Monday, June 29, 2009

"Gay-by" Boom?

Here is an article by John Blake at CNN about kids raised in same-sex households. It pretty much verifies what I've already seen with my own eyes at All Saints. One of my favorite quotes from it is this:

O'Leary says she doesn't personally know any same-sex parents or their children. That's the problem, some children of same-sex children say. So many people are talking about them; not enough are talking to them, they say.

This is where people like Jerry Cox and his ilk make their biggest mistake, and so many of us do as well. We don't talk to the people who actually live in these families. We don't take the time to talk to the gay or lesbian couple down the street and actually listen to them. Instead many revert to quoting the infamous "clobber passages" and shun not only the couple, but their children as well. In this we are missing the mark.

Many of these so-called Christians act as if homosexuality were not only a disease, but a contageous one at that. I even heard one commentator say that kids who grow up in same sex families are "7 times more likely to be gay". This is just not supported by the evidence. If anything the opposite holds true.

I challenge anyone reading this who disagrees with me to actually sit down and talk with someone who is gay or someone raised by a same sex couple. And I challenge my gay and lesbian friends and readers to actually dialog with people who want to know more. We need to stop talking about these people and actually talk to them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Color Change in Support of Iranian Protesters

In honor of those protesting for democracy in Iran, I've changed the blog color to Green until further notice.

Update...I've changed things back and added a green patch instead for easier reading. The green was hurting people's eyes.

Prayer Request

I just received this from The Vicar in the Wheat Fields:

Hey Hillbilly,

I am reaching out to you and your other followers with a request for prayer. As a Vicar out here in the flat but fertile lands of Kansas, I know how important it is to rely on our neighbors for help.

My friend is 21 years old and a third year student at Notre Dame. He is in trouble physically because of a virus. You can read about his struggle on His mother is the one who updates the site. Please pray for his recovery and for his and his family's peace and spiritual strength.

God's blessings to you and yours,
Phyllis Flory+
Vicar in the Wheat Fields

Please keep Vicar's friend in your prayers today.

On a more personal note, I am asking for prayers as well. I just interviewed for a new position at the VA that I work at as an OIF/OEF coordinator (helping vets of Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the system, etc). I am really hoping I get this job.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Sunburn is very uncomfortable. I started taking methotrexate about three weeks ago for my psoriasis, since the creams are useless and trying to do phototherapy (basically a walk-in tanning bed) isn't practical on my busy schedule. I forgot to read the side effects, including "can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight" but shoudl have read, "you will burn to a crisp if you go outside." Being naturally dark skinned thanks to some Chocktaw in my distant past, I have never really burned very bad, until today. Two hours outside doing yard work and I am burnt extra crispy fried. No blisters, so it's only first degree, but it still hurts.

In other news, Congressman Bozeman answered my letters I sent him. On the healthcare issue I got the standard responce, but apparently I struck a nerve on the Matthew Shepard Bill letter. He actually took the time to handwrite a response to me along with the usual typed one. I can say that I was impressed with that extra touch, even if I still disagree with him.

Now if you will excuse me, I think I am going to go soak in some Solarcain until I can go to sleep...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayer Request...

I just received this message from Father Roger. Please keep the Ostermans in your prayers.

It is with sadness that I bring you the news that All Saints' parishioner Shanen Mary Osterman, partner of Tammy Osterman and mother of Alexis and Tyler, was killed in an automobile accident yesterday evening. The burial service will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church, on Monday, June 15th. The time for the service is yet to be determined.

May Shanen's soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Anti-Abortion Advocates Chalk Up A Victory via Murder

The New York Times is reporting that the clinic run by the late Dr. George Tiller will be permenantly closed. The full article is here, but in an excerpt:

“The family of Dr. George Tiller announces that effective immediately, Women’s Health Care Services, Inc., will be permanently closed,” according to a statement issued on Tuesday morning by the family’s lawyers. “Notice is being given today to all concerned that the Tiller family is ceasing operation of the clinic and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.”

