are we reproducible or is there something about us that is, well, not biological?

It’s long been my contention that having the ability to acquire most anything, leaves one with little enjoyment of much of any commodity so obtained. (If you can afford a 100 cashmere sweaters, how much do you enjoy wearing or looking at one of yours?) Psychology Today reports on some findings. (Hint: I’m sorta vindicated, sorta.)

Anybody notice? That old Dick “THE DICK” Cheney has been silent during this BP disaster? Mr. Bigmouth warning us how Obama was destroying Merika for the whitey man, has shut his pie hole tight as of late. I shouldn’t wonder since, Halliburton is busy lining the coffers of all those Rethugs up for election who just happen to sit on committees that will be investigating the oil spew. These asswipes have NO shame. Did I just manage to waste time stating the obvious? Sure did.

That’s it for today. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Use yours today!

Bookmark and Share

It’s Always a Matter of Perspective

As usual, a bunch of junk has rattled around in my head and finally coalesces into something that seems printable, if not entirely coherent.

So, anyway, we saw the movie Avatar on Pay Per View the other night. I know, we didn’t really get the grandeur of it all, because we didn’t see it on a big screen, let alone in 3D. I get that.

That’s number one. Number two, is that some nights, the news is so damned depressing that I can barely stand it. The oil and all that. It just suffocates me with it’s intransigence, and insolubility, and how those to blame (a cast of hundreds no doubt, but certainly BP, the oil industry, Dick Cheney, and well, we could go on but why bother) will never be horse whipped or worse like they deserve.

Number three is that we have been watching the History Channel’s, The History of Us, which is not especially good, but not especially bad either. Last night we saw the beginning of the big up tick of industry, thanks to Carnegie and the Bessemer steel process. And of course, the rich at the very tippy top got obscenely wealthy, and the poor lived in squalor that recalls Dickens’s expose` of the London slums.

And well, like I said, all that mixed together in my mind, and I wonder–have we ever been much better than  we are now, or as we getting any better? Sure, we know that throughout history, life has been cheap, short, and miserable for vast numbers of human beings. Look at every major building adventure in the world, including the US and you will find “industrial accidents” just part of doing business. No muss, no fuss, 136 dead here building this canal or dam, something like one quarter of all those steel walkers who built our skyscrapers, died in the process.

Today, that has improved, and we demand safer practices from our giants of industry who build. But nobody has been outraged at the 13 who died on the oil gulf rig, nor the 11 who died in the last mine explosion. Both BP and the mine owners had received countless citations for unsafe working conditions. But that shuts nothing down. Death is part of doing business still.

The wealthy of the so-called gilded age, played in Manhattan while tens of thousands lived lives of pure misery, holed up in tenements that remain hideous today. A journalist couldn’t get his pictures of the obscenity published in newspapers who considered the photos “too” awful. He finally started having symposiums to show the rich how the other 80% lived. The tenements were overhauled in less than 30 years, but only to a degree.  They grew back with the great migration from south to north in the 30’s and 40’s or so.

Enter Avatar, a simply gorgeous movie with special effects both amazing and beautiful. Such a lovely world Pandora is. And this takes place far in the future and we, meaning earth, has found a way to travel to far places in the galaxy. So far so good. But that’s as far as the good goes.

We seem, for all our technological advances, to have progressed zero when it comes to our respect for other sentient beings. We apparently have no idea that there is an ethical issue at all in raping another land. We find out near the end, that Earth has been pretty much ecologically destroyed, so there is some urgency, but still, we have learned not one thing about doing what is right.

The rambo military leader is such an utter caricature of his calling, just so utterly devoid of rationality that one has to wonder. As Leonard Malkin said at the beginning, the story is rather poor. Poor is not the word I would use, it is bankrupt. One lone scientist and a couple of assistants try to take the path of understanding, but clearly they are superfluous and have no authority.

It’s hard to believe that we could be so barbaric in our behavior, but then again, looking at the world today, and reviewing the world of yesterday, perhaps it’s not so far off really. I’m not sure we have progressed much. We have prettied it up, tied some ribbons about, and we talk about “going green.” Hell, BP talked about green technology, in all those ads it placed before our television eyes. Note to self: when a ecologically suspect company spends money to tell me how wonderfully caring they are of the environment–beware. They are probably raping the hell out if it.

