Saturday, December 31, 2011

Old White Men Should Grow Their Own Vaginas

My patience has reached it's limit with all of these older white men that continue to chime in on the issues concerning girls and young women, and what they do with their respective sexual bits.  Case in point: Markus Horner, who wrote the opinion piece: "America's daughters need time to grow up," in the Dallas Morning News.  His bio is listed as, "... a handy-man and author of 'Consistently Persistent - Living with the Tourette Trifecta'.  He is also a Community Voices volunteer columnist."  (I wish I could find an electronic edition of this article, but the best I can do is to provide this: NeighborsGo - Plano, Murphy, Wylie Edition: Dallas Morning News; Community Opinions, December 30, 2011.)

Horner begins by praising Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Heath and Human Services, for overruling the FDA's decision to remove the age restrictions of the Plan B One-Step contraception and make it available over the counter.  Horner explains in his article that he is left with a, "sickening feeling," because:
"... corporate greed came very close to causing us, as parents of little girls, an unbelievable level of stress.  I doubt that I would get much argument from any parent when I say that we do our very best to teach our children good morals, ethics and responsibility.  But our children do not always do what we want them to do, and this decision could have made things even worse."
Are you kidding me?  Well, okay then, let me be the first parent of a teenage daughter to stand up and give you an argument.  I'll start with this:
"Yes, I am well aware of the need to teach contraception, but not at the age of 12 or 13."
First of all, your assertion here is completely absurd!  Where in the world did you come up with the idea that 12 and 13 year-old girls would be looking for Plan B or are being taught contraception?  My 14 year-old daughter will not be taught contraception until she is mature enough to understand.  Her school district thus far has NOT taught contraception, nor have they even approached the subject of sex beyond anatomy.  So which school district is it that's teaching this to 12 and 13 year-old girls?

I'd like you to provide your readers with the references where you get your demographic data.  Because frankly, I don't believe for a moment that this demographic of girls is subject to your claim, and I certainly don't believe that they would constitute a significant population of those younger girls that would be actively pursuing Plan B.

We all know why you picked that demographic, Mr. Horner.  You chose that age group because 1) you needed an exaggeration for a shock factor, and 2) you needed the delusion of fear in your readers.  For example, in another paragraph you go so far as to try to convince your readers that pedophiles will have a much easier time covering their tracks with Plan B.  It almost seems that in your fantasy world, it's you and you alone that stand between these innocent young girls and the monsters that are waiting to rape them and then shove a pill down their throats.  What a hero you must be.  But wait a second Mr. Horner, have you considered that you don't have to be a woman to buy Plan B?  I thought not.

Second, don't think for a minute that you could sneak this little nugget in without anyone noticing:
"Yes, our younger daughters need to be taught about the biological aspects of conception.  But they also need to be taught about the benefits of abstinence."
Those two sentences alone tell me a great deal about the type of mind behind the words.  Whenever certain groups discuss the uncomfortable subject of sex with their daughters, for whatever reason, they scurry back to the warm, fuzzy security blanket of... abstinence.  You see, by playing the abstinence card, I'd bet good money that Mr. Horner believes that there is a particularly reverent, cosmically accepted rite of passage for young women.  It's that spiritualistic moment when fathers hand over their daughters to another man for safekeeping.  It's only then that young women are finally given permission by their fathers and their community to use their vaginas and their uteruses!  (Yes, I've left out the LGBT community, but hopefully you'll soon see where I'm going with this...)

All kidding aside, let's not forget the fact that most people who champion abstinence leave themselves open to a whirlwind of questions.  For example, did you abstain?  How did you manage to abstain, exactly?  How long is long enough?  Is twenty years okay?  Thirty years?  Why is it society's business when a person decides to have consensual sex with another person?  And finally, what date or age is it okay to give sex a go, assuming both parties are consenting?  (Here's a hint: we all know perfectly well what date you're talking about - and I've covered that topic here.)

Every man who has a daughter recognizes what you're attempting to do, Mr. Horner.  You are attempting to assert your power as a father over your daughter and thus, control your daughter's decisions, her body, and her life.  You're putting girls on a leash to be passed from male to male, rather than empowering them with the education and the self confidence they need to be able to make the right decision for themselves.  Besides, when are we, as a society, going to get past the medieval, dogmatic view that our young girls cannot handle reality?

