Monday, April 20, 2009

We Don't Torture!

Hearing the news coming out today about waterboarding has really gotten my skivvies in a bunch. Not just hearing that the procedure was used 186 times on one person, but the responses I've been hearing from some of the more conservative folks here in my neck of the woods. Here's a sample:

While waterboarding might be a terrible thing to do, it would seem to be rather minor in comparison to the attrocities committed by these terrorists. Given all the suicide bombings ordered by these thugs including the 9/11 hijackings, I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. How many beheadings did these people order? How many mutilations? Waterboarding is mental abuse. These two terrorists would have no problem mutilating their victims or ordering women to be stoned to death. These SOB's are very bad people, and if they happened to suffer a little discomfort, then tough luck. - Severus...

First of all, this "proceduere" was supposedly about gathering information, not punnishing the evildoers. One rule of thumb I've alwasy used is that if something doesn't work, you stop doing it after a couple of times. That waterboarding was used 186 times on ONE INDIVIDUAL leads me to believe that it stopped being for information at some point and became pure sadism.

Second of all, this is the United States of America. We DO NOT TORTURE...EVER! To do so goes against everything we have stood for for over 200 years. Why does it bother me so much? Why should I worry about a few terrorists who probably deserve this:

Because I am an American and a Veteran, that is why. I took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic..." Torture is something that our own laws forbid. It goes against everything that our veterans over the years have fought, died and/or been maimed for, and continue to do today. If we are a nation the believes in "Liberty and Justice for All..." we need to act like it. That means we DON'T TORTURE>>>>EVER!

The purpose of the attacks Mr. Severus mentioned was to destroy America. The best way to do that is to cause us to take away our own liberties to make us "like them". Torture was a big step in that direction. Combine this with the regulations of the Patriot Act, the domestic wiretapping scandal, and other atrocities committed in the past 8 years, and I would say we are losing the War on Terrorism. We are losing this war not because they are better armed, or able to sneak below our radar, but because they are allowing us to achieve their objectives for them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The "Real" Culture of Death...

I can't tell you the number of times recently I have seen the words "Culture of Death" used by Catholic bishops, priests and even Benny 16. Whenever they discuss abortion or the use of birth control, they refer to supporters of such things as a culture of death. It became a bit louder when numerous Catholic clergy and organizations began protesting the invitation from Notre Dame to the President. Then there was the flap over Benny 16's statements in Africa, where he more or less said that condoms were to blame for the spread of AIDS in Africa. I took the liberty of looking up some figures and thought I would share them with the group:

Number of people world wide that died from HIV/AIDS in 2005: 2.8 million (WHO).

Number of people newly infected with HIV world wide in 2007: 2.7 million (WHO).

Number of deaths of children in the US due to abuse and neglect in 2006: 1,530 (

Number of women who died in childbirth world wide in 2000: 529,000 (WHO).

Total deaths: 6,030,530

Total Jewish deaths in the Holocaust: 6,000,000.

Percentage of HIV infections when condoms are used consistently and properly: 0% (Advocates for Youth)

Effectiveness of abstinence and monogomy teaching in preventing HIV spread: No evidence of effectiveness found in recent studies. (Advocates for Youth)

Studies have also shown that the abstinence only programs that the Bush Administration pushed on public healthcare and education have been a dismal failure. In fact, the teen pregnancy rate in the US has actually gone up for the first time in years. Celebrities such as Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears only serve to remind us that these programs are a fallacy. Teen sex has been around since Noah was a boatswain's mate, and it will be around long after we are worm dirt. Age appropriate sex eduation including contraseption will bring these numbers down.

And yet the Catholic Church would have us believe that promoting safe sex practices is what is killing people and causing the general degredation of our society. Meanwhile nearly 3 MILLION new cases of HIV are reported each year. In our own country over 1,500 children died in abusive homes. World wide, over a half a million women died in childbirth. So who's the "Culture of Death" again?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Whole Fam Damly

From Left to Right:  (Top row) youngest brother, Mike, baby sister, Becky. (Middle row)Mrs. Hillbilly,  (Becky's boy) Nephew Zeb , my Stepmom, Lesa, (Becky's girl) Niece Macie, Dad, (Mike's boy) Nephew Cammie.  (Bottom row) Myself and Spud, Younger brother,Ernie, *Ernie's girl) Bella, and Ernie's wife Alisha.

