Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baptist Witch Hunts / Catholic Closets / Anti-Lesby Presbys and Lunatic Ravings

Roman Catholics say Stay in the Closet!

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, meeting in Baltimore, declared [recently] that Catholics who minister to gays must firmly adhere to the church's teaching that same-sex attractions are "disordered." Catholics with "a homosexual inclination" should be encouraged to live in chastity and discouraged from making "general public announcements" about their sexual orientation, the bishops said. (Herald Sun)

Baptists Begin Witch Hunts

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina voted [recently] to cut ties with congregations that affirm or approve of homosexuality, formally adopting a rigid anti-gay policy that allows the group to investigate whether member churches are gay friendly. (Washington Post)

Presbyterian's Kangaroo Court

And recently in Pittsburgh, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a mainline Protestant denomination with about 3 million members, put a minister on trial for conducting a marriage ceremony for two women. (Herald Sun)

Here's a little test. Who is not going to hell? (A trick question.)

A) The new mother attending a church social dinner (shrimp and steak tar tar!) in the church sanctuary with her husband and month old daughter. The mother is sporting a mohawk, and a neck tattoo is just visible above the rabbit fur trimmed patchwork sweater that goes quite well with the artfully faded men's Levi's.

B) The kindly, hunched over, nearsighted virgin priest/pastor.

C) The slaveowner

D) All or None of the above

I do not cotton to or subscribe to the Christian religion, so why does it bug the heck out of me when one of them believes that I and others like me are going to a hell of their making?

Their afterlife punishment for transgressions against their law should not bother me in the slightest.

I know, it shouldn't matter to me what they think. Yet still, I know that in their heart of hearts those people have judged me against their biblical standard and found me unrepentant and wanting. They may be nice, talk to me, even visit and offer presents, but in the back of their mind they're thinking, "You're going to hell." I doubt that many are pleased with that idea within themselves, but there it is.

They have judged and yet refuse to acknowledge judgement by the same measure. As they point out failure to adhere to Levitical strictures of the Old Testament, they themselves fail to abide by all the obsolete guidelines found in the same book. All or nothing people. You can't pick and choose.

This is not a discussion of old covenent vs. new covenent or the arbitrary distinction of moral/civil/ceremonial law. This is selective enforcement.

Just browsing Leviticus you'll find you can't eat rabbit or pork, or even touch the dead rabbit's fur or pig's skin. You can't eat lobster, shrimp or crab. Women can't wear men's clothes. Men can't wear women's clothes. You can't wear clothes woven of two different materials. You can't eat fat or rare steak. You can't go to church for a month if you gave birth to a boy -- two months if it's a girl. Slavery is fine. Priests can't have any defects, not even poor eyesight. Of course one must observe all the feasts, some sans yeast. Oh, and no tattoos or mohawks.

I recently sent a USA Today link to someone about religion and homosexuality. I said it was a great article. She said "I'm sure it is 'great' from your perspective. Please drop the subject." (I picture covered ears and a loud "LA LA LA LA LA LA.") Purposeful ignorance! They won't think logically or absorb any facts that are contrary to their application of biblical law. (The earth goes 'round the sun. HERETIC! ) They will not continue the discussion through to logical ends. They often close their ears or talk over you. Or get to the point where they "drop the subject," "agree to disagree,""hate the sin, love the sinner," or chalk it up to blind faith. (Translation, "No one can prove any of it, but we can still be friends until you go to hell.")

This invasive bigotry changes YOUR quality of life. If YOU don't speak up, and get justifiably angered, it will invade YOUR HOME even more than it does now. I can't get my marriage acknowledged in my state - because of religion. That may not effect you. Can you buy alcohol on Sundays? I can't buy alcohol in my county (at least it's not a dry county) until after 1 p.m. on Sundays. Why? I'm guessing because of an outdated religious-based statute. What other religion-based laws effect you?

As an opiate for the masses, or a coping mechanism - I think religion is fine. More in the way of philosophy and guidelines. (Be kind to others and all things in moderation, you know.) Religion and prayer in most usage is simply verbalized hope and a displacement of worry or anxiety--a tool, used to help people not to obsess about something over which they have no control. It is my opinion, that if they need to personify an energy or create a deity to which they hand these control issues, let them. It's got to be less stressful for them.

I understand but do not feel the need to personify or create a deity to explain anything, to justify my existance or to give me an ultimate goal or destination.


When Religion Loses its Credibility

Monday, November 27, 2006

How Many Shopping Days 'til Solstice?

Okay, it has officially begun. I've started getting the cutesy e-mails from friends and relatives who push the Christ in Christmas. The same ones who send me the e-hugs and e-Jesus and e-prayers. (Egads.)

So, I've compiled the information below from various Internet pages and saved it so I could hit 'reply all' and push back.

It is not a CHRISTmas tree. It is a Yule tree. Say it with me, YULE tree. Get it right.

The Christmas tree is often explained as a christianization of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life. The exact origin of the Christmas tree seems under debate, but it is safe to say that this symbol evolved from Pagan tradition.

The Norse pagans and Celtic Druids revered evergreens as manifestations of deity because they did not "die" from year to year but stayed green and alive when other plants appeared dead and bare. The trees represented everlasting life and hope for the return of spring.

The first Christian use of the Christmas tree symbol is credited to 16th century when devout Christians also brought decorated trees into their homes. German born Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, is credited with starting the trend in England in 1841 when he brought the first Christmas Tree to Windsor Castle.

