Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Never Ending Devastating War on Poor Little Defenseless Precious Adorable Christmas

It’s the time of year when Fox News fires up their Evangelical Christian viewers with the manufactured War on Christmas. Nothing like false righteous indignation to get one into the holiday spirit (sorry, Christmas spirit).

Is it really so terrible to have to share this time of year with others? According to certain Christians, the answer is a resounding Hell Yes!!! By saying Happy Holidays, you are including other holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Years, the Winter Solstice and that’s insulting to Christmas. Christmas is the dominant holiday and demands complete attention and proper tribute. Christmas does not share with others. Christmas rules.

Christmas sounds like a bit of a tyrant.

I don’t care if someone does or doesn’t wish me a Happy Hanukkah. The holiday is based on a lunar calendar so it never falls the same time of year on other calendars. It could happen during Thanksgiving one year and during Christmas another, which means people often wish me a Happy Hanukkah when it’s not Hanukkah. I also don’t care if someone says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or if they don’t say anything at all. What I like best is when someone asks if I’m doing anything fun during my time off from work or if I’ve been invited to any fun parties. It’s the time of year when most folks don’t work. That’s nice. Let’s share that.

I don’t like when people try to show their sensitivity of my religion by including Hanukkah with their holiday celebration. This might include lighting a menorah or discussing the similarities between Judah Macabee’s militant policies with the Bush Doctrine and Republican Neo-cons. I don’t feel that our inclusion into your home is a show of respect. You’re co-opting our traditions. Wasn’t stealing the Christmas tree, gift giving. and basically all of Christmas from the Pagan’s Winter Solstice enough for Christians? Is there no end to your desire to devour and destroy other religions? I don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t decorate a tree. I also don’t fast during Ramadan. I don’t celebrate other religions’ holidays because I have my own religious holidays to celebrate. However, if someone were to invite me to a mosque to see how Muslims pray, I would go out of respect. But afterwards, I wouldn’t go home and start bowing toward Mecca unless I became a Muslim.

The saddest part is when the same people who complain whenever someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas or get their panties in a wad if a department store says Holiday Sale instead of Christmas Sale or totally lose their shit when a school calls it a Holiday celebration instead of a Sweet Holy Jesus Happy Birthday Christmas Extravaganza are the same people who complain that fellow Christians have forgotten the true meaning of the holiday. The reason for the season. And that’s where the problem arises. Are Christians celebrating the birth of Christ the King or Jesus the Messiah who taught tolerance, sharing, loving your neighbor, and helping the less fortunate. A King wants to rule his subjects. A holiday for a King demands total submission and doesn’t tolerate disrespect. A messiah wants all humans to live together in mutual respect and love for one another.

So, what is this war really about?




Friday, November 8, 2013

Wisdom

Wisdom comes with a side of fries.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

4 out of 5

I asked my father if he was one of the four dentists who recommends Crest toothpaste. Since we always used Crest in our home I was certain he wasn't the fifth dentist who hated Crest. I was young enough at the time to believe that anything I heard on TV was true, including advertising copy.

Dad said no he wasn't one of those dentists. He seemed annoyed by the question. I thought it was because he felt slighted that he wasn't included among the five dentists Crest sought out for their valued opinion.

I asked him if he does recommend Crest since he uses it and I use it and our whole family uses it.

We use Crest because they send me boxes of their toothpaste Dad explained. We use it because its free.

That didn't seem right so I asked Dad what toothpaste would he recommend if he wasn't getting it for free. He said any toothpaste would do, they were all the same.

Just use toothpaste and brush your teeth.

I let the subject drop but I couldn't help thinking that maybe Dad was the fifth dentist after all.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Oy Vey

There was an interesting story in the New York Times about Orthodox Jewish wives in Brooklyn who wanted divorces (known as a get) but their husbands refused so they who hired Rabbis to kidnap the husbands and torture them until them until they agreed. The two Rabbis behind this bizarre operation have been arrested. Apparently, the Rabbis charged anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000.

