Saturday, September 5, 2015

New converts and religious extremism

From the Oatmeal comic "How to Suck at Your Religion"
Although this entry is inspired by Kim Davis (thanks, Kim, you kooky gal!), it is not specifically about her. I’m tired of her, aren’t you? So much for that 15 minutes. Much ado has been made about her four previous marriages and some of the nasty details about her life. It turns out that she is a recent convert to Christianity. I’m not going to judge her for her previous mistakes; we’ve all made them. I do think it’s a shame that she has decided that her religion prevents her from having empathy for others. It really shouldn’t work that way. I prefer kindness over condemnation, as well as abiding by the law of the land. Her attitude is really kind of pathetic. Sorry you’re such a dupe, Kim.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about recent converts. I’ve had my own experience with that, and honestly, aren’t they just the worst? I am not at all surprised that she is new to Christianity.

My ex-husband got religion at a late age...I’m going to say he was maybe 30, or in his early 30s? Well, you’d think that he was the first person in history to find out about Christianity or to read the Bible. He had that same sort of fervent, holier-than-thou attitude that I see in Kim Davis. He had a dismissive attitude towards me and my thoughts on it, because he decided that he knew more about it than I did because he was fervent and he was studying. This despite the fact that I was raised in a very religious home and attended an apostolic evangelical church (just like the religion Kim Davis converted to). I spent my entire youth going to church services, every Sunday and sometimes on Wednesday. I learned my Bible verses in Sunday school like a good little girl and got a Bible with my name embossed on it for my efforts.

In other words, I was not ignorant about religion. In fact, I knew quite a bit about what was in the Bible. That didn’t matter one bit to him. Because he was new to it and was on fire about it, he obviously knew more about it than I did. When he would toss scripture at me, I’d come right back with a discussion about it. Even then, I was questioning the dogma and learning that nothing is black and white. As the Monkees sang, only shades of gray. But he stuck with the interpretations of his Baptist church, and as far as I know, is still deeply involved.

I did mention that he is my ex-husband, right?

I suppose that it happens with anyone who discovers something new, whether it’s religion or lack of religion or the joys of...I don’t know...surfing. I understand that people get enthusiastic about things, and I certainly feel that enthusiasm and passion for things that I care about.

What I try not to do, however, is dictate to others about my passions. Don’t like “The Walking Dead”? Fine. Don’t watch it. Don’t dig Duran Duran or the Stones? Fine. Don’t listen to them. What people like my ex and Kim Davis don’t seem to comprehend is that not everyone believes the same way they do. They cannot use their belief system to deny the rights of others.

My ex was determined that if our marriage was to work, I had to believe exactly the same way he did, and be as involved in the church as he was. That wasn’t going to happen. I am my own person and have my own thoughts on things. I couldn’t continue in that kind of a relationship and I filed for divorce.

Kim Davis decided that she would not participate in the law of the land, she denied services to people who rightfully asked for them, and beyond that, she refused to allow anyone in her office to fulfill their duties as employees of the state.

There is a reason I divorced my first husband, and there is a reason Kim Davis is in jail.

Being religious does not have to mean being intolerant. I know people who are believers but who are compassionate and caring and understand that we’re all on this planet together. If you are using your religion to deny the rights that our Constitution grants to others, or to condemn others for their own beliefs, you, as the Oatmeal says, suck at your religion.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Quest

Well, I'll tell you something, this is no longer a's a quest. It's a quest for fun!

~~ Clark Griswold, “Vacation”

This happened today.

I am currently on a quest. A quest for Zombie Dust.

Zombie Dust is a Pale Ale made by 3 Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, Indiana. Munster is a little over an hour away from us, but finding Zombie Dust is like pulling teeth. For whatever reason, it has become an elusive and much sought-after brew. It really is quite tasty and smooth, but I think its lack of availability has made it even more desirable. We’ve found a few places around town that carry it (including Corby’s Irish Pub, which has it ON can get pitchers of the stuff!), but it’s hard to find as a carry-out.

