Getting to Know You

Guaranteed to make friends and enemies alike!
Guaranteed to make friends and enemies alike!

January 7, 2013

Since the world didn’t explode last month, or it did and we’re all actually in purgatory, I can go back to writing, ranting, and making videos. First, though, a word for anyone who has a blog, a Facebook account, or even just an opinion.

We’re never going to agree.

Well, maybe that’s overdoing it. Perhaps we’ll never agree entirely, but the fact that many of us are trying to get the conversation going gives me hope that this isn’t for nothing. Talking, writing, researching, arguing… it can get tedious and often makes for some very nice headaches, but it’s not a bad thing.

Last week, an old friend sent me a message where he expressed concern that our online debates and posts may hurt our friendship. He’s a staunch libertarian. While I agree with some libertarian points, I’m very much against things like getting rid of the social safety net and would like strong government regulations on things like banks. I believe public education is broken, but essential. I believe in limited gun ownership and control.

Obviously, we’re not going to run for office together any time soon.

Lovepeople Hategovernment by ~mrddixon on deviantART

But his message struck me. While we’d certainly disagreed on many things, I never thought less of him. I’m sure my tone probably made it sound that way, but I’d like to repeat what I told him.

It’s not about differing ideas moving people apart. It’s about lack of respect.

Over the last ten years, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with and known people from all over the ideological spectrum. I’ve known Catholics, Wiccans, anarchists, old-school Republicans and young Republicans, humanists, Hindus, vegans, Tea Partiers, gun enthusiasts, pacifists, military vets, gays, bi, straight, genderqueer, artists, academics, historians, and every type of crazy you can imagine. Obviously, I have very different opinions from many on this list. Working with others is a skill everyone should have, but what about actually talking, conversing, and maintaining relationships with people with different opinions? Can you really not talk about religion, politics, and sex and keep a civil conversation?

Back in college, there was a guy at my fraternity who had a giant Confederate flag up on one wall. He studied history and rarely saw the point to fiction since, in his mind, real life was so much more interesting. He turned out to be one of my best friends. We would watch Invader Zim, drink beer, and eat chips and salsa. While he did mellow out slightly and is nowhere near as conservative as he was when he was younger, even then I could get along with him as though he were my brother.



Respect by ~canoneos on deviantART

He had clearly thought out his position on many things. He was open to change. He was curious about the world and sought to learn. He wasn’t stuck in just one position and bogged down by rigid ideology. The same goes for my friend who messaged me a few days ago. He’s very learned and obviously gave serious thought to his position. I disagree with his conclusions, but I respect his position, and I’ve actually learned from him from time to time, just as I hope he’s learned from me. He holds on to his beliefs and stands by what he says. So do I.

What I can’t respect, and what I often write about, are the people who hold on to concepts based on lies and ignorance. I can’t respect someone who blatantly refuses to listen to others, to accept he or she may be wrong. I can’t respect someone who tries to justify prejudice or tradition with pseudoscience and blatant half-truths.

We may never agree on everything. That’s fine. In fact, I find comfort in the fact that we can all have such different opinions and sometimes end up in a different place after those opinions come out. We’ll change our positions, sometimes slowly, sometimes at moments of epiphany. But as long as we keep talking, keep trying to reach a solid conclusion, I think we’ll be fine. In the end, most of us just want the same thing: a better world, to be free and safe. We go about it differently, but at least we’re heading the same way.

So from me to my friends, you’re my friends because I respect you. We don’t always agree, but that’s not required for me to care about you or call you “friend.”

And now, speaking of spilt blood, let’s check out the new red-band trailer for the remake of Evil Dead. Warning! Copious blood and gore ahead! What a way to start 2013…

The Church of Beck

It's an Armageddon sale and everything MUST GO!

August 30, 2010

It happened. Glenn Beck has a legion of black-clad priests to do his bidding and spread his message. The Cult of Beck is here.

Seriously. The only thing missing from this Saturday’s Beckapolooza, aka Restoring Honor, was kool-aid for all and a promise that the spaceship would soon arrive to take everyone home to the comet where Jesus lives with the seven dwarves. It was fairly tame by most expectations: no signs, no calls for blood, no racism (at least from the speakers), etc. In a nutshell it was, “We need more God, STAT!” That was it. That was the message. That’s what all the hype turned into. No miracles. No great revelations. Nothing. Beck even backtracked on his comments that he was “reclaiming” the Civil Rights Movement. Now he says he only agrees with SOME of the movement’s philosophies.