I would think that being married to a pissed off Jewish woman would be torture enough.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Loyal as a dog


When I was around eight or nine, Prince ran away. Though Prince was the family dog, I was closest to him and spent the most time with him. I called and called and called his name, but he didn’t. As the days went by and he still didn’t come home, I felt betrayed. He had always come when I called, but now he ignored me. His love for me wasn’t as strong as I had imagined. More than missing him, the feeling of abandonment was worse.
I felt the same sense of betrayal years later when a girlfriend didn’t take my side in an argument I was having with one of our friends. I believed that if someone really loved you, then they stood by you no matter what.
I didn’t always stand by those I cared about and I didn’t recognize my hypocrisy. I needed the assurance of blind loyalty.
Two months after Prince disappeared, he showed up at my father’s office. How he knew it was my father’s office since he’d never been there before either meant he had a great sense of smell, had dog psychic powers, or he could read the name on the door.
Once Prince was home again, he wagged his tail when we pet him and seemed happy to be back from his adventure, but I wondered if I wouldn’t come home one day to find he’d left me again. I wasn’t sure I could love him the way I did before he left.
I got over my doubts about Prince and we went back to being the boy and dog pals we’d been before. He didn’t leave me again until he died while napping under the station wagon. He was difficult to bury because apparently he had just woken up from his nap and was stretching when his heart gave out and he died in mid-stretch. I had to dig his grave extra long.
I know now that dogs get distracted and wander off. They don’t have human logic or human love. What they feel for us is not the same as what we feel for each other. As for the girlfriend, I had to go through a number of girlfriends before I learned that loyalty is earned by being loyal. It’s a team effort.
I do wonder where Prince went on his adventure. I hope it was fun. I hope it wasn’t a case where he went further than normal and then couldn’t find any familiar scents. I hope he knew he was too far away to hear my voice and wasn’t wondering why I didn’t call his name to lead him home.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Yet another Breaking Bad opinion

I loved the series finale of Breaking Bad. There were many great moments, but the one that really hit me was a quick flashback to the first episode of the series. Hank is goading Walt into coming on a ride along with him on one of his drug busts. I don't remember the exact words, but Hank says something about Walt doing something exciting for the first time in his life. Walt shyly says maybe he will. We get to remember that at the beginning of the series, Walt was dismissed by everyone as a loser. Setting aside the Gray Matters storyline, the series casts Walt as the mild-mannered shulb who discovers he has a secret power and he uses that power to show the world he's not a loser.

This storyline is the same as most of the early comic book superheroes, in particular Spider-Man who is also a meek chemistry genius who hides the fact that he's a superhero. This is the wish fulfillment fantasy of all geeks who were bullied by jocks and ignored by cheerleaders. And the same fantasy of all of us who feel the world is screwing us over. We wish we had some power that would help us to rise above our shortcomings. How many of us don't wish we could say, "See world, I'm a badass and I'm not taking your shit anymore." That part of us that feels marginalized is the part that rooted for Walt.

To the show's credit, instead of being like Spider-Man and using his power for good, Walt became a supervillain. Look into the origin stories of supervillains and you'll see that the only difference from the heroes' beginning was their moral choice of how to use their power. That moral compromise is what made Breaking Bad a much more interesting story.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What I Don't Believe


I don’t believe in honest politicians. In fact, I think the words “honest politician” is an oxymoron.

I don’t believe the Bible is a reliable history book. The Hebrew Bible was passed down orally before committed to print. Most of the New Testament was written by people who never met Jesus.

I don’t believe corporations are people. If they were, then they need to pay into Social Security like the rest of us people.

I don’t believe the Hebrew Bible’s moral and spiritual importance is diminished by not being historically accurate.

I don’t believe a woman who has a lot of sex is a slut. It’s not a bad hobby.

I don’t believe the Bible is a science book. I don’t believe it should be used to advance scientific theories. I don’t believe it was ever meant to either. If the people who wrote the Bible were alive today, I believe there would be a story about God telling a prophet to warn us about Global Warming. The prophet could be Al Gore, but I haven’t decided if I believe in Al Gore.

I don’t believe children are our future. I believe children are their own future. I don’t believe my parents had my siblings and me as a way to shoot an arrow into the future to fulfill some prophetic heroic destiny. Well, maybe they had my little brother with that in mind, but definitely not me. I believe my parents had children because they wanted to have children.
I don’t believe the Messiah has come yet. Honestly, I’m not waiting for him. I believe God has already told us how to love each other and make this a better world. I believe we should do that first and then see what happens.

I don’t believe George Washington crossed the Delaware to get to the other side.  

I don’t believe a black cat crossing your path is bad luck. I lived with a black cat and he crossed my path constantly every day. Nothing bad happened except when he crossed my path on the way to the litter box.

