Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Friendly Atheist On Non-Religious Wedding Vows

How delightful is this...? Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist has some gems from the non-theistic community that put the traditional wedding vows in the shade. I recognized this piece, as I gave a framed copy of it to my cousin, John and his wife, Hannah for their wedding:

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling, to enter into the days of your life together, and may your days be good and long upon the earth."
Nice job, Hemant.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome, Pranksters!

Greetings, Pranksters! I'm very honored Becky Sherrick Harks allowed me to do a guest post on Mommy Wants Vodka today. For those of you who are new to my corner of the blogosphere, a bit about myself...

I'm a member of the birthing class of 1970, born, raised, and lived in Iowa my whole life, with the exception of two years spent at Western Illinois University. I initially aspired to be the Next Big Thing in radio broadcasting, especially sports, but then reality hit me upside the head with a week-dead fish. And I didn't get the message for, oh, 10 years... After wasting spending all of my 20s as a radio news reporter in small towns, I wised up and got into the computer field, where I've been working technical support in Ames, IA ever since.

I love basketball and tennis, and used to play them 100 pounds ago. Golf, cycling, and running are now my primary means of working up a sweat. I'm a member of Color Biotics, associated with the Central Iowa Cycling Club. As a former radio announcer, I have a love of music more than a talent for it, but hope to learn guitar someday. David Attenborough documentaries are my favorite form of entertainment, and I would love to do voiceover narration as a career someday (anybody got connections? Hit me up.)

Random stuff:

Favorite authors: Dan Simmons, Josh Boyd (Amazon, web) and Jim Coppoc (Amazon, web).
Favorite musicians: U2, Rush, Jen McClung (Web, iTunes, Facebook), Desdamona (Amazon, iTunes, Facebook).
Favorite historical figures: Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Susan B. Anthony (sorry about the coin, Susan).

And for those of you who are so inclined, please hit up my Bike MS badge at the right to make a contribution to my charity. I have an ambitious fund-raising goal this year, and every bit helps.

Much love, Pranksters. See you soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today, Belgium; Tomorrow, Vatican City

Belgian police authorities have raided Catholic Church offices to look for evidence of sexual crimes. BBC News:

"At the home of Archbishop Danneels in Mechelen, just north of Brussels, police did not question the cleric but took away his computer, according to his spokesman, Hans Geybels.Mr. Geybels said police had also asked the archbishop to accompany them to the cathedral in Mechelen because they had heard that there might be files there.

He said the officers were tapping on boards and looking for hidden spaces but, as far as he was aware, they had not found anything.

He said Cardinal Danneels was co-operating fully: "The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that.""

(Sarcastically) Well, it's nice to see the Pope is on the case, too:

"Pope Benedict XVI says the clerical child abuse scandal shows that the greatest threat to Catholicism comes from "sin within" the Church."
Let me translate that for you: The gay kids we emotionally suppress in adolescence by telling them their innate, predisposed gayness is inherently evil are endangering the gravy train by joining the priesthood and acting out on their tendencies with minors. The Pope sees this as sin.

I see the Pope as a twisted bastard in denial.

I'll let Andrew Sullivan (a gay Catholic) belt that one out of the park:

"(I)magine you are a young gay Catholic teen coming into his sexuality and utterly convinced that it's vile and evil. What do you do? I can tell you from my own experience. You bury it. But of course, you can't bury it. So you objectify sex; and masturbate. You cannot have sexual or even emotional contact with a teenage girl, because it is simply impossible, and you certainly cannot have sex with another teenage boy or you will burn in hell for ever ... so you have sex with images in your own head. Your sex life becomes completely solitary. It can be empowered by pornography or simply teenage imagination. Some shard of beauty, some aspect of sensuality, some vision of desire will keep you sexually energized for days.

Now suppose your powers of suppression and attachment to religious authority are also strong - perhaps stronger because you feel so adrift you need something solid to cling onto in your psyche. And you know you cannot marry a woman. But you want to have status and cover as a single man. If this is the 1950s and 1960s, it's into the Church you go. You think it will cure you. In fact, it only makes you sicker because your denial is buttressed by their collective denial. And the whole thing becomes one big and deepening spiral of lies and corruption.

Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens. So they tend to be attracted still to those who are in their own stage of development: teenage boys. And in their new positions, they are given total access to these kids who revere them for their power.

So they use these children to express themselves sexually. They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don't see the children as victims. Like the tortured gay man, Michael Jackson, they see them as friends. They are even gifted at interacting with them in non-sexual ways. One theme you find in many of these stories is that until these screwed up priests' abuse and molestation is revealed, they often have a great reputation as pastors. As emotionally developed as your average fourteen year old wanting to be loved, they sublimate a lot of their lives into clerical service. But they also act out sexually all the time."

And the cycle continues.

I don't give an explosive runny shit about Ratzinger's promises or finger-pointing, or even his apologies. I'll take him, or any pope, seriously when they declare homosexuality what it is--a naturally occurring, harmless minority in sexual preference. Unless it's repressed and turned into self-loathing...and directed outward at others.

Like Catholic Church high executives.

I don't know if Ratzinger's a closet case and I don't care. The Church is clearly incapable of internal reform at this point, because other than abortion, the only topic on which Catholic dogma rests is sex, specifically gay sex. If they admit they're wrong about that, their credibility really goes out the window. So what's left is to see secular authorities teach them that they are still accountable under the law.

Oh, and speaking of Laws, I wonder how well Cardinal Bernard Law is sleeping these days. I'd love to see him or Cardinal George of Chicago or ANYONE above the rank of monsignor do a perp walk.

Remember this, priesthood: molesting kids isn't a sin, it's a crime.

I Broke My Scale

I'm not joking nor being metaphorical. My bathroom scale made a loud "SNAP!" this morning, and that's not the household gizmo you want to be giving you snaps.