Yule falls approximately on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. After Yule the period of daylight begins to wax, until it reaches the longest day on June 21, the Summer Solstice. For folks in Northern climes, the Winter Solstice was a most welcome day to anticipate at the dark end of the year, and although months of darkness lay ahead, folk could rest assured Sunna's might was on the increase and darkness was waning.

Yule is actually a span of thirteen days, usually counted from the night before the solstice (19 or 20 December, as it varies from year to year ), to the thirteenth night, (usually January 6 called "Twelfth Night" later by Christians). Bede called Yule eve "Mother Night", and it is thought this night was devoted to honouring the Idises (or Disir, female ancestral spirits) the family protectors. The Solstice itself, either 20, 21 or 22 December, is the most important of the days, when the dead and other beings of the dark fare most freely, Winter arrives, and humans are closest to the spirit worlds.

The druids decorated their trees with symbols of prosperity -- a fruitful harvest, coins for wealth and various charms such as those for love or fertility. Scandinavian Pagans are thought to be the first to bring their decorated trees indoors as this provided a warm and welcoming environment for the native fairy folk and tree elementals to join in the festivities. The Saxons, a Germanic pagan tribe, were the first to place lights on the their trees in the form of candles. Ancient Romans decorated their homes with greens at the Festival of Saturnalia, their New Year and exchanged evergreen branches with friends as a sign of good luck.

No matter what you choose to celebrate, a birthday or the increase of daylight, fertility or the miracle of light, Yuletide is a time of peace, renewal, thanksgiving and remembrance. Be sure to tell your family, friends, and friends who are family how much they mean to you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tea with the Hedge Sisters - Chapter 2

"Woo hoooo!" Called Magnolia, sweeping into the house, arms laden with an eclectic bundle of items; a flower pot with what used to be a mum plant in it, a tray of her signature horrendous biscuits, two lengths of brightly colored fabric, a glass jar of crushed mica flakes and a cigarette case. "I brought prehhhhhzzzzents!"

Ivy, and well, truthfully anyone, could always hear Magnolia's arrival in whichever part of the house she happened to be. Though the house wasn't the size of Versailles, it wouldn't have mattered. Magnolia had a way of making her presence unmistakably known in any establishment--like a lorry through the brick wall of a busy cafe.

"Boo," shouted Magnolia over her shoulder through the still open door, "Please be sure to bring my purse when you come in."

Bougainvillea could be seen through the parlor window taking her time to admire and wander among the plants in the small front yard.

"For what on earth will she need her purse?" Bougainvillea said to the roses, then turned back toward the motorcar just as Hydrangea's stylish auto careened into the driveway.

Hydrangea's fender delicately brushed by Bougainvillea's hemline at an alarming speed before narrowly missing the birdbath and, less delicately, pounding the well-established oak tree with a sudden and quite solid thud.

"Boo! You won't believe what I found at the market this morning!" Hydrangea chattered obliviously as she stepped from the car, straightened her hat and reached into the back of the car to pull out and triumphantly present in her best imitation of a magazine model, a pair of shiny red riding boots.

Bougainvillea stood wide-eyed and motionless, two inches from the swath of tire tracks through the pansies, silent, but for the sound of her short, rapid breaths. One white-knuckled hand clutched her pearls in a death grip, and the other hand pressed at her femininity to prevent an untimely and embarrassing release.

"I know!" Hydrangea squealed," I was speechless too! I could barely take my eyes off them as I drove over. Be a dear and help me with these bags, won't you?"

By this time, Magnolia and Ivy had appeared at the front and kitchen doors, having heard the unfamiliar 'whump' of car on tree. "What on earth is going on?!" Cried Ivy, rushing to the scene. "Hyde, why are you parked in the yard? Where is your driver? And...MY PANSIES!"

"Oh I had to let him go." Hydrangea explained, pointedly ignoring the condition of the pansies "I suspected he was stealing. But who needs him anyway? I tell you, it's very liberating. I just enjoyed a wonderfully spontaneous trip through the market, and I drove all the way myself!

"Through the market?" Said Magnolia with a raised eyebrow, "That would explain the fresh fruit pulp on the grill."

"Well, they made those streets too narrow." Hydrangea dismissed defensively, pulling bag after bag out of the car. "And that fruit vendor practically robs you with those prices anyway. I did the village a service. Oh and, Ivy," she said, passing by, into the house and out of earshot, "you should think about moving that tree. It's was right in the way! I really think th . . . ."

"She . . . she . . ." Stuttered Bougainvillea, "she's driving? No. . . No, this can't happen. No, no, no, no, no." She shook her head, looking at her two sisters with a confused plea, "We have to DO something!" She then marched resolutely for the handle of a nearby garden hoe, raised it high over her head and made for Hydrangea's car.

Ivy and Magnolia immediately moved to intercept. Magnolia, taller, liberated the hoe while Ivy caught Bougainvillea by the shoulders. "It's all right, dear." Ivy crooned, "Yes, we'll take care of it." she continued in a soothing voice to a protesting Bougainvillea who allowed herself to be turned toward the kitchen entrance. "You're absolutely right. We'll talk about it over tea. Won't you help me in the kitchen?"

Ivy's calming words and voice did not extend to her eyes as she shot a frantic 'what-the-hell-are-we-going-to-do?' look over Bougainvillea's head at Magnolia. Magnolia shot back her own eyebrowed shrug, replaced the hoe and followed after Hydrangea.