Which all says to me, that the world is still controlled by the rich as it always has been, for their amusement. The vast majority of us are simply the fodder for the war/industrial machine. We are thrown crumbs, sometimes more, or sometimes less, as little as can be gotten away with. The rich are always looking for ways to maximize profits as much for amusement as for any need on their part. Money is simply the way to keep score.

There are always philanthropists aplenty, who from their largess try to work on some “problem” or other. They are never more than marginally successful, because they can never convince the rest that there is anything short term worthwhile in doing so. And since, the fat cats die just like the rest of us, long term is a waste of their time.

I have to hope that things incrementally get better over time, but God must be utterly frustrated at how snail like we move. I contemplate all those who have died in war this day, and struggle to figure out if we have learned one damnable thing from time immemorial. From Cain and Abel, forward I find it hard to see that we are any more our brother’s keeper than when we were on that fatal but metaphoric day.

So, eat, drink, and be merry as the Ecclesiastics writer intoned. All is vanity. For tomorrow, rich, poor, powerful, or powerless, we die. As we traverse this time of life, some of us, hopefully, more of us, will seek to do good on this small blue dot. Believer or atheist, just because it’s the right thing to do.  Amen.

Bookmark and Share

Giving or GIVING?

philanthropistI’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of “The Philanthropist.” But an episode we saw last night was compelling and seemed as is wont to happen, to dovetail with a scriptural reading of the day before.

In a nutshell: The philanthropist, Teddy finds that some one has gotten his credit card and is using it, not just for personal gain, but to actually help people. He goes in quest of the thief.

In his journey, he comes upon a recipient of largess, a man in a wheelchair. The impostor Teddy has paid for a ramp to be built on his front porch. After hearing the story, the real Teddy inquires whether there could be updates inside as well, and then tells the man he will pay for further alterations.

The man is overwhelmed and continues to thank Teddy, who continues to put him off, finally telling him, “Seriously, this is nothing to me at all. Nothing. I mean it doesn’t affect my life, please don’t thank me.” The man looks on in wonder, and says, “I’m happy to have met you.” Teddy replies, “it’s been my privilege to meet you.”

This came on the heels of this passage from Mark:

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all these who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (14:41-44)

There seemed to be a message here. In the previous verses, Jesus had commented on the scribes, and their pomposity in being SEEN as pious. Here he seems to comment on the wealthy and their SEEMING largess.  Just a few chapters earlier in Mk 10: 17-22, we have the story of the rich man, and Jesus advising him to sell all and follow me.

What are we to make of all this? Are we to impoverish ourselves in order to be Christlike? I don’t think that is what Jesus meant. As to the story of the rich man, most I think realize that this is not an injunction to become poor, but a wake up call to consider where you place your values. The rich man was ” grieved” at the thought of giving up his possessions.

Similarly, I don’t think that the message of 14:41-44 speaks to it being better to give up all your resources to be blessed. The sticking point perhaps for the wealthy who have given more to the treasury is their doing so publicly so all can admire their giving.

Like Teddy, their giving does no harm to their lifestyle whatever. In that sense, it is no gift at all, but is but what is expected. They have more than they can use, it should be as a matter of course given to the public upkeep. Nothing to applaud here, nothing to see, move along.

We too fall short of the mark when we limit our giving to the “sanitary” offering of money, not wanting to get our hands dirty or expend our precious time in actual service. The widow, humbled to appear among the wealthy and still offer her small sum, was herself reduced by her giving. She would suffer want herself. It meant something to her to give that penny.

We have to ask ourselves, are we pleasing God by simply giving of our abundance, taking some satisfaction that we are checking off on the list of “how to get to heaven” another item? We walk near the homeless woman and drop a few dollars in her basket, avoiding eye contact, avoiding the reality of her life. We feel satisfied and move on, having done our duty.

Yes, undoubtedly the money contributes, and nobody is arguing that the rich and famous of Cape Cod and the Hamptons should stop their fund raiser balls and extravaganzas. But like Teddy, they are not personally touched by their giving, not limited in what they can buy, use or consume. It is after all, a tax write-off.

It is our nitty gritty getting down in the ugliness of life, and rolling up our sleeves and entering into the lives of the poor that counts most I’m convinced. Only there do we learn the important lessons of compassion and empathy that will transform our own lives.

I have often found it interesting that conservatives tend to quibble about “who is really poor.” They like to define away whole groups, the immigrant who is not legal is not one we need address with our help. Nor the lazy, nor the emotionally precarious, for the most part. People who make poor choices are  not in the mix.