I scored a 6-pack the other day. The guy had one left in back and got it for me. I felt like I’d found the Holy Grail! Ken suggested that I try a package store in a little town just south of us (where I grew up, as a matter of fact) that carries a lot of craft beers. I called them up shortly after they opened today.

Me: Hi, do you happen to have any Zombie Dust on hand?
Woman: Yes, we do. One per person.
Me: COOL! Can you hang onto one for me? I’ll be right down!
Woman: Sure.

So I hop in the car and get down there. As soon as I walked in, there was a guy with a little yappy dog on a leash, and the dog starting barking at me. It really startled me! I said, “Sorry, puppy!” and started looking around. What a selection! I’m going to start shopping there once in a while. I found the 3 Floyds section, but didn’t see any Zombie Dust. I finally saw the clerk and said, “I’m the one who called about the Zombie Dust.” At this point, I almost felt like I was making a drug deal. She nodded and took a bottle out of the 6-pack behind the counter. She scanned it and I thought, “Hmm, guess they charge by the bottle and she’ll ring the whole thing up that way.”

I handed her a twenty and she made change. She said something like, “Seventeen-fifty,” and I thought, “Gosh, that’s pricey for a 6-pack, but I’m just happy to find another one.” She put the change into my hand and then put the bottle in a little tiny paper bag.
My lonely little Zombie Dust
I looked at it. “Oh. I only get one?” She said, “Yep. We get one case a month, so we only sell singles.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, and said, “Okay!”

Do you think maybe she could have told me on the phone that “one” meant one bottle, not one 6-pack? How often do people buy single beers anymore? Isn’t the smallest standard either a 4- or 6-pack? Or at least a larger bottle? I drove a little over ten miles for a single bottle of Zombie Dust. I’m still cracking up about it!

As I got into my car and gently laid my lone bottle of Zombie Dust on the seat, I looked over and saw her leaning out the door to watch me. The whole thing was a rather hills-have-eyes encounter, and I wondered what she thought of me. Why did I seem odd to her, enough so that she had to look out to watch me? Small towns are weird.

So my quest continues. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find more Zombie Dust, but for now I have seven Preciouses.

I just don’t want to go to another small town to find it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Kounty Klerk redux

Good grief, I’m tired of writing about this broad. But there are big goin's on in Kentucky today, so you’ll get one more. But I’m sick of seeing her mug, so here is a picture of a cat dressed like a penguin.

Kim Davis had her day in court today, facing contempt of court charges. She absolutely refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and if you recall, she ordered her office to not issue licenses to straight couples, too. Because somehow she decided that would mean she wasn’t discriminating against the gay couples. Okaaaay.

When she refused to comply, the judge said something like, “Then jail it is,” and they walked her out of the courtroom and into the custody of federal marshals. Ol’ Kim went to jail! Apparently she’s ordered to stay there until she complies.

(Side note: The four couples who filed the contempt charges, two gay and two straight, specified that they did not want her to go to jail. They just wanted her to comply or face fines. Gosh, that was mighty nice of them, wasn’t it? Some might say it was almost...Christian...of them.)

One of the many things that disgusts me about this is that several of her deputies, who also had to appear in court with her, said that they would issue the marriage licenses, but this nasty woman would not allow that to happen. I guess since she’s the head clerk, she gets to make those rules. So not only is she refusing to do her job, she is not letting her deputies do their jobs. The only deputy who refused to issue licenses was her son. It seems that homosexuality is wrong for ol’ Kim, but nepotism is just dandy!

The other disgusting thing in the wake of the judge’s decision (he was appointed by George W. Bush, by the way, and ol’ Kim is a Democrat, although I don’t claim her) was the overblown rhetoric we got from some of the Republican candidates for president. The Huskster and Cruz (Tonight on ABC! A Quinn Martin production!) were apoplectic, yammering about religious persecution and how this broad was jailed for being a Christian.


No. No, she wasn’t. She is free to practice her religion in any way she pleases. She can go to church seven freakin’ days a week if she chooses. She is free to object to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage. She can speak publicly about her opposition (Although government employees are generally discouraged from doing so, because they are supposed to serve all constituents, not just the ones they like and don’t find oogy—another Annie Wilkes reference!). What she cannot do is refuse to uphold the law. If she cannot serve in the capacity indicated by her job, she needs to resign or needs to be impeached. She doesn’t get to decide which laws to uphold and which to reject, all the while drawing her government paycheck. She just doesn’t. I really don’t get what is so difficult about that for some people to understand.