This is pretty much the whole gang.  The only one missing is my late Mother, Rose (October 1949-November 1980. Black and white photo from her Senior Year in High School).

The color photo was taken last Thanxgiving.  Just thought I'd share with the group.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Interesting Article I Found

This article from the Leaf Chronicle brings up some of the fears the religious right has regarding same sex marriage. It's view is that some of the fears are not completely unfounded. In particular the article asks:
Nevertheless, difficult questions remain. Although most legal experts agree that the First Amendment clearly prohibits the state from coercing religious leaders to perform same-sex marriages, they also agree that legal recognition of gay marriage will inevitably lead to clashes between same-sex couples and some religious businesses and social service agencies.

To what extent, if any, should the law protect the right of conscientious objectors to refuse service to gay couples? And how far may government go in requiring religious institutions to accommodate same-sex marriage?

While we all agree that nobody wants to force presbyters to perform same sex blessings, what of organizations such as christian adoption services, food pantries, hospitals and other organizations? How will they be affected?

I raise this issue with a heavy heart, because as many know, I unequivocably support same sex marriage and full inclusion of LGBT men and women into our church and society.

The article goes on to state:

Answering these questions will not be easy. But people on all sides of the debate have a vested interest in finding ways to ensure protection for religious liberty in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage. Religious people and institutions, of course, want to maintain their freedom to preach and practice their faith in places where gay marriage is legal.

While I disagree wholeheartedly with men like Ronnie Floyd (a megachurch pastor in NW Arkansas) spewing hatred and intolerance from his pulpit, I am very leary of taking away his right to do it. As a Navy Veteran I served to protect both his right to say his poisonous words as well as my own right to rail against his message. As much as I hate hearing these words, I also know that it is his right to say them, and to maintain true equality I must be willing to defend his right to speak with as much force as I defend IT's right to marry and be included. Silencing men like him will not stop their message, but making sure the facts are out there to counter them might.

To quote the end of this article:

Gay marriage is here. And religious objections to gay marriage are not likely to evaporate anytime soon. Our best option — the one that most serves the common good — is to work together to find the right balance between equality and religious freedom, two of our nation's most cherished ideals.

So how do we do that? How do we strike a compromise when both sides believe they are completely in the right? What is the balance? If the church or organization accepts government funds via the "faith based initiatives", can the government force them to comply? These are serious issues that MUST be addresed if full inclusion is to be achieved. The question I want to leave with is how... how do we reach a solution that addresses everyone's fears and protects everyone's rights? Any ideas?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book Review and other Mundane Musings...

The site Daily introduced me to a wonderful work called the New Zealand Prayer Book.  I decided to purcase a copy and I am so glad I did.  It is an absolutely beautiful rendition of the Book of Common Prayer.  The language in it is so earthy and physical, and it helped me to look as some of the prayers we take for granted in a new light.  For example, here is the Our Father as read in A Night Prayer (Compline):

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

Isn't that absolutely beautiful?  Here is Psalm 23, also from the Night Prayer:

Dear God, you sustain me and feed me:
like a shepherd you guide me.
You lead me to an oasis of green,
to lie down by restful waters.
You refresh my soul for the journey,
and guide me along trusted roads.
The God of justice is your name.
Though I must enter the darkness of death,
I will fear no evil.
For you are with me,
your rod and staff comfort me.
You prepare a table before my very eyes,
in the presence of those who trouble me.
You anoint my head with oil,
and you fill my cup to the brim.
Your loving kindness and mercy will meet mer
every day of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of my God for ever.

Reading through some of the prayers and services has made me want to travel to New Zealand just to participate in the Eucharist and hear it read alloud.  I HIGHLY reccomend this version of the BCP.  It will breathe new life into your prayers and help you get a different understanding of so many things we take for granted from our own.

In baby news, the nesting has begun.  Mrs. H. is upstairs right now gathering up anything not nailed down for a massive yard sale and donation spree.  I can't complain too much.  The last time she did this was when Spud was in the oven, and she made $400 off of that.  

We decided on a name for Sproutette.  Actually we have had one boy and one girl name picked out since we got married.  Her name will be Lorelai Elizabeth.  Kinda pretty, I think, although I am a bit concerned that Mrs. H. got the name from that old show The Gilmore Girls... I hated that show.  Pretty name though.

