Friday, November 28, 2008

A Good Reason to Hate Going to Wal-Mart

I saw this on Reuters and thought I would share it:

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A man working for Wal-Mart (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) was killed on Friday when a throng of shoppers surged into a Long Island, New York, store and physically broke down the doors, a police spokesman said.
The 34-year-old man was at the entrance of the Valley Stream Walmart store just after it opened at 5 a.m. local time and was knocked to the ground, the police report said.
The exact cause of death was still to be determined by a medical examiner.

My prayers go out to the family of this man.

Ok, I think it is time for us to have a reality check here. There isn't anything in Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy or any other retail store that is so important as to call for this behavior. If little Timmy doesn't get his X-Box 360 this year, he's not going to fall over dead. This is the same kind of behavior I expect from 12 year old girls at a Miley Cirus concert, not grown men and women.

And we wonder why our capitalist system isn't working. Two words for you: human greed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Anglican Garden

I originally posted this before I tried and failed to leave blogging behind... thought I'd put it up again:

I started this as a post on Father Jake’s website, and decided it deserved a place here instead. I have been trying to figure out what the Anglican Communion is. Anglicanism has been described to me as a “big tent”. I see it more as a wild garden. It encompasses a diversity of beliefs that share a common link through their Anglican heritage and the Book of Common Prayer. What matters is not how we believe in Christ, but that we BELIEVE. We all still come to the table in common worship. This is what the conservative crowd is trying to take away from us. The “schismatics” want to change our church from a family, where our Uncle Akinola may be stern and talk funny, Uncle Robinson may be gay, and Uncle Spong may be out in the stratosphere somewhere, but they are still loved and accepted for who they are. When we lose that, we cease to be the Anglican Communion and become something else entirely. I don’t think I could be a part of that.

Happy BIrthday, Dad!!!

Today is Dad's anniversary of his 21st birthday! Many happy returns!

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Are You Thankful For?

In this time of uncertanty, we often forget the blessings in our lives. So before you click away from this post, take a second or two to think about the things that you are thankful for. Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Because I know I need a laugh...

These are from a book called Disorder in the American courts.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And this weeks winner...

Wow, twice in a row for my home state! What an honor, what a privilidge! This time the Arkansas Court of Appeals wins the Asshat of the Day Award! From the Arkansas Times:

"A lawyer calls attention to a Court of Appeals decision this week not to rehear an earlier ruling upholding a change of custody of a two-year-old from his mother to his father."

Why is this so alarming? Again quoting from the Arkansas Times:
"The Court of Appeals' original decision affirming the change of custody noted that the trial judge was influenced by the mother's statement that she followed Wicca (emphasis mine)-- although she later said it was just a casual remark and that she really was a Baptist. The opinion cited Judge Robert Vittitow's concern about care of the child, but also said:
"Finally, he stated his concern over her testimony regarding the Wicca religion, stating she probably was more involved in it than she led the court to believe."
Judges Robert Gladwin, David Glover, Wendell Griffen and Pryce Marshall formed the all-male majority in favor of the mother losing custody. Judges Jo Hart and Sarah Heffley formed the all-female dissent.
(Note for Judge Vittitow and the Court of Appeals: Wicca is a belief based on nature. At least one soldier killed in the Iraq war is buried under a Wiccan headstone at Arlingotn National Cemetery with a symbol like the one inserted here. Just because it's OK for the Army and its fighting men does not, of course, mean it's acceptable to Arkansas jurists.)
The mother asked for a rehearing. It was denied yesterday without comment, except a stinging dissent from Judge Hart, who still believes a religious prejudice -- irrelevant to the law -- was the contributing factor in Vittitow's decision. "

That's right folks, religious bigotry is alive and well. Not only is this a travesty of justice, but it is just plain ignorant. Of course what can I expect from a state that would rather have children grow up in orphanages and group homes to save them from "gay cooties". My hope is that the ACLU and the Wiccan Antidefamation League get involved to help pull us into the 21st Century...