This is really bad news for the women of the Wichita area, as his clinic was the only one in the immediate area, and it was only one of three in the country that performed what the press has dubbed "late term abortions".

As a father, I have problems with the concept of abortion in general, but I support a woman's right to choose whether or not to carry a child to term. I realize that Rowe vs. Wade did not create abortions, and that they would still happen even if the decision was overturned. I believe that if you want to end abortions, you should work toward ending the root causes... unplanned pregnancy and poverty. The number of abortions in this country would be drastically reduced if we taught age appropriate sex education, but of course, "Pro-Life" folks don't want to hear that.

In the end, Dr. Tiller's death was a victory for the "Pro-Life" movement. But it was achieved by murder. My Daddy once told me, "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Real Sin of Sodom

"This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me..." Ezekiel 16:49-50.

"Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor,though you did not catch them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things* you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’Now I am bringing you to judgement for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’ How lightly you gad about, changing your ways!" Jeremiah 2:34-36.

"The people of the land have practised extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress.." Ezekiel 22:29.

"The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgements, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another" Zechariah 7:8-10

Many times in my youth I heard the US compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, and how God was getting more and more angry with her. I have come to the conclusion that He in fact is, but not for the reasons most street side preachers think. Let's look at some facts and figures. Here in one of the richest nations in the world:

In the US: 3.5 million people, 39% of them children, currently experience homelessness every year. 60% of all new homeless cases are single mothers with children.

2008 was a record year for harvests worldwide, and yet roughly 6 million children still die from malnutrition worldwide.

In the US: Data from the 1985 survey of family violence suggest that from 1.5 million to 3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year.

Roughly 37 million people living in the US live below the poverty line.

Approximately 47 million people in the US are uninsured and have little to no access to health care.

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was in how they treated one another, according to Ezekiel. In their excesses, they didn't take care of those in need. How does that compare to us today? You've seen the statistics above. You decide.

Just like the former cities, the US has an abundance of wealth. Even in this economic crisis, we are better off than most other nations. And yet we are more concerned about who is winning on American Idol than we are about the man sleeping on the bench across the street.

Ezekiel also compares the sins of the Israelites to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. And he finds them to be even worse. He finds them to be worse because they knew what it was to be the outsider, the marginalized, and yet they looked upon the less fortunate and aliens among them with the same contempt as Sodom and Gomorrah. That was their sin.

And it is ours as well. Christians should be arguing about how to help the poor, how to take care of those in need. We should be falling over ourselves to give to charities that help people. But instead we are locked into fighting about things like who gets to marry who rather than about how to keep marriages that exist together. We worry more about the unborn child in the womb than we do about the child in foster care who has been through three or four homes because they are unwanted and unloved.

Last year Focus on the Family spent $1.25 million on efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California.

Here in Arkansas, the Arkansas Family Council spent $346 thousand campaigning for Act 1.

How much did these non-profits spend on helping foster children or for helping current marriages stay together? How much did they spend to help teach age appropriate sex education, which would drastically reduce the number of abortions in this country? How much did they spend to help those in need in their own back yards? Truthfully, almost nothing.

Yes, we are going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are a prideful, greedy, selfish and self righteous nation, just as they were. That was their sin, and that is our sin.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yet Another Reason for Nationalized Healthcare

According to today nearly two thirds of the bankrupsies filed in 2007 were because of medical bills due to illness. The link is here, but here are a couple of snippets from the article today:

They randomly surveyed 2,314 bankruptcy filers in early 2007 and found that 77.9 percent of those bankrupted by medical problems had health insurance at the start of the bankrupting illness, including 60 percent who had private coverage.
Most of those bankrupted by medical problems were "solidly middle class" before they suffered financial disaster -- two-thirds were homeowners and three-fifths had gone to college. In many cases, these people were hit at the same time by high medical bills and loss of income as illness forced breadwinners to take time off work. It was common for illness to lead to job loss and the disappearance of work-based health insurance.