Yet, try as I might, I can no where ever find in the bible anything but “the poor.” I can’t for the life of me find the “actual poor” the “entitled poor” or the “real poor.” I find only THE poor. Not in the Hebrew Testament nor in the the New Testament. Jesus seemed never to have drawn any distinction between worthy poor and unworthy.

I have been no better than most, worse by far than some, and better than a few in all this. I am learning, growing, and hopefully with the Spirit’s help, I am seeing the Master’s meaning aright. It is a thing to ponder on I believe. What say you?

Bookmark and Share

Short Takes on the Day, 04/17/09

large_taxteaI don’t have much to add to all the posts everywhere about the tea parties across America. I’ll refrain from using the term, “tea bagging” which has become a snickering point among the sexually in the know folks.

Reasonable estimates put the total attendance at around a quarter of a million nation wide. “That wouldn’t even make a good Woodstock,” the Contrarian chimed in.

Worse yet, it seemed a strange lump everything together amalgamation of everyone who had a beef. There were the serious looney tunes, “we’re preparing for Armageddon,” types, the Democrat hates, the racists, the gun toters (led by Ted Nugent), the right-to-lifers who hate Obama for everything and nothing at all, the libertarians, and well, anyone else who likes to complain because it’s Wednesday.

My favorite were the idiots who were chanting “no taxation without representation.” These fools apparently didn’t understand the Boston Tea Party, and have no idea what representation means. Did ya vote? Did someone get elected? Then ya got representation dope. You just lost the freaking election. Sorry, but sour grapes because my guy didn’t win, don’t count as “no representation.”

But of course there is a religious answer to all this. There always is, there always should be. If you’d like to read the Rev. Canon Danial J. Webster’s take on the issue of wealth and taxes, trot over to Episcopal Cafe and take a look.

***

By and large, the Rethugs remind me of a four year old, engaged in an increasingly violent temper tantrum. Nobody is listening, nobody is wringing their hands in confusion and despair, so the tantrum gets louder and more erratic with each passing week.

The regulars in the party, have had no impact whatsoever. Nobody cares what they say. Polls show Republican support sliding ever downward. They are becoming a cypher. This suggests that normal people are fairly satisfied with the way things are going under Democratic leadership.

That is not to say that everyone doesn’t have issues with the Democrats and even Obama himself on an issue here and there, but on balance, most folks are satisfied.

The only people who aren’t satisfied, are the wacko fringe on the right, and they are bloodthirsty ranting maniacs, just the sort that make the Glenn Becks, Sean Hannitys, Bill O”Reillys, Ruth Limbaughs, and well, you get the picture, just all wiggly with happiness.

The cesspool spewing pundits named above and others just like them, are increasingly good at defining new ways to stir the pot of discontent. In fact they are using words of revolution, secession, fascism, and similar ones to stoke the fires of red faced hatred. They are playing to the worst racist tendencies on the part of a small segment of our society. Increasingly it will fall on immigrants I fear.

Bob Burnett, writing for Huff Po, has a good analysis of the dangerous game of tantrum the Republicans are now engaged in.

***

I guess I just find it hysterical that the right wing of the Rethugs went ballistic over Homeland Security stating that among those they are wary of are “right wing extremists.” It seems they think of themselves that way, and it makes you wonder doesn’t it? It must be interesting when in your own head you consider yourself an extremist. Doesn’t that denote that you kinda know you are looney? Or in reality are they so paranoid that they think that HS was referring to them? That would denote a subconscious identification with being extremist wouldn’t it? The usual suspects are of course fanning the flames.

***

Today is a “Day of Silence” to focus on the bullying of LGBT teens in our schools. The usual homophobic religious right organization are either keeping their kids home or planning “counter” measures. I can’t imagine why anyone would disagree that bullying of any kind is inappropriate–sigh…

***

Things on the home front are busy. The Contrarian secured a new tractor and is busy working the lane. The dogs are pooped from tagging along. I’m getting busier by the day. I have received two books I must read and then do reviews of. We’re gearing up to start dismantling the church library and spruce it up, so I have days set aside to spend there. I bought some light-weight cotton yarn to make a spring shawl. And before you know it gardening with be upon us. It’s a list getting longer every day. Hope you are having a good one!

Bookmark and Share