A LARGE DROP IN THE BUCKET

Hero

I am agog – not to be confused with a fool, a nerd, or a nosy parker – although I’ve successfully been all of those. I have been within 8 feet of Queen Elizabeth.  I have seen and touched Her Royal Yacht, Britannia, when it put into the harbor at my home town for fuel.  I had a brief, 5-second conversation with the singer, Roger Whittaker, and I got a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, from the female Canadian Minister of the Exterior.

These all pale into insignificance. I recently got an invitation from BrainRants, to come and visit him and his wife this summer.  Actually, all that happened was that he made a casual inquiry as to whether the wife and I intended to be in his area this year, and when – but I’m treating it like a Royal Summons, and it snowballed from there. I’m So Excited (click to hear the Pointer Sisters tell you how much)

He’s the one responsible for unleashing me on an unsuspecting blogosphere, but don’t blame him for that. He was distracted at the time with saving the world and the American Way Of Life.  It was the Law of Unintended Consequences.

A couple of years ago, when we were doing the ‘Doctor Ericson, I presume’ tour, I asked if we might drive down for a quick visit.  Rants was preoccupied with a son going off to college, and a few other pressing domestic situations, and said ‘no,’ but not necessarily “NO” forever.

Last fall, I asked again about the possibility of an eventual visit, just to know whether or not to remove it from my bucket list. Rants took this as an indication that I wanted it to happen soon.  Apparently not a lot of people make plans years ahead, especially old geezers like me.  It’s happening sooner than I anticipated.  Rants and his lovely wife are welcoming us this summer.  Not only are we visiting, but we are being put up in a guest room to save motel costs –and, Rants is booking some well-earned and needed vacation time to be with us for several days.

I asked if it was some kind of competition between him and his wife to be nice to us, but apparently this is what kind, intelligent, generous people do. Aside from visiting my parents for weekends while they were alive, I have never been a house-guest in my life. Dear Miss Etta Kett; How do I conduct myself??

It is well that the wife’s birthday is in mid-Feb. This year she had to renew her Ontario Health Card, and her driver’s licence. One of three photo ID options recommended to do this, is a passport.  When I dug hers out and she was transferring information, she realized that both our passports had expired.

Apparently the bureaucrats do not send an email renewal reminder, and since we didn’t travel outside the Province last year, we had not noticed. It would have been a catastrophe to make all these delicious plans, and be turned back at the border for incomplete documents.  We had the time to get them reissued.

I am so giddy that I’m twirling around the house like a little pixie….or maybe a wolverine on meth. We’re going to Rants’! We’re going to Rants’ I’m taking along our digital camera, but there’s no promise that any photos will show up here on the blog-site.  I’ve already had to sign a non-disclosure security document, and a black helicopter will pick us up at the Virginia Welcome Center.

Surprisingly, the wife warmed to the idea quite quickly, to the point that, if we can’t put aside enough to pay for the trip in the next couple of months, she’s willing to raid her cache of Loonies and Toonies coins that she’s been stashing away for years.

If she’s warm now, just wait and see how warm DC is in August. We may drive past the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Pentagon in an air-conditioned car, but this visit is all about meeting two people who have been so very nice to me for years.  We can do that with a shady back deck and some cold beer.

More to come, I will reveal all as much as I can.  Be happy for me….and maybe a little jealous.   😎  🌯

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Childlike Grace

Bible

When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Blogger Barry, in a recent post, said that he’d halted on his path to becoming an Atheist. He does not say that it was because he was taught that Atheists are evil, nasty or sinful, but that is the reason that many ex-Christians won’t admit that they have become Atheists.

Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy, he still wished to identify as ‘spiritual.’ It is quite possible to be spiritual, without being a member of any Christian sect.  His last stop before getting off the Christian bus, was at Mormon.

He still visited Atheist websites, and admitted that he had remained a Christian. He was amazed at the vehemence of some militant Atheists, who insisted that any and all religions were harmful.  He admitted that, being ‘inside the box,’ perhaps he did not understand the claim.  He asked, if he was not harming himself, or anyone else, how could his being a Christian be harmful?

When we tell small children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist, are we harming them, or society in general? Probably not, or only a minuscule amount.  However, when children get to be 7, 8, 9 years old, we tell them the truth, and show them reality.  To allow them to grow into adults who still believe in things like the Tooth Fairy, can cause harm in a variety of ways.

If an individual or sect is allowed to treat their particular and peculiar superstition as reality, then both the believers and society are harmed. It also inserts the thin edge of a wedge.  If one is, then all religious opinions must be accepted, no matter how strange or unreal.  The more people there are, who treat fantasy as fact when dealing with life and the general public – the fewer people who cannot and/or do not, deal with secular reality – the more harm is caused, both to the believers and to society.