I don’t believe I’ll ever make enough money to become a conservative. But I wouldn’t mind testing that theory by making boatloads of money. 

I don’t believe John Lennon meant it when he said he didn’t believe in Beatles. But even if he did, I do believe in Beatles.

I don’t believe people in my city know what sidewalks are for. I admit that most of them are old and uneven and impossible for joggers. But if you’re just strolling along or pushing a baby carriage, I believe using the sidewalk makes more sense than walking in the middle of the street.

I don’t believe in fairies. Sorry Tinkerbelle. It just doesn’t work for me.

I don’t believe in Zimmerman. I agree with Lennon on that one.     

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tango


A friend of ours moved to China a few years back. He told me about a Chinese cartoonist who calls himself Tango. He does great work, most of it has no words. This is my favorite.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby

I am finally reading "The Great Gatsby." I'm only half way through so don't tell me how it ends. Sorry I waited so long to read this classic novel. I'm really enjoying it. I think it would make a great movie.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Republicans vs. Women


I’ve been seeing more and more news reports that purport that there is a Republican war on Women. I don’t think the Republican Party has made attacking the rights of women an official plank of its political platform, but I do think the fundamentalist Christians who won office as Republicans are leading the party in that direction.

Christianity isn’t the only patriarchal religion that treats women as lesser beings. Orthodox Jewish Men in Israel won’t ride the bus with women and Muslim countries won’t let women drive (or do much else but have babies). But lately, Conservative Christians in the Republican Party have made a major push to impose as many restrictions on women’s choices as possible. Perhaps with gay marriage gaining wider support and whites shrinking majority, they feel this is their last chance to impose their religious views on the country and must make an all out assault while they still can.

That would explain the push for vaginal probes, abortion restrictions and the elimination of rape kits. It’s insulting to see the conservative politicians claim these draconian restraints are for the health of women. Here’s a good clue as to why that’s a lie and the laws are a bad idea. The person trying to push these laws through is almost always a white man. And for some reason, often a fat white man which makes you wonder if this isn’t some kind of high school fat kid revenge on all the cute girls who ignored him. The people loudly protesting outside the chamber are almost completely women of various ages, race, and religion.

The main fight here is about abortion. Okay, look. If you outlaw abortion, then there will be illegal abortions. They will happen no matter what. Rich women will pay to have them privately. Poor women will risk their lives. You can’t regulate people’s morals no matter how hard you tried. Remember prohibition? How well did that work out? I don’t think its murder, but if it is, then remember that there are two lives involved here, the child and the mother. Why is the child’s life in the womb more important than the mother’s? Why does a woman lose her rights the moment of conception? Now you begin to see why women see this as a war on them. And the anti-abortionists religious beliefs should not trump the rights of the woman choosing. Not if we truly believe in religious freedom and respect the separation of church and state.

The war on women is even worse in the church. Pat Robertson has implied that if a man cheats, it’s the woman’s fault for tempting him or not being submissive enough. There’s a church that encourages spanking wives to ensure they are submissive. They even go through various objects to judge their spankability (my word, not theirs). The list includes ping pong paddle, hairbrush, and an open palm. Am I the only one who sees the kinky sexual deviance behind this idea? I just imagine the husband coming home and the wife saying, “I’ve been a bad wife. I need to be punished to ensure my submissiveness. I thought we might try the ping pong paddle tonight.” Then the husband says, “Not tonight, honey. I got tennis elbow from the last time.”

But really, religion is missing a golden opportunity here. People are leaving religion because they feel the church is restrictive, hypocritical, judgmental, and boring. For years, the main supporters of religion have been women. Always have. Think of all the movies and TV sitcoms which include this scene: It’s Sunday morning and the father is yelling for the kids to get ready for church. As the kids dully shuffle to the minivan, the father glares at the mother lounging on the couch. The mother says she’s not going because she wants to stay home to watch a football game. Can you name one of those movies or sitcoms? No. Why? Because they don’t exist. Now switch the mother and father. I immediately think of the Simpsons episode where Homer stays home to watch the game and creates his own religion.

