Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A New Perspective on an Old Problem

Here is an interesting column about the effects of heterosexual pornography. What used to be thought that porn would turn men into savage beasts as well as demeaning all women in the process, the author here says that in the age of the internet where porn is everywhere, today porn turns men off of living, breathing women who don't measure up. To quote the author, "Today, real naked women are just bad porn."

What strikes me with this column, as opposed to the old argument that porn objectifies women is that it makes sense that this thinking would actually cross into all sexual orientations. Porn eventually turns the porn watcher off of real relationships. And that is its greatest threat.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blaming Violence on Religion

Richard Dawkins' book titled The God Delusion is getting a lot of airplay, both online and on talk shows around the country. Opinion writers in newspapers across the country are debating Dawkins view that God is to blame for all the wars, the killings, and every evil that has ever happened on the earth.

Dinesh D'Souza writing at The Christian Science Monitor disagrees and has a compelling response to Dawkins and everyone else who forgets that people who abuse power also abuse religion to justify their evil ways. And sometimes they even abuse ideologies too.

Go read D'Souza's article. It is well written.

Hate Groups in America

The Southern Poverty Law Center has broken down hate groups in America by each state. Follow the link to the site and then click on your state to see where and what hate groups live in each state. It's interesting and scary all at the same time.

I was fascinated to discover that rednecked hate groups, the ones you'd expect to only find in the south and southwest, are actually everywhere. I mean, look at New Jersey, there are 25 groups in the state where I live. I mean, sure, I can expect to find 40 in Georgia or 50 in Florida, but 25 in my home state or even 10 in Maryland? Fortunately there are a few states that don't have any hate groups; they are Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine.

Wisdom and a Vulgar Rant

I, of course, won't give you a vulgar rant (my mom reads my blog, you understand) but George Carlin will. You can watch his rant by going here. In it, he tells us who really controls America and he does so in his usual and funny way.

I actually quoted George Carlin yesterday in my Sunday sermon. It wasn't from this particular video but rather from something he wrote about irony that involved a diabetic getting run over by a truck carrying insulin. I tied that concept of irony into a sermon on Christ the King Sunday in which Jesus is killed because Pilate and the Jewish leaders misunderstood Jesus' intentions and his whole Kingdom of God concept that wasn't meant to take over Roman rule but to make life better for everyone. In a word, it's all irony.

What Carlin says in this particular video is a bit ironic in that we who live in America think we are getting what we want when in reality the only way for the system to work as its working is for us to THINK we're getting what we want when in reality, those who control us are getting what they want.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"Ummm... Mom, where's dad?"

(New York City) When Paul Iversen came out almost a decade ago he became estranged from his Brooklyn family, but now, with the holidays coming on and his family advancing in years he felt it was time to try to reconcile with his father.

Iversen knocked on his parents apartment door Tuesday and asked his mother if he could see his father.

The 73 year old woman opened the door, the New York Daily News reports, and told him his father was in the bedroom. There he found the skeletal remains of the father, under the covers in bed, lying in a fetal position.

The son persuaded the elderly woman to call police.

The Daily News reports that the woman told investigators that Frank Iversen, 75, had died of natural causes three years ago. She did not report the death because she wanted to continue collecting his Social Security benefits.

The paper quotes unnamed police sources as saying the woman told investigators that she and her husband had made a pact that if one of them died the other would hide the body to continue collecting the benefits.

Neighbors told the Daily News that they had noticed foul odors coming from the apartment for more than a year but did not think to notify police.

The paper said that Frank Iversen had not been to a doctor for decades. An autopsy will be performed by the medical examiners office to determine an exact cause of death, but that could prove difficult or impossible because of the condition of the body.

Joanne Iversen allowed herself to be checked into Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yahoo's New Talent Show

Yahoo is accepting submissions for homemade videos of both comedy, music, and skits. It's pretty fun to watch. I just watched this video of a guy who made a video about looking for love on the Internet. It's pretty good. Have a looksee.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It Usually Takes Me about a Week or So

Tonight after I finished my dinner and Tapioca pudding and while sipping on my coffee, I found myself thinking about ol' Ted. It's been about 10 days or so now since Ted Haggard was confronted and vilified for his 3-year long affair with a gay hustler and meth substance abuse. At present, you can read blogs about his hypocrisy, listen to a racy song about his demise (see earlier post), as well as read the new entry about him in Wikipedia.

