Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Grab Bag of Irritation Volume 1

I decided that since I did not have one thing that pissed me off this week to do a whole column on, I would instead write about a number of small things, both current and ongoing, that piss me off on a daily basis.

*Let's start with people running government. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is proof positive that people in this country are getting dumber and dumber. It took him how many hours to open the southbound lane so that traffic conditions would ease the gridlock from the Hurricane Rita exodus? Folks, this is something that me, PL and Crabby could have done in 20 minutes and a few orange cones.

*And speaking of moronic, Mike Brown has resigned from FEMA and is still receiving a paycheck as consultant? Huh? This is the guy who resigned in disgrace after fucking up royally and he is still being paid taxpayer money! Where is all the talk of government waste now?

*Can we please get rid all TV ads which have a cool, techno theme with quiet xylophone being played in the background? You know the ones that show how technology is improving our lives everywhere. I am not up nights worried about how many Bank of America ATMs are located near my house!

*People that are over the age of 18 that play video games are LAME!! Dude (it's mostly guys) take your girl out for a fucking steak and dancing. Show her a good time instead of figuring out how to take your proton blaster tablet to go to level 4 and ignoring her. Getting excited about the fact that a bar has Golden Tee or Big Buck Hunter instead of getting excited about your girlfriend on all fours with her butt up in the air means you have a serious problem.

*People under the age of 55 that like to go to casinos. Are you dead? Go out to a club and see a band. Or see a movie. Better yet, get together with your friends and play cards instead of being a zombie and playing the electronic one armed bandit (See above)

*People who watch poker on TV. I don't think I need to say anything else here.

*People who have the little yellow wristbands for Livestrong. Y'know I am all for cancer research support but how many of these people (mostly guys again) are doing this to look cool at a bar. Show your support for cancer treatments by volunteering your time at a cancer ward for kids or giving your time away with people that are sick.

*Closely related to people who wear yellow wristbands are people who obsessively train for triatholons. They are often the same person. Has anyone heard about his latest craze? Suddenly everyone is really INTO IT. People, you are not going to live the olympic dream at the age of 40. Are you doing it because it is fun or because it is trendy?

Well, that's it for now. Stay tuned for further Grab Bags of Irritation in the future!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Our Father Who Art In Where?

A couple of weeks back, a friend of mine sent me this article.

This one will make you think In light of the many perversions and jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke, it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding the attacks on Sept. 11). Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school . the Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Are you laughing? Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they WILL think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in!!

After reading this note from my friend I was reminded once again why there are so many problems in the world: it is because of myopic views like this one.

The reason why prayer is not allowed in schools is because if we allowed such activity there would be daily fights as to which God to worship and which religion is right. Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian...which would it be? Of course this note was sent by people who believe there is only true God and that is the Christian God. Just for the record, I am a Presbyterian but embrace all faith as necessary in any path to true enlightenment. As long as you believe in some kind of spirituality, you are on the right track. I am not speaking here of people that pervert any religion as an excuse for violence. I am simply stating that a spiritual person is more well rounded and engaging.

I find it interesting that people like Anne Graham think that people have turned their back on God. I think she should come to my church sometime and ask people that question. Our church has a congregation of 1500 strong and is growing. There are activities in our church every day and every night that our children and anybody else's children can be involved in if they desire. Not just on Sunday. So my question to all of you (and Anne Graham) is does your church offer the same programs? And if so, why do you feel the need to have more religion in schools when you can get plenty at church? The answer is that these people have an agenda and they want to shove it down our throats. They want power and control not salvation, peace, and love. They want to dictate what they perceive as God's will to people.

Funny how the will they want to force on us is all Old Testemant stuff and not anything from the New Testament. The 10 Commandments should be in goverment buildings but how about a picture of Jesus? How about some quotes from Jesus? "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the poor and the sick..." In fact, how about we fill up our government buildings with quotes from Jesus, espousing peace, respect for life, and equality for all people. Of course, that is not the God they want people to understand and love.

I think Anne Graham's viewpoint once again sadly illustrates that people like her feel the need to portray themselves as victims when in actuality they are trying to manipulate people in to believing that their way is the Right Way. These people are so stuck in a belief system that encourages ignorance and intolerance that they can't see that the original message of Christ.

And how about religious education starting and ending at home? Our children have several books about the Bible and our daughter always reminds us to pray before every meal. I have recently become fascinated by the life of Christ and how his teachings really apply today. I have also become interested in learning more about what he did between the ages of 12 and area of history absent from the Bible. So, basically my children and my extended family for that matter have much of these basic values in our lives without getting that at school. Schools have enough things to teach our children like basic reading and writing skills, how to do simple math, and history.

True enough, the Bible says Thou Shall Not Kill and Thou Shall Not Steal and yet we are essentially doing that in Iraq. But that's Ok because we are Americans. By my understanding of the Bible, only God can give life and take life and regardless of whether or not it is in self-defense, it is still a sin. If my family were killed and I killed the murdered in return, which I would want to do of course, I would still sin. And Jesus would weep for all the killing.