You can read the full story at


Anyone familiar with the Great Pyreneese knows how protective they can be. I thought I would relate a story about my Pyreneese, Sam, that showed me that sometimes even when protecting, violence is not necessary:

About a year ago, my middle brother moved in with us temporarilly. He brought with him a Pit Bull mix. Of course with two adult male dogs a power struggle insued. The Pit would try to pick fights with Sam at every opportunity, and I would have to try to break it up, since Sam would not stand up for himself. One evening in particular, as I attempted to break up the "fight" (which consisted of Sam trying to walk away while the other dog continued to try to bite), the pit bull attempted to bite me. Sam leaped into action in the most peculiar way. Instead of biting or scratching at the other dog, he simply interjected himself between me and the Pitt Bull and used his own body weight to pin the other dog to a nearby wall until he calmed down. It was the damndest thing I have ever seen.

I'll let those with more a philisophical vent try to find a higher meaning from that, but whenever I feel angered at others for trying to hurt someone else, I remember that day and try to be that same "buffer" that Sam was for me. Instead of using hateful words or actions, I pray I can be dog enough to protect others in the same way Sam protected me. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lean Not Unto Your Own Understanding

How many times have I heard that verse? In case you are wondering, it refers to Proverbs 3:5
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body."

The reason I bring it up is because it has been used in many instances to keep people from thinking too much about the Bible. The logic is that by thinking too much on what it says, you are ignoring what God is telling you. I hear it most often when I am arguing with a fundangelical about things like inclusion of LGBT men and women or not taking the Bible literally.

But looking at the passage a little closer, I don't think it is saying not to use your God given reason to study the scriptures. Far from it. I think it is reminding us that when we do seek Wisdom, it should be prayerfully, in a conversation with God. It is about trusting in God's Wisdom and not what you think you know. When we think we know something, we become blinded to the other ways of seeing things. This pride is what the Teacher warns about. Ignoring God because we know it all.

So many times people, especially biblical literalist, will read a passage or two in the Bible and attach a meaning to it, then never go back and revise that. They are relying on what they think it meant when they read it before, or what they heard their pastor say it meant. So we "understand" that it means this one thing. However, when we take those blinders off, stop relying on what we "understand" of the scripture, and let the Holy Spirit show us a new way to see it, the Bible again comes alive!

God does not want mindless robots. He wants willing servants; people who desire above all else to know Him and to love Him. When we clamp our Christianity into one way of seeing, we stop growing and become spiritually dead. This is one way of looking at the teaching in Proverbs. Don't rely on what you think you know, but seek Wisdom. Allow God to change the lens through which you see Him. Open yourself to the possibility that you may be wrong.

What Good Can Come Out of Fundamentalism?

I get irritated many times with Fundamentalists, mainly because their legalistic view of the world excludes so many people. However, unlike some progressive folk, I do have a soft spot for them. Mainly because I am related to so many here in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Most of them are good, kind, honest folk who would give you the shirt off their back and ask if you needed pants to go with it.

I have been reading Bishop Gene Robinson's "In the Eye of the Storm". He too grew up in what I would call a rural "Bible believing" church. While some people I know would find this oppressive, Bishop Robinson found just the opposite. He discovered God's unending love for all people, which allowed him to eventually accept who he is. Those roots, which extend all the way back to that Disciples of Christ church in Kentucky, nourished him and to this day give him the strength to move forward in his life and ministry.

In the same way, my own upbringing in a rural Full Gospel church gave me a firm base upon which to build. The words that I heard shouted from the pulpit every Sunday and the reading I did as a child introduced me to a God whose love extends beyond legalism. After years of running from Christianity, I learned the greatest lesson of my life so far: God loves me and everyone else. And all he asks in return is that we love him back, and share that love with each other. What we believe beyond that is not as important. That lesson goes all the way back to my first experience with God so many years ago in that small Full Gospel Lighthouse, and from the people who lived that message, people who I am proud to call kin.