This week, I've read even more blogs about him at The Huffington Post and The Revealer. And you know what? While I am almost as mad as everyone else is, I must admit my anger is subsiding a bit. I am probably more angry at a system that both allowed Haggard to do what he did as long as he 'towed the party line' as much as I am at the religion that continues to denigrate us gay and lesbian folk as the immoral bastards they think we are.

And the more I think about the religion that tied up Haggard and warped his mind, the more I am feeling a bit of pity for him. I guess feeling pity is a bit condecending, and I hate it when others do that with me, so I'll change 'pity' to 'feeling sorry for him.' His life is about to get so ugly that few would or should wish that upon even their harshest critics.

Ted may be going into some sort of reparitive therapy, which fails so often that the APA (as well as the American Assoc. of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Assoc., The American Pyschiatric Assoc., The American Psychologial Association, and The National Assoc. of Social Workers, to name a few) have declared such a practice to be a sham of the highest order. The APA has even gone so far as to actually affirm the worth and health of gay and lesbian parents, children, and other folk. The emotion turmoil and rollercoaster ride that Ted is going to face with his family and himself will be treacherous. He has already lost his job and probably his home too. His wife and kids may end up in some religious therapy session somewhere and, if Mark Driscoll has any say so, Ted's wife may even be put in therapy for causing this whole mess in the first place. (Driscoll wrote a post blaming pastor's wives who let themselves "go" and thereby causing their pastor husbands to look for "it" someplace else).

The evangelically religious spin-doctors and snake-oil salespersons (like NARTH) will be all over him like red ants at an Arizona barbeque. And, try as he might, he'll not find one person to whom he can say, "Will someone please love me as I am instead of on the condition of who you want me to become?"

The more I think about what his life is going to be like, the more embarrassed I feel for continuing to prod and poke him for his scandalous lifestyle (I know, I hate to use 'that word' too but it kind of fits with him, doesn't it?)

I am going to be mad at him for one more night, tonight, and then tomorrow I am going to start praying for him. Is it a sin to wait like that? The Gospel of Mark says, "If your brother sins against you and if he repents, you must forgive him." I guess I would be justified in waiting for his repentance but since he a) didn't particularly sin against me personally.. although he did in a rather metaphysical way that the Scriptures kind of address, and b) I don't want to wait and pray for him after all the crap he's going to go through. If I did, I'd be similarly guilty as the ones who won't help him until after he tells them that he's no longer a homosexual.

Honestly, he needs our prayers. And, of course my prayers may be a bit biased but hopefully I can say them in a way that honors the situation while not completely ignoring the hope that when God helps him, Ted will find a way out of his mess.

Heck, I'll start tonight. But I'll leave that other post up (minus the direct link to the catchy song) as a way of compromising my intentions.

How Open-Minded Are You?

You Are 60% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.

Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.

But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.

You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

A Childhood Favorite

Puff the magic dragon
by Schizos gott och blandat
Share and vote on music
Fandalism Music Community

Monday, November 13, 2006

Catchy Tune

I discovered a catchy tune from a post over at Beppepodcast who linked it to Paul Hipp's column over at The Huggington Post. It is a a song written about Ted Haggard that you might expect to hear on a weekday morning radio show. I should warn my more faint of heart readers (yes, Mom, that includes you) that you may want to skip this post. (smile!)

*Update: See new post about this song and my reason for deleting the link but not this post.

Down Memory Lane

Beliefnet.com has a column on Fallen Religious Leaders that reads almost like a "where are they now?" VH1 special.

As I was scrolling through their list of fallen leaders to include not only the recently shamed Ted Haggard, but also Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, I found myself thinking, "Well, I do declare...!" when I read about Robert Tilton. If you lived anywhere in Oklahoma or Texas in the 1990s, you were familiar with this incredibly savvy tele-evangelist. Tilton was once a powerhouse of religious tele-evangelism and made roughly$80 million a year until a scandal blew up that exposed him for a charlatan.

I thought he'd disappeared but it looks like he's back and doing this thing in Florida. On this website, you'll see some pictures including the one in this post that explains Tilton's title of Sr. Pastor and "General Overseer." Such a title made me wonder if a 'general overseer' like something akin to a General Do-dad Thing-a-majig?

Go here to see his church website.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Calling All Shop-a-holics!

Black Friday Ads has posted a listing of stores preparing to sell certain items for ridiculously low prices. Go here to see the list, slobber over the deals, and plan your attack.

