Friday, December 30, 2005

Seven Minutes to Midnight: The Doomsday Clock

Leave it to the History Channel to give interesting viewing at those twilight hours when sleep doesn't want to come to me. The other night/morning I found myself watch a show about the Doomsday Clock.

The historical timeline of this Doomsday Clock was quite fascinating and I learned a lot about those conflicts that truly had an impact on the stability of our world. It was also interesting to note that the clock was a significant piece of artwork for the Bulletin that publishes the thoughts of atomic scientists about their field and its effects on global tension. Originally, the clock was used by artist Martyl to show urgency, but her idea of good design to place the second hand at seven til the hour soon became the focus and its movement a reflection of current events.

It was with this artwork that propelled it to be more than just a series of lines and dots, but a reflection of humanity's anxiety for the end of the world.

I was also fascinated with the seemingly numerical symbolism that might have been utilized by the first editor of the Bulletin, Eugene Rabinowitch, who originally was the only one who reset the Doomsday Clock, where he used only the numbers 7, 3, 2, 12, and 10.

The number 7 (seven) in Christian numerology (if you so believe in such things), is known to represent the perfect number and divine abundance. According to the Bible, it is also the number of punishment, purification and penitence.

The number 3 (three) represents the Holy Trinity of Christianity and also the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Three is also the perfect number for Chinese.

The number 2 (two) symbolizes duality of many things, including love, sexuality, sin and division. It also symbolizes existence, after 1 (one): the essence.

The number 12 (twelve) represents the completed whole, a perfect unit. It also signifies creativity (and is my favorite number).

The number 10 (ten) symbolizes matter in harmony, and represent the Creator in creation.

After Rabinowitch's death in 1973, the resetting the Doomsday Clock was taken over by the Bulletin's Board of Directors, where in 1974 moved the clock to nine minutes to doomsday (nine -9- shows patience, mediation, which maybe would be indicative of a whole group deciding what previously was individually chosen; it is also the number of finalization).

Maybe the time of the Doomsday Clock represents more than just the face value of the warning?

The last time change for this art was on February 27, 2002 from ten minutes to seven minutes. When will it change again?

First Ever Golden Ruler Award of Merit

The Golden Ruler signifies the ability to gently bring people back into proper alignment and relieve tension after their actions and words may have created dissonance. Just as nuns used rulers to impart that re-alignment in their Catholic classrooms, the ruler today sets that benchmark and is wielded to keep people moving in the right direction.

The Golden Ruler points out silly errors and graveous mistakes just the same, in hopes that a peace-filled conversion will take place in both the assailants' and victims' hearts, minds and souls.

The Golden Ruler Award of Merit exemplifies these traits, and the recipient receives my nod to continue to wield their own "golden ruler" in efforts to make the world a more peaceful and safe place to live.

My 2005 Golden Ruler Award of Merit winner is Jimmy Carter.

I have admired and respected Jimmy Carter since his presidency in the late 1970s. I was a very young person at the time, and much of what I remember was his ability to be honest and his strives for world peace as a diplomat. Sure, Carter had many faults in his presidency like the grain embargo and the gas crisis, but they become overshadowed by the issues behind those events once you research them. It is in striking contrast to what has transpired since his presidency in the last two decades.

After an early retirement from the presidency, Carter became an advocate for the downtrodden and the poor. He brought Habitat for Humanity to the forefront of today's human assistance organizations, and has given hope to many of that American dream to own a house and make it their home.

Carter also continues to push for global peace and human rights. His concern extends back home, too, where he views concern over "Our Endangered Values" in the United States (a book I admit I have yet to read). Out of my own shameful example of American values, it is Jimmy Carter that shines when it comes to living out those original ideals of American values.

It is Carter's devout pursuit of human dignity and humanitarian aspirations to keep our world revolving in the right direction toward peace, that he is given the Golden Ruler Award of Merit.

Too Cynical on American Values

I feel that I appeared to be too cynical on American Values. Maybe I was being too blunt about it all. Maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind at the time.

Our American Values are great aspirations. They are good moral and mental goals to aim for, and all Americans ought to aim to achieve these values and principles in our daily lives. These American Values should be something taught in our schools to help raise responsible and knowledgeable US citizens.

However, it is not what values and principles you have, it's how you use them.

Farris Bueller -er- Hassan's Day(s) Off

Farris is at it, again, but in a new and unusual twist in this sequel coming almost two decades from the original comedy movie that taught teens how to cut class with style. However, in this new version, Farris takes off a week and alone to venture the wild streets of--Iraq! It's kind of like Farris Bueller meets the intellectual version of James Bond.

Ok, Farris Bueller might have had a cocky and confident style about him, but Farris Hassan definitely has ambition and balls. And, Hassan seems to have a more scholarly bend to him, as his mission in this wacky sequel is to become an immersion journalist and find out how the Iraqi people are dealing with the war.

Just as Farris Bueller bummed a ride for the day, courtesy of his best friend's dad suave convertible sport coup, this Farris finds himself bumming out in Beirut, Lebanon at friends of the family, until he can get into Iraq's guarded borders after their election.

Once Hassan gets into Baghdad, he contacts the AP there to let them know his mission to do research and humanitarian assistance. Little did he know that this contact would end his escapade in Iraq, as US soldiers took him to the US embassy in the green zone, a safe area in Baghdad, after the AP alerted the embassy of Hassan's presence there.

How does this Farris fair in the end? He's on his way back home to be with his family who is grateful Farris is alive and doing well. Farris Hassan is planning a similar reunion with his parents, just as Farris Bueller did in the original movie, with the exception of kissing the ground upon arrival in the States. The only difference in the sequel with Hassan is that his parents know what Farris did on his days off.

I can only hope Farris Hassan gets an A on his essay, if at least for effort.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

American Values?

Reflecting on 2005, it seems the saying "American Values" continues to get tossed around in political conversation like a broken, and warped record (you know, the vinyl-type). I thought that slogan would have ended after the 2004 election, but NOOooo. It's still being chimed in 2005.

So, what are our American Values? I tried to look up a list that clearly delineates our American Values doing a Google search, but I found many sites that touted that ambiguous term, but nothing definitive. So, I will now attempt to define what our American Values are from what is written, and by what our society and government advocate in our actions.

With limits, of course. We may fight tooth and nail to make sure unborn lives are born into the world, regardless what the parents may want. However, a boy's life in Texas apparently wasn't worth saving, and because of a state law, was denied life-sustaining efforts because his parents were too poor. Another lady from Florida, in a neurologic coma for over a decade and virtually brain-dead, is worth saving, and worth shorting the president's vacation to create a law in an effort to save her life. And the death penalty is still tops in our commander-in-chief's book, so apparently not all lives are worth living.
Speaking of lives, living is a global affair and since we have decided that the US is into affecting the global affair, let's look at how we translate that American value of life to other countries and people of varying persuasions. Our Republican congress and executive branch encourages torture, even though they still think other countries should not do it. We started a war in Iraq because of the threat of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction, I've learned), although we widely have used DU (Depleted Uranium, not Denver U.) battling 'terrorism' in Afganistan and Iraq. That can't be as bad as the WMD Saddam used against his people, could it?
I searched for "American value life" and the first entry was an article by a pro-life writer with what seemed to be a Republican slant.
He speaks of "unalienable" and "self-evident truth" about the right of life. Unalienable, which is similar to inalienable, means not to be separated, given away or taken away. What does that mean for life? Basically, we don't torture or cut up, enslave or destroy life, or do we?
The right to life is also seen as a self-evident truth, meaning requiring no proof or explanation. Although, you are required to have a birth certificate and other documents to prove you are you just to exist in the US, so apparently your self-evident right to life lasts as long as you don't have to provide docuementation for it. Or you are unborn, and have yet to draw your first breath, then you have more rights than many who are living, according to some. There is no law stating what is life and human, thus, anything could be life, animate or inanimate.
However, there are several federal and state laws that say when a life can be extinguished. Like in the event they are charged with some heinous crime against themselves or society (death penalty), or if they just don't have the money to keep themselves alive, or someone says that a life is not worth using life-sustaining measures (yes, it is a law in Texas, so Terry Shiavo's parents should be grateful they didn't live there or she'd only have 10 days).
So, LIFE is an American Value, as long as that life has some type of worth according to the powers that be.

