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Commentary Funny and/or Strange

Georgia Adds Swastika, Middle Finger To State Flag

Here’s a topical chestnut from the archives of The Onion.  South Carolina, Georgia… at this point, I’m read to skewer the whole lot from Virginia to Texas.

“Georgia Adds Swastika, Middle Finger To State Flag”
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http://www.theonion.com/graphic/georgia-adds-swastika-middle-finger-to-state-flag-8998

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Commentary

Mandatory Church Attendance?

Silly Sylvia AllenMandatory church attendence?  That’s what Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen wants.  I can’t make up stuff half this funny; or disturbing.  But, it’s true.

In a debate over legislation that would allow good, hardworking Christians to carry guns in public buildings (honestly!) Mrs. Allen careened from the foolishly naive to the zealously theocratic, blurting out “there’s a moral erosion of the soul of America!”

“It’s the soul that is corrupt – how we get back to a moral rebirth I don’t know, since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have. Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth.”

What I’m wondering is: if I don’t choose a church, will one be assigned to me?  The prospect is, I’ll admit, a little daunting.  What if I get Jehovah’s Witness?  I really like birthday cakes and, you know, modern medicine.  On the other hand, there’s an element of excitement if the procedure is anything like that sorting hat business in Harry Potter.

“I got Gryffindoor!”

“I got PuffenStuff!”

“I got Seventh Day Adventist!”

“I got a rock.” (Shut up, Charlie Brown).

Incidentally, whatever happened to Charlie Brown?  He moved to east Texas, got a job as a flag guy on a road construction crew, and lost himself in the Pentacostal Church.  No more wiffing on kickoffs for him–dude spends his weekend shaking and baking and speaking in tongues.

But I digress.  Congresswoman Allen is dead serious.

In fact, when reporters caught up with her the next day, Allen doubled down.  Refusing to apologize, she pointed out how things had changed since she was a child in the 1950s. (not her fashion sense, of course).  “People prayed, people went to church,” she said, “I remember on Sundays the stores were closed,” Allen said. “The biggest thing is religion was kicked out of our public places, out of our schools.”

I get how these people feel–it must be highly disorienting to emerge from the monochrome vision of pasteurized, processed America and find that the world contains a vast palette of ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, gender identifications, political sensibilities far beyond what was portrayed in Leave It To Beaver and The Donna Reed Show.  I feel her pain. It’s how I felt when I visited Orem, Utah.

What I don’t get is how these folks don’t hear themselves. Isn’t this mandatory religion thing one of our core conflicts with eastern extremists such as ISIL, Al Queda, and the Taliban? How is a frumpy Christian woman who wants to legally compel me to attend church any different than  a bearded Muslim extremist who aims to impose compulsory religion?  I would think, in a nation that calls itself Christian but is in actuality experiencing a startling decline in the numbers of individuals who identify as “religious” in general and “Christian” specifically, the God Gang would be a little more warm and welcoming, and a little less aggressively imperialistic.

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Funny and/or Strange meme Photo I Like

“Me and The Devil”

Well, not “me” exactly. This is exactly the kind of thing they warned us about in Sunday School.

Credit to this one goes to my friend Teresa, who shared it….

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Commentary

Ghosts of Christmas Past Part 1: Hanging of The Greens

I began this essay last season, ultimately publishing the initial portions as a somewhat unrefined draft, but never finishing–so the six or seven of you who read it last year might find the first portions somewhat familiar.  For most of you, however, we’re treading on new ground.

carter_christmasMy ardent followers and weary friends will certainly attest to my love of most things Christmas, not to mention my enthusiasm for Christmas-themed posts. I wasn’t born this way; it was bred into me by a perversely nostalgic mother and an extended family whose expressions of sentiment were largely reserved for the final episodes of long-running television series (“it’s like they were our friends) and major holidays–Christmas chief among them.

IMG_1034To cut to the quick, I wasn’t the happiest kid. It takes an effort to find a picture of me smiling but each year, when I was young,  as the days turned dark and cold, my family’s humble holidays brought moments of magical respite from the rest of the year. It wasn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was better and in endeavoring to make it similarly special for my children I’ve found even greater joy and satisfaction as an adult–so right up front there’s a lesson for you: focus on making some other people happy and it’s likely you’ll get a little good back for yourelf….

Now, to be clear, when I say “Christmas” we are talking about an extended period which began before Thanksgiving and persisted through New Years to Epiphany–the last of those happy “Twelve Days of Christmas”–the very sort of Holiday over-reach that drives Christian extremists nutso. Not that I care what they think.

sears-1976For many of my generation, “Christmas” began with the arrival of the Sears, Roebuck & Company “Wish Book” and it’s myriad, fantastical possibilities–toys I had never imagined, let alone seen, and mostly likely never would, but of which I could marvel and dream. (all this and a ladies lingerie section, too–the Wishbook was the original internet). Within moments of it’s arrival, I had a ballpoint pen in my hand, circling anything interesting with reckless disregard for reality, or anyone else who might want to read those pages. I never seemed to notice that I would get none of it–the magic was in the dream, not the reality, which was never half as entrancing as the catalog imagery. I mean, all that crap broke by New Years Day, in any case.

2012-08-17_002The next great holiday milepost was our church’s annual “Hanging of The Greens” night–a massive covered-dish dinner, at which hundreds of people–mostly the older folks and families with young children–gathered and sat at long tables, partaking in the seemingly endless bounty of casseroles, gelatin-based salads, and chewy white rolls. After dinner, the men went to the huge sanctuary to decorate the half dozen or more trees, and arrange the hundreds of poinsettias, wreaths, swags, and bows that turned the church into a festive wonderland–it was truly spell-binding, and it’s disappointing that I have been unable to locate a picture.

While the men scaled ladders and hefted trees, the women cleaned up dinner (ha!) then adjourned, as did the children, to their various Sunday School classrooms to decorate each of the many rooms with craft decorations we had made ourselves. At the end of the evening, everyone gathered in the sanctuary for a small lesson, a few Christmas hymns, and a benediction. I invariably went home exhausted, but excited. Christmas was really on the way.

It’s odd to me now, three decades after my 0scandalous, sin-tainted family–with the adulterous father, the cloying mother, and their no-good, unruly little boy– was quietly marginalized and driven from that church, to recall how warm and inviting those halls were, as familiar as–and far more comfortable and safe–than my own home.  I haven’t practiced religion for decades and have no plan to resume any time in the future, but I must admit that my experiences as part of a church community added a richness to the season that I’d never dream of renouncing.

Coming Soon…Part 2: On The First Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Thanksgiving Dinner