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Archive for December, 2006

This is my little tree and as-yet-unwrapped presents and big ol’ lug of a pooch bringin’ you some holiday cheer. Back up now, cause the minor in Religion is about to rear its head:

In honor of the season, I’m going to include an excerpt from Thomas Cahill’s book Desire of the Everlasting Hills about the Man. Before my parents call me up and say that I’m condoning adultery or (in the new parlance I’ve recently taught my mother) “hooking up,” let me just preemptively say that this excerpt is not about that. Rather, it’s about the uncomfortable grace of forgiveness. Which, I think, is one of the truly remarkable things about Christianity. There are other world religions that could really benefit from the concept of forgiveness (thanks Juje for putting this idea into my thought bank).

It occurred to me recently that early adherents may have gotten behind this strange new religion out of a sense of guilt — how could they put this innocent man to death in such a manner? We have to join and show our support so that folks know we don’t condone that barbarism — and so it doesn’t happen to us…

But that’s the cynic in me. So, I’ll let Cahill describe, in his lovely way, what may have actually been what drew folks to the man Jesus. I would’ve wanted to hang out with him, too. Logic and compassion are two traits that rarely, but most beautifully, go together.

And here’s a really pretty Christmas song, just cause I love ya.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Of the many enigmas of John’s Gospel nothing is more mysterious than the story that does not belong there. It interrupts the flow of John’s tightly stitched scheme of narration, and though, like many Johannine episodes, it gives a starring role to a woman, its supple Greek has all the characteristics of Luke’s pen:

At daybreak, Jesus appeared again in the Temple precincts; and when all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. Then did the scribes and Pharisees drag a woman forward who had been discovered in adultery and forced her to stand there in the midst of everyone.

“Teacher,” said they to him, “this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now, in the Torah Moses ordered us to stone such women. But you–what have you to say about it?” (They posed this question to trap him, so that they might have something to use against him.)

But Jesus just bent down and started doodling in the dust with his finger. When they persisted in their questioning, he straightened up and said, “He among you who is sinless–let him cast the first stone at her.” And he bent down again and continued sketching in the sand.

When they heard this, they went away one by one, starting with the oldest, until the last one was gone; and he was left alone with the woman, who still stood where they had made her stand. So Jesus straightened up and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” answered she.”Nor do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “You are free to go. But from now on, avoid this sin.”

This entire passage sounds like the Synoptics and could easily be slipped into Luke’s Gospel at 21:38, where it would make a perfect fit. It was, in fact, excised from Luke, after which it floated around the Christian churches without a proper home, until some scribe squeezed it into a manuscript of John, where he thought it might best belong. But why was it excised in the first place? Because the early Church did not forgive adultery (and other major sins) and did not wish to propagate the contradictory impression that the Lord forgave what the Church refused to forgive. The Great Church quickly became far more interested in discipline and order than Jesus had ever shown himself to be. This excision is our first recorded instance of ecclesiastical censorship–only for the best reasons, of course (which is how censors always justify themselves).

The anarchic Johannine church had had good reason for its reluctance to attach itself to the Great Church, which it knew would clip its wings; and for all we know, it was a Johannine scribe who crammed the story of the aborted stoning into a copy of John’s Gospel, thus saving it for posterity.

The passage itself shows up the tyrannical mindlessness that tradition, custom, and authority can exercise within a society. The text of the Torah that the scribes and Pharisees cite to Jesus is Leviticus 20:10, which reads, “The man who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife will be put to death, he and the woman.” Jesus, doodler in the dust and reader of hearts, knows the hard, unjust, and self-deceiving hearts he is dealing with. He does not bother to dispute the text with them, by which he could have asked the obvious question “How can you catch a woman in the act without managing to catch her male partner?” He goes straight to the heart of the matter: the bad conscience of each individual, the ultimate reason no one has the right to judge anyone else.