Again, with limits. Liberty is like freedom, so check out the value of freedom below, too. If you have enough $$$ to push your weight around, you can impose on other's liberties so that you can gain more liberty for yourself. It's fairly easy to buy off local governments, and even state and national ones, if you have enough $$$, know the right people, are related to the right families, and rub the right people the right way.
Sure, some people say that liberty can be saved by speaking up for your rights and liberties. Well, reviewing history and personal experiences, that doesn't always happen. Most of the time liberties happen because of $$$. This is a capitalist society. The value of $$$ trumps all other values, really.
A search for "American value liberty" brings up a vehicle blue book website, and two websites about money. That certainly explains a lot.

Pursuit of Happiness
With limits, of course. This is a very subjective value, really, and pursuing happiness in our capitalist society entails money. True happiness, of course, is an intrinsic concept, and only happens when one is content with who they are and what they possess inside. But that doesn't help our capitalist economy, so the pursuit of happiness has been translated to purchasing whatever it takes to make one feel happy. Sometimes that means purchasing a diamond for that special someone in your life, or getting the right clothes and style to fit in with a certain social group. It is all about what you can get to make you happy, that is the American way.

Defenders of the US Constitution
As long as it doesn't impede on anyone, especially the executive branch these days. The US Constitution must yield to our capitalist society, so if it doesn't, we'll just make some minor adjustments so it will.

Governed by the People, for the People
As long as those governing have incentive ($$$) to govern, whether that be from individuals, special interest groups, or companies.

Separation of Church & State
Separate as long as it doesn't offend anyone, but necessary to sway the people one way or another. Also, great backup for state to help faith-based (church) organizations when the state help just doesn't cut it.

Conglomeration of Corporation & State
I don't think it is fair to talk of the separation of church and state, and not mention the flip side of the coin with the cooperation of big companies and large special interest groups with their large coffers of money and government. Hey, it's that mentality of "if you rub my back, I'll rub yours" as long as there's no direct link from the government to a specific company. Or in the cases of Enron and Haliburton, direct links make for great $$$. Hey, this is a capitalist society.

Of course, with limits. You can't allow one man's absolute freedom when it impedes another man's freedom, right? See liberty, above.
Oh, there was the issue with slavery over a century ago, but wasn't that taken care of with the civil war? What about women's freedoms? Ah, a woman is not a man, right? Oh, they are people, too? Women aren't slaves to their fathers or husbands? Women get individual rights and freedoms here, too? Oh, great, what are all these new Muslim immigrants going to do now? Oh, separation of church and state, right.

As long as someone is human and on US soil, they are apparently equal, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, handicap, etc. Oh, that's not the case, you say? There's a class system in the US? What's that? Rich people get more tax breaks than poor and middle class? Rich people get better health care? Rich people's lives are saved more than poor and middle class? Even natural disaster, which used to be the great equalizer, now still can wipe out the poor and middle class, while leaving the rich virtually unscathed? It's not about you, as much as it about who you know and how much $$$ you make.

Add your ideas of American Values
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of American Values. Please feel free to add your ideals of American Values by commenting to this post. Thanks!

Abstract List of American Values:
I want to also add this website for you to right-click and link in new window to read: American Family Values, a very altruistic view of values, which, from my experience, doesn't quite match with reality in the US. If you were truly to espouse those values and principles, you would easily get trampled on by the masses. Sure, you can make a noble attempt to live and pass such ideals to your children and grandchildren, but when you take these ideals to heart and use them in your daily life, you will see that all of these ideals are easily used against you.

These ideals make you weak in our society because they all (integrity, self-discipline, proactivity, empathy, humility) reveal your passiveness and honesty. If you want to get ahead, you will learn that integrity will not get you there, because the dishonest resume and interviewee will likely get the job and/or the sale. Self-discipline is good only to a point, because there will always be people who throw self-discipline to the wind to get their point across or to make sure they trample on you. If you don't throw some of your restraints away, they will continue to walk all over you. Heck, there are very few businesses out there that are proactive, so if you try to get them proactive, they will react, because that is just not the way it happens in the real world. Then, there's empathy--oh, I feel your pain. Sure, as long as feeling your pain can get them ahead in some way, otherwise you are just showing how gullible you are in our society. Finally, humility. The ability to fess up to your weaknesses and blunders, if you should ever acknowledge them. A noble trait, indeed, and one big NO-NO in our society if you don't want them to come back and haunt you for the rest of your life. Success in our capitalist society will always be given to someone else, if you don't stand up for yourself and lose these notions of congeniality.

Not all places in our society and business world work to keep those principles/values from being valuable. But, most do. Just look at our government for starters. Sigh.

American Democratic Values, as taught by the Michigan Board of Education. Great link for black and white ideals of our values, presented for youth of just about all ages.

Stale Conclusion:
Our American Values are not absolute, nor are they set in stone. They change like the ebb and flow of the ocean. The United States is not the utopian mecca that we all claim it is to be, and as we are all human and prone to error, that utopian society may never be met until we meet our Maker in heaven.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

All Quiet on Christmas Day

I noticed that nobody-yup, no one visited this blog on Christmas Day. Wow. That must mean that all of you were either:

A. Attending church services in honor, respect and reverence to worship the birth of our Salvation;
B. Still passed out from drinking too much blog nog on Christmas Eve;
C. Too busy opening presents under the Christmas tree;
D. Setting up your Chanukah bush and menorah, and keeping your 1 year old from eating/choking on the dreidel;
E. Volunteering your time serving Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter;
F. Making special deliveries to low-income children dressed as Santa's elf;
G. Working with Bono to create a peaceful world;
H. Boarding a plane to voluntarily work overseas in the Peace Corp.

I hope all of you had a blessed Christmas and Chanukah (and for you Canadians, Boxing Day) celebrations and that our great God continues to bless you and yours in the coming year.

Bush Quotes by You!

If you didn't like any of those Bush quotes, now you can hear the words you'd like Bush to say. This is almost as good as the Bush quotes themselves.

Analysis of the Great Dubya Quotes of 2005

It's nice to have comedy to see the lighter side of our President. Thanks to and those who have compiled George W. Bush quotes to keep us all informed of what our great president is saying on our behalf.

"We need to apply 21st-century information technology to the health care field. We need to have our medical records put on the I.T." —George W. Bush, Collinsville, Ill., Jan. 5, 2005
  • Oh, yes. And then, health insurance companies know exactly who to stick it to, cause we all know there's a health care crisis out there.
"Who could have possibly envisioned an erection — an election in Iraq at this point in history?" —George W. Bush, at the white House, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2005
  • Apparently the thought of war turns him on.
"I want to appreciate those of you who wear our nation's uniform for your sacrifice." —George W. Bush, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 14, 2005
  • A humble moment of appreciation for our nation's uniform wearers.
"You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." —George W. Bush, to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
  • Isn't it fantastic that our president thinks so highly of the three jobs a single mom is forced to work just to make ends meet? Doesn't he sense any bit of crisis here? Nah.
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." —George W. Bush, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2005
  • The notion might be ridiculous, but Dubya's game of Risk laying on the table does have Iran on the map. Let's roll the dice and find out.
"In terms of timetables, as quickly as possible — whatever that means." —George W. Bush, on his time frame for shoring up Social Security, Washington D.C., March 16, 2005
  • At first read, I thought Dubya was ready for pulling our troops, since he declared "mission accomplished" a while ago. Guess he has a more defined timetable for Social Security than for our troops in Iraq. Sigh.
"In this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis; you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing will be?'" —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 16, 2005
  • That's why Dubya uses Chinet. When you've got a lot on your plate, you don't want to have your plate droop or break when you have to get up from wandering around the oval office to walk around and talk to the presidential portraits.
  • Speaking of wandering, it is rumored the ghost of Abe Lincoln has been wandering around the Oval Office lately, much to the chagrin of Dubya.

"We look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make — it would hope — put a free press's mind at ease that you're not being denied information you shouldn't see." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 14, 2005

  • You see, free press is the press that should be free to get any information, even if they can't see it. We can't discriminate against those blind in the press corp, you see.

