But The Ads Are The Best Part!

There’s a psychic with an offer that is gonna change your life
And a site where Christians mingle if they’re looking for a wife
Politicians with petitions make you miss the “hanging chad”
But you’d never know that they exist, unless you read the ad

There’s a college in Virginia where they follow Jesus first
(Evolution is the enemy, and Darwin is the worst)
Where for several thousand dollars, you can claim that you’re a grad
But you’d never know it’s possible, unless you read the ad

You can tell the folks in Washington you’d like to fire them all
And replace them with a plumber, and a dancer, and Ron Paul
You can send Glenn Beck your money, just to make Obama mad
But you’d never know you’re not alone, unless you read the ad

There’s a T-shirt with a slogan that’s offensive to the right
And another that’s amusing, and exceptionally tight
You can decorate your clothing, matching every passing fad
But you’d never know it’s possible, unless you read the ad

There’s a pill to shape your body—add the muscle, lose the fat
Sure, it’s only a placebo, but there’s nothing wrong with that
You can jump-start your libido and revitalize your nads
But you’d never know it’s possible, unless you read the ads

You could make the pop-ups vanish, and there’s nothing you would miss
You could read your favorite writers in a quiet, ad-less bliss
Go ahead—you know you want to—it will really make you glad
They can do their best to irk you, but you’ll never see the ad!

In other words, our subscription, ad-free version of FtB is now up and running. Currently it’s Paypal only, but we (read: Jason) are working on opening it up for other methods.

Forgot One–Trick Or Treat!

Stumbled on another old Halloween verse I missed in my earlier post….

Jesus came back from the dead tonight
(He said he had done it before)
He took to the streets in the Bible Belt
With the children in masks, door to door.

With pirates, and goblins, and heroes, and ghosts
Came the Savior, the true child of God
On the streets where the Christian majority lives
It was more than a little bit odd:

Wherever they stopped, the people would guess
(Cos that’s what the homeowner does)
Though Jesus was Jesus, and not in disguise
Not one of them knew who He was.

The Jesus they know is the one they created,
Who thinks like, and looks like, themselves
Whose stories they hear in their sermons, but not
In the bibles that sit on their shelves.

If Jesus existed, if Jesus was real,
If He died on the cross for our sins
He wouldn’t want gays to be punished for love
Or care if a Democrat wins.

He wouldn’t want lies taught to children in school;
He wouldn’t want homeless to freeze
The weakest and weariest crying for help
In a system that’s deaf to their pleas

I worry, you know, for the Christian Right—
And (of course) for the human race—
When Jesus himself goes from door to door
And no one knows his face

Wait–It’s JesusWeen Already?

I hope you have your bibles, in a big stack by the door
Cos tonight’s the night (it’s JesusWeen!) that’s what those books are for
You can hand them to the costumed kids who plaintively implore
“In the name of Christ the Savior, Trick or Treat”

They’ll be dressed as saints and sinners as they travel through the night
As they spread the word of Jesus, to the neighborhood’s delight
You can offer them some candy, but they won’t accept a bite–
Next to Jesus, nothing else could be so sweet!

Stack of pocket sized bibles

Stack of pocket sized bibles

I forgot it was (or nearly is, depending on your neighborhood) JesusWeen! (which, yes, really is a thing.)

Related:
It’s JesusWeen, Charlie Brown!
The JesusWeen Story
Bibles For Trick-Or-Treat!
Blue Roses: A Halloween Poem

If Obama’s An Atheist, He’s Sure Got A Funny Way Of Showing It

I’m certain Obama’s an atheist
The clues are all there, if you search—
Like the way he supports public praying
And the way he has long gone to church
His support for the faith-based initiatives
And his scripture reflections each day
Yes, I’m certain Obama’s an atheist
Cos the clues are all there on display.

You’ve likely heard by now–Richard Dawkins, on Bill Maher’s show, expressed his confidence that President Obama is actually an atheist… which, in the context of the show, put him in the company of other good atheists… like Pope Francis.