There are those who take advantage of people like my kinfolk. Many of them use my kin's lack of education as a means to inject their own messages of hate and intolerance into the churches for the sake of the Almighty Dollar. It's why the conservative party had become the powerhouse it was. In reality, most Conservatives in government don't care about the little guy. They create a smokescreen of "stopping the [insert unpopular group] agenda" or speaking against certain "hot button" issues as "abortion", "gun control", "gay rights", etc., to take attention off the fact that they are picking the pockets of the very people they say they say they are for. By playing on these emotional issues, they line their own pockets. This is not the Gospel, and yet many churches fall in line with this. It is what I call the Fundangelical that I have problems with, and the ones that I would take my religion back from.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells a story of two houses, one built on sand, and one built on a solid rock. That solid rock is a relationship with Him, based in prayer. The scriptures and, in the Anglican Communion, the Book of Common Prayer give us a guide, but they are just that. When we try to understand them without that relationship, we get lost. When we try to treat the scriptures as something else, a rule book for life, we cheapen their meaning.

I love am proud of my upbringing. In so many ways it shaped who I am today. I would not have the knowledge of the Bible I do today if it weren't for that small church in Summit. That knowledge gives me today the strength and courage to continue on my journey, because it isn't the ending that is important, but the walk itself that matters. That's what I was taught so many years ago, and have finally come back to.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Financial Crisis Begins to Hit Home

Here in Northern Arkansas, we are better insulated from the financial crisis than some. In my part of the state, it is thanks to companies like Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and JB Hunt that bring jobs in to us. In other parts of Arkansas, the poverty level is so high that no none really notices when the rest of the country is brought closer to where they live. Wall St. is very far removed.

I have two younger brothers, one works in Branson, MO as a stage hand for one of the theaters, and the other is on his way to becoming a supervisor at Ranger Boats. Both industries are being hit hard by the "credit crunch". My youngest brother, the boat builder, is hurting as his plant today announced it will be extending its Christmas shutdown to 4 weeks instead of 2 and they are laying off 130 of their 700+ employees today. Factory workers in a right to work state don't get paid for these shut down periods. Happy Holidays indeed. I mention this to ask that you all keep them in your prayers.

Another thing scares me about this crisis. As usual, when things start going bad, people begin to look for someone to blame. They also start to become more religious as faith becomes something certain to cling to in uncertain times. How long before those in power in the fundangelical movement begin moving on these fears? We've heard them try to do this with 9/11/01, but our country was in good enough shape at the time that they were scoffed and scorned. While it was a tragedy of super proportions, it was still isolated enough that we could recognize the tactic.

But now, with fears running high not just about physical security, but also economic security, people may stop thinking rationally. The cries of "See, I told you this would happen if we let [insert hated group] have [insert recently won right]! God is angry with America!" will start to be heard and people will start to believe it. Don't believe me? Look at Germany in the 1930's. With their economy decimated after WWI restrictions, they began to look to a charismatic leader who promised to bring Germany back into God's favor at the Supreme Nation. How Adolf and company pulled off their coup-de-ta was to feed into their country's feelings of nationalism and fear.

My hope is that with our country's election of President-elect Obama that we will not head in this direction. But it's going to take more than a charismatic leader to keep the momentum going. All of us have to continue to work toward change, toward social justice, toward equality for all of God's children, using the same enthusiasm that got Mr. Obama elected in the first place.

We have our marching orders. Let's get to it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Not Essentially the Same

I thought I would post an excerpt from an ongoing conversation on the Arkansas Times website between myself and another Arkansan. It tells a bit about where the battle stands and why I fight the fight when it doesn't affect me personally.
Posted by: Don Keyhotay November 5, 2008 02:54 PM

But if it were your rights at stake, would you want "essentially the same"? Or would you want the same? + I have the feeling that Don Keyhotay grew up in AR at later date than I did.-Posted by: MuddlingThrough
"Separate but equal" is not equal, it's discrimination.-Posted by: G******** Don't mistake my position. I'm against gay marriage but I am trying to accommodate a middle ground - I am for equal rights - and the law says a marriage can consist of one adult MAN and one adult WOMAN, regardless of race, creed or color.


If you want the same rights without being married, call it a civil union and I think you will get it. The only difference is the inability to adopt or foster parent - because you, as a couple, are NOT the same as a married man and woman. Is there any other difference that I am missing?
Claiming a civil union is the equivalent of the broken down schools and separate junky drinking fountains that blacks were left with in the separate but equal 50's (which I do in fact remember, Junior) is an insult to the kids that grew up and survived that joke of "equality" that they were forced to endure.