"I'm going to spend a lot of time on Social Security. I enjoy it. I enjoy taking on the issue. I guess, it's the Mother in me." —George W. Bush, Washington D.C., April 14, 2005

  • Actually, it's the Grandfather and Great-Grandfather in him, who were bankers and investment managers for great leaders, including Joseph Kennedy and Adolf Hitler.
"We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 20, 2005
  • Coal is the safe alternative to all those crazy renewable fuels advocates.
  • You see, renewable fuels creates a dilemna in our capitalist supply and demand economy. There would be no fluctuation in supply and demand if we use renewable fuels, because there's always supply available with renewable fuels. Therefore, renewable fuels would ruin our economy.
  • Coal mining is already set up and we wouldn't have to subsidize them, like with new forms of energy like these crazy renewable fuels. And you know we don't subsidize the oil industry at all, hee hee.
"Well, we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists abroad so we don't have to face them here at home. And when you engage the terrorists abroad, it causes activity and action." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005
  • But we aren't making more terrorists, or provoking any terrorist to hate us more when we bomb their families' homes and maim their loved ones. Nah.
"It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005
  • Yes, get those harmers out of the way of their detonating bomb, and allow innocent people to get blown to smithereens.
  • Then the harmers get go to one of the US-run terrorist re-enforcement camps, so we can re-enforce to them why they should hate the US.
"I can only speak to myself." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005
  • Well, that answers a lot of questions.
"We discussed the way forward in Iraq, discussed the importance of a democracy in the greater Middle East in order to leave behind a peaceful tomorrow." —George W. Bush, Tbilisi, Georgia, May 10, 2005
  • Make no mistake, a peaceful tomorrow should be a thing of the past in Iraq.
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
  • Must be a part of that Dubya magic, that strategery.
"It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of — and the allegations — by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble — that means not tell the truth." —George W. Bush, on an Amnesty International report on prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Washington, D.C., May 31, 2005
  • Yet another new word in the Bush Dictionary--Disassemble: v. 1. to take apart; 2. not tell the truth.
"You see, not only did the attacks help accelerate a recession, the attacks reminded us that we are at war." —George W. Bush, on the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005
  • We were at war before the September 11, 2001 attacks? Where was I? How did this fact escape the news before 9/11/01?
"I was going to say he's a piece of work, but that might not translate too well. Is that all right, if I call you a 'piece of work'?" —George W. Bush to Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg, Washington, D.C., June 20, 2005
  • A piece of work? Is that good or bad? I don't think that translates too well in English, either.
"I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend." —George W. Bush, on visiting Denmark, Washington D.C., June 29, 2005
  • Since Denmark is still in the stone ages, I'm sure the Prime Minister has found luxurious accomodations in the finest mud hut in all of Denmark. The president should also enjoy bedtime Rune stories with Olga.
"We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) --George W. Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005
  • I'm sure Trent Lott is homeless and living out of his car or napsack or plastic Wal-mart sack, too, just like all the other Katrina survivors.
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." —George W. Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his job performance, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005
  • I think Dubya was actually refering to those chocolate Exlax bars.
"I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs." —George W. Bush, Poplarville, Miss., Sept. 5, 2005
  • I'm sure Dubya's secretary is getting all those ribbon-cutting events scheduled into the president's PDA.
"Listen, I want to thank leaders of the — in the faith — faith-based and community-based community for being here." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 6, 2005
  • Thanks goodness the faith-based organizations were there. You know that's what the F in FEMA stands for: Faith-based.
  • Accolades to the Community-Based Communities, too! Where would communities be without community-based communities?
"If it were to rain a lot, there is concern from the Army Corps of Engineers that the levees might break. And so, therefore, we're cautious about encouraging people to return at this moment of history." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2005
  • I guess we will have to read the history books to find out when those New Orleans residents should return. Or watch the History Channel for the documentary.
We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you." —George W. Bush, Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005
  • You think Dubya's 6th grade English teacher cringed when she heard that?
  • So, their jobs are eye doctors, and ear, nose and throat specialists? Definitely, not oral language specialists.
"Wow! Brazil is big." —George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005
  • You think Dubya's geography and social studies teachers cringed when they heard that?
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law." —George W. Bush, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005
  • Are you sure that doing something illegal constitutes criminal activity and breaking the law?
"I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome." —George W. Bush, defending Vice President Dick Cheney's pre-war assertion that the United States would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators, NBC Nightly News interview, Dec. 12, 2005
  • Would that be considered a "violent welcome" then?
"I mean, there was a serious international effort to say to Saddam Hussein, you're a threat. And the 9/11 attacks extenuated that threat, as far as I-concerned." —George W. Bush, Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2005
  • If only the majority of the US knew what extenuate meant, they wouldn't misunderestimate our strategeric president.
  • (Extenuate: v. 1. To lessen or attempt to lessen the magnitude or seriousness of, especially by providing partial excuses. 2 a. To make thin or emaciated. 2 b. To reduce the strength of.)
  • Now, why is 9/11 connected with Saddam Hussein, again?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Saudi Arabia and Mecca: The 9/11-Iraq Link?

There must be a link to 9/11, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. I think in some odd, obscure way, this history lesson may provide us with one of vital links between the 9/11 terrorists from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

If you read the long, boring history lesson, you'll see close to the bottom that they discuss Muslim Shias, and a safe route to Mecca. One of these routes that goes through the Arabian town of Najd, and relied heavily on safe passage through Baghdad to get to Mecca. Now, if you read the last sentence: "During the eighteenth century, Wahhabi ideas, vital to the rise of the Al Saud, would originate in Najd."

Yes, I know you are caught up with Wassabi (Whassup?) and would rather have sushi than read through such a dull history lesson. But, work with me here...

Why would the House of Al Saud care about Iraq and Baghdad? Because the remote village of Najd, would again be a dominant center if it weren't for Baghdad. Is there a concrete connection here? I don't know. Maybe.

Let's go a bit further into the Wass--er Wahhabi sect of Islam. After this reading, you can see a clear link with the 9/11 Taliban and Saudi Arabia. You'll also see the link with Saudi Arabian government with succession of Wahhabi loyalists and their founding predecessors. You can also see from this link, how important Kuwait was to the Saud family during their retreat after unsuccessfully converting the rest of the Middle East to their version of Islam. The extreme majority (90%) of Saudi Arabians are Wahhabi Muslims.

Oh, so you want to know why the US is in bed with the Saudi government? Some writers seem to go to the extreme conspiracy (although the photo of Laura and George Bush with Sami on 3-12-00 is interesting, you'd think that the center of the photo would be on the Bushes). Or this writer, who would lead you to think that the Saud-Bush relationship started with George H. W. Bush.

Yet another brings up the Saudi relationship with the Iraq conflict regarding Kuwait, you know that war George H. W. Bush waged. "On September 11, 1990, Bush (jen edit--that's George H. W.--the US president at the time) addressed a joint session of Congress, saying, "We gather tonight witness to events in the Gulf as significant as they are tragic. 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia"."--Coincidence?

Ok, ok, enough of the conspiracy. Let's check out family history, that's got to be pretty benign, right? This is quite a family history for the Bush clan. Links to the Spencer family and Lady Di, and even a distant familiarity to John Kerry. Wow.

So, what's the link with the Bush family and the House of Saud? There are many books out there to answer those questions. Could it go back to Prescott Bush and George Walker? Did their dealings with the Nazi regime also give them connections to Saudi Arabia, too?

Did you know that Iraq and Saudi Arabia declared war on Nazi-Germany on September 11, 1939? Is this a part of the link? What's will all these coincidents happening on September 11th--insert year here? What else has happened on other September 11th's? Interesting, the British Mandate over Palestine happened on 9/11/22. The ground breaking for the Pentagon was on 9/11/1941. It is also the date the Sharon Statement was penned in 1960. And a decade later in 1970 on this date the Ford Pinto was introduced, which I think that says it all about the doom of this poor date (all Hollywood car explosions are based from the perspective of the Pinto).

Another odd fact: The beginning of exterminating Christians in Saudi Arabia in August 2001. It is law that the religion of the Saudi land is Islam, and all other religions are not tolerated. So, why does the House of Saud like the Bush family so much, if they can't stand Christians? Does the Bush family prescribe to Christianity--and Islam?

Jen-Aside: Have you ever noticed how similar Saudi Arabia is to Texas, geologically?

"King George W.--The First of Many"

Comedy is King? Who knew that political comedy could come from a place like Pittsburgh!

I am sure Reg Henry from the Post-Gazette is hoping to be named the king's court jester, lest he suffer as a humble peasant scribe.

I hope that I get to be named court illuminator. I love the art of beautiful (wit) writing.

