Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I'm nearly beyond words. Seriously, you know how bad it is when even I can't figure out what to say. I saw this in Yahoo News: "Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Kansas, plans to protest in Florida on Wednesday, outside a funeral for a Marine killed in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan on March 22. "Military funerals have become pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool," states a press release posted on the church's website, announcing the rally at a memorial service for Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson. At the bottom of the press release are printed the words "Thank God for IEDs," referring to the roadside bombs that have killed thousands of troops in both wars." http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20100331/ts_csm/291560 We don't have "hate speech" laws on the Federal books yet. We have the First Amendment. But along with that Amendment, we have a duty to keep the peace and behave like civilized people, particularly in light of a mourning family - and more particularly in light of those who died serving our country. So.........these fools at Freaky Freddie's Church of the Whackos are completely within their rights to protest. They're completely within their rights to hold up signs that say "God Hates Fags and Kills Soldiers." And they're completely within their rights to occupy space at a public place - say a cemetery. Which brings me to be thankful that my dad, a USMC member from the Korean War, is no longer alive. Because we'd have to bail him out, though I'm sure we could and would raise the money to do so. In Freaky Freddie's world, there is apparently no respect for the dead. There's no respect for the God I know... and I'm thinking She's pretty furious with him for taking Her name in vain and using Her as a shield for his reprehensible and utterly amoral, dishonorable, unscrupulous, revolting, repulsive, sordid, nauseating and repellant protests at funerals. Don't get me wrong. I'm thinking that we are not in these wars for the right purpose. But - the fact that we have military members dying over there is alongside the fact of the unjust wars. The military dead have done their duty. They have given their lives. Their families mourn their unfulfilled potential; the fact that they will no longer make their mark in the world; the fact that they leave a hole in the hearts of their loved ones. And nobody -- I mean NOBODY -- has the right to disrupt a funeral. Legally, Freaky Freddie and his sideshow grotesques masquerading as Christians may well have the right to protest; cemeteries are public places. But morally? There I draw a huge line; no, I draw a moat. A moat filled with the most voracious eaters of rotten flesh and corrupted souls, for those are the beasts most likely to enjoy chewing on those horrors who are portraying some version of "human" in its most malformed, distorted and perverted form. What worries me is that someone, someday, will be hurt. I mean shot, or beaten, or otherwise physically harmed. Freaky Freddie will then claim that this is God's justice and claim the victory for his own and that of his bunch of aberrant congregants. And some poor soul who was just aiming to mourn his or her dead in peace will suffer the slings and arrows of a justice system that allows Freddie and his ilk to do this as a sport. My wish is simple. I want Freaky Freddie and his brigade of deviants to dwell for all eternity in Dante's Eight Circle. That's the circle for the fraudulent. It includes Bolge VI, for hypocrites - which fits this bunch perfectly. They thump their Bibles, chant their phrases, hold up their signs and beat their breasts as "perfect Christians," thus making a mockery of the whole concept of Christianity - not to mention totally skewing the Golden Rule. In Bolge VI, the hypocrites' "...outward appearance shines brightly and passes for holiness, but under that show lies the terrible weight of [his] deceit which the soul must bear through all eternity." If the sinner stops walking on the narrow track he is condemned to travel, his "cloak becomes hotter and hotter." According to the notes I referenced, the sinners include televangelists - which is what they've become, the more they get news coverage. Works for me. As far as I'm concerned, they can all turn on the eternal rotisserie. And I'll be happy to cheer them on as they roast.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Well, I've actually completed my first post-op knitting project. It's a simple one, brought to you courtesy of Lily Cotton Yarn:
A sweeper cover. I can't mention the patented name of the product, but for those of you who cringe at filling up landfills with disposable covers, this might be what you're looking for. It's reversible and you can knit it in any color you want.
It would be neat in a basket for a shower with some knitted or crocheted cotton wash cloths, some organic or more "green" cleaners and some knitted, knotted or crocheted scrubbies. If you knew your intended person's kitchen colors, you could coordinate the perfect little package for giving.
I know - silly to be so excited? But I'm happy I've completed it. My fingers are coming back and I think I can get back to work on the Learning Sweater in the next few weeks.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In my last entry, I blasted Pope Benedict XVI on his "shelter everyone and protect the collar" stance regarding the pedophile crisis in the Catholic Church. As a follow-up, I need to say that if the article I have just read in Slate (www.slate.com) is correct, then I also stand corrected. Writer Michael Sean Winters posted that Pope B has made some quantum leaps forward in making sure that the priests who did these evil things to children are truly punished under both Canon Law and civil law. In the article, Winters states that the Church in Ireland has been mired in scandal since November 2009. Between 1975 and 2004, there were 46 priests who abused children in the archdiocese of Dublin. Benedict called Ireland's bishops onto the Vatican carpet, so to speak, and last month basically told them that he was going to send a special letter to the Church in Ireland. That letter was released Saturday, March 20, 2010. In it, Benedict began to make amends. I won't quote the whole thing here; look the article up. Suffice to say that he did acknowledge that bad stuff has been going on, he called for an "apostolic visitation" (church-speak for "investigation") and told the bishops that they had to cooperate wtih civil authorities in prosecuting wrongdoing. Finally. He's already accepted resignations from several bishops. The word is now out that if you really want to be in the Church and be a bishop, you'd better not be ignorning claims of abuse. That's a heck of a career-ending move under this Pope. And in - for me at least - a stunning move, in his letter, he directed the following to the victims: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry." I may faint. Sorry if I sound snarky, but you have to understand that I live in one diocese with a now-retired bishop who was implicated massively in this scandal and all he said to his parishioners was, "I'm sorry if I didn't take this seriously enough." "IF"??? Really?? Bishop Imesch played chess with priests like a master, moving them to remote parishes nation-wide. I figure he's just about as implicated as Cardinal Law. And while Imesch may not answer to civil authorities for shielding these creeps, he'll eventually answer to God, and I hope She shows him no mercy. God's mercy should be directed toward the victims, and in a small way to those in the pews who've been deceived by our spiritual leaders. I'm willing to own that I may have misjudged on the basis of one article. I sincerely hope Benedict has his act together. If he does, there's hope for the Church. And I'll be happy about being a Catholic once again.
