Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve Job Description

I've had this same job for -- oh, I dunno -- 30 years. It's a very simple job but I've discovered it's vitally important if I'm to live the remainder of the holiday season.
1. Keep the glasses full. Usually it is my wide and daughter cooking and doing all sorts of other things in the house, but for me the Prime Directive is to keep those glasses full. There may be another 2 or 3 or 10 people show up on T-Day Eve for God knows whatever reason, but if I do this job right, the rest of my job description is much easier to accomplish and I will get rave reviews.
2. Run to the grocery store for whatever items left off the list. I may make 2 or 3 runs to Publix over a 3 hour period but I will have to go. Never mind what I have to get wasn't on the list the first (or second or third) time:
I'm still the Dumb Arse and should have known better.
3. Wash dirty dishes. It keeps the clutter and tempers at a minimum, and those dishes will be used several times over the cooking portion of the evening. The dishwasher and my hand washing will be a priority.
4. Make sure those glasses stay full. If you want to live, Ryan, keep those glasses full.
5. Wash clothes. You would be surprised how many dishcloths, towels, pants, shirts, more dishcloths, etc., get soiled. Wash 'em. Dry 'em. Return to kitchen. Repeat.
6. Answer questions. "Do you think I can substitute skim milk for whole?" "Could I use margarine instead of butter?" "Would 1 1/2 cups of sugar be enough?" "Should I add more salt?" I was Google before Al Gore invented the internet and still am.
7. Take a cussing. If it isn't right, I take the cussing. If it doesn't taste right, my fault. If it falls, I failed. If it needs more seasoning, I didn't issue the All Points Bulletin. If I do job #1 well enough and keep those glasses full, I can mitigate this from impacting my performance review.
8. Keep the music on. Although not officially listed as part of my job function, I've found the "Soft Rock Hits from the 70s" or "Sounds of the Seasons" will calm a lot of nerves and minimize the cussing.
9. Keep the glasses full. It's worth repeating.
10. Make sure the finished dishes are promptly covered/sealed and put in the fridge. If the main fridge is full (always is after just 10 minutes of an oven on 350 degrees), I must maintain operation and oversee transport of completed dishes to Fridge #2, the Beer Fridge, or establish a confiscation procedure of a neighbor's unused portion of their fridge. Very important. Food. Stored. Ready for use the next day.
11. Keep note of the time when something enters the oven. Never fails: a dish goes in but someone forgets the time when the oven door closed. My task is to make a mental note and recall the answer when I hear, "When did I put this in?" or "How long was this supposed to cook?" My ability to keep the time stamp will save the day.
Tonight: Glasses full at all times and I get an "Outstanding" regardless of the other appraisal failures. The cussings weren't as severe either.
My resume is expanding.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Lament This November, 2016

Fear. Loss. Mourning. Bulls of Bashan all around, snarling. 
Knowledge is covered and afraid to even whisper. Worry. Concern for my neighbor trampled by the Pharisee.
No longer even my brother's keeper but my weaker brother's master, if he cannot defend nor speak. 
The cheated laborer cries out only to be told the owner who withheld wages is now the ruler; stolen wages become pocket change for the rich. 
Time and name are the only things left for the forgotten when even dignity is taken. 
Careful, beautiful and good plans destroyed by vandals.
They know not what they do.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Police Shootings -- At and By

I remember taking Public Policy and Social Change while in college. It discussed past instances very similar to what is currently happening, e.g., the Magna Carta; the Reformation; the Enlightenment; the French and American Revolutions; Abolition; US Civil War; Women's Suffrage; Prohibition; McCarthyism; the Peace Movement of the 60s; Civil Rights Movement; Hitler's Rise to Power. All of these have very specific examples of a set of characteristics that can be directly shown to also exist in the current situation of the Black Lives Matter / Police Shootings / Minority Unrest. And I do mean EXACTLY the same characteristics. Anyone who has ever studied Marxist economic theory (or any economic theory for that matter .. Adam Smith even noted it), or Hagel's Theory (Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis), or Liberation Theology understands that public policy (and specifically economic realities) are derived from the social justices / injustices that are real because that is how they are perceived by a group. It is a very complex picture we are in, just like all the other examples were complex and multi-faceted and the roots go back generations, yes, even centuries. And truth be told, everyone has a bit of the truth but not all of it. This is where the social scientist, the historian, the economist, the policy maker, and everyone else needs to realize what is happening. This cannot be boiled down to simple sound bites or political spin to a certain viewpoint. Blaming this on the Black Lives Matter movement, or the poor, or the police, or any single Boogy Man is, well, ignorant. I'm not trying to stick up for Obama but he is exactly right on this and his education is definitely showing, contrasted to Lord knows what some others are saying.

