Hard to be both gay and a teacher in Georgia, apparently

July 11, 2014

Sad, but not entirely surprising:

A gay Georgia teacher has been told that his contract will not be renewed after four years of teaching music at a Catholic school. Flint Dollar had received no parent complaints and had a clear record at the school; however, the teacher had recently announced his plans to marry his gay partner on social media.

Dollar says that he had been honest about his sexual orientation since he was hired.

Dollar was called in to see the school president on the last day of school. “I was told that … the bishop of the Diocese of Savannah called and expressed his concern that if I was to return it would be against the teachings of the Catholic Church,” he said.

The church, the church. It doesn’t matter how many people Pope Francis will kiss on the side of the road or hi-5, they’ll still pull this old chestnut forward, that to gay is to sin..

The state of Georgia does not have a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against homosexuals, but Dollar plans to use Title VII of the Civil rights act as the basis for a lawsuit. Title VII prevents employers from discrimination of sex.

Dollar’s attorney Charles Cox said, “When you fire somebody because they are engaging in a same-sex marriage, I think that pretty clearly fits with gender discrimination. You’re being fired because you’re not complying with traditional gender stereotypes, and that’s wrong, and we believe it’s unlawful.”

Dollar says he does not plan to return to the school if he wins the suit.

I don’t know why he’d work there in the first place, but I suppose a job is a job and it’s a tough job market at the best of times. And never mind how great a teacher he might have been in terms of motivating his students into pursuing music careers, or helping them utilize the math of it as a basis for other pursuits. Teh gay is teh evil! Down with teh evil!

I’m always baffled by how much it matters to some people. Why does it matter? Oh right, ideas from 2000+ year old goat herders suggest this is so. Well, going by that logic, I’d rather follow the teachings of the Kama Sutra. It’s as old and more fun:

The title of the text, Kama Sutra , literally means “a treatise on pleasure.” Far more complex than a mere listing of contortionist sexual positions, the Kama Sutra provides a comprehensive manual of living for the good life. Although the central character of the Kama Sutra is the citizenly man-about-town, the text was written to be read by and provide detailed advice for both men and women.

Whoohoo, I must say. I’ve seen the pictures. Whoohoo doesn’t do the book justice.

And, while not as old, The Joy of Gay Sex has supported and lifted the spirits of any and all in need of it for decades. As Publisher’s Weekly notes in its review,

Originally published in 1977, four years after the American Psychiatric Association reversed its decision labeling homosexuality a mental disorder, The Joy of Gay Sex continues to be a popular resource due to its “permissive tone about sex,” an important feature and one that has been carefully retained in this revised edition. Readers may object to the title (which lacks the word “male”), the illustrations (which almost solely feature wiry, tattooed and hairless men) and some of the theories (the “daddy/son scene” may be enjoying increased popularity owing to a “greater need for good parenting”), but this is nevertheless a needed title.

Indeed. The world isn’t really split into MALE and FEMALE and it’s becoming more and more obvious that maybe it was never supposed to be thought about that way from the get-go. For example, the “female” hyena:

it’s not only their behavior that’s masculine. Their clitoris is so enlarged it’s often referred to as a pseudo penis. It’s capable of erection, and the female has sex, urinates, and gives birth through it. Females also have a structure that looks remarkably like a scrotum. Even close up, it can be hard to distinguish a female from a male.

There are theories but no definitive reason for the female hyena’s pseudo penis.

“OMG, cool!” probably doesn’t count.

Oh my… Yes, I wind up quoting George Takei there, but who wouldn’t!?


A Question of Atheist Scruples – Round 2

May 8, 2012

I found a copy of A Question of Scruples a while back and decided it might be entertaining to go through the questions and answering them as honestly as possible. Like last time, I’ll answer three questions and add one more for readers to weigh in on.

You want to landscape your property but find that trees cost too much. Do you drive into the woods and take some?

Ha. No. I’d just raid my dad’s yard. Mom and Dad planted 2000 trees or so on their acreage in the early ’70s and saplings pop up all over the place, often where they don’t want them. They’d gotten theirs through Indian Head’s PFRA Shelterbelt Centre.

