Posts tagged ‘god’

A Choice of Saints

30 April, 2017 | | 1 Comment

It seems sainthood is the question of the hour for me – so I’m running with it.  There we were, just a pair of innocents driving down the street, when we saw a license plate that said “StBndct.”  Sometimes you really have to try to parse a vanity plate.  In this case, one can tell right away that it’s an invocation to St. Benedict.  But why?   What’s he the patron Saint of, anyway, and why should he in particular be looking out for the welfare of this Toyota?

A little research turned up the fact that Good Old St. Ben is actually the Patron Saint of a lot of stuff:  Agricultural workers, civil engineers, coppersmiths, dying people, Europe, farmers, fever, gall stones, heraldry, inflammatory diseases, Italian architects, kidney disease, monks, nettle rash, servants who have broken their master’s belongings, spelunkers, and temptations.

Whoa.  I mean, that’s a lot of shit to be the Patron Saint of.   Patron Saint of temptations?  Pro or con?  Did Otis Williams know this?  The Patron Saint of dying people?  Isn’t that pretty much everyone, eventually?  That’s a pretty big gig.  Plus having to look after all of Europe.  And why civil engineers and Italian architects in particular?

And you know, it’s got to be a bit of a bummer to have to be the Patron Saint of kidney and inflammatory diseases, plus the gall stones.  Who decides this?  And I still don’t know why the Toyota was claiming him – a European model car would have made more sense.  Maybe the driver was a coppersmith, or a particularly clumsy butler.

Some further discussion lead to the topic of the patronage of saints in general.  It turns out, and some of you may know this, but there are more than 800 saints of something or other.  I knew that St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers, but Bona of Pisa has them also, covering not just travelers in general but flight attendants in particular.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason:  Augustine of Hippo covers printers and brewers, Bernard of Clairvaux looks after bee keepers and overpaid Madison Avenue advertising executives.  St. Christopher also covers bookbinders, gardeners, and pilots.  I knew St. Jude was for lost causes, but it turns out that undertakers have their own saint (Dismas), as do coffee house owners (Drogo), locksmiths (Dunstan), and lawyers and lumberjacks (Genesius and Gummarus, respectively).

Nurses and shepherds seem to have a lot of patron saints.  St. Malo covers pig-keepers, while St. Roch drew surgeons and gravediggers – two sides of one coin, I suppose.  St. Veronica was famous for her veil, which became the Shroud of Turin; seems kinda mean to make her the patron saint of laundry workers, but there you go.

I have to wonder, is there a beautific game of cards going on somewhere, where the saints swap these patronages around when someone is newly canonized?  Poor St. Agatha got stuck being patron saint of breast cancer, while St. Christina the Astonishing is the saint against insanity and mental disorders.  I suppose she was astonished to get picked for that.  And it really seems mean-spirited that the patron of the blind and the lame is Saint Abel.  Seems pretty ableist to me.

I can see them sitting around a heavenly table playing cards, halos slung over their chairs, bitching about their lot.

St. Damien of Molokai:  “Oh man,  leprosy?  Really?  That’s just gross.”
St. Edmund the Martyr of East Anglia:  “Just one disease?  Quit your bitching, I drew pandemics.  Besides, hardly anyone even gets leprosy any more.”
St. Fiacre:  “I’ll trade you there, Ed.  I’d rather have a nice quick pandemic than my divine plate full of venereal diseases and hemorrhoids!  Hey, Vitus, wake up!  What’d you get?”
St. Vitus:  “Heh, sorry, yeah, that sucks.  I got oversleeping.”
St. Edmund the Martyr of East Anglia:  “Oversleeping?  We need a damn saint for oversleeping?  Pansy.  Gummy, what the hell are you singing?”
St. Gummarus:  “Oh, I’ve got lumberjacks and I’m OK….”
St. Fiacre: “Shut it, you.  Someone shuffle the cards again, huh?  Come on guys, I hate hemorrhoids.”

In light of the fact that it seems like you can self-select your own patron saint and the poor sod of a saint just has to live with it, I think bloggers need their own.  I know Saint Isidore is the patron for the Internet in general, but I’m declaring St. Arnold of Soissons to be the Patron Saint of Bloggers.  He was probably bored, just covering beer and those who pick hops – he should have plenty of time to watch after the bloggers!