Friday, June 10, 2016

GA Baptists at it Again

So the Christian Index (the GA Baptist newspaper) has finally admitted it no longer believes in liberty. And editor Gerald Harris has finally said it publicly.

In front of God and everybody. Said it. Out loud.

I have a problem with the GA Baptist Convention. The problem has been a long time coming. It's like a long, hard, contentious break-up where two people just keep moving in opposite directions.

Wait. Not exactly. I've not really moved. My doctrinal positions are that of the historical Baptists, i.e, Priesthood the Believer, Soul Competency, and the Separation of Church and State. Sadly, GA Baptists no longer believe in those three foundational principles. They moved from those historical moorings with the Conservative Resurgence of the 1980s. And they moved away from me.

The GA Baptist Convention paid for part of my undergrad degree and the Southern Baptist Convention paid for nearly all of my graduate work. So I don't take this break-up lightly, but it is time to finally say thank you for the memories and the good times, but please, don't call me anymore.

I learned all about what makes Baptists different. I was proud that we were not only one of the underdogs of the European religious groups (everyone hated us there) but we were the underdog here in Colonial America, too. We were the heretics; the ungodly outcasts; the radicals; the liberals; the ones that would destroy everything good; the ones the Devil had beguiled. And not only were we the underdogs, we barked at the political Empires and every sectarian Overlord that demanded all other religious underdogs bow to the Crown and Pulpit. We fought for the Quakers and the Mennonites and whatever other small number faith getting thrashed in the public square. We took the public floggings; the loss of our lands; the mistreatment of our children; whatever else could be thrown at us.

Yet we stood for the complete, absolute and total Separation of Church and State at all times, for all religions, for all time. No religious idea of sect was to be giving a Most Favored Status by the government. It was our Baptist cry of Separation of Church and State (and some convincing of James Madison by John Leland under an old tree) that was the foundation of the first phrase of the first sentence of the first amendment that says government was not even to give even a hint of a Most Favored Faith.

That was us. That was the Radical Baptists. That was the idea that gave all faiths at all times complete liberty. That is what Thomas Jefferson told the Danbury Baptists what Congress had done with the First Amendment in terms Baptists understood.

Until now. Until Gerald Harris. Until the Christian Index decided that politics is thicker than doctrinal foundations. Until complete historical and theological ignorance masquerades as piety.

So when Gerald Harris says a mosque shouldn't be built because Muslims are not worthy of the same first amendment protections we Baptists fought for, I have ask: hypocrite much?  Why is religious liberty only good for some groups and not others?

I find it amusing Gerald Harris thinks he gets to decide who is worthy of protection and who isn't ... Gosh, that sounds just like the Anglicans and the other Establishment Churches of Colonial America when talking about Baptists.

Honestly though, Harris is just playing to the political base of the people of GA. He is saying politically what the majority wants to hear.

Hmmmm. Kinda like when Paul talked about those deceivers who just tickled the ears of people who to hear what they wanted to hear (2 TIM 4:3).

Sad, sad day for GA Baptists. Let's hope the rebuke by Don Byrd at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty will cause Gerald Harris to open a history book ... or maybe his Bible. You know, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trump and Fascism

One doesn't have to be a history major to recognize the similarities between Trump's rise to top of the Republican party, and the similar stories of Mussolini and Hitler. But if you are a history major, your head is probably exploding with the insanity that few recognize it --- or worse, even care.

The message, the manipulation, the fear mongering, the vagueness, the demonizing of minorities, even down to the promise of "greatness again" is a direct copy of the fascist playbook.

America has to do better than this.

Here is a great article that details this from Robert Kagan in the Washington Post

Monday, April 25, 2016

Baptists and Our Own Hypocrisy

From to the Baptist Joint Committee

So let's just be clear ... 100 years ago, Baptists were fearful of Catholics using tax payer money to educate public school children by paying for religious instruction off campus, and also fearful of tax payer money funding Catholic community projects, even those that were being used for public good. Thus, the Blaine Amendments were passed in most states. Now, Baptists are wanting to do away with those amendments because it is blocking tax payer money from supporting our causes. Hmmmm. Hypocrite much?

