Flash Fiction #236

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

FAIR TRADE

How do you get down off an elephant?
You don’t!  You get down off a duck.

I got a dog for my wife.
Seems like a good swap.

I saw a sign that said, Watch For Children.
I thought, that’s a fair trade.

Maybe I could get the Traders to exchange some new jokes for these old ones.  I would trade two weeks of COVID isolation for a fortnight visit to Wilmington, NC, to see how it took 75 years for Southerners to trade their insecure, racist bigotry, for acceptance, and peaceful coexistence.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s better.

***

Join the merry band of Friday Fictioneers.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple https://rochellewisoff.com/ site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

**It Has Hit The Fan

Pride Flag

The Waterloo District Catholic School Board refused to fly the rainbow Pride flag at their schools during June, LGBTQ+ MonthHo-Hum, same-old – same-old.  There are 37 area Catholic boards in Ontario, and only one of them, the Sudbury one, did so.

Last year’s chairman of the board – a very capable administrator – resigned from the board when his term ended, because he could not stand to work with these narrow-minded bigots.  The most outspoken – a man – thundered that he would not allow the Pride flag to be flown, because Pride is the greatest sin in the Bible!

There are 7 Deadly Sins listed in the Bible, none of them marked as more serious than any other.  The resigned resigner publicly pointed out that the “Biblical” sin of pride is the rejection of the power and wisdom of God, and believing that one is as smart and strong as Him.  It has nothing to do with LGBTQ+ gay Pride.  Either the intolerant bigot is intentionally lying, or, he does not know/understand the basic positions of his religion.

manure

If this was all that (didn’t) happened, it wouldn’t even be news.  It would just be Catholic ‘Business As Usual,’ but the board really put their foot in it.  While they wouldn’t fly the rainbow Gay Pride flag – against the recommendations of the Catholic School Teachers Federation and several student organizations, they designed their own “Pride Flag,” and summarily announced that it would fly during June.

Catholic pride-flag

The local media reported on this, and suddenly it went viral and global.  The local newspaper went from days when there were no Op-Ed letters, to 6 and 7 a day about this for a week, on both sides.  Letters with captions like
Alternative Pride flag a creative attempt to embrace inclusivity
No, it’s not, and I’ll explain why, below.
Catholic trustee should be able to speak his mind
Yes he should.  No-one suggested that he couldn’t, but the rest of us should be free to point and call him a bigot.
Don’t criticize Catholics for not flying Pride flag
Why not??!  Are they being loving and inclusive?
The rainbow Pride flag should not fly at schools
Perhaps not, but that’s the smaller side of this controversy.
Dissenters are bullied in discussion of Pride flag
Told that they are arrogant assholes, suddenly ‘Good Christians’ are being bullied.  😥
Rainbow flag celebrates freedom from persecution
And yet, the Board still wants to play “My Way Or The Highway.”
Clearing up controversy by properly defining “Pride”
His definition, almost word-for-word, echoes that of the ex-chairman, explaining the mistake, and yet he still wants to fly the board’s alternative flag.  The only positive to his letter is that, at least he’s not a hypocrite.  He is intolerant, prejudiced, dogmatic, and proud of it.

A number of the Catholic commenters wanted to support intolerant Church tenets, yet not appear too judgmental and small-minded themselves.  There were many references to ‘loving, acceptant, and inclusive, about the use of the Catholic flag version, but these words only relate when they apply to others, as they are, and under the symbol that they have chosen for themselves.  It is not ‘loving, acceptant, and inclusive,’ if it is only done under your rules and restrictions.

This sad fiasco has not really been about LGBTQ+, or gay rights, or the rainbow flag, or its distressing replacement.  It has been a power struggle, about militant Catholicism and control, in which EVERYBODY lost, but the Church lost most of all.  Because of the public scrutiny and controversy, the Catholic Board decided that no flag would fly, including their own design.  I wait to see next year, if it gets unfurled again.  😛  🙄

***

The mayor of the township which abuts our cities’ western edge, also refused to allow the rainbow Pride flag to be flown from any Township building.  His ‘justification’ was that, no two lesbians can produce children, and no two homosexuals can produce children, therefore, ‘If we encourage this sort of thing, this will be the last generation of humans on Earth.’

What disturbs me, as often and as much as the bigoted intolerance and misrepresentation, is the (often intentional) ignorance [lack of easily gained knowledge] and stupidity [misinterpretation of easily understood facts.]

Thumbs Down

Defence Of Purity

Mennonite

A recent entertainment article in the newspaper described an upcoming series on CBC-TV, titled ‘Pure’, where some Mexican Mennonites, travelling through the US and into Canada, smuggled drugs. The usual suspects were horrified – aghast, and complained. I replied, with information taken from A World Lit Only By Fire!

a world lit only by fire

In his Jan. 25th letter, Social Injustice, Harold Robertson tries to defend Mennonites from an accusation of drug smuggling, in the upcoming CBC-TV show Pure.

He naively asked, ”What next, a brothel full of nuns?” In Martin Luther’s time, that was only one of the sins of the Church and its leaders that he nailed to the door. While still called convents, there were many brothels full of nuns. They funnelled an immense amount of wealth to the Church.

There were also lots of brothels without nuns. The Vatican alone supported three, nearby. People with the surname Pope had ancestors who were illegitimate Papal offspring.

