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living in a secular society
“You are not being persecuted for your beliefs when you are merely being denied the privilege of shoving them down someone else’s throat.” – The Bard of Affliction
Several months ago, there was a lot of Sturm und Drang over one Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who had garnered a certain amount of notoriety for having refused to issue wedding licenses to same-sex couples despite having been ordered by the courts to do so. Putting her name on said licenses would (she had said) imply her approval of same-sex marriages, something she felt she could not do based on her religious beliefs.
A friend recently told me that her great grandmother to the ninth generation was aboard the Mayflower. The young lady in question arrived in what was to become this country when she was only four. Living to be eighty-three and becoming a matriarch directly linked to at least fifty grandchildren, she was obviously a most incredible woman. But what also struck me about her story was that her future father-in-law was the leader of a Purists/Separatists/Dissenters group in Holland. In one of his sermons, he said: “But now we are all, in all places, strangers and pilgrims, travelers and sojourners.”
y’all know is true
Several months ago, Cameron Hunt McNabb, an English professor at Southeastern University, wrote of her efforts when travelling in England to “tone down” the Americanisms in her speech “and in particular my Southern accent.” She was largely successful, she said, except for one thing: She couldn’t stop using the word y’all. This is a common problem for those of us born and raised in the South: we use the word frequently, often without intention or even awareness.
last man standing
The time has come for the Braves to pull the trigger on Freddie Freeman. The brain rust, uh, brain trust of the Braves stated Freemen will absolutely not be traded under any circumstances. No doubt this was an honest statement when it was made, but there is always a potential deal that can change things.
There have to be a couple of left handed pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery out there somewhere the Braves covet.
in the wake of paris
President Barack Obama issued an executive order Tuesday requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on Republican BS emissions that have risen dramatically in recent weeks.
“We are facing a crisis in this country and what we need to get through it is clear thinking and what we need for clear thinking is clean air and what we’ve got it too much BS,” said Obama in a morning press conference.
“I’ve asked the EPA to step in and start fining offenders…
Rosie just wandered about through the racks of clothing as though she were in her own closet trying to decide which dress to wear. As she made her way from clothes hanger to clothes hanger, she commenced to wave her hand about as though conducting. She then began to contradict Will, our real conductor, who had reminded us to play with more of a crescendo in this measure and to punctuate the marcato notes with more dynamic emphasis in another measure. Rosie said with authority and in a gravelly tone, “No, no, it all sounds good!” And then she started to sing …”Now we don our gay apparel…”
good dog, great dog
I’m familiar with the concept of death and loss – probably more familiar than many my age and perhaps even more so than those twice it. Every few years, it seems, I receive a phone call from someone bearing bad news: a friend has died. I’ve been the unfortunate recipient of more than my share of these in my 30 years.
Today, that phone call came from my father, but not about a friend; this time it was about a family member: my beloved pit bull, Dro.
meet me in dabiq
Were I to tell you a story in which Jesus, the son of the virgin Mary, was sent by God to guide the children of Israel, perform miracles including curing blindness, raising the dead and casting out demons, was crucified and raised alive into heaven to be the God incarnate. Jesus, who is promised to come back as the Messiah on judgement day to lead God’s army against the armies of Rome led by the Antichrist to the final victory in Jerusalem. What holy book do you think that would be from?
power and terror:
In an interview with ABC news correspondent Martha Raddatz pointed out to Dick Cheney that a majority of citizens opposed the war in Iraq. Cheney replied, “So?”
Martha asked, “You don’t care what the American people think?”
He said, “NO.” Cheney then goes on to say that we can’t be subject to fluctuations in opinion polls.
A White House spokesman was asked later if this meant the government didn’t think the public should have input. The spokesman remarked that the public has input every four years.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources explanation for their most recent initiative to gin up support for their activities in the populace (“develop an environmental ethic,” in Spud Woodward, the Director’s words) reads as follows:
The Coastal Georgia Ecosystem Report Card is an important tool for planning restoration activities and conservation. It provides a transparent, timely, and geographically detailed assessment of health in coastal Georgia…
I’m sorry to say that thievery has plagued my neighborhood of late, and wouldn’t you know it would begin just as I was preparing to go away for a few days?
I don’t keep much of value in my house, but neither did my mother, who once fell victim to a home break-in. Nevertheless she felt angry and helpless. I felt the same sense of violation that she did, and it wasn’t even my house.
Basically, the pillager tore up the house in looking for items of value…
makes you wonder
Let me get this clear in my mind. The brain trust of the Atlanta Braves decided, in the interest of building a competitive team sometime during the next millennium, decided to trade arguable the best defense shortstop in baseball.
This is not brain trust; this is brain lock. If there were any notion the Braves really had a plan, this move dulls that idea down to an old kitchen knife.
Supposedly the deal with the Angles gives them a serviceable shortstop for next year and two great young pitching prospects… again.
cry the benighted country
“Make America great again,” Trump says. Not a bad idea, but first we need to understand what’s gone wrong.
In every society, both constructive and destructive forces are always at work. But the balance of power between those forces is not constant. Such factors as the quality of its leadership and the impact of its national experience can strengthen either the best or the worst in a society.
Consider, for example, the peoples of Great Britain and Germany at two points in the twentieth century.
In 1910, a time of relative stability before the outbreak of World War I, British society and culture might have been judged moderately healthier than the German…
satire on the campaign trail
Most Iowans would rather have Bobby Jindal perform brain surgery on them than Dr. Ben Carson, according to the latest Quinnipiac University Poll of registered Republicans in the state who either need brain surgery, or are undecided.