If one group can use tax payer money for their religious causes, another group can do the same thing tomorrow. Thankfully the Baptist Joint Committee is calling out the hypocrisy. This is why I support this great organization financially ... it is also why the Southern Baptist Convention stopped supporting the BJC years ago. SMH.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Georgia Is Being Governed By Demetrius The Silversmith

Georgia Is Being Governed By Demetrius The Silversmith

This is so very, very sad. And terribly misinformed about Baptist history, our nation's laws, and our founding.

The US constitution guarantees that no faith will get a Most Favored Status from government, even if it is our own. We Baptists were the persecuted minority at the nation's founding and it is we that were told the Word of God was against us and our beliefs were not scriptural. It was the Established Churches that claimed they rightly interpreted the text and should be given special favor over the heretical Baptists. Our nation and stae are not governed by the Bible or any religious text but by the US Constitution. As far as I can tell, no church has been shuttered; no one has been denied access to a house of worship of any faith, even our own; and all public businesses have to be held to the same public accommodation laws that may not refuse service to anyone for any reason, =unless= they are LGBT, a non-protected class in our state. No pastor has ever been forced to marry anyone with whom he/she didn't want to; and no church has ever been forced to host a ceremony it didn't want to host. Now that is not the same for =BUSINESSES= since all =BUSINESSES= are held to the same standard of law. 

GA is not governed by the Bible, or more aptly one narrow interpretation of a select few passages. We are a nation of laws that protect everyone and makes sure everyone is treated the same in the public arena. If we don't make sure other interpretations of faith are protected in the public arena, then one day another religious group can force THEIR religious interpretation onto us in the business arena ... you know, kinda back to where we Baptists started in England, Boston, Virginia, etc., when we were refused service in businesses, or buying/renting property, or getting services from state employees, and the government sanctioned that discrimination because the majority faith said we were not true Christians.

An analogy of Demetrius is not the proper one in this case. Maybe it should have been the Pharisee standing outside the party Jesus was, saying: "Why does Jesus even associate with those sinners?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Got =THE= Atlanta United Tickets

I got 'em. I somehow managed to snag the ultimate season tickets for the inaugural season of Atlanta United.  While I don't normally pray for such temporal things and am (almost!) ashamed to admit it, I did. I prayed for these exact tickets.

Now let me explain something about soccer to the non-soccer fans out there: soccer is everything to the serious fan. There are no casual fans in soccer. There are no take it or leave it attitudes about this game. The idea that someone could purposely miss their favorite team's match ... or God forbid, a World Cup qualifying match, much less an honest-to-God World Cup match ... is anathema. Heresy! Blasphemous! Draw and quarter such!

As Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly so famously quipped:  "Football's [soccer] is not a matter of life and death ... it's more important than that."

And Shankly was spot on.

I'm a fan. Big Fan. Love MLS and in particular the Portland Timbers. I've been a Timbers fan since the 1970s when soccer was an experiment in the US. Not sure what it was but I just liked Portland Timbers. When MLS took the Timbers in 2011, I immediately adopted them as my team. I've been to Portland and Salt Lake City to watch them play. It's on my Bucket List to go to every MLS stadium. I've got two more trips this year planned: Denver and Dallas. Can't wait.

But back to Atlanta United.

2017 is when Atlanta United begins play. Since that is my hometown team, I have to support them. And since I'm such a huge soccer fan, I put my name on the Founders Club list in 2014 to get season tickets. Paid my Founding Club dues (waiting list money).

It was announced via email the club would begin calling everyone to order their tickets on February 8, 2016. I waited. I waited. And I waited. I thought for sure I would end up needing the Hubble Telescope to see any play at all. Finally I get my call a month later: 10 March, 2016. And Brock (my Atlanta United account rep) sang the sweetest words I've heard in my life:  Why yes, Mr. Hale. Those seats are available. Would you like me to process that order to finalize it now?

And so I got my tickets. Two of them. Perfect tickets. As if I picked them out decades ago and Arthur Blank himself reserved them just for me.

Section 110. Row 1. Seats 9-10. That is front row. Dead center of mid-field line.

I'm on top of the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What does fascism look like?

Here's a good example that is generally held as basic principles of Fascism in nearly all textbooks I've seen (& Chris Hedges cites Dr. Luther Adams as saying the same   ):

==== Article Quote =====
In an essay coyly titled “Fascism Anyone?,” Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 “identifying characteristics of fascism.” (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at External site) See how familiar they sound.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.