In my own experience at my parents’ synagogue, I have seen how women are saving that congregation. Men, like me, aren’t interested in learning torah readings beyond their bar mitzvahs. But once the shul opened the door for women to do torah readings and be more involved in the service, something they had been denied for generations, the women were all over it. They were starving for this. I was so proud to hear that the shul recently hired a woman rabbi. This from a synagogue that started out orthodox with a balcony for the women.

So let the women in. The real reason religions attack women is because they’re afraid of them. They’re afraid they might do things better. They might tell men what to do. Don’t they already do that? Didn’t you listen to your mother? Maybe you should. Maybe you should call her right now and tell her how much you love her.

Bottom line, religion. Stop picking on women. Stop being afraid of them. They’re nice people once you get to know them. Some of my best friends are women. I like women and I respect them and I think women are funny, but that’s an entirely different subject. I like women so much, I married one.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What's Up With Colorado- Update

In my last post I speculated as to what Colorado did to piss God off so much that He cursed the state with devastating wildfires. My intention was to point out how Fundamentalists blame natural disasters on liberal states, but say nothing when a conservative state is hit.

But I stand corrected. On Generation Radio, Colorado pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner explain how abortion and civil union brought God's wrath down on their state.

Get the full story on AlterNet.

These pastors are angry judgmental people who are looking for someone to blame for the misfortunes in the world. They skipped over all the forgiving parts of the bible and drew big circles with red ink around all of retribution stories instead. It's misdirected righteous indignation. The sad part is how many of them are out there. And I truly believe if God was really striking people down for their sinful ways, these guys would be at the top of His list.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's up with Colorado?

Drought. Beetles. Wild fires. They sound like biblical plagues and they're all happening to Colorado. Evangelical Pat Robertson said in 1998 that God would strike Florida with hurricanes, earthquakes and maybe go so far as fling a meteor at the state for allowing Gay Pride celebrations. He and Jerry Falwell suggested that liberals, feminists, and abortionists encouraged God to allow the 9/11 terrorist attack to happen.

So what did Colorado do to piss off God? And more importantly, why hasn't Pat Robertson or some other outspoken evangelical explained why parts of Colorado looks like the pits of hell? The Westboro Baptist Church doesn't count because they blame everybody for everything.

I wonder if the reason Pat Robertson hasn't claimed Colorado's predicament as God's punishment has anything to do with Robertson's recent support for Colorado's attempts at legalizing marijuana. Making the devil weed legal might warrant some heavenly retribution, but Robertson can't call them out for it.

I would say that if Robertson got hit by lightning or devoured by beetles, then that would be proof that God was angry with him for siding with the Colorado heathens, but I couldn't be sure if God did it because He just got tired of Robertson speaking smack in His name.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Upcoming Black Phoenix Events

I will be appearing under my pen name Allan Kemp to promote my urban fantasy novel, "The Black Phoenix" at the following events:


On June 29 at 3:00PM, I will be with Beth Dolgner for "Free Seminar: How to Successfully Self-Publish Your Novel and Live to Tell About It."

On July 7, I will be in the Artist's Alley at the Atlanta Comic Convention.

And once I have more information, I will announce when exactly during the AJC Decatur Book Festival I will be appearing on the Emerging Writer's Stage.


Hope to see you all at one or more of these events.

Monday, June 3, 2013

His latest book

I had dinner with a group of writers, which is always fun because writers have such a great perspective on just about everything. However, I began to notice that in any conversation with writers, you hear about how they are either finishing a book or in the middle of writing one. Myself included. This rift came to me as I listened.


I hear God is working on a new book. He'd been trying to decide whether to write a historical novel loosely based on real people or science fiction. He settled on a sequel to His first two alternative history books and He promises that this one will complete the trilogy.

So far, He has delivered a thousand pages to his writing group. Their comments were that it had too many characters, conflicting themes, and the main character is two dimensional and needs to be fleshed out. Plus, they questioned what this story was really about and that maybe God had some issues that He wasn't ready to face yet.

God also sent the rough manuscript to His agent. She said the story lacked reader reward and that fans of His earlier work would be confused that He was doing a sequel since the last book ended with the earth being destroyed. Hard to come back after that and still have a plausible plot. Also, His agent complained that the story was negative toward women and reminded Him that women purchase the majority of books.

Despite these complaints, the book is still in it's early stages and His publisher is confident that He can work out the bugs and deliver the final manuscript in time to get the it into the winter catalog as a holiday book.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Now on Amazon

The Black Phoenix paperback is now available on Amazon.