*Update: This posting has changed somewhat after BestBuy threatened a lawsuit with Black Friday Ads over their posting of the deals and bargains at BestBuy. Black Friday Ads removed their listing. But to be fair, they had listed the following items that BestBuy will be selling: a 5 megapixel camera for $79, an eMachine computer with 15" LCD monitor and printer for $189, and an HP notebook computer for $379. There are even more and crazier deals listed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

HP Ink Costs More Than Human Blood

Is this crazy, or what? I found this post over at Gizmodo in which someone graphed out the cost of an ink cartridge from Hewlett-Packard. I am amazed and surprised to realize how much I am spending on ink. This is one more justification to actually find an affordable black and white laser printer. So far, this one is the one I am most interested in at the moment.

Interesting Column

Brian Kinchen, a sports commentator for ESPN, was fired for misusing a slang phrase. The phrase in question is one heard practically everywhere, in one form or another: "That's kind of gay." Folks on blogs and on the air have commented about whether or not its okay to say such a thing. Straight folks tend not to get it as readily as gay folks.

Perhaps some folks might better understand why using the phrase can be felt as very demeaning. Most gay folks see the correlation used by the user when others liken a situation that is dumb, stupid, unusual, or weird to the word 'gay'. Imagine how a person would respond, if instead of using gay, they used the word 'Jew' or 'Asian' or 'Mexican'.

Still, the commentator didn't sound as if he was being mean when he said it. Admittedly I only read about it but even in print, it sure doesn't sound like he meant to be demeaning. And yet, even accidently, our words can have powerful connotations.

Here is an article from the DesMoines Register that explains what I am getting at.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Super Size Me

This morning, I may be the last person I know to have watched Super Size Me. The movie is about an experiment where one man eats nothing but McDonald's fast food 3 times a day for 30 days. Prior to the start of this experiment, he went to 3 doctors for a physical and remained in contact with them throughout the experiment. At the end, he took a final physical exam. The results are astounding!

Here is the opening clip of the movie.

And now for something completely different...

See other deceiving pics here.

Finally, he admits it!

Haggard admits to having had gay sex.

The striking line in his admission are these words, "There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."

And warring against the rest of us is one of the ways in which he justified his own sexuality. Time and again we see those who wage the greatest fights against all things gay because deep down they have cannot reconcile their own homosexuality. We see it when a kid beats another kid with a baseball bat or ties one to a fence to die. We see it in our politicians and now, once again, in religious leaders.

Just think how much greater the acceptance of gay and lesbians could be if these same kids, politicians, and religious leaders spent their energies reaching out to us with openness, warmth, and acceptance. Perhaps we'd live in a country where all relationships are honored and where men did not spend their time cruising for sex with hustlers. Instead they could date, court, and be encouraged to make their relationships work in the same way politicians and religious leaders care for the relationships of heterosexuals.

The next time we hear from a religious person or anyone else rant against the evils of homosexuality, let us first ask ourselves, "I wonder why he is so concerned about it? Maybe he is warring against something inside himself."

Honestly, with what has happened with Haggard really makes me wonder what Fred Phelps' motivation is against all things gay. Phelps, as you know, heads up the God Hates Fags campaign.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Daaaaaaaaaaaang, that was quick

Haggard's been permenately removed from his pastoral office. An independant investigative board of his New Life Church met and acted swiftly. Here is the story:

The Rev. Ted Haggard agreed to resign as leader of the New Life Church after its independent investigative board recommended removal, saying he was guilty "of sexually immoral conduct."

"We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard," a statement from the church said. "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct."

Haggard was "informed of this decision," the statement said, and he "agreed as well that he should be dismissed."

A man describing himself as an escort told news media this week that Haggard, who also has resigned as president of the influential National Asssociation of Evangelicals, had been paying him for sex for three years.

Haggard immediately denied the allegations, but later acknowledged having paid the man for a massage and to provide methamphetamine.

The church's statement said the investigation would continue to determine how extensive Haggard's misconduct was.

The Rev. Ross Parsley will lead the church until a permanent replacement for Haggard is chosen, something that should happen by the end of the year, the statement said. A letter explaining Haggard's removal and an apology from Haggard will be read at Sunday services.

"The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has 'demonstrated immoral conduct' whether we must 'remove the pastor from his position or discipline him in anyway they deem necessary,"' the statement said.

"In consultation with leading evangelical and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal," it continued.

James Groesbeck, a church elder, said he was glad the investigative board acted quickly.