And finally Mr. Horner, I'd like to ask you one question.  Don't you think it's odd that in your entire article, you never once mention boys?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Texas Courthouse Christian Display Redux

It seems that the officials in Athens, Texas are not the only ones who don't understand the proper use of government land.  The Van Zandt County Courthouse in Canton, Texas has very similar religious displays to those described in the Dallas Morning News.  (Thanks to user podiumman2002 of the Metroplex Atheist discussion group for the pics.)


Here we are again, the same bogus nativity scene with milky white European figures on display.  They can't even get the ethnicity of the characters correct.  And picture two:


Granted, the officials of Van Zandt County might just be able get away with this second display, since they might be able to convince a judge that "God" is inclusive of other faiths.  The first one?  Absolutely not.

As one other user of the discussion group suggested, it might be a hoot if someone were to knock out that "B" in the lights.  Not that we're condoning vandalizing a display...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Solstice, Right Here in Dallas

While thumbing through the remnants of the Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News, I came across an article entitled, "Ornamental Christmas" written by Michael E. Young.  I dismissed the article during my first pass through the Metro section simply because I assumed it was yet another writer pandering to the religious majority.  Boy, was I mistaken.

Young's article presented a thoughtful and respectful perspective of how (and why) we non-Christians have reason to celebrate during this time of year.  You read that correctly.  The Dallas Morning News printed an article on the front page of the Metro section that informs its readers of the perspective of people without a belief in god.

That Michael Young is my kind of reporter.

He even interviewed Terry McDonald, the President of the Metroplex Atheists.  (My people!)  In the interview, McDonald mentions something about his family that I can relate to.  You see, my family celebrates much the same way that Mr. McDonald does:
"[My] holiday of choice is actually the winter solstice.  The oldest celebration in human history, celebrated for nearly 10,000 years."
Our family has recently adopted the same practice, as we wish each other a, "Merry Solstice!" rather than continue with a tradition that we simply don't believe.  Sure, we decorate a tree and we put up some lights in and about the house.  But like Terry McDonald, our tree doesn't contain any religious ornaments and our home doesn't contain any decorations with religious significance.  You see, we have adopted the holiday tradition of decorating our home with trinkets and collectibles that have meaning to us.

I mean, isn't that what makes sharing holiday traditions fun in the first place?

This article really meant a lot to me, and I would like to extend my personal gratitude to both the editors of the Dallas Morning News and to Michael Young for publishing it.  You gave me some comfort today; comfort that there are enough rational people in DFW where a high volume newspaper chooses to cover the perspective of an atheist.  I knew there was a reason why I pay to receive this newspaper.

I'm starting to get a bit optimistic as I get older.  It seems that as the years pass, there just might be a little bit of hope in the South for people of reason...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Evil Atheists Cause Christian Rally for Creepy Dolls

I just read a story in the Dallas Morning News that in Athens, Texas, a rally was held on Saturday in front of the East Texas courthouse in support of a nativity scene that has been placed on the government lawn.  I've seen estimates anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people in attendance.  That's right, Athens had that many people show up to support... a set of creepy miniature dolls..

Haven't we seen this before?

If you're unfamiliar with the newest saga, here's some background information.  A couple of weeks ago, Henderson County officials received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that reminded them that the nativity scene currently on display on the courthouse lawn is unconstitutional; they also requested that the religious scene be removed from government land.  The courthouse officials, as well as most of the people in Athens, disagreed.  Henderson County officials went even further by mentioning that they did not pay for the nativity scene, nor did they use government employees to assemble it.  You would think these county officials have skillfully found themselves a slimy little loophole into which they can slither their religion.

(Just a side note: The FFRF also requested that the courthouse add one of their banners to the lawn, but that issue wasn't addressed by the newspaper.)

Then, the "offended" Christians of Texas assembled outside the courthouse as a gesture of support for the dolls... erm... I meant nativity scene.  And as I said before, at the height of the rally there were several thousand pissed off baby Jesus freaks claiming an ongoing holy war against their religion.

Public opinion, however, is absolutely not the issue here.  People should remember their history, because popularity is never a good means by which society should form its rules and laws.  Segregation was extremely popular during the racial equality movement.  Treating women like objects and baby makers was popular before the the feminist movement.  Slavery was very popular before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Thus, assembling a rally of like-minded people does not automatically make a nativity scene acceptable in our society.  (The argumentum ad populum fallacy.)