A retired brain surgeon, Dr. Carson led in all previous polls in the key primary state that asked voters: “If you needed brain surgery, which GOP candidate would you want to perform it?” In the latest poll – coming in the wake of recent revelations about Dr. Ben Carson fabricating parts of his personal history and making bizarre statements about pyramids and other things – Iowa voters’ faith in the candidate appears to be shattered.
songs we were singing
As John Lennon playfully noted in a song he wrote for Ringo Starr, the Beatles were “the greatest show on earth.” So true. And in the 45 years since the Beatles officially called it quits, appreciation of their songs has grown — across the generations. It isn’t hard to imagine a family reunion where the great-grandmother fondly remembers “Love Me Do” and “If I Fell” from her children’s Beatles albums while the great-grandson is listening to “Hey Bulldog” on his iPhone. Yes, it’s the act we’ve known for all these years…
Noted travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux’s new book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, brings very mixed reactions.
On more than one occasion, I wondered, “Where does this guy get off saying that?” And I grab the book and want to hurl it through the window. These fits particularly came after one of Theroux’s elitist, degrading attempts at phonetically capturing the Southern accent.
But the book also shows he’s a great storyteller who occasionally makes an interesting observation. “Well, that’s a good point,” I would think. “Don’t get rid of it yet.” And I kept reading.
the wind in their face
“I’m sorry I have to say goodbye this way, not in person. My symptoms got a lot worse a week or so ago and I decided to do a process of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking in order to die faster and with less suffering.”
This opening to an essay from Dr. Irvin D. Yalom’s book Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychology stopped me immediately. The letter came from “Ellie,” one of Yalom’s patients. He said he knew she was dying from her cancer, but was still shocked to get the e-mail. Who wouldn’t be?
bye, bye american pie
In this collection of interviews and speeches the prolific Chomsky offers his insights on two critical items. Asked, what are the primary issues that should concern us?, he replies, “Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe.” There seems to be an idea in the air lately (see Naomi Klein’s book on climate change, This Changes Everything) that capitalism is incompatible with democracy and survival of our civilization. Chomsky elucidates how the most ruthless in the capitalist game…
Researchers said Tuesday that watching Fox News caused brain damage in rats. They said they’re not sure what that means, but the results are conclusive.
After watching “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity” for six months the rats were never the same.
“They got more hostile and I would venture to say more irrational,” said University of Wisconsin researcher, Ralph Phillips, who led the study that was published in the November issue of the science journal Mind Bender.
threatens as much as war
The word “conservative” means something different today than it used to.
Conservatives have traditionally understood the importance of stability—and the dangers of disrupting the established order. They considered it a responsibility to preserve their heritage and pass it down intact to the next generation.
Conservatives have been the guardians of tradition because they saw that what our forebears created is a great achievement, built with difficulty over time.
braves v. future
The World Series is now over and the Kansas City Royals, who fell just short last year, showed their mettle by coming back time and time again to win the crown.
We can only hope the Braves were watching.
They did it with what has become more and more lacking in major league baseball, playing fundamentally sound defense and taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.
bald faced untruth
Do Marco Rubio’s inhumanly large and pointy ears wiggle when he lies? That’s what it seemed like during last Sunday’s interview with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation.” Maybe it was just a trick of the television lens but there is reason to think that something almost fey about Rubio’s successful dissembling. Asked about possible political repercussions of failing to do what most Americans believe U.S. Senators are paid to do – to actually vote on legislation in the U.S. Senate – said, “I’m not a political strategist; I’m a candidate.” And he got away with that…
Ken Burger died last week. He was the most interesting, special and unique son of South Carolina that I have ever known. Period.
If that sounds like graveside hyperbole, consider his one sentence bio: Born and raised in Allendale, Burger graduated dead last in his class at the University of Georgia, has been married five times, is a grateful recovering alcoholic, a cancer survivor and a happy man.
Journalist Ken was a stickler for the facts, so I’ll correct one and add a few. He did not survive cancer and his one line bio does not do him justice.
Hollywood these days seems to be in a serious rut. There is the occasional original and interesting new film, but for the most part studio heads apparently don’t like to take risk so we are constantly getting remakes of old films or one more in a series of previously successful movies.
Another James Bond or Indiana Jones film makes perfect sense, but remakes of wonderful old movies are usually wholly unsatisfying and generally disappointing despite all the new technology available to fill them with moronic special effects.
finding your roots
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a professor of African-American studies and English at Harvard University, a literary scholar who writes for The New Yorker, The New York Times and other A-list publications and has 14 books on his resume. But most people know him as an enthusiastic, almost evangelical proponent of genealogical research thanks to Finding Your Roots, a popular PBS series in which he and his team have traced the lineage of notables ranging from Samuel L. Jackson to Barbara Walters to Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
pause to pity
Pause a moment to pity temporary front runner Ben Carson for his poor performance at the Third Republican-CNBC Debate in Boulder. Perhaps ‘non-performance’ is the right word. He was hardly a presence among the weirdly energized collection of candidates. So how did candidate Carson go from being the ‘great Evangelical hope’ to ‘doctor who?’ You only notice that Carson is boring when he is faced with any competition for attention on the stage. Between his soft, slightly slurred voice and the rambling illogic of his story-telling…
satire on the campaign trail
When it crashed in the Arizona desert, it left a crater where there was once a Bush presidential bid.
“I haven’t seen anything like this since Herman Cain in 2012,” said GOP astrophysicist Ted Billard as he examined the still-smoldering hole in the ground Thursday morning. “But Herman’s crater you could step across, about two feet. This one, we measured it, is a quarter of a mile across and 400 feet deep.