Monty Python's Terry Jones and the Comedy of Terror

I gave my husband the collector's edition of Monty Python's Holy Grail for Christmas this year, even though I was never a fan of Monty Python. Little did I know that I, too, would enjoy the comedy of Monty Python this holiday season.

Terry Jones, a Monty Python player, has recently issued his Comedy of Terror awards. As with much of the political comedy anymore, I guess I can say that I laughed with disgust regarding the subject matter. Or maybe more like a whimsical giggle with disdain.

Sometimes the end of the year is a good time to air out that garbage that has been lingering for way too long. And Terry Jones again, let's us get another whiff of the pungent smells from the "war on terror" or was it the war on Christmas? (Maybe the Monty Python players could come back to do a War on Christmas movie...)

And maybe I would enjoy watching the Holy Grail, too.

Bush: The Extreme Benefit of the Doubt

Apparently, in President Bush's human resources new employee packet when he became president in 2001, was an extremely generous benefit--of the doubt. Of course, this benefit was in as much one from his PR staff as it was from HR, and eventually from the numerous citizens of the US.

I say this only because I just about brought up politics into our family's Christmas Eve celebration, but fortunately bit my tongue before it got anywhere near out of hand. Actually, it was my Mom that started the politics topic. My Mom who, before George W. Bush became president, was an intelligent and independent thinker with an open mind and clear senses.

It was thirty minutes til Christmas Day and the grandparents were watching our boys at home, and we had just come home from "midnight mass." My folks were watching some 24-hour news channel that was showing scenes from 9/11 (primarily the World Trade Center attacks). My Mom, in a very off-topic sort of way, said, "that's what they need to be showing on TV all the time to get all these congressmen to change their mind about pulling out of Iraq."

In a knee-jerk sort of way, I accidently retorted, "what does 9/11 have to do with the war in Iraq?"

The room was silent. I said nothing, knowing that this was not the time or place to pick a fight about the obsurdity of the Iraq War. Dramatic pause.

I think it was my Dad, who ended the silence with something like, "this is probably not the time to start an argument."

"Agreed," I said with a half smile, knowing that it was late, Christmas was just around the corner, and I was off the debate hook.

However, I still shake my head in disbelief that my Mom, of all people, still thinks that there is a direct connection between the events of 9/11 and Iraq. There is no evidence that proves any vital link between 9/11 and Iraq. (If you know of any true evidence linking 9/11 and Iraq, please comment.)

Talk about giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I know that my parents are not the only ones who still think that 9/11 and Iraq are linked. There are numerous radio talk show hosts that continue this myth to their listeners, regardless if they are Christian or political radio blowheads. And there are listeners, like my parents, who continue to believe whatever crap is expelled from their deceitful lips.

The House of Bush is getting the extreme benefit of the doubt.

Again, I think, what about Saudi Arabia? Right. Our government leaders are in bed with the Saudi royalty, which means they get the same benefit of the doubt, too. In fact, they aren't even in the picture, regardless of the fact that the majority of the terrorists on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia.

Hey, while we are at it, let's just give our constitutional rights the benefit of the doubt as we allow them to be taken away one by one, in order to stop terrorists. I am sure all the soldiers who gave their lives during all those battles that led to our Independence in 1776, don't mind that we give those same rights away for the benefit of the doubt.

I am sure all the soliders in Iraq who are fed propaganda from the US government daily about how valiant their mission is, and how they are protecting the freedoms and rights of the US, those same rights that are being dissolved in the States, will likely give the US government the same benefit of the doubt as, or if, they come home with few rights and fewer government assistance to help them and their families with their physical and mental wounds.

The extreme benefit of the doubt. Where would we be without it? Maybe a whole lot better off?!

Share the True Spirit: My Greeting Card to You

Sometimes it is difficult to see the True Spirit of this holiday season through all the hustle and bustle that surrounds our celebrations. I know how easy it is to lose touch with the True Spirit of our celebrations, but that Spirit of love born so long ago continues to encourage us to share that love of hope and peace.

Let us not forget to take the time in our daily lives to stop and find that love and share that peace, just as the shepherds who followed the star to the city of David, and found love lying in a manger.

May the Spirit of love and peace bring you comfort and joy to share at Christmas and through the New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Burnt Offerings

I am officially burnt out from Christmas. I know, I know. It isn't even Christmas, yet.

But, I think I've learned my lesson, I think. Maybe it's that next year, we won't have presents (although I think my niece would disown me). Or maybe I will put up the Christmas tree and buy presents earlier. Or maybe I just won't promise to help so much with the day care party. Or maybe we will plan a night to make presents as a family, and keep to that schedule. Or maybe I will delegate recording and editing all of the Christmas concerts to someone else. Or maybe I will make a concerted effort to spend more time with my Spiritual side around the holidays. Whatever I decide is my lesson, I know I will do things just a bit differently next year.

Whoever decided that the two major holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) celebrated in our culture should come within a month's time from each other should be shot (ok, okay, maybe that's too harsh). Add to it the snow and cold, the family get-togethers (especially where presents and/or decorating and cleaning house are required), buying the presents, decorating the house, the parties, programs, school concerts, sick kids, and getting time off from work when day care takes more time off than you--well, the whole thing kind of snowballs on you.

I admit that I really hate what has become of Christmas. I still believe in the original qualities of the Christmas holiday, to reflect on the birth of our Savior, and come together as a community of believers to celebrate the feast of Christ's coming.

Thank goodness for New Year's. Without that holiday to let us go crazy and release all the pent-up madness from the Christmas holiday, we would likely be a civilization of over-done fries.

This year, I will offer my Christmas Burn-Out Burnt Offering to the altar of renewal for the New Year in a release of joyous relief.

Spiritual Journey: Out of Obese City

Gotta make a move to a town that's right for me...

Obesity is becoming a big problem in the United States, literally. Sure there are some obese people that are happy with lugging 50-100 cans of Campbell's soup on them 24-7 (if you think about it, fat people probably have more muscles than most people because they are full-time weight lifters, you just can't see the muscle through all the fat).

For me, I have struggled with with my obsession with food for a long time. Call it a love affair. I don't wear my heart on a sleeve, it's all over my body! And I have never really enjoyed carrying all the excess baggage.

About seven years ago I broke off my relationship with food, and I thought it was for good. I lost about 45 pounds total and, although I was not quite as trim as I was in college, I was very close. And, btw, I was very hot, according to my hubby. It was a difficult breakup, but I achieved it through finding a new lover. A new god, if you will, to worship.

I lost the weight through a Christian weight-loss program. It was based on the literal idea of "less of me, more of God." And for me, it worked. The lady that heads this program, now she was a character. Her concepts worked well for me, and I learned a lot about myself and my spirituality through the program. I should have. I did the program three times.

Through my previous weight loss I learned that:
1. Everyone has an instinct to worship something and for some it is money or drugs, and for others, like me, it's food; 2. God has made me way more important than the food I eat, thus I master my food, not my food mastering me; 3. God is more important than food, so stop worshipping the food (less of me, more of God); 4. My body is a temple of God, and I should treat it with the utmost respect; 5. Wait for hunger and eat until satisfied, not until full; 6. Eat slower and enjoy the food when eating, savor each bite, and thank God for each and every bite; 7. If you screw up and eat too much, through Christ's redemption God forgives, so forgive yourself and press that restart button, and wait for the next hunger to eat; 8. Think, and pray, before you eat, and while you're at it, pray while you eat, too; 9. Talk to God, and often, listen, and be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and 10. For everything there is a season... and everything in moderation.

These are concepts similar to the secular ones: Don't eat so much, pig; You are what you eat (or worship); You gotta eat less than you burn off in energy. All true and proven concepts.

Well, the side effects of using a Christian weight loss program is really delving into your spiritual side. I did a lot of soul searching and questioning where I was and where I should be. The lady who leads this Christian weight loss program was really big into questioning where people should be spiritually, but yet she said that we should be content where we are planted, too. Kind of confusing. Well, at that time I wasn't firmly planted in a church (wasn't an attending member, although I was still a member of the ELCA church I grew up in).

Anyway, I continued a journey with the Holy Spirit that had been put on hold since my college days. I remembered a mystery the Spirit presented to me at my Lutheran (ELCA) confirmation so many years ago. I wrestled with the whole issue about transubstantiation-consubstantion deal, and as I received my first communion, the Spirit said "there is more."