I think one should question what the Bible says and what the newspapers say. I am not saying the Bible is wrong or bad but should I really sell my daughter into slavery? Or is that particular part a sign of the times in which the Bible was written? I think being interested, being engaged and learning all sides will make you a survivor in this grey world or ours. In the end it will make you a more complete person who can deal with the complexities that our life offer us every day.

I copied my response to my mother's Minister and this is what he wrote back. It really sums it up perfectly.

Thanks for passing on your comments and remarks responding to the Anne Graham "chain letter" e-mail. I receive a fair share of similar messages each week. What strikes me is that religious "simplicity" is presented as neglected clarity in our fallen world, when in truth, simplistic theological answers (as in the Graham e-mail) only impede grasping spiritual truths. God thrives on the complexity and richness of life and having diverse people of faith asking probing questions about what's most important. If that were not so, why do we have four gospels? Why do we have two testaments of material containing everything from history to poetry to legalistic nitpicking? Why must the God of quantam physics and eternity and rainbows and a thousand human cultures be put in a spiritual Cuisinart and condensed to one, tepid, monochromatic broth? It does neither God nor humanity any justice to oversimplify faith in this way.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Invisible Buck

Everyone one who reads this knows how fond I am of one of our former Presidents, Harry S. Truman. I was born in Missouri and always felt a certain kinship with President Truman and in particular the sign he had on his desk which read: The Buck Stops Here.

Every president we have had since then, with the exception of John F Kennedy, has seemed to forgotten that they are the leader of this great land of ours and that they bear the ultimate responsibility for our country's direction or lack thereof. When government policy goes wrong, the president is to blame. When a national crisis occurs, the president is the person who the nation should turn to for leadership.

When the 9-11 attacks occurred our country seemed completly taken by surprise. This was odd, of course, because as recently as one month before the attacks our president was told that terrorists were planning to attack our country using airplanes as missles. After the attacks, it wasn't until days had passed that I felt that George Bush was leading at all. In fact, in the hours after the attack the person who seemed to dive right in to the crisis and work the problem was the mayor of New York, Rudy Guilliani. I guess I felt better knowing that at least someone with some authority was trying to create solutions.

Here we are four years later and a national crisis has occurred, worse than 9-11, and the government response has been abominable. People were literally dying while our government, supposedly preapred for national disasters, did ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING. And once again, the spin doctors are out blaming FEMA and the Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff for not responding quickly enough. Or my favorite excuse, that the folks down there were just too stupid and poor to leave their homes. This coming from people that are supposed to have restored morality in our government. Once again, I have to ask, do any of these people actually read the Bible and know what Jesus was all about?

You can point the finger at all the governmental departments you want but in the end I know what my friend Harry would say: the president is the one in charge. And our president's reaction was excatly the same as 9-11 and the Tsunami disaster: indifference followed by paralysis followed by PR spin followed by a call to his daddy and President Clinton to bail him out once again.

I guess PL and Crab will be all over me being a Bush hater with too much bias so I guess my opinion will be invalidated once again but the image of President Bush playing a guitar on vacation (just as he was before 9-11) while people in the city of New Orleans were wondering when help would come absolutley sickened me. It proves all along what I have been saying: Bush doesn't really care about common people or is just so out of touch with reality that it's scary.

I feel once again like I am describing a crime that is painfully obvious what has occurred but will be diluted into PR spin until all is forgotten. The "liberal" media is saying the same thing I am but already the "conservative" media is criticizing them for armchair quarterbacking. Armchair quaterbacking?

Our governement as been warned for years about the dangers of flooding in New Orleans. As recently as 2002 a report was filed detailing EXACTLY what has happened over the last few days. Just as we failed to heed the warnings of 9-11, we have utterly failed to prevent the magnitude of this crisis. And, given the complete ineffectiveness of our current leader, we will fail again to prevent any kind of future disaster or attack on our country. And why?
I only point to the inevitable responses that will come after this post: Bush isn't responsible for this or that or I am too biased other words, the 60 million dumb fuckers that voted for this man will once again defend his ability to lead.

And once again, because reality is so fucking subjectively out of whack, we will all just accept it until something else happens. Then the debate will start all over again. I am curious how many more American bodies, because we are looking at around 20, 000 in New Orleans, 1700 in Iraq, and 2000 on 9-11, it will take before we all realize how important it is to elect a leader that actually knows what he is doing. This doesn't even include the countless thousands of people from other countries who have lost their lives because of a completly useless leader.

Obviously, acts of nature are not George Bush's fault. But preparedness and protection are his responsibility. Even he admitted this week that they did a poor job. He is going to have to go a lot farther than that. The War in Iraq has long been a distraction from what our real focus should be and that is protecting our own borders against the next terrorist attack. And natural disasters tie in to this sort of emergency management.

What the fuck have we been doing for the last four years, people!!??

Take a look at the City of New Oreleans (a city which I know Crab loves and is now gone forever) and watch what unfolds over the next few days and weeks and you tell me if you think our current administration was being responsible. You tell me if you think they were effective in managing this crisis after they pull body after body out of the water.