The benefits of shelterbelts are numerous. Shelterbelts reduce wind speed and thereby create a microclimate for yards, gardens, and crops. The wind is deflected up and over the shelterbelt, creating a well-protected zone in the lee of the belt. The zone of protection extends outward many times the height of the trees. Reducing wind speed can have a dramatic energy saving benefit. On average, a mature 5-row shelterbelt, with at least 2 rows of conifers, planted around a farmhouse will reduce its heat requirements by 25%. The trapped snow provides water for dugouts and soil reserves.

Not to mention trapping the pesky CO2 while they’re at it, and providing refuge for wildlife of all kinds, especially birds.

A friend wants to copy and swap some expensive software. You know it’s illegal. Do you swap?

My copy of Scruples come out in 1984 just as personal computers were coming into focus as affordable fun for the whole family. Apple’s famous ad for the Macintosh ran that year during the Superbowl. My school bought a couple Apple II’s for the whole student body to share and by 1987 there were two IIe’s in every classroom. The junior high I attended after had a whole room filled with computers for kids who wanted to take the programming class. I was satisfied with what little I knew of BASIC and LOGO, which wasn’t much. I never owned a computer until I reached university and discovered they were actually useful for other things. To finally answer the question, yes, I’d probably agree to a swap if we each had something the other wanted. Illegal or not, cops have more important things to do than crack down on software trading when it’s on a one-on-one basis. Cops could get after the library for loaning out DVDs and CDs, too. It’s pretty damned obvious that if someone borrows fifty CDs Friday night and drops them off again Saturday morning that they probably ripped every one of them to their computer. We don’t flag their cards and report them. No proof they did that. Suspicions, but no proof. I think far too many people have already shrugged off the illegalities of it and it barely tarnishes their notion of being a law-abiding citizen. And to get biblical on your ass, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Do you see any stones flying?

Someone you don’t particularly like invites you to an expensive restaurant that you’d love to try. Do you go just for the meal?

Is he or she treating? I can think of a few people I’d force myself to sit across from if it meant I got free food out of it. If it’d be up to me to pay my way, I’d pass on the offer. I’d rather plan a night there with people I enjoy being around.

Last question, left for you to answer. Feel free to answer the other three as well.

The government has been overthrown by a party that is violent and undemocratic. You are asked to join the underground. Do you?


The title says it all: Jesus not guilty

May 3, 2011

Not guilty of what, you ask? This:

THE faithful at St Thomas’ Anglican Church are convinced local residents, and not Jesus, killed their fig trees.

There’s a story in the bible where Jesus curses a fig tree to death because it’s not producing fruit (Mark 11:12-14; 20-25). Way to fix the problem, Jesus. I don’t know what kind of lesson people are supposed to take from it, bear fruit or you’ll piss Jesus off? (If you care, bible study lessons regarding these verses are here and here.)

The Rector at the church in Leichhardt, New South Wales, suspects vandalism. The trees are quite tall so possibly people got sick of Newton’s law of gravity being tested on their noggins when the figs were in season, plus fruit bats congregate there whenever the fruit falls and not everyone thinks they’re cute.

“This is also an act of cultural vandalism. Famous Australian architect Edmund Blacket (who designed University of Sydney and St Andrew’s Cathedral) built the old house next to the trees.’‘

Leichhardt Council has received two reports of tree poisoning in the past 12 months, while Marrickville has had nine requests to investigate poisoning incidents in the same period.

Cold Chisel guitarist Ian Moss was also angered last month when a tree near his house in Annandale was poisoned in a similar fashion. Mr McGrath did a letter drop in the area during the weeks after he discovered the damage on January 22. The church will be forced to fork out thousands of dollars to remove the trees later this year.

It’s unfortunate that people will resort to these kinds of behaviours. Would they ever have a good reason to kill trees? Makes a person wish Ents existed…


If your teacher’s scared of science…

August 16, 2010

I feel sorry for every kid in the class.

Dr Mark Spencer, who rose to fame after appearing on the BBC’s Museum of Life series, said teachers ‘scream at the sight of insects’ and are ‘frightened of handling soil’.

In an interview with Horticulture Week, the man in charge of the herbariums at the Natural History Museum, said Britain faced a shortage of naturalists in the future just when the country will need experts to deal with the threat of climate change and biodiversity loss.

He blamed the problem on a “lack of teachers who know about the natural world”.