We know perfectly well that Christians are the predominant religion here in Texas.  So what if you get a crowd of them to show up in one spot for a rally?  That doesn't make it right.

Seriously, if you lump all the main Christians groups together, according to the 2007 survey by the Pew Center on Religion, that adds up to 82% of the Texas population.  Of course a rally like that is going to be popular!

And don't think for a minute that the local pastors didn't recognize a perfect opportunity to exploit a local issue to get some face time in the mainstream media.  Holy war my arse...

Look, advertising Christianity on the lawn of a courthouse that serves all of the people of Athens, Texas will more than likely scare the hell out of anyone approaching that government building who are not affiliated with Christianity.  It's wrong, and it's unconstitutional.

But Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders sees it differently.  He says:
"Residents haven't complained.  I just don't understand it, to be honest with you.  I'm just confused about it."
Well, Judge Sanders, in years past, residents didn't complain when lynch mobs hung black men from the trees of Texas courthouses either.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"The Real Deal" Responds...

I've had a few requests over the past few days from people who have been following this story for me to publish any responses I get from, "The Real Deal of Saline County".

Here's what I have thus far.  On December 9th, I received my one and only response from the Director of "The Real Deal", Ms. Janet Dixon.  It's not much, but her response is as follows:

 Dear Mr. Mathys,

Thank you for your interest in our program.  My name is Janet Dixon and I'm the director for The Real Deal.  I apologize for the delayed response.  As you may know, the program is a week-long workshop for 8th grade students in Saline County.  The schools notify the parents by letter of the upcoming program and parents have the opportunity to "opt out" of their child's participation.

Here are resources that we use.

www.cdc.gov
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people by providing credible information to enhance health decisions. Visit their site for research data on STDs and other health topics.

www.medinstitute.org
The Medical Institute for Sexual Health informs, educates, and provides solutions to medical professionals, educators, government officials, parents and the media about problems associated with sexually transmitted disease and nonmarital pregnancy.

Also:
AR Department of Health, Health Statistics Branch, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Counting It Up, June 2011 "Teen Pregnancy in Arkansas", The Ark Department of Health, Center for Health Advancement, Family Health Branch, LR (09/11

Janet Dixon, APN, MPH

I didn't think much about her email since there's not much of anything in it.  There was so little in the email, that I was forced to send yet another email re-requesting the data (see below).  But now that I look at her response more carefully, I realize that these folks feel so secure in their position that they are not taking me seriously.  You see that last line item in her list of "citations"?  Ms. Dixon didn't even bother to copy/paste it correctly - cutting off the portion I would need to request the document from the Arkansas Department of Health.  Damn, I really wish I had noticed that before I sent my response.  Oh well...

Be that as it may, I'm sure most of you recognize that two of the line items in her list are NOT citations, they are websites.  Surely as an accomplished nurse she understands that websites do not qualify as citations and this is absolutely not what I asked for.  The funny thing about the links she sent to me is that the Medical Institute is known to present religiously biased doctors as experts.  Are the experts at the Medical Institute providing peer reviewed scientific studies or pushing an agenda?  How can I know unless I get real citations?

Plus, I can find scores of studies on the CDC website that contradicts what "The Real Deal" website claims.  (I also noticed that the website's reference to WebMD is mysteriously absent from her email, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.  She may have simply forgotten to include a link to the WebMD website.)  Then there's that third item, which is oddly incomplete.

Somehow I get the impression that these people are trying to ignore me.  Hmph.

One thing that did stand out in her response is that she claims it is the school's responsibility to notify the parents.  Isn't it remarkably convenient that her program is not responsible for notifying parents?  In other words, "Don't blame us for making kids sign an abstinence pledge.  You had a chance to opt out."

The fact that she can make that statement means that she knows her program is protected by the very immaturity of the 13 year-olds that she wants to exploit.  I find that appalling.  My kid's school district (Plano ISD) requires parents to sign a waiver before each student is allowed to participate in the portion of their health classes where they learn sexual education.  In other words, the decision to have our daughter participate in sex ed. was left up to me and my wife.  Whereas, Ms. Dixon and her fellow Real Dealers get the luxury of full participation unless a set of three small miracles are completed by 8th grade kids: 1) successfully get the opt-out letter home without forgetting, losing or soiling it, 2) remember to get their parents to actually read the letter & sign it, and 3) get the letter back to their teacher by the due date.  Most parents of teenagers understand that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than have these three steps completed by a young teen who simply doesn't care about a silly letter to their parents.