Friday, March 19, 2010
It's Lent. It's the season of anticipating Christ's resurrection. But something else - something ugly, evil and perverted - has resurrected itself in the Catholic Church and I'm very sad about it. And I'm also angry. Seems that Pope Benedict has his hands dirty in the pedophile scandal. But his reps are saying he knew "nothing" about reassigning predatory priests. I normally don't paint with a broad brush, but I'm going to do a little bit of that, since I've just learned something in my MBA classes about Hofstede's matrix. Seems that a scientist created a matrix in which he categorized cultural leanings and tendencies, and applied them in a business sense. You have several categories, and one of the most prominent was the amount of control a business has, and how it's organized in regard to a loose or tightly wound hierarchy. Germans, understandably, score VERY high on control. In order to do business in Germany, one needs to be prompt, respect deadlines and know the details of your project or proposal. Down to how many words are IN the proposal. The society is very technically-oriented and business is -- well, business. No wriggle room and no excuses for not doing something well. Sooooooooooo. Pope Benedict was praised by the prior Pontiff as a man who knew his stuff. The question now comes: What did he know about whom and what on earth (or in Heaven) prompted his belief that this would remain hidden? And most importantly: How could he sleep? How could he look himself in the mirror? How could he pray - and expect to be heard by a God we are taught to love, and Whose Son said, "Suffer the little children to come to me." I am disappointed beyond belief. Once again, the boys' club is in full swing. Only the lone voice of an Irish cleric calling for "transparency" in this mess - that's all we've got. Once again, normal pew-jockies like my family will be asked by countless friends, "How do you deal with that in the Church?" And the obvious answer is: "Apparently, we don't." We went through this with our own bishop, and I gave no quarter. I called for his sincere apology in an editorial in the local paper. He issued a "well, if I've offended anyone, I ask forgiveness, but I was working with what I have" kind of apology. To which I respond: Did God not give you a brain? Did God not give you common sense, eyes, ears, and oh - I don't know, some COMPASSION for children? Did you not have brains enough to see that reassignment of predatory priests was wrong on at least 5 levels? Didn't your gut scream at you, "This just isn't right" at least a dozen times? Or were you too worried about your own position? And if you were worried, tossing the blame on the victims was certainly not the Catholic thing to do, buster. Don't be saving your own butt. Get out there, Benedict, and be what you are supposed to be: God's representative on Earth. Because if you ARE doing that, and "The Pope didn't know" is the best your handlers can come up with, then God - and the rest of the faithful - will have been terribly disappointed. The Pope has effectively destroyed a generation of young people. And he's affecting those of us who were coming of age in the 70s because not only did our generation have some victims, but those of us lucky enough to escape the abuse are now in a position where we have to confront our faith and see it for what it is: a faith based on man's rules, and man's proclivities to protect his own. And that doesn't include us. It's a sad picture, and enough to drive many of us from our places in the pews. And the Church has nobody to blame but itself and its hierarchy.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Why is it that the people with a megaphone and billion-dollar contracts are always squealing about supposed "infringements" of their "rights" and threatening to go elsewhere? And why don't they just go, already?? In his latest screech-fest, Rush Limbaugh (go ahead, insert snarky nickname of choice) declared that if the proposed health care reforms passed, he was "going to go live in Costa Rica." So go already. I'll help you pack. Say, Rushie, did you know that Costa Rica has a form of socialized medicine? Yep, they make sure that their citizens have health care available no matter what their economic status. But hey, who's stopping you? Go already. He also says that the Congressional Budget Office, that non-partisan group of bean-counters in Washington, "lie" when they say that the health care reform now proposed is going to decrease our bloated federal deficit. Let's look at that one, too. According to www.cbo.gov, the offical website, the CBO was formed in 1974. And (insert drumroll here) guess who was president then? Gerald Ford. A Republican allowed this blight upon our beloved government. Who in the world would want a non-partisan group of number-crunchers to try to score bills to see how they would affect the Congressional budgetary process? I scoff at such a thing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), in a National Health Interview Study published in 2006, here's how it breaks down: 43.6 MILLION Americans are without health care. 36.5 MILLION of them are adults. 6.8 MILLION of them are children. Are we the "Greatest Nation" still? I'm wondering. Because if we, the "Greatest Nation," see no problem in the figures above, what does that say about us? One of the keystones of the plan proposed is that there will be a pool into which people can tap, which basically provides them with the same health care the Congress receives. Yes, there's a poverty waiver. But for people like my brother, who owns his own company, and my friend Sue, who owns her own company, this will provide them a way to tap into insurance for themselves and their employees at a far more economical rate than they can get as "small business owners" now. How is that "socialist" or "communist" or any "-ist" you can think of, other than humanist? We owe it to our grandchidren and our great-grandchildren to reduce the obscenely high deficit. And by doing this one thing, we'll have a two-fer: we'll be insuring that a great percentage of those in the figures cited above will have health care, and will be able to be productive, wage-earning members of society. And we'll reduce the deficit. I'm thinking that's a good thing. Along with Rush leaving. Oh, and take Beck with you, will you?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