How marvelous that in the midst of John’s sometimes oppressive solemnities, the wry and smiling Jesus of the Synoptic gospels, the Jesus the apostles knew, the holy fool, still plays his holy game, winning his laughing victory over the stunned and stupid forces of evil. This is the same Jesus who tells us that hell is filled with those who turned their backs on the poor and needy–the very people they were meant to help–but that, no matter what the Church may have taught in the many periods of its long, eventful history, no matter what a given society may deem “sexual transgression,” hell is not filled with those who, for whatever reason, awoke in the wrong bed. Nor does he condemn us.

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Look sharp

I finished Christmas shopping last night. Woohoo! I really hate shopping — okay that’s a lie, but I do hate it at this time of year because the whole Christmas spirit thing does not seem to apply to snotty, pretentious sales girls and rabid parents. Nonetheless, I’m done. Hallelujah!

I stole this article from Bored Athenians and had one of those “Eureka” moments when I realized that I wasn’t a non-conformist as much as struggling against an imposed, unnatural set of circumstances designed specifically to squash the finer, creative aspects of the human experience. Not sure I agree with the idea that being a “hunter in a farmer’s world” can be called ADD — doesn’t seem to be much of a deficit of anything as far as I’m concerned. But definitely worth the read.

Someone reminded me recently of the genius of Joe Jackson (not the shoeless one…) and so I dug out my “best of” record and, indeed, genius abounds. Of course I, during this conversation, mistakenly attributed “Life’s Been Good” (it’s actually the Eagles, but still a good song. I think I’ve thought it was Joe Jackson my whole life. I’m not perfect — as hard as that is to believe…) to him. Sometimes I’m just plain wrong.

Here’s one you may know. And here’s an example of the punk-rockness of JJ. Good stuff. Good taste in music may have a one-to-one correlation to capacity for decency of said person expressing taste. Potentially. It remains to be seen… but here’s hoping.

That reminds me — why is it that people keep baiting me to fight lately? Just because I’m part Irish and can fight doesn’t mean I like it. So back off, eh? Haven’t you ever seen The Quiet Man? Geesh.

Also, I was recently astounded to learn that, despite my belief that movies like “Working Girl,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and even “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” are overly dramatized character studies, these stereotypes actually exist. I mean, people I’ve run up on lately actually do the things that the “evil” characters do in the movies. Fascinating. Wonder what would motivate someone to want to be Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Kind of a sad state of affairs… Unfortunately, it’s one of those situations you just have to live through and one day, while watching the fall out from a safe distance, be surprised to learn that you feel sorry for these folks rather than wanting to hang them up by their toes, naked, in the town square so everybody can laugh at their silly, fleshy, emperor’s new clothes…

Ooohh…did I say that out loud? :0b

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This is Noj (pronounced “Naahj”).

Everyone should have a Noj to love. My Noj gives great advice about life, when it’s time to realize that you’ve made the best of a situation long enough, and how it’s silly to worry about anything because life just jumps out and surprises you when you least expect it. Noj always makes me feel better. He puts the hope in me. He’s also about to be a daddy for the first time. That kid is so lucky. I just got to have him as a brother. He’ll be a fantastic father.

This is Ynohtna. (Pronounced “Why-not-na”). He’s Noj’s best friend.
He got to be my best friend (and other brother — as if four weren’t enough) by extension. I took this recently at a holiday party while he was saying my name up close in the lens. “Harass!” he said, and I snapped the photo. When Noj saw the photo he sang, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch,” which would be mean if Ynohtna didn’t have (and I’m not joking) the best sense of humor in the entire universe. So, in honor of these best friends, both of whom I love dearly and don’t think I could have made it through my late teens/early 20s without them, here’s some mischief:

Release the Kracken, you big dummies!

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Brain dead Friday

I got nuthin’ today. My little stories came out in the Dec. issue of Southern Distinction. You can check those out if you want. Rosie O’Donnell has always been offensive to me, the space station on the moon is freaking me out in a really cool way, the Iranian president is still a nut job, Washington D.C. is lookin’ better and better to me everyday, and people continue to confuse and excite me. So now you know.

Happy Friday. Here’s something from Cute Overload that made me laugh for a full minute. The Help desk guys at work laughed politely. They’re sweethearts they are. But I don’t think it struck them as quite so funny. I nearly peed my pants.