"I'm saddened by what came out, but I think they've done their job," Groesbeck said by telephone. Church members are drawing strength from one another and are caught up in the activity, but that likely will change, he said.

"I think it's going to be really difficult in a week or two," Groesbeck said.

Go here to read the whole story
from the Associated Press.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Haggard Update

I just returned from playing an afternoon of pretty good golf. It was chilly to say the least but I shot a decent round. I've played golf only twice this year and this time was by far better than my last.

Upon getting home, I checked the news to discover that ol' Haggard has admitted to getting massages from Mike Jones, the gay hustler, but didn't have sex. He also admitted to purchasing the meth through the hustler just to "see what it was like" but didn't ever actually take it, opting instead to throw it away. It sure sounds like he's nervous--admitting and yet not admitting to things. If it can be proven that he took the meth, I am sure we'll hear a different story out of him.

I guess I was sort of right in my previous post. My guess is that Haggard won't admit to doing anything that cannot be proved. Jones has recorded voicemails to prove Haggard was interested in the meth drug but there is no actually proof he took it. There is proof that he called several times looking for it and the voicemail implication is that he has indeed partaken.

His relationship with Jones remains a guessing game. As time goes on, I am sure we'll read that Haggard did more than received a massage. I mean, if he was just looking for a massage in general, he could have gone to the local mall or to a doctor recommended therapist, right? I mean, pursing a gay hustler to get a massage seems very suspect. And I am not the only one who thinks so. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family doesn't sound like he is buying any of it either. In his reply about Haggard, he issued this statement,

"All of us at Focus on the Family are heartsick over the allegation, not yet confirmed, that Ted has had a private life with a homosexual for several years. We will await the outcome of this story, but the possibility that an illicit relationship has occurred is alarming to us and to millions of others. Ted has been my close friend and colleague for many years. He has been used mightily to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Colorado Springs and around the world. He will continue to be my friend, even if the worst allegations prove accurate. Nevertheless, sexual sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual, has serious consequences and we are extremely concerned for Ted, his family and his church." (Italics mine)

According to what Dobson says, it sure doesn't sound like he is believing Haggard's story while at the same times waiting to see what can or cannot be proven. Once the dust clears and the evidence is presented, we're sure to read to what extend Dobson and his allies will say and do with Haggard.

And I doubt that we'll have to wait long. I am guessing the revelations will begin to pour out as the days pass.

And all of this just days before the gay marriage vote will happen in Colorado. Hmm.. I wish it'd happened a few weeks ago--to give folks time to think more about the reality that gay folks are everywhere even in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Go here to read a transcript of the hustler being interviewed on MSNBC.

Another One Bites the Bullet

This week while sitting in my office preparing for the weekend services, I received an email from a friend that said,"You're not going to believe this!" And he sent me a link to a story about Ted Haggard, pastor of the 14,000 megachurch in Colorado Springs and President of the National Association of Evangelicals, in which a hustler had outed him as both a 'behind everyone's back closeted gay something-or-other' and a meth drug user. Time Magazine also has a story about it.

He had, up until yesterday, denied the accusation. On Wednesday, he said, "I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver." But then, reading that statement, one wonders if he was being just a bit too exact in his reply. By saying that he did not have a relationship with a man in 'Denver', could he have meant, "at least not in Denver proper, per say." With some evangelicals, one needs to pay close attention to the words they choose.

Admittedly, I responded to my friend that surely it's too soon to tell. Accusations are accusations, I thought, and in this year of political wrangling, surely this was just a ploy. And then, yesterday I read where Haggard had stepped down just moments before his National Association of Evangelicals was to stand together and support him. They decided against it when Haggart resigned. And now, this morning I read where Haggard has now admitted to "some of the allegations" while not specifying which ones. I'd guess he'll say he's a drug user before admitting to having had paid for gay sex with a hustler for over 3 years. The former he can attribute to stress, enter a drug clinic, and come out as a shining example that even ministers can get overwhelmed to the point of a drug addiction. I mean, it worked for Rush Limbaugh, right? And, several ministers I have heard about have indeed developed a drug addiction during their ministry. It is a serious issue that needs serious attention.

The gay sex part though would never be forgiven by his constituents. Especially since Haggard is a well-known anti-gay marriage and anti-gay personna.

Isn't it amazing when a man of the cloth wages war against the very vice that consumes him? If proven true, this will be yet another example when those who protest too much have a good reason to do so--when they do it, you can bet they haven't reconciled themselves with their own faith and homosexual passion.