What a position these Real Dealers are in!  No response from the parents?  Great!  Step up to the table and sign your abstinence card, kiddo.

Now, I'd just love to see one of these letters that the school sends home to the parents.  Does it include "The Real Deal" letterhead - with that nefarious logo - along with a full admission of what these people plan on doing?  Somehow I doubt it.  I'd bet money that it comes home on the school's letterhead, if it comes home at all.  But I'll hold my judgment for later, because as of today, I've yet to get my original request fulfilled.  Plus, it's a bit early in the exchange for me to suddenly attack them for tactics that I perceive as a devious and detestable.

So in my response, I assumed that poor Ms Dixon simply didn't understand what it was I requested.  I took the high road, and apologized for not being clear the first time.  Here's what I sent:
Dear Ms. Dixon,

Thank you very much for replying to my email.  I should apologize as it appears that I may not have been as clear as I should have been in my previous email.

On your website, you claim that your program was evaluated by using a sample of nearly 1,000 students, and that your program has been highly effective in changing the attitudes that are directly linked to early sexual activity.  You also claim that your program reduced the sexual activity rates in girls by 40% and boys by 30%.  These are the claims for which I would like the citations.  Specifically, I would like the opportunity to review the study or studies that were used to substantiate the success rates of your program.

Second, your website lists you and several other people as board members for the program:

Robert Sterling
Sarah Hoofman
Nick Calaway
Lisa Morehead

I would also appreciate it if you and your fellow board members would provide a brief account of your premarital lives in abstinence.  Personally, I believe personal statements from the board members themselves should lend your program some credibility with the schools and parents.

Another aspect of your email that puzzles me is that you list two websites that do not support your numbers.  The third website, The Medical Institute (medinstitute.org) does not seem to be a credible scientific website free of bias.  Again, this may be my misinterpretation of your intentions, which is why I’m seeking a clarification for your supporting material.

Again, I do apologize if my first requests were a bit ambiguous.  Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you and your fellow board members.
As you can see, my email to her was pretty tame for now.  We'll see if I have to send it again, since it's been a week now, and of course I haven't heard a peep.

If you haven't seen my original post, you can read it here to find out how all of this started.  Also, I should take a minute to thank Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist and PZ Myers of Pharyngula for getting this story some exposure.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949 - 2011

It's very difficult to put into words how heartbreaking of a loss this is for humanity.  Christopher Hitchens died in Houston, TX this morning, finally succumbing to esophageal cancer.

The world has lost an intelligent, rebellious, and tenacious voice of reason.

And I have lost a hero.

Farewell Hitch...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christianity is a Vanity Plate

I just read that the Texas DMV approved a "Calvary Hill" license plate with "ONE STATE UNDER GOD" as the slogan:

This plate takes vanity to a whole new level.

I'm amazed at the Christian mindset these days.  On the one hand, we have the Governor of the state, Rick Perry, making political commercials claiming that the President of the United States is waging a war on religion.  Then on the other hand you have the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles governing board voting 4 to 3 to allow an overtly Christian license plate to be purchased.

War on religion my ass.

But, since I tend to look for the funny things in life, I'll just keep telling myself, be patient.  There will come a day when I will have the opportunity to snap a picture of one of these godly plates proudly fastened directly above a set of chrome truck nuts:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Catholic League begins "Adopt an Atheist" Campaign

I found out that the Catholic League has announced a new campaign on their website called, "Adopt an Atheist." How admirable of them to sacrifice their time to reconvert the lost souls...  Since I'm one of the lost, I suppose I should ready myself for my new family.

Before I'm adopted by my local chapter, I'd like to know a few things first.  How much money do I have access to?  I'd prefer to be adopted by a wealthy, elderly person and immediately added to their will.  Second, I should disclose that personally, I abandoned the Baptist Church.  So am I already in hotter water for being a former Protestant?  This is important because I don't want to have to endure even more punishment than those who just abandoned the Catholic Church as an atheist.  Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to my questions.

What methods are they going to use to reconvert me?  This is extremely important due to recent history.  I'd rather not have to show my junk to a Priest, or have a Priest touching my junk in the name of the baby Jesus.  I've seen how some of your leaders make other people, especially young boys, show their love for the baby Jesus... and frankly, I'd rather not participate in that particular ritual.