“Even if the Government decided to put natural history on the primary curriculum, how would it do so with teachers who don’t have the basic skills? They are often terrified of the natural world – they scream at the sight of insects and tell the children ‘don’t touch’. The whole point is to engage them, but when people are frightened of handling soil, then we have a problem.”

Okay, biology was not my thrill. The plant parts were all right, but once we got into dissection I literally washed my hands of it. And still couldn’t rid myself of the smell of formaldehyde.

I think it’s unfortunate that teachers would be unwilling to get their hands dirty and really show kids how cool plants and insects are, though. I’ve been an ant fan for decades. I never tired of watching them work and wander around their little paths carrying crap several times larger than they were. Entomology wouldn’t have been a big enough interest to do as a school subject, mind you, but I like ants. I love beetles, too. They’re so bloody cool and varied. That’s part of why I’ve kept that little beetle up on my title for so long. I used to change that part quite frequently, but I just love how that photo turned out. I took it in the pasture at home. I took more great beetle shots this time I was home, too.

What they’re chowing down on is a plant Dad called smart weed. There were hundreds of them in that small slough area of the pasture, but no lack of food for them, either. I think he said he’d never seen those beetles in the area before. Click the pic for a larger version so you can really see how metallic and shimmering blue they are. We used to have other beetles in the yard that also had varied colouring on them, some seemed burgundy, others reflected in the teal and blue, and they all hung out on the Caragana hedges. They haven’t been around for years though. No idea where they all went. Everything goes in cycles, I suppose.

Mom’s the horticulturalist in our family, although Dad’s no slouch either. I learned a lot about plants just from hanging out in the yard with them. Mom had lights set up in the basement for years before she had a greenhouse for transplanting. I never had a problem with dirt-related activities. I was a farm kid – what else would I find to dig into? Dad has a pretty good knowledge of wild plants after so many years in the fields and even he gets stumped by things he finds in the pasture once in a while. With all the rain they got this year, the natural grass has never been greener and so many plants really took advantage of the excess moisture to go insane with growth. He’d never seen his land looking that great before and he’s been on it for 40 years.

I’m reminded, too, of a zany decision to pull words out of dictionaries aimed at school kids in Britian. Many of the words chosen had roots in a country life urban kids wouldn’t need to look up, supposedly. Retarded.

The natural world is so darn nifty and it’s a real shame there are kids who are stuck in school situations where their own teachers can’t get up the nerve to show it off. Will kids get interested enough on their own to do the research out of school? Hard to say. If Spencer’s right, though, the answer will likely be no.


It’s time to sneak a peek at Billy Graham’s mail again

July 22, 2010

I’d do this more often, but Graham’s advice to people always runs the same tired route, and I hate having to repeat myself. Here’s yesterday’s issue.

What makes us any different from other animals except for our superior mental abilities? As far as I can tell, we’re just another type of animal, and once we die that’s the end. I assume you don’t agree, but why? — Z.L.

I’m reminded of a Stargate SG-1 episode, interestingly enough. For those unfamiliar with the series (or the movie which launched it), it’s largely about Earth defending itself against this parasitic race called the Goa-uld, who evolved from weird and freaky water snakes into critters who can take over a human host and control it completely. What’s freakier is that such things actually do happen (cat people may not want to read that, but ought to).

So, it comes to pass that a dear friend of Captain Jack O’Neill (played by Richard Dean Anderson in the show, Kurt Russell in the film) is captured by the Goa’uld at the start of season one, along with the wife of Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks/James Spader). They later meet a different group of these parasites who call themselves the Tok’Ra, who have actually perfected a symbiotic relationship with the host, unlike the villains who just take bodies over and keep the host’s mind and memories trapped somewhere lost inside. They also have the ability to move parasites out of their hosts and into new, willing bodies (which are few and far between, for obvious reasons – pro: longer life con: never alone in your own head. Hmm. Toss up…).

Skaara (Alexis Cruz in both) turns out to have a pretty strong personality, though, and in season 2 (the episode “Pretense”), SG-1 (the team O’Neill and Jackson are part of) learns that he’s managed to take control of himself long enough to attempt escape. He lands on a planet full of people who give a damn about fair trials, so that’s lucky.