...can change the way you see things with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Greg Mortenson wrote this book with David Oliver Relin - mainly because Mortenson is publicity-shy and doesn't like to talk about himself. Visit www.ikat.org - the Central Asia Institute's website. You need to read this book. He failed to climb K2, but he succeeded beyond anyone's imagination in his ability to educate children in the poorest regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan - yep, right in Taliban-Land. We don't realize how much we take an education for granted. And we don't know how much one person can do (either globally or locally) until we see someone doing it. Mortenson started his school-building initiative on his part-time wages as an ER nurse, and lived on a literal shoestring till he was funded by another climber who was impressed by what he saw Mortenson doing. Educating children. Think about that. Babies are not born KNOWING how to hate or fear. They are TAUGHT that. If you educate the girls, which was forbidden by the Taliban, though the Koran said that women need to be educated - if you educate the girls, the villages will prosper and the next generation will know that peace can only be achieved by educating yourself and your children. Peace can't be achieved at gunpoint. It takes $1 to educate a girl and ONE PENNY to buy a pencil. One penny. That copper coin we're thinking of getting rid of because it's 'bothersome' and 'useless.' Get your schools involved. Get your church involved. Buy the book. Read it. Pass it on. Or donate it to your library, since there are waiting lists to read this. And get yourself involved. Donate to the Central Asia Institute or start a community drive to raise funds. Nobody wants war forever, except the corporations who benefit from the dollars pouring into their coffers. We can teach peace. One school at a time. This book - this man - has proved that.
Monday, March 01, 2010
...like the Frank Sinatra hit, "regrets, I've had a few..." - I'm here to share a major regret. We've all had 'em. Things un-done, un-said, left to either fix themselves or remain broken. I don't think anyone over 40 has had any occasion to say that he or she has lived "exactly" the life that was dreamed of. I know I haven't, and I'm a decade+ over 40. My father-in-law died on Saturday. He had fought a long battle with Parkinson's disease and when we were there to see him in the summer, Hubby was very concerned about him. At that point, we could see deterioration, and frankly - during one lunch, I thought he died. After being rushed to the hospital, we found that he hadn't been able to ingest enough food or liquid, and the difficult decision to put him into a facility where he could receive 24-hour care was made. His wishes weren't in that direction, but I can't see him wanting his lovely wife to have to struggle to take care of him. The kids are far-flung and not always able to be home for long periods of time. We staggered our trips during the summer and all of us did what we could. I'm no good with sick people, so I cooked and cleaned. Not that I'm any great shakes with cleaning, either, but I can weed the garden, cook meals, clean up a kitchen and vacuum. My in-laws are lovely people. They're patient, kind, they accepted me into the family without a single qualm. I've heard so many horror stories about in-laws that I was hesitant. They were far away and didn't meet me till just about the week of the wedding! What would they think? My father-in-law opened his arms to the boys and said, "Come here and hug your Grandpa." Still brings tears to my eyes. He was a mechanic. Worked hard all his life. Provided for a large family on a small income and every one of the kids got a great education and has made something of himself or herself. My regret is simply this. We never spent a lot of time with them. Being 3,000 miles away is one excuse. Money is always another - it costs a lot of money to fly 4 people out west and we only had the kind of jobs where you got 2 weeks vacation if you were lucky. I never spent much time on the phone with them. Heck - I never felt comfortable calling them any particular names! But they accepted me and didn't bat an eye. Regrets are hard. Now, I am going to a funeral for a man who, by all accounts, was a simple guy - the kind of guy my grandpa would have loved. A guy who did what he needed to do to provide for his family and who showed the family that hard work is what you do. He taught more by example than anything else. And I missed it. Because of my own ambivalence, because of distance, because of I-don't-know-what. There will be stories told at the wake and funeral. There's an extensive family history, and there are pictures galore. But I will be sad to know that I barely remember the sound of his voice, and have only a faint knowledge of a guy with a wicked sense of humor and a peace and serenity about him that you don't see all the time. I wish now that I had been less of an idiot. And more of a daughter-in-law. Rest in peace, dear father-in-law.