Despite what we like to believe, there are many times when not all religious figures are Holy and Pure.

***

In another paper the same week, there were two articles, one in Lifestyle, and one in the Religion section, both bemoaning the fact that attendance at almost all Christian Churches continues to decline. The only exceptions seem to be the Fundamentalist, Westboro Baptist-type churches, where they preach Hell-Fire and Brimstone, Biblical Literalism.

Some of the Protestant leaders got together and discussed the advisability of trying to attract more followers, by ‘giving the people what they want’, and abandoning the open, loving, acceptant type of Christianity.

I see at least two things wrong with this approach. First, there is hopefully, only a small percentage of intolerant, redneck-type church-goers who want this inflammatory rhetoric, to buttress their bigotry.  The pie is only so big.  Few new ‘believers’ would be created.  The slices would just get smaller, and it would drive away the few moderates still attending.

Secondly, if you truly believed in logic and science, and a loving, caring God, and populace, but are willing to so radically change your stance, you are doing so for hypocritical power and wealth reasons.

You don’t care about the soul salvation, or social support of your parishioners. You only care about bums in the pews, and a continued flow of money into your church, and your paycheck.

At least, that’s what this old non-believer believes!   😯

Don’t Be Sad

The Toronto Sun has a regular columnist who writes about a variety of issues.  When he writes about politics or social concerns, he is as clear as crystal.  Occasionally though, he strays off the well-traveled road, and into the religious minefield, where his work immediately resembles Beijing smog.

Several years ago, he wrote of being Jewish.  Six months later, he claimed that he was Catholic.  When called on it by several readers, he “explained” that his family had Jewish ancestry, but he had converted to Catholicism.  Oh good, just what we need, another gung-ho turncoat.

He quickly learned the Catholic method of the straw-man argument, to belittle those who did not agree with him.  Call them names; assign a definition, then make fun of them, to justify making himself feel better.

Just before Christmas, he took a swing at committed atheists.  He called them the most unhappy, lugubrious, neurotic special-interest group he’d ever encountered.  Then he corrected his accusation, and listed feminists and socialists first, truly an all-you-can-offend-buffet bigot.

He has decided to call atheists, Sads.  They must be sad; it’s an atheist’s nightmare, Christmas coming just two weeks after Pope Whasshisname was named Time’s Man of the Year.  He is convinced, that atheists are convinced, that the world is a dark, hateful place, where everyone is against you.

It’s sad that he doesn’t see, that atheists enjoy the commerce and conviviality of the season, without the need for a supernatural crutch.  He says they don’t grasp irony, but it’s ironic that atheists don’t care that the Pope received this honor. (?)  It’s much like Clay Aiken winning the American Idol crown, nobody with a three-digit IQ, and a life of their own, really gives a damn.

People in the past have sent him “misspelt emails” and they really should learn to master the apostrophe.  He’s a master at turning the subject from criticism to punctuation.  He’s heard the one about God being like the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, that Hitler was a Christian, that Jesus didn’t exist, bad things happen to good people, and more wars have been fought in the name of religion than anything else – blah, blah, blah.  Doesn’t sound like blah, blah, blah to me, and many others.  It sounds serious.

He has dismissed these claims in, not one, but three, books; not “dealt with”, dismissed!  Yet Hitler was a Catholic, bad things do happen to good people, prayers are unanswered, and religious wars are still fought.  He wants critics to come up with something new, and challenging; religion is a game to be won, to him.  How about admitting to, and dealing with the old problems first?

It apparently makes him feel good to think that those who disagree with him feel bad.  Not exactly a loving Christian outlook, but then, he’s not exactly loving – or loved.  He admits that Easter is more theologically significant, that Christ probably wasn’t born late in December, and that the whole thing has been clumsily commercialized and secularized, but says he cherishes and believes in it because the show supports his “faith.”  That’s it fella, don’t let reality get in the way.

He would be sad to admit that Atheists quietly, happily, productively, co-operatively, are getting on with their lives, and making of them, as much as they can, without a vague promise of a second chance on the other side of the great divide.  He speaks of “all that is the pure, sparkling joy of the season, gloriously plump with giving, loving, forgiving, enjoying, rethinking and celebrating,” but then denies that they are available to any but his Good Christian compatriots.

He thinks nothing of launching attacks like this, but, should anyone have the temerity to express different thoughts, he falls back on another “Definition” defense – Religism.  This is defined as an attack on any or all organized religions, but, in his case, simply means somebody said he might be wrong in his heart and head.

A Protestant New York minister played this game recently.  He raised such a fuss that he was allowed to be on The View, where he railed to Liz Hasselbek that a bookstore had a shelf label on The Bible, showing it as “fiction!”  After his televised furor, he admitted that “it might have been a simple clerical error.”

The Sun columnist is a sad, shrivelled soul!  It is sad that he gains so much twisted happiness in spewing his bigoted hatred, and taking so much joy in his belief in the imagined pain and suffering of others he deems unworthy.  It is sad that he is not unique, and that there are so many more judgmental, condemnatory Christians like him.

I, on the other hand, would be very happy if you drop lots of likes and comments in the collection plate.

 

BTW, FYI – Lugubrious means mournful, dismal, gloomy, sorrowful or melancholy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.  Sounding pompous doesn’t make you right.