God Help Us by ~mattthegreat1313 on deviantART

But something stuck out. Beck announced he was recreating the Black Robe Regiment. Who are the members of the Black Robe Regiment?

Glad you asked.

Back in the Revolutionary War, these were preachers who would go up and preach in favor of certain political issues. Think of them as “preachers for America.”

And why is Beck bringing back this group?

The same reason he’s bringing back badges of honor, revisionist history, and connections between his crusade/ promotion and Dr. King: it serves his purpose. Here’s the kicker, though. Now, instead of just having fake professors teaching at a fake university or using his show to spout lies, he’s going one step further than even fear-mongering.

He’s targeting people’s souls.

I have lost my soul by ~korinoryu on deviantART

The idea behind the Black Robe Regiment is simple: make people believe that the opinions of Beck and people like Beck are divinely inspired and mandated by Jesus Christ and God, compatible with Judeo-Christian scripture, and the only solution to our problems. Beck himself has repeatedly said we must follow him or Armageddon would rain down on us.

And now he has clergy working for him. All Judeo-Christian, even if Beck insists they represent all faiths. These aren’t the people working at Beck U (oh, how do people not see the name is a not-so-subtle flip off?), but rather a group of preachers and holy men and women who Beck insist represent millions of people.

Let me stop him right now.

I don’t doubt the members of the Black Robe Regiment are members of major denominations, but they do not speak for every member of their faith, just like radical Islam does not speak for all of Islam. They speak for Beck because they’ve bought into his condemnation of liberation theology and social justice. They’re with him because he has money to pay.

They’re the money sellers in the temple, and if you’re Christian, you should be livid at these folks.

Beck keeps saying that America wants truth, even if it hurts. There are far, FAR too many examples of his dishonesty even for this site. If I typed for three days straight, I wouldn’t be able to cover a single episode of his radio or television show, so let me just say this:

If Beck wants to make this Biblical, fine. I’ll play.

And I’m old school.

oLD sCHoOl gAMinG 2… by ~uNDer3fOLdinGstARs on deviantART

Beck, if you’re reading this, and I sincerely hope you are, let me enlighten you as to how you inject fear into the hearts of your enemies. If you want truth, I’ll bring you truth.

I’m the snake in the garden.

I’m the happy sin that gives humanity knowledge.

You want to be Martin Luther King Jr.? Great. I’m the devil himself. I’m Lucifer. I’m a daemon. The Great Enemy. I’m one in a legion of people across the country who want to see you fail and want to show people the light.

We believe that America was imperfect, but it can be made better. We believe religion has no role in government. We believe every man and woman has the right to say what they wish, worship how they choose if at all, and that progress makes us a better nation.

Temptation by ~Island-Wolf on deviantART

If you want biblical, I’ll get biblical. Even if you claim to think that mixing religion and politics is a bad idea, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Make yourself an angel, an envoy of God, and you’ll fall. Hell, you’re going to give out those ridiculous merit badges for honor and you’ve made reference to your cause being divine. I could make an excellent case for you being the Anti-Christ.

But I won’t. Don’t believe in it, although the imagery is nice.

This is what we have to look forward to now, folks. Beck-approved clergy. I will gladly be the serpent in the garden for this. I will play that role.

Link time!

  • For anyone who still thinks Liberation Theology is about Marxism, please read this article that explains its roots and what it really means outside of Beck-Land.
  • Like I mentioned before, Amanda Palmer will be in Cabaret. Check out this article outlining her first forays into entertainment. It also has, as Neil Gaiman pointed out in his Twitter feed, one of the worst headlines ever.
  • What happens when you leave a McDonald’s burger out for weeks? It looks the same. A friend of mine tried this back in high school and got the same results, or so he said. I didn’t believe him until I saw this.
  • This video has all the makings of a FailBlog entry, except these guys are really athletic and do a great job jumping from walls to roofs and back. However, wait until the very last jump… it’s not a lack of physicality that got the last runner in trouble. It was not seeing the drop.
  • And finally, in a weekend filled with FAIL, here’s a look at people who failed just a little more than the rest of us. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you here on Wednesday or on the Facebook page!

Texas Revolutionaries and Indiana Methodists

Texas BBQ with Fox News Tea. Worst. Dinner. Ever.

April 19, 2010

So… my state may help start a new civil war.

Seriously. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, said, with no unclear terms, that Texas would leave the union if the federal government didn’t stop, you know, doing the things the federal government has to do. At the time, his statements draw a lot of criticism from many in the media, and it’s been over a year since he made them, but the way things are going right now, I am actually scared that some of these wastes of genetic material may act on this rhetoric.