Besides, now I can have a beer and pretend I’m working.


Of Meteors and Voting

12 August, 2016 | | 3 Comments

Last night was one of the great days of summer, with the chance to lie on the grass and watch stars shooting overhead, as the Perseids come streaking through our atmosphere, heating up and burning themselves out in a flaming blaze of glory as they crash.  The Human Tape Recorder and the Reigning Queen of Pink stayed up all night last night, on beach towels in the backyard, to watch one of natures great fireworks displays.  Around 1230, they woke me to join them.

I’ve always loved meteor showers, so I did as I was told, brought a blanket outside for a while, and stared up at the stars.  Within about 5 minutes, the score was Team Perseids 4, Team West Nile 3, and Team Zika was up to 7 with a hat trick.  Mosquitoes love me.  The girls were sad to see me go back inside, although that may just have been because I had been drawing fire from the flying vampiric plankton that flies around my back yard.  I itched my way back to my own bed and wished them well, but that’s not what I came to tell you about.

I came to talk about the draft election.

Are you on the fence about voting this November?  Let’s say you vote for Trump, and then let’s fast forward a few years into his administration with the current GOP platform.  (Go ahead, read it.  I’ll wait.)  Now, ask yourself these questions:

If your daughter wants an abortion, or worse, needs an abortion, and she can’t, legally, have one, how will you feel about having voted for a misogynist-in-chief? How will you look your daughter in the eye and tell her that you voted for this man knowing that he doesn’t believe she has the right to make decisions about her own body?

If your teen-aged child, maturing in this political environment, is conflicted about their sexuality and wonders about their possible attraction to their own gender, how will they ask you about it? Knowing that you voted for a party that holds hate in high regard, a party that has pledged to repeal laws allowing adults who love one another to marry, how will you look your child in the eye and tell them that you’re looking forward to their straight sibling’s wedding, but that you voted against their right to have one?  If your gay child should leave the nest to live with their same-sex soulmate, will you remind them that you’ve voted against their right to legally adopt your grandchildren?

When your Muslim friends ask about celebrating Eid in their public school and are laughed at, or worse, while walking past the Ten Commandments or the Christmas tree in the school office, how will you look them in the eye and tell them that you voted for a government that values “America’s Judeo-Christian heritage” more highly than America’s heritage of freedom? Will you remind your Hindu friends that you voted for a party that believes a good understanding of the Bible to be indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry?  Just the Bible, not the Koran, not the Talmud, not the Upanishads, or the Tao Te Ching.

When your neighbor asks you to attend their young son’s funeral, how will you look them in the eye and tell them that you voted for increased magazine capacities in automatic rifles?  That you voted for the right of anybody who hears the voice of god whispering in their ear to carry that gun anywhere they go, Linus with a 5.56-mm security blanket and a hundred rounds in the clip, a good guy with a gun until he saw that kid in the hoodie with his phone, wrong place, wrong time, his mom didn’t know he’d stopped taking his meds two weeks ago, our thoughts and prayers are with you?

When your neighbor asks you to attend a loved one’s funeral after they succumb to an anaphylactic allergic reaction because they ate something that wasn’t accurately labeled, how will you look them in the eye and explain that you voted for a party that has pledged to repeal federal mandates for food labeling?

When you look in the mirror in the morning, will you be able to look yourself in the eye knowing that you voted for a party that holds monochromatic monotheism in higher regard than modern medicine, a party that puts faith before fact, a party that will sideline science, social justice, and STEM schools because stem cell research might offend their narrow notion of God?

You don’t have to vote for Hillary Clinton.  I understand.  She’s a career politician, and she’s made the Faustian bargains that career politicians make.  She’s competent, she’s qualified, and she’s not cuddly and likable.  You don’t have to vote FOR anything.

Against, now – that’s another story.   When you go to the polls November 8th, don’t vote FOR anything.  Press the button that says Hillary Clinton.  You’re not really voting for her.  You’re casting your vote against.

Vote against misogyny.

Vote against racism.

The Trump campaign may flame out like a Perseid meteor long before November, a spectacular magnesium flare streaking across our political sky as millions stay up late to watch.  But it might not.