It all makes sense now. The Obama administration’s support of town council prayers in Greece, NY, is part of an elaborate scheme to disguise Obama’s atheism so that he can be elected for a third term…

When Oprah denied Diana Nyad’s atheism, the godless movers and shakers didn’t much like it. You don’t get to simultaneously deny and appropriate someone else’s beliefs when you can’t wrap your head around the fact that someone you admire holds views you disagree with. This goes for Oprah, and it goes for Dawkins and Maher, too.

For my thinking, I really don’t care what Obama (or Diana Nyad) believes; I care what he (or she) does. When they do admirable things, I admire those accomplishments; when they do deplorable things, I deplore them. People are complex; few, if any, are all good or all bad. Looking at actions, rather than pinning a label on the actors, allows us to recognize the good and the bad, and hopefully support the former and not the latter–in those we admire and in those we… not so much.

Worth Every Penny…

A confluence of things, today. You may or may not know this, but we here at FtB are testing a new paid-subscription, ad-free version for your reading pleasure. Apparently, the place looks much nicer without ads. Ads never bothered me, though, aside from the few places around where, say, my verses have been copied without my permission and show up on a page with multiple pop-up ads that can’t be easily dismissed. That, yeah, bothers me.

Which leads to the next thing–a New York Times opinion piece with the remarkable notion that writers, artists, photographers and the like ought to be paid for what they do. Even *gasp* on the internet!

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989. More recently, I had the essay equivalent of a hit single — endlessly linked to, forwarded and reposted. A friend of mine joked, wistfully, “If you had a dime for every time someone posted that …” Calculating the theoretical sum of those dimes, it didn’t seem all that funny.

Reading through some of the comments on that piece, I realize I have it better than most. With my readership here, I am making big bucks–approximately one dollar per post. And I hope to have my second big collection of verses out in time for Cephalopodmas shopping, and that should sell, with luck, a few dozen copies. And that honestly puts me ahead of a lot of the commenters’ stories.

I don’t know if it will be approved, but I left the following comment myself (from a few years ago):

I’d shill for a shilling
But no one is willing
To pay for the things that I write.
I’d rant and I’d holler
For minimum dollar
But no one is offering, quite.
A couple of euros
To stuff in my bureau’s
Sufficient for verses like these;
Though some call it whoring,
I’m begging–imploring–
Come, sully my principles, please!
If someone would shell out,
I’d promise to sell out–
My standards, I’ll keep in my purse–
For now, though, I’m sighing
Cos no one is buying…
And all I can write is Free Verse.

A Perfect Match

He gave her his heart, in exchange for her own
And he owed her that heart and more, didn’t ‘e?
They already knew they were perfectly matched…
Cos, you see, she had given him her kidney!

(Honestly, if you are the sort who doesn’t watch videos until you see if it is worth it, watch the video, and then you can read the rest. And yeah, I cried. But that might just be me.)

The full story is here, at the Indy Star

Chelsea Clair, then 22, had never met Kyle Froelich, then 19. But she had heard his story through a family friend and had already volunteered to help raise awareness for his cause.

On that very first day they met, without really knowing why or what it would mean, she said to him: “I’m going to give you my kidney.”

Froelich didn’t think the outcome would be different from anyone else who had offered. Then, a month later, the test results came back.

“We ended up being almost a perfect match,” she said.

The whole thing is worth reading–stories like this are rare and wonderful, and you want to read it before it is turned into a Lifetime movie or Hollywood script.

Doctors removed Clair’s left kidney and planted it inside Froelich’s abdomen. In its new home, the kidney started working right away.

When she woke up, she asked, “Is Kyle OK?”

When he woke up, he asked, “How’s Chelsea?”

Immunosuppressant drugs worked to keep Froelich’s body from rejecting the kidney, but the medications also meant he had to be isolated to prevent infection.