The book should have been available on Amazon a lot sooner, but Lulu dropped the ball until I reminded them to do it. I can't say that Lulu did a bad job overall on my book, but they were disappointing in many ways.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Prime Number 37

Check it out. I have an essay in Prime Number Magazine 37 titled "The Shiksa Paradox."

A big thank you to non-fiction editor Tracy Crow (and author of the excellent memoir, "Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine") for accepting my essay.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ed's Fish and Pizza House



I was in Nashville for a family event when we passed by Ed's Fish and Pizza House. What an odd combination: fish (specifically catfish) and pizza. But then I noticed the warning that Ed no longer served pizza and suddenly, the catfish seemed incomplete without the pizza.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

North Carolina wants to be first in the march toward a Christian Nation

There is a proposal in North Carolina that would allow the state to make Christianity the official state religion. I pray that the proposal is defeated. Though their reasoning is that they politicians want to be free to mention Jesus in their opening prayers and as a way to afford Obamacare, it could set a terrible precedent for like-minded states.

Making one religion the official religion is in direct violation of the First Amendment. North Carolina Republicans are presenting the proposal as a states rights issue, but there are times when politician overstep the bounds of sanity and this is one of them.



UPDATE: Cooler heads dead prevail in North Carolina. The proposal was defeated and officials even apologized for the embarrassment it brought their state. The Republican who presented the proposal claims it was poorly written. He said he wasn't trying to establish a state religion, he just wanted permission to pray specifically to Jesus in the pre-session prayer. Well, that's part of the point. If you give special attention to one religion as part of your judicial proceedings and that would include the prayer at the beginning, then you are breaking the First Amendment.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Perfecting Judaism

I've heard Evangelical Christians refer to themselves as "perfected jews." The whole thing seems to boil down to how Christianity lets Gentiles believe in the Jewish God without having to go through all the trouble of converting to Judaism. Sort of a way to get past the velvet rope without having to bribe the doorman.

I'm not too concerned about this. What does concern me is how Evangelical Christians are starting to Christianize Jewish traditions. Christianity has a history of christianizing other religion's traditions while simultaneously denigrating the religion the tradition came from. I see it happening with Evangelicals already having bar mitzvahs and wearing prayer shawls. What's next?

My guess is the holidays. Some already celebrate Passover, which seemed obvious since the Last Supper was supposed to be a seder. But the next step is Christianizing Passover. And what better way to do that than Bacon Matzah. Gentiles love bacon so why not spice up that boring slab of unleavened bread with the glory of bacon? Next on the list would be to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with an Apple and Honey Milkshake.

But why stop with the holidays? Since there are Christian schoolbooks showing Jesus riding a dinosaur, the idea of Jesus being a time traveler has already been established. Instead of putting the pressure on the New Testament to show that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament, just rewrite the Old Testament with Jesus already part of the history of man.

Think about it, the Jews enslaved in Egypt because they wouldn't forsake Jesus. The Jews commit suicide on Masada rather than give up their love of Jesus. Judah Maccabee and his men fight the Selecuid army for the glory of Christ. Jonah is swallowed by the whale for refusing to be baptized.

The sad part about all this joking around is that it could easily happen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thank you, Maud Newton

Maud Newton's essay in the 3/25/13 issue of the New York Times Magazine titled, "Oy Vey Christian Soldiers" articulated feelings I've had about the Evangelical Christian movement so much better than I could have ever said myself. The essay was mainly about Evangelical Christians having bar mitzvahs (or as they call it, a bar barakah) for their sons as a religious rite of passage.

There are so many things wrong with this idea, I barely know where to begin. Taking Jewish traditions and Christianizing them is not the way to pay homage to Judaism. As Ms. Newton put it in the essay, "There’s a big difference between building bridges across cultures to foster understanding and building bridges so you can run across and ransack the other side."

I was sorry, though not surprised, to read of all the Jewish organizations who supported this borrowing of Jewish traditions because of the Evangelical support of Israel. But the support is based on the belief that if Jews gather in Israel, it will bring about the end times so Jesus can come back and basically tell all non-believers, "I told you so!"

Add to this how the Evangelical Christians believe they are the true Jews because the Jews refuse to believe in Jesus. So are they taking our traditions out of respect to Jewish traditions or because they believe they have more of a right to them than we do?