In college, I explored the various churches, and oddly enough, and against my Lutheran senses, I felt strangely comfortable, if you will (well, comfort isn't quite the word I'm looking for, maybe it was my spirit that was comfortable, because I felt very humbled and revering), attending Wednesday night mass at St. Stephen's Student Center (that's a Catholic church in a college town, UNI, btw) my senior year (a friend who was Unitarian Universalist asked me to accompany her to the midweek mass and oddly I was a caretaker at a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church at the time--go figure).

So, there I was about five years after college, continuing this Spiritual Quest. And going through a Christian weight loss program and actually losing weight and gaining quite a relationship with the Spirit. During this time, we were attending the Episcopalian Church (specifically the cathedral in Denver--they have a wonderful music department). I was in agreement with a lot of their ideals, until they became more than open to gays. I am usually a very open person, but the more I prayed about it, the more it bothered my Spirit that this church would accept openly and active gays to be priests. It is one thing to accept the sinner and help them to do what God wants them to do and become, but it is another to accept the sinner and let them continue to openly sin against God without remorse and lead the church. (I sometimes wonder now if gays aren't just sexually immature... I don't know. God probably does. Maybe that's another post for another time.)

Then, we moved from Colorado to Iowa, where the food ethic is to eat everything on your plate, because you know there are starving children in Ethiopia, or some other god-forsaken region in the world. I gained some of the weight, joined the Catholic Church (sure the pedophile scandals are damning to the church, but it isn't their doctrine, just human priests that sinned--which should have been sent to those silenced cloistered communities), then I had two adorable sons, which made weight gain a breeze.

It is true that food is an addiction, and yes, I am a food addict. If only I were some other type of addict... like a sex addict... my hubby would love that one.

Yes, I want to break the food addict now and forever. And, now I have a goal, too. By May 2006. (For very human reasons, my sister's wedding.)

Anyway, I checked into that Christian weight loss program online, and that lady that heads the program.... Well, I told you she was a character, but I should have known better. I mean, really, the word "sham" is in her name. I should have known better. She started her own church. Well, if I remembered right, she said that we should be content with where God has planted us, but apparently she wasn't content, so she started her own garden.

She really changed her image, too. When I first took her Christian weight loss program, she looked like a modest woman in the modern world, with just a bit more makeup and nail polish than I would prefer, but respectable. Well, the last time I checked her website, her photo was the dominant feature, and was it dominant! Sadly, she reminded me of a whore with so much makeup and hair as big as she could get it (when I was in high school--the taller the bangs, the more desperate you are).

So, now that leaves me without a Christian weight loss program to follow. I have joined Curves, just because I know from experience that weight loss happens faster when combined with excercise, and we'll see how that goes. But, I know that the kicker for me is to continue the Spiritual Quest. I know I have a long journey ahead, so please pray for me. I don't want to lug around 50 cans of Campbell's soup for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saddam Hussein Defends American People

When you see a madman rant and rave, you think nothing comprehendable would emit from his mouth. Many have said that Saddam Hussein is a madman. I think he is an experienced dictator who, even though he was known to kill his enemies in his country and elsewhere, does think rather coherently in his own way.

One statement Saddam Hussein made recently, made me come to the conclusion that he is not as mad a man as many pose him to be. I read it in an article from (see title link), where Saddam said, "Our enemy is not the American people. Our enemy is the American government which is destroying Iraq."

What kind of message is Saddam sending with this statement? In so many words, this statement in essence is true.

The American people collectively are not the enemy of Iraq. If anything, most Americans probably wish that Iraq can live as many of us do, without fear of daily violence, unprovoked attack, theft of property, unwarranted incarceration and death of loved ones. I know that is what I pray daily for Iraqis and people all over the world who have to daily deal with unwanted violence and evil acts.

I am grateful that Saddam Hussein has spoken to the world, and hopefully the terrorists have heard, that the American people are not the enemy.

It is true that the American government authorized the attacks on Iraq and started the Iraq war. It is true that war creates great destruction, of places, people and establishments. Thus, as the Iraq War continues, the American government is destroying Iraq.

Claiming enemies is subjective, and if Saddam wishes to claim the American government is the enemy of Iraq, that is his opinion. Now, Bush followers will say that the American government wants what is best for the Iraqi people, so the US government can't be the enemy of Iraq. Is war the best thing for the Iraqi people?

Would you want war continuing in your hometown? No? Then, stop wishing it upon other people! Creating a war in another country that had no direct links to 9/11, just to keep terrorists off US soil is at the least a crock.

(Psst. What's up with Saudi Arabia, where most all of the 9/11 terrorists originated? That's because we are in bed with the Saudi royalty. The American government will ensure nothing happens there that goes against the Saudi royal family. You think there's any "strategery" going on between the Bushes and the Saudis?)

Terrorists will strike whenever and where ever they like and a war in Iraq isn't going to keep them from plotting another attack on US soil. All it does is exhaust our own military on foreign soil, so that when we do need to defend US soil, we will be too spread out in the world to help ourselves.

My Christmas Wish is that the whole world will live in peace and harmony. Sure, it's a distance from reality, but I think I read somewhere that with God anything is possible. World domination does not create peace and harmony. War does not create peace.

War is a way for governments to impose change for their own betterment on people that do not normally in their right minds want such a change.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Vox Popoli

Normally, I don't usually link to another person's blog, but this one caught my attention, especially their post entitled "A forked and evasive tongue" on 12-19-05.

Very interesting reading. Although, it didn't tickle my funny bone until I read it while standing on my head. Then, it all made sense and I giggled like a Teletubbie (those things are very scary--my kids are forbidden to watch that show, btw).

White House Christmas Wish List

Here's the Top Ten Christmas Wish List from the White House:

10. A little less Snow for Christmas.

9. Tamper-poof Presto! Voting Machines —I’d be easier if I were a dictator, but until then, let US vote with the new Presto! Voting Machines.

8. More White Housies Diapers —to prevent more leaks from the Oval Office. Gotta potty train the cabinet, and soon.

7. HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey -- HAL just has a way with words, and would be a perfect replacement for Karl Rove, or even Scott McClellan.

6. Democracy Food Processor -- because I like my democracy finely chopped.

5. I Spy: Domestic Surveillance Edition

4. Last longer in the sack -- no, Iraq. We cannot tolerate early withdrawal.

3. GOP Bible –- You know like King James, but for our time. We need the Bible to back our style of governing the people. You see, the wording just doesn’t work for us as it is right now.

2. St. George of the Bush Republican Church. Has a nice ring to it. Hee, hee!

1. Peace on Earth. Wait, no I want a piece of earth. A big piece of earth. Heck, I want to rule the world!

Friday, December 16, 2005

U-N-I Fight! U-N-I Fight!

Since my freshman year at the University of Northern Iowa, I learned that UNI not only stands for a great college education, but for the University of Nothing Impossible. It was that cold March day when most everyone had gone early for Spring Break, that I remember watching the Panthers in Maucker Union win their first games in March Madness. Those were exciting times.

During my time at UNI, I loved to watch Panther football in the UNI-Dome. Gotta love that controlled environment in the frozen tundra of Northern Iowa. My last year there, the football team was excellent, with Kurt Warner as their quarterback. He's the same guy that got the St. Louis Rams their Super Bowl victory in 2000. Yup. Nothing's Impossible.

And, yet again, UNI is out to show everyone that nothing really is impossible for the kids from the University of Northern Iowa. Tonight the UNI Panthers will play some backward college from the Appalachians for the 1AA Football Championship.

I'm just imagining these Appalachian kids like some kin-folk from the back woods with big holes in their shoes and ripped overalls coming to play with a beat up felt hat and knawing on a piece of wheat. The center will have a big ol' whiskey jug with moonshine in it, and only shares it during the huddles, and occassionally when they find those tree trunks at the ends of the field, which ain't too often, y'all know.

Ok, okay. I'm sure they are just like any other college, and they probably aren't so backwards. They probably think the same way about Iowa, too. Hee, hee.

Back to the game. I am sure that these Appalachians play good football, or else they wouldn't be in the Championship game. So, I reckon that it will be a close one, and it'll come down to the final four minutes. But, in the end I think UNI will win 28-21. Gooooo Panthers!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas Tale of Two Worlds

This holiday season, as it is every year, is a tale of two worlds. I daily hear the beautiful carols and melodies ringing with precious words of life, hope, love and charity. Songs of a utopian life we sometimes think we live in. They almost make me cry sometimes. Not because they are such moving tunes, but because they lie in stark contrast to the harshness of the commercialism and materialism of this precious holiday and the terrible meanness of deliberate activities that take such precious life and moments away from people.