Of course, now she is going to be portrayed as some sort of martyr. Yeah, you’re no Joan of Arc, lady. What you are is a narrow-minded bigot who cherry picks the Bible and who thinks that she’s got a direct line to God, who is telling you to ignore the Constitution and ignore our laws. Our country doesn’t work that way. Read a damn book, Kim!

Hey Kim, I sure hope that orange jumpsuit you’re sporting now isn’t blended fabric, and what will you do on shrimp lover’s night at the jail? What WILL you do??

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fear and Loathing

Scary monsters, super creeps
Keep me running, running scared

~~ David Bowie, “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”

You know what strikes me about talking to conservatives? How damn scared they are.

I know I’ve written a little bit about this before, but I still can’t wrap my brain around it. They’re afraid of everything. Cop killers. Gangs. Home invaders. Rapey immigrants. Terrorist attacks. ISIS. It doesn’t matter if they live in a rural area and never visit large cities. They seem certain that ISIS thugs are crawling towards their home, machetes clutched in their teeth, ready to break in and behead them.

I just don’t get that level of paranoia and fear. If I were afraid of every bad thing that can happen in the world, I’d turn into an agoraphobe and never leave the house. I may be somewhat of a hermit now, but it’s because I like my solitude, not because I’m afraid of the big scary world! I’m not afraid that if I go to a Notre Dame football game, a terrorist is going to bomb the stadium. I’m not afraid to go to the new James Bond movie (November 6th! Heads up!) in the theater because someone might go on a shooting spree. I’m not afraid to fly because someone might have a bomb in their underwear.

Of course, these things have all happened, and there is cause for concern. But instead of cowering like frightened sheep in our homes, how about we ditch the fear and get a little defiant? How about we start working to fix the problems instead of living in fear? Let’s continue to focus on the issues that gave rise to terrorist organizations—and let’s not ignore the fact that we’ve got plenty of homegrown terrorists right here in our country. Let’s stop allowing the NRA to hold a gun to our heads (metaphor intended) and stand up to them and demand common sense gun reforms AND demand that our legislators quit kissing the NRA’s lobbying asses. Let’s make sure that no-fly policies are kept up-to-date and enforced.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. These are complex problems that require complex solutions. That’s what is so frustrating to me about the simple solutions offered by people like Trump. If you take any time at all to research the issue, you would understand that deporting 11 million people and building an impenetrable wall (and making Mexico pay for it!) are suggestions without merit and without a chance in hell of happening.

Maybe that’s the root of the problem. People want simple solutions for complex problems. Complex problems don’t lend themselves well to simple solutions, and it’s silly to think so. It’s a complicated world that has changed a lot and continues to change. That seems to be really hard for a lot of people to deal with.

Change can definitely be scary, but it’s also inevitable. I’m with REO Speedwagon on this one. Gotta roll with the changes.

Keep on rolling!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Kounty Klerk rides again

You all remember Kim the Kounty Klerk from Kentucky, right? I’m sure you’ve seen that she’s in the news again.

To bypass all the filings and stays and legal argy-bargy, the bottom line is that ol’ Kim’s request to the Supreme Court to allow her to continue with not issuing licenses to anyone was rejected. They didn’t even ask any of the defendants to come before the Court and give their side of the story. Just a one-sentence ruling saying that her request for a stay was denied. This means that the federal judge’s order of a stay, which was scheduled to expire this past Monday, would expire as specified, which in turn means that ol’ Kim would have to comply with said judge’s order and start issuing marriage licenses to anyone who applies starting Tuesday morning.

So what did ol’ Kim do? That wacky gal doubled down and once again refused to issue any licenses! To anyone! When asked on whose authority she was acting, she replied, “God’s authority.” The numerous arguments concerning the separation of church and state aside, I immediately thought of this quote:

There is a justice higher than that of man. I will be judged by Him.