What exactly is the motivation of this campaign?  If you're adding me to a wealthy family, fine.  If you're trying to find a means by which you can beat me into submission, then I want out.  There are no laws against punishing children, right?

Do I have to acknowledge transubstantiation?  I can't do that, no matter what Jesus said.  Yuck, that's just gross.

How much of your Bible must I unlearn?  There are some things in there that are against the law in the United States, so we're going to have to get that cleared up before I get adopted.

In all seriousness, after I read the "Adopt" campaign news release, it seemed like a pathetic and childish attack directed toward David Silverman, president of American Atheists, rather than a genuine olive branch to the Atheist community.

Is that the extent of your creativity?  Silverman suggests that religious people talk to their family members about their atheism, and the Catholic League's response is straight from an elementary school playground.  Pathetic.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Twinkle in the Eye of Atheism

During the holiday season, I tend to shelter myself from the overtly religious displays of the season by remembering that there are many people that I love dearly who truly enjoy the spirit of it all.  There are even members of my family whose entire year culminates on the 25th of December.  And to be perfectly honest, this is all fine by me because I can live with most of what I'm exposed to.  Plus, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a simple man... when my family members are enjoying themselves, I'm enjoying myself.

I am content during the holiday season these days because I have walked on this planet long enough to find a balance with those that I don't necessarily agree with.  Granted, it took several years for me to do so.  Not to mention I'm one of the lucky few that had help finding my balance.  Those of you that know me understand who it is I'm referring to: my lovely wife, Monica.

However, there are some people that I follow online who are still struggling with this time of year.  I have read several blog posts in recent days where people are dealing with their first (or second or third) year without a Christ in Christmas.  I finish reading their posts and I find myself feeling a bit depressed; as if I've traveled back in time many, many years ago to a younger me.  I can still remember the feeling I had the first year of my atheism.  There is this sense of loss, abandonment, anger...  You want to talk to someone but you're still not strong enough to do it.

I also remember feeling alone, exposed.  I just knew everyone could tell that I no longer believed, as if I suddenly had ATHEIST written in blood across my forehead.  I even remember sitting with the family of a former girlfriend at church as I quietly bowed my head just in case one of them was watching me.

This all sounds very silly to me now.  How could I have been that gutless?  That submissive?  That... young?  It's almost too hard for me to trust my own memory, remembering the young man I was so many years ago.

But taking this walk down memory lane has done something I never expected.  It has given me a new twinkle in my atheist eye.  The words of others have made me realize that I was not alone.  That even today, I share a common struggle with so many other people.  Granted, my struggle has come and gone; and the generation behind me has to deal with the religious lunatics that my generation has created.  But I can hope!  I can hope that more and more young people will begin to discover life without the need for god.

And so, I would like to offer some well-deserved thanks to the younger generation of atheists.  The last few months have been one of the few times in my life where the simple act of reading has given me such inspiration for the future.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Fetus is Officially More Important Than a Woman

The Catholic Church has made it abundantly clear that no matter the circumstance, a fetus means more to them than a functioning individual.

According to a story by Barry Peterson of CBS News, back in November 2009, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix started a battle between the Catholic church and the oldest hospital in the city, St Joseph's.

It all started when doctors admitted a 27-year-old woman into the hospital for severe pulmonary hypertension.  The patient was also 11 weeks into a pregnancy.  Additionally, the pregnancy exacerbated her condition, which in turn caused her heart to fail to the point where her life was in danger.  With a patient in critical need of a life saving procedure, realistically the doctors had but one choice.  However, in our society, the caustic reasoning of minds immersed in religious dogma made others consider the unthinkable.

Peterson explains:
"Modern medicine presented two equally grim options: Terminate the pregnancy and save the mother, or lose both mother and child."
Equally as grim?!?!!  Not a chance.  Seriously, how can people think this way, much less write something as silly as that?  In one hand you have a living, breathing human, and in the other there is a parasite with the potential to be a living, breathing human.  Given these choices, one is never equivalent to the other.  Period.  Anyway, back to the story...

The doctors decided to consult the hospital's ethics review board (which for reasons beyond my rationale, included Sister Margaret Mary McBride) with the two choices they had at hand.  Logically, the choice was clear and the ethics board granted the doctors permission to terminate the pregnancy.  Great!  My faith in mankind had been restored.  Or so I thought.