What transpires is something of a court case where Skaara is fighting for the right to his body. The Goa’uld invited to argue Klorel’s side makes some sly comments about the nature of intelligence during his speech, along the lines of the fact that humans will eat animals, therefore animals are the lesser species. Goa’uld think humans are the lesser species, therefore have the right to keep doing what they’re doing. Pigs think they’re smarter than rats, probably too, he says. Jack, Daniel, and Skaara argue their side well enough to tip the vote their way – that slavery is slavery – and anyway, having giant Goa’uld motherships appear in the sky looking like trouble probably helped a little, too (hence the title of the ep).

So back to the question. Is our mind’s ability to reason and rationalize the only way we can convince ourselves we’re the superior creatures here? I’m thinking yes. I’m also thinking that if we were to suddenly find ourselves without power and lacking most of our more enjoyable weapons of choice, though, the balance would tip in favour of the critters who’ve lived by their instincts for millions of years, instead of quashing them all, like us, because we favoured using our higher brain functions instead of our highly-evolved sense of risk. And really, how much intelligence does a virus need to lay waste to an unprepared immune system? Zip. They just do what they do and we pay for it.

So, onto Graham’s (predictable) advice.

Have you ever really thought about how vastly different we are from any member of the animal kingdom? The gap is enormous, and you need to take it seriously because it demonstrates clearly that we’re not just animals.

Darn tootin’ we are. Monkeys and crows and rats and elephants and many other kinds of animals have shown a clear sense of having the ability to figure things out in new ways. We have so much in common with our kin and genetic neighbours, it’s no wonder creationists get their freak on over so much of that.

Yes, there are similarities; we have bodies like they do, and someday — like them — our bodies will die and decay. Animals also feel pain (just as we do), and apparently some can even experience emotions in limited ways.

Yes, “apparently” some can. Wow, the science just radiates off him, doesn’t it? Animals do remarkable things for reasons that humans can only attribute to caring about others. And rightly so, I’d think. Once in a while you see stories or videos of rescues where it’s not just instincts coming into play. The willingness to raise the young of some other species is quite remarkable as well. Why bother if there’s no net benefit for the animal doing the raising? And anyone who’s spent any time around cats or dogs or horses can tell by their hackles, ears, and nostrils what kind of mood they’re in. It’s goofy to think they’ve got next to nothing going on in their heads. Worse than goofy; it’s ludicrous.

But we aren’t just a higher form of animal. We are unique, and the reason is because God has put something of Himself within us, what we usually call our soul or spirit. The Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Oh barf on it. So what you’re saying is that God’s the ultimate hermaphrodite? How else could both men and women resemble him? Besides, every animal is a unique animal. Maybe every lion looks the same in the prey’s eyes, but each lion knows who the other is, and anyone daring to study them at length can figure that out pretty quickly, too.

If we think we’re only animals, we’ll end up acting like animals, and we’ll also begin treating others like animals.

This kind of rationale bugs the hell out of me. Animals tend to keep the peace, just living their lives, killing whatever might be required for food – and no more (except in extreme cases). They live their lives with a far better “live and let live” attitude than any human being with a religion behind him can manage. They don’t wreck the earth on purpose. They don’t fight pointless wars. They aren’t tricked very easily, and aren’t easily made fools of in their own natural environments. We should be begging to be treated like animals. There’d be a hell of a lot more respect and decency were that the case.

I pray you won’t go down this path, but that you will discover the joy of knowing God by giving your life to Jesus Christ.

And I hope you realize that Billy Graham can’t give you anything useful in the way of thinking about the world and what lives in it with you. You’d be far better off reading some books about the natural world and how amazing the animals that populate it really are, instead of diving into a book that doesn’t even know how many legs insects have and won’t differentiate between real and fantasy creatures besides.


The One Minion Search Party, vol 33

July 21, 2010

what fallen angel is gaia?

Gaia is a word pagans (and other New Age devotees) pull out when they want to talk Earth Mother stuff. It has nothing at all to do with devils, angels, gods or anything else of a religious nature — not current religions at any rate. Gaia is one of the Titans of Greek mythology.

Gaia is an environmental idea, that the world is a conscious, living thing that we need to care about. Certainly much on the planet is, if not “conscious” as humans define it, at least alive in some fashion, so in a very real sense this is true.