The support of the American Evangelical Christians for Israel has become a Devil's bargain. We need their support for a strong Israel, even if we deeply disagree with their reasons.

And since I'm just going off on tangents here, let me say this to Jews for Jesus. I've read your excuse, but I don't buy it. You can't be Jewish and believe in Jesus. A Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. You can't mix the beliefs. If you accept Jesus, you aren't a Jew for Jesus. You are a former Jew who converted to Christianity. You are a Christian. Be happy with the new you and stop rubbing your conversion in the face of your former religion. It's embarrassing for the rest of us and it makes your mother cry. Which is what I think was your goal to begin with.

And Christianity. You have a lovely religion with wonderful traditions, songs, messages, the whole schmeer. But can I ask a favor of not just the Evangelical Christians, but all Christians? Stop stealing other people's stuff. The symbols used during Christmas and Easter were both taken from Pagan holidays. And how did the Christians repay the Pagans? By demonizing them. So you can see why we Jews get a little nervous when we see Christians wearing skullcaps and prayer shawls having bar mitzvahs. So out of respect to the religion of your Lord, please leave our Jewish traditions alone.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

ALICE SPENDS ANOTHER DAY ACTING LIKE SHE OWNS THE PLACE


I see so many sad animal stories on the Internet about neglected, abused, and or abandoned pets that suffer horribly before being rescued in the final paragraph that I begin to feel that I just can’t take another reminder of how insensitive people can be towards helpless animals. The stories make responsible pet owners want to hug their beloved pets tightly and spoil them with expensive treats.

I appreciate the importance of these stories, but I feel an overwhelming need for a happy pet story. So here goes.

I won’t go into Alice’s past or how she came to live with us. She has been living comfortably in our home for seven years and counting. She has a steady supply of food plus the occasional treat. She has been known to get wickedly stoned on cat nip. She has a large yard that she never leaves. In that yard, she almost wiped out the chipmunk population until she realized that she needed to pace herself. When she does catch a chipmunk, she prefers the front half. Alice doesn’t care for chipmunk ass.

Alice lives to crap next to the neighbor’s house, but will use the litter box if it’s raining. The neighbor either doesn’t know she craps next to his house or he doesn’t care. He’s never mentioned it and I’m not going to bring it up, but I have noticed that the grass in that area is extra healthy and green.

We have two other cats. Alice likes to wrestle one of the cats and nap with the other. It adds balance to her life. Alice sleeps at the foot of our bed at night and in the morning after we get up, she continues to sleep in the bed alone. Sometimes she makes a cave in the covers and sleeps inside it. Alice loves caves. She also loves string, pipe cleaners, and fuzzy mice toys, but really who doesn’t?

We take Alice to the vet once a year for her check up and vaccinations or if she’s sick. Luckily, she rarely gets sick, which is a good thing, because she doesn’t care for the vet. But really, who does?

Alice purrs very quietly. It’s not a full purr but more of a huffing sound. She gets lots of love and attention so she huffs a lot. Alice is a happy cat who is not neglected, abused or abandoned. As a result, Alice acts like she owns the place.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Headlines


I saw a headline that Ann Coulter said something outrageous and rude. Why is that news? They might as well have a headline that reads: Sun rises in East and sets in West. Coulter’s job is to make rude comments about people who are supposedly her ideological enemies. I’d like to think she employs a staff of writers who pitch her the most vile heinous comments they can come up with and then she chooses which one is the worst and goes on TV and says it.

The point is, if you do something over and over again, then its not news.

If the news is going to cover stories that are so repetitious that all they have to do is take an old story and change the date, then here are some suggestions for their next headlines:

SNOOP LION LIKES TO SMOKE POT.

GEORGE CLOONEY HAS A HOT NEW BEARD, I MEAN GIRLFRIEND.


And why not just drop the pretense that the headline refers to something new. It might be more comforting to know some things in life are still constant. Here are some examples:

MICHAEL JACKSON IS STILL DEAD.

ELEN DEGENERES IS STILL A LESBIAN.

I STILL LIKE YORK PEPPERMINT PATTIES.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Who's that knocking on my door?


Jehovah Witnesses. If you haven’t had one knocking on your door to ask if you’ve heard the word of Jesus and then try to push the latest copy of their magazine, The Watchtower, on you, then consider yourself blessed by God. He must truly love you to have kept this nuisance away from your home.

