Oh, Look At The Tree! I Can’t Breathe!

It’s Christmas in the city; they’re about to light the tree
It’s a magical occasion, just as far as we can see;
All the networks have their angles—it’s as festive as can be—
New York City in December, oh, such pride!

Folks are marching, folks are chanting, folks are caught up in the day
But the tree is not the focus—no, as near as I can say,
It’s not ornaments, but prejudice, that’s clearly on display
Damn, I miss the war on Christmas—no one died. [Read more…]

“The funeral is one of the best opportunities that pastors have to preach on the central doctrines of the Christian faith”

There are funeral rites
Seen in different lights
As we vary by time and by culture
Though the details may change
It should never seem strange
That death is a feast for a vulture

The original bird
As you doubtless have heard
Is a beautiful, dignified creature
But today, you will find
A more sinister kind—
One who preys on the living… a preacher [Read more…]

Tornado Warnings, Now And Then

It was just the other morning
When we heard the weather warning
And we tried to drag the pets downstairs, for shelter from the storm
I remembered, with a chortle,
I was young once, and immortal,
And defied the nearing twisters, playing Frisbee by the dorm
Ah, but real life can be frightening—
I’ve since lost someone to lightning—
So I run inside from thunder, though of course I know the odds
And I’m thankful to the science
Where it’s safe to put reliance
How much better than to fear we’re at the mercy of the gods

TV Snake-Handler Dies (Spoiler: Not Old Age)

There once was a pastor
Who handled some snakes
For goodness’ sakes—
He handled snakes!
(He knew the stakes)

There once was a serpent
With venomous bite
Oh, what a plight!
A venomous bite!
(And deadly, quite)

The pastor, he handled;
The serpent, he bit
With a venomous spit
He bit and bit
(And wouldn’t quit)

The pastor’s behavior
Had faith as its source
With no remorse,
His faith was his source
(He died, of course)

Via Doubtful News, we hear the utterly predictable news of the death of a snake-handling pentecostal preacher, from (naturally) snakebite.

In an era of sophisticated theology, yes, snake-handlers still exist. Though, frankly, not a lot of them, despite how often the same group makes the news. Usually, for dying by snake bite.

I wonder, sometimes, what it would be like to be from a family where you pretty much all eventually died from completely preventable, proudly public, dangerous behavior. Do the extended relatives admit their connection? Are they proud? Ashamed? Anyway, my condolences to the family–may this be the last one to die in this manner.

I Need Some Advice…

For an upcoming funeral. The deceased was a Christmas-and-Easter churchgoer; most (a slim majority) of the extended family are atheist, with a mix of religions (mostly various Protestant Christian) a strong minority. And one daughter, Catholic, who wants to sing The Lord’s Prayer at the memorial.

The question I was asked, and which I am passing along to you… can you think of a compromise song? Something that won’t have either the religious or the atheist half of the attendees rolling their eyes?

Hmmm.. the lord’s prayer? Last time I was at a family gathering of a substantial number of people, just saying the lord’s prayer was hilarious, with a handful of us just looking around for the other atheists in the crowd, and two strange moments when different versions of the prayer collided–“debts” versus “trespasses”, and “for thine is the kingdom…” which only half the people said. When even the prayer named for your religion’s savior divides rather than unites the various Christian sects, there has got to be something better to sing to a diverse group.

Texas Judge Rules: Pull The Plug

The mother died back in November, remember?
She’d made clear her wishes (as all of us ought)
But, sadly, this happened in Texas, the nexus
Of Christian intrusion in government thought
Her will was denied, for a baby that maybe
Would live for an hour, with help from machines;
The state says “we’ve got to complete us a fetus”—
To rescue the baby, whatever the means.

The judge, as the calm voice of reason, who sees, in
This case there are people, not robots instead,
With that, saw some facts had eluded–concluded
Essentially, mother and fetus are dead.
The statute, though not found unlawful, is awful;
A woman’s autonomy, Texas denies
The one thing that no one’s denying is… crying.
That’s kinda what happens when somebody dies

Without ruling on the constitutionality of the law (I am of two minds here–I wish it had been slapped down [can’t imagine it would be upheld], but this family has been through too much already, and I suspect this is a quicker and quieter end), a Texas Judge has found that Marlise Munoz is dead, and that her fetus is not viable, and has ordered that she be removed from the machines that turned her body into the state’s incubator. Which is what Ms. Munoz had expressed, what her husband and extended family had wanted, but which Texas law, as interpreted by the hospital, had seemingly denied.

My sympathies go out to the family. I know this is not an end, because these things never actually end… but at least it is the close of a particularly horrible chapter. And much as I would want to see the law overturned, holding your family hostage over that is every bit as bad as what the state just did, so that will have to wait.

After all this time… only now will the family be able to begin actual funeral plans. Texas should be ashamed, but I think the politicians there are immune.

Edited to add… perhaps the saddest thing I have read in years, the testimony of the husband, as reported by the NY Times:

“When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death. As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise’s hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I am a very smell-oriented person. I know exactly what he is saying, and it breaks my hearts.