It’s certainly a popular word for companies who want to evoke a “love the earth” personality when people think of them:

The Gaia Trust is from Denmark and interested in promoting ecovillages:

The ideal ecovillage, which does not yet exist – is a sustainable human settlement which is in harmony with all aspects of life, including the cultural, ecological and spiritual dimensions.

You can poke around there to read more about their vision of a perfect world. Whether or not it’s attainable or even sustainable, there’s always the dream, at least.

Gaia also refers to a project put forth by ESA Science & Technology to build a three dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy so we can really get a decent feel for how big and far away everything is. They won’t be launching until 2012, but hope to run the project for five years once they’re up. Here’s another link about that.

There’s a Gaia University. People can improve their ecosocial skills at a bachelor’s degree level and at the Masters level there is urban village design, green business and some other stuff.

Gaia Clinic in Canmore, Alberta (always think of Mike from Canmore – thanks for that, Royal Canadian Air Farce) offers what they call “collaborative medicine” and their Health Services page provides a breakdown of services they provide under that rather shapeless umbrella.

I could add more, but you get the drift. Aside from that galaxy project, it’s all about living well with the earth.

And we should anyway. We shouldn’t need to evoke a spirituality or shove a deity of any kind into it though. We should care because we have to, not because some religion or philosophy suggests we ought to. Ecologically speaking, we’re beyond stupid to ignore what the earth does for us, and how we can best make sure the earth remains a healthy provider for our ever increasing needs. We also need to figure out more and better ways to give back.


What are my thoughts about global warming?

July 8, 2010

In an earlier post, a commenter named Maranda asked me to broach a topic I’ve never really touched on in here – the whole global warming issue and where I happen to sit in terms of the debate. You can read her comments on that post to see why she asked for my take. I’m flattered to offer it, even though my grasp of the topic has got to be around the same level of understanding a fish may have of a fork. Just a warning.

By and large, I say, yes, global warming is probably happening. Yes, human “progress” is probably helping it along in a few different ways, but it’s also worth pointing out that our wonderful little planet has been through several ice ages and, therefore, several trips into temperatures that can melt a lot of ice, too. According to Nature.ca, we’re in an ice age now. Read the rest of this entry »


Dracula connection to a young earth?

June 30, 2010

Normally I avoid Answers in Genesis like a plague, but with a headline like that, there’s got to be some fun reading in it. Sadly I don’t know enough about vampire bats to know if John Woodmorappe is properly describing their evolution from insect eater to blood sucker. There’s a footnote listing a journal published by the Linnean Society and hopefully the original article included this information as it’s presented here (with one obvious exception).

Interestingly, the family containing vampire bats (Phyllostomatidae) has, on the whole, certain anatomical features that would have made it easier for blood drinking to arise in them rather than another bat family. Most notable is the fact that they already have a certain type of specialized sharp teeth. It would have taken only a small modification to have them used for piercing flesh instead of fruit. The structure of the tongue in the whole family happens to already be well-suited for lapping blood in the way vampires do. Clearly, such ‘pre-adaptation’ does not necessarily mean that a structure was originally designed for that purpose.1

Sorry, just have to ask: have you ever seen a real vampire feeding this way, Mr. Woodmoreappe? Where’s the evidence of that? No handy footnote leading to Bram Stoker’s classic, or any other “proof,” sadly. Fiction or otherwise.

I’ll quote the paragraph above this one next:

I suggest that bats were originally created primarily to eat fruit, nectar and/or insects. Most bats today are insect-eaters. (The death of insects arguably need not be death in the biblical sense, because invertebrates are not conscious and perceptive—‘nephesh’—creatures in the same way that vertebrates are.3) After the Fall, vampire bats may have begun drinking blood if they accidentally wounded their host. Eventually they acquired a preference for blood, which then became their exclusive diet.