I grew up in a suburban cul-de-sac in which every home was inhabited by a Jewish family. We nicknamed ourselves “Little Israel.” Every few months, two Jehovah Witnesses, always young men and usually blond dressed in white shirts, black slacks, and skinny black ties, would roll into the neighborhood on their bicycles and knock on our doors and hand out their literature. The kids on our block got to the point where we would do advance warning to our parents that the witnesses had returned. It was like alerting the tribe of approaching locusts.

My synagogue printed a pamphlet that explained why Jews didn’t believe in Jesus and how we were pretty well off spiritually as Jews thank you very much. The next time a Jehovah Witness knocked on our door, Dad said to him, “I’ll take one of your pamphlets, if you’ll take one of mine.” I think Dad expected the guy to be crushed by his clever religious counter attack, but instead the guy was thrilled. Finally, a debate instead of a door slammed in his face. He thought he had broken a barrier but really he had seen the last attempt by Dad to be civil about their constant intrusions.

In the neighborhood I live in now, the witnesses who come to my door are African American, male and female, and of various ages. Not that it matters, I just wanted to point out that it’s not the same young white men who frequented my childhood home. When they show up, if my wife answers the door, she orders them to leave immediately. There are two groups of people that she doesn’t suffer lightly: fools and religious zealots.

I, on the other hand, used to treat them politely and would indulge them to a degree. I’d take their literature, the trusty Watchtower and occasionally an Awake magazine, but would never give them a voluntary donation for the magazine. I didn’t ask for it, they foisted it on me, so either give it to me free or don’t give it to me at all.

I let them give their religious sales pitch because I was trying to be respectful of their beliefs, even if they weren’t showing the same respect to me. My religion taught me “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” I couldn’t judge them just because their religion didn’t seem to have the same rule. But as time wore on, their disrespect began to gnaw at me. And it is disrespect and more to the point, it’s religious intolerance.

When they say that I’m going to Hell for not believing in their God, then they are saying my religion is not valid. This sentiment wasn’t unique to Jehovah Witnesses, but most other religions don’t make door to door solicitations.

They may be saying they want to convert me out of “love” and that their God demands that they do their best to “save” me, but really they are trying to destroy all other religions. If they got their wish and everyone in the world was saved and converted to their religion then the other religions would cease to exist. That would make them oh so happy. That also means that they have no tolerance for any other religion than their own. So if I complain about this, I’m not persecuting them, I’m defending my religion.

I wasn’t thinking about defending my religion the day a young African American man came to my front door to hand out the latest edition of the Watchtower. If anything, I could tell from his smile and body language that he was saying yes, we both know the drill. Let’s be as friendly about this as possible. But I wasn’t in the mood to be friendly that day. It dawned on me at that moment that being polite was doing either of us any favors. They were going to keep coming back no matter how I treated them. They were never going to respect my beliefs. Why should I show them the same courtesy?

I stepped out onto the porch with the young man.

“I don’t have time to talk to you now,” I said, “So give me your home address.”

He almost did, but then he caught himself. “Why do you want my home address?” he asked.

“I want to come to your home, preferably at dinner time, with my bible and my literature so that I can explain to you why you should accept my religion and explain in detail with my bible why your religion is wrong and that you’ll go to Hell if you don’t believe in my religion instead of yours,” I explained.

I took a step closer to him and he took a step back.

“How would you like that?” I asked.

“Have a nice day,” he said and then he ran down the front steps and out onto the street.

I haven’t seen him and any of the other witnesses since.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jessica Handler's new book "Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss is available for pre-order from Amazon.

Sharing stories of personal loss can be difficult and telling them well so that they benefit both the writer and the reader is even more difficult. Jessica's book helps the writer find that perfect balance.

This is Jessica's second book. Her first was her memoir "Invisible Sisters." I would be a big fan of this excellent book even if I wasn't mentioned near the end of the book.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do they dance at your church?


This happened when I was in high school. A black girl who I didn’t know asked me, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?”

She was really beautiful which was intimidating. I wasn’t used to pretty girls talking to me who didn’t have to. I was used to people asking me if I was Jewish. The question that usually followed was, “What do Jews think about Jewish?” So, I had mixed feelings about this beautiful black girl talking to me.

“Yes, I’m Jewish,” I replied.

“Do they dance at your church?”