You know who said that, right? Yep, that lady in the picture. Annie Wilkes, one of the creepiest villains to ever grace the pages or the screen. What was the occasion? She quotes the character Misery while she is being tried for numerous murders during her career as a nurse, murders of both the elderly and of infants.

Nice to see that ol’ Kim is taking a page from Annie Wilkes. Come of think of it, she looks awfully Wilkes-esque, doesn’t she? That sort of mousy, tight-ass type who thinks Peter Pan collars and Mary Jane shoes are the height of fashion.

Well, it looks like ol’ Kim is going to get her day in court, just like Annie Wilkes. It’s happening on Thursday, and it looks as though she is going to be charged with contempt of court. Personally, I think it would be delightful to see her spend some time in jail, but she’ll probably just get some hefty fines. I think we can expect a GoFundMe campaign any day now to help finance her hatred and bigotry, don’t you? Undoubtedly.

What absolutely must happen here is that she be impeached. She is not upholding her oath as an elected official to perform the duties of her office. If the numbskull is too rock-stupid stubborn to resign, then the Kentucky legislature must remove her from office. If she weren’t such a hateful thing, I’d almost feel sorry for her for being used to further the agenda of these anti-equality tools. But she IS hateful, so I feel zero sympathy for her.

I’ll end with another movie quote, this one from Dean Wormer.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beat It!

Yesterday was South Bend’s annual Art Beat festival. We enjoyed it so much last year that we made sure to put it on our calendar for this year! We were joined by Shane and Matt, and despite the somewhat rainy day, we had a great time.

We enjoyed brews from South Bend Brew Werks, a quick snack from Hard Rock at Four Winds Casino, another snack and more brews at Café Navarre, and lots of great art from local artists.

One of my favorites was The Camper, an RV outfitted by artist Jack O’Hearn. I’ve become a big fan of installation and interactive art, and this was so much fun. There were board games and an old radio playing ‘70s music, lots of photos on the walls, and the whole thing reminded me of taking trips with my folks. They had a few campers and tricked-out vans over the years, and there is just something about a camper that reminds me of my childhood. Hitting the road, sitting at the table and reading or talking or having a snack or playing cards, watching the scenery zoom by out the window. Those are good memories, and O’Hearn brought them to life with his latest work!

I was tempted by so many things this year (as I was last year) but tried to keep the output of bucks fairly low. We also have yet to hang the works we got at Art Beat last year, so we decided we should do that before we got anything else!

But there were a couple of things that were irresistible. Like the super cool skull wind chimes that is currently hanging in our front window, and will stay inside all year.
I also loved these spun paint 45s. The colors are beautiful, and I love the energy and brightness of them. And the music connection, of course! They even had LPs that were painted like this. Matt and I were laughing about how we see this stuff and say, “What a cool idea and it would be so easy to do!” But yet we never do it. My head is full of ideas, though! I love seeing the creativity and fun and beauty from all of these artists. Support local art, as well as local musicians!
After Art Beat, Ken and I had tickets for a South Bend Cubs game, but it was still quite rainy and we decided to bail and join Shane and Matt at LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern for drinks and dinner. We heard later that they didn’t start the game until well after its start time of 7 PM, so we were okay with our decision. I love our Cubs, but I didn’t want to sit out in the rain for the game! We had yummy food and some great drinks, including the Liquid Hot Magma and Shag-A-Licious shots. It was tasty, too!

I got wonderful presents from Shane and Matt for kitty care and for my birthday—yes, it was my birthday!—and all kinds of wonderful wishes from family and friends. I got some great cards, and a cute gift from my sweetheart of a friend, Lisa. To top it all off, when we got home, I had a message from a doctor about some great medical results and it was a huge weight off of my mind. I was optimistic, but to hear it was wonderful. And wow, how many doctors call their patients on both Saturday and Sunday to give them results and to check on them AND to wish them a happy birthday? Dr. Engel, you are a prince, and your kindness is appreciated more than you know. (I believe I’ll be sending a note soon, though!)

I’m a fortunate and happy person, and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. Here’s to another year of fun and friendship! *clink*