Once Bishop Olmstead got wind of the abortion, he came to the audacious conclusion that the physicians and the board:
"... had not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion."
That's right.  With a background in priesthood, not medicine, the Bishop decided in hindsight that the doctors didn't make the correct decision - having never looked at a chart himself.  In Bishop Olmstead's untrained eyes:
"The child was not, nor was the uterus - infected, or there was nothing wrong with that. So, what was directly intended was to kill the unborn child."
What?  Does he honestly believe that the minute the patient received her diagnosis, the mad-sciency physicians set out to kill that fetus?  It's mind boggling.

After reaching his sick, twisted conclusion, Bishop Olmstead decided he should swing his religious dick around the city of Phoenix by declaring:
"St. Joseph's Hospital is no longer Catholic."

And of course, Olmstead promptly excommunicated Sister McBride.  So much for my faith in humanity.

First of all, there is no rational reason that a medical ethics committee should include a nun.  Unless of course, the nun is a physician.  Second, my hats off to Sister McBride for making the obvious choice in this situation given how controversial this medical procedure has become within the Catholic church.  (They even have bumper stickers.)

In the roughly two years since the incident, Sister McBride's excommunication has been lifted.  And even in the face of such flagrant misogyny, she continues to stay with the Catholic church.  I don't know whether to be proud of her resolve or utterly depressed at her mental subjugation.

Hopefully, it's obvious to most people that the Catholic Church doesn't value a woman's life beyond her ability to give birth, nor do they truly value life outside of the womb.  And judging by their reaction toward molested boys and their tendency to harbor pedophiles, they do not value their own moral code.

Since this is the path that religion has chosen, I think I'd rather save my children from it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

VA Nurse Does Not Deserve the Benefit of the Doubt

I sat in my chair this morning, quietly reading the Metro section of the Dallas Morning News (Sunday edition), when suddenly I found myself completely baffled by the feature article.  It was so disgusting, I nearly spit my morning coffee while I read it.

The article told the story of Esther Garatie, an honorably discharged Marine who sought treatment for anxiety, sleeplessness and depression at the Dallas VA hospital.  This poor Marine was very near suicide, and rightfully got herself to the VA to seek treatment of her condition.  Instead, what she got from the VA nurse was outright prejudice.

Luckily, Lincy Pandithurai, the nurse who is accused of this bigotry, is currently under investigation by the VA and has been removed from patient care.  Now, since the Dallas Morning News reporter (Scott Farwell) had to present both sides without bias (hopefully), he did take time to present both sides of the issue.  Of course, Pandithurai's attorney and her husband both deny the accusations, and her husband even claims:

"Trust me, she wants to talk, but we have to check with our lawyer.  This didn't happen the way it's been described."


Well, that makes me feel better, Mr. Pandithurai.  I'm so glad to hear that it didn't happen that way.  PHEW!

All this denial coming from a couple with 1 Chronicles 17:27 etched into a concrete pillar at their home (according to the Dallas Morning News.)  In case you need to look it up, here you go:

"Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O LORD, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever."


So let me get this straight, Mr Pandithurai.  By your statement (above), you're insinuating that it would be out of character for your wife to have asked Garatie if she has accepted Jesus as her personal savior, right?  You're also insinuating that your wife would never ask a patient at the VA if they were saved?  Somehow, I find this difficult to believe, Mr. Pandithurai.

Also from the article, I understand that there's a raging debate between the religious community and the LGBT community.  Are you flipping kidding me?  This woman is seeking treatment for PTSD, and an opportunistic nurse decides to take advantage of an extremely fragile individual so she can go back to her church to get some baby Jesus clout?  How absurd have you fundamentalists become?

Plus, this reminds me of those ignorant pharmacists who decide to withhold the morning after pill.  This type of behavior - from people who are supposed to help those in need - has gotten completely out of hand.  This new breed of religious healthcare professionals have simply abandoned science, medicine, and for that matter, rational thought, and replaced it with the ancient, barbaric morality of goat herders.

You people have exploitation down to an art form.  In one breath you fawn over the great men and women who put their lives on the line in a foreign country for political gain, and the next you condemn one of these heroes just because you don't like who they fall in love with.