Well, I have to get back to writing papers, I have two due by Tuesday night, and since Tuesday night is also Vestry, I won't be able to do much then.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son).
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finally Some Good News...

Mrs. H. had the 19 week ultrasound today, and everything is still ok with Sprout. I am starting to wonder if we should start calling her Sproutette, though. Yes, the results are in and the ultrasound tech is relatively certain that it's a girl. Mrs. H. is kinda dissapointed because she wanted another boy so Spud could have a brother. I'm happy either way. As long as the baby is happy and healthy I am happy.

So to reiterate...
It's a GIRL!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This Lent season has sent me down some strange paths. One that I think is particularly appropriate for Holy Week are the words Atonement and Salvation. As the weeks have gone by, I have found myself reflecting more and more on those two central pieces of Christian theology and what they really mean.

Here in the Ozarks, the importance of salvation is stressed to the extreme. I can not count the number of times I have been asked, "Are you saved?" The old hymn, "Are You Washed In the Blood of the Lamb" is still an old standard in the churches I used to attend. In the tradition I grew up in, the "salvation experience" is something that must be obtained. You need to be on your hands and knees asking for God's forgiveness. It has now become the primary focus of many churches here, and it is the Holy Grail of Fundangelical Ideology. For many years I thought this was the normal in Christian faith. I have since learned that this is not the case, and in fact the "salvation experience" may not be what it claims. That has lead me to the question, "What is attonement? What does it mean to be 'Saved?'"

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the word atonement is one of the few words in Christian theology of completely English origin. Since this is so, it is safe to break it down into its primary parts: At-One-Ment. Quite simply, to be made one with God.   Atonement is about more than just reconciling us to the Father. Much ado has been made over the years in the Crucifixion story of the Temple Veil being torn when Jesus died. The barier between God and Mankind was sundered at that point.

If there is now no barrier between us and God, what is this need for "being saved"? What does it mean to be "born again?" I think it goes much deeper that the Salvation Experience. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to belittle anyone's experience.  Heck, I've even had the experience a few times.  But being "born again" is more than a feeling.  Salvation is about more than just getting a "get out of Hell free" card.  When churches preach this, they are belittling the mystery of what really happened 2000+ years ago this week.  And quite a few realize this.

What tends to happen, at least in my own personal experience, is that the "salvation experience" happens and suddenly there is this sense of pure ecstacy.  You feel like you are one with God and everything is rosey.  What happened with me many times was taht  the demands of what I thought God wanted of me, based in no small part on what the Church was teaching me, didn't make sense with what I saw in the "secular world".  I could not reconcile the two.  So where many people become isolationists of sorts and move into what they call being "in the world but not of it", I simply lost my faith...again... and went right back to where I was before.

But both reactions were wrong.  In each instance I was not listening.  The inconsistencies weren't "the World" trying to pull me away from God.  I believe it was the other way around.  God was trying to show me that there is a whole world out there beyond the walls of the Church.  That world is starved for love, and instead I was trying to give them a rigid morality code. The question is raised in Luke 11:11-12  when Jesus asks, "Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?"  

Atonement is about more than just remission of sins.  The word repent goes beyond just asking for forgiveness.  It is moving on the path from Exile to the Promised Land.  Atonement is not just about me becoming one with God but also about bringing the World into that same light.   Reflect on these words for a moment, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"  Right here and right now, the Kingdom is here.  Our job is to help bring it into being, to make the world we live in and the Kingdom of God one.  That is atonement.  But the Kingdom of God is not the Kingdom of the Pharasees either where we all must call Christ by the same name and believe the exact same thing.  It is a world where we love one another as Christ loves us.  When we set aside our petty restrictions on who can and can't be a part of God's Kingdom and realize that we all are a part of it whether we acknowledge it or not.  That is At-one-ment.  Only when we realize this can we find true salvation.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


It does seem like there are too many of these happening. Yesterday I went to say goodbye to a friend/patient who has decided not to seek treatment for his problems and is going to inpatient Hospice today. That is always the hardest thing to do, especially when the person you are saying goodbye to is alert and aware. But we chatted for a bit, he asked about my family and my dogs, and we said our goodbyes. Then I cried all the way home.

Update: My friend passed through the Veil Thursday. We just got the news last evening.