I am sitting here in my office chair, hearing gorgeous voices singing, peace on earth, good will to all, yet seeing the effects of war, torture and violence around the world. It is dismal and almost sickening to sing those holiday songs, knowing that what we are singing about is not passed along to the rest of the world.

A similar tale rang almost two thousand years ago. A beautiful, precious child was born into our terrible world, just as all of us come into this world. But this was no ordinary child. This was Jesus, God's own Son, our Savior. A precious and sacred child came into the world, and showed us how to live in peace. We killed him in violence. And, Jesus overcame death, and returned to His father so that we, too, can overcome the violence and death that shadow our existence on earth. And through Jesus, we can find Peace. Precious peace, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Jesus is a great equalizer. Oh, make straight what once was crooked. Make the rougher places plain. Make our hearts, minds, and souls a resting place, a quieting spot from the worldly battles that bombard our senses. Help us smile, and do all we can to bring Your peace to all we meet, and, in a small way, conquer the violence in the world.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Presidential Injury in War on Christmas

Since I haven't been as light-hearted as I ought to be about recent current events on the War on Christmas, I will refer you to a link that will get you laughing as you should during this holiday season.

Thank you, John Breneman. Sometimes satire is the best medicine. And it goes down so smoothly. Just like Blog Nog.

Happy Holidays!

Blessed are the Weak, Passive Dads...

Perry Noble, you are not getting off the hook here. Hold out the palm of your hand and get ready for some enlightenment from the Golden Ruler (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Oh, you wonder why you deserve such punishment? Sister Jen says it is not punishment, but correction. Gentle correction. Please let me commence with the background and then correction of the Golden Ruler.

Let me excerpt from your previous blog on why your Megachurch is not open for Christmas Day. (By the way, the Golden Ruler is not being used just because you and your church wishes to celebrate Christmas Day with materialistic gluttony.)

So our first Christmas together was "interesting." You see, I LOVE getting presents! I am not going to be one of those weak, passive dads who say, "Don't get me anything--it's just nice to have you around." I will instruct my children, "I had better get something from you--and if you buy me underwear, socks, or some lame cologne then you are grounded until my birthday." (They will have that date memorized!)--Perry Noble

Sigh. See, this is the reason for the Golden Ruler. There are many, even weak and passive dads, who are trying to be the best Christians they can be, and some that may even look to you for guidance. You tell them that being content dads that are happy with what they have and not in want or need are weak and passive.

Aren't weak, passive dads mentioned in the beatitudes? (Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5--read the whole chapter, you'll learn even more. Meek=(definition) showing patience and humility, gentle; easily imposed on; submissive.) Aren't weak, passive dads mentioned in Paul's "Love is patient, love is kind... love does not demand its own way..." (1 Corinthians 13)

Content people are not weak and passive, nor are weak and passive people inferior. "For whomever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:12, Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14)

So what, you may say. Well, read the book of James.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. Do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:3,5-6--Read the whole chapter.) Maybe this is the reason why you don't get what you want at Christmas (re: underwear, sock, or lame cologne), so why punish your children for your own issues with God? And, maybe God is telling you something with those gifts, regardless if you wanted them or that they don't give you pleasure? Think about it.

I hear you saying "you're just spouting Bible verses, they don't apply to this situation." Or do they? Let's read Jesus' parable of the sower in Luke 8: The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (Emphasis mine.)

Do you get it?

Oh, and on the topic of cancelling Sunday services... I believe Jesus said "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" (Mark7:9--just read it all.)

So what, you may say. Here, let me jog your memory on one of the commandments: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20) what is holy? Sure, it doesn't say you HAVE TO worship that day, just keep it holy. So, is practicing over-indulgence, selfish demands and gluttony holy activities?

And, on the topic of why other churches and Christians are upset about your MegaChurch cancelling Sunday services. It is because all Christians are the body of Christ. Regardless of your church's body part, you are an important part of the body (remember Ephesians?). The other body parts are just telling you that you need to work with the whole body and uphold God's commands and the holiness of Christmas Day.

Did we not learn anything from our time in Sunday school, CCD classes, or seminary?

Happy Holydays!

I don't really understand why people are so disgusted by the "Happy Holidays!" term being degrading to the Christmas celebration. Look at the word Holiday. Really, look at it. Do you see the Christian connotation in it? Holy Day=Holiday? Do you see what I see?

You don't. Ok, then. Let's get a different perspective on the word Holiday, and how it still links to Christmas. I'm sure you've heard the song "Holly and the Ivy" this month. Holly, originally Roman and Druid symbol, was translated into a Christian symbol representing the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Also, the word Holly is closely associated with the sacred word Holy. Holly Day=Holiday? Do you hear what I hear?

Indeed, one of the definitions of the modern word Holiday is a religious feast day, holy day.

So, Christians, don't be offended if someone wishes you Happy Holidays. Even if they themselves don't understand what they are wishing you, you know that it is a wish for pleasant celebrations of all the religious feast days that lead up to and include Christmas.

So, Bill O'Reilly and others, stop getting offended and start understanding that not everyone is out to undermine Christmas just because they are wishing you "Happy Holidays!"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It Must Be Okay to Ignore Christmas

Really, I shouldn't. I mean look at all these churches that change their names to be more "appealing" to the non-churched, but in doing so actually create more distance and obscurity from their supposed true mission.

The points surrounding discussions and dismay about churches cancelling Sunday services because it falls on a holiday, one of the biggest holidays in the Christian celebration (shadowed only by Easter) seems to be lost on these non-descript Megachurches.

I'm sure it all has to deal with the War on Christmas. Well, actually, yes. It is a war between our own personal wants and wishes vs. what Jesus commands us as Christians to do. It is about commericialism and materialism of a most precious and sacred holiday. It is forsaking our church communities and communities that need church, for selfish desires of self and family.

Here's the so-called War on Christmas:

Certain department stores where people buy unneeded materialistic Christmas gifts for their loved ones won't say "Merry Christmas." What's the message here? Christmas is all about saying the right words, regardless if the person means it, when one is shopping for materialistic presents for their pseudo-sacred holiday to honor only themselves.

Here's the real War on Christmas:

Not only does a majority of US Christians not understand basic concepts of their Christian faith, but so do churches, especially Megachurches. Perry Noble, a minister of one of these non-descript megachurches, even gave an analogy based on the materialistic habits of his family's Christmas to explain why Christians and other churches should not be upset with their church for cancelling their Sunday service. You gotta read his post! (And then come back and comment, of course.) It is simply amazing that these leaders of their Megachurches just don't get it themselves, and feel justified in dismissing the presence of Christ in Christmas. There's the special presents of Christ in our Christian churches when we come together to celebrate a spiritual and sacred miracle that happened one day over two thousand years ago that to this day give us hope and promise.

Sure, they say that they are holding 16 services in that week leading up to Christmas, but there is something about that one day. Something so special that in fact, out of all the sacred days Christians celebrate, this is the only one that our Federal government lets everyone have the day off, so it is even more special for Christians and non-believers alike. Basically, all citizens of the United States knows that Christmas Day is special, and of those Americans that don't know much about Christmas or Jesus, this is the day they might decide to go and seek to know this Christ, this child born to save. You'd think we could wait to open our materialistic presents (or even open them at another time entirely, like maybe on New Year's Day instead-the materialism of time holiday when we honor the clock god that would be so fitting to celebrate our love of materialism), so we can come together on Christmas Day and be there not only for our church family but also for non-believers to know that our holiday is not just about giving each other materialistic presents? Far from that, it is about the gift of Salvation Jesus brings, and it is about sharing that hope and promise to those who seek it. And, this year, it conveniently falls on a day most churches are worshipping their Lord and Savior, anyway. Perfect, right? But, how can a church share that hope and promise when they are so busy being greedy? Right? Riiiight...

But, these are leaders of churches who claim that it is okay to be absent from the presence of Christ in the church community on a sacred day to open materialistic presents and overindulge. It must be okay, then, to ignore the blessedness of one sacred day.

It is kind of like Joseph and Mary being relegated to deliver their child, God's child, in the lower rooms of the house with the animals, and to rest our Savior's head in a manger, because there was no room for them in the "inn." It must have been okay to ignore the Savior, then, too.