Even Non-Issues are an Attack on Christmas

It seems that some religious people in the South are so sensitive, they're even offended when there's no reason to be.

A Fort Worth ISD attorney, by the name of Bertha Bailey Whatley, issued a memo to the staff of the school district emphasizing that the district cannot endorse any religious activity.  Her memo also included a statement that Santa Claus cannot be scheduled to visit during class time.  Both of these points make perfect sense to me, and I have absolutely no problem with either of them.  No matter what the holiday is, or who the holiday figure is for that matter, class time should not be interrupted with anything that could cause too big of a distraction for the kids.

Keep in mind that Whatley's memo is merely a reminder to the staff of the Fort Worth ISD.  Her memo did not mark a change of policy for the school district, nor was it meant to ban jolly old St. Nick from the school.  It was merely written as a response to a few Fort Worth ISD staffers who had planned to have Kris Kringle visit during class.

But like clockwork, the screams of, "War on Christmas!" began in earnest.  As swiftly as people were to condemn the memo, one would think that there are people waiting for just about anything to whine about.  At least that's the way it appears to me.

For example, Hiram Sasser, the attorney for the Liberty Institute (yes, the Liberty Institute that is still fighting over the stupid Plano candy-cane issue) was quoted as saying,
"Santa Claus is a universal thing that is allowed in schools.  There’s always been a discussion about religious items, but Santa Claus is always accepted. That’s what surprised me about the memo."
Surprised?  About what, exactly?  You're surprised that a memo had to be issued to the employees of the Fort Worth ISD to remind them that they need to, you know, TEACH during work hours?

All this uproar over a "reminder" memo is the kind of thing that keeps a person like me scratching my head.  How can anyone be upset that teachers needed to be reminded that class time is for instruction, not holiday events?  And besides, which is it going to be for these guys?  First we get bombarded with, "Keep Christ in Christmas!"  Now you're complaining that you want Santa included with the baby Jesus, too?  Make up your collective minds!

I'll tell you what I would like for the holiday.  I'd like for Christians to stop whining and start making a difference.  Get up off your knees and volunteer.  Stop praying and start paying.  Take those tithes and buy some food, some coats and some shoes for those in need.  With the number of offended Christians reaching into the absurd, you guys have officially become a clichĂ©.

With all the perennial distractions that the religious community sets their calendar by, it's no wonder our students continue to fall behind the rest of the industrialized world.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Daughter and her Music

There's just nothing that tops watching your daughter perform in a piano recital.  Here's my darling girl, making me and my wife get misty...



The first piece is "Snowfall" by Faber.  The second is "Rondo for the Lost Coin" by Beethoven.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

SHOCKER: Racism is Alive and Well in Kentucky

I realize my title is a bit sensationalist and probably way over the top, but this story out of Kentucky really pissed me off when I read it.

Stella Harville brought her fiancĂ©, Ticha Chikuni from Zimbabwe, to her church so that he could sing while she played the piano.  Stella is white, and Ticha - you might have guessed - is black.  This happy couple (just look at that picture!) had the opportunity to perform the song, I Surrender All before the church congregation.

As I'm sure you can imagine, this is a very tender moment for these two.  And hats off to both Stella and Ticha for having the courage to present themselves to this congregation knowing full well there will be those who might disagree.  Imagine how they must have felt, walking up to the front of the church counting on each other for support as they readied themselves for the performance.  I mean, wow...  That had to be tough.  And even though I no longer accept the existence of god, I can certainly understand how this young woman wanted so much to show her community how happy, and lucky she was to have met Ticha.

But the racist  members of congregation saw things a bit differently.

The Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky immediately took a vote amongst their whopping 40 member congregation.  The vote proposed three decrees: that the church publically oppose interracial marriage, that parties of such marriages will not be received as members, and that the parties will no longer be used in worship services.  Nine racists voted to adopt the proposal and six voted against it.  Six.

While it's true that only 9 out of the remaining 34 members voted for this utter nonsense, the depressing point to all of this is that by remaining silent, 25 members of this church allowed a foolish and racist minority to determine church policy.

There's nothing like the father of the bride to put things into perspective.  I'll quote Dean Harville, Stella's father:


"It sure ain't Christian. It ain't nothing but the old devil working."


Sadly, Mr. Harville, human beings don't need the devil.  There are those in our society that are perfectly capable of being racist pigs without the need for supernatural intervention.