Look, I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for this

OK, OK, People, calm down.
I’m sure there is an explanation for all of this.
I’m sure the cat in the foreground was simply reaching for his morning porridge, and there was a simple misunderstanding that caused a ‘Head chomp’, and the kitten in the background was not scarred for life.


NO MATTER WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!

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I have superpowers. I have the ability to make otherwise rational women turn into demons by merely expressing a modicum of interest in some random man. In the past several years, I have turned many women from lovely, caring people into conniving, hissing sociopaths. An ex-boyfriend of mine from college told me, upon witnessing my ability, that it was really related to the way the women see me and had less to do with the way they saw the man. This implies, of course, that men are aware of this phenomenon and use it accordingly. “Gotta have a girlfriend to get a girlfriend,” ex-boyfriend said. Really missed the boat by not marrying that one, eh?

Anyway, I think I’ve been remiss in not developing this talent. Think of the havoc I could wreak. Indeed, the havoc I have already wrought…

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A’right, because I’m in a slightly disgruntled mood (lotsa drama floatin’ around this time of year) and I don’t want to come right out and be caustic and say what I really think because I can be quite talented at the put down when I want to be (and it never ingratiates me to others — which can sometimes be a good thing but you have to be okay with it before you exercise your freedom of sarcasm) I’m going to re-post some George Carlin that will help take us all into the New Year. He pretty much says what I mean, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps my weekend plans will cheer me up. Being around people who actually treat you with some respect (oh, is my bitter slip showing?) usually does. Grumble… Happy b-day Lou; I’ll see ya Sat. night.

George Carlin’s rules for 2006:

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com! There’s a reason you don’t talk to people for 25 years. Because you don’t particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn.
New Rule: Don’t eat anything that’s served to you out a window unless you’re a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout?
New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards.
New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you’re a dope. If you’re a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you’re a grown man , they’re pictures of men.
New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here’s how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we’re done.
New Rule: There’s no such thing as flavored water. There’s a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That’s your flavored water.
New Rule: Stop f***ing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that’s square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.
New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a “decaf grande half-soy, half low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low and one NutraSweet,” ooh, you’re a huge asshole.
New Rule: I’m not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing “Enter,” verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don’t want cash back, and pressing “Enter” again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.
New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to “beef with broccoli.” The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren’t pregnant. You’re not spiritual. You’re just high. [I love this one]
New Rule: Competitive eating isn’t a sport. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What’s next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They’re already doing that. It’s called “The Howard Stern Show.”
New Rule: I don’t need a bigger mega M&M. If I’m extra hungry for M&Ms, I’ll go nuts and eat two.
New Rule: If you’re going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what’s playing on the other screens. Let’s remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn’t good enough to be a movie.
New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it’s for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn’t gift giving, it’s the white people version of looting.
New Rule: and this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can’t even tell if he’s supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don’t want to be on your web cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.
New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don’t need to know in months. “27 Months.” “He’s two,” will do just fine. He’s not a cheese. And I didn’t really care in the first place.

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Papal hilarity

from the onion:

Vatican Employees Unable To Relax At Holiday Party With Pope Around
December 4, 2006 Issue 42•49
VATICAN CITY—According to various cardinals and nuns attending the Vatican’s holiday party last night, festivities were made awkward by the unexpected appearance of Pope Benedict XVI. “[Prefect Emeritus] Bernardin [Gantin] was about to bust out his St. Bridget impression, which is just spot on, but then the pope walked over and we quickly changed the subject to the sacred presence of the Holy Spirit during transubstantiation,” said a cardinal speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that Pope Benedict’s “way too formal” attire made everyone feel even more ill at ease. “He said he didn’t want to talk about work, but guess who was the first one to make a segue from our favorite local restaurants to the Bangorian Controversy with the Church Of England?” Several Vatican employees recalled “the good old days” when Pope John Paul II turned a blind eye to their attempts to get the secretaries drunk playing “Never Have I Ever.”

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