Christmas Day Worship--Who do you worship?

Several Megachurches are closing for Christmas Day, which is celebrated on a Sunday this year. Hardly unanticipated, since we learned from the Harper's Magazine article that many Christians in the United States don't know the facts about their faith, anyway.

Imagine this, a news reporter asking the questions that count to one of the leaders of a Megachurch that will be closed on Christmas Day.

R: Don't you think closing your Megachurch on Christmas Day is in a way ignoring the true reason for the celebration?

Megaleader: We MegaChristians can celebrate Christmas anywhere and everywhere. We are a versatile bunch, because we know Jesus is all around us.

R: Jesus was all around the pharisees and hypocrites of his day, too, but that didn't stop them from ignoring and neglecting his message. What makes your church any different?

Megaleader: We are not stuck on man-made traditions, like doing traditional worship services that involve rituals and wine and half-baked wafers. We're not hip on all that structured worship. We MegaChristians like to do things that do something for us. Our worship services are non-traditional, and we like to read specific verses and see how we can apply them to our own circumstances. It's so hard to figure out those verses when you have to read the whole Bible. We are in the here and now. We just want to hear what we want to hear now. I guess we are traditional only in the sense that we open the same Bible that our Protestant brethren open.

R: Traditionally, Christians, Protestants, Catholic, and even your Megachurch offers worship services on Sundays. Why stop the worship on Sunday, December 25th?

Megaleader: Like I said, we are not stuck on man-made traditions, like going to church and worshipping God on a day when your supposed to be at home with family.

R: What about those less fortunate who don't have a family to celebrate Christmas with, or those who are seeking the true meaning of season on Christmas Day?

Megaleader: Well, those folks already have the Salvation Army and those, what are they called? Soup kitchens, yeah. We donate money to them causes, you know.

R: So, if I hear you correctly, you're saying that your Megachurch doesn't feel obligated to reach out to the least of these on Christmas Day.

Megaleader: Well, we have presents at home waiting for us to open. That's important, too. You know Jesus never went to a soup kitchen when he was on this earth, so I reckon it's not a big deal. And, really, our Megachurch isn't geared toward those who don't have much money. So, it seems kind of a waste of our time to open our doors on a day when much of our church would rather spent our time showering our families in lavish, expensive gifts, enjoying fine liquors, and eating too much deliciously exquisite foods. That's what it's all about, anyway.

R: If that's your Megachurch's way to celebrate the birth of Christ, then what really is the focus of your Megachurch? Who do you worship on Christmas Day?

Megaleader: Great question. You know, times are changing. People just aren't attracted to the old way of giving worship and adoration to something so intangible and ambiguous as God. They want to get something out of it. We are like a self-help book in Megachurch form for these people. When our people leave church, they feel uplifted. MegaChristians' lives have such bright futures that sometimes they do not see the faint light of God. That's where we come in. We've got these great plexiglass magnifying glasses, that we call plexi-magnifying glasses, that go well with our plexiglass pulpit, that help focus our worship. We even have this great lotion to rub on the plexiglass to buff out the many scratches that get on our plexi-magnifying glasses. The view from the plexi-magnifying glass is never quite the same from worship service to worship service, but everyone just loves to worship with us.

R: Speaking of worship, you haven't answered my second question, yet. Who do you worship on Christmas Day?

Megaleader: Didn't you get our press release? We don't worship on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Danish Muslims Offended by Jewish Cookies

Isn't it amazing how another religious group found Jewish Cookies offensive? What's with these Danish Muslims anyway?

If you know what's up with the Danish Muslims or are one of these Danish Muslims, please comment to this post. I'd love to hear your side of the story.

War on Christian Virtues Continues...

The battleground's been set, and the warriors are strategically positioned to hit weak Christians where it counts. Yup, the War on Christian Virtues is on with Operation Merry Christmas. The offensive side is completely distraught at stores that don't wish you Merry Christmas in their advertising. The unknowning defensive side consists of weak Christians and also intelligent Christians, those that either don't know their faith well enough to defend it, or those that know their faith so well that also know Jesus would never sanction such a fight. Also on the defensive side are department stores (Target is now targeted), large conglomerates, and mom-and-pop stores that aren't owned by Christians or don't want to offend non-Christians, and don't allow solicitations in front of their stores.

For all of you Christian lackies, Jesus in his day, was so outraged about the storefront at the temple that in a rare instance of rage, he flipped the tables and benches of the barterers. Read the story:

Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,'but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"

In essence, tacking the Christian holiday of Christmas onto advertising and marketing of goods, is a very similar association with what was happening at the temples in Jesus' day. To add the good name of Jesus and Christmas, his birthday celebration, to a very material pre-occupation that Christmas has become in the US, would likely be seen as an insult to the Christian Savior, Jesus.

If you want to learn more about Jesus and his mission, read the gospels in the New Testament Bible. Matthew is a great place to read about the parables Jesus usually spoke about when he addressed crowds that came to hear his wisdom.

I think if Jesus were in our houses in the US on Christmas Eve, he would likely command that you give all the presents under your tree, not to those you designated, but to give them all to the poor and rightly in need of such presents. That, indeed is the reason for the season. Jesus gave his life, not to the saints, but to the sinners. Likewise, we should not give to those who already have, but to those in need.

So, when you, my fellow Christian American, see those trees in stores with names of families in need and their wish lists, don't hesitate to take a family and purchase the gifts they truly need this Christmas season, and put the "Merry Christmas" greeting into action. That is the least Jesus would want us to do in his name this Christmas season.

Exit Strategy from Long-Time Republican

Sometimes I wonder if all Republicans are just blind followers, agreeing with whatever the Republican Party tells them. Not so with Gus Stelzer.

I will give him the benefit of the doubt when he funded the campaign to oust Jimmy Carter from the presidency. Here's his article that got me thinking that there must be more Republicans out there like him. Click on the title link to read it.

Although it doesn't give us a way to get out of our current situation (neck high in a cess pool), it shows the growing concern for those closet Republicans to come out of the dark and speak up for the declining reputation and prosperity of our grand country.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Love Is Patient, Love is Kind...??? The Golden Ruler Comes Out Again

Faux (er Fox) News in their "fair and balanced" delivery to bring the essence of the season, which I think the last time I heard a carol was "peace on earth, goodwill to all" is allowing Bill O'Really (oops... O'Reilly) to defend the existence of the Christmas holiday in the US by touting his terribly offended personal feelings about stores that wish all their customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

Like I've said before, we all need to be selective in choosing our battles. And Mr. O'Reilly, this is not the battle to wage. I think a tap or two from Sister Jen's Golden Ruler will help set Mr. O'Reilly straight. By the way, Mr. O'Reilly, do you know the Golden Rule?

Let's summize why Mr. O'Reilly deserves the pleasant touch of the Golden Ruler. In usual O'Really-form, he touts that the majority of Americans are Christian and that saying "Happy Holidays" degrades the US Christmas holiday. It is true that the majority of United States citizens claim they are Christian, but that doesn't mean that all Christians are commited and believe in the same Christian philosophy.

In fact, if you read the link, many (75% of Americans) Christians believe that "God helps those who help themselves" and that this statement is in the Bible. However, this idea was first stated by Ben Franklin, and Jesus never encouraged such attitudes. Jesus said during one of his parables, "whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me." Thus, the majority of Christian Americans do not even understand their own religion.

I think Fox News and especially O'Reilly is way off track, if they truly want to see Christianity touted as the majority religion in the US. Maybe they should get off their soap box and start reading what Jesus and his followers said and wrote about the Christian way of life in the Bible's New Testament. Like the passage most read at weddings (so if you've been to a Christian wedding in your life, you would have heard these verses if you paid attention):

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

As Christians, we are the Love that the Apostle Paul talks about here. Bill O'Reilly apparently thinks it's a Christian responsibility to demand that stores say "Merry Christmas" over a phrase just as courteous, or even more so.

A more appropriate demand for this Christmas holiday season ought to be for Christian mainstream media leaders like O'Reilly to encourage Americans to live the way Jesus would want them to live by loving their neighbor, speaking kind words, gently help each other (just read what I like to refer to as the "be-attitudes" in Matthew, read the whole chapter for a greater understanding of what Jesus stands for, and what all Christians ought to know and believe).