And if it doesn’t, and if in November you find yourself faced with the dilemma of decision, I urge you to cast your ballot for sanity and competence.   If it really bothers you, remind yourself that you’re not voting for Hillary Clinton.

You’re voting against hate.






A Bashing We Shall Go?

3 June, 2012 | | 6 Comments

This evening my friend Momedy posted on Facebook a link to an interesting article about prejudice.  Based on the article, she posed the question, “Is Mormon bashing socially acceptable?”  Unfortunately, the answer still seems to be “Yes.”  

Should it be, obviously, is “No!”  It’s a good article, and there were great comments on her thread.  I made a study of the LDS Church in college, and since then have been to visit the public parts of the Temple in Salt Lake City.  I should note (while many of those who know me well are saying “Wait, what?”) that I was raised Roman Catholic, and I have studied a LOT of religions – I find belief and faith fascinating, largely since I have very nearly none myself.  I think of myself as a militant agnostic:  I don’t know, and you don’t either. 

I’ve found that the important part of any such study is to respect not only the beliefs in question but also the people who hold those beliefs, no matter what religion they identify with.  Robert Heinlein said that one man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh – and it’s true, but it needs to be a belly laugh behind closed doors, in private, because the other guy is laughing just as hard at your beliefs.  In the end, it is our ability to be simply polite to one another that will save us.

(Go read the article now, it’s short.  I’ll wait.)

So, why do people still think it’s OK to disparage Mormons?  I think it’s because the LDS church is still very young, in the broad sweep of history, and can still be considered to be in a “cult” stage of its evolution.  The difference between a cult and a religion is time and money.  The last time I checked on such things the LDS Church as an institution was able to keep several billion in cash on hand – these days, not as much as the Vatican, but a respectable sum.  The money’s there, and over time, money can buy respectability.  What the LDS Church hasn’t had is 2000 years of training people to expect that, hey, lots of people are Mormons and that’s fine.  Christianity was a cult to start with, just as Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam were.  That these are all considered mainstream religions now has everything to do with the numbers of faithful of these faiths and with the number of years that “everyone’s heard of them.”   I have several friends who attend Unitarian services; the Unitarians don’t have much of an organization, but they’ve been around for nearly 500 years.  Nobody really blinks anymore. 

The good news?  The LDS Church is growing up at a time when all the world’s connections are growing together faster than they ever have before.  It won’t take 2000 years for Mormons to be completely mainstream and for Mormon bashing to be socially passé – it might take 200, but hopefully even that may be guessing wide.  I believe in the power of the Internet to highlight this kind of irresponsible prejudice, shine a light on it, and get people to think before they talk. 

You know who we can sit around and tell jokes about?  Intolerant people.  I met this guy once, he was so intolerant, he wouldn’t let his kid have a sherbert because all the store had left was rainbow.   He was so intolerant, he had to ask for a different straw for his soda because he couldn’t bring himself to use one that might bend.  He was so intolerant, he asked his wife not to discuss sex while they were having it.  He was so intolerant, he was the only man Will Rogers didn’t like. 

Are there better intolerance jokes out there?  Any thoughts on the main point?   Can’t we just all get along?

Happy May Day – Have Some Birds

2 of Everything, 3 Terns, Some Seasoning

Wedding Road Trip, Part 3: Of Bullets and Brides

26 August, 2011 | | No Comment

For those of you just joining:  We’re driving to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding.  No, my other cousin.  Also, there will be no weather in this narrative.  The weather was fine, with only a few embarrassed clouds.  For the purposes of our driving descriptions, you should feel free to fill in whatever weather you prefer.  I’ll try to remind you where to fill them in, for those of you who require a little climate control in your narrative.  We resume our story on Saturday morning, as we prepare for the wedding later that afternoon.

Saturday dawned ugly, which wouldn’t be an issue except for the part where the wedding was to be held outside at 4:30 in the afternoon.  We headed into the city and waited out the storm visiting with friends.  After eating more than any five people can or should before noon, we made our fond farewells and headed back to get ready.  Once ready, we drove to the wedding – which while not actually in Wyoming, it could have been, based on the distance.  Also, once we found it, it was next to a Wild West Rodeo and Kids Ranch, which lent some credence to the idea that we were, in fact, in Wyoming, just north of Cheyenne.  We weren’t, but it was far enough away from Chicago that we had to pipe in our own Katy Perry songs.