You make your own decision - its your choice whether you want the additional rights that are achievable right now with a civil union - and keep working for the that last "right" you think you are entitled to - or decide that you will forfeit access to all of those rights because of the one that you can't get.

Your choice.

My response...


Four years ago I was where you are at, looking for the middle ground. I believed as you do now that civil unions would be "just as good" and that marriage should be between a man and a woman. That's why I voted against that asshat amendment last cycle. But what got me to thinking, I mean REALLY thinking, was meeting gay and lesbian couples, hearing their stories, and realizing that they really weren't any different from me. And here I was saying, "Even though you two love each other, you can't have a marriage, but here is something 'essentially the same'". While trying to find that middle road, I was still marginalizing and separating my LGBT brothers and sisters from myself, still discriminating.

An Episcopal priest friend of mine put it best when he said that part of the problem we have with LGBT' s (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Tran gendered) is the "ick" factor. We see homosexuality as something that is different, an aberration from the norm, and because of this, we separate them from "us". Homosexuality is not something gross or a disease. It is simply a difference, like skin tone or being left handed vs. right handed. It is part of the mosaic that we call humanity.

As I have grown in my faith walk, I have come to believe that there is no difference between gay couples and straight couples. The love they share is the same love that I and my wife share. Why shouldn't we celebrate theirs the same way we celebrated ours? If two adults are in a loving, caring monogamous relationship, why is that different for straights and gays?
In the end, ask yourself, what is so special about a marriage? If it and a civil union are "essentially the same" or "as good as", why aren't they interchangeable? Marriage at one time was just an exchange of property, the father paying someone a dowry to take a daughter off his hands. Women were expected to be faithful, but not necessarily the man. It has only been in our recent history that marriage has been for love (at least since the troubadours) as a commitment on both sides. Who's to say we can't change it again?
Posted by: Arkansas Hillbilly November 5, 2008 03:48 PM

Maybe someday they'll get it...

I'm Madder "n Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore

I was going to sign off of this blog and try to get back into school and Church, but yesterday's elections, while sweet in our choice for President, really upset me on the local fronts.

1st Rant: The State of Arkansas

Thank you so much Mr. Jim Cox for telling me I am not fit to decide who raises my child if something should happen to me and my wife. How dare you! Your new adoption/foster care law has done just that. In essence, no matter what I think or believe, if I wanted my gay friends to take care of my son, too bad. Or my son's maternal grandmother for that matter, who is not gay but is living with a woman friend to help take care of her and share expenses, is unable to adopt my son now. So thank you oh so much, you and your fellow Arkansans who voted for this abomination are in the running for the Asshat of the Day Award.

All of this has been passed under the guise of "protecting the children." From what, Gay Cooties? Dear God people, do you think it's contageous or something? News flash Arkansas, gay and lesbian people are PEOPLE! They are not diseased, immoral, abominations or any other sick label you want to put on them! They are US!

2nd rant: The State of California

I expected better from you! I mean here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, our vote was not a real shocker, but you?

After so many people went and affirmed their love for eachother, you go and listen to a bunch of Right Wing Zealots who DON'T EVEN LIVE IN YOUR FRIGGIN' STATE! What are you, blind? At least Thomas believed when he saw! You have seen that the union of two people in holy matrimony regardless of who they are DOES NOT CHEAPEN THE MARRIAGE and yet you passed that HORRID ammendment! You now share the Asshat of the Day award, in a three way tie with...

3rd rant: The State of Florida:

See issues one and two. I thought you'd at least have some common sense, as the one "yankee" state in the south. And yet here you are, being just as biggoted as the rest. At least we got over the race thing. Join your fellow Asshats.

The simple fact remains, we CANNOT discriminate if we wish to be known as the land of the free, whether it is because of skin color, sexual orientation, sex, religion or nationality. If the election of Obama means anything, it is that we are bringing EVERYONE out of the margins. "We hold these truths to be self evident that ALL men are created equal". Jefferson was onto something there.

To add to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream, "...where all of God's children, black man and white man, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics" Gays and Straights,'will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual 'Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!' " That is my dream.