Critical thinking is incredibly hard, but also incredibly important. We can’t learn and grow without it.  We have to question our own ideas and motivations, so that we don’t get stuck on there being only one correct, acceptable idea.

Next comes the slippery slope. Once strange unprovable beliefs are allowed, the holders quickly try to turn acceptance into licence.  If politically powerful enough, they try to pass laws enforcing membership in their sect, and making disagreement with their views into heresy and apostasy.  Kindly old George H. W. Thousand Points Of Light Bush once said that Atheists should not be allowed to be American citizens, or patriots.

My opinion of Blogger Barry’s intelligence and mental strength, based only on reading a few of his posts, is that he is not, and probably won’t ever be, directly harmful to society. Sadly, he’s one in 10,000 – or maybe a million.  There are countless hordes, who are only too willing to use their religion as a justification to inflict physical, mental, emotional, social, or financial pain and damage to countless other victims.

God is for the wise. Religions are for fools.  If only more people would grow out of the childish need for an imaginary friend to protect and guide them, and become adult enough to face the universe and life as it really is, and not just how they wish it were.   😦  😯

A To Z Challenge – W

april-challenge

Whoo-whoo, you’re almost eligible for parole from this letter-perfect piffle.  But first, a word from – my dictionary, starting with

letter-w

Too many Fundamentalist (with the accent on mental) Christians play the definition game, whereby they decide what a word or name means, and use it as justification for hatred and harassment of those who don’t precisely agree with them.

One of the words that sets many of them off, is ‘Witch.’  Their infallible Bible tells them, “Suffer not a witch to live.”  They all know what a witch is, what they look like, how they act, and what they do. (Evil, evil evil!)  Ignoring Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, they focus on the ugly hag, the crone, who is stirring up a batch of bats’ brain, newts’ eyes and frog warts, to cast evil, harmful spells.

My daughter is a witch, and I’m proud of it.  Actually, she’s only kinda, sorta, Wiccan – but there’s many a Good Christian who’s only prevented from having her burned at the stake by strong, secular laws.  She believes in a unifying force of the universe, only she doesn’t believe that ‘It’ is male, and she doesn’t call it ‘God.’

If you’ve read my Rylah Reblog, you know that she’s as loving and caring a person as any judgmental Christian. She gets her morals and ethics from her heart and her mind, not from some list drawn up by a bunch of frightened old men, also listing what you can wear, what you can eat, and who you have to hate, because they’re different.

The witches that ‘they’ believe in, didn’t really exist in the past, and they don’t exist now.  Any witch that I know now, is usually a better, kinder, nicer person, and productive, loving, accepting member of society, than most of these superstitious buffoons.

Flash Fiction #99

Three Pigs

Thanks to Piya Singh for this week’s photo prompt

BIG BLOWHARD

When the Big Bad Wolf blew down the house of straw, that Piggy ran to his brother’s house of sticks. The Wolf blew down the house of sticks, and they both ran to their older brother’s house of….??!

“Bricks are too expensive; I used free fieldstone; it’s much stronger!”

The Big Bad Wolf said, “I’m going to huff and puff, and blow that house down.”

The third Piggy replied, “Not today, bitch!” He stuck a 12-gauge SPAS shotgun out the tiny window and blew the wolf away.

They all lived happily ever after, with their feet on a wolf-skin rug.

***

I wanted to include a line about, “This State’s got a Stand Your Ground Law.”, but a word limit is a word limit.  You’ll just have to imagine it.  😆

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple website and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

Cognitive Dissonance II

Bible

A California lawyer has submitted a referendum proposal to outlaw homosexuality in the famously liberal western US state, on pain of execution.

“The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha,” reads the proposal, registered for comment on the attorney general’s website.

“Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us… the people of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method,” he wrote.

When I read this, I couldn’t understand why this man’s head didn’t explode, I know mine almost did. In seven words in the second line, this lawyer goes immediately from “freedom and liberty” to “commands us to suppress.” The arrogance of this religious Fundamentalist, is matched only by his ignorance.

Only the night before I read this, had I reluctantly watched with the wife, a National Geographic TV documentary about ‘homosexuality’ among animals. In a one-hour show they listed seven examples, including coyotes, dolphins and Canada geese, and mentioned that there were several more. So much for his imagined “crime against nature!”

I don’t know where you’d store an Ego large enough to make you think that you have the right to speak for God. Perhaps in the same twisted, dark corner of the brain where you believe, without proof, that homosexuality is ‘evil’, or that God deigns to command you to do His work, and suppress it.

The Bible does speak against homosexuality, but I have never heard or read of anyone who claimed that ‘God ordered’ them to do something, who could point to anywhere other than their fevered religious imagination, for validating ‘proof’ of their Crusade. These delusions can be suppressed with proper medication and therapy.