On his way to recovery, he pleaded and persuaded the nurses to wheel him past Clair. Even though she was still too woozy to notice, he just wanted to wave at her through the window.

And of course, my favorite line:

It’s hard to pinpoint when they fell in love.

Perfect.

I have no idea at all what belief systems these people hold. I honestly don’t care. The news stories are astonishingly and refreshingly devoid of religious particulars, but the comment sections are predictably full of them. I don’t care. I rejoice in their happiness, their health, and their lives together. I hope you do too.

In The Near Distant Future, A Christian Looks Back With Regret

Remember the days when “Majority rules!”
Was the rallying cry in our town halls and schools?
We’d meet by the hundreds and kick up a fuss—
The majority, then, were the People Like Us.
The People Like Us (or for short, PLU’s)
Were the people believing in similar views;
PLU’s making up the majority there,
We wanted our meetings begun with a prayer
It would always be Christian, or often enough
We could simply ignore the minority stuff;
At most, we’d be waiting for maybe a week
Till the time when a Christian had our turn to speak.

We wanted the prayer to be part of the law
The majority view was the way that we saw!
Town meetings that open by praying to Jesus
Are all that we wanted… and all that would please us.
So we voted. Of course, when the vote went our way,
We were happy, cos all PLU’s had their say
Because we had the power to get something done
And minority groups held but little or none
And everyone listened, when we gave the word,
And no one complained… at least, no one we heard.
The majority’s right; the majority’s strong;
The majority voted… so what could go wrong?

We’d never considered… the thought was too strange…
But the fact is that, sometimes, majorities… change.
We were once the majority—my, we were proud;
We demanded our way! We were brash! We were loud!
How I wish we’d thought then, because now is too late,
Of the dangerous mixing between church and state,
And I wish we’d considered some sort of a wall
So the church and the state couldn’t mingle at all
Because government prayer is a thing we condemn,
Now the voting majority’s People Like Them
We got what we wanted, so we hold the blame…
It’s majority rules! What a shame! What a shame!

So a recent new follower of mine on twitter is the communications director for the National Day of Prayer Task Force. These folks are looking at Greece, NY, as a landmark case that will help to codify government-led prayer. The above verse is my thinking–I cannot imagine why any religious person would ever willingly choose to give the government the power to back a specific religious view (or even a general one). History is full of the waxing and waning of faith communities; a “majority rules” that favors your religion today is the same law that confers second-class status on you tomorrow. Giving up your independence to hitch yourself to power seems like a good idea when the power goes your way… but the success of religions in the US comes from their independence from government, not from their close ties.

Lubbock Is Flat. Earth Is Not.

In Texas, a creationist once took a look around
And he noticed that the world he saw was flat
When you live your life in Lubbock, there are no hills to be found,
And it’s Lubbock the creationist was at.

And he looked around the grasslands, just as far as he could see,
To the distant shapes of longhorn cattle ranging
And since none of them bore puppies, it’s as plain as it could be
Evolution was a farce, and life unchanging

So he tried to share his wisdom, cos the state could ill afford
Teaching kids the world is different than it looks
Now he acts as an advisor to the education board
Giving input when they choose their science books.

If it’s good enough for Lubbock, then it’s good enough for all
And the world is flat, unchanging, young, and hot—
It’s ironic that a Texan would be prone to thinking small
But the truth is, Lubbock’s flat; the earth is not.

So I got sent a link today to the Texas Freedom Network’s campaign to get the Texas School Board to listen to the facts. They also have a petition…

Lubbock is flat. Earth is not. Will Texas textbooks teach the difference?

Me, I just like the prairie dog.

Happy As A Cuttlefish In Shit

… that is to say, not happy at all.

But yes, in shit. Came home to blocked plumbing and a strong smell of sewage. Poked around a bit to look for the problem, and saw a bubbling mass of water ooze up and out of the pipe, saturating the insulation of the basement wall.

This is gonna be expensive. And smelly.