Perry made the comments in the environment of the first Tea Parties. Ah, the first Tea Parties. Hard to think it was roughly a year ago that they first started popping up like syphilis lesions. Anyway, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about this in the news, but if you don’t live in Texas, you need to understand something.

A lot of people would not be against this state leaving. And why?

Because the government isn’t doing what they want. And of course, when the government doesn’t do what you want it to do, your only course of action is to leave the Union and establish your own nation. After all, we should be able to do it, right? We’re a big state. We have oil. And uhm… we have a coast line. And the Cowboys.

Well, crap, guess we’ll have to give the military bases back. Along with NASA, all federal agencies, the post office, and FEMA aid. We do after all, live right on Tornado Alley. Hey, no one said starting a new country would be cheap.

I bring this up, though, because the violent rhetoric from the Tea Party, physical attacks on Congress, and the general feeling by a not-insignificant part of the population that the government is physically coming to get them are fanning fires, brings to light that my state isn’t the only star that wants to jump from the flag. I know Texas won’t secede. I know no state will secede. They can’t. They have too much to lose, but in the meantime, there will be complete frontal lobe cases who won’t think it through and may do things that could get a lot of people hurt. Just because the revolution doesn’t go all the way through doesn’t mean people won’t get caught in the crossfire.

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This talk of secession, and Texas is by no means the only state to have tried it without counting the Civil War, is the kind of thing I remember seeing in Indiana some years back.

Not that Indiana wanted to leave the Union when I studied there.

I used to work as a student processor at the DePauw University Archives. Apart from college records and artifacts, we handled the records for Methodist churches in a large section of the state. I was amazed, really shocked, at the number of churches that sprang up over the course of a century. Some lasted a few years. Others moved. When looking over their histories, you could trace many of them in a sort of religious family tree.

darkness by ~statlernerd on deviantART

The funny thing is that it wasn’t so much churches branching out to bring the good word to other parts of the state. Most of these churches, at least the ones I had to process, were off-shoots of other churches because there had been some sort of schism within the congregation. Having read the histories of many of these churches, I can’t think of what would prompt them to split like this. Did someone bring the wrong kind of cookies to the bake sale? Someone not like the Colts?

And where are all these new churches full of energy and vitality that stuck it to the Man and went on their own?

Drive across Indiana. You’ll see them. Abandoned. A lot of churches didn’t last. Some did. For four years, I read their histories. I saw their photos. When I drove through the state, sometimes I could see one through the trees, sort of poking out as its white paint, now chipped, caught a bit of the sun.

It’s the social equivalent of “Fine! I’ll go play with my red ball all by myself.”

The Black Knight by ~kissed-byarose on deviantART

Texas takes a lot of pride in its independence. We were once a country. We have the largest land area in the country. Just don’t bring up Alaska. We own guns.

If a guy is arguing and he leaves the debate yelling, “I can’t work with this! Leave me alone,” everyone watching rightly assumes he got his ass handed to him. You can yell all you want. It doesn’t make you right. When I hear of states wanting to leave because of higher taxes, I wonder if they realize that they have the power to elect government officials. Never mind the fact that taxes actually went down this year. Our democracy is not perfect, I’ll admit. Some members of Congress will retire when they die or are caught in bed with either a dead woman or a live boy. But trying to get people on your side for Election Day is a lot more American, and a lot less bloody, than secession.

And that’s really what secession is all about. It’s un-American. You get so fed up that you put the state above the whole for petty reasons you can solve some other way. We are the United States. All of us. Neil Gaiman once wrote that we’re like a bunch of little nations, all sort of living together. He’s right. Someone from Indiana would be at a loss here in Laredo, Texas. They’d stand out like a nun at a whorehouse. Likewise, someone from south Texas would certainly have culture shock in the north. The cold alone would kill some of us.

Seriously. Anything below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and we shut down.

That doesn’t mean secession is the right choice. It’s nonsense. It won’t work for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean it won’t stop some idiots from claiming it’s a valid tactic when they disagree with the federal government. You don’t move out when your roommate leaves dishes in the sink. And you don’t beat him to a pulp either. You talk it through like civilized human beings.

And before I hear one more idiot say it, bringing up Texas secession and invoking the Alamo misses the point that the Texans lost. It’s kind of like giving astronauts a pep-talk by telling them their new computer system is named HAL.