This man seems to fear death from a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah destruction. The self-believed expert on the subject even managed to misspell Gomorrah, in his application. If God didn’t take out various 17th century Italian cities, 18th century Paris, or 19th century London, He’s not going to stir himself about a bunch of fags in San Francisco.

Even were such a destruction to occur, does he not believe that the God of Love would forgive him, and the other innocent Lots, and condemn only the sinners? Does he feel that God is too stupid or venal to judge each of us individually?

Like many of his religiously judgemental confreres, his very zealotry proves that he is not actually familiar with the Bible, instead, relying on what he thinks it says, or what someone else told him that they thought it says. I can recommend several good short passages.

Love one another.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.
As ye have done unto these, the least of my brethren, ye have done unto me.
Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Judge not, lest ye be judged.
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.
Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.

I feel sorry for depressing, narrow-minded, opinionated, supposedly-religious assholes like this….no I don’t! If they all died tomorrow, I’d stand in line to volunteer to load them into trucks with a pitchfork.

Amen means a soft, accepting ‘let it be’, not ‘use fire and sword to force your superstition on the infidels.’ We leave that to the likes of ISIS, who recently bulldozed down historic, artistic Iraqi Assyrian statuary. I feel sorry that the rest of us kind, loving people, like Job, are afflicted with them.

#497

What a Bunch Of Boobs

Aghast

It’s been a summer of bare breasts in Canada – and outrage, and complaints, and moral entitlement.

It started a couple of weeks ago, in Guelph, ON. An 8-year-old girl at the splash pad of a municipal pool was told by a teenage male attendant, that she had to put a top on. The pool’s rules insisted on it for any female over 4. Her mother was aghast, and angry, that she had been discriminated and sexualized.

The next day, with a lawyer’s aid, and serious discussion with various local bureaucrats, it was admitted that a public pool had no legal right to enact such a rule. In a spin-doctor defense of the life-guard, the Recreational Department claimed that he was probably just trying to prevent any complaints.

This is the city where, in 1991, three 19-year-old males, returning from the park, stripped off their shirts on a hot muggy day. The 19-year-old female with them did the same, and was stopped and charged with ‘committing a lewd act.’

Angered more by the double standard than the possibility of a $170 fine, she went to court with a prepared lawyer, and what was expected to be a five minute, Pay-The-Damn-Fine hearing, turned into a two-day, he-said-she-said trial, where the language of the law was shown to be sexist, moralistic, and so sufficiently vague as to be unenforceable. It was reported that the law was in place to prevent complaints.

Suddenly, a precedent had been set, that women in Canada could legally bare their breasts in public, as long as it was not for commercial gain.

Somewhat more recently, three local sisters, in their early 20s, set out for a bicycle ride around town. On their way home at dusk, on a warm, muggy evening, they also decided to remove their shirts to get cool. Wouldn’t you know it; not one of them was wearing a bra.

They were stopped by a female police officer, who maintained eye contact, and warned them to be careful riding through some road-construction areas. Several blocks further on, they were stopped by a male police officer, who ordered them to put their shirts back on, insisting that there was a bylaw, and that police had received complaints.

When one of them denied that they were breaking any law, and another pulled out a cell-phone and started recording the proceedings, suddenly it became all about whether they had lights and bells on their bikes. They did!

The next day brought an hour-long phone-call to the Police Department, where they were put on hold three times, till someone actually found out that there is no such bylaw. They have lodged an official complaint. Why am I not surprised to find that the oldest is a Grammy-nominated singer/performer, with a career to support? Local TV, radio and newspapers were soon notified.

BC Mountie

Two young mothers in British Columbia, left the kids with the dads, and headed to the beach for an afternoon of sun, sand and freedom. They found a secluded dune, spread their towels and dropped their bikini tops. Fifteen minutes later, a young RCMP officer marched a quarter-mile across the Sahara beach in his shiny shoes, to order them to cover up, because there had been complaints.

They also are bringing an official complaint for embarrassment and harassment, because there is no bylaw prohibiting topless sunbathing.

You have to be very careful how you speak to a police officer, because they take themselves very seriously. Most don’t care about obedience to legislation; they care about social peace and quiet. It disturbs and angers me that so much time and effort is spent ‘assuaging complaints’ instead of enforcing laws. I am supremely disappointed that police officers either don’t know the laws they claim they’re enforcing, or that they intentionally lie to civilians to get their way.

Were I one of the beach ladies, I’d have been very tempted to reply that I was already obeying the law, and was not the Complaints Department. If my daughter decides that she requires an abortion, we don’t care if you and your Fundamentalist Church complain; we will obey the law that says she can have one. If the wife and I decide that divorce is a better solution to our problems than murder, we don’t care if you and the guy with the funny hat in Rome complain; we will render unto Caesar, and get one.