The wedding was set up to be outside on a covered porch on the back of the reception hall, which looked out onto a vast, beautiful, and likely still very wet lawn, open on three sides.  The guests took their chairs, the music started, and Number One Son started to slowly go crazy in his seat – he hates insects, and he’s not wild about being outdoors at all.  I handed him my hat, in the hopes that it would distract him and allow him to fan away the occasional fly – and there were a few, but not enough to make anyone other than him really notice.  He grabbed the hat and shut his mouth, which was all I was really after, and we proceeded to watch the bridal party come down the aisle, the men in their finest new sneakers, the ladies in heels high enough to be illegal in other states, and all of them looking great.

We got the groom down the aisle, the bride and her father down the aisle, and the bride’s hand given to said groom, and the pastor began to speak of the wonders of married life.  He talked about marrying your best friend, about keeping your relationship new, and about two lives becoming one.  He talked about uniting this couple in the light of Jesus.

That’s when the shooting started.

The gunshots came from over on the bride’s side, and we all jumped and looked as we listened to multiple shots fired from at least two guns, a .45 and .38 by the sound of them, and then a third that might have been a shotgun.  After a brief interlude of about 30 or 40 rounds in about 20 seconds, there was a moment of silence, into which the pastor looked off toward the Wild West Rodeo and Kids Ranch encampment, bowed his head solemnly, and intoned, “I think they got him.”

The bride and groom wrote their own vows, which were beautiful and luckily did not include any of my advice for same. (“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of wife of the BUMD’s cousin Drew, and will, to the best of my ability, love him and keep him fed and watered.”)  During the remainder of the service and ceremony, we heard continual, albeit random, gunplay from the other side.  SOBUMD’s reaction to hearing the shots and bangs was to assume that god had realized I was in something like a church – let’s just say the empirical evidence is on her side and leave it at that, shall we?

My cousin Susan was thrilled with the idea – she decided that when and if she gets married, she’s incorporating the guns right into her vows: “Do you promise to hold her, in good times and in bad, we talked about this, right, don’t make me take the safety off this thing, we talked about this, good times and in bad, you promise, that’s it (bang!), I’ve had it, I fuckin’ told you, love, honor, and OBEY, bitch (bang!), we TALKED about this…”  Not sure I’d have the courage to marry her myself, but I’d love to watch that ceremony.

Then there was an hour between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception, presumably so they could consummate the wedding right away.  Given how long the bride waited for my cousin to figure out that she’s perfect, I can’t blame her a bit.  No backing out now, Drew!

Number One Son Takes Aim

Number One Son Takes Aim

After the ceremony, Number One Son wanted to go see the guns next door, so we moseyed on over there and got a short tour of some hombre’s six-shooter.  Since he wasn’t able to actually hold the gun, which we were assured held no bullets (the hombre showed us the empty chambers), Number One Son contented hisownself with showing a few milk canisters what it means to be on the business side of a bow and arrow.  He acquitted himself well from a distance of about 18 inches.

I Can Still Taste the Wedding Cake; Ain't It Sweet After All These Years

"Ain't It Sweet After All These Years"

Following the ceremony and consummation, there was a delightful dinner, drinks, cake, and dancing.  As if I weren’t impressed enough, the first dance was to Queen, and the Father-Daughter dance was to Led Zeppelin.  My cousin has married well.

Since at this point the three lunatic children were moving from the best behaved children at the place to the worst behaved children at the place, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and that we’d better get them out for the three-and-a-half hour trip back to the hotel.  (It’s probably worth noting that they were the only children in the place.)

On the way back, as we drove through whatever the weather was like, Number One Son spent a few minutes telling us about how things would be at his wedding, which we assumed to be hypothetical until he told us, “Yeah, which will probably be to Emily Washername, in my class last year.  She’s the only person who could help me calm down.”  SOBUMD and I looked at each other, pole-axed: There’s an Emily?  News to us.  News to her, too, is our guess, but hey.  We made the hotel in record time, falling to sleep with dreams of bullets, brides, and booze.

Next up:  The Reigning Queen of Pink turns nine, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her!