After the Fall? Please. Funny talk about insects, too, by the way. Food is food and dead is dead. He tries to prove that he’s right via the abuse of discoveries in the 1960s regarding some sharp-beaked Galapagos finches that opted for a little blood with their meals, a stark difference from their counterparts. If finches can become blood eaters within however many generations, then the world is only 6000 years old! Nyer, nyer, we’re right, la dee skippy lala! Last quote is the proof of that sentiment:

This helps explain why blood eating arose only among a few South American bats, and not on any other continent. The bats on other continents had too much anatomical change to overcome in contrast to the Phyllostomatidae (in order to give rise to individuals which would attack animals and drink their blood). This fact fits better with the young earth creationist time frame than an evolutionary one. Had millions of years been available, many more bats should have had the time to develop such a blood habit. But with just thousands of years available, only a few of those bats which already possessed anatomical features facilitating blood sucking actually switched to it.

Even with millions of years available, if there was no logical reason to switch food sources, they wouldn’t have to adapt to do so. I don’t know near enough about the species existing in South America compared to, say, Saskatchewan but I’m sure our bats are gorging themselves every night on the billions of mosquitoes available. They don’t even have to work for it. All they have to do is fly around with their mouths open for a minute and they’ll feast like kings. And given the predatory habits of their easiest meal, most of them are feasting on blood at the same time anyway. Maybe Saskatchewan bats would have evolved claws or teeth sharp enough to cut through animal hide and eliminate the middle bug had the need been there, but the need simply wasn’t there.

The feeding habits of bats and finches isn’t proof that Genesis is right. It’s proof that Spock is right: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. So there. Nyer nyer, la dee skippy lala.


A boy, a couger, an Angel – how could I not write about this?

January 4, 2010

Big headline in the news this morning: Domesticated canine reacts with evolved instincts, protects pack member from wild animal.

Hardly.

The way Lloyd Forman sees it, his 11-year-old grandson was saved by an Angel.

Yes, the Star article takes the holy road, as expected.

Austin was out in the yard getting firewood when a cougar approached, aiming to jump the boy. Their dog did exactly what any pack animal does: challenge the invader. Austin was able to run into the house, which is when his mother called his grandfather for some reason, who suggested they call 911. A nearby RCMP came to their aid and shot the cougar while it was occupied with mauling the dog under the stairs (according to Calgary’s “guardian Angel” version) and the kid never saw it coming until the dog reacted and leapt between them. According to CTV, the cougar wasn’t much bigger than the dog.

From the Star:

Sgt. Peter Thiessen of the RCMP said there’s no question Austin’s encounter with the cougar would have been a lot worse had it not been for his dog.

“The boy was in severe risk,” said Thiessen.

“That cougar was advancing aggressively to both of them, and the dog intervened and got between the animal and the young child and the risk was extremely high.”

Thiessen said conservation officials will look into what happened and why the cougar came so close to people.

He said it’s uncommon – but not unheard of – for cougars to go after people.

“We have seen cougar attacks in the lower part of British Columbia,” he said.

“It’s not something that’s common, but it is something that has occurred.”

Before I get to the real meat about this – some cougar (aka Mountain Lion) facts:

Mountain Lions can survive in a variety of habitats, including high mountains, deserts, and swamps. Human activity has encouraged Mountain Lions to retreat to the rugged terrain that remains largely uninhabited by humans. Mountain Lion habitat must provide an adequate prey base as well as cover for hunting.

The range of a Mountain Lion may cover 25 to 785 square miles. Here in southern Utah, lions have been known to occupy home ranges as large as 513 square miles. The size of a lion’s territory depends on the availability of food and habitat quality

There, boys and girls, is the problem. It’s British Columbia and cougars have very little space to call their own anymore thanks to developers and industries that get approval to expand further and further into spaces that used to be cougar-friendly. These cougars that attack people — if all their other preferred meal choices have been chased away, what else could be expected? They’re wild animals that have evolved for millions of years and honed their hunting skills. It’s adaptation at its finest. They’re making do. It’s the only way they can hope to survive.

Okay, it’s not great from a human being’s perspective, but let’s be fair. There are way more human beings than cougars. Why not let the cougars have some? You really don’t want them to go extinct, do you?

Yes, I’m being facetious. More from Bryce Canyon National Park:

As a rule, Mountain Lions avoid people and signs of people, but in recent years, Mountain Lion attacks on humans have become a serious source of controversy. Although attacks on humans are extremely rare, the attacks have increased over the past few decades. As in most livestock depredations, the Mountain Lion that attacks a person is usually a hunger-crazed juvenile that has been pushed into marginal habitat by more dominant males. But it is human encroachment into Mountain Lion territory that creates marginal Mountain Lion habitat. As more people are recreating and living in rural areas, the chance of an encounter with these secretive animals is more likely.