I know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I don’t want it to be at the expense of my legal rights. There is nothing intrinsically evil or psychologically damaging about naked female breasts in public. “But what about the children??! 😯 ” Perhaps if children learned to view them as natural, and not as lures into sin, we would have less sex crime and psychiatric counselling. I know I’d be happy.  😀

#491

A Gored Ox

I recently read yet another story illustrating the assumption of rightness and privilege, and the prevention of thinking by religious fundamentalists, Christians mostly, in the United States.  Two young men, one twenty-three, and the other, twenty-five, had been enrolled in the University of Tennessee.  Each had become derailed by booze and drugs, and had dropped out.  Each of them had turned their life around, with the help of friends and family, but, by themselves.  The very fact of their addiction was proof to the Godly, of their allegiance to Satan, especially when it became known that they were both atheists.  Their rehabilitation was ignored.

They both re-enrolled in university and were doing well.  As study material for a Civics course, they went to observe sessions of the State Legislature.  In direct contravention of a law, passed by an earlier Legislature, there was a pre-session prayer to “God, and Jesus”.  They filled out the necessary form, and waited to ask a question of the floor.

When it came their turn, they suggested that the group refrain from breaking the law, and do away with the opening Christian prayer.  Half the legislators merely laughed and ignored their legal request.  The opinions of the other half ranged up to having them ridden out of town on a rail.  Their signed form is a legal document and is supposed to be placed on file, but nobody seems to know just what happened to it.

They said they knew going in, that nothing is ever accomplished via the request form, but procedure must be followed.  They found a lawyer, and, funded by an atheist group, he took their case and sued the Legislature.  They say that they were surprised by the amount of support for their cause, including from some “good Christians.”  Without the facility for objective thinking, it is almost impossible to see a problem from the inside.

Some incensed citizens have said that there will be a huge bang, when they hit the bottom of hell.  Here’s where some of the lack of thought starts.  If, as accused, they are doing the Devil’s work, wouldn’t they be welcomed to Hell and given a union steward’s position?  The ironic point is that, if they don’t believe in God, they don’t believe in a Satan, to work for.

All they requested was that there be a minute of silence, so that each person present could communicate with their personal Deity, in their prescribed manner.  The law states that, either there be no prayer, or a vague, non-denominational offering be given.  They want the law of the land, and the rules of the Bible, to be obeyed.  In the Bible, Christ said, Even as ye have done unto these, the least of my brothers, ye have done unto me.  In regards to the law, Christ also said, Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.  Apparently even Caesar is too preoccupied with privilege, to render.

The Bible-belt Christians’ ox has been gored, and they have come roaring back, as usual with great passion but absolutely no thought.  Someone has had the temerity to challenge their position of privilege, and By God, we’re not going to take it, no matter what the law says.  One of the boys says that most of his family, at least accepts what he is doing, but his grandma is so disappointed by what she believes is occurring, that she won’t even speak to him.  He finds it ironically amusing that she always insisted that he obey all laws, not be selfish and think of others.

Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses.  When Jesse, The Body, Ventura was governor of Minnesota, he learned the difference between truth and tact.  He paraphrased, and said that Christianity is the refuge of weak-minded, weak-willed people who can’t think for themselves.  He got shat on, in great volume, and from a great height, by his constituents, not necessarily because he was wrong, but because the faithful don’t like to be reminded of their failings.

There is a story about an Arab whose camel sticks his nose in the tent to get it warm, and the Bedouin does nothing about it.  Then the camel sticks his whole head in, then his shoulders, then his chest, and each time the Arab does not force him back out.  Soon, the entire camel is inside the tent, and the Arab is forced out into the cold.  This is akin to what the fundamentalist Christians are doing now.

If someone tries to shoo the religious camel back out of the tent, the hyper-Christians claim they’ve lived there all along, and they have the right to stay.  They make the unsupported claim that the country was founded, “on Christian Principles.”  Most of the Founding Fathers, who could think strongly and clearly enough, to midwife a new nation into existence, could be described as Secular Humanists.  Even those who were good Christians, were wise enough to see the advisability of separation of Church and State.

Someone recently tried to have the two words, “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance.  Immediately, the thumpers were all over it, claiming that the phrase was, “always there”.  It meant nothing to them that the “Good Christian” president, Dwight Eisenhower violated the Constitution, and had it inserted as recently as 1958.  The same thing is happening with the phrase, “In God we trust,” on coins and bills.  It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong with these words; it’s just the insistence by the fundamentalists that they are infallibly correct and no-one else should have the right to express a contrary opinion.

It’s a good thing that there are a few Secularists, confrontational and vocal enough to gore a few of these sacred oxen, to demonstrate that people other than Christians have legal, social and political rights, even if it’s just the right to be left alone.