And it continues:

"Our findings are frightening. Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," lead author Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a news release from the Physicians for a National Health Program.

"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, co-payments and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. And even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when a prolonged illness causes job loss -- precisely when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain," Himmelstein said.

The findings show that, as a nation, "we need to rethink health reform," added study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a primary care physician.

"Covering the uninsured isn't enough. Reform also needs to help families who already have insurance by upgrading their coverage and assuring that they never lose it. Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance overhead and bureaucracy," Woolhandler said in the news release.
"Unfortunately, Washington politicians seem ready to cave in to insurance firms and keep them and their counterfeit coverage at the core of our system. Reforms that expand phony insurance -- stripped-down plans riddled with co-payments, deductibles and exclusions -- won't stem the rising tide of medical bankruptcy," Woolhandler concluded.

So contrary to popular opinion spouted by the Right Wing, even hard working folk like me are having problems keeping up with the rising costs of medical bills. When I combine this with the story from Doxy about her friend here, it makes me even more angry. From Doxy's site:

She was a loving, good woman, friend, and mother, and she never caught a break.********************************* She died of cancer yesterday. She died at age 50, leaving that 10-year-old boy with the chronic illness without her fierce love and protection. God only knows what his life will be like now.

She died because she was poor, and because she didn’t have health insurance. She died because, when she started having pain and other symptoms almost five years ago, she didn’t go to the doctor because she couldn’t afford it. What might have been easily curable had it been caught early was a death sentence by the time she was no longer able to bear the pain and dragged herself to the emergency room.

Which is why I am urging anyone that reads this to write their senators and congressmen about this issue. You should not have to choose between your health and your home.

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ --Matthew 25:41-46

--->>> UPDATE: In answer to those who cite Canada's notorious wait times, here's an interesting article. The conclusion they reach is:

In sum, the number of Canadians receiving care in the U.S. appears to be
extremely low compared to the amount of care that Canadians receive in Canada. There does
exist a group of Canadians who come to America

1) To receive therapies not approved in Canada;
2) To avoid long waiting lines; and

3) Because of limited capacity in Canada in certain technologies. However, these Canadians are by far the exception, not the rule.

The idea that Canadians flock to the U.S. specifically for healthcare loses even further
legitimacy when one considers that the number of Canadians treated in the U.S. does not just
include people who specifically go to the U.S. for healthcare; it also includes care given to
Canadians traveling in the U.S., Canadians working in the U.S. on business travel, and Canadians who move to the U.S. during the winter to avoid the cold ("snowbirds"). Finally, in some rural areas of Canada, it is more convenient to go to the U.S. than to travel long distances to healthcare facilities due to simple proximity [14].

Unfortunately, the image of Canadians crossing the border will continue to be conjured up despite the fact that such images are based purely on anecdotal evidence.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Thank You from Gwen

Gwen sent me an update on her daughter this morning. Thank you again for all your prayers...

Just a quick update. My daughter is home now and doing as good as can be expected. She may have to have another blood transfusion. We will know for sure on Wednesday when she goes back to the Surgeon again. She is very depressed and the Surgeon said it will take her at least 6 weeks to recover from this and build back her blood volume. He told us that she died twice in surgery and they brought her back. Words cannot express my feelings through all of this and I just want to thank all of you for your prayers.

I truly feel in my heart that prayer is what saved her. To all of you who called me and I was not able to call you back, I apologize. I have hardly had time to go to the bathroom since this started. I appreciate your words of comfort and I love you. I am so blessed to still have my daughter to love. God bless all of you.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

O Lord, your compassions never fail and your mercies are new every morning: We give you thanks for giving our sister Mandy both relief from pain and hope of health renewed. Continue in her, we pray, the good work you have begun; that she, daily increasing in bodily strength, and rejoicing in your goodness, may so order her life and conduct that she may always think and do those things that please you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thanks be to God!