I didn’t see that one coming.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I heard that Jewish people dance during church services. Is that true?”

The only time I remembered dancing during a service at my synagogue (I didn’t bother to point out that we attend synagogue instead of church) was on Simchat Torah. I had mixed feelings about the holiday because it celebrates coming to the end of the Torah scrolls (finally) and starting from the beginning again (what?). I explained that Simchat Torah was the only holiday that included dancing as part of the service, but normally we didn’t dance at all.

“I thought ya’ll danced in circles at your church,” she said.

“You’re thinking of when we dance the hora. We only do that at weddings and bar mitzvahs, and only in the social hall after the service.”

“Oh, I see,” she said thoughfully.

I was feeling good. I had just had a conversation with a pretty girl and hadn’t sounded like a complete idiot. But her original question nagged at me and I just had to ask.

“Don’t they dance at your church?” I asked.

She smiled. “Oh yes. We dance all the time.”






Saturday, February 9, 2013

God's Laws vs. Man's Laws


Biblical Law is seen by Fundamentalists as a way to inject Judeo-Christian moral values into our society by replacing Man’s laws with God’s laws. Really? Are we really ready to make the Ten Commandments the law of the land? Has no one considered the consequences?

Let’s start with Adultery. You make that a crime and you’re looking at a whole bunch of politicians facing hard time.

What would be the punishment for taking the Lord’s name in vain? My guess is that it would be a misdemeanor with a fine based on how you took His name in vain. Maybe say $100 for every “God damn it” and $500 for something really offensive like “Jesus H. Fucking Christ on a stick!”

Let’s not even go into making idols. What don’t we make into idols? Yes, this is where the American Idol comment should go, but I know you probably already thought of a good one, so why should I try to top it?

My favorite is the First Commandment: Thou Shall Have No Other Gods Before ME! This to me is the basis of the covenant between Man and God. God is saying that you go straight to the source for enlightenment. No middle men. And though we were created in His image, we have to take on faith that He is there for us and we are here for Him even though we have never seen his face. Simple and to the point. But then the Christian religion throws in Jesus. Isn’t that putting someone before God? You can try to explain that it isn’t breaking the first commandment because of the Trinity and that Jesus really is God and His Son and that the carnal mind will only truly understand this paradox in the Kingdom and and and…

But let’s be honest here. Jesus is a God placed before God and for the literal minded “persons of faith” who say that if it’s in the Bible than it’s true and not open to interpretation, then you are breaking the First Commandment. If we added Biblical Law to our judicial system, what would be the punishment for that?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fear of a Christian Nation



In 2001, after Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court was forced out of office for putting a granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama State Judicial Building, Roy loaded his monument on the back of a flat bed truck and took it on tour. Did Roy think that carving the Ten Commandments in granite would somehow give the words more gravity than they would on a simple piece of paper? Surely he knew that only religious fanatics like himself would be impressed by his virtuous road show.

When the flat bed truck pulled up in Georgia, the Atlanta TV news crews were there to get the best soundbites from fundamentalists with the thickest country accents. A comment from a chubby man with a bushy mustache and wearing a baseball cap and glasses caught my attention.

“In America,” he explained with more than a hint of righteous indignation, “you’re free to be a Muslim, a Jew, or a Satanist as long as you remember who’s in charge and understand that this is Christian Nation.”

I didn’t mind being lumped in with the Muslims, but how did the Satanists become part of our Axis of Non-Christian Religions? Do Satanists even get the same tax exemptions as other religions?

The man’s statement shows why I fear America ever becoming a true Christian Nation. How free would I be if I’m supposed to remember that Fundamentalist Christians are in charge of my life because I insist on continuing to pray to the wrong God?

The debate over whether America is or should be a Christian Nation goes back to the birth of our country. I believe the Founding Fathers didn’t want us to be a Christian Nation because religious freedom could only flourish if all religions, like all men, were treated equal.

Monday, January 21, 2013

COMING SOON!


My urban fantasy novel, written under my pen name Allan Kemp, is coming out soon. It has vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards plus plenty of graphic sex and violence. It will be available as an ebook and I will be selling paperback copies as well.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY ON FRIDAY MARCH 22 AT BOUND TO BE READ BOOKS

Bound to Be Read Books
481-B Flat Shoals Ave SE
Atlanta, GA


Also learn more about The Black Phoenix at:
http://theallankemp.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2013