Oh, well, I guess 10 years is a reasonable amount of time to get use out of such a gadget. Now my only question is, do I go with the WiFi-enabled replacement? Typing numbers into Facebook does get rather wearying.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Runnning Hurts

So I'm training for the Des Moines Marathon in October, and I need to get my weight down. I received further confirmation of this today. I was supposed to do a 3-mile training run (as a SHORT workout, for crying out loud), and had to cut it down to a walk and cut it to about a mile and a half, instead.

My left knee felt like someone had left a thumbtack lodged beneath the kneecap on the outside. So there will be conspicuous use of frozen gel packs and ibuprofen in my near future.

But I can completely understand why people would love this activity. Like cycling, there's a rhythm about running when you're doing it well that gives you a sense of peace and helps calm you. But unlike cycling, this stuff really hurts when you're overweight. I don't mean the burning lungs, screaming thighs and stinging eyes. I'm talking about visceral pain of pounding on the pavement for a long time.

I think I'm convincing myself this will be my one and only marathon. If I live that long.

And if anybody has a wheelbarrow, you might want to bring it to the finish line--I'll probably need something to cart myself away at the end.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What God Destroys, Mankind Would Rebuild

Of course by now you've heard of the statue of Jesus in Ohio that was struck by lightning. Well, now the gullible schlubs are forking over their funds to rebuild the motherfucking golden calf...

"The national attention in the wake of the fire that destroyed the giant statue of Jesus outside Solid Rock Church has brought a flood of donations — and inquiries from artists — to rebuild a deluxe version of the icon along Interstate 75."
For Christ's sake... Don't you people need the money for putting on extravagant passion plays? Think of the children!

And get a load of the guy who put up this monstrosity...
"As it turns out, the "King of Kings" sculpture was insured for $500,000, about twice what it cost the church to erect it in 2004, because the original artist, Brad Coriell of Nashville, is a Christian who donated some of his time to the project, said the church's co-pastor, Darlene Bishop.

In response to an interview request, Coriell, self-described as reclusive and eccentric on his website, said Wednesday: "Isn't it wonderful!!"

"Self-described reclusive and eccentric," indeed. Code words for, "he's nuttier than Planters, but it's all in the name of Jeebus, so he's off limits."

And I need to go into some type of bullshit ministry so people can give ME a QUARTER OF A MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS TO BUILD A COMPLETELY USELESS BIT OF SELF-INDULGENCE TO A NON-EXISTENT GOD. Have you people ever heard of charity?

And I'd feel the same way if the president of a prominent atheist charity used donations to buy himself an Armani suit. Disgraceful.

I wish there was a god; I'd ask it to take a shot at the church itself next time. But if there was, he'd probably have hit St. Peters a long time ago.

Monday, June 14, 2010


It's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. Not just because of current events, but because of what I've been doing in my own life.

I have been taking part in an 8-week group study on forgiveness sponsored by Iowa State University. The purpose of the program is to examine long-term benefits of how being able to forgive past offenses leads to an improvement in the quality of one's own life. Without going into details or breaking any confidentiality, what it boils down to is that forgiveness is a process and a skill that must be practiced in order to become a part of your life, and that holding onto grudges only makes you more miserable in the long run. I find that a very interesting approach, and I saw significant improvements in outlook and demeanor over the course of those 8 weeks.

In the other people in the group.

I, on the other hand, apparently didn't do so well. The others were able to make significant inroads into letting go of their pain and the hurt they'd endured. But as we were saying our good-byes to the group in the final session, I--to my surprise--was the most emotionally upset person in the group. And the others made it clear they could see how much it had hurt me to recall the offenses and humiliations in my own life, and how much they admired me for sticking it out to the end.

Which frankly surprised me. I felt the others had far more trauma to overcome, and were in need of much more help than I was.

Maybe I've underestimated how badly it affected me. Maybe I need to reconsider how much I'm still hurting myself.

And maybe I need to look at other examples. The call at first base by Jim Joyce to take a perfect game away from Armando Galaraga of the Tigers is a great example. He admitted he screwed up, said he was sorry, and the Tigers and their fans forgave him because of his honesty.

The forgiveness study isn't just on how to forgive others, either. It's about how to learn to forgive yourself. We all have secret and public shame in our lives. My upbringing ensured my thought process was conditioned to focus at my transgressions rather than to put them into perspective. I've been beating myself up for so long, it's hard to imagine any other way. And I really am trying to do what it takes and pull out of that tailspin.

But it's hard, people. So forgive me if it takes a while.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's This "Blogging" Thing, Again?

Been a long time since I posted anything on this site. In simple terms, I let it slide because other things held my interest in the meantime. I also have been very busy trying to get my life in order. So for both of my readers, here's the update:

The last 4 months have been a kind of personal cleansing for me. I have completed the first 12 weeks of a 30-week marathon training program, which included a 10 kilometer/6.2 mile run yesterday. I actually did 12k/7.5 miles, and my knees are letting me know their displeasure. But I'll heal them and carry on. The IMT Des Moines Marathon is in October, 4 days after I turn 40, and if Steve deOssie could do it, so can I.

I really need to get back on the nutrition program, though. I haven't tracked what I eat in a while, and I'm not losing weight anymore. I am certain there's a direct link between those two. And I need to be a lot lighter because I feel I'll damage myself doing a marathon.

But I feel obligated to go for it at this point. I've had too many people tell me they feel inspired by what I'm doing and are using my example to kick-start their own lives again. And I think to people like Matty Long of the FDNY, who survived a horrific bus-on-bicycle accident to run the NYC Marathon. Compared to people like him, I have no excuses.

So I'll soldier on, and I'll still be riding my bike in the meantime. More to come soon.