Bill O'Reilly is just a part of this sad paradox and in fact continues to lead the way for Christian Americans to set aside Christian beliefs for their own agenda. Shame on you, Mr. O'Reilly. And shame on us all (American Christians, at least) for being so ignorant of the very beliefs we claim to profess. I pray that we all, including Mr. O'Reilly, will stop pushing our religion on others and start living our religion as God wishes, not only during the Christmas season, but for our entire lives. And may our lives echo the pleasant refrain "peace on Earth, good will to all!"

Friday, December 02, 2005

Jury Duty!

McLennan County in Texas has called up resident (yes, resident) George W. Bush for jury duty, and in reply Mr. Bush has declined to serve due to prior commitments his busy schedule.

Judge Ralph T. Strother, State District Court Judge, pulled President Bush's name randomly to serve jury duty and expects President Bush to serve at some point. Judge Strother, a Republican judge appointed by then-Governor Bush in 1999, has given President Bush six other dates ranging from January through June 2006 to fulfill his responsibility to serve on the jury.

My advice to Judge Strother: Don't hold your breath.

My advice to George W. Bush: Set an example and serve Jury Duty sometime during your presidency. It would be a great positive aspect to your second term in the office, and I think you'd make it in the recordbooks with this one, too. Maybe everyone will forget about Katrina and Iraq...

Do-It-Yourself in the Air!

Wwwwooohooo! Finally, sewers, carpenters, scrapbookers and do-it-yourselfers can rejoice as the Transportation Security Administration has lifted the airline carry-on ban for certain objects including scissors 4 inches or less in length and screwdrivers. Maybe I should clarify the screwdriver ban, it is on the metal object, not the drink, because I think the guy sitting next to our family on the flight home from Thanksgiving felt compelled to ask for one from the flight attendant.

TSA chief Kip Hawley said that the change will take place on December 22nd, just in time for those last minute crafty gifts to be made before Christmas. Now, the homemade birdhouse for Grandpa Joe or caftan for Aunt Mabel can be made on the long plane trip to those relatives you'd as soon not see at all.

The flight attendant association claims some (okay, they said all) flight attendants are not happy with the changes to allow such objects into the cabin of a plane. With 9/11 still fresh in their minds, they apparently fear that Grandma Smith will take her 4" scissors and gouge their eye out in an effort to take over the plane. We all know Grandma Smith has watched way too much MacGyver to know that she could accomplish the same thing with the sharp edges of her large rectangular plastic pill box.

On the other hand, the pilots association report that many pilots feel the new measures will help to track out explosive devices that could also be stowed on the plane, which would be a bigger risk than the items the TSA will soon allow as carry-ons in planes.

If the airlines are going to allow these items on planes, then they'd better start showing HGTV on the flights as well, so we know what to do with our scissors and screwdrivers during the flight. And, instead of offering drinks during the flight, maybe the flight attendants could offer handmade paper, fabric, thread, wood and screws.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ah, Poop!

I think this may just be the solution Canada needs for their scarcity of landfills. They could make fuel from their trash. Then they can import their fuel to the States and actually benefit not only their economy and reputation, but also the environment!

Hey, then Canada would be helping to stop climate change instead of passing it off on the United States to clean up their trashy mess. Whoa! What a concept... Practice what you preach, Canada.

Of course, here in the United States, we (at least the President and his followers) don't believe global warming exists, and we must do all we can to support our friends, the oil producers. So, all this silly talk about making fuel out of trash and poop is just nonsense.

Oh, Canada...

You know, if I hadn't just read an article about Canada pushing its trash on the States (see below post "Waste Not, Want Not"), I would think that Canada was admirably requesting that the US change its position on climate change and pollution.

It's one thing to fight equally for countries to clean up for the sake of the environment, but when Canada demands that the States take their garbage out of one side of their mouth, then tell us to clean up our act out of the other side, it just sounds way too hypocritical.

Ok, so you want to know how one is linked to the other, eh? Ok, hoser, here's a quick chemistry lesson. Many blame the current climate changes on greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are composed of water vapor, carbon dioxide and ozone, along with methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and chlorofluorocarbons. One of the products of solid waste decomposition is methane. Methane is a highly explosive flamable gas, and many landfills try to burn the gas, so it doesn't explode, which then pumps the methane into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. You see the chemical cycle, hoser?

Maybe Canada should find ways to take care of their own trash themselves, rather than forcing their neighbor country to take it. And, then maybe we will talk together about cleaning up our respective countries for the sake of the environment.

Waste Not, Want Not! OR...The Trash Trade

Canada this week said they will fight to make sure that they can send their trash to the United States. No, we aren't talking about streeting walking floozies or rauchous pimpsters imported to NYC from Montreal. This is really trash talk about the waste trade.

Apparently, Toronto sends all of its trash to Michigan. (Imagine if trash could sing, a little Glenn Miller, please... I'm going to Michigan, to see the smelliest trash, from Cah-ah-nada!) Citizens in Michigan and other bordering states are appalled that foreign trash (no, not crappy international B movies) is being imported into their back yards.

Canada says that they have the right under NAFTA to import such commodities as trash. Sure, NAFTA was created to help our neighboring countries to bring more of their goods and products into the States, but I highly doubt that garbage and refuse was on the minds of NAFTA signers.

I guess Canada took it literally when they heard Irving Berlin's "give me your tired, your poor...the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.."

Oh, well. I guess if Canada wants to be known for their finest imported refuse, instead of exquisite minks and touks, then so be it. I don't want to hear them gripe that the States think Canada's nothing but trash. (Psst. Canada, pick your battles wisely. If I were you, I'd forget about this one.)

Of Comfort and Joy??

As the Holiday season is upon us, many carols and tunes of the season in general speak of comfort and joy.

As Americans in the United States, we are fortunate that we currently don't have to worry about daily bombings and violent military attacks that separates families and does unspeakable things in the name of defeating terrorism. But, it this holiday season it is easy to look away from such images that are happening in our name at places like Iraq and Afganistan. We want to forget about such atrocities, think that it has nothing to do with us, and take on the "better them than us" attitude.

Is this the spirit of the holiday season? Regardless of your religious affiliation, many of the religious celebrations center around hope and promise, and to share that hope with everyone. It was the eight days of light that a short supply of oil gave hope to the Jewish people. It was the birth of a promise with Salvation for Jews and gentiles so long ago. It is hope that gives our hearts wings to fly.

For many people, they will not see hope and promise this holiday season. There are people too evil that instigate hatred, violence, and completely inhumane acts on their fellow human and see nothing wrong with it. There are soldiers and mercenaries that do not see the value of a human life as they torture and murder. There are rulers rich beyond our imagination that withhold essential life-sustaining assistance and purposefully degrade their people to the point of death.

Don't think that the United States is immune to this type of evil. There are people that behave coarsely to others by their inconsiderate actions by verbal and physcial bullying. There are bosses who deliberately receive millions and millions a year in salary, yet do not pay their employees enough so they can afford health insurance or to heat their homes, or that steal their employees' savings and retirement investments so their company can declare bankruptcy and they come out with millions.

There are people running companies that feel downsizing works to fatten the executives' paychecks, by laying off middle class employees in a stale hiring marketplace and forcing them on the streets, and forcing the rest of their employees to work faster, longer, and harder to accomplish their work and then some due to the lack of workers to finish the job right with less pay. I could go on and on with racial and appearance prejudice, clash of the working classes, and ignorance and negligence, especially with our young who yearn to have the attention of their parents who are too busy working to give them the time of day, let alone the love they long for.

This holiday season, please pray for those people who do not receive glad tidings of comfort and joy, that what they do not find in humankind, they will find with God (G-d, Allah). Pray for us, and all who represent us, that we may show glad tidings of comfort and joy to all we meet this holiday season and beyond. Meditate on those who don't see the hope and promise of the season, and how each of us can help to bring hope and promise to all.

As a Christian, we are convicted to show God's love and kindness to all. When we fail, we not only sin, we are stripping hope and promise to those we have shown less than what God wants us do for others. In essence, when we ignore our call to show God's love, we are against the life God wants for us. We are no longer pro-life. We have turned our backs to God and wallow in the cold darkness of lovelessness.

You never know who you will meet again in your time of need. Those that you show either love, indifference or even hate, may just one day hold the key to your comfort and joy with the ability to allow or deny you that comfort and joy.

This season, when you meet someone on the street, or are among family, friends or even foes, smile and bestow upon them glad tidings of comfort and joy. Happy Holidays to all!