I would like to see journalists mention that kind of thing when reporting on attacks, rather than just go for the human interest/angelic intervention angles. What ever happened to doing research into a story to flesh it out? Too much pressure to get a tale to print before the body’s ready, or what?


Quotable irony

November 28, 2009

I delved into WORLDmag.com for ideas for this post and found an opinion piece by Warren Cole Smith about the ongoing “War on Christmas.”

First of all, Jesus is most certainly not the reason for the orgiastic spending spree modern Christmas has become. I certainly think anyone should be able to say “Merry Christmas” if he or she wants to. But given what this holiday has become, there’s a part of me—a big part of me—that wants to keep the Jesus I worship as far away from this commercial debauchery as possible.

Secondly, there are the words themselves. “Christmas” is derived from “Christ’s Mass,” an expression first recorded in the 11th century. “Holiday” is a word derived from “holy day,” an expression that likely has an even more ancient, and no less religious, derivation. Indeed, the phrase “Merry Christmas” was unknown until the 16th century, and it connoted the idea of a Christmas that was—shall we say—festive. In other words, “Merry Christmas” may have been a medieval euphemism for “bottoms-up.”

And, he points out, the advertising they need to “Keep Christ in Christmas” costs money to make, and therefore costs money to buy. Just look at all the crap available via World Net Daily and that’s just bumper stickers.

What was once a quiet and solemn occasion to honor the birth of a baby has become completely commercialized and above and beyond everything the original holy Christian day had been set aside for.

The bottom line here is, well, the bottom line: The Christmas wars are a financial windfall for the organizations that whip up this frenzy. The Christmas wars have become, ironically, the ultimate commercialization of Christmas.

I’m not saying that there are times when we Christians shouldn’t stand up for our rights, but when we fire all our weapons in such a meaningless skirmish, we alienate potential allies, and we have no ammunition for the battles that matter.

Huge challenges face our culture and the Christian church: abortion, pornography, same-sex marriage. These are battles worth fighting, battles we must win, battles with too few warriors in the fight. And we’re wasting our time with “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays”? Our priorities are badly out of whack.

Including all the priorities he just mentioned, as far as I’m concerned. This is totally off the topic of my post, but those are battles I hope they don’t win because the world needs to move beyond the biblical rules about marriage and sex that are ridiculously out of date and have no bearing on the reality of daily life for the rest of the population that doesn’t believe every word of that book. Secularism isn’t evil incarnate and it’s troublesome to see Christian groups trying to enforce rules that restrict everyone, just because their groups claim it’s “wrong.”

There is no good reason to ban gay marriage. It cannot wreck the sanctity of a heterosexual marriage unless one partner finally admits he or she is gay and seeks divorce. Just because it’s a “sin” in a Christian’s eye doesn’t mean it has to be illegal. Gambling and alcohol also lead to “sin,” do they not? It’s still legal to get drunk and lose money. Sins have no legal standing, no matter how much Christians might wish it so.

There is no good reason to say all abortion must be illegal. Better it all be legal and full of rules that must be followed to the letter and make the whole procedure above board and safe for any woman who feels the need to seek it out. There are good reasons to have this option available and perhaps women can be counseled if they have bad reasons. Rabbits, hares and coyotes have a far more sensible arrangement than we do, that actually reflects the ability of their environments to sustain their populations.

There is no good reason to be against the advertising and filming of sex, unless the battle is against stuff that involves children or sadistic violence against women. Sex is not unnatural nor should it be considered a sin. That kind of thinking is what likely leads to so many sexual hangups. What goes on between consenting adults is up to those adults, and those adults alone. I agree there is a lot of sexuality in advertising that kids will see, though. It is up to consumers to bully advertisers into changing their advertising methods. If enough people stand up to say enough is enough, maybe they’ll stop seducing people into buying a commercialized wet dream.

Which brings us back to commercialized Christmas, after all. Decide for yourself what the reason for the season is and live it as best you can.

It is completely unnecessary to insist others follow your lead. They might do so anyway, but at least the choice will be theirs.


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